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skillett

Paperless Benchmark Hunting

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I figured out how to do paperless benchmark hunting today. Just go to the NGS datasheet and save it as an HTML file then use plucker to get it ready for the PDA then hotsync and your done! I guess you could cut and paste to make the file smaller so as to have more room. But I haven't tried it yet. It shure beats lugging all that paper around!

WAY COOL!

skillett

;)

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skillett -

 

If it works for you, more power. But, PDAs are cooler than 7.5 minute quads? No way!

 

Will

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What is he world coming to? They try to eliminate paper and then make the Cookie Monster become politically correct?

 

I gotta get Mark Knopfler to rewrite Money for Nothing so as to include the new line, I want my, I want my, I want my datasheeeet!

 

Sheesh!

 

:-)

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Skillett

Which pda are you using? I am kicking around getting a IIIXe. I don't know anyone around here who is using a pda. I use a laptop currently with USAPhotomaps and NGS datapages saved into a spreadsheet. Works great when I'm driving but with Summer coming I like to ride my mtb. My laptop is light but not THAT light!

 

ooh ooh new lyrics: I ride my, I ride my mtb :(

Edited by mrh - terre haute

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I have all the datasheets for my state split up by county, with each county being a seperate "channel" in Plucker.

 

I'm hoping to make the switch over to CacheMate for benchmarks, since that will give me the ability to upload the waypoints and make notes, while my current set-up is read-only for data and requires a seperate app for waypoint uploads.

 

All that being said, I usually make a hard copy for any triangulation stations I attempt, since it's a bit easier to jump back and forth between all the different references that are mentioned (a bit difficult on a small pda screen). I also may print a map with a bearing line and estimated location for the AZ mark. That usually takes a bit more study than regular RMs, where a compass and tape measure are adequate (assuming you locate the main station).

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For most of my benchmarks and caches I use a compaq iPAQ. It has internet explorer built in. If it is a fairly easy mark (Colorado Dept of Transportation etc) the html output of GSAK is all I need. If it is one that I need the original data sheet I just save the page from NGS as an html and transfer it into the hand-held.

I can keep the descriptions of several hundred BMs in the memory so if I have a few minutes I can check things out and see if I can do a recovery.

The other real handy thing about the iPAQ is the voice recording feature for taking a quick note.

I also purchased a waterproof case with lanyard for it. The back of the "bag" is closed cell foam so it will theoretically float.

 

I also have a Compact Flash GPSr module for it and have the hand-held version of National Geographic Topo maps. The GPSr module will monitor the DGPS signals and WAAS. In most areas locally my resolution is less than a meter all the time.

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What is he world coming to?  They try to eliminate paper and then make the Cookie Monster become politically correct? 

 

I gotta get Mark Knopfler to rewrite Money for Nothing so as to include the new line, I want my, I want my, I want my datasheeeet!

 

Sheesh!

 

:-)

SHEESH MAN! lighten up a little. I am not saying the whloe world has to go paperless. as a matter of fact I wouldn't go COMPLETLY paperless my self. The quads are a good source of BM info. as a matter of fact I find them considerably more convenient that trying to use the database here. I just look on the map go to the NGS database and type in the PID for the BM I'm looking for and get the datasheet then put it on the pda. I have enough stuff to keep up with and every peice of paper I can eliminate the better I lkie it. ( My car eats paper. sometimes i think it runs on the stuff)

skillett <_<

Edited by skillett

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Skillett

Which pda are you using? I am kicking around getting a IIIXe. I don't know anyone around here who is using a pda. I use a laptop currently with USAPhotomaps and NGS datapages saved into a spreadsheet. Works great when I'm driving but with Summer coming I like to ride my mtb. My laptop is light but not THAT light!

 

ooh ooh new lyrics: I ride my, I ride my mtb <_<

I'm using an old Palm III. Not a lot of bells and whistles or memory for that matter. I have used delorme street atlas 5 in the past to load maps into the PDA But haven't tried it with a benchmark yet. A Printed map is a lot easier to read when you're going down the road. There is one thing I would like to figure out how to do though. That is how to easily eliminate the print at the beginning of each line that has the PId of the benchmark. I would make the datasheet easier to read on the PDA. BTW do you save the datasheet as a comma delimited text file? if so how. I tried importing one into excel and it worked ok but if I could import it into a spreadsheet and eliminate the column with the PID THEN save as html that would be great.

skillett :blink:

Edited by skillett

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Downloading all of the datasheets for my county into Cachemate was one of the reasons I bought my Palm Tungsten T5, since I didn't want to carry around a thousand pages of printouts. (Obviously it wasn't the only reason or I would have bought a cheaper Palm.) The Bluetooth hotsynch is a pretty useful feature, particularly if you're updating Cachemate with new/updated cache info.

