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Release Notes (Website: Solution Checker) - October 19, 2017


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15 hours ago, Gill & Tony said:
21 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

I'm sure it'd be possible to add an additional encrypted element to the API that wasn't accessible through GSAK but which could be read by the official app and any parter apps that sign the appropriate NDA.

I'm not sure,  but I don't think that the other checkers actually work offline.  You are probably right that they could put the effort into providing an encrypted section of the API , but if I were in their shoes, it would be a long way down the road.

Exactly. Yes, GS could make it increasingly difficult to successfully hack the offline coordinate checker/hash, but is it worth all that effort? Ultimately, GS would be "giving" the public the data, in some manner, and it's just a matter of time before a hack arrives that retrieves the data, and scripts a hash checker.  One could call this "doomsday" calling, but the fact of the matter is it's true. And if GS doesn't want the risk, then they won't take their hands off the checking process, let alone the only data needed to determine correct coordinates. Even if only by teh API.

 

14 hours ago, niraD said:

There are a number of other features that would be much easier to implement (and IMHO, much more useful) than a secure offline coordinates checker.

Definitely. Secure being the key issue.

 

9 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

The limit of 10 attempts in a day not prevents someone from using the UI to brute force the coordinate checker but also prevents applications which can run a lot faster from trying every possible solution until it got a "success".

Yep, that is exactly the process that GS (and any online checker) has to keep tightly in their grasp, otherwise any script/app could spoof and cycle away at answers until solutions are found. Throttling requests has to be done on the server, online.  Take it offline, and you can only trust that a developer who's given permission to run an offline checker following explicit process rules actually follows those rules and doesn't themselves get hacked.  Good luck with that, if there's someone who wants it bad enough.

And all it take for someone to want to do it bad enough is to see a lucrative investment in doing so.  Millions of cachers worldwide? How many would use a tool to quickly determine final coordinates?  Offline checker scripted, Website posted, ad-populated, profit.  There are already websites that keep track of puzzle cacher solutions for people who want them, if they're stored.

The thing with successful hacking is that it only takes 1 resourceful hack for security to be out the window.

It would be far too much active work for GS to keep one step ahead of hackers, just to provide a hashed coordinate via API to trusted partners, under the assumption and expectation they won't be hacked, in order to provide throttled offline puzzle checking.

Even in their own official app. It wouldn't be hard to grab the API data retrieved and stored by the app in order to locate the hash and then drop it into a checker script.

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3 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Yep, that is exactly the process that GS (and any online checker) has to keep tightly in their grasp, otherwise any script/app could spoof and cycle away at answers until solutions are found.

In the business, this is known as "security through obscurity", and it never works. Security based on obscurity is automatically broken, so the only questions are whether anyone will care enough to use the vulnerability, and whether you really care that much if they do.

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8 hours ago, dprovan said:

In the business, this is known as "security through obscurity", and it never works. Security based on obscurity is automatically broken, so the only questions are whether anyone will care enough to use the vulnerability, and whether you really care that much if they do.

I have a practical example of this practice. Just solve this mystery which uses an offline password hash checker.

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC363G0_security-by-obscurity

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On 19/10/2017 at 10:34 PM, dprovan said:

I'm actually sorry to see this since it will almost certainly kill off the 3rd party checkers even though some of them are way more mature and have a lot more features.

That's a shame, although of course those caches already using them will continue to use them unless the CO updates it.

But it's also a GOOD thing. There was a case where one of these checkers got taken over by an ad-serving site, and not only failed to provide its service, but added insult to injury by throwing adverts at you. See this for more info; 

 

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2 hours ago, dartymoor said:

That's a shame, although of course those caches already using them will continue to use them unless the CO updates it.

But it's also a GOOD thing. There was a case where one of these checkers got taken over by an ad-serving site, and not only failed to provide its service, but added insult to injury by throwing adverts at you. See this for more info;

The caches already using better 3rd party checkers will continue to use them until the people maintaining those 3rd party checkers decide it's not worth keeping them running because it's easier to use the GS checker despite it's lack of features. At that point, the GS alternative will be the reason a previously successful checker disappears in the way you describe.

