Pyrocachers Rambles

The ramblings of Dave-Mancunian Pyrocacher, Husband & carer, Father of 2, and a addicted Geocacher. Ramblings about Life- caching-and everything!

Monday, December 01, 2014

The past leads to the future

On the 13th June 2014, I ceased to be a Groundspeak Volunteer Reviewer, after a irreparable breakdown between Groundspeak and myself.

My method of working from the heart, and always putting the Community first, put me into conflict with Groundspeak, on numerous occasions.

Not helped by the fact that Groundspeak;s own policy of no longer, tasking local Volunteers to deal with Landowner issues, means a US Based Employee deals directly with the issue. This means that people who have no local knowledge, take action. When there might have been the possibility of turning the situation around, with a discussion. 

It also means that their policy of always applying "all" reasonable requests by a Landowner, can lead to them requiring a Cache Owner to make a illegal action in regards to UK Access Laws. And stand by that despite being told, that the Requirement is illegal under UK Access Laws, by parroting the phrase "Groundspeak always complies with all reasonable Landowner Requests".

I got that reply twice, when I pointed that the requirement, was illegal under UK Access Laws, so I had to send a very strong and bolshie email, to get the Requirement withdrawn.

Yet despite stopping attempting to first explain twice, I got told, that I had done the equivalent of shouting in the 3rd email. No comment about the first two attempts. Just that I was in the wrong.

The final thing that saw my removal, and lets be clear, I was given the choice to either Resign of be Removed as a Volunteer Reviewer. All because I'd supposedly made a Rude Post on FB, I made a post to stop 2 members of a very small local community, from not only tearing into each other, but dragging others in the community, into their war against each other. So tearing the local community apart.

I got a email informing me that my Post had been Rude, despite those on both sides, to whom the post was aimed. Separately and independently contacted me, to thank me. As it made them sit down, and resolve their issues. I was required to Read the Groundspeak Reviewer Expectations Document and confirm I had done so. The document is a multi page one, which controls what a Volunteer Reviewer may and may not do. If I had followed it, the Local community, would now be in tatters.

I was also told I should have spoken to the other UK Reviewers, before making my post. We again I know what the reply would have been, "we as Volunteers, do not get involved in disputes within the community".

Sorry but I've never been a Groundspeak Employee, but a Volunteer, who gave up my time, to Benefit the Community, first and foremost. The needs of the community have and always will come first.

Sadly that does not fit in with a Corporate Groundspeak any more. I knew the writing was on the wall for me remaining a Reviewer, well over 18 months ago. When Groundspeak changed it Employee recruitment policy, from within the Geocaching Community, to one of Recruit people with specific defined skills, and "require" them to become Geocachers. Meaning the core understanding of the Geocaching Community, the differences world  wide, and the understanding of what the hobby means to people. Is not present, when the person joins Groundspeak, so they bring in Corporate ethos first and foremost. So I became a Dinosaur.

So no sooner than I had announced my resignation, than I got grabbed by the scruff of the neck, and dragged screaming and kicking, into becoming a North Wales 2016 Mega Committee minion, given that it will be my local Mega Event, not something I could refuse.

So the North Wales 2016 Mega Event, will take place on August 6th at The Royal International Pavilion' Llangollen. 

And on top of that, I got nominated for Election to the Geocaching Association of Great Britain Committee. To which I amazingly got Elected, so now from having nothing to do to help the community, I am involved in 2 separate projects   

Thursday, September 04, 2014

What a mess!

No the title is not about anything I've done, but rather Groundspeak's Wherigo.com web site, not updated since 2008. Still described as "Beta", and so full of bugs, it's a hair pulling experience trying to use it.

Yet sadly Groundspeak are so busy monkeying around with their Cash Cow, Geocaching.com, that they are not embarrassed, at the state of Wherigo.com 

So where to start, will I decided to add a bit of insane and manic fun to a event, but how?

Hmm I thought I'd have a go at a Wherigo Cache, but using Groundspeak's Builder was not a option, it is so flaky and constantly crashes. So after a bit of research, I cam across wherigo\\kit which is a Wherigo Cartridge builder web site, with point and click on a map interface.

Just what I was looking for, a wherigo builder for numpties like me.

