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Geotoad


lowracer
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I know that this is probably going to start some huge fight over open source software, but here goes: As shady as this is, I don't think there is too much that can be done. It is open source software (source code is freely available, and the software is not for profit) that is expediting the searches that non-premium members do and has the ability to filter them a little bit better. Now when I say filters them a little bit better, I don't mean to say that the search on geocaching.com isn't adequate, what I am saying is that if a non-premium member searches for all caches within x miles of zip 12345 but only wants to see ones that have travel bugs, there isn't a way to search with that filter, the person would have to physically look for all the caches that come up that also have the travelbug icon; but geotoad can do that for them.

 

I am in no way approving of the software as I am not a premium member yet (currently have no GPS but will become premium when I order my 60cs or 76cs sometime in the next week when I finally figure out which one I want) and therefore have no knowledge of pocket queries and what can and can not be searched for with them. For all I know, Geotoad could be a better search, or pocket queries could do a much better job, I have never personally used either, so I don't know. What I do know is that whoever uses Geotoad will have to deal with their own moral dilemma, some people could use it with no problem, others would have a tough time using it knowing they weren't paying for it.

 

On the other hand, has anyone thought that this could be a way for non-premium members or newbies to figure out if they geocache enough to pay for a premium membership? Someone that doesn't do a lot of caching could use Geotoad to do an exact search, if they have already caught the caching bug and rush out to find all of them, they know they would use pocket queries and get a premium membership. If the person gets the list and it sits untouched for a month, they know they wouldn't use the premium membership and save themselves 30 bucks.

 

Now I don't want this to come back to bite me you know where, so I am just going to say this: Geotoad is an interesting program, I am going to research it more, but regardless of whether or not I end up using it, I am still going to become a premium member and help keep the geocaching web site up and running.

 

Now with that being said, at least the Geotoad makers have some good intentions, I took this directly from their website: "GeoToad uses a new P2P webpage caching system named shadowfetch. This makes it so that people who use GeoToad actually share their results with other users. This, along with time delays, helps the fine folks at Geocaching.com keep their bandwidth costs down and their CPU cycles lower."

 

*DING DING* There's the bell, let the fighting begin! :(

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I hope once geocaching.com will have a large enough bandwidth and stronger hardware background so that real-time queries will be possible. Frankly, the e-mail only query system seems quite a bit outdated. It's something that would have been state-of-the-art maybe in 1991, but not in 2004. It's ridiculous if you ask me. Therefore I'm not surprised at all that people use tools like GeoToad.

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You actually have 3 options for getting the results of PQ's. The first ,and probably the most widely used, is to have a pre-defined PQ set to run automatically the same day of every week and deliver the results via email. For example, I have one to run every Friday to find the closet 450 active caches I have not found. This set's me up for the weekend. The second method is similar to the first. Instead of being done automatically, you create a new PQ and have it delivered by email. The email usually arrives within minutes of the request. The third can be used with either the first or second method. There is an option to preview the query. This will give you a list on gc.com similar to any other search that can be done.

 

Two and three appear to be real-time to me. All three of these methods are great reasons to become a Premium Member.

Edited by GeoGeorge
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I thought it was a pretty good software effort.

The DOS interface is kind of clunky... if they would update that to a "real" windoz interface it would be great.

Having a hard time finding where it stashed the final file.....

 

On a scale of 1 to 10 .... I'd say about an 8.

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GeoToad does not let you search for benchmarks. However, it is an open source project so if you want to write some code for this, go for it.

 

It is my understanding that the program puts a delay between each request to the server and this delay can be lengthened if desired. Further, if your request is expected to retrieve more than 350 caches, an extra 15 second delay is imposed between hits. There is a feature called shadowfetch that caches all requests to geocaching.com so that subsequent searches do not even hit the geocaching.com servers. For example, I ran a query yesterday morning and 98% of the caches were retrieved from 'local' instead of from geocaching.com.

 

I am not affiliated with the GeoToad project in any way, just a happy GeoToad user. If ultimately Seattle rules against GeoToad, I hope they'll roll in all the features of this program into the pocket query system.

 

I have written a quick intro to GeoToad for our local caching group. Might as well post it here. Let me know if you find it helpful:

 

http://home.austin.rr.com/lowracer/GeoToadIntro/

 

-mark.

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The DOS interface is kind of clunky... if they would update that to a "real" windoz interface it would be great.

If the developer had a Windoze machine, I'd imagine he would. He's an OS X man, mainly.

 

I know what it's like from the other side of that fence... I have a Windoze machine with compilers on it, so I was able to do one of those for the CacheMate file converter. To support most everything else, I did a portable command line version that others have written GUI wrappers around for other platforms (OS X being one of those). If I had an OS X machine, I'd write a "real" OS X version of the program, but I don't.

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I would like to hear the TPTB's opinion about it. If you read the geocaching.com Terms of Use document, it says:

 

"You agree that you will not use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Site for any purpose without our express written permission."

 

GeoToad is definitely a scraper, definitely an automated means, therefore unless TPTB expressly says that it is OK to use it, I think we should consider its use as a violation of the Terms of Use.

