Jump to content

Lab Cache (Old Term) Adventures


Recommended Posts

Lab Cache (old term) Adventures




I enjoy AdLabs----I really do.

In my humble opinion, AdLabs have tremendous potential to showcase some of the world's interesting places, some of which might go otherwise unnoticed. However, having sought geocaches in excess of ten years, I've managed (like others) to evolve my geo-activities in ways that make my geo-actions more efficient, save time, reduce redundancy, save fuel, etc.


Unfortunately, although AdLabs are provided as an adjunct to geocaching, there is a distinct difference in methodology between the two that can be a source of frustration. Geocachers are denied access to much information about AdLabs that is available for "normal" geocaches that makes it much easier to organize one's activities.


This is a matter of differing philosophies. There are at least two different approaches to geocaching:


(1) Spontaneous geocaching: A player otherwise going about their daily activities, be it travel, shopping, visiting family, etc., gets an urge to geocache, pulls out their GPS-enabled device, and says something akin to "Gee! I wonder if there are any geocaches around here!" They pull up their smartphone app or turn on their GPSr (provided it has been loaded with caches), let it settle on their present position, and report back on any nearby caches. The player then can choose a nearby cache and "go for it." After finishing with that cache, they say, "Gee! I wonder if there are any more around here!" ... and so on. One might call this the "onesies and twosies" approach, although one could certainly say "Gee!" many more times if they enjoy aimlessly moving to wherever the nearest cache might be to their prtesent position.


(2) Planned geocaching: A player decides to invest some time in their favorite hobby (geocaching) and plans a route or destination to maximize geocaching opportunities. The player uses the geocaching.com website, GSAK, or a number of other tools to look through and analyze specific cache data to choose which caches to attempt, and the most efficient route to take between them. Planned geocaching may be the day's sole focus and may involve significant numbers of cache attempts. Such planning may include making maps and lists, programming automotive GPS units, coordinating with friends, etc for perhaps hours or days of caching.


Both of these approaches are useful, but in different situations. By far, most of my geocaching experience has been of the planned approach. I go out for perhaps a day of caching, come home, and then log my caches using either GSAK or the GC website. This gives me the opportunity (i.e., time) to attempt to be more reflective in what I enter. Of course, I could enter the logs (via APP) as I make the finds, and sometimes I might, but often I'd rather spend my time in the field caching rather than typing.


However, there are occasions where I was doing "something else" and found myself with some extra time and said, "Gee! I wonder if there are any caches around here!" I have indeed made a few finds this way.


The point here is that I get to choose which method to pursue my geo-activities. Both of these methods are useful, but they are complementary to each other. One method does not satisfy the aims of the other, and design philosophies which try to force one method at the exclusion of the other can be sources of frustration. Unfortunately, AdLabs seem to fall into this situation.


My ramblings here deal with these frustrations, and I provide them as feedback for which some may agree, and certainly some will disagree---but are intended to be helpful as AdLabs develop or morph into whatever their destiny might be.


I don't know how many of these I'll post, so ya get what ya get.


Edited by TommyGator
  • Surprised 1
Link to comment

Lab Cache Adventures (continued)


Chapter 1 - Travel Planning


I just returned from a trip to a city which has in excess of 40 AdLabs. I don't mean "8 Adlabs with 5 stages each"----I mean 40 AdLabs!


I had planned to to some "AdLabbing" on this trip, so I sat down at home before departure to try to plan some AdLab activities. The frustration began immediately.


*Disclaimer* I know that there are some unpublished "work-arounds" or tools that some might employ, and some which may have worked until they got shut down and are currently being argued. But in the spirit of helpfulness, I'm describing the AdLab processes as they are "officially presented."


Being that, to my knowledge, there is no "official" GC site from which to download a list of available AdLabs based on a chosen location (please correct me if I am wrong), I opened the AdLab app, hit the "hamburger menu," and saw a list of AdLabs based on my present position (i.e., at home). This isn't what I was after.


I scrolled the map over to my destination area and was greeted by over 40 green pins, many of them partially (or perhaps fully) overlaid on each other. With the map centered on my destination, I again hit the "hamburger menu" and, once again, got a listing of AdLabs based on my present (i.e., home) position, NOT the location that I was about to visit.


At this point, I had two options: I could scroll back and, pin-by-pin, try to examine each AdLab and perhaps manually extract lat/long and textual information. I have indeed done this in the past and can tell you that it is time-consuming and agonizing, especially since I know that the information is readily available in GC's database but is being withheld for reasons unknown to me.


The "official" option is to wait until I get to the destination, open the app, and say "Gee, I wonder what AdLabs are around here!" and then pick perhaps the nearest AdLab after I try to read through all the descriptions after arrival using the "hamburger menu," which would then register my present position in the vicinity of the AdLabs.


So what did I do? As I mentioned, I have indeed used the laborious and frustrating pin-by-pin method before and am well-acquainted with it. However, I was fortunate in that I had previously been able to download some AdLab data of the type available before a GC source was shut down, and was able to actually plan a route. That route included multiple AdLabs, but that will be the subject of Chapter 2.



