Cyber Monday campaign!
For Black Friday we launched a campaign on our memberships. We have kept this campaign running for Saturday as well. Now we would like to inform you that we will keep it running for Cyber Monday as well.
Cyber Monday is the Monday after Black Friday every year. Though we will not promise that we will have our promotion campaign every year.
So, what is our campaign then? If you buy 1 year of Project-GC membership, you will get an additional 4 months for free. If you buy two years, you will be granted an extra 5 months, and if you buy 3 years, you will get 6 months extra! This offer can not be combined with other offers.
In case you already have an active membership with Project-GC, the newly bought time will be added upon the time you already have. Example: You already have 6 months left. You pay for 1 year. You will then have 6+12+4 months.
Visit the membership page to catch this great opportunity, and hurry before it's too late. We will keep the campaign running for as long as it's Cyber Monday in any of the timezones in the world.
Black Friday campaign!
Did someone say Black Friday?
We as many others will celebrate this shopping spree by giving out great discounts. We have just enabled a campaign on our memberships for Project-GC. If you buy 1 year of membership, you will get an additional 4 months for free. 2 years will grant you 5 months extra membership time and 3 years will grant you 6 months extra. This can not be combined with other offers.
Hurry to the membership page to get your discounted membership before it's to late!
Tangible items and challenges
For those who are following our Facebook group it's probably known by now that we are looking into creating Project-GC t-shirts. The t-shirts will be sold at Mega Sweden FAD 2016, a Mega event in Sweden, on the 5th of November this year.
It will be a limited edition with our logo combined with the art of this years FAD, and they will only be sold at FAD
We are soon going into production of the t-shirts but are still trying to collect as much feedback as we can. We urge you to fill out our survey about the t-shirts, especially if you are heading for FAD and are interested in the t-shirts. But regardless if you are going there or not, your information is valuable for us since it will tell us if we should make more of these in the future.
The survey takes about a minute to complete and also shows the planned design. Survey link: http://project-gc.com/Survey/371595
Anyone who answers the survey before the end of the week and has an active paid membership with Project-GC will get an additional three days of memberhip time added to their account.
Other tangible items
We are also looking into setting up a shop and having trackables created. No promises yet though. Regardless, it's not very likely to go live this year.
New backend code
We know that we have been very quiet for a long time now. We have been working on new backend code for the site, which will make the interaction between Project-GC and Geocaching.com much faster. Not only faster, but it will also reduce the server load in both ends. This has taken a lot of time and we have also introduced a few new issues that have affected some users. We believe that we have corrected every new issue and their after effects very fast though.
These changes are just the start of a very interesting future. We hope that we will be able to reveal more of our plans soon.
There is no excuse for us to not have made an announcement about this yet. As most of you know, the moratorium for challenge caches has been lifted. With the new guidelines one of the new requirements is that all new challenge caches must have an online challenge checker. Project-GC is this far the only approved site for this purpose. This has been a huge step for us and hopefully much appreciated by the community. There has been ~800 new challenge caches published with the new system, all of them having a challenge checker at Project-GC.
Related to the challenge checkers we have also more than doubled the CPU resources for manual runs of challenge checkers. Checkers that were too slow before should now have a good chance to finish.
Did you know that for our paying members the challenge checkers are automatically run in the background? You can then see directly on our maps if you fulfill the challenge or not.
In each of the last news letters we have posted for which countries we have updated the country data. There has been a few updates since last time as well, and we'll try to list them all here.
- Colombia, added region data. County data is not yet complete in OSM
- Sweden, the island "Blå Jungfrun" now belongs to the correct region.
- USA, updated the polygons from the 2013 edition to 2016. Three counties were renamed.
- United Kingdom
Volunteer Recognition Day
Volunteer Recognition Day
On the 20th of April it's Volunteer Recognition Day. We have decided to celebrate this by giving a discount on our site memberships. If you pay for one year of membership, you will get an extra 4 months for free. Two years gives an extra 5 months, and three years gives an extra 6 months. The campaign will last until the end of this week. Sunday the 24th of April that is. Remember, the timezone is UTC, so make sure you make your payment in time.
