Saturday, 31 December 2011
Later that January I joined some geocachers living nearby for my second ever nightcaching adventure and it was a big one! 20 kilometers in freezing cold but the marvelous waypoints were worth it. Unfortunately we found the cache the day after in daylight. I am talking about a Waardeloos! adventure, maybe the best cache in The Netherlands.
In March I went a few days geocaching in the 3 borders area, resulting in my first find in Germany and I awarded some favorite points. Read this blogpost to find out where to go when you are in the area.
Also in March I attended the Achterhoeks Cache Event (ACE), my second event and a nice experience meeting some other geocachers and finding 3 caches!
In May I improved my most finds in a day stat, by finding 5 caches in one day. However, none of them are really worth mentioning and I learned again that one good multi is better than 5 traditionals.
Slovakia and Hungary!
In August I failed terribly on FTF hunting, but a few days later I had an STF on another cache!
At the end of the year I had an amazing day in November, when I spend a day cave caching just across the border in Belgium. See this log and this log, both extraordinary good caches.
At last, the police was called when a muggler saw me logging a cache and thought the ammobox and the hole in the ground were suspicious. Read about it here and here.
In total I have found 60 geocaches in 2011, 2 less compared to 2010 but it´s not about the numbers as some other people say. Looking forward to some new adventures in 2012!
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Thursday, 24 November 2011
With my 300 caches found, I have 31 favorite points to give. So far I have awarded 24 caches with a favorite point. 7 points are still in my pocket, still waiting to be given away. Do I keep them in my pocket for the unlikely event that there will be 7 favoritable caches in my next 10 founds? No, I keep them because all other caches do not match 1 of the following criteria:
1. Well worked out theme;
2. Brilliant in its simplicity;
3. Nice waypoint and/or cache (and all other waypoints at least average).
If a cache fits within 1 of these 3 criteria, it gets one of my favorite points. Maybe most remarkable is that 'extremely beautiful nature' is not in my list. I think beautiful nature can only be a prerequisite for an avarage cache. To make it a favoritable cache everything must be devoted to the beauty of nature, thus the theme of the cache. Another option is to strip it down completely, a cache brilliant in its simplicity in extremely beautiful nature, is always worth a favorite point. Most of the time, less is more.
What are your favorites criteria? Or do you just give all your favorites to the best caches you have found? Are they really worth it? Or are they just a little less worse than the others?
Hopefully I can award some exceptional geocaches a favorite point this weekend! Looking forward to it!
Thursday, 17 November 2011
Last release, Groundspeak discontinued the feedback section of the geocaching.com website and moved it back into the forums. On the feedback section they stated they did not have the resources to implement the massive amount of feedback. However, the real reason can be found here. They were unable to shut up some people in the feedback section, ‘restricting posting ability’ as they call it.
Also ‘It’s not about the numbers’ geocaching blog figured out that the feedback section was an ongoing PR nightmare and a reputation risk. But it is not the feedback section which is causing this nightmare, it is Groundspeaks PR policy itself.
Managing your reputation starts with a good PR policy. And restricting posting ability is definitely not part of a good PR policy. These days, managing your reputation is all about good interaction with your community. The feedback section was an excellent platform for community interaction. But how can you interact with your community if you restricted their posting ability? With the many other platforms (twitter, blogs, forums) available these days, restricting posting ability has a contradictory result and is suicide for your reputation. See also ‘It’s not about the numbers’ previous blogpost about the Geocaching Spoilers YouTube channel.
A good PR policy is all about respect for both positive and negative feedback, on your own and other communication channels. Groundspeaks PR policy is the ticking time bomb for their reputation, closing the feedback section doesn't dismantle it.
Friday, 11 November 2011
Apparently, Kruimeldief was asking cache owners to take a second look at their cache page before publishing them. As opposite, the Belgium reviewers were only looking at the Groundspeak guidelines. Of course, this was immediately noticed by the community.
I think all reviewers should concern about cache page quality and, if needed, ask cache owners to improve their cache page before publishing the cache. Geocaching is so much more fun if you read a cache page with good information, the right attributes and a useful hint. Geocaching.com is the only Geocaching website with a reviewing process, so if it is already there, why not use it to improve the quality of a submitted cache page?
At first the Belgium reviewers responded that it is only their job to review a cache against Groundspeak guidelines. Now they understand that cache page quality makes Geocaching.com stand out from the other Geocaching websites and they are asking cache owners to take a second look!
What is your cache page like? Do you have the right attributes on the page? Is your hint 'Not needed'? Do you have more then 1 line of text on your page? It is time to change it now!
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Geocaching.nl was founded in 2001. Since I started geocaching in 2004, the forum is the most important part of the site but the atmosphere was not very good at that time. Until last year a lot of discussion was going on about deletion of posts by moderators and banning user from the forum. In the years I have read the forum since 2004, I learned that moderators in stead of having a good discussion about geocaching and listen to the users, were deleting posts which would not fit in their opinion of geocaching. Because of this way of moderation, multiple geocachers in the Netherlands tried to start their own geocaching website, with globalcaching.eu as one of the most successful.
This made the Dutch geocaching community very diversified. In an act to stop this diversification, and to make geocaching.nl the only center of the Dutch Geocaching community, some geocachers decided to join the team to help geocaching.nl out. In 2010 the team was almost doubled and ready to strengthen the sites position in the centre of the Dutch geocaching community. Until, suddenly out of nowhere, the forums were taken offline.
The team had decided to do this to get more support from the owner of the site. After a good discussion, the team continued their work. Until two months ago, again the team felt a lack of support from the owner. They wrote a letter and instead of a good discussion, half of them got fired.
