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 Even using the last GPX date / GPX in the last 14 days method leaves you open to a cache that has been archived in the last couple days.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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Pro Tip: and Social Networks

Another feature that popped back to with the August update is renewed social networking links.

This isn’t the controversial feature that allowed you to “Like” a geocache on Facebook. This time it’s more personal – you can connect your Twitter account and/or your Facebook account, and have the link generated by your geocaching log posted to your feed. It still links directly to the cache, not your specific log but there’s no “Like” count incrementing on Facebook, for example. People looking at a cache page will not see that you have linked to it.

Connecting your geocaching account to a social network is fairly straightforward. When you go to , you are (currently) presented with two buttons: Login with Twitter and Login with Facebook. If you pick the Twitter one, you’ll be presented with a web page that asks for your Twitter credentials and a big “Authorize app” button. At this point, if you give authorization to use your account, the site will be able to post updates to your twitter feed.

If you change your mind later, go back to and pick “Remove Access”. Or go to your Twitter account, and remove access from the “Settings” menu.

The process is similar for Facebook integration. Back to, hit Login with Facebook. If you’re already logged into Facebook on the computer, you’ll see the screen above. Otherwise you’ll be asked to login first. You will see what wants access to, specifically the ability to post to your wall at any time.

Again, if you change your mind there are two ways to remove the link. Either click on the Remove Access button at, or you can do it from the Applications subpage of the Account page on your Facebook profile.

Something I highly recommend, so that you are not flooding your newsfeed … turn off automatic posting from Go to the page, and clear the  check boxes under Twitter for Send a Tweet when: “I log a geocache on the website”, “I log a geocache through a Geocaching Live-enabled application”. Also clear the check box under Facebook for “I log a geocache on the website”. Keep an eye on that greyed out one that is “(coming soon)” as you will likely want to disable it too.

Why did I take you through connecting up your Social Networks, only to disable them? Simple. This stops you from spamming your Twitter and Facebook followers/friends every time you go out caching. If you are the sort of cacher who goes out for one or two caches once in a while then this doesn’t affect you much. If you tend to go out power trail caching, visiting 100 caches in a day then you will likely have no followers or friends left by the end of your caching day. The options above will post a Tweet or Status Update every time you find a cache. That means 100 Tweets for a 100 cache day, and that is the sort of thing that causes people to want to silence your updates.

You can still have your connection to Twitter and Facebook though! When logging on the site, you’ll notice two new options have appeared below your log text. There are check boxes for updating your Twitter Status and your Facebook Status. When you want to highlight a cache  to your friends and followers, just tick those two boxes in the “Sharing Options” block and it’ll be sent to your feed or your wall.

On Facebook, the posts are pretty noticeable, with an image representing the cache and a link back to it.

And here it is on Twitter – with the simple text that I “found the geocache” and a link to the cache.

Interesting enough, the links go straight to the cache page, and not straight to your log but then again anyone acting on your link will most likely see your log right there at the top of the list. I would have preferred that they link straight to your log entry but I suppose this is more about introducing people to the cache as opposed to your story.


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Pro Tip: Ibycus Topo

Ibycus Mapsource View

Ibycus 3.2, Mapsource

You bought a Garmin GPS (probably handheld) and now you’re looking for maps for it. While Garmin’s Topo Canada is a great product, it’s also $150.00. Lucky for you, there is an alternative (if you are prepared to give up the 3D DEM topo shading):

Ibycus Topo on Colorado 400t

Ibycus Topo on Colorado 400t

A few years ago, Dale Atkin, the geocacher known as Ibycus did the Canadian geocaching community a great favour. He released a Topo map product for Garmin GPS units based on the Canadian Government’s free topo data. This is a free map, won’t cost you a thing outside the bandwidth to download it and a blank DVD. If you make use of the project, you might want to consider sending him a donation though.

