Land Owner Policies in Ontario


Did you know that Groundspeak maintains a wiki page with Ontario’s various geocaching policies in one place? If you’re hiding a geocache, it’s a good idea to check this page to make sure you are aware of (and following) the various policies that pertain to our game.

Some organizations would rather that we didn’t hide our game pieces on their property. For example, Canada Post could consider this mail tampering and that’s a Federal Offense. Understandably so, as while you may find it innocent looking to be climbing under a mailbox for a nano someone who’s had their credit card poached in the mail would see it differently.

Other organizations have more acceptance of geocaching, usually through discussions with local geocaching groups like the Ontario Geocaching Association or Central Ontario Geocachers. Conservation Halton allows geocaching but restricts placements in some sensitive areas. Hamilton Conservation Authority asks that geocaches are removed after 12 months.

Playing within the rules keeps land owners looking at geocachers as a net positive for the area they manage – Parks Canada actively promotes geocaching tourism on their lands. Trying to stay below the radar, or pretending the land owner does not exist cast’s a negative light on our hobby – which leads to more bans.

You should always check the Ontario Wiki –

If the land manager is listed on the Wiki, well follow the link and follow the process to get your permit, if needed. If the land manager is NOT on the Wiki, you are still required to find out who that is and obtain permission from them. Also, there is a link on the Wiki if you find a policy Groundspeak doesn’t have listed, you can inform them of it and keep the land managers positive about geocachers visiting their properties.

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Merry Christmas! Ontario Trails Project Updated!

The Ontario Trails Project has been updated just in time for your new Christmas present (a GPS, right?)

Here’s what changed:


Ont-Trails 0.82

Added – Robert Baker Forest – Caledon – Randall Banning
Added – Eqsuesing Trail – Milton – Randall Banning
Added – L Lake Trail – Grand Bend – Brook22
Added – McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Preserve Trails – Oshawa – Dave Stabler, Barb Murray
Added – Dofasco 2000 Trail – Hamilton – Sebastian Irazuzta
Added – Elliot Tract – Milton – John Robb
Added – Four Mile Pond – Niagara On the Lake – David M
Added – Altona Woods – Pickering – Barnie’s Band of Gold
Added – Guildwood Park – Toronto – Barb Murray
Added – Lanthrop Nature Preserve – Fonthill – Jabba / Sheryl Ferris-Little
Added – Selwyn Beach Conservation Area – Selwyn/Lakefield – Team Murfster
Added – Robert Johnson Eco Forest – Douro – Team Murfster
Added – Roseville Tract – Goodwood – adventurerat
Added – Glen Major Forest – Claremont – adventurerat
Added – Log Boom Lake – Killarney PP – Fizbot
Added – Brush Camp Lake – Killarney PP – Fizbot
Added – Lake of the Woods Trail – Killarney PP – chris-mouse
Added – Chikanishing Trail – Killarney PP – chris-mouse
Added – Meadowlily Woods ESA – London – Frank Bax
Added – Varna Trail – Bayfield – maxter86
Added – Langdon Trails – Cambridge – res2100
Added – QE Wildlands Trail – Minden – northernpenguin
Added – Anstruther Lake – Kawartha Highlands PP – northernpenguin
Added – Rathbun Lake – Kawartha Highlands PP – northernpenguin
Added – North Rathbun Lake – Kawartha Highlands PP – northernpenguin
Added – Wolf Lake – Kawartha Highlands PP – northernpenguin
Added – Guelph Lake CA Trails – Guelph – norhternpenguin
Added – Herb Lake – Kawartha Water Trails (Dorset) – northernpenguin
Added – Knife Lake – Kawartha Water Trails (Dorset) – northernpenguin
Added – Ernest Lake – Kawartha Water Trails (Dorset) – northernpenguin
Added – Gun Lake – Kawartha Water Trails (Dorset) – northernpenguin
Added – Blueberry Hill (Crab Lake) – Kawartha Highlands PP – northernpenguin
Added – New section of Canada Goose Side Trail – Halton Hills – northernpenguin
Added – Riverfront Trail – Belleville – Mike Kennedy
Added – Waterfront Trail – Belleville – Mike Kennedy
Added – Rideau Trail – Kingston – Mike Kennedy
Added – Waterfront Trail – Kingston – Mike Kennedy
* Also some other small trail systems around Belleville and Kingston
Added – Maitland Hiking Ski Trails – Maitland – Binrat
* Note – Ski use of these trails requires a membership, see

Updated – Royal Botanical Gardens – Hamilton – Tys Theysmeyer, Head of Natural Lands – RBG
* Note several incorrect trails were removed from Rock Chapel, Hendrie Valley, Arboretum and official GIS used by request of Land Manager.