The news of the sacked team members spread very fast in the Dutch Geocaching community and as a result many users decided to leave the site. Some joined other existing forums such as globalcaching and the Dutch Groundspeak forums, some stopped posting on forums at all. Also a new forum was created, geocachingforum.nl, but there is not a lot going on at this forum.
Posts on the geocaching.nl forum have dropped, although it is still one of the most active forums in The Netherlands. Now, 2 months later, the main spirit is coming back again but most new topics are simple question and answers, mostly about functionality that already has stopped working and can’t be fixed because the knowledge was sacked or has left the team. The ‘Netherlands’ section on the geocaching.com forums as a lot more active now and the new place for people refusing to post on geocaching.nl.
What will the future of the geocaching community look like in The Netherlands? Will geocaching.nl remain the main center of the community, will some other website step up or will the community fall apart into smaller local communities? Or will there only be single geocaching teams without any community to support the Geocaching activity? I just hope a strong leader will step up who is able to create a platform where all geocachers can get together after everything that happened in the past 10 years and share the fun that comes with geocaching.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
There are several ways to prove you have found the cache including a code phrase, QR code or chirp. The used verification method is chosen by the cache owner and the verification is done in your GPSr. This can only be done in proximity of the cache as the software of your GPSr checks your actual coordinates when you verify the find. When you upload the verified log to the internet, a nice ‘verified log’ icon will be added to your log.
Accoding to the Garmin Trailtech blog: ‘there has never been a way to prove to the world that your logged number of finds actually coincides with your real world geocaching experiences’.
Well, when I find a geocache, I always sign the logbook. So, if you take a look in all the logbooks of all the caches I have found so far, you will end up with same number of logs as on the internet. To me, the proof that I have found the cache, is in the logbook. I know a logbook can get lost but I have no desire to proof I have found the cache in any other way.
But if I had this desire, how watertight is the ‘verified log’ functionality on Opencaching? A chirp signal can be picked up several meters from the cache. This means that a picked up chirp signal only proves you have been close to the cache. Same for code phrases, they can easily be shared on the internet and the verification with the actual coordinates only proves you have been at the right location. As we all know, finding the cache is a whole other story sometimes. The only real verification is the QR code. If I ever find an Opencaching cache, the only real proof will be in the logbook. No ‘I have been close to the cache’ stamp for me.
Friday, 16 September 2011
If you like point hunting and a competitive element, Munzee is for you. Now there is chance to make a head start, when some random Munzees will virtually turn into gold this Saturday. This means they will be worth 50 points for the first capture after the Munzee has converted to gold status.
This is an exciting new part of the game. The way of capturing Munzees with an immediate log on the internet is unique and now the Munzee team is using this unique feature to add more dimensions into the game, making it even more fun experience and special game. I am already picturing the unexpected meetings of Munzee players around a golden Munzee.
If the Munzee team moves forward as fast like this, in no time the game will be totally different compared to the game it is an offspring of: Geocaching. And that’s exactly how you build a success: Be different!
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
“Thanks all. See you out in the field someday. Kruimeldief and Kralenfee are twexit as reviewers and accounts.”
Kruimeldief leaving his post was already a rumour in the Netherlands when GeoGuy was added as reviewer earlier this year but it will still be strange to see other names in the ‘publish log’ of new geocaches. In the Netherlands we will certainly miss his thorough but fair reviewing and his lengthy explanations of the reviewing process, including the frustration that submitted caches always have to be rejected for the same reason.
Kruimeldief has also pulled the Dutch Geocaching community to Twitter, by tweeting each geocache he had published. Simply follow @Kruimeldief on Twitter and you were always informed about new Geocaches. As far as I know he was the first (and besides GeoGuy the only?) reviewer doing this, which made him very popular in the Dutch geocaching community, unless his thorough reviewing. Kruimeldief embraced Twitter as his main communication channel but he was never limited by the 140 characters. One question to Kruimel and you got at least 3 tweets back. He has passed on the tweeting habit to Geoguy which makes the Dutch reviewers very accessible for questions and answers.
For now, the Belgian and French reviewers Greensprouts and riviouveur will assist GeoGuy in reviewing for the Netherlands, until Kruimel’s successor has been found. I think it would have been nice if the search for his successor would already have been completed, so the Dutch tradition of tweeting new caches could be continued as Greensprouts and riviouveur don’t do this. Nevertheless I am looking forward to the first rumours about who the new Dutch reviewer will be. I hope the election period will be just as interesting and exciting as it was before GeoGuy was announced.
Kruimeldief and Kralenfee, thank you for giving me the largest to do list ever, TFTC!
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Some users dislike challenges because they simply dislike change. With every change, there is always this group that doesn’t like it, simply because it is change. They need time to get used to changes; they will accept the change if time goes by. Another group dislikes challenges because challenges are not geocaches. They are right. That is why they are counted separately from geocaches and trackables in your profile. You also do not see them in the ‘hide and seek a geocache’ functionality. Simply because they are not geocaches. Challenges are something completely different compared to geocaches and they should not be mistaken.
Some people dislike challenges because they don't see a point in the first challenges which have been created. I must agree with them. I like the challenges concept, but I do not like most challenges I have seen yet. Why? Because there is no challenge in them! Yes, there is no challenge in them. I will explain. This is the definition of a real challenge according to wiktionary:
"1. An instigation or antagonization intended to convince a person to perform an action they otherwise would not.
2. A difficult task, especially one that the person making the attempt finds more enjoyable because of that difficulty."
Most challenges confirm to the second part of the first definition. They ask me to perform an action I otherwise would not have done. But they don’t convince me. Why should I perform that action? There must be a reason, I need to be convinced! Please tell me why, tell me why, tell me why!
To proof that challenges can be fun when they are a real challenge, convincing and/or difficult, I created my own challenge which confirms to both definitions of challenge. To explain my challenge, I first have to explain something about my hometown Tiel.