He also released a Topo USA map product but I’ll be concentrating on the Canadian one here. Back when Dale started his project, the maps were hosted on his server and you would download them from there …. but due to the overwhelming popularity of this project he had to stop hosting it there. Now, it’s a bittorrent download – note this is 3.5 gigabytes, and will take some time to obtain.

To get started using these maps, you will need to obtain two pieces of software (one you may already have):

You will need to have a copy of MapSource. If you already own a Garmin map product, chances are you already have it. If not, here’s a little trick to getting a free copy of it:

Next you will need a Bittorrent client. I use the official one.

Once you have Mapsource, and Bittorrent, you can use Bittorrent to get the map data.
The torrent links can be a real pain to locate, so I have posted a few of them here. dfx updated the tracker links with improvements, so I’m linking to his version for the download:

*These instructions do not cover MacOS but I included the link for completeness

Once you open the .torrent file, you’ll be asked where to save them and it will begin downloading. Note, due to how bittorrent works, you’ll also be sharing it to other people. That’s how the process works. The download process will take anywhere from hours to days depending on your connection speed and how many people are sharing the file when you request it. It took me four hours to download my copy on a 10Mbps link.

After a long while, you will have a file: IbycusTopo32.iso. Using your favourite DVD burning software, burn this image to the DVD. You can usually just double click the IbycusTopo32.iso file to start this. You want to actually open the ISO file in your burning software – don’t just copy the file to the disc, that won’t work.

When you’re done, you should have a disc with a few files on it:

Ibycus Topo DVD Contents

Find the file called “IbycusTopo.exe” and double click that one.

You’ll be asked if you want to install Ibycus Topo, select “Yes” to proceed with it

Ibycus Like to Install

You’ll be presented next with a licence agreement. This is where you agree that the responsibility for using these maps are yours alone, Dale doesn’t offer a warranty and it’s up to you to watch where you’re going when using this map on your GPS. There are, in fact, known inaccuracies. Blame the Canadian Government for those.

Ibycus Licence Agreement

Pick a place to install it (I recommend you leave this at the default setting) and then hit next.

Ibycus Install Path

This next step takes the longest, as it copies 3 gigabytes of data to your hard drive. This would be a good time to go fetch a coffee. Perhaps fetch it at that coffee shop around the corner with the LPC micro….

Ibycus Installing

You’ll eventually be greeted with a dialog box that tells you the product is installed.

Ibycus Install Complete

Take the DVD out of the drive and put it in a safe place.

Start up MapSource, then pick “Ibycus Topo 3.2” from the pull down at the top left. You can now view the map in MapSource, or send it to your GPS using the usual methods. We’ll cover sending maps to your GPS in a future tip.

Ibycus Map Select

[ Ibycus Topo Website ] [ Ibycus Topo Forum Topic ]

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Pro Tip: Downgrading your Garmin GPSr firmware

This tip is for the Colorado, Oregon, GPSMAP 62/78 and Dakota line of Garmin GPS recievers.

The story goes something like this.  You upgraded your Garmin GPS receiver to the latest beta firmware.  Perhaps it was because of a new feature, or a bug that was listed as fixed, or a bug that wasn’t listed but you were hoping was fixed, or you’re just a glutton for punishment.  Whatever the reason, you’re now running the latest and greatest.  Or so you thought…  You notice that a new bug, or two, has been introduced.  It’s serious enough that the reason you upgraded isn’t worth the aggravation.  You want to go back.

If you were running a previous beta it’s easy.  Just run the EXE file for that firmware and you’re back to where you were.

But what if you want to go back to a release version.  You don’t have an EXE for that since you’ve probably used Webupdater to load it.  No problem.  Webupdater puts the firmware file in the Garmin folder on your unit in a file called gupdate.gcd.  All you had to do was copy this file somewhere else before you rebooted your GPS receiver.  Just copy that file back to the Garmin folder and reboot.  You’re done.

