September 29, 2012

New Take On An Old Challenge

You are probably familiar with Alpha-Numeric Challenge Caches. They are fairly common challenges found in most states and regions throughout the country. There are two common varieties of the A-N Challenges, both requiring you to find 36 different caches: (1) Find one cache that begins with each number from 0-9 and each letter of the alphabet; or (2) Find one cache hidden by a cacher who's caching handle begins with each number from 0-9 and each letter of the alphabet. Here are some examples:

1. Cache Name Alpha-Numeric Challenge
2. Cacher Name Alpha-Numeric Challenge

For me, finding caches or cacher's with names beginning with 8 or Q has been difficult.

Recently, a new cache was published in my neck of the woods that is similar to the typical A-N Challenge, but with a twist. The "842 repmac reverse Alpha Numeric Challenge" requires cachers to find 36 caches with the hider's name ending with 0-9 and A-Z.

There is a new GSAK macro available, called "Reverse Alpha Numberic Challenge, New Challenge" that is supposed to figure out for you how close you are to meeting the necessary requirements for this specific challenge cache, but it was giving me strange and incorrect results for some reason. So I turned to Excel.

After getting my list of found caches into Excel (I used GSAK and exported to CSV format, but you can also open a GPX file in Excel as well), I created a blank column just to the right of the "Placed By" field. In the blank field, which I named "Last Letter", I inserted Excel's "RIGHT" formula as follows:

=RIGHT(E2, 1)

...where E2 is the cell reference to the cache hider's name, and the "1" forces Excel to grab the last letter (furthest right) from that name. So for example, a cache hidden by "donvsop" returns a "p" in the "Last Letter" column. After copying and pasting this formula all the way down to the bottom of the  column and then sorting it alphabetically, my Excel table looks like this:

You'll notice I'm still missing the letter "Q". If you like, you can also create a pivot table to summarize your data by the Last Letter field, which will display a list of all the letters and numbers you have found, making it easy to see what you are missing.

So go find your P's and Q's, and...

Cache On!

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