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Informal, Unscientific Poll on Geocaching Age February 2, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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This one is from a thread in the Forums.  I got a bug in my ear and decided to start keeping the running statistics.  The original question was, essentially: “I’m 23 years old.  Are most Geocachers older or younger than 23?”

See for yourself:

As of 13:40 on 2/2/10

Average (Mean): 34.33
Median: 29 years
Mode (Most Common): 21 years

Total entries: 73
0-17: 15 entries
18-34: 26 entries
35-52: 15 entries
55-85: 17 entries

Youngest: 3mo
Youngest able to sign the log: 5 years
Oldest: 85

So yes, most Geocachers are older than 23, at least according to this highly biased poll of self selected forum-reading Geocachers on Groundspeak.  The only way this could be more unscientific and less meaningful is if PZ Myers were to send his Pharyngula hordes down upon it to prove the point.  Since this is a forum discussion that seems unlikely to happen.

Still, it’s fun and somewhat surprising if the data are representative of the larger Geocaching populace.  And yes, that is me replying in the Forum thread.

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Fallout From the “Midland Incident” January 30, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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Approximately 3 weeks ago there was a bomb scare related to a lamppost hide in Midland, TX.  This was the second incident in Midland in a year and I wrote about this in my other post Another Bomb Scare for Geocaching.  I commented on the newspaper site and mentioned at the time in the blog there were many possible problems with this.

I even remarked briefly (albeit obtusely) about my own experience landing in handcuffs while Geocaching.  The same thing and much worse appears to have happened in this case.  I stumbled across this on the Geocaching Forums: (more…)

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…)

Follow-Up to the Toughest LPC Ever January 26, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Cache Spotlight, Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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My LPC hide does it again (4.5/1.5 – GC1HV6R).  This is why you should hide caches- for the chuckles…

January 25 by bushclimber (39 found)
Look for this, but thank it my have been removed. Will go back again, when the parking lot and business are not being used.
January 12 by Road2Ruin (3571 found)Second strike. Grr….

What we have here is the duality of nature.  On the first hand, the angry n00b who has no idea what he is looking for but assumes if his master sleuthing can’t suss it out in 5 minutes the cache “my have been removed”.  That will mean something to me after 300-400 more finds, and liberal applications of liquor.  Be persistent, new guy.  It WILL pay off.

On the other hand, the grizzled veteran (ok, I don’t know about grizzled but I assume after 3,000 finds you have a little road-wear on your hikers) who THINKS she knows what she is looking for but has been hopelessly duped as I zigged where they expected me to zag.

The difference is, the veteran is now calling and writing anyone with a find and a clue.  She will be aimed back at this one in a few days or weeks and post a glorious log announcing the defeat of this unholy testament to cache hiding evil.  The other one, not so much, I expect.

I did give everyone an instruction manual on how to find it, you just have to do the homework.

Another Bomb Scare for Geocaching: Midland, TX January 8, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, In the News/Blogosphere.
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I saw this newspaper link on the forums. (link opens to the newspaper site).   Somebody dropped an LPC in a shopping center and it was called in as a suspicious package.  Some of the comments on the article concerned me, so I wrote in…

Kinzua Kid

To the tens of thousands of families who who enjoy Geocaching as a game, a way to see the great expanses of the globe from a new perspective or as purposeful exercise this kind of scare is a tragedy.  It puts the activity in a terrible light that doesn’t at all reflect Geocaching’s true character.

At this moment there are over 900,000 Geocaches hidden around the globe, a great many in country or places that will take your breath away.  A good hike or side trip with the kids to learn more about historical monuments, see the natural view or just test your puzzle solving skills outdoors against other players is a good thing.  It gets people outside together, using their brains, exercising their bodies, cleaning up as they go, learning more about their local geography/geology…

…and it’s free.  Anyone with a GPS can join in.  For the price of movie tickets for 4 a whole family can enjoy the hunt for “treasure” together for years on end.

Geocaching is a good, clean and cheap outdoor activity that benefits the whole community and it is always supposed to be kid friendly.  In this case the scare could have entirely been avoided with a little more forethought and communication.  It is unfortunate but the Geocaching community will have to endure a little more rigor over this.