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Been almost completely paperless for benchmarks (and caches) or 6+ months. Palm Tungsten T3, Cachemate, GSAK, BMGPS, NGS County DAT files (in reverse order). Works very nicely. There are some links to the details on HERE. Scan down, the topic wandered. Good tutorial from Artman on the Cachemate route. Anyone wants, I can help as well.

Klemmer

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Skillet,

 

I guess that smile I put at the bottom of my post was not enough for you to catch my attempt at humor...

 

So *Ahem* <<I was attempting to be a little funny there.>> Out of character for me I know...

 

So Sheesh! In fact don't make me become one of the knights who say Nee, and say Nee unto you, until you appease me...

 

Now, go get me, A Shrubbery!

 

Rob

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Skillet,

 

I guess that smile I put at the bottom of my post was not enough for you to catch my attempt at humor...

 

So *Ahem*  <<I was attempting to be a little funny there.>>  Out of character for me I know...

 

So Sheesh! In fact don't make me become one of the knights who say Nee, and say Nee unto you, until you appease me... 

 

Now, go get me, A Shrubbery!

 

Rob

Yeah I guess I jumped the gun on that one. But the first 2 replys to an innocent post seemed derogatory to me. I guess I was just being over sensitive.after I reread your reply I saw the smiley and figured it out. guess i'm not the brightest bulb in the pack. Would you prefer Boxwood or Holly :laughing:

skillett :)

Edited by skillett

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I use a PDA with built-in GPS receiver. Have not tried downloading the data sheets, but that seems cool.

 

With the new M5 by Garmin, you can download waypoints from your PC. The previous model, iQue3600, does not have this ability. The upside is excellent accuracy, with WAAS. And lots of storage for maps on the SD cards.

 

The downside to a PDA/GPS is that it is an expensive tool to lug through the woods and over rocks. (Suggested retail $799).

 

Hmmm. On the other hand, perhaps it isn't THAT bad. I ran into two guys this afternoon taking GPS readings on a handheld. They claimed it was very very accurate. It should be. They paid $2,500 for it!

 

-Paul-

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The way I get the NGS datapages into a spreadsheet (in my case 1-2-3) is to search by either county or quad. Once the data has finsihed loading into IE I use Edit>Select All followed by Edit>Copy. Then on a blank page in 1-2-3 I use Edit>Paste Special. Using Paste Special gives me the option to paste in HTML or Text. I select Text and Paste. I save the workbook with the name of the county or quad. I could just use Save As from IE and save as an html file but I like having the data in a spreadsheet. I can go through the page and name ranges for each PID then I can use Range>Go To to easily get to the datapage for each PID. Once in a while I will download the geocaching page since the finds tend to be more recent and I like the formatting. There's just way too many benchmarks to do that when I can grab a county at a time from NGS.

 

This system works great for me but is just weighs too much to haul around on a bike. Am I wrong here because it seems from what I've read it really doesn't take a huge investment to get this done. I've seen IIIxE's for $50 - $75. Or would that be enough of a machine?

 

After reading this I left out that doing the Save As html file in IE allows me the opportunity to use the saved file with BMGPX to generate a gpx file containing all the marks for the county, if I hadn't done it previously.

Edited by mrh - terre haute

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Skillett,

 

Nee!

 

One that is not too tall and looks really nice! :-)

 

Thanks!

 

Rob

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Been paperless benchmarking for a while now.

 

Down load data sheets by county:

Data Sheets

 

Program to convert data sheets file into GPX (drag and drop):

Conversion Program

 

Then I use GPX Sonar to open the GPX files. I can carry the whole state of Texas on my PPC with no work and no problem.

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skillett -

 

I'm sorry to hear that you interpreted my post as derogatory. I certainly didn't mean to be derogatory. But I'm an old-fashioned, analog kind of person and I really love toposheets. I'm so technologically unsophisticated that I don't even know how to make those smiley-face emoticons show up at the end of my posts. So, please accept my apology for causing you even an instant of grief.

 

Now, don't get me wrong; I can be derogatory. But I wasn't when I said that PDA's are not as cool as quads. It's just that they're not, is all.

 

[imagine smiley-face here]

 

Will

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skillett -

 

I'm sorry to hear that you interpreted my post as derogatory.  I certainly didn't mean to be derogatory.  But I'm an old-fashioned, analog kind of person and I really love toposheets. I'm so technologically unsophisticated that I don't even know how to make those smiley-face emoticons show up at the end of my posts.  So, please accept my apology for causing you even an instant of grief.