You can view your active membership or buy a new one at the Membership page.
We have plenty of volunteers to recognize and celebrate. The list includes those translating the website, answering support tickets, answering in the QA Forum, provinding polygon data, writing challenge checkers and creating tags for those. We appreciate all of your work!
The Dashboard has been upgraded with a new design. For the paying members there is now also an advanced search. The new search engine is a work in progress. More filters will be added, and not the least, we will try to explain it better than we have done so far. It is very powerful, though. For those that are a bit techy, feel free to read the documentation behind the search engine. The documentation is linked in the description of the page.
The Dashboard uses a new technology we have built for showing search results in a table. The plan is that more pages should switch to this new technology in time. You will now see most of the data related to the geocaches matching the search.
Project-GC will have two lectures at an event in Lidköping, Sweden this week. In at least one of those we will try to show the new Dashboard a bit.
The community from United Kingdom/Great Britain has for a very long time been asking us to switch polygon data for UK. Ie which counties that exists. This has been a technical problem for us to do. But with the help of the community (volunteer recognition day!) we finally reached a solution. The new polygons are the ones called ceremonial boundaries.
Before switching to those, we upgraded the data we had with more recent data. So there was a small window of 1-2 weeks where we had it changed into something else. This was a great upgrade for Scotland for example, but less appreciated in England.
We plan to stick with what we have now. Besides smaller adjustments if someone finds something that's a bit off.
Other polygon changes
We have also upgraded the polygons of the Netherlands, to adjust to recent administrative changes in the country.
Switzerland's polygon data has also been updated. We noticed that Openstreetmap had made quite a few changes, and we wanted to adopt those.
Polygon data for Finland was updated as well. Project-GC was using definitions from 2013, we are now up to date with 2016's definitions.
TB Rescue reflections
We are both proud and happy to see that the fairly new TB Rescue tool already has helped 200 trackables to get life again. Also, it's incredible to see that there are over 1200 users who have created watch zones and the total area covered is up to 9.9 million km² (reference: The US is 9.857 million km² ).
If you have questions that you believe the community can help you with, we really recommend our QA forum. Most questions there are answered a lot faster than we can respond to the support tickets sent to us. You might also get several different approaches and ideas to solve your problems. Don't miss that you can search for earlier similar questions by using the search box in the top right.
When you have received an answer that has helped you, please reward the person who helped you by selecting that answer as Best answer by clicking the huge checkbox left of the answer. Other answers (or questions) that have been helpful can be up-voted as well.
Everything you do at Project-GC gives you PGC Points. These in turn award badges visible in the header of your Profile stats. Those that have recieved the most points are very active with creating Challenge checkers or answering in the QA forum but you can certainly reach high by other means as well.
The Diamond badges have this far been given to the top 30 only, the emerald to the rest of the top 100 and so on. With increased popularity and user base, it has become harder and harder to get the best badges. We will therefore adjust the badges the coming days so that more users will receive better badges. For example, the top 50 will receive the diamond badge, the top 150 emerald and the top 500 sapphire.
Long time since last news
It has been a long time since we last posted a news entry. During the years we have posted a new entry almost every month, that's the rate we will try to stick to for now. This time it has passed two months though. The reason is that we have been quite busy with a few bigger projects, and it's not something we can talk too much about yet. Hopefully we can reveal more about it in the coming months.
We will try our best to post more frequent news in our Facebook group. This is the place to get information even about the smaller changes, even though we have been fairly quiet there as well the last month. We will try our best to give life to that group in the future though. So, like the Facebook page and follow us.
Valentine's day and TB Rescue
To celebrate valentine's day we will have a Gift membership campaign. If you buy a membership for someone else, that person will receive an extra 3 months of membership for every year bought. Ie if you buy 1 year, the person will get 1 year and 3 months, buying 2 years will grant 2 years and 6 months, and so on.
To gift a membership to someone, visit the Membership page and make sure to check the Gift membership to a friend under Payment. Then choose how many years you want to pay for, and in what currency. Then just follow the payment instructions.
