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Don’t Do This! #1,325,988: “WTF Were You Thinking?!” January 30, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, For the Newbies, Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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Epic Geocaching fail here.  I stumbled upon this thread in the forums regarding a highway hide in MO.  Then somebody helpfully posted a link to the cache in question, GC237WQ: The River #2.  Here we pause so you can get caught up on the story.

Finished yet?  Good!

Three things popped out at me reading this thread and the cache logs: (more…)

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Follow-Up and Welcome December 31, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, Events, For the Newbies, Geocaching.
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The North County Cachers had one of our “regular” events last night, if you can call “whenever the hell we feel like it” regular.  As usual, the pizza was edible, the beer cold and the company outstanding.  Thanks everyone for coming.  Waterlassie did a great job working everyone up into a lather with the white elephant gift exchange and the predictions contest was a big hit.  I do have one vote for a best prediction that I feel got short shrift:

This is a paraphrase as I don’t have the paper in hand:

“I resolve to improve my emerging clairvoyant FTF abilities to the point where I am actually at GZ while caches are being hidden by the owner”

-dougandsuzy

I think it didn’t win because it is more of a resolution, but doesn’t he already do this?

To the folks coming here for help with PQs, software, how-tos and resources like log templates for the first time: welcome!   Shoot me a note if you have questions and I will write them up if I can.

Happy Caching!

Another Frustrated Newcomer August 20, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Strategy and Tactics.
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Newcomer?  New player?  I can’t say N00b because they sorta-kinda stopped playing and then started again.  But on the forums I ran across this thread, which I would direct the newer cachers to view and take home some good advice from the commentators.  The player and a muggle audience went 0-for-6 on a hunt and the experience is just turning him/her off to the game.  Here’s some of the good highlights in the comments (Advice for the new player):

  • Pick easy ones at first, nothing more than 1-2 stars of difficulty
  • Read the last 5 logs to see if it has been found recently or if others have had trouble finding it
  • If you’re using the iPhone, TomTom or Garmin Roadmate (a “car-focused” GPS) to cache, do some reading and make sure your GPS is “talking the same language” as Groundspeak.  A note in the forums asking for a quick FAQ link or spot of advice will do nicely.
  • Remember, the GPS doesn’t get you right to the cache.  It gets you pretty darned close, which could be 30′ away.
  • Employ patience.  You have no idea what you’re looking for yet.  After you find a few it will be easier.
  • Enjoy yourself.  If an outing with the family isn’t enough fun and the smiley is the only reason you’re playing, do a rethink.
  • Read that last one again.
  • Corollary to enjoying yourself: Log the DNF!  Truly, this is your best source of a.) information to make the find and b.) finding a friend who can help (and who you might help)

It’s a good thread.  I love lurking in the forums.

Geocaching Videos on YouTube August 19, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere.
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Somebody on one of the Geocaching.com forums clued me into the most video-riffic channel by cacher Headhardhat.  You need to be logged in to Groundspeak for that link to work.  You can find his YouTube channel and I am told it is an excellent set of videos by Headhardhat, so get cracking.

No warranties, I haven’t reviewed them yet, but since there was talk about setting up a little “how to hide” and “how to find” video shoot here in North County I figured it was worth a look-see.

North County Cachers Summer Meet-N-Greet July 3, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, Events, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Recreation.
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There’s been a little conversation brewing for a while on the NCC Yahoo! group regarding a summer meet and greet at our usual hangout.  You can read all about it, here.

The call for a proper “breakout” session or two around route planning, hiding techniques and so forth is out there.  Depending on interest level, I’d be willing to step up and deliver a talk or two.  Why don’t you head on over to the Yahoo! group and register your interest so Peg can give me a shout out to prepare for a nice presentation?

I will toss up a poll and see if I can’t get some real interest going.  We’d love to have a whack of people up for a midweek gathering.  C’mon, you know you wanna!

Buzzbo’s First Hunt June 28, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Somebody Else's Stuff.
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I’ve still got a few muggle friends who haven’t played the game yet.  One of whom is an old old friend of my wife, known to me for about 10 years now.  Scratch that- he HAS played the game and I can no longer refer to him as “my muggle friend”.

He is now buzzbo(remember, these profile links don’t work unless you have a free Geocaching.com account)

Buzzbo pinged me a half dozen times before his first hunt, looking for some pointers.

  • What kind of caches should I look for?  Big ones.  Regular, Large; but definitely NOT micro sized.
  • Where should I look?  Locally, something in the Terrain 1-2 range.
  • Anything I should pay attention to?  Read the last 5 logs.  If there’s trouble ahead, it will be in the logs.
  • What other inside advice will help make this fun?  Bring the kids.  If they aren’t having fun, neither are you.  And they WILL have fun.