Tiel is in the center of the Betuwe, a part of the Netherlands with a lot of fruit orchards. In Tiel there was company named ‘de Betuwe’ which made delicious marmalade. This marmalade was so delicious that other companies which made marmalade advertised their marmalade as ‘from the Betuwe’, which is allowed because it refers to the region where the fruit is from they use for their marmalade. For customers this made it difficult to find the real ‘Betuwe’ marmalade in the shop. So the company ‘de Betuwe’ created a cartoon figure, named him ‘Flipje from Tiel’ and put him on the label of their marmalade. This worked excellent because customers now could easily find the real Betuwe marmalade by the picture of Flipje. Since then many marketing items were created based on the Flipje character, even a series of comic books.
Because of the decreasing sales of marmalade, the marmalade factory in Tiel was closed in 1993. Since his birth Flipje has been the mascot of the city of Tiel, also when the factory closed. Earlier this year, Flipje returned on marmalade pots of the company who took over the assets from ‘de Betuwe’.
The challenge I created, is to write a love letter to Flipje, signed with ‘Signal the Frog’, put it with a red rose in a marmalade pot (preferably of the right brand) and place the pot at the location mentioned on the challenge page, near the statue of Flipje, without being seen.
This challenge is difficult because the Flipje statue is on a busy square in the center of Tiel. The goal of this challenge is to create a mystery around the secret lover of Flipje, who over and over again writes a love letter and places it in a marmalade pot with a red rose near the Flipje statue. If you want to help build this mystery, complete the challenge!
For geocachers, the challenge promotes the city of Tiel. But it also promotes Geocaching for curious people who find a marmalade pot and track down the referral to 'Signal the Frog'.
This a translation of the first love letter I placed on the Flipje statue:
I have missed you for years,
But I have never forgotten you.
You have always been the one and only for me,
I have never tasted from another pot.
Now you are back, better than ever,
As if you have never left me.
From now, forever I will warship you.
People will talk about us,
But my love for you is unconditional.
Also when, with all these other people around you,
this will always be a challenge…
Signal the Frog
Thursday, 18 August 2011
The challenges have just been released on geocaching.com. Here are my first things about the new way of geocaching!
It was already announced earlier this week, but the action challenge type will be part of the game. This appears to be something like I described in my previous post, a go there and do something challenge. For me that is the only challenge type I need. This type can simply cover everything, like I explained last week.
The other remarkable thing is that you do not need any prove that you have completed the action challenge type. You can just say 'been there done that' and that's it. I think creating the prove by taking pictures or video taping your adventure, is the best part of the game both for yourself as for other geocachers who watch your evidence material online. A missed oppertunity!
The rating system. It appears that Groundspeak has reinvented the wheel by adding a new rating system to the challenges, something very unlike the favorites rating system. For the challenges you can already praise something before you have done the challenge but you can also vote things down. I am affraid that all the people who don't like challenges are going to vote every challenge down. Another thought is how long will it take before Groundspeak applies this rating system to Geocaches as well? I think it would be better compared to favorites...
Also noticed that the creator of a challenge is not important anymore. The only place where you will find your name as creator is at the bottom of the log list. That's a long way down. Come on Groundspeak, if I create something great, people have to know it was me!
The first new challenges. Users don't seem to know what to do with challenges. Groundspeak has placed themselves above all users by being the only one able to create 'Worldwide Challenges' which are in fact locationless. Users can only create location based challenges but without a review procedure, they simply forget this single rule of the game and start asking for actions you can do everywhere in the world like hugging your dog. I think users are right. Challenges could be locationless, but please, think of something better then hugging your dog.
Logs. The logs on challenges appear to be very short. This has been a subject for discussion for months already but on challenges it appears to be extreme. Folks, where is your story about completing the challenge?
Replies and comments. This is the feature that most surprised me. For challenges you can write a reply on the challenge itself and on the logs of users. For geocaches this is not yet possible but I hope they add it there soon. This makes the game a lot more interactive and social, something I have been waiting for for months.
Although some things could be better in the design and some other small things that can be fixed afterwards, I think the challenge will be great, like I said last week. I am very much looking forward to what my first completed challenge will be! I won't do simply everything you silly people ask ;-)
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Here is a small description of what challenges will be by CDJ Abuser on the Groundspeak forums:
"At GC2GA1J, Jeremy explained that the ‘new’ virtuals would be implemented as ‘challenges’. Not challenge caches (or caching challenges) obviously, but he explained that he and his team saw virtuals as a ‘go somewhere and do something’ kinda thing, and that’s what the new ‘challenges’ will be. The first released type will be a photo challenge: go somewhere and take a picture. He also explained that there will be no review system, but rather some kind of rating system, with good challenges rising to the top and bad ones falling to the bottom and (maybe?) eventually disappearing, and that the whole system was seen as an experiment on their part.”
From this piece of information I am not very thrilled about the challenges. This first challenge type, the go somewhere and take a picture, is very similar to the old virtual cache where you had to take a picture or answer a question to prove you have been at the location. I have never liked this kind of caches as there was no logging opportunity to share your initial feeling with the cache owners and other cachers. And the first reaction is always the best. I was also missing the creativity from the cache owner. Taking a picture is just too easy. With a little bit of creativity and a good hint, you can hide a cache everywhere, also in the most crowded places.
Now the new challenges. I like the word challenges. I think each Geocache is a challenge. A go there and write your name the logbook challenge. From what Jeremy explained to CDJ Abuser, I understand that Groundspeak is going to release challenge types. In my opinion, Groundspeak should give this to the users and only provide a platform to create and share your type of challenge with the Geocaching community.
