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Everything posted by mhfares

  1. This is a continuation of my series where I look at the general statistical behavior of fellow geocachers in this part of the world. Eighteen months ago, I reviewed the characteristics of hiding caches where we had 83 sites. (http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=37231&hl=). With 123 caches to date, I now offer an update of that analysis to see how we evolved over time. Pic 1: shows the number of caches hidden versus total score: In my last analysis, we had two well defined peaks at total scores 4 & 7 in addition to a third one at low rating of 3. The general behavior today is not very much different than it was 18 months ago. We still have the peak in the middle but it is now better defined with two adjacent highs at 4 & 4.5. The peak at 7 is still there (some like that challenging edge) but the numbers on the high side of the scale (above score of 6) have gone down from 23.5% to 17% caches over the last 18 months. We are also introducing a little more caches on the low side of the scale (less than 4) .. where we have 21% caches compared to 18.5% few months ago. Pic 2: same as Pic1 but including old data (pink) I concluded before that we were seeing a change towards lower end of the scale which means we were paying attention to 2WD and families. This trend is even clearer now as the main peak tries to establish itself in the middle. The trend is probably following a normal (Gaussian) distribution. Here are the numbers: 17% of the caches score a total of 6.5 points or more (compared to 23.5% before) 62% of the caches score total points between 4 & 6 (compared to 58% before) 21% of the caches score total points equal or less than 3.5 (compared to 18.5%) Pic 2: shows the number of caches for each of the categories (Difficulty & terrain) If we look at the two ratings individually, we get the same picture we had before, i.e., we have all types of terrain (square) that are distributed somewhat evenly among the caches hidden. This is good since this means we like to try all types of terrain. The difficulty rating (diamond) is still concentrated at the lower end of the scale (peaks at 2) and decreases as expected when we go down the scale. The rating of 2 for difficulty stands out and looks to be a special number we like to associate with when judging difficulty of caches hidden in this land. It constitutes 48% of all caches hidden. Pic 3 I included a cross-plot between the two main attributes before hoping to see a correlation at the 45 degree line. In an ideal world, I would associate high rating of terrain with lower rating of difficulty (hard to reach area with easy to find treasure) or low rating of terrain with high rating of difficulty (easy to reach area but hard to find treasure). This would correspond to quadrants 2 & 3 on the picture above. Quadrant 1 would correspond to beginner's caches while quadrant 4 is for the extreme geocachers. Pic 4 The world however, is not that perfect, and so we have the scatter shown above. The population of pairs fills mostly quadrant 1 & 3 (beginners to mediocre) with some pairs in the 4th harsh quadrant. There are very few pairs in quadrant 2 (high difficulty and low terrain ratings). Is it that we don't consider raising the difficulty of the cache when the terrain is very accessible? Pic 5 Finally, I show here an update of the time history of our caches. As I concluded before, we seem to go in some kind of hibernation around the summer months and the activity picks up during the winter months. Before closing, below are some notes: Although we have some good variation on the number of cache sites, we can't say the same about the setters. Almost half of the caches are hidden by one team (a lot of effort by M&M) and about 74% of the caches are hidden by 3 setters. We may be looking at the hiding characteristics of those three individuals rather than a large aggregate of teams. This update reflects very much the geocacher hiding characteristics already observed in my last analysis. There are no major changes and it only confirms the previous findings with the extra data collected. We are not seeing new changes because we are not seeing new comers to the game. Most of the cache sites are concentrated around Riyadh area reflecting the whereabouts of the setters. This review of our geocaching characteristics would be more interesting if it can be compared to other parts of the world. Happy geocaching.
  2. The polling feature in the Groundspeak forum is disabled. If we were to have "picture of the month", we have to have polling .. any ideas ? May be we should get our own website for Arabia geocachers, we can put our own stories/pics that don't get into the logs ..etc. .. is it worth it ?
