Lab Caches and I <3 Geocaching

A while ago Geocaching mentioned their new “Lab caches” idea. A lab cache is a new cache type that Groundspeak announced in August. In the announcement Groundspeak said that lab caches will count towards your find count and would only be available at Mega Events. The special thing about Lab Caches is that you must find a code in order to mark the cache as found like with Wherigo completion codes. I do like the idea of having a code in order to log a cache as it’s a good verification that you did indeed find it. Since the announcement there have been a few lab caches and it was announced that there would be one at the Kent MEGA. On your geocaching profile they give you a new cache type icon that Walter White would be proud of!!! 😉

Lab cache icon

Lab cache icon

Lab Caches can be anything and give a playing field for Groundspeak to experiment with new ideas. As they don’t exist after an event and there’s no log it’s a bit of a hard concept to grasp!

To make it that little bit more trickier there was an announcement recently on the Geocaching blog about an “I ❤ Geocaching" lab cache which will be available to premium members between 3rd and 28th February. So try and get your head around this


During this time period you will be able to hide one personal lab cache (and no more than one) for one person. You create your personal lab cache and a URL will be generated. You then pass that URL onto somebody (Or a few people if you wish but it’s meant for “One special person”). That person can then log the cache using that URL. Once it’s logged it’s automatically archived so nobody else can log it. You must involve a code in the process. So if you hide a container there could be a code written inside which the finder then inputs when they log their find (You will have specified what this code was when you created the cache and it will have been hidden from the view of others). There doesn’t have to be a container though. These caches can be hidden anywhere even in your house. The code may be a word written on a monument somewhere (for example) like a virtual cache.

Groundspeak say that that this idea of personal lab caches could be used for marriage proposals (!), presenting your friend with some cinema tickets, or taking your friend on their own personal adventure.

At the moment it’s just a test and your find count won’t go up after logging an ‘I ❤ Geocaching' cache. So what's the point? Well, I guess we're helping them test out some new features and they probably figured it was about time after challenges were ditched! At the moment the geocaching statistics system doesn't support lab caches anyway (It will in the future) so although you do see your find count increase with other lab caches they won't fill a space on your caching calendar, won't be included in your MyFinds PQ, and don't count towards your hide count.

It does all sound a bit mad at the moment, like Challenges did. I'm not sure Geocaching needs lab caches but maybe this is an attempt to fill the empty hole left when challenge caches disappeared. I love the idea of having a code to log a cache though and would like to see this feature made optional for physical cache types. So I'm going to say let's wait and see what comes of it all and give them a chance. It might develop into something completely awesome! 😀


10 things you didn’t know about

Ok, Ok, so you probably do know some of these things but I thought it was a good title for the blog. 😉 I thought I’d put an entry together about all of the cool little things I’ve learned after using the site for a good few years. Hopefully someone will learn something from this…

1. You can add dynamically updating stats to your profile

Thanks to Groundspeak giving access to the Live API to developers we now have project-gc. This site allows you to get up to date statistics about geocaches as well as your Geocaching statistics. In the past you would have to use GSAK to manually generate your stats and copy and paste the html code to your profile page on a regular basis to keep up to date. Thanks to Project-GC we can now just paste the code in once and it will automatically update itself!!!

To do this, visit the Profile stats page of the site and click ‘Create dynamic image HTML code‘. You will be instantly given the link to add your stats to your profile. Simply paste it in and you’re up to date! 🙂

Part of the profile stats that will appear on your Geocaching profile page

Part of the profile stats that will appear on your Geocaching profile page

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UK Underground Geocaches bookmark list

Firstly apologies that my blog has been quiet for a few weeks. I’ve been working on a bit of a Geocaching project! 🙂 I decided to try and compile a bookmark list of all of the UK’s underground caches. I severely underestimated the amount of time and effort that it’d take me to put it together, but finally it is done! It was one of those “I’ve started so I’ll finish” kinds of job which I didn’t want to abandon. It took days to find suitable caches with references to caves/mines/quarries/bunkers in the description, and then days to filter through them to find, for example, caves that were true caves and not little 1m by 1m holes in a rock! It then took days to update the information in the bookmark list so that details about the caches can be quickly obtained. All in all, it was about 3 weeks of work, on and off which ate a hole into my usual blogging time. I was overwhelmed by how many underground adventures there are lurking around our country!

UK Underground caches

The final product is called Going Underground and is available here. It is currently a list of 360 caches in the UK and Ireland that are either underground or near underground features. Some of the caches will require you to go into caves, tunnels, etc. to retrieve them, but some will just lead you to them ready for exploration. Some features will include miles of underground chambers, but others will just be small sea caves. There really is a mixture!

I’ve included a rating system in the bookmark list which is based on the following:
* – Mentions an underground feature, but not enough info to tell how good it is.
** – Mentions an underground feature, some information, but couldn’t be sure how good it was unless I visited.
*** – Mentions an underground feature, and it looks like a good place to visit.
**** – Mentions an underground feature, and it looks like great fun, will definitely try to visit one day.
***** – Mentions an underground feature, and the cache looks absolutely amazing. I MUST GO HERE WHEN I’M IN THE AREA OR MAKE A SPECIAL TRIP TO DO IT!