What the challenge will be is up to the creativity of the challenge owner. It can vary from ‘take a picture’ to ‘scan the QR code’ or ‘do the Macarena dance with at least 10 strangers and post a video of it in the log’ challenge. As long as you can prove you have completed the challenge, maybe with some simple additional functionality on the Geocaching website, for example secret logging codes criteria, it is a challenge. If you see where the community has taken the Geocache since it was first placed in the year 2000, I think the creativity from challenge creators goes far beyond what Groundspeak can think of as challenge types and therefore Groundspeak should only be the platform provider.
If Groundspeak is prepared to give the creativity to the community, they could become the community leader and online meeting point for things like flash mobs, planking and other weird and less weird stuff people love to do as a challenge... Wouldn't that be great?
Monday, 8 August 2011
Hold your horses on that Munzee thing I was blogging about last week. Why would you need that QR code? It is the GPS functionality of your smartphone that can be checked to confirm you are on the right location to do a log attempt on the internet! No QR code hiding, no searching, just visiting the coordinates is good enough! Wouldn’t that be great? It looks like this will become reality as it is exactly what Groundspeak is going to do with the new virtual!
At first I thought the new virtual would be some kind of Wherigo-like application that gives you a code if you get close to specific coordinates. You would need this code to log the virtual cache on the internet. However, in a Globalcaching chat session, Bryan Roth denied the link between Wherigo and the new virtual. When I described Groundspeaks move from the standalone GPSr to the smartphone in my post on the new Geocaching website layout, it looks like I got even closer to the new virtual. I only did not do the math, replacing Wherigo with smartphone.
Last week Cumbyrocks on his blog ‘It’s not about the numbers’ did do the math and described a theory which is comparable to my theory about the new virtual, but based it on the smartphone. The result is what I described in the introduction of this article. I think Cumbyrocks got very close to what Groundspeak talks about as the new virtual. Here is a quote from Jeremy from the Groundspeak forums to support these thoughts:
"In the UserVoice updates I never said that virtuals were coming back in their previous form, but instead something would be available that should capture the interest in virtuals without the baggage (such as the subjective review process).
To me, this is the most exciting project that we’ve worked on in years, but it will take some time to iterate through the idea and I know we’ll get some things wrong, but the framework is solid. We’ll be investing a substantial amount of effort with this project moving forward.
It will be on Geocaching.com, not a new web site. It will be a separate section in the beta, but I expect it to be integrated into a joined search at some point.
Currently they will not go towards your find count, but it might at some point. It won’t at the beginning though.
It will be a visible statistic, so you will see them on the profile, on the logs, etc.
We’ll be hopefully launching with mobile applications to compliment the activity. I expect that the majority of participants will be using smartphones, but we will have components (Pocket Queries, GPX file downloads, etc) for traditional GPS devices.”
The issue with to old virtual was that you needed the photo or the answer on a question to prove that you have been at the location. There was no box and no log to sign, the basics of Geocaching. Now, the internet connection and app functionality of the smartphone provides the opportunity to create a virtual box and write a digital log right from the spot!
I totally agree with Jeremy that this is one of the most exciting new projects. It gives a totally new approach to Geocaching, without going far from the basics. Without the approval process, this new virtual would be easier to create and appeal to more users to create such a cache. It also gives Geocaching a new advantage compared to rivals such as Opencaching and Munzee. Without the QR code, a virtual cache is easier to create and easier to find compared to a Munzee. And easy is the keyword nowadays. Compared to Opencaching, Geocaching will create something that appeals to a lot of Geocachers and something that Opencaching can never create, unless Garmin builds an internet connection into their GPSr devices.
Another thought is, that it was not Garmin who started the war with the Opencaching website but it was Groundspeak who are on the smartphone track for quiet some time already and put Garmin with their GPSr devices on the side of the road. To continue selling GPSr devices to Geocachers, the only option for Garmin was to start their own community, Opencaching. This also explains the messy Opencaching website, because they had to launch it quickly before Groundspeak openly embraces the smartphone as the main Geocaching attribute. But if you want more people Geocaching, like Groundspeak, I think the smartphone is the right track. Soon everybody has one and the only thing Groundspeak has to do is spread the message. Also, the smartphone opens doors for exciting new approaches to the game, like this new virtual.
Do you have your own theory about the new virtual or another remark to this post? Share them by writing a comment!
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
A Munzee is a QR code style barcode. This barcode is hidden at a specific location. This can be in a box, like a geocache, but it can also be sticked on a light pole. Marking your found is as simply as scanning the barcode with your smartphone. The special Munzee app will do the rest of the work if you have a working internet connection on your smartphone when scanning the code. The app also helps you find Munzees, so you have the actual database always with you.
Creating a Munzee is also very easy. You can generate and print a barcode from the Munzee website. Laminate or put the printed piece in a waterproof container and your Munzee is ready to be deployed in the field.
On the Munzee website is a very complicating rating system with levels and points, which I do not understand at all. What I do understand is that you get points for finding and hiding Munzees and founds on your hidden Munzees.
Advantages versus geocaching:
- A Munzee is easier to hide;
- Logging, the part some geocachers hate to do, goes automatically;
- Cheaper to create.
- Accurate scores, because the field log and online log is made at the same time, there is no hassle about the FTF.
Disadvantages versus geocaching:
- As far as I can find, there are no possibilities for multi or mystery Munzees yet;
- Smartphones are not as accurate as a GPSr, which makes a Munzee harder to find;
- No written logs to share your adventures, the part some geocachers and cache owners love;
- No creative push, a Munzee is so easy to hide, you do not need the creativity which makes each geocache unique.
There have been a lot of Geocaching clones the last 10 years who have failed to live up to their promise. I think Munzee could be an exception to this, because it is not an exact clone of geocaching.com and it fulfils a specific need among geocachers which geocaching.com only partly serves: Point Hunting. If you want to go out and score as many points as possible, get on top of the rating system and do not care about thanking the owner for the hide in a log and do not care about the creativity of a hide, Munzee is for you.