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Ontario Trails Project 0.81 Available now

Just posted a quick update to the Trails Project on the site.  Here’s what’s new this outing:

Added – Barron Canyon – Algonquin – northernpenguin
Added – Duck Island – Lake Ontario (Kingston) – dfx, Team Murfster
Added – Vittoria Conservation Area – Norfolk – Dr. House
Added – Marshall Memorial Forest – Dunnville – Kreamer&BearsKrew
Added – Elgin Trail (Portion) – Port Stanley – GR812NV
Added – Municipal Park Trails – London – GR812NV
Added – Westmount Park – London – GR812NV
Added – Chrysler Canada Greenway Extension – Essex – GR812NV
Added – Chrysler Canada Greenway Access Trail – Harrow – GR812NV
Added – Parkwood Hospital Trails – London – GR812NV Added – Euston Park – London – GR812NV
Added – Cataraqui Trail (Portion) – Napanee – snoozejade
Added – Meadow (Orange) Trail / Cawthraw Mulock Nature Reserve – Christopher Lenort
Added – Porter Road Loop – Ganaraska Forest – Dave Stabler
Added – Darling Conservation Area – Peterborough – Dave Stabler
Added – Dobrich Dragicevic Conservation Area (Portions) – Essex – Teamvoyagr
Added – Abe’s and Essen’s Trail – Bon Echo Provincial Park – Stephen Switzer
Added – Hope Smith Tract – Washago – Ronald Kluger

The downloads are on the site right now. Enjoy!

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Ontario Trails Project v0.80, Now Available!

Well it’s been a while (5 months!) but a freshly baked Ontario Trails Project release is out the door.  As usual, we’ve got new trails, cleaned up trails and we even removed some incorrect trails.

If you want to skip the details, the map can be downloaded (as always) from
* Note: If you are downloading this data for commercial use, please contact me first. The data is creative commons, with attribution.

Here’s what changed this time:

Ont-Trails 0.80

Added – The Gut Conservation Area – Havelock – northernpenguin
Added – Flowerpot Island Trails – Tobermory – Nozzletime
Added – Merle Gunby Side Trail – Owen Sound – Nozzletime
Added – Trent-Severn Waterway Trail ( Parkhill to McFarlane ) – Peterborough – Murfster
Added – York Region Trails, Scout Tract (added to existing) – Speedy54
Added – Mud Lake Trail – Port Colborne – dfx
Added – Local trails – Ancaster – dfx
Added – Local trail – Niagara Falls – dfx
Added – Local trails – Port Colborne – dfx
Added – Breithaupt Park – Waterloo – cache4pat
Added – Mount Albion Conservation Area – Hamilton – northernpenguin
Added – Welland Recreational Waterway – Welland – northernpenguin
Added – Bond Lake Lower Trail – Oak Ridges – northernpenguin
Added – Hyde Tract – Flamborough – teamvoyagr
Added – (Partial) Niagara Glen Trails, Whirlpool Trail – Niagara Falls – northernpenguin
Added – Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve – Bradford – Christopher Lenort
Added – Innisfil Town Hall Park Trails – Innisfil – Juicepig
Added – Lingham Lake Trail – Tequila, Lifeguard1
Added – Lingham Lake Dam Trail – northernpenguin, Lifeguard1
Added – Mill Pond Hiking Trail – Dorchester – maxter86
Added – LAwrence Walkway – Toronto – Derek Pugh
Added – Bronte Creek Camping Trails – Oakville – Alexandar Karmanov
Added – Peacock Tract – Erin – Res2100
Added – Seaway Waterfront Trail – Upper Canada Village – Stewart Winter
Added – Delhi-Simcoe Rail Trail – Simcoe – Swamper68
Added – Vance Tract – Guelph – maxter86, rovers3
Added – Durham Regional Forest Timber Tract – Uxbridge – Terra Scout
Added – Etobicoke Creek Valley – Etobicoke – Psychocyclist
Added – Dryden Tract (Alps Woods) – Cambridge – Rovers3
Added – Humber Valley Heritage Trail (Kleinburg Chapter) – Kleinburg – Barry Westhead
Added – Mill Pond Trail – Cambridge – Doug Mathieson
Added – Bruce Trail Side Trail – Mulmer – Nozzletime
Added – Waterford Heritage Trail (Missing Portions) – Brant – Swamper68
Added – Elgin Trail (Fingal to Lyle) – St. Thomas – Dr. House
Added – Cedar Valley Conservation Authority – Oshawa – Capers4
Added – Rock Glen Conservation Area – Arkona – northernpenguin

