OCNA Admins DudleyGrunt and Mr.Yuck interviewed on The Oh Beep! Geocaching Podcast

OCNA Admins DudleyGrunt (Dave) and Mr.Yuck (Jim) were interviewed by Mark, AKA Benign Source, AKA Banana Source about The Opencaching Network on the Oh Beep! Geocaching Podcast, episode 20, released on March 9th, 2014. The interview itself actually happened over two weeks prior; we can only aspire to some day be as far ahead on our interviews as they are! The Oh Beep! podcast is a family friendly Geocaching podcast originating out of Nottingham in The UK, and this weeks show was hosted by Banana Source and his children Cachezilla, and Doctor D. The interview begins right around the 30 minute mark, but we strongly suggest listening to the whole show if you have the time. Seasoned podcast veteran DudleyGrunt does most of the talking, but Mr.Yuck chimes in plenty, and we’re very happy with the interview, and we thank Mark very much for having us on. You can find the Oh Beep Geocaching podcast at www.ohbeep.com, and in the top right hand corner of their website are icons where you can follow them on various social media outlets, and listen to, or subscribe to their podcast from multiple sources.You can listen to this particular episode here in the blog post below:

A year of Geocaching blogging (and an announcement)

Sorry for the image, but it was free, and the blogger didn’t feel like paying royalties for a better one. We were waiting until the last minute this week to attempt to secure an interview on a breaking news story in the world of Geocaching, but that didn’t work out in time for us. So as a replacement, we have our one year of blogging anniversary post, a week early! Yes, this blog was officially launched with it’s first post on March 13th, 2013, although it was in the planning stages for several weeks before that. So for our upcoming one year anniversary, we will reveal the 10 most viewed posts, and give a brief overview of our assessment of the first year of the blog. We also have a big announcement regarding this blog; however, it should be a given that the announcement won’t occur until well after the following page break….

In blogging, whatever your topic may be, unique page views on the individual posts build up over time, and it is true the “latest” of the top 10 posts was from early October, 2013. With that in mind, we’ll give a couple of honorable mention shout-outs to posts we expect to some day show up in the top 10 overall most viewed posts eventually, supplanting some of these:

The top 10 posts: 

Just missing the Top 10 were the first of our two posts on The Cache me if you can Geocaching board game, and our tribute to the Late Sven, of the Geocaching Spoilers YouTube Channel. Honorable Mention goes to Sporadically featured OCNA Cache: Mt. Elbert Summit, and the first post of the two part interview with the creators of the Geolocation game Sighter. Those two “younger” posts are really up there on the page views, and we expect them to break into the top 10 over time.

We promised a brief overview of our assessment of one year of blogging: We like it, and we’re not going to stop! We are happy with the readership of the regular users of our website, and the readership we have obtained through promoting our blog via Social Media. We very much appreciate that many of our interviewees have promoted our interviews with them on their own websites and Social Media Outlets. Thank you to all of them for that. And a special shout-out to guest blogger HikerJamz, who runs a free ad on his show for our blog every week, and often briefly discusses that past week’s post.

We are, however, slightly disappointed with the traffic at the blog. More accurately, we are disappointed with the inability to get a decent ranking on a Google Search for Geocaching Blogs, Geocaching Bloggers, or Geocaching Blogging. It’s become rather obvious to us that it takes years of blogging about Geocaching with a Blogger.com blog to get decent search placement on Google. And this is despite implementing obscure SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques for Blogger.com blogs as outlined in this bloggers post on the subject. We haven’t asked, but we seriously doubt any of the Blogger.com Geocaching bloggers who have been blogging for years for their ranking know about, or are using any of those; and still nothing happens for us. All this while a WordPress powered Geocaching Blog not much older than ours, that gets posted to an average of less than once a month, sits firmly on Page 1 of a Google search of “Geocaching Blogs”. Another WordPress powered Geocaching Blog, which has been around for years, but is only posted to a few times a year currently, also sits on page 1 of those results. No names in either case, of course. :-).