“But I didn’t back up anything!”, you say.  Since this is the first time you want to go back you probably didn’t make a back up of the firmware file.  Fortunately you’re not stuck.  The good folks at have prepared for this possibility and have links to the firmware files on their wiki pages.  Just download GCD file for the firmware you want, rename it to gupdate.gcd, put it in your Garmin folder on your GPS receiver and reboot.

There is one small gotcha.  Going back to a previous version of firmware will reset all the settings on your GPSr.  Your battery type, WAAS enabled, units, and other customizations will all go back to defaults.  Your loaded maps, geocaches and custom POI will be left alone.  Waypoints will probably survive as well.

Here’s the links to the wiki pages for all the GPS recievers:

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Pro Tip: Solve Sudoku Puzzles with Google and your iPhone

Google Goggles Sudoku SolverGot an iPhone? Hate Sudoku puzzles?
Well, Google has an app for you! Today’s update of the Google Mobile App for iPhone now adds a Suduko puzzle solver to the application. Literally, all you need to do is start up the Google Mobile App, aim the camera at the Sudoku puzzle in question and tap “Solve”. Within a few seconds Google will take all the work right out of that Sudoku puzzle you just encountered at stage 3 of that diabolical multi. No word on Kakuru puzzles yet though.

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Pro Tip: Using chirp on the Garmin Colorado

Starting with Colorado Firmware 3.52 beta, the device can listen for Garmin chirp devices. I loaded up that firmware and found very quickly it isn’t entirely intuitive to figure this out – it’s certainly not in the Garmin Colorado manual, having been added several years after the product line launched.

To use the feature, you have to enable it. As listening for chirp devices can potentially eat more battery on an already power hungry device like the Colorado, it is disabled by default. To enable it, go to your Geocaching menu, then select Options (top left button) and finally Start chirp(tm) searching.

Starting chirp on Colorado

When you encounter a chirp device, it will pop up automatically and grab the information from the chirp. Since the ANT hardware is not as efficient as it is in the newer Garmin devices you will have to be closer to the chirp. Once the chirp has finished communicating, you’ll have the option to display it’s details, or dismiss it.

Colorado chirp Detected

To go back and see the chirp again after dismissing it, simply go back to Geocaches, then Options and select chirp(tm) Details.

Colorado chirp Details

To disable chirp, it’s the same procedure. Go back to Geocaches, then Options and select Stop chirp(tm) Searching.

Colorado Stop chirp Searching

The chirp details will be remembered until you encounter another chirp, you reboot the device or you disable chirp searching. That’s right, shutting off the device or disabling chirp erases the chirp details from the unit.

You’ll want to save any waypoint details you want to keep before shutting off. I have not found a way to save the information on the device itself, I’ll update this article if I find a way (there HAS to be a way).

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Pro Tip: Night Mode Map for Colorado/Oregon.

Night Colour on an Oregon (from GPS File Depot)

Found this little gem on the Groundspeak Forums.

One of the complaints that many owners of the newer Colorado and Oregon GPS units have is the lack of a “night mode” that other Garmin GPS units have. Night mode on a Nuvi or 60 series GPS for example will, at sunset switch from a light background to a dark background. This reduces the glare and distration from that dashboard mounted GPS.

Many geocachers bought their Colorado/Oregon/Dakota units as you could load City Navigator NT on the unit and use it as both an outdoor GPS for hiking AND as a navigation device. The Colorado even ships with an “automotive” profile for this purpose.  For unknown reasons, Garmin left the day/night mode function out of the Colorado and it’s kin.

Fortunately, yogazoo has created a hack in the form of a map overlay that will deliver the same effect. He has produced a transparent map that, when activated will darken the screen for City Navigator maps in the USA and Southern 2/3 of Canada. You will have to switch the map manually. Still, this is a welcome relief for those of us who drive a lot after dusk yet don’t want the distraction of a bright, light coloured map display.

You can find it at GPS File Depot

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