So having already got a general location in mind, I moved the map to the general area, and set it to Google Satellite. Ok what am I aiming to do? Now remember I mentioned "a bit of insane and manic fun"? well that got me to thinking, having visited several parts of the area, I'd a good idea of the terrain, so had a good idea of where the cartridge needed to run. And then I had a brain wave (more about that when the Cache is live).

So ok I've got the skeleton idea, now to fill it out. But how? And that is when the second brainwave (yes you know, more after the Cache has been published)

So ok I knew where I wanted to start, which gave me my grounding point, but where next? When it hit me in the face, like a wet noodle! So Stages One and two sorted, now where for 3? and things just sort of started to fall into place, building its self.

wherigo\\kit, allows you to change the order of stages, by simply dragging them up or down the Stages List. So picking locations, and seeing a "As the Crow Flys" line between each stage as they are added, helped with the sorting. A very handy feature. I had the full cartridge, apart from the Final location sorted.

But I needed to test the Cartridge out, and that is where Wherigo.com created hair pulling started, upload a cartridge and create a page, but edit it? Not a chance! Run the Emulator, again not a chance, unless your techno savey and can install extra software needed to run the emulator, software you have to locate, download, and then install in the appropriate locations on your computer. What a mess!

As for installing on a Smartphone, well that was another hair puller, and one the solution was so simple for in the end.

Ok testing time, I was very lucky, in that my Boss on the North Wales Mega 2016 Committee, Angie - Sir and Lady Harveyjj offered to meet  up with me, to test the cartridge out.

So the Day of the Test and we meet at the Visitors Centre, for a Bacon and Egg Barm in my case, and a mouth watering piece of cake for Angie. Whilst at the Visitors Centre, Angie, managed to have a word with the Senior Ranger, and obtain Permission for the Container (even though at that time, just a general area had been ID'd)

So after our delightful food, we set off, arriving at the first location, my phone decided to play up, and would not fire up the GPS, so it said I still needed to go 1.3km. Luckily enough, Angies phone worked as intended, so off we set, visiting the various stages, until the last one, from there we went on a journey of discovery, trying to find a suitable location. One which luckily jumped out at us, and which was not in any proximity to any other cache in the area.

So once back home it was a case of finish off the Cartridge, and upload it to Wherigo.com. Only I decide that the page needed tweaking. Opened the Edit page, made the edits, and saved. Only for a error message, so make my way back to the page, edits not saved, try again, and again, and again (by this time your getting the idea of where the "What a mess" comes from). So ok Upload the cartridge as a completely new one, and so a new page. Create the page and make sure everything is sorted, before saving.

Right now for the cache page, which I'd already prepared in draft stage, edit that to add the location of the container, edit the description to fit in with the Guidelines. Then press the submit button, and the nail biting wait began.

Less than 24 hours later, and the cache had been Reviewed and will go live sometime during Ddraig Chat GC58Y6W which is the Location Announcement Event for the North Wales Mega 2016 Committee (not that you'd know it from the Event page, due to the huge amount of restrictions put in place by Groundspeak)

I will fetch a lap top, with the cartridge on it, available to download, for those who can't download it on to their phone/GPSr. And I will happily do the 2.5 mile, 2 - 3 hour walk, with anyone who wishes to get the FTF after the event. Oh did I mention it's a D2/T4 rated cache.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Current Project

Well I got to thinking, the only "physical" cache type I'd yet to create was a Wherigo Cache. So the old brain jumped into gear. So I started doing some research, now I already knew the Official Builder, is like humping a sack of bricks up 20 stories.

So more research, lead me Wherigo\\kit a nice and simple Wherigo Cartridge Creation web site, which just uses picking a location on a map, and writing a few words of description. And best of all, you don't have to do them in order, as you can rearrange the order to suit yourself.

Now luckily I know the terrain where the Wherigo cache will be set, so having created the Stages, and moving the order to suit. Being able to see them on a map, certainly helps.

So the basics locked down, just the location of the container to sort out, and permission of course. It was time to create the Wherigo Cache page on GC.

So during the process, you have to rate the D/T, ok I thought, I'll use GC's rating system. Oh did I mention that I'd measured the rough route of travel on Google Earth.

So using that information and knowledge of the terrain faced, I completed the form.

