Nov 182014

I am sat in the waiting room of the dentist, waiting for the first of five appointments for a new denture.

Opposite me is a well dressed lady. She has dolly style shoes with a gold attachment, a scarf around her neck and rings on all her fingers. Best bit is the sunglasses on her head that slip while she pretends to read the magazine in her lap. No doubt she is trying to look intelligent as well as posh. The roundness of her face makes her look like the slitheen mayor of Cardiff.

Being where I am, I have to wonder if she is posh, or just pretending. If she had lots of money she wouldn’t be sat on this dentist. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the surgery, indeed this is one of the best NHS dentists I have ever been to. The fact remains that this location isn’t exactly Harley Street.

Am I being judgemental? Possibly. But this started with a wondering of what she would think of me. Slouched in the seat, head leaning against the wall, jeans and trainers and my work fleece, staring at my smartphone. I bet she thinks I am on Facebook or something. I don’t exactly look the pillar of the community.

I did have this day dream that she speaks down to me in some snotty manner expecting me to bow before her. Instead I stand tall and simply say something like “and yet you dare to judge me simply on the way I am dressed, knowing nothing about me.”

But that’s exactly what I am doing right now isn’t it. Judging someone I don’t know simply on the way they are dressed without knowing a thing about her.

Her daughter is quite the little chubster though…

Oct 132014

A report from the BBC suggests that EE think 80% of the TV that people watch is the free-to-air programming.

Firstly, it’s entering a market which is not at all short of choice. Roughly 60% of households now subscribe to some kind of pay-TV service from the likes of BskyB, Virgin Media and BT Vision. But even in these households, EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee told us, they spend 80% of their time watching free-to-air TV.

When I get home from work the TV is either already on, or I switch it on to “vegetate” for a bit and unwind. During that time I will flick to (generally) the Discovery Channels. How It’s Made, Moonshiners, or re-re-re-repeats of Wheeler Dealers are the consumption of choice.

If we are sat of an evening (which will happen more now that the darker nights, autumn and then winter are arriving) it will generally be one of the Premium Sky Channels to watch the latest of the American dramas – The Strain, Perception, Raising Hope (?) etc, or back to Discovery. At the very worst we’ll reach for the remote and watch something that we have previously recorded.

I really can’t say that (apart from Dr Who, which is mandatory in my house – sometimes three or four times per episode) we watch much on the free-to-air channels.

This is just more proof to me that EE are barking up the wrong tree. They need to be concentrating on their core business – mobile telephony – and getting that to an acceptable standard rather than try and break into an already flooded market. Anyone remember Giff Gaff???

EE are trying to plug a gap where there isn’t a hole and ignoring the gaping one in the quality of their telephone business. Signal is still very poor in some (even urban) areas and I can show you flat spots in major cities such as Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester. We had to provide a broadband EE device for one of my associates just so that he could get a mobile phone signal at home in Winchester. It didn’t work.

So, come on EE, forget what you’re trying to do and sort the stuff you’re supposed to be doing already.

Oct 092014

One of those quick vents. I see lots of people saying things like “It’s my OCD kicking in” or “I have OCD”. I don’t doubt for a second that there are millions around the world that suffer with OCD, I doubt that it’s the average person.

One guy on a forum I am on said “The switch is wobbly. It works perfectly but it’s probably my OCD kicking in.”

Hmm. Wikipedia* says this about OCD:

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions…. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning, repeated checking, extreme hoarding, preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts, relationship-related obsessions, aversion to particular numbers and nervous rituals such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms are time-consuming, might result in loss of relationships with others, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress.

Please. don’t blame OCD for you thinking you have a problem with something, just accept you’re a fussy bugger and get it dealt with.

*Yes, I am aware that Wikipedia is considered the root of all evil and should not be quoted in scientific research. I am not a scientist, this isn’t research, it’s a rant and I like Wikipedia. Do you ever read the homepage? I do, daily, because there’s all sorts of useless facts that fascinate me.

Oct 072014

On the latest UK Geocaching Podcast (released tonight!) we discuss a suggestion from Bingo The Bounty Hunter.

The suggestion was to give Cache Owners the ability to give a “like” or “favourite” for cache logs that they consider to be “good”.

Although we discussed this in the show I can’t stop thinking about it. I think it’s a great idea. Those Geocachers that make the effort, recognise how much effort goes into hiding a geocache and give a great log could get “karma” from the CO. The content of the log would be up to the CO’s judgement, it could be a good or funny story, a long description of how the finder got on with the adventure, or it could be a cacher offering constructive advice on how to improve the hide (yes, it does happen!)

