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Hello all in the land of geocaching – it’s been a while! We’ve been on a hiatus from geocaching blogging as life has gone off in other directions. Whilst not actively caching as much the interest in the game has been maintained and we’ve stayed in touch. A return to regular blogging is not planned for the near future, however whilst tidying up the site recently I noted a large number of requests to update our Top 5 Android Geocaching Apps and Top 5 iPhone Geocaching Apps posts from way back in 2012. So five years on we thought why not…

However, this time we need and want your help (if anyone is still reading this blog!). A lot has changed in the last five years and we’re not as in touch with all the apps available out there these days. In addition the previous articles were all about our top five – this time it’s what are the top 5 according to geocachers. Starting with Android apps have your say below as to what your favourite is or which one you think is the best. In a couple of weeks if voting has slowed we’ll close the poll and set about testing the apps you’ve identified as being in the top five. After that we’ll release the results along with some our opinion on our these apps held up in the field. All going well we’ll follow up with an iPhone update in the near future.

Take Our Poll
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Two days ago I was alerted to the existence of a web page that falsely claimed one of Geocaching.com’s co-founders, Jeremy Irish, had died. Fortunately this claim is completely false, however It’s Not About The Numbers (INATN) was concerned to discover that the ‘read more’ button on this page linked our very own homepage. 

As no contact details are present on the web page I could find no way of contacting the owner of the page. However, as it is hosted by Weebly.com I immediately filed a spam complaint asking for the offending page to be removed. At the time of writing this post Weebly were yet to respond to the complaint. If anyone would like to assist us by also filing a spam complaint (it only takes a minute) we would appreciate the help in bringing it to Weebly’s attention.

When we were first alerted to the existence of this page I checked the analytics for INATN and found that only two people had been referred to our homepage. We elected originally elected not to post anything here so we did not draw attention to the hoax page or our unwanted association with it. However, it has since become apparent that discussion on this matter has grown and we now feel compelled to post this disclaimer.

So to be clear – It’s Not About The Numbers site and contributors have no involvement in the hoax Weebly website, nor do we approve of the linking from this page to our homepage. 

It’s quite obvious that we have not posted in quite a long time and whilst we have no intention of removing INATN we have no intention of resuming regular posting anytime in the near future. We have been in communication with Groundspeak over the issue who, as they are wise, reasonable and very much still alive folk, have supported us in making this disclaimer.

If any clever cachers out there come across any information or evidence regarding who created the hoax page it would a great pleasure to receive this so we can report this monkey’s #@%&* to Groundspeak.

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Okay, the correct answer is that the weather is never too bad to go caching. However, for the last eight years a growing number of Germans and Swiss have been able to stay indoors by going PlaceSpotting.

Created by Swiss software engineer Martin Fussen the site challenges you to take part in a virtual quest and find the presented location on Google Maps. Users can even create their own places and there are over 50,000 now online.

Do you know where this is? An example of a PlaceSpotting virtual quest

Some challenges, like the one displayed above, provide hints to allow the player to do some googling and narrow down the location. Too hard? Simply click through to have a go at a different place.

It’s a lot like Waymarking, only you don’t need to visit the location to make the find!

Fussen’s desire to create the PlaceSpotting website stemmed from his work. “I work as a programmer but at work I use very different programming languages and create much more boring things.” he says. “I liked the possibilities of interacting with Google Maps and wanted to create a game based on maps.”

Following a recent update the site now has an English language option. This will undoubtedly increase interest in the site, which has already enjoyed considerable coverage in the media since it began in 2007.

Surprisingly Fussen is not a geocacher, although he is considering taking up the obsession. “Maybe I will start in 2 or 3 years when my children are old enough to join us when looking for caches.”

So when the weather is foul and you’ve solved all the local puzzle caches why not tuck up with the laptop and go on a few virtual quests!

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This catchy wee tune was sent us by Milan from the band Pyrrhura, a folk act from Slovakia. Check it out…

Pyrrhura - FTF (Geocaching hymn) - YouTube

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Smartphones have become an increasingly common geocaching tool over the last 10 years…to the point where they are almost accepted by the hardcore, original geocachers! What hasn’t yet improved is the ability of cachers to mark a decent waypoint with a smartphone. Phone GPS systems have improved dramatically over the years and whilst they are not yet on par with dedicated GPS units, they are catching up. Those pesky reviewers and, in fact, most geocachers are keen to see your cache have a quality set of coordinates. To satisfy these guys you’re going to need to do a little Waypoint Averaging.

What is waypoint averaging? Essentially it is taking a number of GPS readings from a location and then averaging the samples. This produces a set of coordinates that is likely to be more accurate than a single reading.

Okay, before those with maths phobias run for the hills…you don’t need to do any maths! Of course, if you like maths you can do this the ol’manual way. But for those like me here are a few options I personally like for obtaining those averaged waypoints at a simple press of a button…

Waypoint Averaging on Androids for Geocaching - YouTube

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A young couple hike through the forest, cellphones in hand. Some time later, they reach their destination: a hard-to-reach cache, dangling precariously over a cliff face. When they manage to retrieve it, instead of treasure, they uncover something far more gruesome: a rotting forearm, the victim’s fingernails still polished pink. And that’s only the beginning …

As evidence linked to a sadistic string of murders begins to show up in geocaches throughout the forest, a police detective’s only shot at catching this killer, is to play along with his chilling game.