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19 hours ago, dartymoor said:

But it's also a GOOD thing. There was a case where one of these checkers got taken over by an ad-serving site, and not only failed to provide its service, but added insult to injury by throwing adverts at you. See this for more info; 

That site didn't really take over Evince coordinate checker.  Evince "went out of business" when it's creator passed away awhile back.  When the domain also expired, the clickbait site bought it.  

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On 10/27/2017 at 7:32 PM, dprovan said:

In the business, this is known as "security through obscurity", and it never works. Security based on obscurity is automatically broken, so the only questions are whether anyone will care enough to use the vulnerability, and whether you really care that much if they do.

Yes.

It'd be similar to a secure website storing very strong password hashes (original password is never stored - yay secure), but then handing out the hashed passwords to the client interface for verification.

Nononnonononononoonooooooooo...

Groundspeak can't make an offline coordinate checker. That would ultimately defeat the purpose. The checker is effectively a secure password verifier, otherwise the desire for COs (who care that much) to use it will all but disappear.

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Only work's for one stage mistery...

I can't say im not disapointed, at this stage with all the experience and feedback GS have I got surprised with this!

I have a mistery cache with 3 stages, first is the "mistery" the other two field puzzles to get the 4th stage (The Cache), can't get why I can't choose the coordinates manually or the stage (waypoint) wanted. (I did not find a way to do this)

 

Hope to see this reworked in a better way, for me a simple roadmap for a revamped version:

1 - Let CO choose exactly what it wants (specific coordinates, choose from a listed waypoint)

2 - Hability to edit your own text for correct answers (even failures would be nice to have that edit too...)

3 - A user option for the coordinates fields (one field, both fields,...)

4 - Hability to call the checker via hiperlink, or give it a icon or something, it looks just dadgum weird into the listing page and the size of it... HUGE!

5 - Simple stats solved/failures

6 - Check with the comunity between the few 3rd part checkers other features that really matters

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On 10/19/2017 at 5:34 PM, dprovan said:

I'm actually sorry to see this since it will almost certainly kill off the 3rd party checkers even though some of them are way more mature and have a lot more features.

I agree about one field: I've solved a lot of puzzles, and it's almost always the case that I have the entire number assembled somewhere else and want to move it with a single copy and paste. When the input is split into fields, it becomes so hard to do copy and paste that I'm forced to type it in digit by digit, and that introduces an unnecessary opportunity for typos. This isn't just hypothetical: it would happen to me regularly on that one popular checker until they finally added the single field option a few years ago.

I also don't like the cache coordinates being correctedd. I don't like or use the corrected coordinate feature, so I'll be pretty annoyed if I'm forced to use it based on the CO's decision to use the GS checker.

Well they will be around for awhile until they add the option of allowing the geocacher to just enter "close enough" coordinates and some of the other stuff the other checkers can do.

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This would be a nice feature to add to the geocaching, but for me there are a few changes that would be a necessity:

1. No automatic update of the coordinates of cache.  make this optional.  Changing the coordinates on a cache has caused far too much confusion for me between solved and unsolved.  For that reason I created a separate GSAK file of solved caches.

2.  Many puzzle caches solution are a word or phrase.   I have one such Unknown cache. As proposed this seems to have only one option - coordinates. We need both.

3.  Many have brought up the option of pasting in the solution.  That would be helpful.

 

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31 minutes ago, 10011010 said:

No automatic update of coords. In the case of geo art, it ruins the picture.

This could be easily remedied by adding a toggle on the map to switch between showing puzzles at their listed and corrected coordinates. In any event, finding the cache after solving a puzzle is the primary goal, geoart is a sidegame involving only a small percentage of puzzle caches and perhaps interesting an even smaller percentage of players, and shouldn't be a reason for restricting or removing core functionality.

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Not so bad!

Sometimes it is necessary to give the player a certain range to get green , for example, if different coordinate systems are used in the puzzle and they have to convert them.