This campaign will be active from Friday the 12th of February until and including the 15th of February. In both cases it's in the timezone of UTC (west Europe).
As mentioned in the last newsletter, and on Facebook several times, we have began to work on something called TB Rescue. The idea comes from www.tb-rescue.com, which is a service that was shut down last month. After a week of development with parts of it being working double time we finally have it in a working state. It took us about 3500 lines of code to bring it together, but it's finally looking quite good.
The concept is as follows:
An owner of a trackable notices that their trackable has been stuck in the same geocache for at least 4 weeks. Being worried about it being lost or that just too few visits this geocache he or she creates a rescue mission at Project-GC.
Users of Project-GC have earlier added Watch zones, ie areas where they want to be notified by email if there is a new rescue mission. If there is a watch zone where the geocache with the trackable currently is, all owners of those watch zones will be notified.
Those having the watch zones (called rescuers) can then act upon the email about the new mission. They are encouraged to log a note on the rescue mission (at Project-GC) saying that they will go there to take a look. If they do not find the trackable in the geocache they should log a DNF on the rescue mission (again, at Project-GC). After 3 DNF logs the rescue mission will automatically be canceled, since it's very unlikely that the trackable exists there.
Instead, if the rescuer actually found the trackable, he should bring it with him (or her) since the rescue mission owner wanted it to be rescued. He/she can then log a found log on the rescue mission to show that he has it. Besides this, he should grab the trackable using Geocaching.com. The log at Geocaching.com will be used to automatically close the rescue mission with the status Completed, and the rescuer will be marked as the one who completed the rescue mission.
If you have any trackables that seem to be stuck, feel free to create your rescue mission using our TB Rescue tool.
If you feel like becoming a rescuer, go to the same tool to add watch zones for the areas where you would like to be notified.
The system has only been live for a few days, but there are already over 100 rescue missions created, 230 users who has created watch zones, and almost 2 million km² being watched.
This newsletter is being sent only ten days after the last one. This does not mean that we will keep sending them every week. We just felt like we had something important to say.
If you want more frequent updates, you should like our Facebook page. We haven't always been very active writing on that page, but we will try to change that. Mostly we would like to be better to inform our users about the updates being done. Since we feel that we don't want to send 10 newsletters per month, we see Facebook as a good alternative to distribute this information.
This has been based on feedback from a poll in our community support system. It was clear to us that the majority wanted a newsletter per month, or when there was something important.
Note that there is a reason for us to sometimes hold back a bit on announcing newly released functions. If it's very new and not thoroughly tested yet, it might make our life easier to have a smaller user base of it.
Markdown, TB-Rescue, Word count, Log similarity
As some of you know, Geocaching.com is switching from a mix of bbcode and html to Markdown in logtexts. The switch is happening sometime today.
We have been asked to be able to assist in converting logs from the old format into the new. This is not possible. The Geocaching.com LIVE API does not support editing or deleting logs, therefore we can not assist in changing them.
What we could do, is to list those logs needing a conversion, and suggesting a new format for them. But we doubt it's really worth the effort. It seems quite hard to convert from bbcode/html into Markdown, there will be errors and issues. We also assume that Groundspeak has tried it, but realized it wasn't worth the effort.
What we have done though, is that we are helping some of our Challenge checkers. The example log returned by the script now has some of the tags automatically converted.
- BBCode: code, url, b, i
- HTML: pre, a href, b, i href
Those of you who are interested in trackables might have heard or noticed that TB-rescue.com has been shut down. Since our users asked us to implement something similar we started to investigate it. A part of the investigation was to measure the interest via Facebook. The thread got quite a few likes and comments the first 24 hours and we therefore started to implement it. Feel free to like the Facebook thread if you are interested. While at it, we would really appreciate if you like our Facebook page as well.
The code is not yet released, it only exists in our development environment. These functions are more or less ready:
- Create rescue missions.
- Create/remove watch areas where you want to get notified about rescue missions.
- A map of all rescue missions and watch areas. Teaser image in the Facebook thread.