That’s the plot of Finders Keepers, the first novel by Devon Pollard – which he hopes to publish by raising US$7500 (NZ$8523) on popular crowdfunding website KickStarter. And, as you might expect, this murder-mystery centres around our favourite hobby.

Devon Pollard

The Californian author told It’s Not About The Numbers: “I first thought of the premise for Finders Keepers about five or six years ago, and sat on it for a while … writing other things; doing other things. But this story kind of nagged at me. It snuck back.  And as I started researching more here and there, I thought, hey, there’s something compelling about geocaching.

Because it is modern-day treasure hunting. Instead of a stained paper map, you have a GPS device. It used to be in your car. Then it was portable GPS devices, those handheld things. And  very modernly: your phone. Smartphone. GPS app. Free or .99 cents. Treasure map? There’s geocache apps. Digital treasure maps on your phone. Accessible to everyone. The digital dots represent the caches in your area. Ergo, the digital dots represent the treasure in your area. Ergo, holy crap there’s a lot of treasure in my area.

But it’s not just the end goal. It’s not all about getting your cookie. There is something compelling about the process too. The search. The quest.

Geocaching is exploratory in a manner that seems to have otherwise fallen out of vogue. Where will it take you? Exotic locations. Remote locations. Familiar locations. Hidden in plain sight locations. What games? What riddles? What puzzles within puzzles?

Geocaching propels humans to get out and do what humans are inherently inclined to do: get out and explore their space. And the human interaction that geocaching involves is fascinating. In that you remove a piece of someone else from that cache, and place a piece of yourself back in, for yet another to find. Touching without touching. Only connecting through an item. A place. A unique quest. A shared cache. And in that cache you place your horcrux. A piece of your soul. Laying dark in the cache. Buried. Covered. Hidden with care. Waiting for someone, the right one, to open the cache again.

Geocaching is investigatory, which lends itself nicely to a murder-mystery storyline: A killer stalking his next victim. A detective stalking the killer. The killer leaves riddles, and sometimes parts of his victims, in geocaches.  The detective must locate the caches, and solve the deadly puzzle, to stop the killer from moving onto his next target. He must deduce as much information as he can from the case evidence and forensics if he is to end this twisted game once and for all.”

*To help Devon Pollard publish his novel Finders Keepers, visit his Kickstarter page before Sunday, July 20. A pledge of US$10 will be rewarded with an advance copy of his ebook, while US$25 will score you a first-edition print of Finders Keepers and a souvenir bookmark. The project will only be funded if at least US$7500 is raised, though he is halfway there already.
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You could say geocaching has truly gotten under my skin.

As of last Sunday, I’m now the proud bearer of the world’s first implanted travel bug. Fellow players can discover and log

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Premium Member Only geocaches will soon be at a, well, premium in northwestern Ohio’s Hancock County.

Nor should you expect to find any ammo cans or any hides placed above ground level in the area’s parks, now that Hancock Park District officials have instituted geocaching permits.

Red alert: Hancock County in Ohio.

According to the Findlay-based authority, all caches and letterboxes placed on its properties must adhere to nine rules to limit the impact on native plants and animals.

While its conditions are similar to those imposed by Geocaching.com and many other United States parks or wildlife departments, the Hancock County examples are far stricter.

Its guidelines state: “All information on caches in park property must be free. No premium paid-level caches permitted. All caches must be located on or at ground level in a safe, non-metal container (No ammo boxes or PVC pipes). No caches are to be buried.”

Hides should be family-friendly and checked monthly.  An initial contents list may also need to be submitted with the permit application. “Caches should contain no food, alcohol, firearms, drugs, or any dangerous or adult items. If a cache violates this agreement, it will be removed and not returned.”

Bush-bashing is off-limits too, with each ground zero required to be “within 15 feet” of an established and open park trail. “Any off-trail hiking is discouraged as it negatively impacts the native plants and animals,” the organisation says.

As of May 5th, the free permits are required for both current hides and new placements. Separate applications are needed for each cache, even if multiple containers are placed at the same time by the same geocacher.

After players have submitted the single-page application form, a park district employee will review each placement before deciding whether to approve a permit. Any container found without a permit will be automatically removed, and not returned to the owner.

Approved permits will be valid from the date of issue until December 31st of the following year. After that expiration date, the cache must be removed unless the authority grants a renewal. Applications can be submitted at the park district office in East Main Cross Street, or online.

EXAMPLES OF OTHER GEOCACHE PERMIT STICKERS:

*Would you abide by Hancock Park District’s new permit rules? Tell us below … **For more information on whether permits are needed in your neck of the woods, check the regional land policies section of Geocaching.com’s  Wiki.
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