  3. You got me excited on this. You don't need to take a close look at the pictures to note the following: • Mine were taken on a sunny day with no signs of rain. The land was totally dry. That's where the surprise comes in. Rivers in the sand was taken on an overcast day. So all you got around was water. • Second, as the title implied, water was flowing on the ground, wet and muddy. Mine was coming from the mountain, dry and clean. In this part of Arabia, that's a novelty. • Third, except for that little fall (barely few feet high), there were no real waterfalls. Mine was coming down an escarpment hundreds of feet high. That's what made it so strange. Finally, those were great shots (rivers in the sand) .. I certainly enjoyed them a lot. But there is something mystical about that waterfall in the dry surrounding that I captured which is not reflected in those wet pictures .. am I right or am I right With this interest in photography, may be we should do a "picture of the month" in this forum and have a vote. The winner will have a prize to be collected in cache form, i.e., we hide a simple cache (1/1) and leave the prize there for the winner (I will provide the first prize). This way, we also introduce new caches (easy ones).
  4. I read about this software in mekshat.com. It does many things for many people. What attracted my attention is the ease with which you can calibrate image maps, among other things. The user who posted the topic used a satellite image, downloadable from here: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/data/ev32/ev3...00062090456.jpg He then used two points to calibrate the map. You can do lots of things once you read in waypoints and tracks into the program. I read few caches into the calibrated map to see where they fit on the terrain. Here is what I got: http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-2/958652/map1c.jpg http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-2/958652/closeup.gif Enjoy.
  5. I found this in mekshat.com and thought it might be of interest to some readers of this forum. Download maps of Arabia from the link below (names are in Arabic): http://www.mekshat.com/vb/showthread.php?t=20188 Now you can transfer them (via Bluetooth) to your Nokia mobile and they will look like these (see the link below): http://www.mekshat.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28163 Enjoy.
  6. Some interesting pictures I found for Madaen Saleh, near Al-ula (from mekshat.com): http://www.mekshat.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28099 Enjoy.
  7. While trying to bag "THE SLIPPER BEYOND THE SPHINX" (GCKECD ) ten days ago, I came across what I though to be an interesting view that I rarely see around in this neighborhood. Take a Look at these pictures: http://img.Groundspeak.com/cache/log/e3fa5...eb1e5018f90.jpg http://img.Groundspeak.com/cache/log/af000...d276e2ac983.jpg http://img.Groundspeak.com/cache/log/594bf...5b6bebf7851.jpg Enjoy.
  8. I use a simple yellow eTrex for my outdoor activity and so make no use of mapping. However, I thought you might want to know that there exist some fairly elaborate digital maps showing many detailed attributes of the terrains like contours for elevations, names of valleys, wells, gas stations, roads, tracks ..etc. They are made by Saudi desert fans (probably by scanning images and a lot of data gathering) .. They are updated frequently and are available on memory cards for GPS receivers with mapping capability. I think they are also in English and so it might be useful for some of those who read this post. The link below shows comparison between them and those of the Garmin local agent: http://www.mekshat.com/vb/showthread.php?t...%DE%C7%D1%E4%C9
  9. The two roads that take you to Summan mentioned in The Mines Of Moria (GC8069 ) are now joined together. You can drive from Shawiyah north to Rafiah in the middle of summan (where petrol is found) and then drive southwest to cross the Dahna dunes and back to Riyadh, all on tarmac and is good road totaling around 650KM to close the loop.
  10. I don't use maps but I gather from your post that you're looking for relief data that show more resolution than the one you already had (gtopo30). I remember reading in Mekshat.com (Arabic website for GPS enthusiasts) that the Saudi Geological Survey keeps maps (in hard copy format) in their vaults and you can order them at SR.20 per piece. The scale if I remember is 1:500,000 and 1:1000,000.
  11. The shoes are even more funny.. a nice match with the thobe You should get yourself a Saudi thobe .. shall I send you one ?
  12. Still remember "Saudi Sauna" .. one of my favorites . I may go back to "Military stash" and give it another try (my first fail) I liked your caches locations .. challenging but rewarding. Wish you and your family all the best in your new assignment. Abu-Hamad (mhfares)