Thursday, 30 June 2011
You can create a pocket query with all caches in your holiday region. When arrived, you can visit all the places described in the tour guide book and take a look at your GPSr every now and then to check if there is a cache on the left or right side of the road. If you spent your holiday like this, then you go on holiday and find some caches.
I have just returned form my multi city trip holiday to Munich, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. We went geocaching on our holiday. This is how we did it:
1. Put the tour guide book in your backpack and leave it there (you only need it to find a good restaurant).
2. Go to the geocaching.com website and click 'Hide and Seek a cache'.
3. Enter the address where you are going on holiday and a radius, eg. Budapest, 1 mile and click go.
4. Click on the blue favorites ribbon to get the cache with the most favorites points on top.
5. Now you see that 'Gellert Hill' is the place to go in Budapest. Also download at least the other first 9 caches to you GPSr. This is the to do list for your holiday. That is what I call geocaching on holiday.
If you do the same for Vienna you will see that the 'Old Wiener Spaziergang' city tours by Lachwurzn are quite popular. Why do we geocachers need a tour guide book? Have an even better holiday this summer!
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
The Etrex model is the cheapest and most basic model and comes in 3 versions, the 10, 20 and 30. The 10 does not support maps, which comes in handy when geocaching so this one is not the best for geocaching. The 20 & 30 models support the maps where the 30 also has a built in electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.
Compared to the Etrex, the GPSMAP62 has some more buttons to push which makes operating the GPSr more easy. The difference between the GPSMAP62 and GPSMAP62s is exactly the same as the difference between the Etrex 20 and 30.
The Dakota series has a totally different user interface, a touchscreen. Difference between the 10 and 20 version is again the built in electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.
The Oregon is similar to the Dakota 20 but has a wider touchscreen interface. Nice feature of the Oregon is that it supports Wherigo, which none of the other models do. The top range version also has a camera.
Top of the range model is the Montana. This model has an even wider touchscreen compared to the Oregon and can be used in both landscape and portrait mode. The Montana also supports spoken routing directions, so you can use it in your car. Nice, but I would prefer a field GPSr which communicates with the built in GPS in my car, so I can sent the parking waypoint to my car GPS, instead of a GPS that I can use in and outside the car. Camera is included in the top range version of the Montana.
My personal top 5:
1. Still the Oregon. It is the only one which can do everthing, including Wherigo.
2. Etrex 20. Cheap and can do almost everything. To be honest, I have never used the electronic compass on my Oregon.
3. GPSMAP62. If you do not like the touchscreen of the Oregon and you want easy buttons to push, the GPSMAP62 is perfect for you.
4. Dakota. If you want a touchscreen, buy the Oregon.
5. Montana. Large, heavy, expensive and still does not have all the functionality I would like to have.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Now, 8 months later, there are already 10 chirp caches in the Benelux! That's just over 1 each month. That does not sound like a big difference to me! There are also no chirp caches in the Benelux with over 10 favorite points. CacheFreakTim thinks Chirp is an awesom concept. I think it is not making the big difference promised by Garmin.
There are two simple reasons. The chirp is too expensive and the functionality is limited. 23$ is simply a lot of money for an electronic device that easily gets lost or broken. Also the fuctionality is limited as you can only sent text or coordinates to a GPS device. Also, the functionality is almost equal to wherigo. If you enter a specific area, you get information from the chirp. Isn't that the same thing wherigo does? Revealing information when you enter an area?
More creativity in geocaching is delivered by beautifully handcrafted or cleverly hidden waypoints or caches. Not by delivering waypoint information in an easy and technically advanced way. The key for a good cache is the element of surprise. The magical combination of surprise by a chirp has not yet been created by a cache owner and untill this has been not been done, chirp does not live up to its promise.
Friday, 13 May 2011
2. Don't use wordvalues. Because they do not make sense and take ages to calculate. Simply ask for the lettervalue of the 3th and 5th character. Bad.
3. Make your cache easy to find. Geocaching is all about finding a cache (and not about searching a cache). The cache should be hidden for mugglers but not for geocachers. Good. Bad.
4. Cache size to small. If I have survived the challenge of your cache I want a decent log book to write down my experiences. Not a piece of paper asking for a name and a date. Good. Bad.
5. Take criticism serious. If a remark about your cache keeps coming back in several logs, change the situation. Bad.
6. In a forest 'behind a tree' is never a good hint. Neither is 'see spoiler picture'. Always add a good hint. If I think a cache has been ripped, I want to be sure I have looked at the right spot. Bad.
7. Perform maintenance if geocachers write a 'need maintenance' log.
8. If a special tool is needed, mention it on the cache page. Also use attributes, especially the wheelchair icon. Good. Bad.
9. Give an estimation of the amount of kilometers or the time needed to find the cache. Good. Bad.
10. Think about what your cache adds to the already existing caches in your neighbourhood. If you can not come up with an answer within 2 minutes, archive your cache.
Saturday, 7 May 2011
First thing that caught my eye on the new homepage, is the ‘Go Geocaching with your smartphone’ line in the top right corner. Yes, it says smartphone, not GPSr. Spending 100€ on a GPSr is no longer needed to start geocaching. A smartphone, which you probably already have, is good enough. As I already said last year, Groundspeak is looking for ways to infect more people with the Geocaching virus. And these 5 words, ‘Go geocaching with your smartphone’, will take geocaching to the masses. You no longer need to go to a (web)shop spent 100€ and figure out how to operate your new toy. The largest hurdle is gone. People are looking for the coolest apps for their smartphone, and a treasure hunting app would perfectly fit in that category.