These fundamental things are still missing:
- Actually view the mission data.
- Editing missions (cancel for example).
- Bookmarking missions.
- Refreshing data about the trackables that has missions.
- Background processing to auto-close missions once the trackable has been saved.
- Creating logs on missions (local at Project-GC).
Since missions and watch areas can now be created, we are considering to release a first beta of it. This would mean that missions can be created, and the watch areas, but nothing more would actually happen. But to us it would be helpful to get some data into the database, and also bugreports and feedback regarding these functions. A release is likely to be made within a week.
Word count in logs
A new algorithm for calculating the number of words in logs has been implemented. This is a value that can be found under Some numbers and under the BadgeGen tab in the Profile statistics.
The effect is that most users will get a slightly lower word count. For normal log writing using real words, it won't have much effect. Log proofs for challenges might change the word count quite signifcantly for that log. My own word count went from and average of 161.1480 to 159.7495.
The bigger change in this is that we try to not calculate things that aren't words. Some related topics about it can be found in our community support forum:
We are still in the process of recalculating the number of words in each log. Only Found it logs are accounted for, and there are about 500 million of those. With the current pace, we will spend 3 days on doing the math.
To properly reward those that write different logs we have re-added "Log similarity" to the Profile stats under Some numbers once again.
We had this data quite a few months back, but it was quite heavy to calculate, so we had to remove it again. The more logs, and the longer logs, the more time it takes to calculate. It can very well be minutes for some users. For my own account, it takes 40-45 seconds, with 11000 logs and an average of 160 words per log.
Our new system is a bit smarter and will cache some calculations. This means that the value return can very well be a timeout. With time, less and less users will see the timeout and actually see the result instead.
Since the value measures similarity in percent, a lower value means more variance (considered better).
During the last months we have also made some polygon changes:
- Updated county polygons for Luxembourg.
- Added polygon data for Syria.
- Updated polygon data for Turkey.
- Updated polygon data for Austria.
- Updated county data for Argentina, still not complete (issues in OSM).
- A page that shows all souvenirs known to us has been added. This has actually existed for a long time, but the permissions was wrong so it wasn't available to our users.
- Improved algorithm to estimate the time for building a GPX file via the Virtual GPS system.
- Upgraded the community support system.
German polygon data updated, edited logs notifiers fixed
One of our paid member features is that we can send the cache owners an email when a log entry on their geocaches is updated. Sadly this stopped working on the 8th of December due to changes at Geocaching.com. We have not been aware of this until today and have therefore not addressed the issue.
Our new code is about to be finished right now. We will make a test run soon, and due to this fact we might send more than one email to some users today. For this we appologize.
We also want to inform you that those logs that has been edited between the 8th of December and today (the 27th) has a high risk of never being detected as changed and therefore they won't be sent to you. Our new solution should be more future proof.
You can enable the notifiers in the Settings, by clicking your username in the top right corner (if you have a paid membership with Project-GC).
Some might already have noticed that most of the county names in Germany has changed name in our database. It all started with that we wanted to update our polygon data since it had been improved in Openstreetmap. The names were also changed quite a lot in OSM and therefore they also changed in our database. While at it, we made sure that Kreis and Landkreis are now suffixes instead of prefixes, and we use abbrevations for them. The idea is to make it easier to find the county name in select boxes.
Some challenge checkers has been affected by this. The checkers has been disabled and the tag owners contacted. A few 360 challenges has also been affected. We have corrected the configurations, and they are currently all being recalculated. They should be in a working state within 24 hours.
More country polygons updated
This month we have also updated polygon data for Argentina and Monaco.
Still looking for ad creators
We are still looking for help with creating ads for Project-GC. Please read more in our last news entry.
Stress test coming up
First off, we will be having a stress test next week, on the 16th December 2015 (UTC). During 24 hours we will give away subscriptions to random users of Project-GC who has used the site during the day. It's important that you are authenticated, otherwise you will not be included in the random selections.