I’ve also added the 5 star and 4 star caches to separate shared bookmark lists so you can search through just the best (in my opinion) of underground caching.

An example of the entries on the list

It is of course, just a personal project because I wanted to find these caches. Some information may be inaccurate due to the shear number I had to process, and some caches may be missing. If you can think of any I’ve missed then please let me know and I’ll add them. For now, enjoy and I hope it comes in handy for other people too. I will attempt to update the list monthly/bi-monthly with recently published underground caches to help keep the list up to date as well! 🙂

Geocaching Challenges – What’s it all about?

EDIT: 01-09-2011 Due to all of the user feedback on challenges, Groundspeak removed the “challenges completed” count from the find count, so parts of this article that mentioned it have now been scrubbed out!

Last night Groundspeak implemented their replacement for virtuals – Geocaching Challenges. A while ago there was a user feedback suggestion to bring virtuals back, and I did indeed add a vote to it. However, after doing so I started thinking… Would it really be such a great idea? Back when virtuals existed the overall cache quality was higher and there were far fewer Geocachers. There are some brilliant virtuals that are still alive today, but there are also some really pointless ones. The reason I questioned my vote was that I wasn’t sure how new virtual quality would be measured so that the poor ones wouldn’t get through. How worthy a location is of a virtual would surely be very subjective. Reviewers have enough to do reviewing physical caches to be bombarded with virtuals as well. Groundspeak obviously thought about these things when they created their “Geocaching Challenges”, but what exactly are they, and did they think hard enough? The brilliant Podcacher podcast had an interview with Jeremy and Bryan from Groundspeak about this before the implementation which is worth a listen. Here’s a look at Challenges now that they have been implemented…

Completing a Challenge

After the update we now have the ‘Challenges’ link under our Quick View, and when you hover over ‘Your Profile’ and ‘Play’ on the main menu. Creating Challenges is a ‘Premium Members only’ feature, but completing them is open to anyone. In your profile, your finds are now broken up into Finds, Hides, and Challenges and although your “Found” number in the top right-hand side of the Geocaching page and in the logs for caches shows the total number of Found/Completed which includes challenges, when someone clicks on your public profile they will get the breakdown.

Pick a number, any number...

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Virtual Geocaches will be back in Spring?

Back when I thought bringing back virtual Geocaches was a good idea I placed one of my votes on the suggestion someone added on the Geocaching feedback site. Last night I had a notification that Jeremy (President of Groundspeak) had added the following note:

“We have a basic draft of the functionality complete and are trying to schedule the development of the concept along with other projects like maps, statistics, API and favorites. Our hope is to get something out by spring. Fingers crossed.”

You can see the full discussion here.

Since voting I’ve changed my mind as I had looked at waymarking. It just seems to me that it’ll be hard to control and some people will just submit virtuals at water pumps, and churches for example when a physical cache would be fine. You never know, it may be a very skilful implementation that completely works… We shall wait and see…

NEW FEATURE: Geocaching ‘Souvenirs’

EDIT: 10-10-10 Groundspeak have got wise and the links provided below no longer yield information about the souvenir that will go at the link. We will just have to wait and see when they come! I trust you all have your 10-10-10 ones now, though? 🙂

I’m sure most of you will have noticed that the site went down for a little while on the 5th October, but did you noticed the Souvenir feature that appeared during/slightly afterwards?

If you have a look at your public profile you will notice a new tab next to your Trackables tab, it is ‘Souvenirs’. If you click the link it will tell you that you don’t have any, however check out one of the Groundspeak Lackey’s Souvenir pages. Ooooh, a glipse of things to come! 🙂

WOW! Souvenirs!

It’s a bit of a mystery at the moment as to what souvenirs are, but I’m sure if we sit tight we will find out soon (Perhaps in the next update) and we can start earning them.

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New Features

Well, I was a bit gutted when went down last night as I was busy scouting out caches to camp near, but I particularly like one of the new features now that it’s back. On the far right hand side is a feedback tab that allows you to suggest enhancements to the site and for other users to comment and ‘Like’ your idea. A kind of facebook/twitter thing. A couple of ideas have popped up that I like the sound of: A cache container type for nanos (I do think that knowing the size of the container you are looking for helps you find it. Sometimes you will overlook some spots if you wrongly interpret to be in a different container), Viewing more than 500 caches at a time on the maps – Although I would guess it’d slow the maps down if they did this, Bring back virtual caches. (Although I haven’t done any yet I think they’re a neat idea and plan to do some in the future) and some way of logging FTFs although I think this may be a little more tricky to implement and regulate than it sounds. It would be cool though to get some “credit” for your mad rushes to cache sites at stupid times of the morning just to grab that FTF (I’m guilty as charged!!! ;))

It’s good to see that there are comments from Groundspeak’s guys on some of the suggestions. It shows that they’ve implemented the feature and are actually listening to what people say… at least for now anyways! 😉