 

Now, don't get me wrong; I can be derogatory.  But I wasn't when I said that PDA's are not as cool as quads.  It's just that they're not, is all. 

 

[imagine smiley-face here] 

 

Will

As in a previous reply I guess I am overly sensitive. I guess I need to Man up a little.

I agree with you on the quads. They are a lot easier to find benchmarks on that the databases. I got a quad for my area and there are a lot of them close to me that i didn't know about. I just use the PDA for the datasheets. I find it more convienent than having a bunch of sheets fo paper and trying to shuffle them around on a windy day. Unless I spent a LOT more money than I am willing to spend. I will continue to use paper maps. BEsides have you ever tried to read a PDA on a Sunny day. IT ain't easy pal.

regards,

Skillett :huh:

P.S. just click on the clickable smiles on the left of the text window and they will be put into your replies. But, you wont see them until you actually post the reply. You will only see the HTML code for them :huh:

Edited by skillett

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Yeah some of us are just old fashioned paper lovers who prefer the typed smiley's over the emoticons... I only use emoticons in completely arbitrary circumstances which can be related to absolutely nothing at all, except for when I don't.

 

I like analog clocks and radios that have dials on them too. But I will be keeping my iPod, thanks.

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I paperless benchmark hunt, I use CacheMate to view the data...

 

I get my data sheets from the official site and run then through parkrrr's bmgpx to turn them to gpx files.

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I like using paper. I can read it in the sun or in the shade. It doesn't matter a whole lot if it rains on it or if I get it muddy. I like to draw diagrams on it, write notes on it, cross stuff out, insert words and numbers in the text, and even measure stuff with it.

 

If anyone is suspicious of what I'm doing, I can show them my papers. :) I like to take NGS datasheets, and I make a point to also take along a couple of geocaching datasheets too. Who can remain suspicious of someone who's carrying papers with a cute little froggie on them?! If a fun froggie is a no-go, then I can talk about the seriousness of reporting to the NGS. Whichever kind of paper makes someone feel OK.

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Skillett

Which pda are you using? I am kicking around getting a IIIXe...QUOTE]

 

I recently picked up a IIIxe on eBay for $60 and still learning how to make the best use of it. I bought and loaded up Cachmate (great prog.) I think the 8mb will be enough for you. I have just under 1800 (way too many :mad: ) caches loaded up in Cachemate which takes up 3.5mb. The benchmark hunting thing is really growing on me and see myself doing more of those than caches in the future so I'll probably narrow down the scope of my cache hunting to 100-150 at any one time. This will leave more room on the pda for NGS datasheet files. I like your idea of keeping the info in a spreadsheet. Will need to find a Palm OS4.1 app for this. Anyone know of a good one - preferably free ?;)

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Just a quick update. I went to palmone.com and got a Zire 21 from the Factory Outlet. Doesn't have a lot of the bells and whistles but I can't see any use for this thing beyond geocaching. It'll cost around $60 with freight and $8 for cachemate fits the budget. :mad:

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Okay guys. This for the MACs. I open the benchmark page. Copy the text. Paste it into Word. Save it (as the benchmark name). Then place it in "Documents to Go" and snyc it to my Zire 21. The file sizes are only about 4k each. This is working great, and the car looks much better after an outing.

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I'm using an iBook with a Visor palm running cachemate.

 

I DL the datasheets from NGS, and using a PC *sigh*, I run BMGPX to get a gpx file. MacCMConvert does an excellent job at taking the GPX file, converting, and sending it to the Palm. Sync, and I'm good to go.

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Fwiw, I have no problem with any of these methods, but I would like to advocate that you try not to omit any data fields from the data sheet. Download it all and take it all with you. Many people here have learned how to read the datasheet and have found it has a lot of great info on it that tells a lot more of the story about the station than one may think. If you are looking for clues, many of them are on there.

 

As a thought about the Paper. The datasheet you print, if you get it from the NGS website is an official datasheet. Some of have had the "Official-ness" help us access and egress form this situation or that. So I am not sure how official it looks on the screen of your PDA but keep that in mind just in case someday. You never know.

 

Rob

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maconart

 

what do you use to open the Word file once you have it on the Zire? Is there some kind of spreadsheet that comes bundled with the unit. I have a whole bunch of spreadsheets containing marks for entire counties. I have no idea what I'm getting as far as software goes. I just figured I'd use Cachemate to organize everything.

