A lot of what I talk about these days seems to be Geocaching related. The concept of Geocaching has long been around and at present the biggest central location of cache information is at geocaching.com which is owned by Groundspeak. The website, applications and tools are pretty average to use and no real changes have been made to the way that users interact with the site for a long time. The iPhone application is clunky at best and is a difficult to use at times. The reliability of the application over mobile connections is also questionable. All of the caching data is held by Groundspeak and although premium members can retrieve data via Pocket Queries (multiple caches in a single GPX/LOC file) and single file downloads (one cache per GPX/LOC).
There is no public API for developers or users to use. There is no systematic way other than scraping to fetch cache data – and this is against the terms of the site and services. There are many good reasons why Groundspeak should introduce a public developer API. It makes no difference if it is licensed and paid for, developers will still use it and it would boost the bottom line for Groundspeak.
By opening up the data to developers, better applications can be created and users get choice. Choice is a very good thing. You only need to look at the enormous amount of Twitter applications that have made the ecosystem flourish and people can decide to use an application that provides them with the features that they want and less of what they don’t want.
This fuelling of innovation can only help Groundspeak increase its revenues and expand Geocaching to a bigger audience. The more people that are using the API, site and products can only enhance what Groundspeak have to offer. Using the example of Twitter clients again, products that have implemented good ideas and functions often get copied: as the famous quotation goes “imitation is the highest form of flattery”. The problem with this is that at the present time Groundspeak are merely stagnating Geocaching for developers and in turn the end user.
The other side of providing the API is the cost of covering running the service. Access to it could be funded by providing to premium users only. If access if provided to premium users only, even without an increase in price the bottom line for Groundspeak would improve and a lot more users would pump money into the ecosystem by purchasing third party applications that would require premium memberships.
This weekend marked the first GeoCaching event that I’ve been to. "To Cache a Kippa" was held at the Keele University KPA and they placed ten new caches around the campus that we got a few first-to-finds on. It was really nice to meet fellow cachers and share stories about being out caching. We have met a few other local cachers while being out like Mick and Mandy. I also speak to a few cachers quite often and it was nice to be able to put faces to names on Saturday evening.
Of the caches that were placed around the campus, none were really difficult to find and as I said – we managed to get three first to finds. We ended up with quite a large group of about twenty cachers with us that we let on a merry dance around Keele woodland. Hopefully a lot of other people visited my library cache down there and took some books from it. I did drop a few BookCrossing books at the KPA too, which were Jeremy Clarkson, Have I Got News For You and Football, etc.
The only other caching we did this weekend was in Eccleshall where we completed “The Eccleshall Tour”. Nothing particularly of interest here but it was a nice couple of hours out on a pleasant autumn evening.
I’ve added a few new pieces of code in to my GitHub repositories. I’m currently working on the FourSquare automation script. I’m also putting together a class to interact with the Prowl push API. It will provide PHP applications with the ability to push notifications from their apps/sites quite easily. There is also a few other bits and pieces. I’m also looking at forking Chirrup and moving it on to support both the streaming API and OAuth too.geocaching
As many of the regular readers of this site and my Twitter account will know, I’ve very much integrated GeoCaching into my daily life. Just like pringles you won’t be able to stop once you’ve started. GeoCaching is a very simple premise that is similar in principle to the old idea of letter-boxing. You can sign up at geocaching.com for an account an begin looking for GeoCaches in your area straight away. You will need some form of GPS receiver such as a Garmin. This article provides a little information on how to find a GeoCache and the best ways to hide your own caches.
When attempting to find a GeoCache there is no particular set of rules that you need to adhere to. The following is a list of how I’d recommend you start looking for a GeoCache.
After you’ve made your first finds you’ll have a better understanding of what makes a great GeoCache. I usually recommend that people consider hiding caches after they’ve made 50 or so finds as you have a better knowledge of the sport. The list below provides some tips on placing a GeoCache and things to avoid doing.
If you have any other tips or comments then please add them in the comment section for others to read.geocaching, security, web
I completely found myself in shock earlier today when I had to use the ‘forgotten password’ feature on geocaching.com. To my complete amazement, they emailed my password back to me in plaintext. Now, bearing in mind that most of their site is basic in features I’m sure they haven’t generated their own two way encryption so that means they’re storing passwords plaintext which in this modern age is suicidal.
I simply couldn’t believe it, I hope they can prove me wrong but I’m almost sure they storing them plaintext. Please, someone from geocaching.com contact me and tell me you have some space age encryption going. Until then, I’m changing my password to something retarded.