Archive for the ‘geocaching’ tag
Since we can’t play Ingress yet, we have to sit back and ponder what it means. Since a lot of us are not yet able to play Ingress, all we can do is sit back, and dissect it, and ruminate. Some of my initial wondering included…
Wouldn’t it be cunning if Google was using the placement of #Ingress game elements in the real world to undertake distributed #crowdsourced #mapping eg track logging pathways, roads, POIs etc? All speculative as I have an iPhone and I don’t believe Ingress has been opened to #NewZealand yet
As I noted in my earlier article, Ingress has a partner ‘real world’ application called Field Trip that highlights interesting points-of-interest. These historical POIs appear to have been used by Google/Niantic to pre-populate the Ingress portal database. And Ingress portal submissions are like to result in more than just new Ingress portals, but I’d suggest we will also see them in Field Trip. But I’m sure that is only the start.
The trip data collected by Google whilst playing the game is likely to be used to improve their mapping data, well, as much as smartphone GPS accuracy will allow This means that public walkways and tracks will eventually be mapped as we walk and cycle them collecting ‘XM’. The accuracy of a single smartphone is unlikely to be useful, but if multiple Ingress players trek over the same paths, then over time, probability says that they will likely create a fairly accurate breadcrumb trail of the path.
I’m definitely not the first to come up with this, a few others have similarly suggested on Reddit and techgoondu that Ingress is being used as a vehicle to crowdsource things such as walking and cycling directions to improve Google Maps. As a geocacher, I’ve long known that the path between any two geocaches would create a route, that even in my home town, will include streets new to me. So, Ingress is likely to take advantage of this feature of location-based activity. Create various waypoints, encourage people to travel between them, and track them, and use the resulting data to improve the accuracy and data of maps.
But it goes further. Think about Google Glass for a minute. Here we have a project designed to be worn, and for augmented reality. Google’s main revenue source is advertising. What if where this is all heading towards advertising in an augmented reality world? Sure, games like Ingress would be brilliantly fun play in AR with a smartphone and Google Glass, but I’m guessing that Google really wants to get to the point where the likes of Google Glass can be used to display AR adverts whilst you’re walking to work, or going for a jog, or even out sightseeing. Google’s advertising revenue is limited to when we’re at home, or at work, and tied to a computer. Well, Google Glass would allow Google to present adverts overlaid on the real world.
Of course, it won’t just be advertising. Field Trip clearly indicates that Google Glass will be used to display interesting point-of-interest information, so it will be a great tool for traveling and sightseeing.
But Google needs a lot more data about the real world, and to maintain that data, to be able to augment it with advertising and useful information. And that is where Google Maps, Map Maker, Ingress, Field Trip, Places, Street View all come together to build up Google’s underlying data view of the world.
I still think it is pretty darn cool that they are using a game to crowdsource this geospatial information though!
Something I’ve done for some time now, is use a little GSAK macro magic to ‘flag’ those puzzle caches that I have solved and have corrected coordinates for – in the image below these are marked with the yellow triangles.
Alas, by default, these don’t show up easily on my Garmin Montana when I load the GPX files. So, I’ve done a little hacking with the cache name in GSAK to make it easier to identify caches that I have in fact solved. Before I go into my solution – yes, I know there are macros out there to do similar, I don’t care I wanted to play around and do it my way. And as you’ll find in future, I do a lot more than just export an ‘x’ in the cache name to indicate correct coordinates.
So, assuming that you have correct coordinates stored in GSAK, you can use the following code to achieve something similar to my approach. First create a GSAK macro in your macros directory with the following code. Call it something like ‘RewriteName.gsk’.
$Attributes = ""
$Attributes = $Attributes + "x|"
$_Special = $Attributes + $d_Name
Now, when you go to export the GPX file (Control-G) you need to modify one of the fields, to ensure this little renaming macro is run for each and every cache that is processed. Of course, this version will only prefix ‘x|’ for those that have corrected coordinates.
You’ll see that there are two things we have done on the GPX Export dialog.
- We’ve entered a command that calls our macro code in the ‘Cache description’ box – %macro=”RewriteName.gsk”
- We’ve ticked that we want this to ‘Also apply to cache name’
The world around you is not what it seems. It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They’re already here.