Buzzbo fired off a video of the first hunt.  Let’s see how he did…

Three for three; not too shabby!  The kids had fun, which is a key performance indicator- find or no find.  We have an ammo can for #1, which appears to have been some trouble for the kids (I don’t blame them, wearing a cast during summer is NOT fun).  I’m not a big fan of front yard hides but buzzbo tells me permission to pass was well documented.  The trouble opening the pill bottle for #2 was a little surprising, given that none of my “childproof” medicine bottles are anything of the sort.  All that goodness aside, #3 was the kicker.

The third cache was a hide I wouldn’t have touched because the last few logs are chock full of frustration and DNFs.  Buzzbo went after it anyway and came up with the smiley.  The best part: the last 3 DNFs were from >2000 find cachers.  That right there is a cup full of win!  🙂

As if this wasn’t enough, buzzbo managed his first three smileys using a Garmin roadmate or TomTom.  These aren’t the easiest devices to use for an offroad hunt (fragile, hard to find the pointer) and still the clan managed to avoid the dreaded DNF.

Nice work, buzzbo.  Thanks for the shout out and the great pics.  I’ll have to get a little crush event planned for your neighborhood.

GeoBuddy Overview June 8, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Software.
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Tip ‘o’ the hat to Calipers for requesting I take a look at GeoBuddy!

Not A Software Review

First off, this is NOT a proper review of TopoGrafix’s GeoBuddy software.  A proper review has all sorts of feature/functionality testing and the like I did not do here.  This post is a high level impression of the kit from my own unique perspective.  If you know me and my habits you should use that intelligence to color what you take away from my notes here.  If not, you should visit TopoGrafix and the GeoBuddy forums for more detailed information.

How I Use Geocaching Software

When I plan a Geocaching outing or just want to head out and grab a couple while I am out I have the same basic steps.  It is by these activities I judge the usefulness of any hardware/software tools for my caching fun.  These steps have been refined to accommodate my erratic travel schedule and the fact that on any given day I might be in 3 different states or countries.  My emphasis is on speed in getting to a quality set of Geocaching waypoints so I can get out the door and on the trail.  I like to explore and I don’t mind a little “now how do I get up THERE?!” while on the road.  A little sweat never hurt a caching trip.  I also don’t like to read the description and logs until I am at GZ unless I see the difficulty is a 4 or 5.  Finally, I might print a high level street map with waypoints just so I can plan my point-to-point wanderings efficiently.

All of this boils down to four basic steps which influence my overall impression of GeoBuddy.  Let’s take a peek, below the fold.

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Why Is All the Swag Crap? April 28, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in For the Newbies, Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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An interesting question has been put to the forums by a new Geocacher:  “What’s the deal with degenerating swag?“.  The responses are right on the money and I think I am in agreement with the masses.  The quality of Geocaching swag is directly related to three things:

  • Difficulty
  • Terrain+Length of approach to GZ
  • Private versus Public cache listing

I’m no Edward Tufte but I think it can be charted:

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

I think the single most important factor in maintaining high quality SWAG is distance from parking.  This of course limits the number of visits to a given Geocache, but it also touches on another fun bit in the thread, the interesting article links:

Most urban / suburban caches go through cache swag degeneration rather quickly. Any cache, easily accessible to all geocachers experiences the “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

One of my all-time favorite essays. I first read it about 35 years ago and was blown away, and still consider it one of the important guides to life. Thanks for posting about it. The original is here.

And the analogy fits perfectly.  I don’t trade SWAG myself, but people tend to get their greed turned on pretty quickly when nobody is looking.  Caches that are only visited infrequently have much higher visibility to each individual visitor (and therefore have a higher shame factor for not contributing).

Enough philosophy.  On to work!

More Geocaching Bomb Scare Nonsense April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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A thread got started in January on the Geocaching forums,  Caches to Ashes and Ammo Cans to Dust, one that is right up my alley because things get asploded!

Sadly, it’s a Geocache that gets blown up in this picture.  This is a fairly complete discussion as it features logs by the cache owner, the fire department and local eyewitnesses.  It’s actually a great backgrounder for anyone thinking of laying down a cache in a sensitive urban area.  Sure, it’s two months old but I don’t read the forums as much as I’d like.

All that, and it keeps with the theme of my last post!  Enjoy

-edit

After I posted, I found a whole bevy of them up there

A search for “Bomb Scare” on the forums nets 7 pages of threads.  That’s quite the tally…

Follow-Up to a Questionable Hide April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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About a month or two ago a new hide popped up in the area.  It was in a clearly marked “off limits” area but because other caches had been placed in the vicinity I believe the owner was under the impression a new placement would be just fine.  This is unfortunate as in my area we have seen “no trespassing” signs sprout up all around Geocaches.  No matter how off road a cache looks, development tends to encroach.  Such is life in Southern California.

