Many Geocachers are familiar with coord.info redirects (or “link shorteners” or “shortcuts”), which can be used only for Geocaches, Travel Bugs and Waymarks listed on Geocaching.com and Waymarking.com respectively. But did you know there is another redirect tool out there that works for almost every other Geocaching website in the world, as well as Geocaching.com listed caches, Travel Bugs and Waymarking.com listings? And as an added bonus, it’s even two characters shorter! That service is provided by the website coord.ch, and it’s very easy to use. Some cachers might not even be familiar with Groundspeak’s coord.info service, let alone coord.ch, so we’ll start with the basics.
The observant reader might note we’ve had a few Sporadically featured OCNA caches on the blog, but the title of this post references the OpenCaching Network. That is because this strange cache, although it’s posted coordinates are in the USA, is actually listed on sister site www.opencaching.de. We have mentioned in the past that Opencaching.de is by far the world’s second largest Geocaching listing site, and actually has listings in over 40 Countries, mainly placed by German cachers traveling abroad. There are currently 7 caches listed in the United States, including a virtual at Disneyland.
|19th Century depiction of Gulliver and Laputa
The cache name is in German, of course, and translates to “The Laputian Salute”. Laputa is a floating Island, approximately 4.5 miles in diameter, from the 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift. (The book is in the public domain, and the link takes you to a free downloads page). The residents of Laputa were gifted in Math, The Sciences and Music. They were a rather strange bunch, but you can read about that yourself, this is a Geocaching Blog, after all! This cache is actually a Locationless Cache, and one with a very strange logging requirement, where you have to figure out what a Laputian Salute is, and render the Salute to the last finder of the cache. You do this by projecting a Waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from your home coordinates in the direction of the last finder, going to that location, and rendering the salute, with photo proof, of course. Alternatively, (for privacy reasons, I imagine) you can project the waypoint from the nearest bakery to your home, of all places. Just when you thought this cache and the circumstances behind people finding it couldn’t get any stranger, it does…..
The cache was hidden on December 2, 2005, by OCDE username Laputischer Freiheitskämpfer, which translates to Laputian Freedom Fighters. This cache owner hid only this cache on OpenCaching.de, and found never found any. We can only speculate they were an experienced Geocacher who mainly used Geocaching.com, and posted their cache on OpenCaching.de because Geocaching.com hadn’t allowed locationless caches since early 2003. We mentioned the posted coordinates for the cache, were in the United States. The first cacher has to start somewhere, so the cache owner apparently thought it would be interesting if the first finder rendered the Laputian Salute outside The White House in Washington, D.C.!
The cache sat with no log entries for over 8 months until Batona, a well known user of Alternative Geocaching websites from New Jersey, saw the cache, and apparently rendered the Laputian Salute outside the White House. Google research shows him asking if anyone knew what a Laputian Salute was in a GPSGames.org forum, and being given a link to what it was by another poster to that forum (link is long since gone from the Internet). However, it appears he thought he still had to project a waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from home to claim the cache, so he only posted a note, not a find.
|DG rendering the salute
Fast forward 6 years to 2012, and the Der Laputische Gruß cache still hadn’t been logged as found. And with good reason, no one knew what a Laputian Salute was. Google was of no help. Batona chose to post his picture of his salute on his personal blog, which was long gone from the internet. The link he was given on the GPSgames.org forum in 2006 was dead, as was the link for “more information on the free republic of Laputa” that you can see on the cache page. By the way, we strongly discourage visiting that link, as the laputa.de domain is expired, and you’ll get pop-up ads in it’s place. Additionally, the cache owner probably hadn’t visited OpenCaching.de since shortly after the cache was listed, and could not be contacted. So along comes OCNA Admin Dudley Grunt, who saw the cache on our OCNA Cache Maps, as caches from other OpenCaching Nodes do show up on our maps. He proceed to “ask around Facebook” (not just amongst Geocachers) if anyone knew what a Laputian salute was. Eventually, he got what he felt was enough of consensus from different people on the matter, and he went out and rendered the salute and claimed FTF on July 27th, 2012. The cache has since been found a total of 4 times.
Certainly not a cache for everyone, as there are a number of cachers out there who don’t like “additional logging requirements” as they’re called. And Locationless caches are ancient history to the overwhelming majority of the Geocaching populace (unless you’re a regular user of fellow alternative Geocaching website Terracaching.com), as all existing ones on Geocaching.com were locked down forever on January 3rd, 2006. But if you’re looking for a unique Geocaching experience, you’ve found it with Der Laputische Gruß! Feel free to sign up for our sister site opencaching.de and give this one a try. Click the British flag at the top of their site for the English version.
We at OpenCaching North America like to promote the fact that there are several Smartphone Geocaching apps compatible with our website (as well as several of the other OpenCaching nodes, as they’re called). We owe this to OKAPI, the OpenCaching API, and of course to the independent European developers who have written these applications. You can always access the list of currently compatible phone apps from any page on our website, at the link www.opencaching.us/articles.php?page=apps. Not a very fancy webpage, but it gets the job done.