 

mrh

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terre haute

 

I purchased "Documents to Go" from www.dataviz.com. It is a small Palm program. I tried it for a month for free then purchased the low level version for $29.95.

 

You can open the program on your computer. Add the word documents. Organize them as "Benchmarks" Untitled etc. and syn it to your palm. The Palm program shows up as a program called Documents. So when I find a Benchmark, I change the mark as "Found" and it files it there. At the end of the day, I open the "Found" category and there they are.

Edited by maconart

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I have a Sony Clie, which uses the Palm OS.

 

I'd like to upload topo map segments created by USAPhotoMaps in .jpg format that I can then scroll around, but which will appear full size in my hi-res display.

 

Can someone suggest a (preferably free) program that will allow me to do this?

______

 

Separately, I've figured out how to take a county's worth of NGS datasheets

-- create a .gpx file using BMGPX

-- import into GSAK

-- export into .html

-- process with PLUCKER

-- transfer to my PDA

 

This gives me a (barely) useable way of having a large number of datasheets at hand on my PDA. However, I have two problems: (1) The datasheets have lots of extraneous info, and (2) the resulting PDA pages are geographically dumb, i.e., no graphical display that shows stations in relation to each other, no way to search for nearby benchmarks, etc.

 

I know some folks have written PERL scripts to strip out unwanted parts of datasheets. I tried to teach myself a little PERL, and I know 7th graders can learn it with ease, but this geezer had trouble with it. Knowing the legendary kindness benchmarkers have toward strangers, perhaps someone would be generous enough to share a script with me? Perhaps we could establish an archive of such tools?

 

As to (2) above, I think I may be looking for more functionality than a mere PDA can furnish, but I'll just ask if there are any solutions.

______

 

I'm still not convinced that I want to abandon my clipboard and pen, but I do feel I should give paperless benchmarking a decent chance.

 

-ArtMan-

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Is there some kind of spreadsheet that comes bundled with the unit. I have a whole bunch of spreadsheets containing marks for entire counties. 

For PDAs running the Palm OS, a quick Google search turned up a list of several database and spreadsheet programs. There are almost certainly others. Some of these offer free trials, so you may want to experiment.

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Artman wanted a way to add maps .jpgs to a PDA. The earlier mentioned "Documents to Go" from DataViz allows "Pics to Go". It is on the premium edition ???49.95????.

 

Here is an exert from the "help" file:

 

Pics To go

As part of Documents To Go Premium Edition, Pics To Go extends the handheld support of Documents To Go to include graphic files. These files will synchronize to the handheld in the same manner as your word processing, spreadsheet, and slideshow files. Pics To Go files will appear in the Documents To Go application in the list of files, sortable by category and file format. Pics To Go supports Native JPG and BMP graphic file types. There are two Zoom levels available in Pics To Go:"Fit To Screen" and "Zoom In." Pics To Go also provides support for those Palm devices with landscape and portrait virtual graffiti areas. Pics To Go will support pictures taken on devices which have built in cameras*.

 

ArtMan this may fit your need.

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Artman

 

I like your workflow. One question I have (not having worked with the GSAK html files) is, when you generate html from the gpx file. Is it one file or one file for each mark? I haven't done much looking into Plucker yet. From what I gather it is an html viewer?

 

Also, I hadn't considered the idea of saving jpg images out of USAPM to use on the PDA, good one. So now what we need is a free jpg viewer. :laughing: For now I've got to google me some spreadsheet apps. Thanks

 

mrh

 

One other question: if we eliminate all the paper from our benchmark hunting, what do we do when we're out there and nature calls? turn off the cellphone and keep hunting :unsure:

Edited by mrh - terre haute

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Artman,

follow this link for a way to strip extra data from datasheets and convert a spread sheet. I have been following the instructions and although I dont want a whole counties data I can also "Grab" any datasheet or combo of datasheets and do the same thing. I would save the resulting spreadsheet as an HTML file then use plucker to export it to your pda

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=97962

Hope this helps

Skillett :D

Edited by skillett

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Skillett

 

I think I'm ready to ditch the spreadsheet in favor of the NGS.dat file in html format, which for some reason is the format IE thinks I should should be saving the file in anyway. Thanks! I think this "paperless" is going to work great :D

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when I started this thread I was excited that I had found a simple to get datasheets into my pda. it was a simple 2 step process but, the data sheets had the PID at the beginning of each line that threw off the format of the datasheet when put on the pda. making it hard to read. I have learned much through the replies to this post. I had been searching for a way to eliminate the PID at the beggining of each line to make formatting easier.. there was a recent post that explained how to do that. I posted the link here yesterday. I do not want a whole counties worth of benchmarks at once I only wanted a few of the BM's I was going to hunt that day. I learned of a product called dswin from the NGS that fit the bill and it's FREE!. I encourage any one interested in going to paperless datasheets to get this program and experiment with it. I dont care about having a spreadsheet format because I use one datasheet at a time anyway. I like dswin because it easily lets me eliminate the column with the PID and makes datasheets easier to read on my PDA. As we all know the GPS coords on datasheets are usually way off and we all depend on descriptions to find the marks. So thanks to you all for the repiles to my post. I have learned a lot from all of you.