Surprisingly it came out as a D2/T4

Now came the hard bit. I've just upgraded to a S5, on which I have WhereYouGo App, however a recent update, means that the App will no longer directly download cartridges, the App whe you try tells you to to put the cartridge in a specific folder. Comments on the Net also mentioned this.

Now not having a clue, I'd got a Wherigo Cartridge, I could not test.

So I sat down last night, and decided to see if I could find the Folder. No luck on the phone its self. So I connected the phone to the Lap Top, opened up the Phone on the Lap Top and found the WhereYouGo App file, which on opening was empty. So I had a brain wave, what if I drag the cartridge from the Lap Top, into the folder. So that's what I did.

So time to check to see if it worked, so disconnected the phone from the Lap Top. Open the WhereYouGo App, and eureka there was the cartridge.

Now why couldn't people have just said that.

So now the next stage is to test it out, so fingers crossed it will work ok.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Many changes happened

Well first of all, as of  Midnight (GMT) 13th of June, I ceased to be a Volunteer Reviewer, so ending 8 years of my life.

The reasons why, I'll maybe go into at a future date.

So I attended GC53TDZ Bring & Buy - it could be lucky for you? as the Last Event as a Reviewer, Because I'd arranged for a Luck person to Push the Button for GC4VJ50 Harvey's Punctuation Pen Pal. The Button was pushed by Helen - Spotty Zebra.

At the Event, I got grabbed by the scruff of the neck, and  screaming and kicking was persuaded to become a minion for the North Wales Mega 2016 Committee oh and though I did not know it a the time, the Committee Roadie.

Now the NWM2016 Committee had been Working on a couple of Trackable tags







So despite being married for 28 years, and having been told for 30 years, I could not have another Tattoo, I decided to ask as a joke, to ask if I could have a Travel Ddraig Tattoo on my back.

Only to be given a maybe, so being a Typical Male, Maybe means yes. So I moved forward with plans.

On discussing things with the committee, it was agreed I'd unveil my Tattoo at the Ayrshire Mega Event, to launch the Travel Ddraig Trackable Tags

Come the Day of the Mega, and I lost count, after taking my shirt off over 60 times, so people could log





Someone asked me if it was real, or a Henna Tattoo, well yes it's real ad about A4 size and took one hour Forty Minutes under the Needle. I'd only gone in for a A5 sized tattoo

The NWM2016 committee are also selling Trackable Travel Ddraig Car Decals in Red or Black


The date of the North Wales 2016 Mega Event, was revealed at the Ayrshire Mega Event as the 6th August 2016, however the Location will be revealed at GC58Y6W Ddraig Chat

I've also after discussions with people, organised a plain vanilla Event at the Spiritual Home of the North West/North Wales/West Mids boarders cachers, The Cheshire Cat

So GC57PXM The Ddraigs minions visits the Smilling Feline will not have any Disco this time, nor will I be placing a cache out for the Event. It will just be a chance to Socialise.

Monday, July 08, 2013

So 7 months ago, a 3/4 mile walk, would take me a fair few days to recover from.
Move forward 7 months, and last weekend. I survived Marzi's event in Llanberis, up and down the Slate Trail.

On Saturday I coped with both walks at the Westies Party in the Park. Yesterday I was the Geocaching Walk Leader, for the Conway Walking Festival, Introduction to Geocaching. The main Walk Leader being Alun a Conway County Council Countryside Service Ranger, and aided by Martin-justthejob.

So  having arranged to meet Martin and Alun at 16:45, I arrived just before 14:00. The plan being to visit

http://coord.info/GCT7TK,
http://coord.info/GCT7RK ,
http://coord.info/GC2EVY4 ,
http://coord.info/GC2XPWM

 And check all 4 caches, to make sure they were ok, before the walking group found them.

The first cache at the bottom of the hill behind the Fairy Glen pub, the middle two a stiff climb up a very steep hill. Before dropping virtually all the way back to the road for the last one.

So cache one was quickly found, then the climb started to the second one, I power walked up the hill. That in it's self a major achievement. Part way up, I happened to notice a barely visible path heading straight up the hill to the second cache. As I was pressed for time, and did not know, how much would be added on by following the path. I powered directly up the hill, nearly taking a couple of dives, where the foliage hid that the path dropped away.

