December 26, 2010 Delivers

Well, we knew it was coming, and now (most of) it is here.

You can now view a nice selection of statistics related to your cache finds, including your finds per day, finds per month, and finds for each day of the year. I like how your stat page updates as soon as you log a new find.

This is a nice feature that lets you label any cache as one of your favorites. For every 10 caches you find, you are allowed to "favorite" 1 cache. What I really like is that you can sort a list of caches from "most favorited" to least (by clicking on the blue ribbon). I found a cache in my area that has already received 34 favorite votes, and turns out to be one of the most popular caches in the world. Before now, I never even knew it existed.

Better Mapping
The new mapping tool is still in beta, but is accessible through the regular mapping page. It really does scroll much faster than the current version, and can display an unlimited number of caches. But the best part is the number of different map types available including all the traditional road, terrain and satellite views, but also options for viewing OpenStreet Maps, OpenCycle Maps, and Bing Maps. The only thing missing (for now) is the ability to turn on and off caches you own or have already found.

Sweet! Cache On!

December 19, 2010

Tis The Season

I suspect this post won't generate the lively discussion that my last post did.

Even so, you may be interested to learn that has some nice holiday upgrades in store for us in the near future. First, as you've probably heard, Groundspeak acquired, a great website for creating all sorts of statistics, graphs and maps based on your caching finds. As a result, we should expect to start seeing find statistics in our profiles soon.

In addition, a new and improved mapping tool is in the works that will display an infinite number of caches (not limited to 500), and scroll more smoothly.

Finally, will give users the ability to rate caches.

You can read about these changes in detail over on Firennice's (a reviewer) blog post.

Enjoy the holidays, and the changes in store for us in 2011.

Cache On!

December 13, 2010

Geocaching Smackdown

Lots of buzz on the interwebz last week surrounding the launch of Garmin's new geocaching website,; not to be confused with (a completely separate geocaching listing service that just launched back in October). Accompanying Garmin's geocaching site launch was this blog post which explains what geocaching is, and then goes on to describe what you can do on their new site. Without mentioning Groundspeak or, the folks at Garmin cleverly highlight the two features that offers which does not - the ability to rate caches ("awesomeness scale"), and the fact that there is no premium membership fee - it's free, in other words.

A lot of people seem to think, at least based on what I saw on Twitter last week, that this new effort by Garmin could really cut into Groundspeak's market, or at least offer up some much-needed competition in the geocaching listing services world. Is this the beginning of the end for Read on as I discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of Garmin's new service.

The Good
(1) The User Interface
The site is very clean, intuitive and easy to use. The opening page calculates your current location and puts it right in the search box for you. You can accept it, or change it, and click on the big “Search” button to immediately generate a map (using Bing Maps) of all the caches surrounding that location. Two buttons at the bottom of the map allow you to either send the displayed caches directly to your GPS device or download them as a GPX file.

(2) Open Application Programming Interface (API)

This provides developers the ability to create clever applications using information from the cache listing database. I suspect it will only be a matter of time before some clever programmer creates a GSAK-type of program for has also announced plans to open up their API as well.

(3) The Price

Free. Enough said.

The Bad
(1) The Fate of
A lot of people see this as a battle between and I don’t. Not yet anyway. Instead, I see this as more of a detriment to; another open source cache listing service with no commercial ties (truly free). Which is really too bad, as that site also has a great user interface, and a wonderful, built-in cache search, filter, and download tool. Where were all of the open caching supporters, who have suddenly jumped on the Garmin bandwagon, three months ago when launched? There’s no way can compete with the Garmin PR juggernaut. Was Garmin’s choice for their webiste name merely just a coincidence?

(2) Limited Cache Types

Only Traditionals, Multis and Puzzles available here. Where are the EarthCaches and Event Caches?

(3) Trackables?

So far, no support for Travel Bugs or GeoCoins.

(4) Mobile Apps?

Will there be an iPhone or Android app.? I guess we'll have to wait for someone to delve into the API, because as of now, Garmin doesn't seem anxious to support mobile devices (other than their own, of course).

(5) It’s Still In Beta
This is both good and bad. Bad in the sense that there are still a lot of bugs, as a quick visit to the forums will reveal. And good in that there is acknowledged room, and plans, for improvement.

The Ugly
(1)No Reviewers

The nice thing about is that there is an army of dedicated voulnuteers who must pre-approve any cache hide before it gets listed. That's not the case with, and I've already heard stories about caches literally being placed on top of each other.

(2)Maintaining Multiple Data Sets
To quote Liz Lemon, "It's a deal breaker, ladies". This is the same problem I had with some of the other cache listing services, such as Navicache, Terracaching, and sadly,  I'm just too lazy to maintain my cache finds and hides on more than one listing service. It's too much work to keep everything up-to-date and synchronized (9 out of 10 DBA's would agree). 

I admit that it is nice how easy makes it to upload your hides and finds from "those other services", but even so, it's still extra work. In addition, every cacher on would have to be vigilant about keeping their data up-to-date on to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, you'll never have a true picture as to how many caches are really in any given area unless you check both services every time you go caching. 

And even for the caches that are listed on both services, the number of finds would never be accurate unless every person who found a given cache logged it on both sites. For example, a cache called, "My First "Regular" Cache", near San Ramon, California is listed on both sites. On it's listed as GC18QYA, and shows 49 people have found it. But on, it's listed as OX18QYA, and shows only 2 people have found it. 

And finally, many of us have invested way too much time and energy into maintaining our geocaching stats from, and we're not about to even try and duplicate that effort on another site.

The Bottom Line
New cachers may be drawn to initially, especially those buying their first Garmin GPS receivers, who may be “gently persuaded” to visit the site. But I can't see the  millions of cachers on switching to, or even spending the time required  to use both services. Competition is good, but duplication of effort is bad.

Full Disclosure: This may sound like I’m staunchly anti-Garmin and basically a grumpy old man who doesn’t like change. Nothing could be further from the truth (well, the anti-Garmin part isn't true, anyway). My first GPS receiver was a Garmin GPS 12 which I got before geocaching was even invented, and I absolutely adored; up until a bike accident put it out of commission. My next GPSr, after a lot of research (and saving up), was a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx, which I now wonder how I ever lived without. If it ever breaks (or more likely, I break it), I will likely turn right around and buy another. If not a 60CSx, definitely another Garmin. If it weren’t for Garmin, I probably wouldn’t be geocaching.

Cache On!

December 4, 2010

Google Earth 6

I write a lot about Google Earth in this blog, as it is still one of my favorite mapping visualization tools, especially for geocaching. This post is no exception, as I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Google Earth 6 was released this week. One of the enhancements in this new version is the inclusion of 3D trees and easier access to historical imagery:

But the best part is the new and much improved Street View interface. As stated on the Google Earth website,  "Fly from outer space down to the streets with the new Street View and easily navigate your way around. Switch to ground-level view to see the same location in 3D." The following video describes the enhancements better than words can:

Once you've loaded your caches into Google Earth (using either a GSAK macro if you have it, or simply loading a downloaded GPX file right from, you can virtually drive right up to a cache and do everything but sign the log:

Cache On!