Added – Canoe Routes & Portages – Algonquin Park – Stewart Winter
– Ironwood Lake
– Bug Lake

Updated – Micheal Starr Trail – Oshawa – northernpenguin
Updated – Harmony Creek Trail – Oshawa – northernpenguin
Updated – Joseph Kolodzie Oshawa Creek Bike Path – Oshawa – northernpenguin
Updated – Bruce Trail Reroute – Speyside – Avernar
Updated – Rouge Park Trails – Toronto – Chris-Mouse
Updated – Westminster Pond Trails – London – maxter86
Updated – Silverheights Trail – Cambridge – Doug Mathieson
Added Parking:
Pottawatomi Conservation Area
Mount Albion Conservation Area
Breithaupt Park
Upper Kings Forest Park
Old Colony Road Parking – Oak Ridges Trail
Cedar Valley Conservation Authority

Added Information:
Johnson’s Hole (Lingham Lake)



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Infra-red Geocache Clues

Coordinates Visible with IR Light

Coordinates Visible with IR Light

Coordinates Not Visible with White Light

Coordinates Not Visible with White Light

You aren’t’ likely to see a lot of geocaches that use infra-red clues.   Caches that use infra-red (IR) light are harder to create and require special equipment to find them.  With UV enabled caches your eyes can pick up the interaction between the UV light source and the UV reactive material.  An IR cache needs two components, an infra-red light source and an infra-red capable camera.   Any remote control that requires line-of-sight to your TV uses an infra-red LED. You can either take apart an old remote control or you can buy IR LEDs for about 50 cents each. We opted to buy them for our Lunar Lander BFL Boot Camp cache.

Now that we have an IR light source we need to figure out what to do about a camera. I learned a while ago that webcams will pick up IR light but those aren’t too convenient to take into the field. I suppose if you had a little netbook with a built in webcam that might do the trick but I’ve never tried it. I discovered that my BlackBerry makes for a decent enough IR camera for what we had planned. The facetime camera on an iPhone might work if you are patient. Many cameras have a built in IR filter. You can test your camera by viewing the front of a remote control through your camera as you push the buttons. If you see a light then your

Coordinates Visible with Infra-Red Light (close up)

Coordinates Visible with IR Light (close up)

camera will work to view IR light. You can also use cameras that have a “night vision” mode. As you can tell it’s not easy finding a way to view infra-red light. If you choose to build and IR cache it will be important to provide sufficient details in the description relative to your difficulty rating to allow people to find the cache. If you set your difficulty rating at 5 then you might not need to provide too many clues on how to solve the cache.

The trick to making an IR cache is finding plastic that is opaque to white light but easily transmits IR light.   Black or smoked plastics work best.  I used multiple layers of a red plastic.  It is very hard to pass white light through multiple layers but the IR easily passes.  Remember that light can pass in both directions.   Determined geocachers will try and shine a light through your materials.   You should always block at least one side so that light cannot be place under the clue and shine up through the blocking material.

Some cameras, mostly older video cameras, come with a built in IR illuminator.  If your camera has a “Night Shot” or “Night Mode”  you might have the features you need.   Infra-red caches work at night because of darkness.  There tends to be too much infra-red light during the day thus washing out weak IR sources used in a geocache.  If you’ve ever tried to use your “night shot” setting during the day you’ll know what I mean.   Many modern cameras, including those in the iPhone have a built in IR filter that blocks IR light.   These cameras are not the best for finding IR clues.