We aren’t going to get overly technical in this post, but an API, which stands for Application Programming Interface, could be described as a software to software interface, as opposed to an end-user interface. You could say that with API’s, applications talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. Basically, we give developers access to our database, through OKAPI. Keep in mind, in the case of Geocaching websites, this is not only used for smartphone apps, and a developer could easily write a third party Geocaching Statistics program, for Windows and/or MAC.We must admit, “stats programs” for any of the OpencCaching nodes are not in high demand. But as an example of a non-smartphone app use of our API, Scout from Gpsgames.org uses the API to display OpenCachingNA caches on his Google Maps powered cache maps, along with caches from Navicache.com, and caches and Shutterspots listed on his own website.
The OKAPI project was launched in 2008, by our friends at OpenCaching.pl. They maintain the OKAPI Project Homepage, and an OKAPI News Blog. Both of which are written with developers in mind. There is also an OKAPI Project page for each OKAPI compliant OpenCaching node. Ours is here on our site, and you can navigate to the Project page for the other nodes, which are:
- OpenCaching.pl (Poland)
- OpenCaching.nl (The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg)
- OpenCaching.org.uk (The United Kingdom)
- OpenCaching.de (Germany)
We have mentioned in the past that OpenCaching.us uses an older version of the OpenCaching.pl code. As does OpenCaching.org.uk. OpenCaching.nl, due to the hard work of Admin harrieklomp, is up and running with the new OpenCaching.pl code, a feat which we aspire to accomplish in the future! And finally, OpenCaching.de, they came on board with OKAPI compatibility in April 2013. This took a year of hard work by .de team, as Opencaching.de does not use the same code base as the OpenCaching.pl based sites.
OpenCaching.de is by far the busiest of the OpenCaching nodes, and as far as we know, still the 2nd busiest Geocaching website in the world, after Geocaching.com. So we at OCNA (and the whole Network) are excited that many, many developers are going to be taking a serious look at developing applications for our Network. As it stands, at least one developer a week requests a “key” for OKAPI. We get email notification of this.
So let us close by reminding you we have smartphone apps! Five of them, to be exact, along with two others that you can send our .gpx files to. They are OpenCaching for Android ($4.99), GeoCaching Buddy for Android ($5.23), Columbus for Android (FREE), GeoCaching Buddy for Iphone ($7.99) and GeoBasic for WindowsPhone ($1.99, and has a free trial version). Additionally, you can send our .gpx files to the great c-geo for Android (will always be free, and full compatibility with OKAPI is planned) and Geosphere for Iphone ($7.99). The Blogger is one of five people in America who uses WindowsPhone, so he has used GeoBasic, and gives it a thumbs up. Have you tried using any of these apps with our website? Feel free to comment below!
Post Update: Just four days before this blog post, on October 13th, 2013, the developers of the Geocache management software GAPP (a program similar to GSAK) registered with OKAPI, and announced OKAPI support starting with their latest version, 184.108.40.206.
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 the 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!
A few notes first, I hope to post to this blog at least once a week, but I’m currently spending a lot of my free time educating myself with the OpencachingNA Linux server. Boy, is that a learning experience. It’s only been eight days since the first post. Note that the “Latest Geocaches” and “Latest Log Entries” to the right of this post are from an RSS feed, and should be updated every time you view this page. As well as our Twitter feed too, of course.
OK, why are there two totally different alternative Geocaching entities calling themselves Opencaching? This short answer is, I don’t know, ask Garmin! We, Opencaching North America, are part of the world-wide Opencaching network, established in 2005 with Opencaching.de There are currently nine Opencaching nodes, as we call them, that are part of this network. Opencaching.jp (Japan) has gone dark, and Opencaching.es (Spain) really just points to the German website, Opencaching.de. You can view them all at Opencaching.eu All characterized by their distinctive white and blue color scheme. Garmin came along, and purchased the domain name Opencaching.com in September 2010, and launched their website in early December, 2010.
But that’s not the whole story! The domain name Opencaching.com was originally purchased by “some guy named Hank” on September 15th, 2003. I have no idea who he was, or his Geocaching handle, because he has been obliterated from the WHOIS registry, being the original owner of an expired, and for several years vacant and for sale, domain name. Thanks to the Wayback Machine from archive.org we can see several snapshots of how his website looked from September 2003 until late December 2005, when he apparently decided he was going to throw in the towel, and the original Opencaching.com was never developed as an alternative to Geocaching.com.
In This snapshot of Opencaching.com from December 31st, 2005 you can see what Opencaching.com looked like shortly before “Hank” let it expire. All of his “Site news” is there from day one in that snapshot, so you can follow along on his updates on the project. He had forums, where people apparently discussed the project, but they were not indexed by archive.org. Although he never got the project off the ground, you can see he was happy the concept took off somewhere (i.e. Germany), per this quote from the last post under site news: “This project has been off the radar for some time (measured in quarters or years at this point) … the one brightspot being that our German friends at opencaching .de had the resources and committment to make the concept work … perhaps someone will make other core nodes?”
I’m not sure exactly when “Hank” let the domain name expire, but Another snapshot of Opencaching.com, from May 2010, shows it with a classic “domain for sale” placer page. As previously mentioned, the domain name was then purchased by Garmin in September 2010, and Opie the Awesome (blue) Squirrel was born.
The next blog post, which I can tell you won’t take 8 days, as I was going to make it one post, but decided to make it two, will be “”Our” Opencaching vs Garmin’s Opencaching, a comparison of sorts”. Then after that, we have a couple interviews lined up, and possibly our first guest blog post.