Such is the introduction for Ingress, what is turning out to be, a viral augmented reality (AR) hit by Google. Despite being an invite-only beta, it is already whipping up amazing interest on social media sites.
Disclaimer – Ingress is still in a semi-closed beta. You can download the app from the US Google Play store, and install it, but you won’t be able to play unless you secure an invite code. There is talk that the game may be opened up at the end of the month. To reinforce this, just read the #IngressInvite tag on G+!
If that isn’t cryptic enough, there is a whole mythos popping up and being stirred by the Niantic Project.
Ingress (on Google Play – you need an invite code to play) is shaping up to be a massively-multiplayer augmented reality game that takes place in the real world. Currently it is only available for some Android-based smartphones. A related application, Field Trip (see below for more) has already been released for Android, and the page states that it is coming soon for iOS. I expect that given time, we will also see Ingress for iOS, since both Ingress and Field Trip are from the same developer - but maybe not straight away. It goes without saying that a massively multiplayer game needs as many players as possible, so this is perhaps another point that suggests there will eventually be an iOS version released – but this is purely my speculation.
I first twigged to Ingress as it started popping up in my Google+ circles, and increasingly it, and related tags regularly turned up in trending topics on G+ (see #Ingress on G+).
As an augmented reality game, it requires you to get out into the world, and get active – much like geocaching. The level of interest I’ve seen online, including by geocachers in my Google+ circles, suggests that Ingress is going to be huge. I don’t think geocaching is ‘threatened’ by Ingress, indeed it makes a good parallel activity to play around your home town, where you have likely cleared out all the caches! You can even find people going through a similar process with Ingress, that many of us have been through with geocaching – particularly recognising the benefits of exercise and discovery that location-based activities provide.
It is worth noting that Niantic Labs, have also produced another Augmented Reality application recently called Field Trip. Ingress and Field Trip (on Google Play) are connected by more than just the same development lab within Google. I believe that they are both being used to build up a comprehensive database of interesting real-world locations – with Field Trip providing the ‘real world’ interpretation, and Ingress providing a fantasy gaming construct built around these points of interest. It is possible to submit your own ‘portal’ for Ingress, and I’d wager a bet that if the spot is interesting enough, you’ll see it turn up in Field Trip around the same time. If you look closely at the images for both apps on Google Play, you’ll notice that the same portal features in both.
So there is clearly a larger plan at play here by Google via their Niantic Labs project to build and deploy an increasing number of augmented reality applications, and at the same time, grow a large supporting dataset.
So, how is Ingress played? I’m not going to tell you. That’s half the fun, exploring the web, finding out the details, discovering strategy, and even choosing sides. Despite the lack of invites, and the lack of availability from the Google Play stores down under, it is still surprising to see Ingress play starting up in places like Launceston, Tasmania; and Wellington, New Zealand.
Me? I’m itching to play. As far back as the start of 2002, I was outlining a possible GPS Domination/Capture The Flag game and how it could be played. Scout from Geodashing, later created a game called MinuteWar that likely came out of these early discussions on the geodashing mailing list. Ingress definitely fits the same mould, but it is writ much, much larger, and likely to deliver on a global scale.
Heck, I’m even eyeing up Android devices just so I can play Ingress!
As part of NZ MEGA 2012 recently, Moneydork found his 15,000th geocache during our roadtrip. As he knew he was getting close, he started thinking about a special way to mark the milestone. What you see below is a 7 minute video that I put together that outlines our little adventure going helicaching Read on below for a bit more of the story…
So, once we got delivery of what sounded to be a very successful delivery of NZ MEGA 2012 out of the way, we were at last allowed to go geocaching! Within a few days, Moneydork was very close to his 15,000th cache find. With a little planning, Moneydork identified Dud’s Rock (GCTDTT) as a ‘memorable’ cache to attempt to mark his milestone. This consists of quite a significant drive up a hill to around 1500m elevation. When we started out, we knew that there was snow on the ground on the tops, and that we may not get there. Had a great drive most of the way up, and after driving through one small drift of snow, we hit another that we weren’t going to be able to drive through. So, after the decision was made to turn around, nofs placed a cache nearby called “Moneydork’s Milestone Missed“ (GC407WR) to mark the failed attempt. Still a lovely spot to stop. Luckily, this didn’t quench Moneydork’s thirst to do something interesting!