That causes deviation usually. Would be nice if that feature would be inserted.

thanks

nani50

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1 hour ago, 10011010 said:

No automatic update of coords. In the case of geo art, it ruins the picture.

Not sure if you're aware, but the cache icon will move back to the original position after you've found it. Then you will still have the geoart, composed of smiley icons.

 

1 hour ago, 10011010 said:

If a cacher enters a correct solution then the cache can be flagged as solved (if the cacher wants it) - just like a cache is flagged that contains comments.

Where is the flag for caches that contain comments?  Do you mean the little envelope icon in Search results?  Caches that have corrected coordinates already have a puzzle piece icon in Search results, so they are already 'flagged'.

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On 20/10/2017 at 7:47 AM, StefandD said:

I know it's a simple checker, but some useful features would be:

- Display a message (e.g. an extra hint and/or picture) when coordinates are correct.
- Add an option to allow a small deviation (for projections or intersection calculations).

I can agree to almost all comments in this thread, but especially the wish for at feature to allow diviations from precise coordinates, e.g. radio buttons allowing 2 meters, 5 meters, 10 meters or 30 meters deviation from exact position. When cachers are instructed to do projections from anther set of coordinates, even minor calculation differences might cause a minute or two change in the final coordinate, In Denmark the most common used GeoChecker have thos feature (https://geocheck.org/). Anyway - great to have the checker feature as integrated part of the cache description!

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Quote: "Of course, corrected coordinates are also synced with the Geocaching® app." There is a bug out there were the corrected don't get propagated to the app. At least for some users. Would lijke to see that fixed before anything else. It makes features like these far less useful.

 

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45 minutes ago, Quaerite&invenietis said:

Usually with third party checkers, after a positive check, an additional message or hint is displayed. Would this be possible?

Checker could enable the hidden final waypoint. This way the extra information is available in pocket queries and automatically updated when the hint changes.

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Some Mystery caches state "Cache is NOT at the Listed Coords but that is a good place to park." In this instance I would not want the Listed Coords to be updated.

I use GSAK and just add a Child Waypoint with the Final Coords.

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Arisoft: I believe that would be the most efficient solution and would work for other types of hidden waypoints as well (the solution checker would need to be rebuilt into a per-waypoint checkbox though). The additional message could simply be placed in the solved waypoint's description.

I can't find a cave-eat in this, does anyone? The idea is this: If the website verifies that you have entered the correct coordinates for a hidden waypoint, why not unhide that waypoint for your account from now on?

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15 hours ago, RLowtek said:

2.  Many puzzle caches solution are a word or phrase.   I have one such Unknown cache. As proposed this seems to have only one option - coordinates. We need both.

A puzzle cache which uses a checker which allows a word or phrase rather than coordinates would also require that the checker displays the final coordinates.  One of the features found in some checkers is to allow the CO to customize the "Success" page so that it not only indicates that the user has entered a correct answer, but can provide additional information needed to find the cache.  For example, I've seen it used to provide on hint for the actual location, parking coordinates, or a combination to a lock on the container.

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Love it! :wub:

For the time being I've only tried it on a single mystery-solve ... sooo easy :D

I'll definitely use it on my own mysteries when creating new ones. Only if it requires some special information given afterwards, and/or some deviation is required, I'll still use Geocheck or similar.

I would prefere the single-field option as well, for the same reasons that many others have given.

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Great feature! I'm happy with it.

Would love following on the list of feature requests;

- an auditlog for the CO.

   1) who made an attempt

   2) what are the coordinates that are tried. 

 

Regards,

 

Erik 

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1 hour ago, SEMY said:

Would love following on the list of feature requests;

- an auditlog for the CO.

   1) who made an attempt

   2) what are the coordinates that are tried. 

I like the tried coordinates thing, but audit logs are only available to caches made pmo, and I'd like it to stay that way,  thanks.   :)

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On 10/20/2017 at 11:31 AM, arisoft said:

I think that this easy opportunity will lead to ambiguous multi caches as it has already done with mystery caches.

