You can also follow our Facebook page where we sometimes post about some of our changes.
Polygon updates, and geocoins
During the last half year we have been updating or adding polygon data for quite a few countries, please find a list of most of them at the end.
First, we would like to explain what this is and what's it's used for.
The polygon data we are talking about here is data that tells us where the border of a region or county is. The border can consist of millions of vertices that create a polygon on the map. We then use this data to calculate in which region and county a geocache's given coordinates belong. This is useful both for filtering and statistical reasons.
For some countries, Geocaching.com already has a region field for the geocaches. This field is based on input from the cache owner. Typically that data isn't always correct, for several reasons. In many countries where borders are marked in the real world, the marks aren't even in the correct position, so it's not always so easy for a cache owner to know where the border is. It's not unusual that a border is moved either. Google Maps and other map services seldom have correct borders either. So, in cases where we have polygon data, we will trust our own data before we trust the cache owner's data.
For counties, Geocaching.com doesn't have the data and it's therefore required that we have polygons for that to be able to provide county information.
We typically rely on data from OpenStreetMap. It's a source where we can retrieve the data for free in a fairly simple way. Also, it's the same technical solution for all countries as long as we stick to that. For some counties we have used other data sources, though, for various reasons. The United States is such an example. For Canada we have region data from OpenStreetMap but county data from another source.
You might wonder when we update this data or how we prioritize. The fact is that we are not geographical experts, especially not for every country in the world. Therefore we normally don't update data that we already have if we aren't told there is an issue. There is a trend in the world that countries are reducing the number of counties by merging some of them. When we get informed of such merge we will look at OpenStreetMap to see if their data is updated. If it is, we will try to import their newest version. It's quite the same for which counties we try to add new data for; It's based on demand from the community. Many of the countries we have updated recently have been connected to a potential new challenge where we needed data for all of Europe.
As you might realize, every time we update the polygon data geocaches might change region and/or county. This can either be because the data was faulty before or that the border actually has changed. If you are geocaching to collect all regions and/or counties, always pick a geocache a safe distance from a border. We have even had a case where a guy had all 290 counties of Sweden, but lost it because the cache owner moved a geocache less than 100 meters.
Polygons updated for:
- Netherlands (several times)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
We have probably added/updated a few more countries that we forgot to note down.
A few days ago we sent out a list of events which we will visit. At some of those we will be able to sell our new geocoins.
We are now working on a deal with Maije im Saarland (Mega/Giga-event in Germany, Saarland) where they will sell our coins for us. The event is hosted around that time when we plan to open up our online shop for most of Europe, so the event might give you early access to the coins. If not, you will at least avoid the shipping cost by buying them there.
More news to come
We have a few more news entries in progress. You can expect the following topics the coming weeks:
- A system administrator's report
- A developer's report
- Site changes (including the web browser extension)
As you might have heard, we have recently received our first batch of Project-GC coins. These will be sold in our online shop (which isn't available yet) and at chosen geocaching events where we will exhibit.
The plan is to open our online shop in May. Initially we will only ship within Sweden, but the goal is to be able to deliver to the rest of Europe no later than the beginning of June, and the rest of the world a few weeks after that.
The final prices are not 100% determined yet, but we expect Copper and Silver to cost 15 EUR each and the Gold coin to cost 20 EUR.
Here are some of the events we are planning to attend during 2017:
- 2017-04-22 Läckö-Kinnekulle Event 2017
Two lectures will be held and we will have a table available to us. This is where the coins will be officially available for the first time.
- 2017-08-03 Meet Project-GC in the United Kingdom
Event still unpublished. We will be borrowing an area by the kind Devon committee where we will be able to present ourselves to our visitors. It's very likely that we will bring some coins for sale here.
- 2017-08-05 Devon UK Mega 2017
We will have a table available to us here.
- 2017-09-02 GREAT MORAVIA 2017
We will attend here, nothing else is decided yet.
- 2017-11-04 Mega Sweden FAD 2017
We will attend here, nothing else is decided yet.
Even if we don't exhibit at an event it's very likely that we have brought a few geocoins with us. So if you should find us, feel free to ask us if you are interested.
For more information and photos of the geocoins, please read our last news entry.
More news to come
As promised, we have a few more topics coming up in the form of news. A bit of a recap from the last months. You can expect the following topics in the near future:
- Updated polygon data
- A system administrator's report
- A developer's report
- Site changes
For years we have been meaning to create our own Project-GC geocoins. The whole topic picked up some pace after we met with Miroslav from Geokes.cz at the latest GPS Maze in Europe.
It has been quite a process but last month we finally received most of them. We hope you like them as much as we do.
|Copper front||Silver front||Gold front|
|Copper back||Silver back||Gold back|
We will introduce the sale of these at a Swedish event held in Lidköping, Läckö-Kinnekulle Event 2017. We haven't set any prices yet.
The goal is that we will introduce an online shop where these can be bought during May. However, since we are not selling any other physical items yet we have a lot to learn. We will therefore initially only distribute within Sweden. Our goal will be to add the closest countries with 1-2 weeks after that and hopefully the rest of EU soon there after. USA and Canada will be the priority after that.
We will also try to bring some geocoins to all larger events we are attending during the year. This will give you the chance to save some freight cost.
We would also like to say that we are very happy to work together with Geokes.cz. Besides the fact that they have created an awesome design they have also been very helpful and responsive.
More news to come
We haven't posted much news lately, but we have been working hard. We will therefore post a bit more frequently the coming weeks, trying to inform you about some of our work done during the last months.
Some topics to expect in the upcoming newsletters:
- Upcoming events that we will attend and/or promote ourselves at.
- Updated polygon data
- A system administrator's report
- A developer's report
- Site changes (and the web browser extension)
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.