The big thing for me is that COs would only be able to “like” or “favourite” a log. No “Dislike” or marking down of a log that they don’t like.

Have a listen to the show when it’s released, we would really like to hear what you guys think of this idea.

Oct 052014

I was finally in the middle of updating my iPad to iOS 8 last night. I am still not sure it was a good idea, time will tell.

I was settled in at the computer to watch the re-scheduled GeoSnippits Reboot Podcast, giving Miss Amy some hassle on Facebook when, somehow, it was decided that Mark (Oh Beep!) and I would be guesting on the show. Quite how it happened I am not really sure, but, the show started and then a few minutes in we were on air!

Mildly nervous at this point – I had only been “on air” once when Mark and I (at 20 seconds notice) decided to record episode 3 of the Chasing Smilies Podcast live. Oh yeah, we started a new podcast! Chasing Smilies is all (well, mostly) about Geocaching, but it’s a show for the grown ups. We don’t worry about the occasional expletive and if things go a little awry, meh. Recording gets done, chop the start and the finish, add some music and away we go.

So, back to GSRP. IT WAS A BLAST! Mark had to disappear early but I was there until the end of the recording. Thanks Mr Andy and Miss Amy for allowing me to be part of your awesome show!

Oct 042014

Krista (aka Muminator) originally posted this after being challenged by Washknight. I thought I would get in on the fun and have a go too. Many people will already know most of this through my podcast, but, some don’t…

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

It was 2005. I was bored one lunchtime at work and was surfing the web. I saw a report about this new “craze” about hidden boxes. I looked at the website, signed up and then promptly forgot about it until November 2008 when my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I asked for a GPSr. She bought me the one I wanted, a Garmin eTrex Venture HC and I immediately spent a few days NOT finding any caches until my first find on 03 January 2009. I have been hooked ever since!

2. Do you remember your first find?

Yes, it was called “Shark Of The Gillies” by The Luptons. I think I logged two DNFs before managing to find it. I went with the dogs the first time and they were a nightmare, just wanting to walk rather than follow me in circles. Things haven’t changed and it’s very rare for me to take them caching when I go.

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

I have a Garmin GPSMap 62s (my fortieth birthday present from my parents!) and my iPhone 4s. I tried caching with my Android phone (an HTC of some form – I can’t remember) but it was reaaaaally bad at accuracy.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)

I live in Fareham, Hampshire and I am very lucky for the density and setting. Within a couple of miles of home we have some beautiful walking in the Meon Valley and beyond and the density is so high that I can’t move more than about a thousand feet for about 10 miles without passing a cache. Quality? Well, I think we have our fair share of crap caches but some stunning ones too.

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

That’s easy. Glenfinnan View. It’s at a viewpoint just outside Fort William. My wife was reluctant to climb but I insisted, knowing what the view is. It’s the “Harry Potter” Bridge:

Not my photo...

Glenfinnan View

My log on the cache was entitled “JK Rowling injured my ankle”…

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

Patience, decent boots and scratch/bite cream…

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

That Fareham has a cricket club. I never knew!

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I am obsessed by numbers and 10 is I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache. Where do you put yourself?

About a 6. I love the statistics, but my find rates clearly state that I am not a numbers runner. I have just over 1000 finds in 5 years at the time of writing.

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

Starting a SECOND podcast about Geocaching sums it all up…

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

See question 5. I also fell over a bramble during the summer and injured my wrist. Scratches and scrapes are nothing unusual.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

Not putting the cache back where it’s supposed to be.

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

What, like leaving the GPSr at home or going caching with no caches on the GPSr and no battery in my phone? Nope, not done those. Ever. What???

13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?

It varies from coming with me to it’s cool to it’s nerdy to “what the hell???”

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

I must be quite scary to look at when I am caching as I have never been asked. I get a few funny looks but people generally just keep walking.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

To get off my lazy butt and go find some caches!

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?

Jacob’s Moving Cache #1. I have been out for it three times and missed it each time. As I write I believe it’s back in Dorset having been to North Wales and back.

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

Fun, Exercise, expensive!

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

I don’t blog much about caching, most of it goes to the two podcasts, but I may well blog some more about it. I forget how much I enjoy writing.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of?

See question 18.

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?