Due to the many inputs required to "Brute Force" a mystery that problem hardly arises. Only when one digit or a maximum of two digits in a coordinate is uncertain you will see people abusing the geochecker. It is perfectly fine in my opinion if the CO of a multicache would use a geochecker to facilitate geocachers.

But just like for mysteries. Having a checker on the listing should be optional and not required.

There are many mysteries which when solved will unambiguously give the coordinates (for example in a QR-code) A checker on these mysteries would only facilitate those who get their final coordinate from another source (Like a database or a friend or whatever) but it is in no way good for someone who really solved it.

A geochecker should not be there as an aid for cheaters.

So it should be optional and only the CO should decide if he wants a checker or not. And if he wants one, he should decide which one..

 

 

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On 11/1/2017 at 0:29 PM, hostanut said:

Some Mystery caches state "Cache is NOT at the Listed Coords but that is a good place to park." In this instance I would not want the Listed Coords to be updated.

I use GSAK and just add a Child Waypoint with the Final Coords.

NIce to see how people are different. I would add a child waypoint with the parking coords... And change the cache coords.. Sometimes however I also use the Child waypoint with final.. But rarely..

 

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On 2.11.2017 at 11:43 AM, SN67 said:

I would prefere the single-field option as well, for the same reasons that many others have given.

This seems to be fixed. When you enter your coordinates to corrected coordinates field the same set will fill also the checker and then you can check that your corrected coordinates were correct.

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I would prefer that instead of correcting the coordinates it updates the personal note. I like to be able to see both the original and the corrected. Quite some time ago I tried correcting coordinates and as I recall the original coordinates were no longer in evidence.

Certitude updates the Personal Note and also allows the CO to include a hint, there, for the solver. I prefer that.

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9 hours ago, two bison said:

I would prefer that instead of correcting the coordinates it updates the personal note.

Updating the personal notes is what I would not prefer. Usually my personal notes are filled with information regarding the cache and I have my own format. An automatically added information like coordinates would not fit and I would have to edit it. If you need the final coordinates in your personal notes I would suggest to copy them right before or after using the geochecker and paste them into the personal notes.

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19 hours ago, arisoft said:

This seems to be fixed. When you enter your coordinates to corrected coordinates field the same set will fill also the checker and then you can check that your corrected coordinates were correct.

But that really is arse about face.  I want to know I have the correct solution before I correct the coordinates.  (The danger is that you leave incorrect 'corrected coordinates' on the cache, and head off to search there when you spot the puzzle piece on the map.)

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1 hour ago, IceColdUK said:

But that really is arse about face.  I want to know I have the correct solution before I correct the coordinates.  (The danger is that you leave incorrect 'corrected coordinates' on the cache, and head off to search there when you spot the puzzle piece on the map.)

You logic seems to be correct, but the asked functionality (one field entry) is possible anyway. I think that I will use it this way and it may be worth to inform about this ability as so many has felt separate fields irritating.

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I need to add my two cents about this checker.  First of all, I like it and feel it will make it easier for people to make mystery caches.   However, I do feel the need to keep those "other" third party checkers.  There is functionality in those already mentioned that would be missed and makes some mysteries just a bit more mysterious. :)

What I really don't like about this checker and I'm sure was mentioned before, is the need to continually click the reCaptcha to prove I am not a robot.  It is fine for one or two puzzles but the other day I was working on solving a geo-art.  The more puzzles I solved the more 'games' I had to play with the reCaptcha.  Pick all the boxes that have cars.  Pick all the boxes that have street signs.  Oh, you missed one, play it again.  It became a very time consuming process to verify the coordinates so I gave it a rest.  If I haven't clicked away from the geocaching website why must I play all these games just to find out whether I have the right answer of not?  They were each a new geocaching page and I only entered the coordinates one time but had to play these extra games every time.  I just want to know if I got it right or not, not spend time clicking cars and street signs.  (I did not keep track of how many I had solved before the need for extra verification began)

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

You logic seems to be correct, but the asked functionality (one field entry) is possible anyway. I think that I will use it this way and it may be worth to inform about this ability as so many has felt separate fields irritating.

