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The Rat

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  1. Great news for Cliff Knowles Mysteries fans: the series books are now available as audiobooks. Cliff Knowles is a geocaching detective if you don't know the series. Amazon has introduced a new feature for us self-published authors: virtual voice. The reader is not a human but a text-to-voice AI actor. There are a few mispronounced words or occasional odd emphases, but all in all I was impressed with the quality, so I opted in. Geocaching and cache are pronounced correctly, but geocachers becomes geocakers. Oh well.  I wouldn't have been able to afford live voice actors for all of these. The books are available on Audible.com and Amazon.com. The Amazon pages have not updated to show the audio option for all the books the last I checked, but they could all be found on Audible.com just by searching the name.

    All the books are available as follows and all have a virtual voice readers except as noted:

    • Held for Ransom
      Cached Out (human voice actor)
      Fatal Dose
      Death Row
      Gut Shot
      Behead Me (not available as audiobook for technical reasons)
      A Will to Die
      Double Eagle
      Cold Case
      Brace for Impact
      The Cryptic Crossword Caper (not a Cliff Knowles Mystery, but it is available as an audiobook)

    For any fans wondering when the next new one will come out, I regret I have not been working on one. Arthritis in my hands has prevented me from doing extensive typing and I have not found dictating to work well. The good news is that I just had surgery on my right (dominant) hand and hope to solve the problem for that hand at least.


    Please spread the word to your mystery fan friends, especially any geocachers. A few of the books are not geocaching-related. Cached Out and Cliffhanger are ones that emphasize geocaching.

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  2. I found the answer to the second question in another thread. When plugged into the computer I can navigate to the Garmin device and in the GPX folder, the geocache gpx files are located. I can delete them there. I don't understand why they don't make it possible to delete from the device itself when not plugged in, but at least there's a solution. This brings up another issue. With the old one, I could operate all the pages and menus normally while plugged in. With this new one, it seems all I get is the USB symbol and cannot navigate to any regular page or screen or menu. Not only that, but as soon as I unplug, it shuts off. I can just turn it back on, but that's one extra step I'd rather not have to bother with especially since it takes a while to come up. If there's any workaround, please let me know.

  3. After 10 or 12 years geocaching with a Garmin 60Cx, it finally gave up the ghost (battery leaked and acid ate the internal connections). So I bought a GPSMAP 64sx because it appeared to be the closest to what I'm used to. I've had a few questions arise.

    1. When I plug into the computer, I can send caches to the Garmin no problem, but the website doesn't seem to recognize it. When I'm logged in and looking at a cache page, there is no link to send to the GPS. I usually don't need that since I use GSAK, but is there a ways to send cache details from the website? I could do it before with the other Garmin.

    2. How do I delete a geocache from the 64sx? On the old one all I had to do is highlight it, press menu and the option to delete was there. If there was more than one, the option to delete all was there. On this one, other than the initial GO button at the bottom, the menu button only brings up three options: Review Point, Setup Map, and Restore Defaults. If I don't select it but show the general geocache page off the main menu, then press menu, there are five options: Spell search, search near, Choose filter, show Found, and setup geocaches. If I can't delete it, maybe there's a way to filter out found caches. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    3. Neither the Name (or title) or the GC# of the geocache is shown. Instead, the notes I put into GSAK are shown on the Garmin screen as the cache title, both in the menu and on the map. How do I get it to show the name? Obviously I could put the cache title in the note field in GSAK before sending it, and maybe that's the best solution, but I'd think the gpx file should have the title in a field which predominates over any notes.


    Thanks in advance for the help.

  4. I'm starting a new Cliff Knowles Mystery. It's based on an old unsolved murder mentioned in a geocache. I know the approvers don't usually allow caches discussing recent murders or grisly descriptions, but some caches have mentioned murders from long ago of a historical nature. One example is GC4BXT0. Does anybody have any other good examples? I'm especially interested in ones in or near graveyards but don't limit responses to those. I think the rules about such things were more lax in the early days, so maybe even archived caches that were active for a long period would interest me.

  5. It might be the final to a puzzle cache or a multi cache. The posted coordinates could be 2 miles away, so it wouldn't show up on the map at that location. Did you open it up and look at the log book/ sheet? Do that and see if the cache ID is on it or there's  a cache name. If there is none, then look at the name(s) of anyone who signed it. If it looks like  a geocacher name(s), then look up that person's profile on GC.com and send a message asking what cache it is so you can contact the owner. If it doesn't have a geocaching style log book or log sheet it might be a letterbox, not a cache. Also, it could very well be a Premium Member Only cache and wouldn't show up on your map. In that case, same advice.

  6. It's here! Cliff Knowles is back! Ten geocachers are invited to an exclusive all-expense paid adventure on a private island owned by the controversial new owner of the geocaching company. What could possibly go wrong? Geocaches that are death traps. A ferocious storm. A body. A murder? Some adventures can be too thrilling, as Cliff Knowles learns once again. This one has LOTS of geocaching in it!


  7. It's here! Cliff Knowles is back! Ten geocachers are invited to an exclusive all-expense paid adventure on a private island owned by the controversial new owner of the geocaching company. What could possibly go wrong? Geocaches that are death traps. A ferocious storm. A body. A murder? Some adventures can be too thrilling, as Cliff Knowles learns once again. This one has LOTS of geocaching in it!