Edited by TommyGator
  • Funny 1
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment

Lab Cache Adventures (continued)


Chapter 2 - Multiple Adlabs


As said before, my destination area has multple AdLabs and I decided to pursue several of them.


While the official APP shows a map with green pins denoting the location of the STARTING locations of each AdLab, there is nothing that indicates all the stages of all nearby AdLabs TOGETHER. Yes, you can select an individual AdLab and view an overall map of its stages (if sequential, subsequent stages are "greyed out" and cannot be selected). By flip-flopping through AdLabs, one might be surprised to find that the location of a particular stage might be shared by more than one AdLab---but it's left to the player to stumble upon that realization by whatever means one has, such as looking at each AdLab's map individually, and memorizing it so as to recognize a similar stage in another AdLab.


Then again, one can laboriously and frustratingly eek out the location and stage data manually and enter one at a time into GSAK or a spreadsheet. I've done this, and although it works, it ain't fun.


If one hasn't gone through this process, and are dependent solely on what the APP and GC "officially" provides, you might be "lucky" enough to do an AdLab involving driving several miles between stages, only to later find that you drove right past several stages from adjoining AdLabs. But, you might not find that out until after you completed the first AdLab, selected the next, and then saw that you have to drive some or most of the exact same route AGAIN. Further, you can enjoy the experience of having one or more "deja vu moments" as you revisit places you just visited, as you find out that a different AdLab uses the same spot.


Yes, this happened several times on my recent trip---almost! Because I was fortunate in having earlier downloaded stage data, I was able to use GSAK to organize and download the locations to my GPSr, and thus knew where shared stages existed. In fact, I was at the stage of one AdLab, was walking back to the geomobile,, when I looked at my GPSr and surprised myself by seeing AdLab's stage right at the spot I just left. Thankfully, I only had to turn around and walk back about 100 ft to grab the other stage.


Only, it wasn't that simple. The AdLab I had selected on the APP is good about showing me which stage of that AdLab I am at. However, that is because I originally selected that AdLab and it was following my progress. When I realized that I was at a stage for a DIFFERENT AdLab, the situation again became "interesting" (i.e., frustrating). The APP only tells you about the stages for an AdLab that you have selected. It does not tell you about any other stages for other AdLabs unless you specifically select that Adlab.


Unless you are using the selected AdLab, the APP only shows the STARTING location of the other AdLabs (more on this later). As a result, the "extra" stage you just encountered may belong to an AdLab whose starting location is 20 miles away, and the stage doesn't tell you which AdLab it belongs to. So, while you now know that this stage is shared, the AdLab is of little use in knowing as to which AdLab (of the 40 or so in the area) it belongs to, and you may find yourself playing "is this it?" a number of times before hitting on the correct AdLab to finish the stage.


Yes, yes, I know you're thinking that I'm supposed to do one AdLab at a time, which appears to be the current design philosophy, and yes, I was shirking around that philosophy by heretically going after more than one AdLab at the same time. And yes, since I deviated from the design philosophy, I bear the responsibility for the extra work that it entailed.


So, how did I handle it?


Knowing the APP limitations (from previous experience) regarding linking stages with multiple AdLabs, and being fortunate to have had the stages in GSAK as well as in a spreadsheet, I had constructed (before my trip) a cross-reference of all the stage names, their locations, and the name of the AdLab to which each stage belonged. It was then a relatively simple matter to look at the stage name now in the GPSr, check the cross-reference for the name of its respective AdLab, back out of the current AdLab, select the other AdLab, and then answer the question from the other AdLab.


I then had to re-enter the AdLab of whatever stage I was going to go to next, following my planned route.


BTW, did I mention that I did some "normal" geocaches while doing these AdLabs? That was possible mostly because I was able to merge the AdLab data previously mentioned with a "normal" Pocket Query and had the merged data in my GPSr. This way I could see the AdLab stages as well as the "normal" caches, and this worked rather well. Without the aforementioned AdLab data, I would have had to flip-flop between devices or APPS which, as you'd know if you'd tried it, is exceedingly frustrating.


I should note that I did use two devices, and that worked well. I used my GPSr to navigate to each stage, noted the next, and then turned to the APP to read the stage text and answer the question.


Although one might consider it "nice" to use only one device (i.e., the smartphone with the APP) to do everything, I still prefer to use my GPSr for positional activities. I will not get into a discussion here about which is better, as everyone has their own opinion. All I'll say is that in my experience, the APP will often have me going in circles trying to home-in on a set of coordinates, while my GPSr generally leads me straight to the spot with little fuss. Your results may vary.


Next chapter: Starting Locations


Maybe more after Midwest Geobash!

Link to comment
1 hour ago, TommyGator said:

Yes, yes, I know you're thinking that I'm supposed to do one AdLab at a time, which appears to be the current design philosophy, and yes, I was shirking around that philosophy by heretically going after more than one AdLab at the same time. And yes, since I deviated from the design philosophy, I bear the responsibility for the extra work that it entailed.


Hum as far as I know only Groundspeak thinks that we should only do 1 Adlab at a time. Nobody else.


We all agree on this forum that we should be able to do more than 1 at a time to save time and fuel. Sadly Groundspeak doesn't agree.

  • Upvote 3
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...