On arriving at the cache site, I was horrified to find it in the remains of a Dry Stone Wall, so Having put a new log book in, I posted a Reviewer Note in the log book, stating that I would be Disabling the cache, and requiring the owner to move it out of the Dry Stone Wall.

So on to number 3, which was the highest point of the walk. I happened to spot a Sheep Trail heading in the right direction, which short cutted the main path. I followed this into and out of a dip, and meet up with the main path, with a further up hill walk to the cache location.

Now having read the hint, which did not make sense, I approached the cache location, and a big wet fish gave me a smack across the chops. And a eureka moment, and I could understand the hint. Cache in hand log signed and a New Log book put in. Off to number 4

That was just 245m away, but down a virtually straight drop.

At this point the main path split, going up towards the Jubilee tower, or The North Wales Path heading down hill. As this looked to be going in the correct direction, I took that. Only to suddenly discover that I was over 600m away from the cache. I decided to proceed downwards and when a path heading down to the houses and road appeared, I took that, this put me on a path heading back towards the cache, running at the back of the houses. the cache at that point about 1km away.

I followed this path, at one point a couple sat on their back door step, pointed out the upwardly going path I need to take, to head towards the cache, and the Fairy Glen pub, which I had told them I was heading for.
So after a bit of a scramble, I made my way on to the path where the cache was, only for my GPSr to be pointing 22m up a steep slope, the Hint mentioning the roots of a tree.

So dumping my Bergen on the path, I scrambled up, and searched a number of trees. Running out of time. I called it a day. And ended up coming down the slope backwards, on my hands and feet, sliding all the way down.

Back to the car, and Martin was sat waiting for me, Alun soon turned up. The whole route took me around 2 hours.

I found out at this point, Martin had walked the route Saturday, and had also made the same mistake over routing I had, and also DNF'd the fourth cache. Alun and Peter from Edge of Wales, who set the route, had also DNF'd it, when they walked the route to do the Risk Assessment. [now remember the 4 of us DNF'd it]

Peter had supplied the loan units for the walk, 2 etrex's [which I've used before] 3 geckos [which I've never used before] and 2 Etrex 10's, which I'd never even seen before.

We headed up to the Fairy Glen pub to meet the attendee's, where Alun logged everyone attending in, a total of 16 people, including a family with a 4 year old, and a family with a 4 month old.

I arranged for everyone to go to the First cache, as there was a large grassed area there, where I could give the talk about Geocaching, about how to safely use a GPSr, and about staying together as a group.
I had all the GPSr's powered up, and individually talked people through using them. And watched as they found the first cache.

 We all then headed of up the hill to the second cache. Where once found, the group made their way to the third cache. Which was quickly found

 On to cache number four, and we took a shorter route, which involved a Sheep Trail. For those who took the long route on the first Celestrial Bar Event, will remember th point along the track with the steep drop. Which threw me for a six. Well this track was narrower, had a longer steeper drop, and I coped with it well.
At the cache location [now at this point, remember I suggested you  remember something?] there was a Master Class in finding a cache, by a Four Year Old.

Log Book signed, so both Martin and I could claim the find, and we all made our way back to the road. At which we said Good Bye to everyone, who had had a great time. Collected the GPSr's. and headed back to our cars.

Time back at the car was around 21:00. I stopped at McD's Abergele for a Sweet Chilli Chicken Snack wrap, an a free latte, with a voucher.

Before driving to Rhudlian Nature Reserve Car Park to eat it. Once refreshed, I decided to go and find the cache Mike had just relocated. But horrors, I'd somehow deleted all the caches in the area off Maggie Magellan. So plan B, break out the phone. The cache was spotted as I walked in. Log signed and about to put it back, when a loud and very boisterous group of Teenagers, walked past on the other side of the foliage. So I had to wait until they had gone past and crossed the road before replacing it and heading home.
So 7 months of support has made a huge difference, and the results are evident. 7 months ago I'd have struggled to do all 4 caches, never mind Power Walking up to them, then repeating the route. I would not have had the legs to get out the car and go and find Mike's cache afterwards.

It is amazing what 7 months can change, I set myself a goal of One cache a week, that not to include Events. The cache of the week, had to be one I'd walked to, no hopping out of the car, sign the log and hop back into the car. I've been doing Hi Intensity Training, 3-4 ties a week. This means 2 minutes of warm up, then 30 seconds of Burpee's at a all out pace, I minute of rest, 30 seconds all out, I minute rest, 30 seconds all out. The emphasis being on the 30 seconds all out period, you have to push yourself to the maximum of your ability.