The Big announcement:

You probably guessed it already. We’re migrating to the WordPress blogging platform in the very near future! By the way, did we mention Google owns blogger.com? Another obvious factor is the complete control over our own blog content on our own server. It might not be immediately obvious to most readers, but the blog.opencaching.us sub domain is actually just a redirect to a Google hosted blog. So what will happen? Sometime in the next few weeks, we will have a post announcing the change, and for “a few days”, this blog will only be reachable at it’s Blogger.com url http://opencachingna.blogspot.com. When the change over is complete, a WordPress powered blog will then appear at the normal https://blog.opencaching.us URL. Many ISP’s, our own included (Rackspace.com) offer simple “one click installation” of WordPress for new bloggers or webmasters. That is not the case for us, we have to undertake a full manual install, including creating a MySQL database for WordPress. Then once WordPress is installed, the old blogger.com blog content will have to be imported into WordPress via a plug in. So stay tuned, and be sure to look here for the official announcement!

Sporadically featured OCNA Cache: Mt. Elbert Summit

The highest peak in the picture above is Mt. Elbert, located in the San Isablel National Forest, in Lake County, Colorado. Rising to 14,433 feet above sea level, it is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, the 2nd highest peak in the 48 contiguous United States (after Mt. Whitney in California, which is less than 100 feet higher), and the 14th highest peak overall in the United States. Obviously, it is also the highpoint of the State of Colorado. Hiking to it’s summit, although very strenuous, and involving a minimum 4,000 foot elevation gain, does not require any special mountaineering or rock climbing skills. Reaching the summit also happens to be a virtual cache on our website, Mt. Elbert Summit, and is our latest Sporadically featured OCNA cache on the blog.

We were very happy that we were able to contact the cache owner, kingbee, and the only two finders to date, kejdad and tripman1. Kingbee joined our website a little over a month after it was launched, and Mt. Elbert Summit is the 312th cache listed on our site. When asked why he made it a Virtual Cache on our website, said because “I enjoy climbing and hiking the mountains in Colorado, Most of the time it is so peaceful, quiet and serene”.

Mount Elbert Trailhead
The Colorado Trail

You’ll notice on the cache page, Kingbee gives the location (but not coordinates) of 3 starting points for the hike. One of them listed as 2WD access, two others as 4WD access. Tripman1 was the latest to try to summit the peak, at least as an OCNA member logging the virtual cache! He made his attempt on August 31st, 2013, starting from the Colorado Trail trailhead, as shown. According to Wikipedia, this route is a 4,100 foot elevation gain. He was more than happy to share the details of his experience with us. “I have enjoyed being able to chose geocaches from several websites and the opportunity to grab two different caches on one difficult climb presented itself over the Labor Day weekend. I had my eye on Mt. Elbert’s Summit (OOU0138) for a while, and another climber was finishing his ascent of all 54 peaks with the Mt. Elbert Climb, so I used this as motivation”.

Tripman heading towards the virtual cache
Going up with Tripman1

He went on to add: “The climb took about 3.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down. At the halfway point around 11,500 feet you pass the treeline and climb the rest of the way on bare rock. I was happy to have remembered sunscreen here. Since this was a holiday weekend there were many other hikers on the trail and if you did happen to run into trouble, you would have plenty of help.  It was just a matter of pace and eventually I was on the summit. There were about 100 to 125 climbers on the summit to celebrate the accomplishments of the climber who had climbed all 54 peaks. The banner in the background commemorates the event and if you look closely you can see all the signatures of the participants. The view from the top is amazing and I really appreciate kingbee placing a virtual here and helping motivate my climb to the top”.

Tripman1 at the top with the banner

View of some Lakes on the way up

Kejdad, another of our users from Colorado, made the ascent a little over 3 years earlier, July 29th, 2010.  He posted a somewhat brief log on our website, but referred us to his log on one of the many peak bagging websites on the internet for some detailed quotable material. He says “WOW! What a hike! I came up to Mt. Elbert with friends, who left me in the dust. I plugged along in the rain, hail and sunshine and finally made it up to the top! My friends got there and it was still raining, so I saw them as they were coming down. I made it to the top and the rain stopped and clouds cleared away and I was blown away by the amazing view! It was definitely worth the hike! I ran into a guy who was roadtripping around the country and happened to be on Mt. Elbert that day.”

kejdad getting very close

He went on to describe his descent: “I made my way back down and ran into a church men’s group from Omaha, all of whom were taking their time getting up there, just like I did. I didn’t use my rain gear going down and made it back to the car in under 4 hours (which all things considered is pretty good for me!) I spent 8 hours total on the mountain. What a great experience. The photos can’t even come close to doing justice what I saw up there.”

kejdad finds the virtual cache
kejdad atop Mt. Elbert

Kejdad has also made a couple Colorado Mountain Summits into Virtual Caches on our website. Another of the 54 “Fourteeners” in Colorado (Mountains with an elevation exceeding 14,000 feet), Mt. Bierstadt, is featured as our OU059D. Additionally, he has made summiting 12,618 foot Lone Cone, in the Southwest corner of the State, a Virtual, our OU01F4.

