Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us..

We at OpenCaching North America turn three years old on Sunday, August 18th, 2013, as our official public launch was on that date in 2010. Although we were founded as OpenCaching.us, which is still our primary domain name. We re-branded ourselves as OpenCaching North America in 2011, after “merging” our site with the then new domain name owner of OpenCaching.ca (more on that later) and purchasing the name OpenCaching.mx. Go ahead and try those two, they work also. Since this is the first anniversary date since the Blog was founded, we figured a little history on our founding/about us post was in order. It’s also interesting to note that Geocaching.com has arbitrarily assigned the third Saturday in August as International Geocaching Day. So, (and the Blogger had to do a little math here) our anniversary can never fall more than 3 days from International Geocaching Day. As a matter of fact, the 2nd annual IGD fell on August 18th itself.

We were founded by Jerry, AKA RVRoadTrip (that’s a link to his personal website). We did not want to pester him for this blog post though, as he is recovering from a July 16th Motorcycle accident. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and wish him a speedy recovery! However, most of our history is well documented in the “announcements” section of our forums, and we were able to contact Paul, AKA Lord Darcy (link is to his Google+ page) from our sister site www.opencaching.org.uk to fill in the holes on the founding of our site.

Original Opencaching.us logo

It has already been documented on this Blog that the world wide Opencaching Network was founded by “some guy named Hank” in 2004, and his dream became reality with the launch of Opencaching.de in 2005. It is also well documented throughout the network that if you have the ability, time and resources to open your own National OpenCaching node, contact someone about doing so. Jerry did just that, contacting Paul from Opencaching.org.uk, seeing as that was the only English language node. Paul even had the original inquiry from Jerry in his email archive; it was dated July 25th, 2010. Paul had launched Opencaching.org.uk on August 17th 2009, after painstakingly translating Opencaching.pl (Poland) to English.

This is not to say that Opencaching.us wouldn’t have been possible without Paul’s translation work, I suppose Jerry could have done it. But it sure made things a lot easier! Say’s Paul “I had been translating the pages for a couple of months previous to this date. translate.google.com (Polish to English) got some pretty heavy duty use during this time.” In fact this made things so easy, that Opencaching.us was launched just 3 1/2 weeks after Jerry’s original inquiry email. And it was “up an running” even sooner, as can be seen from the 45 or so people on our members list in our forums who were invited to join before August 18th. We very much appreciate the work of Paul and Waldemar (Username SP2ONG) from Opencaching.pl in getting the site up and running so quickly.

 It is documented in an August 24th, 2011 post to the Announcements section of our forums that our username Coffee Peddlers (George) obtained the domain name Opencaching.ca (it was registered by someone else, but never used), and came on board with his domain name in hand to become the new lead Admin. Two days later, the purchase of the domain name Opencaching.mx was announced, as well as the rebranding as OpenCaching North America, which is where we are today.

The OCNA website is hosted by Rackspace.com in their Chicago Data Center. A single server hosts our website and fourms, and an image is taken every night at Midnight, Chicago time. Of course an image can be taken on demand before we do any tinkering on it! This server runs Apache web server software on the Ubuntu Operating system (a Unix-like, Linux-based operating system). As previously mentioned, it is, in layman’s terms, Opencaching.pl translated to English, and was written in PHP by the OCPL development team. Many of these PHP files have commented text (that only a person with Server access can see) that release them under a GNU General Public License in 2004 and 2005 by the mysterious Hank, founder of the Opencaching concept.

Oh, and we just thought we’d mention, we are not affiliated with The Garmin Opencaching website!

The Public Domain Geocaching Logo (and a blog redesign)

This is the first in a two part series on “things in the public domain hammered out by the community in Geocaching forums.” No, really it is. Any guesses on what the next topic will be? Anyways, the proper name for the symbol above is the Leatherman Variant of the Public Domain Geocaching Logo. That name sounds a little long, and a little complex, but it’s easily explained. Public domain means people are free to copy and alter the logo as they wish, Leatherman is the Geocaching.com username of the Geocacher who designed it, and it’s a “variant” as it was one of several designs submitted. Submitted to whom, you ask? To a forum thread in the Groundspeak forums in October, 2002, that’s who. This thread appears to have been started because a lone Geocacher and a whole Statewide Geocaching organization were using the official trademarked Geocaching.com logo to put on their signature items, and were making alterations to that logo. Groundspeak decided that legally, they could not allow these alterations.

Downloadable versions of the Leatherman Variant can be viewed on this website created by a participant in that 2002 thread. Obviously it was generally agreed upon to be the “best” logo submitted. You also see something called the “Gustaf Variant”. This variant has fallen into disuse, if it ever even was widely used, which I personally don’t believe it was. It should be rather obvious that our Opencaching.us logo uses the Leatherman variant “G”. The Leatherman variant with the yellow sun behind it was originally designed by our German friends at Opencaching.de and is used throughout the worldwide Opencaching network. Although we at Opencaching.us are actually in the process of changing ours to a yellow outline of North America, rather than the Sun. Where else have you seen the Leatherman variant? How about this blog last week? You can see it on the top of any page on Cacheface.com! Personally, the blogger prefers what is known as the “Sissy-n-CR clean version”, which you can see as a repeated pattern as the background image of his personal Twitter account.

Note that the creator of that Groundspeak forum thread identifies himself as a corporate attorney in theĀ first post of the thread. Nice to have an attorney who is a Geocacher around to give birth to such an idea. There is a usage and trademark information page regarding the official Geocaching.com logo. Note that it says those “terms constitute a legal agreement”. Groundspeak does not generally go after people who have used it for small numbers of signature swag or personal clothing items, but believe me, I’ve seen several violations over the years, be it in caches in the field, or at events. You should really be using the public domain Geocaching logo for your personal signature and clothing items. There is also some “legalspeak” on the bottom of the main page for the public domain logo, although it doesn’t go as far to say it constitutes a legal agreement, nor it is a Creative Commons License.

This was announced over the weekend on our Twitter and Google+ accounts, but you may have noticed this blog has been redesigned! We tried to use “our colors” as seen on our website The colors were eyeballed though, couldn’t find the exact hexidecimal color codes on the server (yet, at least). We think it looks a lot better, especially the boxes in the sidebar. Feel free to contact us or post a comment on your own personal thoughts though. We also added the slide show widget to the sidebar. It currently contains 23 photos uploaded to our website. You may spot fellow OCNA Admin Dudley Grunt in a couple of them. You also may spot the blogger standing at the high point of Indiana in there too. These photos will be updated/changed on what we will refer to as a “regular basis”. In general, we reserve the right to add/subtract widgets to the sidebar on a whim.

Any graphic arts wizards out there who would like to design a nice header for the top of the blog with a background image? (and sharper text?) We actually threw that one together in Microsoft Paint, and it could use some improvement. The OCUS logo is transparent. Please contact us regarding that matter, if you can help!