  13. Indeed it is. Great shots Waleed .. I liked the one with the stairs in it .
  14. Eid Mubarak to all. Abu-Hamad
  15. An article appeared today in the daily al-Watan newspaper, talking about “Saudis seeking caches thru satellites”. It mentioned Jeremy as the creator of the game and M&M as a young Saudi man and in one case quoting him. At first, I wasn’t sure if the article was talking about geocaching.com because it mentioned things that I could not relate to here, e.g., one has to pay SR.375 for the site to get the service, the search area should not exceed 165km, caches are to be hidden in places where they cannot be tracked by satellites, some of the caches mentioned are in Mekkah & Taif (I’m not aware of caches hidden there yet). The article goes on talking about monetary rewards for finding caches and 25 Saudi men who are competing for them! If it were not for the names of Jeremy and M&M and the number of caches hidden so far (85), I would think they were referring to another geocaching play. I have seen references to the game on the internet (on different Arabic forums like the alsaha & mekshat) but I wanted to point out this particular one because the paper is widely read and hence I expect it to generate some interest into the game. Here is the source: http://www.alwatan.com.sa/daily/2003-10-25/socity/socity05.htm
  16. Being a geocacher in Saudi Arabia, I wanted to highlight some of the local characteristic of the game. I looked at one particular aspect, the rating system, and what I found is summarized in this post: http://ubbx.Groundspeak.com/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=5726007311&f=8416058331&m=74460259 Enjoy your hunt.
  17. Dick Turpin the Highwayman had a post few days ago on “a character of our own” .. I like to borrow that title here to highlight some other characteristics of our geocahcers in Saudi. Back in February I talked about ratings using the 52 caches available at that time, http://ubbx.Groundspeak.com/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=5726007311&f=8416058331&m=8896099 Today, with 81 active caches (out of 85), I think it is time to update my graph analyzing the rating pattern we used in this part of the world.. Pic 1: shows the number of caches hidden versus total score: Just like before, we still have two well-defined peaks at total scores of 4 & 7. However, a new peak emerges at low rating of 3. I concluded before that the scale was more towards medium to high side and was wondering if this trend will continue. I also concluded that we were not catering for 2WD and families. But now I think we are seeing a change towards lower end of the scale which means we may be paying more attention to families and 2WD (18.5% of the caches score total points equal or less than 3.5, as opposed to 9.6% few months ago). Here are the numbers: 23.5% of the caches score a total of 6.5 points or more (compared to 28.8% before) 58% of the caches score total points between 4 & 6 (compared to 61.5% before) 18.5% of the caches score total points equal or less than 3.5 (compared to 9.6%) Pic 2: shows the number of caches for each of the categories (Difficulty & terrain) This diagram (square for terrain, star for difficulty)shows we have all types of terrain (1 to 5) but distributed somewhat evenly among the caches hidden. On the other hand, the difficulty rating is concentrated on the lower end of the scale (maximum at 2) and decreases as we go down the scale. What this means is that we like to try different terrains (good thing, we have varying landscapes) but we don’t like to make things difficult for our fellow geocachers (I like that too). Pic 3: The cross plot of Terrain vs. Difficulty does not show a particular trend. The trend I was trying to advocate before was to associate high scores of terrain with low scores of difficulty and vice versa ( I realize this may be a lot to ask). With such trend, we’ll see some correlation around the 45-degree line. Do we see that here? .. I don’t know since I don’t have the tools now for this quick investigation. However, one can see that the population of pairs fills the terrain area more regularly while the difficulty area is skewed towards the lower end of the scale. Pic 4: Here I wanted to see when we hide our caches. The plot shows the caches (total score for each) versus time over the last 12 months. There is some concentration of activity around the Feb. to May period that is also marked with high scores. Perhaps this is explained by the nice weather we have at this time of the year. The high score may be explained by the enthusiasm and good mood of the geocachers brought by the good weather. On the other hand, the period from June to Sept. is marked by low activity with somewhat low scores. The weather is hot and geocachers are not in the mood to go out and even if they do, the rating (total score) will be low. It would be interesting to see how we compare to other parts of the world .. Happy geocaching ... [This message was edited by mhfares on October 18, 2003 at 04:29 AM.]
  18. If by “this fantastic entertainment method “ you are referring to geocaching, then there is a memo used by fellow geocachers, here in Kingdom, which explains the game to an outsider, in Arabic .. I think it resides somewhere in this site (I can’t think where right now; anyone here can get it for you). If you need some particular help explaining some aspect of the game in Arabic, I can do that ..