Skillett :unsure:

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Skillett,

I have an issue I can't resolve with Cachemate. I am trying to hotsynch a pdb from GSAK. When I open Cachemate all I get for a benchmark name is the station name i.e. X217 instead of the PID. I have set GSAK to use %code which is the PID in my database. Any ideas? All software is registered b-t-w.

 

mrh

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Skillett,

I have an issue I can't resolve with Cachemate. I am trying to hotsynch a pdb from GSAK. When I open Cachemate all I get for a benchmark name is the station name i.e. X217 instead of the PID. I have set GSAK to use %code which is the PID in my database. Any ideas? All software is registered b-t-w.

 

mrh

Sorry I can't help you with that one. I have Gsak but don't use it that much and am not familiar with it. The process I described in my first post was a simple one. Just 2 steps. The only thing I didn't like was that it put the PID that is in front of every line on the datasheet in with it. check up this thread for another post I found about using dswin.. you may have to experiment with to get just the data you want. I don't use cachemate for this process I use Plucker which is a free HTML viewer for a PDA. Sorry I couldn't help.

skillett :o

Edited by skillett

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Separately, I've figured out how to take a county's worth of NGS datasheets

-- create a .gpx file using BMGPX

-- import into GSAK

-- export into .html

-- process with PLUCKER

-- transfer to my PDA

 

This gives me a (barely) useable way of having a large number of datasheets at hand on my PDA. However, I have two problems: (1) The datasheets have lots of extraneous info, and (2) the resulting PDA pages are geographically dumb, i.e., no graphical display that shows stations in relation to each other, no way to search for nearby benchmarks, etc.

 

I know some folks have written PERL scripts to strip out unwanted parts of datasheets. I tried to teach myself a little PERL, and I know 7th graders can learn it with ease, but this geezer had trouble with it. Knowing the legendary kindness benchmarkers have toward strangers, perhaps someone would be generous enough to share a script with me? Perhaps we could establish an archive of such tools?

 

As to (2) above, I think I may be looking for more functionality than a mere PDA can furnish, but I'll just ask if there are any solutions.

I can't help too much on the first item...I recalled using some sort of freebie automatic text editor suggested on these boards (can't find the name of it right now) and I was able to meet with moderate success, but I couldn't get it to *not* take out some things that I wanted to keep...ultimately I gave up on it and contnue to wade through the output.

 

On the second item, though, I would think that GSAK already has you covered. At the end of each html page for every datasheet, there should be a listing of the closest BMs. The default number of 5 can be changed in the nearby caches settings in the export html dialog box.

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I went the paperless route this weekend for the first time. Plucker was by far more useful than Cachemate. This is due to my being a regular member. Therefore by gpx files were out of EasyGPS so all the logs and hints were excluded. Where Cachemate trumped Plucker was in doing solve-the-puzzle-fill-in-the-blank multicaches. For benchmark hunting the geocaching datasheets will have to do. I do use BMGPX to generate my gpx files from the NGS pages so all is not lost. For me paperless is definitely the way to go. Thanks all for getting this discussion going.

 

mrh

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BDT

 

I guess the main reason I prefer the pages from geocaching.com has strictly to do with formatting and how things appear in web browsers or other viewing software. Also, I don't know how it is where you live but the most recent entries on a given mark are usually by geocachers. I realize the database snapshot geocaching is "dated". The other day I was standing over a RESET that was placed by USGS in 1991 that does not appear in the geocaching database. I've used Plucker to load an entire county onto my pda and scrolling through the whole thing to find any particular datapage is a pain. However, I do like it that I can create a gpx from the same NGS webpage. I'll also paste that NGS page into a spreadsheet to use on my laptop. So both sites have their use.

 

While writing this I had hoped to check the NGS site to see if the RESET I mentioned is in their database but I guess the solar storm is interfering with them. :) I waited out the storm and finally got the page to load. C293 RESET which is the mark I was looking at isn't listed in the NGS database either.

 

mrh

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