Every hour during this period, we will give away 3 months of free subscription to 3 different users. The winners will be contacted a few minutes after each even hour. If you were one of the lucky ones, don't stop using Project-GC, you will get your chance to win again every hour.
After the stress test is completed, we will add a list of the winners in this news entry (at Project-GC).
The stress test starts at 00:00 UTC (4 pm PST, 7 pm EST on the 15th), and ends 24 hours later.
The following users has won at least one 3 month membership each:
Last updated 2015-12-17 00:33 (UTC)
Improved email reliability
We have been getting feedback from some users that their email providers have blacklisted our emails because of spam being sent from the same servers (by another company).
We are partnering with Sendgrid for email reliability and have now upgraded our subscription to counter this, and also make several other delivery improvements. During the upgrade and move to a new server and IP, we had some issues with a few other email providers for a few days.
All these issues seem to have been sorted out now, and from what we can see, we have a very high delivery reliability now. During the last 3 days, it seems like only one email has been stopped by the receiving end. This is extremely low considering the fact that we are sending 1000-1500 emails per day in average.
Looking for ads (and ad creators)
Since we do not have any design skills at all, we are looking for someone to create ads for us. Actually, we don't mind if we get contributions from several users. If you do have such skills, or know anyone who does, please don't stop reading.
We believe that it's better the ads are created by someone who knows Geocaching, and Project-GC. This is why we ask the community first. How they should look is 100% up to you. It's probably a plus if the name Project-GC and the link http://project-gc.com/ are included.
The plan is to try all serious contributions we get, and let Google Adwords sort out which ones actually give the most clicks. Therefore, it's excellent if we can receive several contributions, from several users.
We would like to compensate the creators of those ads that we will use. However, we need to see some form of concept or the final result before we can agree upon a price. Feel free to create a support ticket to discuss details.
If you have a company that could send us an invoice, that is probably the easiest way to get compensated. If you live in Sweden, it's easy for us to give you a salary for the job done. We could also compensate with coupon codes for Project-GC, which can be used by you and your friends (or sold).
We are primarily interested in the sizes 160x600 (W*H) and 250x250. But 120x600 and 120x240 are also of interest, but secondary. Almost everything is better than our current ads, so don't be afraid to send your results. Links to our current ones: 160x600, 250x250.
If you have any questions, please create a support ticket via the orange support buttons on the web.
We have started a poll to investigate how often our users would like to receive newsletters from us. It has already been going on for two weeks, but it's definitely not too late to give your vote or opinion.
You can find the poll in our Community support forum.
Regardless of the end result we will try our best to respect it. Sometimes it might be more seldom, sometimes it might be more often.
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since the early 2000s, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales.
While we are open 24/7 already, we can not open earlier, but we can offer some more value for your money! Starting on the 26th of November (UTC), and ending after the 28th of November (UTC) we will give some extra membership time for every sale.
- Buy 1 year and get 4 additional months for free.
- Buy 2 years and get 5 additional months for free.
- Buy 3 years and get 6 additional months for free.
If you are unsure about timezones, make sure you make your payment on the 27th and you are guaranteed to get the additional membership time. Visit the membership page now to enhance your experience with Project-GC.
UPDATE: The campaign has been extended to include Cyber monday. Our discount campaign will last the rest of November. Remember that the timezone is UTC. In other words, if you are +9, you will have to make your payment 9 hours before the month ends for you.
Virtual GPS + Bookmark lists
The Virtual GPS system at Project-GC is like a shopping cart system for cherry picking geocaches that you want to log. It is the ultimate tool for planning your geocaching trips. For more information, see our Planning geocaching trips using Project-GC -video at http://project-gc.com/Home/Youtube.
We have improved our Virtual GPS system by adding two new functions.
- Import from bookmark list.
- Export to bookmark list.
Since the official iPhone application isn't able to import GPX files it is necessary to import from bookmark lists. Therefore we have added the option to export from our Virtual GPS system into a bookmark list, which can then be imported into the iPhone application.
The Virtual GPS system is one of our many paid features.