On the morning of Monday the 29th of October, 2012, we were greeted with an absolutely stunning Queenstown morning – literally not a cloud in the sky and very little wind. Absolutely perfect conditions! So we set out to get prices for visiting a couple of “Terrain 5″ geocaches by helicopter, so as to cut out the significant hikes involved. Our first stop was The Helicopter Line, but I think they were more geared for larger groups, and not smaller more flexible flights. They directed us to Heliworks, and they quickly groked what we wanted to do once we explained it to them, broke out the calculator, and came up with some pretty reasonable pricing. We pretty quickly said yes, went back to the cachemobile to get changed into gear more suited to being well above the snowline, and returned and started our adventure.
Dave, our pilot, was awesome. We were in a 4 seater Robinsion R44 Raven II helicopter. He also had a Garmin GPSMAP 496 GPS – so it was easy for us to give him the four potential geocaches we were looking at hunting. After loading the coords, we took off and started spiraling our way up the face of The Remarkables mountain range. We flew around the double cones, passed Lake Alta, and then came down to land on the ridge about 225m aware from the first reasonable cache to attempt. We had already ruled out one on our flight around the cones, so decided that Extreme Ice Cream (GC234NM) would be our best option. What an absolutely stunning spot to land – check out this view from just above where Dave dropped us off on the ridge!
You can see here the view from where we landed, and up to the comms station where the cache is located. We started making our way slowly and considerately up the ridge to the station. You wouldn’t believe it, but after coming to such a remote cache, we came across a muggle who was maintaining the equipment at the station! We started having a good chat with him, whilst trying to nut out where GZ was. In the end, it turned out that it was in the snow directly under our feet better the antenna array and the station. The muggle pretty much confirmed where the cache was, and asked that we not dig up the snow. So, we were not able to log the cache. We did ask the cache owner very nicely, and as we provided suitable evidence that we got to GZ, and couldn’t log the cache, he very generously gave us permission to log it as found. Yeah!
Pretty darn awesome view from GZ! Back down behind us in the image above, was another cache, but with all the snow it was probably going to take way too long to walk down, let alone find the cache with the snow on the ground.
After that, we made our way back down the ridge, called up Heliworks with the mobile, and 10-15 minutes later our ride was back. Next we flew directly off the ridge with a sizable drop-off below us, and headed straight across Lake Wakatipu to The Ledge on Cecil Peak. This was where the ‘easiest’ of the caches – One hell of a proposal! (GC1B3P9) and what was pretty much a sure bet to find, all relatively of course! It was here that Dave shut the helo down, and asked us more about geocaching. Once shutdown was complete we head 40-50m from the helicopter to GZ, hunted for a few minutes, and then Dave, our pilot, found the cache! Again, absolutely stunning views from here of the lakes, the mountains. Just so full of awesome!
Moneydork and RedIguana posing on The Ledge. You can see The Remarkables ridge over on the right where we did Extreme Ice Cream. After spending quite a few minutes enjoying the view, and taking heaps of photos, it was time for the adventure to end, and fly back to Queenstown Airport.
What a way to celebrate such a milestone! Now I’ve got to get my thinking cap on for what to do when my 15k rolls around.
This post was originally written for It’s Not About The Numbers.
Today, Groundspeak rolled out another regular update of geocaching.com, and amongst many other changes (including bug fixes and new features) changed the default maps from Google Maps to MapQuest (which uses OpenStreetMap).
This is as much a tale of Google Maps, probably moreso, than it is of Groundspeak and Geocaching.com. To fully understand what is happening, we need to go right back to the start.
First, a brief introduction to some geekery. An Application Programming Interface (API) is a means whereby different pieces of software can be connected and communicate – be it websites or applications. For geocachers, Geocaching.com used the Google Maps API to embed Google Maps onto cache pages, and this is what this issue is all about.