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Looks like TPTB have weighed in on this...just not here in the forums:

 

From the GeoToad Site:

Big news!

04aug2004 15:00

 

We've got four big news items! First, we've moved GeoToad to sf.net. This was supposed to happen a few weeks ago, but I guess I was inspired today. The second cool thing is lowracer wrote a very cool Introduction to Geotoad article.

 

The third item is of concern. Bryan Roth (cofounder of Geocaching.com) has asked me to terminate the distribution of GeoToad. I am currently reviewing my options regarding this. I will do whatever it takes to reach an agreement with the GC team to keep this project going, which hopefully will just mean modifying GeoToad to check and make sure the user has a valid subscription to their site.

 

The fourth item is that I am about to leave on vacation to Europe. I'll be out of reach until August 23rd. Don't expect GeoToad 3.8 till September.

 

And yes, the local cachers do appreciate Lowracer's work on the intro....even those of us who couldn't make the geekfest event!

 

[edited to update new text from GeoToad's site]

Edited by KoosKoos
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So the proper thing to do is to stop using the program.

 

Meanwhile, let those of us who have used and enjoyed the program insist loudly and clearly that Groundspeak incorporate the features of GeoToad into the Geocaching.com website in the form of enhanced pocket queries. And soon.

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Well, if geocaching.com is going to use it's list of caches as muscle against someone's open-source software, i'll be happy to remove all my planted caches from the database.

 

I'd like to see some negotiation here, not just a "Cease and desist" order. The site, code, name may belong to Groundspeak, but the caches aren't their property to be used as legal leverage.

 

I don't think that's too much to ask. *shrug*

Edited by Lasivian
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Why pocket queries? I want to download the gpx files directly from the website. Don't stuff them into my mailbox, please.

I agree with that. Pocket Queries are large files to be getting in my mailbox. Besides, don't you have to wait until they're delivered? It's not an instant thing, like Geotoad, is it?

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I think you all need to understand the impact of what the tool did. A website needs to support users where they request data and then process it. Ready a web page might require a good amount of processing on the server, the data to be send, and then a user (human) processes the web page which takes a while. Having a computer process the data doesn't take a while and would put tremendous stress on the gc.com infrastructure and likely bring it to its needs with just a relatively small number of folks actively pounding on it.

 

PQs are different... and more like the scenario above - a bit of processing and then the human interacts (for a long time) with the PQ.

 

Create PQs of whatever you want (up to 2500 caches a day). You shouldn't need more then last nights "view" of the cache. And why would you need to stay updated more then last nights view of 2500 caches?

 

Maybe if there was some need I'm not aware of, I'd understand where the PQ doesn't meet your need.

 

David

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Ok - just downloaded, extracted and ran my first GeoToad to see what might be unique.

 

Maybe I should wait to see what others post as their reason for using it, but with a premium subscription and PQs, I think you get what GeoToad can provide and much more. Well, I should say the PQ is just data, so you would need to add a program like GSAK or another GPX manipulation program which gives you what GeoToad does and, from what I saw, MUCH more flexibility.

 

I ran a query for caches within 10 miles of my house that I haven't found and to output it in GPX format. It took a while to run (minutes) and I have a fast machine and a fast internet connection. For me to do the same thing in GSAK would take 1 second.

 

I imagine if you wanted to be FTF and you ran the FTF process every hour, it would be useful to you. Or, if you didn't have a premium subscription, it's a way around becoming a premium member and getting the PQ/GPX abilities.

 

But please, let me know what I'm missing that wasn't obvious from reviewing the main screen or the very detailed PPT presentation lowracer did.

 

David

Edited by Team DEMP
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I wanted to let everyone here know that I have replied to the letter sent to me earlier today regarding GeoToad. I'm trying to work out an arrangement with the Geocaching.com team in order to preserve the future of the open source GeoToad toolkit. Suffice to say, this will most likely require that GeoToad be crippled for non-premium members. This was a feature that I had planned on adding, so it does not upset me in the least. While I do not agree with the letter, I will do whatever it takes to make GeoToad compatible with their requirements.

 

Team DEMP referred to the poor performance of GeoToad. This (along with other techniques) is done on purpose to minimize the load on the Geocaching.com servers. It's what being a good net citizen is all about.

 

Team DEMP asked about what features make GeoToad unique. Some of the info below may be out of date, so please excuse:

 

* First of all, GeoToad can output Geocaching output to more formats than anything else on the planet. GeoToad was written before Pocket Queries as a tool to save Geocache information onto my iPod.

 

* GeoToad allows you to include and exclude people who have found the cache. I go geocaching a lot with my girlfriend, and sometimes I want to compete with her (include only caches she's done, but not ones I've done), and sometimes I want to collaborate with her (exclude caches done by either of us).

 

* GeoToad allows you to exclude people who have placed the cache. WE4NC's caches always bugged me, so I added this.

 

* Full keyword searches. GeoToad can search keywords from the comments or cache description to make your match. You are not restricted to simple keywords, but complex regular expressions as well.