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  8. I find the OP to be missing the point - and the fun - of geocaching. Of course people want to read about the caching adventures of others. You may an exception, but whenever I talk to cache owners, they universally tell me that getting nice long longs is part of their motivation for placing caches. This is even more true for those who place quality caches. It is that nice little reward that comes into my inbox every so often that brings a smile and encourages me to place another one. I used to place a lot more caches, but when people stopped writing decent logs and instead "TFTC" started showing up, I cut way back. I agree with the responder who said he considers that an insult to the cache owner. If someone gets tick bites or poison oak or disturbs a neighbor when searching for my cache, I want to know about it. I may be able to change the location a bit or maybe even archive the cache if I think it's a serious problem that can't be remedied.

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  9. There are a lot of geocaching novels out there now. If you don't want to buy one, you may be able to get your local library to buy a copy. My local library just ordered three at someone's request (not me). These are especially good for those who still prefer a good old paper copy instead of an ebook. Those can get expensive if you do a lot of reading.

  10. 15 hours ago, WarNinjas said:

    I would think that cachers with over 5000 finds have found more puzzles because they cached out the area

    Of course anyone with more than 5000 finds (or any other number) is likely to have more puzzle caches than someone with less overall finds, but I don't see that as dictating that they would have a higher percentage of puzzle finds on average. When I compiled my stats, I just used the number listed as "All Mystery Cache Types" which includes anything marked with a ? and Geocaching HQ. That would include challenges. But you may be right that those most driven to high numbers are more likely to have thoroughly cached out (no plug intended) an area and even if he or she is not enamored of puzzles, may find it easier or more convenient or practical to solve a nearby puzzle than drive many miles to the nearest unfound regular cache. They may also be more likely to want to complete challenges like the Well-Rounded Cacher (Fizzy Challenge) which require finding puzzle types.

  11. Based on the sample size and the degree of difference between sexes (M have a 33% higher puzzle rate than F) I believe it is statistically significant. Commenters have pointed valid issues of "noise" (e.g. challenge caches, availability of puzzle caches in the area) but I believe those apply equally to men and women or nearly so. Although I haven't done the analysis, it looks from these data that men are also more likely to have more than 5000 finds. The right and left sides of the two comparisons look quite similar. Toward the upper end of the right-hand pair at least you can tell whether the cacher is male or female just by looking at the left hand pair. As we know, correlation does not mean causation.

  12. I may try statistical tests as suggested, but I haven't done that yet. However, I do see a potential bias for the second comparison, i.e. the one on number of finds. One of the groups I used is the San Francisco Peninsula Geocaching Group, which is where I live. This area, part of Silicon Valley, is known for the high volume and high quality of both puzzles and geocaches in general. The other group was an international group, but I only used the members who indicated they lived in the United States. So I think it likely there are a lot more geocachers around here in this puzzle-rich area who have high find totals than in other parts of the country. If this is true, then the reason high-volume finders also have high puzzle percentages might be due to the fact that a lot of them live in puzzle-rich Bay Area, not because high-volume geocachers gravitate toward puzzles. However, I don't think that would skew the first comparison. The percentage of females and males in the two groups was about the same, I think, so whatever difference geography might make should apply equally to both women and men. However, I've been doing puzzle caches around here since 2002 and know most of the hard core puzzlers. I'm quite sure that men dominate in numbers, although, of course, there are some wicked smart and avid women puzzlers, too.

  13. The title is not meant to imply anything negative (or positive) about women. I merely got curious about whether women like to puzzle cache as much as men. In other words, are puzzle caches primarily a "guy thing." So I visited two large geocaching facebook groups that had a list of members' true names and geocaching names. I then viewed their profiles and recorded how many total finds they had and how many of those were puzzles. People who list their names in such groups are probably more serious about geocaching than the average geocacher, so I'm not claiming this set of data represents the universe of geocachers, but I think it's reasonably representative in percentages, if not in absolute numbers. There were 64 women and 89 men used to make the comparison. I eliminated anyone whose sex I could not tell from the name (e.g. Lee, Shawn) or who had mixed sounding names (e.g. SmithFamily). It turns out women do have a lower percentage of their finds in the puzzle category. See the chart below. The .25 line means 25% of the finds for a cacher were puzzle caches. On average women have less than 10% of their finds. With men it's slightly more than 10%. The Male/Female comparison is shown in pink and blue on the left. While I was at it, I compared those of either sex who have found less than 5000 caches with those who found more than 5000. There were approximately equal numbers in those two categories. That's the chart on the right in teal and red. Every cacher in the study has a mark in each pair. It seems that those with more than 5000 finds have a higher percentage of puzzle caches. That seems counterintuitive to me. I'd be curious if others have opinions on this.



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  14. I have heard tell of a team that goes out to a park or cache-rich area and spreads out, each member with a stamp with all the names on it. So you have separate people on separate trails finding caches and stamping everyone's name on each cache they find. Then they all return to the car and move on. Everyone's name gets on every cache, but each individual was only present at 1/4 or so of the cache finds.

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