On the 8th of April, 2011, it was announced on the Google Geo Developers Blog that the Google Maps/Google Earth API Terms of Service were being changed. One of the key points of this announcement was that sites were eventually going to have either reduce their map usage to new limits placed on free use of the Google Maps API, or pay to obtain commercial usage of the Google Maps API – either on a per 1000 view model, or what is assumedly a very expensive Google Maps API Premier license.
This was followed up by a further announcement by Google on the 26th of October 2011, that further reinforced these changes, and outlined that the usage limits would begin to be clearly enforced by Google early in 2012.
So, the situation we had late last year was this:
- Google Maps was free
- Google Maps was going to become more expensive in early 2012 for large websites
- Geocaching.com was using Google Maps, and serving up a lot of pages with Google Maps
This meant that Groundspeak would have had three options when the Google Maps API usage limits are enforced early this year.
- Pay Google’s per 1000 map view charges
- Purchase a Google Maps API Premier license
- Change web mapping service
So, that brings us to today – Valentine’s Day 2012 in the US – a day that has seen some love lost for Groundspeak as it moved away from Google Maps with a site update. However, let’s be clear about this up front – the problem is not Groundspeak, but rather the pricing that Groundspeak would have to pay to license the Google Maps API. This is nothing more than business decisons being made by both Google and Groundspeak.
Google for a long time made the Maps API free to lure developers in. Over the last year it has attempted to monetise the free service they are providing. This is course within their rights, although as is always the case when you try to change a free to a paid service, you run the risk of of being called out on the bait-and-switch.
As the Latitude 47 blogs points out, the Geocaching.com website firmly sits in the high-user category – the 0.35% that Google said would be the sites impacted by this license change. Groundspeak states that they are serving around 2 million map loads each and every day. When you work through the numbers, Google’s new charges actually amount to significant amounts of money. Two million map loads a day translate to USD7900 for one day of embedding Google Maps into geocaching.com. Multiply this across a standard 365 day year and you’re talking USD2.88 million – just for serving embedded Google Maps. This figure of course does not even account for continued growth in geocaching worldwide, in terms of more caches and more cachers, both of which will increase the costs because of increased map loads. Google Maps Premier License is possibly an option at this point, but the pricing is not publicly available for comparison, but I understand it starts from USD10,000 per year. I expect for the number of map loads that Geocaching.com is providing that a Premier License will be far more expensive than USD10k.
All we are seeing here is that Groundspeak is not willing to pay for what was previously a free service. Groundspeak has the right to say no to these new terms, and they have said no. Heck, if I was going to see an increase in operating costs for a business of USD2.9million a year, with no increase in revenue to make up for it, I’d say no too.
It should be noted that OpenStreetMap, as a volunteer-driven, open source project, also places server limits on websites using their maps. However, MapQuest provides a means of delivering large volumes of OpenStreetMaps from MapQuest’s own servers, utilising OpenStreetMap data. Groundspeak are using MapQuest, so there are no issues with Geocaching.com overloading OpenStreetMap’s servers – they are not using OSM directly.
However, the map change has certainly become a polarising issue for many. There are now hundreds of posts spread across multiple forum posts regarding these changes.
There are many different points and issues being raised:
- The change between Google Maps and MapQuest/OpenStreetMap is significant for some, and they are not comfortable with the new presentation
- There appears to be some map rendering bugs; some resulting in blank maps, others with not all map tiles loading, another is that the new map doesn’t display a distance scale
- MapQuest does not appear to have good satellite/aerial imagery. However Google Earth is still an excellent means to access caches on the satellite/aerial imagery that Google has licensed.
- There are actually more maps available, as you can view not only MapQuest’s tileset, but different map renderings including CloudeMade’s, OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap.
One of the big stand-out improvements that will be obtained by switching to OpenStreetMap – is the ability for the geocaching community to make corrections and improve OpenStreetMap the world over. You see, it is truly open. With an account you can directly edit the maps. So if you find a new walkway, you can add it, and usually within hours see can see your contribution appear directly on the map! Google Maps on the other hand does not even support its community mapping tool, Google Map Maker, in many countries yet. And unlike OpenStreetMap, any community edits to Google Map Maker, stay with Google – you’re just helping one business improve their database for free. OpenStreetMap edits however are shared and available far and wide across many different web services. So if you add or fix something in OSM, your contribution will be shared across many web services. OpenStreetMap is indeed a community service, and your contributions will benefit the increasing number of organisations that use OSM.