In my area (Southern California) it is not uncommon for law enforcement, park services or other land management officials to be consulted and informed about Geocaching by the players.  As players we all want to avoid these misunderstandings and I am sure by now the Midland police have been in contact with the Groundspeak/Geocaching contacts to find ways to avoid a third incident.

A lamp post skirt cache bomb threat is not the best introduction to the game but I do hope it will not tar all of the local Geocachers with a negative stigma.

I think I’m being hopeful on that last one, but one has to hope.  If you want to see the comments on the Geocaching forums, click here.

GCVote – Reading My Mind January 5, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Resources, Reviews, Software, Statistics.
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It’s tough to keep up with all the software and tool development in the Geocaching world as it happens so quickly.  I missed out on version 3.0 of CacheStats, for example and who knows how many revs behind I am on GSAK.  Plenty, I suppose.  But that’s not what this note is about.

I’ve been thinking about building a cache rating database to give the new folks something to look at before going out on their second or third search (or first, for that matter).  I was going to start by collating some opinions from like minded folks on their favorite caches and initially publish a list.  Next, after I moved the blog to a proper server I was thinking about firing up a simple database for these sorts of things to give the good local color a little more exposure.

I don’t need to do that now.  It’s already been done, with GCVote.

(more…)

Geocaching.com Appears to be Down January 1, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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So no, it’s not you.  Started about 6:30pm PST with Internal Server 500 errors.

That’s never good.  Check your recent cache logs when it comes back up.

Shout Out to Trick Shop Magic December 26, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Blogroll, Education, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Recreation, Resources, Somebody Else's Stuff.
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If you’re one of the regular North County Cachers you already know I enjoy entertaining with a little close-up magic.  I call it preparation for my retirement career, post-geek.  It is hard to imagine a hobby more geeky than the crap I already do for a living but I guarantee you I have found it.

You can see me in blurry action, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhq5ocUOMQY

or here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8iObbMqVa0

Both of these tricks were performed for the launch of the “52 Pick Up: Throwing Down the Deck” mass Geocache launch during the summer of 2008.  I did another 4 or 5, too for the kids and over 150 adults in attendance.  If you haven’t gone after this prize, there are 52 Geocaches hidden around North San Diego County, each named after a card and containing a clue to the location of The Joker.  13 of us teamed up to create this awesome puzzle, modeled after a similar bunch in Northern California.  The card tricks just seemed to fit the event.

More below the fold… (more…)

Don’t Forget the Red Balloons! December 5, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Blogroll, Family, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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Groundspeak is participating in the DARPA Challenge to locate 10 red weather balloons that will only be visible for 7 hours today (until 4pm PST or so).  Their warroom blog is here, at http://www.10balloonies.com/.  I don’t know about you, but I will be looking up while out caching today.  Help them out and communicate your finds to them at the warroom!

Cache Spotlight: GCM5R6 “Tongue Wagger” August 24, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cool Caches, Forums, Geocaching, Somebody Else's Stuff.
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I find fun stuff on the forums.  If you’re looking for some adventure, those New Yorkers really know how to lay down a cache.

I’d love to give this one a shot, but since I’m in that area only in November it might not be a good idea then.  Summertime for this one seems to be the best.

Enjoy those logs and pics.  Some good caching is up there.

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.

Fire at Groundspeak Data Center July 4, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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I finally got back on this AM.  Looks like there was a fire near/in the same building as the Groundspeak data center.  That link will take you to the forums where status notes are posted.

I would expect some delays in the PQ and notifications features while all the backlog is processed.  Find logging is a bit slow, too.

Update: here’s a more full-featured news article. Happy Independence Day!

Geocaching and Groundspeak Down for Me July 3, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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I can’t navigate to either geocaching.com or groundspeak.com.  NSLOOKUP won’t resolve the name, either, so it looks like the intertoobs have just “forgotten” about us.

Is it just me?  At home I’m on Cox San Diego.  You?

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.