 

* Filter by if anyone has found the cache, or how long ago it was placed or visited. Sometimes I want to only pick caches that I know are easy (difficulty 3 or lower, found in the last 60 days), or the newest caches.

 

One of the most interesting (and controversial) features that is disabled by default in 3.7.1 is "comment ratings". You can filter caches out by how positive it's finders have been about finding (or not finding it). It's disabled because 3.7.1's implementation sucks. In 3.8, we're using an external library to grade whether or not a paragraph is overly positive or not, modeled after Spam Assasin's spam detection.

 

GeoToad 4.0 has more innovation in store (especially regarding interfaces and devices). I hope to work with the Geocaching.com team to make it's release work well within their framework, and maybe even have it integrated into their product lineup as a Premium only feature.

 

I hope this answers some of your questions.

 

/ Thomas

Edited by helixblue
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C O Admin said:

 

"protecting it's rights to its database"

 

It keeps a database, but it does not own the caches. If I choose to remove all my caches I can do so, Groundspeak does not own them.

 

I don't want to be this way, but the box in the desert is MINE, and if geocaching.com is going to say "The database is MINE!" and not try to work anyone then I can do the same.

Edited by Lasivian
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I think a lot of the features you listed to manipulate caches do exist in other programs. I know they do in GSAK, the program I've switched to from others I was using previously. I think the only thing GSAK doesn't *currently* do that you listed was include/exclude caches based on those that others have found/not found. I'm sure other GPX programs have many/most of those features.

 

I think it's neat that you wrote it, but I can definitely see (and I commented why to another individual from this thread that emailed me privately) how much of an impact this could have on the system compared to a generated PQ.

 

And for those others commenting on who "owns" the listing... gc.com owns the listing. You own the cache... they own the listing. Yes, you can always archive your cache, but your cache listing and those that logged it remains.

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C O Admin said:

 

"protecting it's rights to its database"

 

It keeps a database, but it does not own the caches. If I choose to remove all my caches I can do so, Groundspeak does not own them.

 

I don't want to be this way, but the box in the desert is MINE, and if geocaching.com is going to say "The database is MINE!" and not try to work anyone then I can do the same.

Yes you can, you always could. Geocaching.com is a listing service and has a right to protect that service. Just as you have the right to list your caches anywhere you want. You simply have to agree to that sites terms of use. If you do not agree then you do not have to list with them. No one is forcing you to list your caches anywhere. You can even list your cache on your own website and make up your own Terms of Service. It is your right. But when you go to someones house you play by their rules. Its that simple. The box in the desert has ALWAYS been yours. Where you choose to list it is also your choice. List with Navacache you play by their rules. List with opencacheing.com you play by their rules. Same for Geocaching,com. it has ALWAYS been your cache and always will.

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Sure, I can go where I want, but at one time geocaching.com was the best site, and had a desire to work with it's users to accomplish what they wanted.

 

Now i'm seeing it more as a bully that just want's it's own way in things.

 

If not for the users they have no database, but they seem so willing to blindly turn their back on them now.

Edited by Lasivian
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So your response is simply:

 

"This is how we're going to play, we don't have to work with anyone or explain ourselves, it's OUR site. We say he can't do it, we refuse to negotiate, we're going to sue him to stop."

 

Is this about right?

Not sure who you are directing your posts to. I think the email that was posted was sent from a lawyer representing Groundspeak (Geocaching.com). I don't think any employee of GC.com has posted in this thread.

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Sure, I can go where I want, but at one time geocaching.com was the best site, and had a desire to work with it's users to accomplish what they wanted.

 

Now i'm seeing it more as a bully that just want's it's own way in things.

 

If not for the users they have no database, but they seem so willing to blindly turn their back on them now.

money greed pride

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Sure, I can go where I want, but at one time geocaching.com was the best site, and had a desire to work with it's users to accomplish what they wanted.

 

Now i'm seeing it more as a bully that just want's it's own way in things.

 

If not for the users they have no database, but they seem so willing to blindly turn their back on them now.

money greed pride

Riiiight.

How about we ALL give up PQs, which run off a different server/database so as to not add load to the webserver, and use this app or another one like it for free. That will show them! It's our caches!

 

Of course, if we all did that, then who would pay the thousands of dollars a month like this costs just to keep online, forget about improve?

 

If not for the database here, most of us would not be geocaching.

 

I Guess TPTB could try and load it full of ads, make it like Yahoo groups where you have to click thru an ad before you can read a msg. I doubt even that would keep it going for long, so they would probably have to pull the plug on the site. But who cares, we still have our caches, right?

Sometimes trying to save money is very expensive.

Edited by Mopar
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I like Geotoad, if GC.com kills it, another way will be found, until that's killed, then another way will be found, and so on and so on.

Let's see... you pay for your GPS, your car, the gas in your car, the insurance on your car, the clothes you wear, the boots you walk in, the ISP you use to access gc.com, the backpack you carry, the SWAG you place in caches, and on and on.

 

What I can't understand is why do some folks have a problem paying for the ability to access the listing of caches that are the foundation of the entire hobby?

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