These are just a couple of ways that you can use infra-red in the creation of your night cache.  Be creative!

Remember to Grab a Light (white, UV or otherwise) and Cache at Night.

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Pro Tip: Marking Archived Caches in Your GSAK 8 Database

Geocaching Live, GSAK has long offered Pocket Queries for loading up your GPS with a large amount of geocache entries at once. Well, it didn’t take long for many cachers to cobble all their Pocket Queries together and keep them in an offline database, like GSAK. Offline databases are handy, as you can perform analysis, load up your GPS in a custom way, or go out caching even if is offline (for maintenance). There is a problem with GSAK databases though: Archived Caches.

When a geocache is archived, Groundspeak stops providing it in Pocket Queries, except your “My Finds” Pocket Query. From Groundspeak’s perspective, this makes perfect sense – an archived geocache is not something they want people seeking. Sometimes a cache is archived due to lack of maintenance or otherwise abandonment in the field … but other times it is due to a landowner request or more. If Groundspeak provided archived caches in Pocket Queries then we could potentially have conflict with these landowners who were told the information would no longer be available for cache hunters. Fine. But what about GSAK databases?

Traditionally, the way to handle archived caches in your offline database has been to filter caches that were not received in your last GPX download, or within the last x number of days (I’ve used 14 for that). If you don’t filter you could end up loading archived geocaches on your GPS and, well, you’ll find your self hunting for a cache that isn’t there or worse – dealing with that angry land owner. Even using the last GPX date / GPX in the last 14 days method leaves you open to a cache that has been archived in the last couple days.

Now that GSAK supports the Live API, there’s a nice little trick we can use to clean up our archived caches: The refresh cache data function lets us mark the archived caches in our database without exposing us to new archived cache listings that aren’t already in our database.

First off, set up your filter. Remember you can update a maximum of 6,000 caches in one day so if your database is huge then you may need to break the task up. I started out by selecting all active and disabled caches that haven’t been updated in 14 days.

The screenshots above show my filter settings that I used. This returned 3,977 caches in Ontario for me. Since that was less than 6,000, I set GSAK to “refresh” this cache data. Since archiving a cache creates an “Archived” log, and changes the individual GPX information, this will grab the “Archived” status for every cache in the list that has been archived.

This requires GSAK 8, and you need to be a premium member … if you have an offline GSAK database you’re most likely a premium member anyway since that’s the only way to get Pocket Queries.

In GSAK, go to the “ access” menu, and select “Refresh cache data….

Once you have done that, a new dialog box will appear asking if you want this to update the current cache, or everything in your filter. If you have less than 6,000 caches in your filter pick “All in current filter”. If your filter was over 6,000 caches you may want to hit cancel instead and refine your filter first.

So, once you hit OK, it’s a good time to get a coffee, or perhaps lunch as your wait for the data to come in and GSAK to process it.

After a long wait, this process will come back and your caches are up to date. Since my filter excluded caches which haven’t been updated in the last 14 days, most of the caches in my filter disappeared. 8 caches were still in my filter, however as those caches had been retracted. A retracted cache is different from an archived cache as it has been un-published. These caches should be *deleted* from your database or manually marked as archived.

You can see in the summary screen above that 3,969 caches were updated – the archived ones are marked as archived in my database and the rest were brought up to date. The 8 retracted caches were not updated as they were never published, which explains the discrepancy between the 3,977 caches that were in my filter and the 3,969 caches that got updated. The retracted caches did spend a brief time as “published” which is how they got in my database to begin with.

So here you have it. Use the above process every couple weeks or so, or even before your next GPS load and you’ll never load another archived cache into your GPS from GSAK again.

[ GSAK ] [ Geocaching Live ] [ TAG Pro Tips ]

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Geocaching API Distance Limits

Geocaching Live, GSAK Like many others, I’ve upgraded to GSAK version 8 and gave the new Geocaching API a try. At first I was really impressed.