A Tale of Two Plates June 20, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Recreation, Somebody Else's Stuff.
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I was trolling the GC.com forums and ran across the gem below.  You can see the original right here:

Not So Successful

Not So Successful

It seems Team Black Cat has an eye for the epic fail.  I immediately wondered aloud about how many muggle vehicles are sporting an unintentional Geocaching abbreviation.  Probably lots, which makes this super fun, but not so impressive.

Then I thought about my good friend the king of FTF bogarting (and I celebrate his selfishness), dougandsuzy:

dougandsuzy is in the house

dougandsuzy is in the house

Yes, that’s real, and that plate has been seen at over 2,000 finds. 

Got any others out there?  Shoot em over…

They Get Better With Age, Folks June 16, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Philosophy, Snark.
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I thought I had already heard, seen and done all the craziest numbers running Geocaching stunts in the world.  And then I read this Geocaching Forum thread:

Do you archive your older caches that have slowed down just so you can place a new one in the area?
That’s not the craziest, however, as several readers have hinted they do just that.  They call it “refreshing the game”.  Once a Geocache has been found by the 8-10 people the owner cares about, out comes another.  With all these caches being built to archive I am certain the quality of the hide and swag must be incredible.  Awesome, even.
The first response is dead on the freakin’ money, folks:
No, If I own a real old cache it has historical value and I wanted people to see what I brought them there for. I don’t hide caches so people can increase their number.

If I archive a cache in the area I don’t place a new one there because one of two things has happened.
1. What I wanted to show off no longer exist or is significantly different to where I don’t think it is interesting any more
2. I am too far away to maintain the cache

-webscouter
Listen to that one.  He knows of what he speaks.  Around these parts we have honor attached to the oldest caches.  I have a PQ specifically for the oldest hides and I have two caches on my bucket list of note: Groundspeak HQ and Geocache #1.
That’s it for me, I’m on my way to the Mile High City for a few days of work and they’re closing the door to the plane.  Maybe I’ll get off my rear and drop you all another quickie in the AM.

Now I Get It June 11, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere, Mobile Caching, Software.
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I’ve asked in various places and posts why the quality of Geocaching hides and seekers seems to be going down.  Then I read this gem.

So if people are only just now finding out about Geocaching because there’s an iPhone app, what’s going to happen when they start buying the newly discounted $99 iPhones?

We’re screwed.

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.

(more…)

All Systems Go June 7, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Geocaching, Geocaching.com.
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And all my caches back in working order.  If you’re missing a piece to the 52 Pick Up series from the eights, fret no more.  Oh, and that “Don’t Do This! #7: You Down With LPC?” cache is back, too.  Now with more camouflage goodness, so enjoy!

Quick and Dirty Update June 6, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Events, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Reviews, Snark, Software.
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2 comments
  • I’ve hit over 85,000 Geocaching miles.  Suck it, Lotrat.
  • Calipers pointed out I need to review GeoBuddy and compare it to GSAK.  Stay tuned.
  • Somebody was musing about a North SD County meet and greet.  Let’s get it on, folks.
  • I’m still looking for more interesting spoofs to target for my “Don’t Do This!” series.  Take a look at my profile and send me your ideas if you want to have them immortalized with the “Frown-O-Meter”.  (See my GC profile and caches for more details)

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…

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?”

(more…)

New Geocaching.Com GPS Reviews Feature March 29, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Hardware, Reviews.
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Have you noticed the “GPS” profile data feature on Geocaching.com lately?  This is a bit of a sneaky back door for a feature I have been clamoring about for ages:

Proper GPS reviews by the people who use them

I don’t know why they’re hiding the feature; it is not terribly well advertised, but you can access the main GPS review pages, here.

You can select the manufacturer and model, then see what other folks have to say.  Since these are ALL Geocachers I think you will find a more appropriate set of commentary than in the general intert00b space.

If you are daring enough to add your own review, just view your profile and check for this on the right hand side:

From your GC.com Profile Page

From your GC.com Profile Page

There have been some questions in the forums on this lately, but nobody’s looking at the hundreds of reviews for every device already on Geocaching.com.

Enjoy, and Happy Caching!

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.

(more…)