Fair enough. :-)

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1 hour ago, Twinklekitkat said:

What I really don't like about this checker and I'm sure was mentioned before, is the need to continually click the reCaptcha to prove I am not a robot.  It is fine for one or two puzzles but the other day I was working on solving a geo-art.  The more puzzles I solved the more 'games' I had to play with the reCaptcha.  Pick all the boxes that have cars.  Pick all the boxes that have street signs.  Oh, you missed one, play it again.  It became a very time consuming process to verify the coordinates so I gave it a rest.  If I haven't clicked away from the geocaching website why must I play all these games just to find out whether I have the right answer of not?  They were each a new geocaching page and I only entered the coordinates one time but had to play these extra games every time.  I just want to know if I got it right or not, not spend time clicking cars and street signs.  (I did not keep track of how many I had solved before the need for extra verification began)

Hmm... This gives me an idea for a puzzle cache... :ph34r:

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1 hour ago, Twinklekitkat said:

I need to add my two cents about this checker.  First of all, I like it and feel it will make it easier for people to make mystery caches.   However, I do feel the need to keep those "other" third party checkers.  There is functionality in those already mentioned that would be missed and makes some mysteries just a bit more mysterious. :)

That's the problem: it's not a matter of some magical authority deciding to "keep" the 3rd party checkers, it's that the third party checkers will be far less important, so the people that maintain them just because they enjoy providing people with a useful tool will be less interested in paying to host the tool when it's being used less and less often.

And if you don't believe these people are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, then the problem is even more obvious: if fewer people use the 3rd party checkers, their ad revenue may go down to the point where it doesn't pay the hosting costs.

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Even though these days shared hosting for a functionally simplistic website is dollar a month.  It adds up with many (and I mean a whole lot of) websites; mainly owning domains. But a single website really is pennies these days.  Also, if GS keeps the native relative simple, then 3rd party checkers will have plenty of room to provide additional features and abilities people desire that aren't offered at GC. And right now I don't think they have anything to worry about. The native checker is highly focused on a single ability. Anything other than a basic final checker and you still need an external checker.

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I included the new GS checker as well as an 3rd party checker in my new cache. I just wanted to see what it is like. In its current form I will not use the GS version for any upcoming caches as the disadvantages outwheigh the advantages. Must-haves for me to include the checker in future caches would be:

  • Stats: Successes and fails (at least for the CO) and entered coordinates (CO only)
  • Success page: I'm not sure the 'unhidden Waypoint' solution would suffice because I think most people wouldn't even look at the information displayed there. But it would be better than nothing. A real success page (or maybe a pop-up) could also include an option to correct the listing coordinates or not.
  • Fuzzy matching and checker coordinates =/= final coordinates: My first cache actually uses both, you have to find a specific intersection (fuzzy matching) in order to see the cache coordinates that are somewhere else.

Nice-to-haves would be:

  • Checkers for letterboxes (since most of them are actually mysteries with a stamp in them, at least in my area). For multis I would prefer a system that facilitates the coordinate calculation. Something like: go to stage 1, find A, enter A in the app, the app puts A into the formula for stage 2 and displays the resulting coordinates (without verification) but that's another topic and much more difficult to implement.
  • optional single-field entry: It can be more convenient in some cases but I also use the multi-field entry on geocheck.org
  • Get rid of the reCAPTCHA
  • Make it smaller

What I like about it:

  • Easy to integrate
  • Easy to maintain
  • Automatic coordinate correction (I use coordinate correction a lot but it would be fine with me, if it can be opted out).

 

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1 hour ago, Loki-84 said:

Fuzzy matching and checker coordinates =/= final coordinates: My first cache actually uses both, you have to find a specific intersection (fuzzy matching) in order to see the cache coordinates that are somewhere else.