Second thing that caught my eye, is that the new homepage is so much more starter friendly. The old homepage was perfect for existing users with quick links to 'your profile' and the 'hide & seek a cache page'. For newbies the old homepage was hell. In the new design, Groundspeak kept the quick links to ‘your profile’ and ‘hide and seek a cache’ and added starter friendliness. The new homepage explains with a nice picture what geocaching is, there are multiple links to the start guide, explaining geocaching in more detail and there is the link to make your smartphone geocaching ready. From the old homepage, you had to go through hell and back to get the same information and get started. This new homepage is a huge improvement for starters.
Another remarkable thing that is promoted to the homepage is the ‘local organisations’ link under ‘community’. This is a big appreciation from Groundspeak for the work the local organisation have done. Groundspeak is seeing the importance of the local organisations for themselves and the geocaching community. Local organisations pick up everything groundspeak can not do themselves. Besides keeping relations with land managers, bringing local geocachers together on a forum and by organising events, local organisations are the innovators of new functionality of the geocaching.com website. They have the lean organisation needed to quickly build innovative new functionality and they are less dependent on their relatively small user base. So if new functionality fails, it is not such a big deal as it is for groundspeak.
Last but not least is that the new site design is mobile friendly. The menu on the left hand side was killing for mobile devices with small screens. Now the full width of the screen can be used to view the information you want to view. And as said before in this post, mobile devices are the future.
Yes, I like the new geocaching.com homepage a lot. It has opened the door to the new geocaching era of smartphones but also left wide open the door to the traditional era of the GPSr, as it should be. I am looking forward to the cache hiding creativity of the newbies with their smartphones but I think the smartphone is not yet ready to replace the ruggedized stand alone GPSr’s for more frequent geocaching. The new geocaching.com homepage fits that suit perfectly.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
... you can do all the traditionals at all the famous spots. But we did it diffently. When we visited Rome last November, we went for Angels and Demons and the four sisters, the challenging mystery caches of Nemrodek.
Angels & Demons is about the famous book and movie and will lead you along all the important places of the story. The four sisters is a nice puzzle cache which will lead you to 4 nice places in Rome where you have to answer 4 challenging questions. Do not forget to visit the coords on the cache page of the four sisters, for us that was the best view in Rome.
We failed on both caches, but we had tons of joy searching for them and nearly missed our plane! Next time in Rome I will give it another go. I recommend you do the same.
Thursday, 21 April 2011
1. A blog post by Nav2Paddy with a videolog (has been removed from his website after the chaos it has caused), picked up by Phoenix-night for his friend, cache owner Dukkie;
2. The Geoleaks forum, a forum to help or to get help to solve a mystery cache.
“You and not Groundspeak, are entirely responsible for all content that you upload, post or otherwise transmit via the Site. You agree not to:
(m) Publish, in any form of media, the solutions, hints, spoilers, or any hidden coordinates for any geocache without consent from the cache owner.”
So today, a new request has been opened, to ban public spoiling geocachers. I think this is going way too far. You can not ban users from your site because of their behaviour on another website. Currently Groundspeak is kindly asking you to behave like your mother has told you to do. They could take it one step further and start a discussion with the people behind the spoiler websites, twitter accounts etc., but that is all they can do.
I would not act at all against spoilering on third party websites. It is part of the game. If people are having fun playing the game this way, let them play their game. Geocaching should be all about having fun outdoors. Everyone in their own way. And the cache owners? Just like Groundspeak, also cache owners can not make everybody happy the way they want to. You can not force people to act a certain way. In stead you should focus on the 90% of the geocachers enjoying your cache like you have intended it to be. But also cache finders can help: Write a decent log. A log which makes the cache owner happy and clearly points out you have taken the whole jouney, including the joy of solving the puzzle.
And what about the video log? See it as a good add for your cache. The geocacher behind the camera has also put efforts in making the video, please respect that. Off course the satisfaction for the cache finder will be greater if they find something amazing when they did not know what to expect. But maybe without the video, they would never have done your cache and you would not have been able to give them some satisfaction at all! In Dutch we say: When the glass is half empty, think of it as being half full.
Friday, 15 April 2011
By car or bike: Betuws fruit
By bike or Foot: Bloeiende Betuwe, Bingo or Zakdoekje leggen (also a recommendation if you do not like blossom).
By bike: Hoge dijken, Lage huisjes and the Slingerroute serie.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Last week, 24 caches in parks around 6 cities in Europe have been published related to the Nature Needs Heroes campaign. Nature needs heroes is the latest campaign of shoes and clothing brand Timberland. All over Europe these caches caused noise. Why is Groundspeak allowing these commercial caches?
First of all, commercial caches are allowed with special permission from Groundspeak, see the last remark from the guidelines below:
"Commercial caches are disallowed. As a general rule, reviewers will not publish cache pages that seem commercial. A commercial cache has one or more of the following characteristics:
* It requires the finder to go inside a business, interact with employees and/or purchase a product or service.
* It has overtones of advertising, marketing or promotion.
* It contains links to businesses, commercial advertisers, charities, political agendas or social agendas.
* It contains the logo of a business or organization, including non-profit organizations.
* The name of a business or commercial product is on the cache page.
* On very rare occasions, Groundspeak makes an exception for a commercial cache. Arrangements are made before placement. If your cache is commercial in any way, please contact Groundspeak for clarification about how to comply with cache listing guidelines."
This way, Groundspeak has given itself the possibility to limit the commercial use of geocaching to those exceptional cases where there is something in it for them, which is quite fair I think. With the current amount of active geocachers worldwide, Groundspeak would be an interesting party for a lot of brands to make their message heard, like Timberland. This could be another significant source of revenue, besides the webshop, site banners and premium membership.
However, Groundspeaks Financial lackey Bryan Roth explained to me by mail that Groundspeak has cooperated with Timberland cost neutral, which means they have not gained any money on the promotion. According to Bryan, the main driver for Groundspeak to work with Timberland was to introduce new audiences to geocaching.