Great cache, the Mt. Elbert Summit Virtual. We here at the blog would like to thank our three contributors to this post, all of whom are regular users of our site with many finds and hides apiece. (by our standards that is). Inspires you to go out and bag some peaks doesn’t it? Including the Blogger, who would now like to go bag a few Adirondack summits, which he hasn’t done this Century. 🙂

The OKAPI Project: The OpenCaching API

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:

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,

OCNA Pathtag winners announced!

We’re a little slow in posting the winners of our Pathtag contest, especially since all three winners responded within 3 1/2 hours of the drawing on Friday night, Septermber 27th, but we’re busy, busy, busy at the Blog. We assure you, the fix was not in! Because the Grand Prize winner, of five of our Pathtags was Chaz AKA SFC Chaz (sfcchaz), from Glen Burnie, Maryland. He just happens to be the number 2 cache finder on our website. If we were Geocaching.com, it would be like Bobcam won! The number one cache finder on our site is an Admin, and was ineligible to win. He was required to buy some though.

The 2nd prize winner, of three Pathtags, was Rebecca AKA The Fossillady from Borrego Springs, California. The 3rd prize winner, of two Pathtags was Jenn AKA TheBergstromClan from Aurora, Colorado. Congratulations to all three of them!! Don’t worry, we will give away more of our Pathtags in the future, at random. Thanks to all who entered the contest as well.

OpenCaching North America Pathtags have arrived. Win some!

Pathtag Blueprint

After many false starts the last couple of years, the OpenCaching North America Pathtag, 1st Edition, has finally been manufactured, and is on sale now! They can be purchased in lots of 20 for $20 from TheGeocoinStore.com under a “club fundraiser” program. You’ll note the page for our tag on their website references us receiving $5 for every 20 pack sold. However, that applies only to registered non-profit LLC’s, one of which we are not (although we have, and still are considering, that legal status), so that $5 is payable only in Pathtag cash. The OCNA team will of course use this Pathtag cash to buy more of our own tags, which we will generously distribute to promote the website.

One of the actual Pathtags

We will give you an example of that generosity right now. How about we give away 10 of them? Not to one person though, lets spread them around a little bit. We will have three separate winners. The 1st prize winner will receive 5 of our Pathtags; the 2nd prize winner will receive 3 of our Pathtags; and the 3rd prize winner will receive a paltry 2 of our Pathtags. These tags were designed by our Graphic Artist Patrick Williams, of course with plenty of design input from the OCNA team. We are very happy they have finally been produced. And hopefully, it’s the first of many Pathtags to come from OCNA. If you don’t win any, you can always buy some! Speaking of which, we have also opened the Beta OCNA Swag Store to coincide with the release of the Pathtags. You can buy Clothing and assorted accessories (buttons, water bottles, drawstring bags, etc.) right now, with more items to be added in the future.

To enter the Pathtag giveaway, fill out the form below with your name (as it says, “Geonick” is fine), and a valid email address. We will never use your email address, and the Google Document storing all the entries will be deleted after the contest. There are rules, of course, which appear below, in italicized text above the entry form.

Rules: To enter, provide your name and email address in the form below. One entry per person, and one entry per email address. There are no Geographical restrictions, contest is open to anyone in the world. The contest begins upon publication of this blog post on Thursday, September 19th, 2013, and ends at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday, September 27th, 2013. Three winners will be chosen at random from the entries received. Winners will be notified via email, notification being sent from the email address opencachingnorthamerica at gmail.com (be sure to check your spam folders!), and must respond within 48 hours, or the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be chosen. Once accepted the prize is accepted, you must provide a valid mailing address, and the prize will be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service .

EDITED: Contest has ended, entry form removed.