  19. What an interesting question (the chicken or the egg first?) A bagger derives its meaning from a cache stashed a priori. But there would be no cache without a bagger to hide it .. they coexist, but which is first ? The apparent argument is that a bagger is the first because he was there, he thought about the game and then proceeded to hide the cache .. but then he could have stumbled on some not-meant to be cache (rare case) and got the idea or when he thought about the game, the cache was there (virtually) and so in this case he is the second .. Any one interested in this argument ?
  20. Being a migraine patient for the last 2 years now, I haven’t done as much cache seeking as I like to .. but we (my cousin & I) were lucky enough to bag in 7 stashes in about a week, two weeks ago. I even managed to hide the first cache in Bahrain last week. Looking back at all those trips and thinking about them, it occurred to me that every journey could be a chapter in a book. I’m sure you have so many stories to tell .. at least one per trip. I only logged a few but some of you have logged dozens .. choose your best .. you have the starting/ending points for each (even in numbers, what could be better). You have some pictures that go along (perhaps even video, but will not use that unless you’re thinking of a documentary on discovery channel) .. put it all together and you have the groundwork for a nice book on outdoor activity, camping ..etc (you got manuscript with pics, details, stories, coordinates; all documented). You can keep all this fun to family/kids or go public with it & publish it. Any readers interested.. a lot. Anyway just an idea.
  21. I’m happy to announce that, for the first time, we now have a cache stashed near the Rifa fort in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is long overdue but considering the small number of geocachers in the eastern province compared to Riaydh area, the delay is partly understood. Here is the link: First cache in Bahrain Abu-Hamad
  22. I’m coming to Riyadh this weekend .. can’t wait to bag some caches. This time will try some of the “multi” ones. Told my buddy to get ready .. Though he lived all of his life around Riyadh, he tells me he never had this much fun going out to cache sites that are literally few kilometers away from where he stayed all these years. Considering ourselves outdated (see image below), out of shape geocachers, we will go after the easy ones (I intend to post an update of that graph I did earlier on the rating discussion, see http://ubbx.Groundspeak.com/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=5726007311&f=8416058331&m=8896099). I only have my yellow eTrex with no maps to display. I carry a Powershot s30 camera and few bottles of water (lunch salad if we feel like it) .. I jump into my land-rover and off we go ..sometimes entering the coordinates of the cache along the way. This is pretty much the planning we do. Unfortunately I don’t know the source of this image. [This message was edited by mhfares on April 25, 2003 at 01:26 PM.]
  23. You can download 276 waypoints in Al-Summan (sorted, in PDF format) .. they are in Arabic, though. http://www.geocities.com/n_ibr/Alsmman.zip taken from a well-known book by Al-Shabant on Al-Summan region (I found this on mekshat.com). I have been to Summan only once and I know there are so many Saudis who enjoy camping there .. it is worth the trip. where in the world is ..? Here is a nice utility ..you enter the coordinates for any point and get a map showing the location anywhere in the world from mapquest: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/latlong.adp
  24. Jon Carter guide proves me wrong in that the landscape in our neighborhood is not necessarily boring compared to Riyadh area if you know where to look for and possibly take longer trips (see my earlier post on this). The guide is the third in a series of handbooks by Stacey International that covers coast to coast off-road driving in kingdom. It is long awaited (especially by us here in the eastern-province). Along the same lines of Ionis Thompson’s book, Jon carter does it in the same interesting style with full color photographs and illustrations. One particular pleasant difference is the inclusion of gps coordinates in the directions section which should appeal to all of us, geocachers. However, do not expect to see a lot of detailed maps as those shown at the end of Thompson’s book .. (perhaps, because of the inclusion of coordinates). I purchased my version from Jareer bookstore at SR.50 (I paid SR45 after discount using my membership card ..The salesman showed me a review of the guide that appeared in arabnews paper back in November 2002) it is also available thru: http://www.stacey-international.co.uk/forthcomingtitles.htm Back to my original question: Will I now travel less to Riyadh .. I don’t think so. After all, any guide can’t change the terrain for you, it can only guide you to it ( or rather to some of the best of it)
  25. We finally got our own guide here in the eastern province. I just purchased mine today. Does this mean I now will travel less to Riyadh ..? Will tell you about that later after taking a closer look at this nice looking guide by Jon Carter.
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