For Groundspeak and Timberland, the knife of the Nature Needs Heroes campaign cuts on both sides. The Timberland brand is introduced to the geocaching community and I think, there will be a phase 2 where Timberland is going to promote the caches to their audience and spread the message of geocaching.
I already blogged in May last year that Groundspeak is not considering geocaching as a secret hobby. As already said last year, more geocachers equals more fun for other geocachers and more money from premium memberships and site banners. This campaign is certainly not going to be the last campaign. While you might waste your time on complaining about this, I am looking forward to the creative caches placed by people wearing Timberland shoes and I just hope they are just a big adventure as this:
Monday, 28 March 2011
The event was limited to 200 geocachers and just after the official starting time of 10am I arrived at the event terrain. The cantine of the camp site where the event was taking place was already pretty crowded with geocachers. After checking in I got an envelope with a consumption ticket and an empty notebook (logbook?) with the name of the event printed on it. That is always a warm welcome. While having a cup of coffee or tea, all geocachers were patiently waiting for the new caches to be distributed.
Most geocachers had done some homework and solved the puzzles already published by the event team and were now waiting for the final pieces of information to calculate the cache coordinates of these mysteries. Just before 11am the event team started distributing the first series of caches. Of course everybody was curious whether their homework was correct and started solving the mysteries. As puzzling is not my cup of tea I had not done the homework and decided to go for a multi cache, a six kilometer walk around 'Landgoed Kasteel Keppel'. I turned onto the parking area just behind team rietje-10. As we left the event terrain soon after the caches were distributed, and most other geocachers were working on the mysteries, we figured out we had a chance on a First to Find.
So off we went and quickly found the first waypoints and answered the questions. Untill waypoint 9, where we were unable to find the links of chain. Due to this we were caught up by Heanigan and team Janneke&Jip who found the links almost immediately. After this little moment of trouble it was very easy finding the cache with its empty logbook and a non registered coin for team Janneke&Jip. As FTF ranking is not important for me, my name ended up on the 4th page. Suddenly the forester turned up and congratulated us with our first find. Now that is what I call a good relationship with the area manager.
After finding the cache, it was lunchtime already so I went back to the event terrain. While I was having lunch, I finally met some cachers I wanted to meet for a long time and we had a very nice chat. Also there was some buzzing going on about a chirp signal but I did not really catch that. Must have been one of the mysteries.
In the second cache distribution round, there were no very interesting looking caches, so I decided to go for a cache from an earlier edition, 'De schat van Schinderhannes'. Allthough I did not have all the items mentioned in the listing with me, I decided to go for this cache. Luckily for me the cache owner was prepared for this and hid all the required items in the woods for people like me. At waypoint 3 I was caught up again, this time by molenzicht, roccotje and borghuis. The four of us appeared to be a good team, solving all the creative waypoints (and even found one of another cache!).
Somewhere halfway the cache my friends for this cache said: "There is another cache somewhere here for you to log." And they starting searching for it. As they were not really sure about the location they pulled out an iPhone and checked it on the web. Indeed there appeared to be a cache just 100 meters from here. When we arrived at the spot, another team was already searching for the cache and plowed almost the whole area. "These boys know where the cache is!" I tried to relief them but after looking at their puzzled faces I was not so sure about that anymore. "I can not remember this area at all." All three of them said...
After this weird incident, we decided not to join the search for the lost cache but continue our own hunt and found the cache. When I got back to the car, the other team just arrived and confirmed they had found the lost cache but it was very hard to find. I decided to stick to the event caches and there was just enough time to do one more short multi to finish the day. After also finding this cache, again with another team, I decided it was time to go home.
For this event 14 new caches were published, 4 multi's, 1 letterbox and 9 mystery caches. None of them are really award winners in my opinion, but the award winners from earlier editions and the good atmospere at the event terrain make this an event worth visiting for everybody next year.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
The Dutch part:
When you want to explore the Dutch hills, I can be short. Just pick one of the multi caches of Pielewiele 22 and you will have a magnificent walk through the hills. Another recommendation is 'Ruprecht', a walk to a hermitage ('kluis' in Dutch), passing a source, religious statues, the track of the steam train and of course beautiful views. All of that in just 3 kilometers.
Just across the border southeast of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aken, Aachen) is a very nice military lost place with a traditional cache showing you some old tanks. Also very nice is this wherigo with a dark ending (bring your flashlight). Not war themed but in the area and worth naming is also this cache, 'Erstens kommt es anders'.
When crossing the border to the Walloon part of Belgium, I can recommend 'La Mine de Plombiere', a nice tour around the former mines of Plombieres. Very nice is the artificial tunnel of the small river Geul through the rocks. Last but definitely not least is this must visit traditional: Klenkes 2010: Ich glaube ich muss...
To do list:
Urban caching in Aix-la-Chapelle: Special Agent
Night caching in Germany: Das Geschenkdepots des Weihnachtsmannes, Nachtcache Wurm-Loch and Jagd auf Al Capone.
Just another good cache: The 5 senses
Do you have something to add to my to do list? Please write a comment or tweet me!
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
This new functionality gives other geocachers the opportunity to make a daytrip planning based on your recommendations rather then on the information in logs only. With the current density of geocaches to choose from, any qualified information in a rating system is better then no rating system at all. That is what makes the favorites functionality look like a great new feature. I think it is a great new feature, but it is not the best feature it could have been.
Why? Because I want to see what I might like, not what other people liked. With the current rating system, I can make a list of caches in a certain area and sort on favorite points (Hide & Seek a cache --> Seek a cache by address --> enter a radius --> Go --> click on the blue favorite icon in the header row to sort). For sure this will put a good cache on top of the list, but it is still based on what other people liked.
