Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anti-geocaching measures


Since I've been paying attention (that is, since I've been geocaching), I have never seen a lamp skirt so securely fastened to the base as this one, found in the parking lot of Gordon Parks High School in Saint Paul. Notice the extra concrete around the bottom edge and the soldering around the top edge. In fact, I can't remember many lamp skirts that are fastened to their bases at all.

This might not be an anti-geocaching measure; it may be an anti-micro measure perpetrated by a geocacher!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

GSAK geek alert: how do you prune archived caches?

As far as I can tell, there is no automatic way for pocket queries from to tell GSAK which caches have been archived.

I have pocket queries set up to pull all caches from the state of Minnesota throughout the week. When I go out caching, I load my GPSr from GSAK, usually after running one PQ in the area where I'll be caching, to catch all the late-breaking developments not caught by my weekly PQs. I have started to notice that archived caches appear as active in my database and hence in my GPSr. It was really an issue yesterday over in Grayhook-land in Minneapolis, where lots of caches have been recently archived.

I sorted all the caches in my database by "Last GPX update", figuring that if a cache hasn't been updated in a while, then it must have been archived. (I also get one PQ per week containing temporarily disabled caches.) I started to check each cache page by hand to see if it had been archived, but that got old fast. Yes, yes, yes, yes... I changed my plan of attack and just deleted every cache that had not been updated in a month. About 900 caches, roughly 10% of my default database.

I see two problems with this immediately. First, it leaves some archived caches in there -- the caches that were archived between one week and one month ago. Second, I may have deleted caches that are not archived -- for example, out-of-state caches that I have found but whose GPX files have not been updated since the last time I ran the My Finds query.

Hey, GSAK geeks, how do you deal with this issue?

[Edit: Thanks, Bill, for pointing out this thread started by sir_zman on the MnGCA forums. In that thread, zman links to this thread on the forums.]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm not house poor, but I'm trying to be cache poor.

When life gets in the way, blogging about caching suffers before caching itself suffers. I'm back now with a renewed commitment to increased quantity and decreased quality, if that is possible.

C and I bought a house in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul, after renting for a year and, luckily, selling our house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the house market is even worse than it is everywhere else.

I can see already that the greatest threat to my geocaching career is not my job, or my commitment to spend time with my children, or even potential MnGCA board service, but the infinite list of home improvements that is accumulating. What makes that list manageable is the rat-in-the-boiling-water effect -- if you just accept the fact that certain things are wrong with your house, the problems magically go away. No water out of the 2nd floor sink? There are other sinks! Dryer doesn't heat up? Tie a rope around the birdhouse for a clothesline! Seriously, it is a great education, and I find myself watching The Learning Channel, where all the experts are in great moods, unlike me. I repair things with a constant stream of words that start with s and f. HBO needs a home improvement show.

I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of moving was changing my home coordinates on and watching the changes in my list of closest unfound caches. Candy Apple Green's multi-cache Mountain Goat became my closest unfound cache, until I found it with LucidOndine and magicite on Sunday evening.

Hey, I have an idea. I'll publish the exact distance from Mountain Goat (M) to my new house (N), the exact distance from M to my old house (O), and the exact distance from N to O, and let you guess where I live and where I lived. It's not a completely determined system, but you could fiddle with a satellite map and probably figure it out.

I'll have to think about the security issues before I do that. And by "security" I mean, will my geocaching "friends" hide a cache in my front yard? Oh wait, they already know where I live. Hey fellas, there's a big pile of bark near the rotted-out pillar on my front porch... it'd make a great hiding spot.

In the meantime, my new closest unfound cache, GC1EFY6, has posted coordinates 1.4 miles away from my new home coordinates. (OH! That information would determine the system above!) I need to find nine caches to push my cleared-out radius above two miles.

Ah, there's a strategy that C could use to motivate me: "Your nearest undone task is 20 yards away. Get up on a ladder and scrape the peeling paint off the window trim."