Groundspeak Recognizes BFL Bootcamp

My how BFL Boot Camp has grown. The first year, we hid 6 geocaches and they were mainly based on the use of firetacks. The event “Fall Back to Night Caching“ (archived – Geocaching login required) had 38 teams attend, and was organized by 5 people. At the time, we figured it would be a one time event.

Fast forward to 2011, and we are hosting the 6th iteration of this annual event. We’re looking forward to seeing 200 people attend this year, with over a dozen caches hidden for it. We have 20 people helping out on the organizing committee. The caches now feature lasers, UV paint, glow in the dark features, and more. Gone are the days of a simple follow the firetack to the tupperware type cache hunt. Over the years, the BFL Crew has hidden over 50 night caches in North Halton. Two of the original hides are still active – GCYPW9 The Circle, and GCYXNJ What Bugs You in the Night.

The event caught the attention of Groundspeak this week, and they have posted an article on the official Geocaching Blog – “Latitude 47” about the event. The article, titled “Geocaching in the Dark: The Great Canadian Night Caching Event” appeared on the blog Friday evening. Featuring information about night caching, our event and even some photos from past year’s events.

This year, the night caching event portion starts at 2130h and, while the even officially ends at 0400h,  often there are attendees still out well past that time. We look forward to seeing you at the event on Saturday, October 29th.

[ BFL Boot Camp VI – Retro Reflect ] [ Latitude 47 ]

 

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GCPJNV “Screaming Skulls” Featured on Groundspeak’s Blog

Screaming Skulls - photo by northernpenguin

Latitude 47, Groundspeak’s official blog has posted a feature article on GCPJNV – “Screaming Skulls”. The cache is one that is well known to Toronto area (and most Ontario) geocachers  as a fantastic geocaching day-trip destination. It’s Groundspeak’s “Cache of the week” this week.

This cache is located at Midlothian Ridge -just west of Burk’s Falls, amid the haunting art of Peter Camani. The art features concrete forms of head like figures which appear to be screaming. In the middle, is the artist’s home dubbed “Midlothian Castle“. Seen from the air, the concrete forms depict an image of a dragon. Some of the works quite literally depict souls … the artist has an option where you can have your cremation ashes added to the concrete when you move on to the afterlife.

The cache was placed by The Go Getters in 2005. It’s been visited by 211 people and has 43 favourite points. If you visit the cache, plan on spending at least an hour exploring the area. Autumn is a particularly nice time to visit!

For Groundspeak’s take on the popular cache, head on over to their story. The images in the Groundspeak story appear to be from visit logs by filmclips and simplyred.

[ GCPJNV Screaming Skulls ] [ Latitude 47 ]

 

 

 

 

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Rouge Park to become National Park

According to the CBC, Stephen Harper’s throne speech on Friday included a part about finally making the rumours of Rouge Park a reality. Rouge Park is set to become Canada’s first “Urban National Park” as part of Parks Canada’s 100 year anniversary.

The document said:

“In this, the 100th anniversary year of our national parks system, our government will create significant new protected areas. It will work with provincial, regional, municipal, aboriginal and community stakeholders toward establishing an urban national park in the Rouge Valley of eastern Toronto,”

So, for the geocaching part of the story – if you have a geocache in the Park, you may want to verify that it meets Parks Canada’s geocaching policy guidelines if you want it to stay in that park.

[ CBC ] [ Parks Canada ] [ Parks Canada Geocaching Policy ]

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Interested in a Geocaching Licence Plate?

Here’s an interesting project that the Central Ontario Geocachers have started up. The idea is to convince Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation to issue licence plates with Groundspeak’s Geocaching logo on board. This has already happened for many organizations around the Province, and it appears to be easier than one would think to get this to happen. COG needs 200 people to commit to getting one of these plates at $90. Once that happens the MTO will not only mint the plates for these 200 early adopters, but the logo will be made available for the general public to put on their vanity plates as well.

I can see this sort of thing taking off here. How long before people get that travel bug number beside the geocaching logo.

Head on over to the Driven to Geocache site for the details.

[ Driven to Geocache ]

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ElectroQTed featured in Waterloo Region Record

ElectroQTed's GPS as seen on TheRecord.com

Ted Spieker, a.k.a. ElectroQTed has been featured in an article by Matthew McCarthy about his geocaching adventures in the Waterloo Region Record’s “People of Record” section. The article is a black and white photo/video presentation where Ted is speaking as the narrative voice. It’s a great listen, and the photos are wonderful, showing numerous night caching aventures.

Way to go Ted!

[ Ted Spieker –  People of Record ]

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  • Logged a DNF for Related Posts :(

FCC Allowing Trouble for GPS L1 Band?

FCC LogoHere’s a developing story from the Groundspeak Forums. It seems that the Federal Communications Commission in the United States are going to allow a radio licencing change that could potentially affect the GPS L1 signal quality – the frequency used by civilian GPS units. In the efforts to increase mobile broadband internet capabilities, the proposal is to allow use of a frequency that is adjacent to the frequency used by L1. This could potentially result in signal interference, particularly in or near urban areas.

According to the discussion thread, the FCC is planning to skip on the lengthy consultation process and fast track this in next week. Will they? We don’t know. We do know that Garmin is rather concerned about LightSquared’s proposal (see the first post in the forum thread). Americans are being encouraged to file a complaint.

How will this affect a Toronto geocacher? Can’t really say for now. The FCC regulates radio frequency use in the United States, while in Canada this is handled by Industry Canada. Interference from terrestrial mobile broadband is unlikely to affect GPS users in Canada, except perhaps near border cities like Niagara Falls.