This in not actually real checker. It is a game or puzzle itself when you play against the checker to get vital information. If you use both external game-checker and internal real-checker, players get some advance as they can verify from the real-checker that the solution has not changed after they solved the mystery part using the game-checker.

1 hour ago, Loki-84 said:

optional single-field entry: It can be more convenient in some cases but I also use the multi-field entry on geocheck.org

You can optionally enter cooridnates to the single corrected coordinates box which fills the checker boxes automatically.

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On ‎11‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 0:53 PM, SEMY said:

Would love following on the list of feature requests;

- an auditlog for the CO.

   1) who made an attempt

   2) what are the coordinates that are tried. 

On ‎11‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 1:58 PM, cerberus1 said:

I like the tried coordinates thing, but audit logs are only available to caches made pmo, and I'd like it to stay that way,  thanks.   :)

34 minutes ago, 10011010 said:

  ...   SEMY: 1) who made an attempt, 2) what are the coordinates that are tried.

Agreed.

----------

cerberus1: audit logs are only available to caches made pmo, and I'd like it to stay that way

This is not the place but since you bring it up. I think all caches - not just premium caches - should have audit logs. The trick is that only premium members should get to see their audit logs.

"This isn't the place to bring up" my response to another, yet you were more than happy to respond (favorably) to their post?  It's "only the place" if you agree?  That's odd...    :) 

 

 

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11 hours ago, 10011010 said:

But does that mean I lose the coords on site once I find it or are they stored some place else other than the corrected spot? Sorry, haven't used this feature before.

No, the changed coordinates stay changed when you open the listing of a cache you already found. It is only displayed at its original location on the map.

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No offense but it is boring and to much work. Prefer one like the Certitude where you can  copy and paste the whole coords in instead of typing each number. Also the ability to create a keyword.

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  • This feature should be possible to set for the first stage of an Mystery cache and not only for it's final. In the Moment the checker is not working correct for "Multi-Mystery-Caches" with correct set waypoints.
  • It also should be possible to display an owner generated text when the solution is correct.
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I used the new checker with one mystery and I found the user interface somehow uncertain. The first coordinate pair is ok. It gives response but then... when i change the solution I can not be sure did I get result for the new coordinates or not, because there is no clear indicator whether my click to the check button is registered at all.

Edited by arisoft
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After some discussion with Groundspeak, I have come to understand their new development model, which is to quickly publish new features and then to iterate.  That is fine for many things; we still have the option to use the older system for new pages under development.

Unfortunately, IMO, this feature is different.  If COs start using it now, then solvers are required to use the horrid multi-field input.  As a result, unlike other new but imperfect features, this one is actively making life worse for puzzle solvers.

Therefore I think it is appropriate to ask Groundspeak how long we will have to wait for the improved iteration.  You have added a feature that cachers cannot ignore and makes the site less useful.  Please fix the multi-field entry problem now.

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1 hour ago, fizzymagic said:

You have added a feature that cachers cannot ignore and makes the site less useful.

This is all so negative.  Yes, there are issues with the implementation, but for some COs this is very useful - a simple to add checker for their puzzles.

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8 minutes ago, IceColdUK said:

This is all so negative.

Well, yes. There are significant usability issues with Groundspeak's built-in checker. When I recently added a checker to my own puzzle cache, I chose Certitude rather than impose those usability issues on others. But other puzzle cache owners may take the easy route and just check the checkbox.

Making it easier to provide a worse checker is not necessarily an improvement.

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23 minutes ago, IceColdUK said:

This is all so negative.  Yes, there are issues with the implementation, but for some COs this is very useful - a simple to add checker for their puzzles.

Yes.  Simple for the COs.  Not so much for the people who solve their puzzles.

To my mind, it is a step backward: by making it easy for COs to add a inferior checker to their puzzles, the availability of superior third-party checkers will diminish.  So the users lose.

Simple changes to the implementation of the Groundspeak checker would improve the usability dramatically, yet it was rolled out over a month ago and we have seen no response to the many requests.  I, for one, have become annoyed.

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