According to Groundspeak lackey Bryan Roth in a global caching chat, Groundspeak is working on an algorithm that presents you caches you might like based on awarded favorite points by you and by other people. For example, If you and someone else both awarded a favorite point to cache A and this other person also has awarded a favorite point to cache B, which you have not yet found, you will probably like cache B because you both liked cache A. The more favorited caches you share with another cacher, the more likely it is you will like the caches the other user has favorited and you have not yet found. This algorithm would make the result of the rating system more personalised and gives me a list of what I might like instead of what other people liked, which is exactly what I want.
However as I said, it is not the best system. It only takes into account the caches I have awarded a favorite point and not the other 9 out of 10 caches. Imagine you would have a rating system which gives you the possibility to rate every found cache on a scale from one to five with one being poor and five being excellent. These are some results entered by you and other cachers in this imaginary rating system:
|Cache A||Cache B||Cache C||Cache D|
|You||5 points||Not Found||2 points||Not found|
|Cacher 1||5 points||5 points||4 points||1 points|
|Cacher 2||5 points||4 points||1 points||5 points|
If 5 points resembles a favorite point, the Groundspeak algorithm would present you cache B and cache D in random order because you all liked cache A. However my imaginary rating system would also take cache C into account and because your rating on this cache is closer to cacher 2 then cacher 1, your caching taste is more like cacher 2. So, although cacher 1 does not like cache D, this would be the cache you would most likely like because your geocaching taste resembles cacher 2. Imagine this scenario with a lot more data behind it (your amount of founds) and there will be a lot of difference in the accuracy of the results of the rating systems!
But, as I said before, any rating system is better then no rating system. So here, under lists, you will find my favorited caches. I have 5 favorite points in my pockets. I only give them to caches which really deserve them, as I do not want you to visit caches I favorited which are not really remarkable. Please also be critical as it influences the decision for my next hunt!
By the way, my imaginary rating system is called GcVote. It does not contain the described algorithm and also the usage by other cachers in my region is very low. Just like other cachers, I also prefer a Groundspead branded rating system as more people are aware of and using it. Unfortunately this makes GcVote useless. Nevertheless the best solution was right before Groundspeaks eyes but they did not take it. Shame, shame, shame.
Friday, 25 February 2011
After the first handshake, the topic quickly changed to quality caching. After exchanging some recommendations for quality caches, there it suddenly was: the offer I could not refuse. “In January we are going to do ‘Waardeloos!’, would you like to join?” Off course I would like to join! The cache is going to be archived end of March and according to many people this is currently the best cache in the Netherlands! I was already working on this cache myself but got stuck at the third exercise, which was pretty worthless. A friend of A&F had already cracked the challenges and got a start certificate for end of January. Yes, I was very happy to join them!
The weekend before our night adventure, we had a little preparation meeting, which ‘forced’ me again to find a frontyard cache but also gave me the opportunity to meet some other geocachers. Again, the meeting was a lot of fun and we all were excited for our night adventure. During the next week, there was some sad news, A&F could not join our adventure. So, a few days later, I found myself in the woods, temperature -4 degrees Celsius, only the light of 4 flashlights and with 3 people I just knew for a week… We walked 20 kilometers, taking 9 hours and a daylight trip the day after (we made some terrible mistakes) but we had worthlessly great fun! ‘Waardeloos!’ truly is one of the best caches in the Netherlands.
However, what most changed my mind is, is what a boring frontyard cache can start… So if you are planning to find a frontyard cache, make sure to announce your visit so you can meet the people behind the cache. Please keep in mind that I am not accountable for the fun you will have!
A&F have already found ‘Waardeloos!’ as well. The cache will be archived in March but cache creator Phoenix Night is already working on its successor ‘H!’. With great expectations my new geocaching friends and me are all looking forward…
Thursday, 24 February 2011
As you might have noticed, at his been silent on my blog for quite some time. I have experienced that blogging takes time, time I did not have. So I limited myself to 140 characters with a twitter account. Posting geocaching adventures in 140 characters appears to be fun, challenging and fast. So if you want to follow my geocaching adventures, follow @rhrnl on twitter.com!
But.... I have a little more spare time recently which I will use for some topics which need more than 140 characters. So for some 'easy reading' geocaching content or geocaching stuff to think about, keep your eyes on this blog! By the way, the best way to follow a blog, is by using a rss reader, like google reader.
When I signed up for my twitter account, I discovered that not only birds are tweeting. I was not the only geocacher active on twitter, half the geocaching community was already there! Twitter appears to be an excellent medium to keep posted on everything what is going on in the geocaching community. One of the most active geocachers on twitter is hollands most notorious cacher @barnynl. If you like his nagging sense of humour, simply follow him on twitter and you will be among the first to know who his next target in his fight against the decay (verloedering) of geocaching is. This way twitter appeared to be very good for my daily need of geocaching content!
Which interesting geocacher do you follow on twitter for your daily need of geocaching content? Share the fun with me and tweet me his accountname!
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
With the release of the beta maps late December, you got this pop up when you visited the beta maps for the first time. In this pop up there was the announcement of something called Geocaching Social, something I see a huge potential for and I already blogged about half November. With the recent release of new features on the site and loads of interesting features in the pipeline, Groundspeak is really moving forward with the geocaching.com website to get all potential out of it. I just hope that geocaching social turns out to be something like I have described in my November post or even something better!
Are you also curious what Geocaching Social is going to be or do you have your own opinion about what it should be or could add to the geocaching community? Write it down as a comment to this post or discuss it on the globalcaching forum (in Dutch). Big thanks to Hemma for referring to my blog!
Ps. I am having plans to revive my blog. More details will follow next week, so subscribe to the RSS feed already to keep updated!