I used the Get Logs function to grab the missing logs from my own caches so my stats page would be more accurate. Turns out, I missed several dozen logs by manually grabbing the GPX when people logged my caches.

I then played around with the Status Check function. This will be very useful before going caching in a specific area so that I don’t go looking for last minute disabled/archived caches.

A couple of days ago I took a look at the Get Geocaches screen.  I normally use a bunch of Pocket Queries to fill my GSAK database, so I wasn’t expecting that feature to be too useful to me personally.  One thing did catch my eye however.  I noticed I can filter on favourite points.  That would be very useful as I can’t do that with PQs yet.

So I set the minimum to 5 to get the more interesting caches.  I also put in a maximum distance of 500km which is about as far I’m willing to go on a day trip.  Then I hit OK.  After it downloaded the data I noticed it only returned around 300 cache results.  Odd, I expected a bit more.  I then sorted by favorite points in GSAK and the cache with the most favorite points only had 140.  That’s strange.  I knew that the Earth Caches and Virtuals in Niagara Falls were between 150 to 200 points.

So I did a bit of searching on the GSAK forums and quickly found out what was going on.  It turns out that there is a distance limit in the API.  You’re limited to 50km radius if you specify a center point and 100km corner to corner if you specify a bounding box.  I also found out that a warning was added in the latest GSAK patch regarding the limits:

That was rather disappointing.  It pretty much makes the filtering useless.  If someone wanted to find a Webcam for example they would be out of luck if there weren’t any within 50km of their search point.  With a pocket query however they could select an origin of None and pick the States and Provinces they wanted to search.  As long as they don’t search for something common that maxes out the PQ, they’ll get all the results in their search area.

If they wanted to search for something more common they can specify a search point and a limit of 800km (select 500 miles in the PQ).  That’s 16 times greater range than the API allows.  So for finding a certain type of cache Pocket Queries beat the API hands down.

This got me thinking.  How useful would the API be for populating your GSAK database for day to day use.  I did a search from my home coordinates and got around 4200 caches within 50km.  That’s not bad at all.  I filtered out my finds and still have 2100 caches to look for.  That’s more that enough to keep the “close to home” cachers busy for a while.

I’m not a “close to home” cacher however.  Over 40% of my finds are more than 50km away and 32% of my finds are 50 to 100km away which is only a 30 to 60 minute drive.  I would have to do multiple API queries along the edge of the 50km radius circle to pick up those caches.  That would give overlaps and holes in the coverage.

With Pocket Queries I have multiple queries set around my home coordinates with different place date ranges.  In 2 days I can get all the unfound caches within 100km of my home.  For the close to home cachers the API wins with it’s ease of use.  For the cacher that likes to travel Pocket Queries are the way to go.

I started wondering, how would the 50km limit affect me if I lived somewhere outside the Golden Horseshoe.   I did a 50km query centered on Owen Sound.  I was expecting a couple of thousand caches but was surprised to only see 577 results.   I then tried somewhere a bit more remote but still a large city.  I did another 50km query centered on the City of Sudbury.  I only got 506 results this time.  And these are fairly large population centers.  Small towns in Ontario’s north would get even worse results.

Using a Pocket Query you can get a 1000 caches easily.  I tried one centered around Sudbury, and it stretched out to just over 100km from the search point to get them all.  And this would expand out to the 800km limit as you find those caches and they’re excluded from the query.  Pocket Queries seem to be the better choice for those outside of major urban areas.

As a comparison I tried the API to see what limits it had.  Turns out it’s 5000 caches per request.  I tried three requests centered on Mississauga, Owen Sound and Sudbury.  Each time I received 5000 caches stretching out around 1200km from the search point.

For the close to home cachers in large urban areas the new Get Caches Geocaching API function in GSAK is all you really need. For those who like to cache in a large area or are in an area with a low cache density Pocket Queries would prove more useful. Those looking for specific types of caches will have to use Pocket Queries as the 50km radius limit doesn’t let you find much at all.

[ Geocaching Live API  ] [ GSAK ] [ OpenCaching API ]




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Featured Cache: GC36GEA HUNGER GAMES (Night “fire tack” cache)

northernpenguin, caching at night

Today’s featured geocache is located in Oakville (near Burlington), along Bronte Creek. It was placed on October 27 (just a couple weeks ago) by TROOP CHIEF.  Now that daylight savings time has ended, the nights are getting longer. While fair weather cachers hang up their GPS for the winter there’s another option – go caching even though it’s dark outside.