With the weekly Geocaching walk, the regular HIT, and above all, the support of my friends, I have dropped the Insulin down from 55 units, to 35 units. And I have lost over a Stone. And have gained in stamina and strength. 




Sunday, June 16, 2013

Current Procedure for Contacting Groundspeak, for General Contact or Geocache Appeals

New way to contact Groundspeak

 Previously there was an email address to contact Groundspeak about any caching/account related matter or if you wanted to appeal against a reviewers decision.

 There is now a contact page in the Help Center that should be used for all reasons to contact them. Please bookmark it - http://support.groundspeak.com/index.php?pg=request

There is a Drop Down List, to select the Nature of your contact [there are 14 options to chose from]

Please supply the following information for all contacts 

1. Your Geocaching Username;
2. Your cache's GC Code: {GC Code};
3. Your cache's Name/Title;
4. Your cache Location: Region-UK
 5. Your reviewer’s name, 
6. The nature of your Contact or Appeal

The more information initially supplied to Groundspeak, the quicker a response will e able to be made.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

So the following is posted on Groundspeak's Forum, but is a copy of a Post made to Garmin's Listing Site Forum, and also to other posting locations. The employer of the poster is believed to be Garmin.

  Posted 28 April 2013 - 05:22 AM
The following was posted on the OC.com forums on 4/26/13 but was quickly deleted just a few minutes later.


The truth behind Opencaching.com


Garmin had always had a good relationship with Groundspeak.

After all, I'm willing to argue that most geocachers used

Garmin units. In fact, most cachers probably still do use a

Garmin unit if they aren't using their smartphone. Garmin

always had this grand idea of pre-loading units with

geocaches - similar to the Geomate Jr. But, keep in mind,

that this was well before the Geomate had even been invented.

They had plans for kid friendly units (think neon colored

Etrex) that would have several hundred thousand caches loaded

up and even "adult" versions - the more expensive units -

that would also be pre-loaded with tons of caches.

The powers at Garmin approached the powers at Groundspeak and

they started talking about this idea of pre-loading units.

Groundspeak wanted nothing to do with it and said that they

would never ever open their database to developers or GPS

manufacturers. Just a couple months later, what happened?

Geomate Jr. came along and wanted access to the cache

database so that they could throw some on a small and kid

friendly unit. What did Groundspeak say? "SURE!" (and a few

months after that, the Groundspeak API was introduced).

Naturally, this only made Garmin's people very mad and they

decided to go their own way. Enter Opencaching.com.

Opencaching.com has been billed as a community driven

geocache listing site that is "as free and open as the

outdoors." They want cachers to believe that Garmin is just

trying to improve the activity of geocaching and that

Opencaching.com is driving that change. It's true that

Opencaching has caused Groundspeak to change some aspects of

geocaching.com for the better - but as geocaching.com keeps

getting better Opencaching.com gets further and further

behind. Instead of asking cachers to honestly create caches

on Opencaching.com, the Garmin teams bribes cachers with

units and pathtags. We're about due for another bribing

contest and I can only imagine the unit up for grabs is a new

Oregon.

The whole purpose of Opencaching.com isn't to make

"geocaching free and open to all." It's not to be community

driven or even friendly to use. Ever wonder why the

Opencaching team don't care there are so many cross-listed

caches on the site? It's simply because Garmin wants as many

caches as they can get on Opencaching.com so that they can

throw them on Garmin units when they go out the door. It

doesn't matter if the caches are exclusive to Opencaching.com

or brought over from any other listing site (not just

geocaching.com). Quality also doesn't matter. If you want to

crap in a coffee can, list it as a cache on opencaching.com,

the site, and the muggles that run it, will happily accept it

as a cache - simply because it's one more listing. In fact,

"TrailTech" published several caches for the original

CacheBash that happened last Spring - these caches quickly

became decrepit because they were hidden by folks who had

never been caching: Garmin sales managers, engineers, IT

people. I can't even begin to count how many of these caches

I went after only to find coffee cans filled with rotting and

moldy paper, urine, rusty toys, and trash. I marked many of

them as needing owner maintenance only to be ignored. It was

only when I went back, grabbed these "caches," and emailed

the OC team that these are being thrown away did anyone

actually disable or achive the listings.