Generally, I don’t read other blogs, it’s really bad isn’t it! Please suggest some to me that I can add to my feed reader. Is there a “catalogue” or listing of Geocaching Blogs? Perhaps we should start one…

Aug 252014

I went for the cake.

I came home with one of these:

This is not the cake

This is not the cake

Learning curve was not as vertical as I thought it would be. Some quirks (mouse scrolls the other way round) some frustration (had to install Java and Flash(!)), otherwise no major issues.

Except, No Geocaching Swiss Army Knife! I am actually considering rebuilding my laptop to Windows from the recently installed Linux Mint just so I can run GSAK. Yes, it’s that important to me.

Aug 232014

I have said on many occasions that I dislike urban Geocaching. I would much rather be out in the sticks with a scenic view, mud, cows and farmers with shotguns than I would be in an urban location.

Gosport was always my “goto” dislike place. The caches always seemed to be a little pointless. “There’s no cache here so I will place one” type of thing. Attached to a dog poop bin in the middle of a random street. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not Gosport, but nearly every urban geocaching location that I dislike.

I think that part of the issue is that the urban caches tend to attract the “trying-it-out” squad (TIOs). They’ve found the Intro Geocaching App on the app store and downloaded it as a way to get the kids out of the house on a sunny summer’s day. Without any guidance to etiquette they stumble along, find this plastic box, sign the logbook and take all the swag. The cache then gets left out in the open rather than re-hidden. Here’s an example:

Cache Hiding - A lost art form?

Cache Hiding – A lost art form?

This was a cache that I found this morning. It was sat right in the open, I hadn’t approached the cache at this point but stopped to take the photo. Obviously I re-hid it lots better than this but left a note for the cache owner asking if they could check and re-hide properly.

Am I being unfair to the TIOs? Possibly. It’s entirely possible that the cache was found by muggle children who play in the area, investigated and then abandoned where it lay. But, the contents were still in place and dry, suggesting either that the kids carefully put the lid back on, or it wasn’t re-hidden.

It’s not just about re-hiding the cache though. Two of the eight caches we went for this morning were DNFs due to muggle activity. I was splashing around in a stream looking for a cache and a family (as is their right of course) bimbled along and started picking blackberries. Bloody inconsiderate if you ask me! The second one was just a bench hide with a D4 due to DNFs. I was unable to get to the cache as there was a woman sat there playing with her mobile phone while her dog took itself off for some exercise. Again, not her fault. Why was this a D4 though? The CO stated that he had upped the difficulty rating because some cachers had logged DNFs. I looked back through the logs and, guess what? Yep, they were TIOs. The cache looked to be a simple magnetic nano under the bench.

I will not say that I hate urban caching. It has its place, just like any aspect of Geocaching. I enjoy being able to grab a find whilst out and about and can accept that what I wrote above is what I am likely to encounter. I would much rather be out in the countryside enjoying views like this though:

View on the Dorset Drive By

View From the Dorset Drive By

Jul 302014

I got to thinking the other day about the extremity of certain words and phrases. I can’t remember what the trigger was, I suspect something as banal as “I hate the rain”. In this particular context I was thinking about “hate”, “dislike”, “don’t like” etc.

I can’t say that I “hate” many things. There are certainly no individuals I “hate”. Here’s a few:

  • Paedophiles.

Nope. Can’t, off the top of my head, think of any more.

I can say that I “dislike” some things, but still no individuals. Easier examples:

  • Coffee.
  • Liver
  • Ignorant BMW/Audi/insert make here drivers who think they’re better than everyone else.
  • None committal posts on Facebook. “Ooh, that wasn’t good…” with no explanation.

Then there are things that I “don’t like”. Bear with me here. Let’s remove the contraction. Things that I “do not like”. These are not necessarily things that I dislike. They are, maybe, things that do not actively interest me but I have nothing against them (as with “dislike”).

  • Football.
  • Hip Hop.
  • Lazy grammar and spelling on the internet.

See the difference?

Then there’s the things that I really couldn’t give a monkeys about.

  • Many Facebook status updates. “Dinner was lovely”, “Tired”, “waah waah waah etc”.
  • Gaza/Israel or Russia/Ukraine. If they wanna bomb the crap out of each other, let ’em.

Is it just me that is sad enough to examine words this much? I mean, I am a computer engineer, not a scholar/graduate/philosopher. Should I be worrying about more important things? Does thinking about things like this (which happens far too often) mean that I am not keeping my brain active enough? Or is it too active?