A few folks piped up about this problem location and I was one of them, receiving a memo of irritation from the owner.  I responded rather verbosely and I thought the note important enough to share with you here.  I don’t plan on sharing the original memo from the hider unless that becomes necessary.  Let’s just say the owner was mildly upset with my position, which was “archive this cache”, and he/she was inclined to stop playing.  I respect his/her anger but don’t want the hider to give up on things.

My response, in 4 parts, was intended to help future hides and was a direct response to a comment by the owner concerning the  “I am your worst nightmare” section of my Geocaching profile.  All that, below the fold.  If you find it useful, please copy and use it in your own “counseling sessions”: (more…)

Fun Geocaching Stuff Around the Web April 1, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Blogroll, For the Newbies, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere, Recreation.
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I had 10 minutes so I took it.  Google can be fun!

  • Just what do you think this guy is after?
  • And it must have been a slow news day when they quote the “ardent” Geocacher of 70 finds in a year.  Must be all terrain-5 caches.  I do like the boy scout reference, tho.  Sorta.
  • Now I’m finding Geocaching blogs everywhere.  I need to read up on my outdoor wear more.  Check it. I dig a caching adventure in the rain.
  • And if you’re in the Boise Idaho area on a caching run, reach out to Tiggerz Travels.  Tiggerz’s first find was a dougandsuzy special (peanut butter jar).  Surely we can help find something a little more interesting for the next hunt!

That’s all you get for 10 minutes of research.  Back to work.  😉

Another Good “How I got hooked…” Story March 31, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in For the Newbies, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere.
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I love a good story about how people got hooked into Geocaching.  They’re usually pretty funny and I know you people can relate.  They also tend to come with those “WTF were you thinking?!?” questions from muggle family members.  This one here has it in spades.

Enjoy.

Interview With Marko Ramius: The Reviewer (part 2) March 31, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Philosophy, Reviews.
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The Setup

In the first article on Re-Introducing the 3rd Player: The Reviewer I just covered a few basics. This time around I have a bona-fide Reviewer who was kind enough to indulge me a few questions on your behalf. So here you have it, 20 questions with your local reviewer, Marko Ramius.

Well, local if you’re in San Diego/Orange County. 😉

The Questions

Marko, thanks for agreeing to participate here, the folks should get a kick out of it. The general populace only sees your name at the top/bottom of a cache log under “Marko Ramius, Published”. The first question on their mind is “Who is Marko Ramius?”

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Some Good Background for the Newbies March 24, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Blogroll, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere, Philosophy, Somebody Else's Stuff, Strategy and Tactics.
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And the oldies, too.  Drat19 has some handy thoughts on cache hiding, some of which are just plain good advice no matter how long you’ve been at it.  Try these two for some good reading:

I’m here for you… 😉

Re-Introducing the Third Player: The Reviewer (part 1) March 23, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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Deep in the bowels of Groundspeak headquarters, somewhere in the vicinity of N47 37.000 and W122 21.000 lies an ancient and terrible cult with enormous power and influence.  Some call them the Tripartite Commission.  Some know them as the “new world order” or the Illuminati.  We know them only as

The Reviewers

They are a shadowy bunch, traversing the space between the Geocaching Hider and Seeker with no apparent finds of their own, but thousands of Geocaches reviewed, approved, denied or just plain ignored.  They are the third player in this game and it does not go on without them; their power is legend.

Hider
Seeker
Reviewer

It has a very western 1-2-3 feel to it, and you probably know nothing about what number 3 does, why they’re here and how they can help.  It’s time we fixed that in a two parter.  In this first chapter let’s just cover the reviewer’s role, shall we?  It’s essential and neither the Hider nor the Seeker can do their thing without the Reviewer.

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Why You Should Wait Before Placing Your First Hide March 18, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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I read in one of the forums and how-to guides on Geocaching way back when that you should wait until you have at least 20 finds before placing your first hide.  This was to give the new player time to experience good and bad techniques, camouflage, locations and terrain.  The thought was (or so I infer) the community will see higher quality caches as a result.

Sadly, that advice is not easy to track down anymore, nor is it widely followed.  At least in the North San Diego County area we have recently seen a rash of new cachers placing their first hides after just a handful of finds, sometimes as little as 1 or none!  They all generally suffer from some of the same problems with location, detail and longevity.  Those are the reasons you should wait a bit before placing your first hide.  Details on that, below the fold.

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How’d You Do That: Printed Routes Episode March 6, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Mobile Caching, Software, Strategy and Tactics, Uncategorized.
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I received a few questions during the recent 100-Cache Dash about the preplanned route I provided to all the participants. So if you would like to plan a turn by turn route for your next Geocaching adventure, this post will get you started. If you weren’t there the first leg of the route looked like this…
Click to Embiggen

Palm Springs Route, Leg 1, From Mapsource: Click to Embiggen

Now I did provide it on regular paper and it was nicely carved up into “phases” for the day, but you get the idea.  If anyone got lost they could catch up real quick.  How 6 people with multiple GPSr units PER PERSON could possibly get lost is beyond me, and beside the point (but it is why we left Calipers at home).

