Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Slicing and Dicing the Geocaching Numbers

Well, now that I'm back geocaching, I wanted to return to one of my favorite secondary activities -- slicing and dicing the statistics about the geocaches I've found.  I had previously sung the praises of the "It's Not About the Numbers" web site.  Here's a county-by-county map of Maryland I generated in June 2008 using that site.

Unfortunately, INATN shut down in June of 2010.  So with my renewed interest in geocaching, I had to find a new way of getting my map/stats fix.

After reading the geocaching forums, my best option seemed to be downloading the GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) program.  Someone even posted the approximate INATN color scheme, which I plugged in to get a similar map.

I don't think the map looks as nice (and I'm irritated by the labeling of St. Mary's County as "Mary's"), but it'll have to do. I'll probably pay to register the program, since I was willing to contribute a few bucks to keep INATN alive a few years ago.

The difference in the two maps from a content perspective is the second cache I found in Frederick County in July 2008.

I have to amend my praise for the geocaching Android application a little bit since the last post. While on a break during a conference in North Carolina last weekend, I attempted to find a cache that would allow me to color in NC on the national map. The GPS receiver on the phone wasn't all that accurate, and it killed my battery. The one I found it Maryland was great because looking at the satellite view in Google Maps was good enough. For future use, though, I think I'll carry my Garmin receiver in addition to the phone, so I can punch in the coordinates for more accuracy (and battery life).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Return to Geocaching

My last post inspired me to get ready to do some more geocaching, so I could release more geocoins into the world.  I found the time to activate the Free State Generic #3 coin.  (#4 and #5 are sitting right next to it, but I haven't gotten good pictures of them yet.)

I decided to see what was new in the world of geocaching. First of all, there is now a geocaching app for Android phones. Awesome. Previously there was a lot of prep work to do in deciding what caches to look for, downloading them to my GPS receiver, and downloading descriptions to my smart phone.  The descriptions could get out of date, and didn't have the full logs of others who had found the cache.

With the Android application, as long as I have mobile service or access to WiFi, I can get cache information -- which I can download for offline use, if necessary.  I get to see photos people have posted, and I can plot the cache location on Google Maps.  Definitely worth the $9.99 if I'm planning to do some caching.

Christina and I took the boys on a walk to get some dinner (for us), and on the way back, I got to test it out.  I found my first cache in almost a year and a half.  Granted, it was hidden in a lamppost, which is generally regarded as the lamest type of cache.  Also, it was too small for me to put a geocoin in.  But, still  -- I'm back in the game!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Geocoin Update

After April's update, I did in fact send e-mails to the last known possessor of all of my geocoins (except Free State Generic #1, pictured above, which was moving along at a healthy clip).  Not only did I not hear back from anyone (either via e-mail or by having them loosen their grip on the coins), Free State Generic #1, after being placed in Alabama and picked up, also went off the grid.

Until last Sunday.  At that point, someone retroactively recorded that they had dropped it off on July 22...0.85 miles from its previous location.  Ah, well.  At least it's still "alive".

This just makes me want to dig out the ones I have upstairs and launch some new coins.  Now that the weather has cooled down, I know a nice place where there's a cache near a bike trail.  As soon as the kids give us a moment of rest, maybe I'll try to find the time to get them set up and dropped off.