September 25, 2011

My Geocaching Profile Continues To Expand

If you haven't checked out lately, you owe it to yourself to do so. As you may recall, this caching statistics website was acquired by groundspeak last year, which uses to display your cache finds statistics on their site. But mygeocachingprofile continues to add new statistic reporting features on their site, before they are transferred to, including things like GeoAchievement badges, and a US county map showing counties where you've found caches:

My favorite part of this site is that it reports your progress on various challenge caches like the Jasmer Challenge, the AlphaNumeric Challenge, and most DeLorme Challenges.

The latest additions to the site include the following:

  • find rate per day geocaching that calculates your find rate over the days you were actively geocaching.  This find rate is now part of the Caching Chronology section.
  • DeLorme GeoAchievement badge that rewards cachers for completing DeLorme challenge caches.
  • Fizzy Well-Rounded GeoAchievement badge that rewards cachers for completing Fizzy challenge caches.
  • And finally, a Jasmer GeoAchievement badge that rewards cachers for completing Jasmer challenge caches.
As with all new profile sections, you'll need to (1) upload your "My Finds" pocket query to generate the profile images and (2) re-export your HTML code and re-paste it into your profile if you'd like to show off your stats.

Cache On!

September 17, 2011

Historical Topographic Maps

Many of us old-timey cachers, who have been caching since the pre-smartphone era, latched on to this hobby as a result of a pre-existing love of the outdoors. Most of us already had recreational GPS receiver devices that we used for navigating through remote hiking, biking and/or 4x4 trails. When geocaching came along, it just gave us just one more excuse to break out the ol' GPSr.

Of course, most GPSr's back then did not have built-in background maps, so we still had to rely more heavily on the beloved USGS TOPO map to keep ourselves from getting lost. As such, many of us have acquired quite a collection of TOPO maps over the year, myself included.

If you grew up with a, some might call it sick, fondness for TOPO maps, then you might be interested to know that the USGS is converting all of their historical printed topographic quadrangles to an electronic format and making them available for download. This will be a great way to see how much has changed in your area of interest over the years, if at all, as these maps include such wonderful detail. I know I'm looking forward to seeing the railroad alignment that used to run through my neck of the woods long before I arrived here. There is no longer any physical evidence that it ever existed. The only clue I've had up until now, ironically, is from a geocache: Eastport.

Cache On!

September 10, 2011

Pocket Query Wish List

For me, pocket queries are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the main reason I cough up my hard-earned $30 each year to maintain my Groundspeak premium membership. Whether it's a pocket query along a route, of my bookmarks, within a 10-mile radius of my home or any location I plan to visit; the ability to create a list of up to 1,000 caches meeting any search criteria and instantly load them into my GPS receiver is one of my favorite aspects of geocaching (besides the actual outdoor part).

As great as PQ's are, there are a couple of nagging issues that drive me crazy, some of which may only pertain to a small percentage of people that geocache the way I do - using a non-wireless Garmin GPS device (GPSmap 60CSx), and an iPodTouch running the geocaching app.:

(1) The Search Radius
This is primarily an iPodTouch end user complaint. It's great that you can generate pocket queries containing up to 1,000 caches, which is the most I can load onto my Garmin device. But having a list of 1,000 caches in one pocket query set up for off-line use on my iPodTouch is a bit unwieldy. It takes forever to scroll through the whole list to pull up the info. for one specific cache.

That's why I like to break up my pocket queries into manageable amounts; say 500 caches each, or less. This is easy enough to do for caches along a route or bookmark PQ's. But it is impossible to do for a list of caches I haven't found within a 10 mile radius of my home - my most frequently used PQ.  Coincidentally, there are typically right around 1,000 caches that I haven't found within that radius of my home.

What I would love to do is to be able to set up one PQ that lists all my not-found caches within a 5 mile radius (which I can do), and then a 2nd PQ that lists all of the not-found caches within a distance covering between 5 and 10 miles from my home. The current PQ search options do not allow for this:

(2) Why no United States?
The other thing that has always bothered me is why there isn't a United States option in the list of countries to search within?

This would come in very handy, for example, for those of us working on one of the many Jasmer Challenge caches, which requires that you log at least one cache that was placed in every month back to the start of Geocaching (May, 2000). I would love to generate a PQ showing me all the active caches in the United States that were placed in the year 2000, of which there are very few. The only way I can do that now is to create a separate PQ for each state, rather than one PQ for the entire US. Quite annoying.

Other than that, I can find very little to complain about when it comes to pocket queries, especially considering the alternative: loading caches into a GPSr one at a time.

Cache On!

September 5, 2011

Win A Barely Coveted Prize

Every so often, Groundspeak runs a caption creation contest on its blog site, Latitude 47. The current installment asks brave souls to create a caption for this image captured at the recent Groundspeak Block Party:

Think you might have a winning caption for this image? Go to this week's blog post to submit your entry. Or, if you want to see what other people have submitted so far, you can do so at the same site. You can also vote for your favorite caption.

And the barely coveted prize for the best entry? A trackable from the Geocaching Block Party.

Good luck, and Cache On!