Last spring, Garmin held interviews for the Opencaching

Community Coordinator. People who worked at Garmin expected

them to hire from within. After all, there are several

geocachers that work there and would do a great job in the

position. These people were already loyal Garmin users,

understood the Garmin culture, and thoroughly enjoy

geocaching and introducing people to the game. Many Garmin

employees were infuriated when they found out StealthRT was

hired for the job. Sure, he had a couple thousand finds, held

events all the time, and was well-known in the Kansas City

geocaching community. But, he wasn't a Garmin user. He's long

been a Magellan user and had never used a Garmin unit before

getting hired. He only wanted the job because it was a

challenge (and probably so he can get paid to travel to

Groundspeak events).

According to some folks at Garmin, Stealth has said that he

never uses Opencaching.com and will never use the site. Why

not? Because it has nothing to offer him. You see, Stealth is

a numbers hound - which is fine - but Opencaching.com isn't a

place for numbers hounds to up their numbers. Not when so

many other number hounds only count geocaching.com finds in

their statistics. You may be asking yourself why StealthRT

was hired if A) He's not a Garmin user B) has no interest in

using Opencaching.com and C) Doesn't actually do anything

with the community. The truth is, Garmin hired him because

they felt he could get people to cross-list their caches from

Geocaching.com. Remember, Garmin isn't after exclusive cache

listings - they just want volume. This volume can come from

anywhere, just as long as it shows up on Opencaching.com.

Garmin came up with a laughable title of "Opencaching

Ambassador" for the folks who actually care about the site

and want people to create OC exclusive caches - but,

remember, they don't care if the caches are exclusive and

they don't really care about these ambassadors.

We all know that Garmin bribe people with units and pathtags

to lure them into cross-listing caches. But, what about the

people with powertrails? These people don't just hide one or

two or ten caches, they hide thousands. I once contacted the

owners of the ET powertrail about creating a Garmin Adventure

that highlights their trail. This adventure would include

places to eat, get gas, and hotels to stay at. The owners

told me that they would never be interested in listing their

caches anywhere else but Geocaching.com and that all the info

needed for cachers to plan their attack would be on the cache

pages. In other words, they didn't even want me to do

anything with their powertrail as a Garmin Adventure. This

told me that they wanted nothing to do with Garmin. I also

asked them if they would make it easier for people to load

the caches in one shot - as opposed to creating a PQ for the

series. I mentioned that Opencaching.com would make this easy

with the one click downloading of a series. Again, they said

they were already talking about placing a GPX file on their

website that included all the caches of the ET series. A few

months later, the series shows up on Opencaching.com. But,

how? I can only speculate that Stealth either paid them in

units or cash. After all, it had to be a pretty substantial

payment to get the two owners, who were adamantly against

anything but Geocaching.com, to list their caches.

Again, Garmin doesn't care about the community or the quality

of the caches. All they want are caches that they can throw

on units when they're sold. All you people complaining about

the cross-listing of caches, this is EXACTLY what Garmin

wants so don't expect anything to be done about it. All you

who are complaining about StealthRT not doing anything with

the site, that's exactly what Garmin wants. His title is the

Opencaching Community Coordinator but his real title should

be "Garmin's Cross-listing beggar." He gets paid a nice

salary (he drives a Benz convertible, after all) to travel to

Groundspeak hosted events and beg people to put their caches

on Opencaching.com. If you think you're helping the

Geocaching community by placing your caches on

Opencaching.com - think again. You're only helping Garmin

"stick it" to Groundspeak by allowing Garmin to use your

caches on their units. That's the whole "opensource" aspect -

anyone can access their cache database and do what they want

with the data: put it on GPS units, create personal apps,

etc. I wonder what Garmin will say if Magellan or DeLorme

want access to the database. Nah, both of those companies are

too smart to alienate a large percentage of their users.

Instead of everyone complaining about what's not getting

taken care of over here, realize how much better it is

elsewhere. Sure, all sites have their problems, but at least

Geocaching.com doesn't run on unethical principles that hurt

their customers.

I do know that the author has missed out a couple of things, done by Garmin, so making things look one sided. But that is another story.