GC36GEA HUNGER GAMES (Night “fire tack” cache) is a great way to get started caching at night. The posted co-ordinates lead you to a parking area on the shoulder of Dundas Street in Oakville, best approached heading westbound on Dundas. The cache is themed after the popular book series “The Hunger Games” with references to Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games Arena.

Once you arrive at the posted co-ordinates, you look around for a fire tack which is a retro-reflective marker. To see these best, your light source should be close to your eyes – ideally a head lamp. If using a flashlight, hold it up beside your eyes. Once you spot the fire tack, walk over to it and look around for the next one. Follow it until you reach the three fire tacks that are together and look around for the cache.

It’s a great introduction to night caching, and can be visited in under one hour.

GC36GEA HUNGER GAMES (Night “fire tack cache) ] [ TAG Featured Caches ]

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GSAK + API – First Look

I’d heard there was a new version (8) of GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) from many sources and was actually excited to be able to hand Clyde an extra $20 to upgrade from my registered version 7.  There are some new features worth the upgrade, not the least of which is the API.

After installing the new version, I had no idea what the limits were so I went looking for the app.  It’s found in the new “ access” tab right next to help.  If you click on “Get Geocaches” it will bring you to the window where you can define things much like you can in pocket queries.  The basic tab is where you define a center point, distance, max geocaches to get, # of favorite points, size, difficulty and terrain.  The advanced tab allows you to choose cache types, hidden by, found by, exclude by and even lets you define a box with top left coords and bottom right coords.

Then the fun began.  The window started with a very small amount of caches to get but I thought they set the bar way to low at 30 caches.  To find out what it could handle I plugged in 5000 and let it rip.  Did it come back and tell me I was out of my mind?  Too big a number to grab all at once?  Nope.  It started plugging away at them 30 caches at a time.  Tick-tock went the clock and within 10-15 minutes I was up to 3500 caches!  Way cool!  Then it happened, I don’t know exactly what but it stopped and froze GSAK.  I waited for about 5-10 minutes and then…GSAK came back and showed it was processing the files.  When all was said and done I’d managed to download 3558 caches.  Not quite the 5000 I was hoping for but considering this version of GSAK had just been released I suspect many might have been trying the same thing.  Another way of looking at it, with this one app I was able to get all the caches from Milton to Clarinton, Kawartha Lakes to Tiffin and the south end of Barrie to Toronto with everything in between.  Now if only I could fit them on my Colorado all at once!

When GSAK finished it’s processing it showed a screen similar to the one you get after loading a Pocket Query.  In that I found has set limits on the amount of caches one can load using the API.  It seems the 5000 it put in was not to far off as the DAILY LIMIT is 6000 caches.  The best part is that it also loaded the favorite points for each cache, something that didn’t come through on my last PQ.  In order to view them as part of the list, you’ll need to click the “View” tab and click on “Add/Remove Columns”.

Other popular items included in the “ Access” tab include Refresh Cache Data, Download Pocket Queries (No need to go to the site to download those ready to go PQ’s), Get Logs (you set the amount per cache), Status Check (archived, Disabled, Enabled), Publish Logs, and Add to Bookmark List.

[ GSAK ] [ Geocaching Live API ]

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GSAK Version 8 is Available Now

Clyde has just released the newest iteration of GSAK – The Geocaching Swiss Army Knife. This is the de facto geocaching utility for cachers with access to a Windows computer. The product enables cachers to keep track of geocaches, waypoints, logs and their geocaching statistics in an offline database. This can be used for purposes like custom loading GPS units or running various macros against the data.

This version adds support for the “Live” API (as hinted in yesterday’s release notes). This lets your macros access data direct from Groundspeak without packaging it in a Pocket Query first. There are more updates, but you can find all the nuts and bolts in the release notes.

Note this is not a free upgrade. Depending on when you purchased GSAK v7  (or v6) your upgrade price ranges from $25 to $5.

[ GSAK ] [ GSAK v8 Release Notes ]

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