The move to OpenStreetMap will also create interesting options already being talked about. It is relatively easy to build your own mapserver that generates and serves your own map tiles. This means that eventually Groundspeak will be completely independent when it comes to map data. Not only that, but they will be able to customise it so that greater emphasis is given to features important to geocachers, such as park polygons, and walkways – the map can be customised explicitly to suit geocachers needs. You couldn’t do that with Google Maps or most other services.
It is going to be a painful transition for many, and when change is forced on you with little notice, it can be uncomfortable to bear. However, I’m firmly convinced that over the long term, most of the Geocaching.com mapping will benefit from this change. For everything else, there is still the free option of Google Earth.
This post was originally written for It’s Not About The Numbers.
The recent announcement by Groundspeak of the removal of Google Maps from geocaching.com has kicked off a lot of related discussion about the cost of Premium Membership. In short, Google Maps have started charging heavy users of embedded Google Maps (which were used on geocaching.com) and this was going to make the continued use of Google Maps somewhat challenging. It has also resulted in an outpouring of Geocaching.com members that would be keen to see an increase in Premium Membership to ensure continued access to Google Maps.
Currently, Premium Membership is a simplistic all-or-nothing offer. The discussions over the Google Maps indicate that this is quite a polarising issue. For some, it is make-or-break, and the removal of Google Maps functionality has already caused a number of cachers to indicate that they are not going to renew their membership. Others seem unconcerned and are in fact happy with the move to OpenStreetMap – I certainly fall in this camp.
However this got me thinking. Is it time for Groundspeak to look at providing some add-on membership packs? Consider the current Premium Membership a base subscription. When purchasing a membership, it would be good to be able to purchase certain add-on packs that provide additional functionality, or increased capacity on services already provided as part of Premium Membership.
For example, this Google Maps issue clearly indicates that there is a market for members that are prepared to pay to cover the Google Maps API charges that Groundspeak will incur. It is quite unreasonable to expect all Premium Members to cover the costs of those that want to use Google Maps. I certainly don’t want my Premium Membership to go up, possibly a significant amount, just to keep Google Maps functionality on Geocaching.com.
Therefore, it should be possible for members to purchase an add-on pack, that provides Google Maps API functionality for their account.
There are a couple of other add-ons that I would be very interested in seeing Groundspeak offer:
- Increase Pocket Query limits – the current limit per Pocket Query is 500 caches by email. This was great a few years back, but the explosion in cache placements in the last 3-4 years has seen the email PQ limit become woefully inadequate. I would love to see add-on packs that enable you to upgrade your account to higher email PQ limits, such as 1000 or 2000 caches. I’d have absolutely no problem paying for this as longer as it was cheaper than the current option of purchasing a second Premium account to accomplish this.
- Increase API daily limit – the current API daily limit is around 6000 caches. For whatever reason, some cachers may want to upgrade their limit to something higher. An added benefit of a Groundspeak API add-on pack could be a faster server so that the caches download faster than the current existing API allows.
I believe that the growth of the different ways that we cache, and use Geocaching.com mean that the current Premium Membership is no longer able to satisfy all users. The time has come for Groundspeak to separate out the base Premium Membership, and provide add-on packs for expanding specific capabilities, or to cover third-party charges such as the Google Maps API.
This post was originally written for It’s Not About The Numbers.
Whilst a lot of us like to take photos while caching, with Garmin’s latest update to a number of their recent units, they have now opened new possibilities of taking photos with you where you go caching.
Why is this useful? Well, we’ve all come across caches that have a hint such as ‘see photo’ or ‘see spoiler photo’ but of course the photo doesn’t get downloaded with the GPX we get from websites. So we’re stuck out in the field, without a hint. And if we’re out of cell coverage, then we’re not going to be able to download the spoiler photo on our phones at GZ.