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Journey ON Magazine Geocaching Article

Several Toronto area geocachers were interviewed for a new local magazine, Journey ON!. The magazine features articles about travel and adventure in Ontario. northernpenguin (yup, that’s me), teamvoyagr and chris-mouse were interviewed at the BFL Boot Camp event last October.

The caches I referred to in the article are the Tour de Matchedash series, and Languages.
The earthcache is Juicepig’s Sudbury Astrobleme

You can view the magazine online here, or skip right to the article text here.
The magazine is also embedded below, if you can view Adobe Flash content:

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Just what is Garmin up to?

We’ve been watching for a few weeks now as Garmin has been tossing stones into the GPS pond, and making some ripples.

First we had the Garmin Chirp device launch, which seemed to catch Groundspeak off guard. The beacon device launched without any support on Geocaching.com and in fact caches which required these devices were initially being declined before an attribute was rushed into existence. Apparently, Garmin only gave Groundspeak a couple days notice that the devices were coming into existence. This was a far cry from the partnership that produced the Wherigo engine.

Now, Garmin seems to have found an even bigger stone to toss out into the waters of uncertainty.  Take the case of a domain name – opencaching.com

This domain name came into existence in 2003, as an alternative geocache listing site – similar to sites like Navicaching and Terracaching. This site carried on quietly until 2008, when it ceased it’s operations.

Opencaching.com - 2003

Opencaching.com - November 2010

Some time after this, Garmin picked up the domain and quietly started making plans for it. We’ve been getting teased for a few weeks when a new logo appeared on the site.

One week, there was a logo that looked like an X with a circle around it, similar to the “open” geocaching logo and a slogan “As free and open as the great outdoors…”.

Now this would be interesting itself, if there wasn’t already someone using the name Opencaching. While Opencaching.us is off to a modest start here, the German site is quite active – and none too happy about Garmin using the name. So, the next update that appeared as a German slogan in place of the English one:

Bald auch unter einem Baumstumpf in deiner Nähe:
Kostenlos, offen, in deiner Sprache!

and Google translated this as

Soon, under a tree stump near you:
Free, open, in your language!

Was this an olive branch to the German community at opencaching.de ?

Opencaching.com - Dec 6 2010

We shall see. The current image on the site is a logo with four colours and concentric circles, with “How Awesome is your cache?”. This would seem to indicate that a listing site with a rating system is in the works.
An alternative listing site, particularly a Garmin one will impact geocaching activities in the Toronto area. For example:
  • Land managers have made agreements with Groundspeak and Geocaching.com. How will these land managers react to having another large player in the geocache listing business?
  • What about cache proximity? Groundspeak maintains a minimum 162M distance between the physical aspects of geocaches – finals, and stages of multi-caches. Will we have two caches at that waterfall?
  • Will Garmin be any more successful than other competitors, like the (now defunct) Terracaching site?
  • Will Garmin use it’s hardware sales dominance in places like Canada to drive traffic away from Groundspeak’s sites?
  • Will Garmin introduce Garmin specific hardware requirements for caches on it’s site?
  • Will geocachers be able to use the Garmin site if they don’t have Garmin hardware (ie Magellan GPS).
  • What happens to the GPX file format if Garmin starts making up extensions or tweaking standards? Does GSAK break?
Whatever Garmin is up to, the geocaching world is paying attention.  If you want to follow along, I’d highly recommend you follow Cachemania, as this blog has been keeping right on top of things as they unravel. Of course, I’ll be updating the TAG site here as I learn about Garmin’s plans.

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New Geocache Listing Service – Opencaching.us

Opencaching, which has been around in Europe for some time is an alternative to Geocaching.com. The site has launched in the United States as of August 18, 2010. The site, opencaching.us is openly promoting their availability to USA geocachers. Not sure if they are lumping Canada into their USA site, or if they plan an opencaching.ca site in the future (right now that's domain parked).

Some of the differences on the Opencaching site include non-anonymous reviewers and the ability to post virtual caches. At the time this article was written, the site has 86 active cache listings (versus 1,167,584 on Geocaching.com). It will be interesting to see if the site grows, and how well it scales with no membership fees or other charges to use their service.

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Geocache Detonated in Mississauga

Just a few days after a man took a pipe-bomb like geocache into a Timmins police department, Peel Regional Police were dispatched to deal with a film canister in a tree outside the Wal*Mart corporate office in Mississauga.

The geocache was placed in a small spruce tree in the employee parking lot for the office, and this is an area the general public is normally not expected to be. Since the cache was placed without the property owner's permission, they didn't realize it was a geocache and called in the authorities.

This is being discussed on the Groundspeak Forums, and the Central Ontario Geocachers forums

Please remember to obtain permission when hiding geocaches, particularly when private property is involved. Also, when hiding a cache in an urban area, you should use a clear container so it is obvious the cache contents are harmless.

From an internal Wal*Mart memo:

11:37 am Subject: IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please Read
Early this morning an Associate reported seeing a suspicious package attached to one of the trees in the East parking lot.. As a precautionary measure the corporate security team contacted Peel Police. The Police have quadrant off a portion of the East parking lot and are requesting that all Associates remain away from this area. If for an emergency reason you need to access your vehicle please contact corporate security or your People Manager. We will let you know when this issue is resolved.

1:35 pm Subject: FW: IMPORTANT NOTICE: Update
Please be advised that the Peel Police have dealt with the suspicious item left in the East parking lot. The item turned out to be a GPS based scavenger hunt game. The item was destroyed by the Police and minor debris may be found in the parking lot. We do not believe any cars were damaged as a result of this action. If you have any concerns relating to your vehicle please contact Corporate Security or your People Manager. We will investigate how the item got to this location. We do not know whether any of our Associates had any connection with this item however, this event is an opportunity to remind all that no one should leave any packages unattended in public areas on Wal-Mart property.

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