Profile stats - Way to 81
For those who have filled the D/T chart more than once may have noticed that we have extended the look of the Way to 81 module. First it lists the first geocache per difficulty terrain combination, just as before. After that, it lists the last geocache for each closed loop of the D/T chart.
Profile stats - FTF
We have added two new modules to the FTF tab of the Profile stats.
- First FTF by location.
- First FTF by cache type.
We have finally added a self-support system. It is definitely worth some explaining. On most pages at Project-GC you will find an orange Support button in the top right. Here you find our different support systems:
- FAQ - Frequently asked questions; Here you might be able to find an answer for your question. It gives a lot of understanding to how Project-GC works.
- Self-support - Ask the system to fix issues with your finds/hides or other geocaches. Four different variants exist:
- Refresh your number of finds - The system will fetch all logs created by you, to sync up our data.
- Refresh data about geocaches that you have found - This can fix issues where data about the geocaches has changed, or FTF tags if you have edited your logs.
- Refresh data about your hides - Fixes changed ratings for example, or disabled/archived and so on.
- GC-Codes - Refresh the data for specific geocaches. Same here, fixes basic data like difficulty/terrain and so on.
- Community support - Ask your question publically. When writing the question, the system will suggest already existing threads that might answer the question. All users can also help you out by answering the question. This forum can also be searched by using the search box in the top right.
- Project-GC support - Create a private support ticket with our support crew.
A majority of the support tickets that we receive can actually be solved by using our self-support system these days.
We have made some major optimizations to our Live map. If you haven't tried it yet, please do. Basically it's much like the map at Geocaching.com, but with additional filters and more complex icons. It is still a work in progress and additional functionallity will be added in the near future.
Some additional fields have been added to our GPX files. They are not standard from Geocaching.com but will be used by some other applications. Some of the fields that were added:
New polygon tech
We have recently implemented some new technology to import polygon data to improve our maps. It makes our work a bit easier and will hopefully lead to that we can import polygon data for more countries, and upgrade some of those we already have. This far we have used our new technology for:
Tracking geocache changes
We are currently working on a way to track changes of the data regarding geocaches. For example see the D/T-history for them. If there are any other data than difficulty and terrain you would like to see the history off, please contact our support and tell us about your use case.
Geogearheads, log-images-notifiers, Youtube
On the 26th of September Magnus, the creator of Project-GC, attended the podcast GeoGearheads for the third time. This time it was for episode 195. If you like podcast shows you should hear it out. This sessions focus was on answering live Q&A questions.
About two weeks ago we added a new kind of notifier that Project-GC can send to the users. Since it was hard to test deeply ourselves, we chose to sneak release it. It's avaliable to all paying members but we only announced it on Facebook. It was then mentioned at Geogearheads as well.
In short, it sends an email to you as a cache owner once per day with the latest photos uploaded to your hidden geocaches. The point is that you as a cache owner never knows about the photos otherwise.
We also look at the exif data to see if there are any geotagging. If there is, we will show those coordinates in the email, together with the distance from the original coordinates. If you have the corrected coordinates in your personal cache note, the mail will also contain the distance to those.
This is still a bit of beta, but this far we only know of one issue. Sometimes the images in the email doesn't appear as they should. For some reason they do not exist at Geocaching.com's CDN yet. Clicking the images will work though.
When writing this news entry, there are 561 users of the notifiers. You can enable the notifiers in settings at Project-GC (clicking your username in the top right corner). Note that the first email you receive will contain all images uploaded to the geocaches that you own. From there on, only new images will be sent to you.
An example, with permission from the cache owner:
Something that has been mentioned a few times before, but most don't know of, is that we have a youtube channel with a few videos in it. It's located at http://project-gc.com/youtube. Some of the videos are very short and are very good instruction videos. Then we also have two videos showing the site more thoroughly, mostly focused on the Virtual GPS system and how it can be combined with most things on the site.
We currently have 390 subscribers to the channel. We would love to get 500 subscribers since that is required to get our account upgraded. So please support us by subscribing to our channel.
Once we have reached 500 subscribers we will publish a video showing a coupon code that will add 90 days of membership time to the first 50 who use the link.