Naturally, Garmin have fully integrated the photo experience with their OpenCaching.com website, and you can now download photos with the GPX and they will be seemlessing installed onto your GPS (the models supported, via the latest software updates, are the Montana, Oregon x50, Dakota, GPSMAP 62/78, and eTrex 20/30). Those of us that use other, somewhat larger, geocaching sites aren’t left entirely in the cold however – Garmin does tell us how to load photos manually, and there is already a couple of GSAK macros that can be used to select, and upload to the GPS, ‘grabbed images’. Note that these macros (one to aid selection of grabbed images, and the other to do the preparation and uploading to the GPS) is very much in the experimental state, and still has a fair amount of refinement to go. It is also coming along in leaps and bounds and improving rather quickly!
I tried the GSAK approach this afternoon, and selected a few photos from unfound caches near my hometown of Christchurch. Worked no problems, and I now have direct access to photos on the GPS, just like the description, logs and hints. The only real catch at this stage, is that the photos must be installed on the internal storage of the GPS, and they cannot be stored on the microSD card.
I’ve included some screenshots to give you some idea what it looks like. First up, top right, looking at the description of a cache shows a photo icon down the bottom left to indicate that this cache has photos attached.
Next up, below left, the paperless cache page has added Show Photos between Description and Logs, and on the right, a thumbnail view of the photos associated with the cache.
And finally, the photo itself. In this case, on the Montana, I rotated the GPS to landscape to get more viewable area. For those that recall the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011 that killed 181 people – its epicentre was just out of the left edge of this photo.
Personally this is a welcome addition to the caching arsenal, and I’ll be very interested to see the development of the GSAK macros over the next couple of weeks!
This post was originally written for It’s Not About The Numbers.
MEET OUR NEW BLOGGER
RedIguana hails from the shaky city of Christchurch, New Zealand. He is an emergency manager by trade, and some of his interests outside of geocaching include travel, photography, mapping, and open source software and data. An ‘old-skool’ cacher, Rediguana (real name Gavin Treadgold) started geocaching in May 2001.
It’s been a little while since I’ve written on a blog, so I figure I’ll start slowly and introduce myself. Never fear, this isn’t my first time blogging – I have done plenty, including under a pseudonym in the rather vitriolic atmosphere of the New Zealand political blogging scene quite a few years back.
I don’t think I can deny that I am what you’d call an ‘old-skool’ cacher. I purchased my first GPS – a Garmin 12 XL – in Sydney, Australia in April 2001, and then went on to find my first cache in Christchurch early that May. From then, I was hooked, and have remained so.
I have a rather inglorious record of placing the first micro cache in New Zealand (a 35mm cannister thrown in a bush), which was also our first true puzzle and crypto cache. I think I can also be blamed for the green spray-painted containers with yellow, stenciled ‘geocaching’ lettering that you often see around the South Island.
Since those early days, I’ve cached in 10 countries worldwide, including Iceland and Sri Lanka. I found my 10,000th cache earlier this year. I’m also lucky enough to have found a Project Ape cache, and completed the caching quinella of the Original Stash memorial and Groundspeak HQ.
I have a simple caching philosophy: Gotta find them all. Given the last 2-3 years of placement rates, however, I’m increasingly having to find contentment with clearing out areas instead. I’ll do pretty much anything for a cache, and I’m happy doing puzzles, or long physical days for just a find or two. I also love well-designed challenge caches (not Geocaching.com challenges) and my current focus is on completing the Doctor of Geocaching Science – of which I am one of the ‘professors’ responsible for its placement.
In late 2002, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) discovered geocaching, and became interested in collecting a concession – a charge for commercial operators on DOC land. At this point, the geocaching community jumped into action and formed the New Zealand Recreational GPS Society Inc, so that we had a legal entity to operate with, and form agreements if need be.
I was one of the society’s 15 founders, and remain on its management committee to this day – I’m currently Secretary/Treasurer. Once we had communicated to DOC that geocaching is, at its heart, a non-commercial activity, they left us be. These days, the society is more interested in the promotion of GPS and geocaching for active outdoor lifestyles, and we’re in the process of organising New Zealand’s inaugural MEGA event in Dunedin this coming October.
I will admit now that I am a Garmin addict, and I much prefer the traditional ruggedised handheld GPS receivers – my current tool is the Garmin Montana 650. I carry an iPhone 4 as well but it’s for backup, notes, photos and Wherigo. So you’ll definitely find me a contrarian to the smartphone-loving crowd, but the smartphone definitely has its place in my pockets!