Want to create something like this for your next hunt?  All that, and more, below the fold.

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Wherein I Learn A Lesson About Geocaching February 2, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Snark.
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I love reading the logs.  One out of 100 logs is just a side splitter.  Today I found one.

I called Calipers to ask him about one of my caches and the moment he answers I know he’s already read the log.  The bastard reads my logs before I read them.  Dammit, I’m never FTF any damned thing in the Geocaching world!  🙂

This one was a doozy:

“January 31 by ANONYMOUS (16 found)
After a diligent search, no cache. And if you are going to give a hint, then give a hint. Do not give a hint telling there is no hint. That is just rude and annoying.”

Now anonymous has a name but I’m just snarky and not a complete ass; close, though.  The irony is that this is one of a series of good examples caches, perfect for newbies like this one.  It was a 1/1.5 ammo can under a bush.  Easy pie, good view, super kid friendly.  My hint was essentially garbage since this is really a 1.  Really.  I just started laughing when I saw he had 16 finds.

Who makes a comment like that after 16 finds?  My reaction, below the fold.

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Geo-Trash January 19, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Recreation.
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I’ve had some junk clogging up my computer over the past few days, preventing me from doing any writing at all.  I lost a complete post in all the muck yesterday, which was very nearly the same experience I had while Geocaching.

I was roughly 35′ from GZ when I spotted a plastic baggie with an obvious log, pencil and cheap scrunchy ball someone got from their doctor’s office inside.  This was definitely NOT the ammo can I was promised.  Then again, some folks think a sandwich bag IS pretty big, so who am I to complain over a good bike ride and a smiley?  Never.  But something wasn’t quite right.

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Planning for a “Crush” Event – Part 2 January 19, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, Events, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Strategy and Tactics.
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Part 2: T-Minus 3 Months, What Are We Looking For?

So you’ve been Geocaching for a while and you think you are just insane enough to try for “100 caches in 24 hours!”, “As many as we can get before we pass out” or “300 finds or abandoning my car mates in a ditch, whichever comes first”. Caching can be stressful. So can a crush event, where you and your (optional) team race to collect as many smilies as possible.

In Part 0 we established the Crush event as something you should not treat lightly.  In Part 1 you have established your:

  1. Estimated Attendance
  2. Final Location
  3. “Leader” of the Pack (uh, that’s you)
  4. Happy Place, where you will calm down and relax (you’ll be visiting that place shortly)

Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the day.  We might as well dive right in since Part 2 is where you get to decide “Da Rules”, as one of my favorite cartoons calls them

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Abbreviations 101 January 14, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching.
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[Update 1/19/09: added GZ]

[Update: for all you folks arriving from Google, this is Geocaching Abbreviations 101]

I actually got surprised yesterday.  Somebody asked me what “LPC” meant and I actually started laughing.  Thank goodness I was reading an e-mail, but then I thought to look up the questioner and discovered this was a 5-Find cacher.

Then I felt like a douche.  If you’re out there- I was in the same boat, too.  Because really, most of the jargon you take for granted was brand new to you too on day one.  Heck, I didn’t know what TOTT meant until mid 2007, but I had a good guess and it really just didn’t affect my caching experience.  So when I was told it was more of an “eh, that’s neat”.

But I know some of you are dying to get the definitive Geocaching language handbook, so here goes.  What I will do is start the post off and keep it alive with your comments and feedback- refreshing as we go, adding and removing as we need.  If I need to upgrade this to its own page, I will, but I will catalog the notes here and see what is the interest level.

  • ALR: Additional Logging Requirement.  Previously used to enforce “special” find logging rules, such as “must show picture of self with cache container in hand to log as found”.  These are no longer allowed.
  • FTF: First to Find.  Something dougandsuzy have their own log stamp for
  • GZ: Ground Zero.  The “Spot” where the Geocache is located, or where you think it is located.
  • LPC: Light Post Cache.  A hide technique that is clever the first 30 times you see it, up under the skirt of a utility lamp post.
  • POI: Point(s) of Interest.  Your GPS probably calls all waypoints “points of interest”, like the one in my car does.  Usually this is a waypoint with a user flag on it, like “hotel” or “school”.
  • SL: Signed Log
  • TNLN: Took Nothing, Left Nothing
  • TOTT: Tool(s) of the Trade.  All the junk you bring with you to cache successfully.  Usually refers to something specific needed for a cache retrieval.

It’s a short start, but something tells me it will grow.  😉