I also enjoying tinkering in GSAK, and have been known to write a macro or two, mostly to help track completion of some New Zealand challenge caches, but have also developed the county boundaries for New Zealand as well as the New Zealand region and state maps that you see in FindStatGen.
Slightly further out on the periphery, I am a keen mapper and strong proponent of open mapping data. I have been involved with the New Zealand Open GPS Maps project since its inception, and I am finding myself increasingly contributing tracks and roads visited whilst out caching to OpenStreetMap.
All this geocaching results in travel, and I’ve been to some pretty amazing places over the years as a result of both. This has also cultivated a very keen interest in photography, and I love nature, landscape and wildlife photography.
Anyway, enough from me. Why aren’t you caching?
Over the weekend, I had an interesting realization about the challenges of staying motivated as an individual. I came to thinking about this when looking at how I geocache, but what I observed suggests that it applies to anything in life.
In some regards, this is a fairly obvious point to note, but like many things in life – they aren’t always as obvious as they should be.
In looking at the way I geocache, I find that I tend to fit into two distinct patterns. When caching with others, I will cache very hard, I am motivated, and I feed off and motivate others that I am caching with. However, I find it much harder to motivate myself to go caching by myself unless I am in just the right mood.
When I recognized this, it also became instantly apparent to me that this behavior was also present in other aspects of my professional and personal lives. This led me to ask two key questions:
- How can I better motivate myself when others around me are not challenging and motivating me?I cannot expect or demand others to always be there to motivate me when I need it, hence I think as a means of general personal improvement, I need to find better ways of motivating myself to action. Of course, there are always the obvious means of goals and rewards, but I’m honestly looking for simpler tips and tricks that motivate me to action. I am spoilt for choice when it comes to caching and outdoor activities, and indeed other things in my life – the challenge is choosing what to do, and then having the mental fortitude to continue to motivate oneself until the activity is completed. Even with enjoyable activities and hobbies, you need a means of challenging oneself to action – such as processing photos after a good photography field trip.
- How can I better challenge and motivate others around me?Whilst people respond differently to stimuli, I’m sure some of what I learn as to how I can motivate myself will also be able to be applied to others. So, I hope that over time I will be ale to learn what motivates me to action, and then be able to turn this around to motivate and challenge others to action.
Coming back to my original observation of hunting geocaches, I think that one of the reasons I am sometimes a little ‘slack’ caching by myself, is a result of trying to leave a buffer of unfound caches in Christchurch. In my mind, this means I am less likely to cache when traveling by myself. Why? I thought of it this way – if I had no buffer in Christchurch, and had found all nearby caches, then I would be forced to travel to find geocaches. I believe this is why a good friend of mine – Moneydork – is so driven to find caches, especially when traveling, because he doesn’t maintain a buffer at home, and this motivates the hell out of him to find as many caches as possible when he is away from home.
So, I think a good first step for me to motivate myself to more caching, is to work on finding all the of caches near home, so when considering a days caching, I haven’t got a fallback position to just ‘just doing a few around town’.
Decreasing the number of nearby unfound caches is likely to provide greater motivation for day trips caching, as well as ensure I drive past less caches when traveling as I do now.
It’s kind of a catch-22 really, my actions will probably lead to greater motivation, and greater motivation will definitely lead to more action. I guess there is a bit of wisdom tied up in the Nike slogan ‘Just do it!’ – only one way to find out…
This is a brief product announcement I provided to The Box, it was published on Tuesday the 2nd of June, 2009. It is archived here for my records.
Garmin announced their latest high-end hand-held outdoors GPS unit recently, and the headline feature is the inclusion of a 3.2MP camera with built in geotagging. This means that any photos taken with the unit will be instantly plot-able on maps, and will be a convenient tool for people enjoying the great outdoors and travelling. Other nice upgrades to the flagship Oregon line include support for a 3d electronic compass for accurate bearings when standing still; increased storage for waypoints, tracks, routes; capacity for a massive 5000 paperless geocaches; and fast USB 2.0 transfer when connecting to a computer at last.