Monday, September 25, 2006

The Blue Diamond Saga....

Most of you probably know about the blue diamond by now--there are quite literally hundreds and hundreds of posts made on AQ the last couple of days on the subject! I'm posting this here to get out of the "where does the thread begin" problem. Here are a few thoughts and musings that I thought would be important to reiterate.

First, the system of voting is new and data is scarce, and it is not expected to be anywhere near accurate in the immediate future. So please, don't be quick to judge just because some boxes you think deserve a blue diamond don't have ones or vice versa. As of today, there is about one vote for every three boxes listed on Atlas Quest. Considering that many votes are for the same boxes, perhaps one out of every five boxes actually has any votes at all. This means that four out of five boxes aren't even in the running due to a complete lack of votes! It'll take time before a meanful collection of votes is collected.

Second, for those people who prefer not to have their boxes in the running for a blue diamond, you can opt out from your preferences page. You can choose not to vote for other people's letterboxes. There is absolutely no reason you have to participate in this little experiment at all.

I'd like to emphasize that. You do not have to participate. Ever. At all. You don't have to have your boxes ranked, and you don't have to vote on other people's boxes.

It sounds like that's not good enough for some of you. Opponents to the idea don't want others to participate either. I'm rather perplexed at this attitude--why should you be concerned if I want to put my own boxes up for a blue diamond designation? I'm very sorry if this bothers you and your conscious, and I'm more than happy to allow you to opt out of participating yourself. But please, be considerate of others. If they want to participate, let them. Why should you get worked up because someone wants to vote on a letterbox planted by someone else who wants people to vote on their boxes?

And finally, the blue diamond should not be taken nearly as seriously as some folks seem to have done so. No, it's not an exact science. No, someone else's idea of what makes a "perfect" box may not be the same as yours. There may not be enough information about a letterbox to systematically assign blue diamonds to letterboxes. And no, it's not a tool that should be used as the sole basis for what letterboxes to find. It's a single tool inside a large toolbox with lots of other tools. Some people may use the tool, some people may not, but it's available for everyone.

And remember, letterboxing should be fun. =) I've found it rather amusing to watch the diamonds bounce around from box to box as AQ tries to figure out which boxes really are the cream of the crop. It's kind of interesting to see diamonds show up on a box I wouldn't have expected but you know--that's a good thing. It's just more proof that we all don't think alike, we all have our own individual preferences, and the variety of boxes out there will continue to grow.

Now get out there and start having some fun. =) Life does not begin nor end at Atlas Quest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sending Condolences

As many of you already know, both Goose Chaser and Boxer in TRAINing have passed away recently. If you'd like to send a card signed with your signature stamp to their families, here are some addresses that you might find useful:

Paula Clemmens Egolf (Goose Chaser)
Runge Mortuary Chapel
838 E. Kimberly Rd.
Davenport, IA 52807

I'm not sure if the address I have for Boxer in TRAINing should be made public, so if you'd like to send a card to Funguswoman (his daughter) and the rest of their family, you can send them to me and I'll make sure to forward them on to Funguswoman:

c/o Ryan Carpenter
PO Box 16131
Seattle, WA 98116

Additionally, I'll be setting up a tribute section on Atlas Quest for our fallen comrades. My development code is still a bit of a mess from an unrelated feature I've been working on for quite some time now, but as soon as it's cleaned up and working properly, I'll be setting up a tribute section for them. In the meantime, however, if you send AQ mail to Goose Chaser and/or Boxer in TRAINING, I'll include your notes, thoughts, and memories of these two with the tributes.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The AQ 2007 Letterboxing Calendars are in!

With the roaring success of last year's first letterboxing calendar, we're back again with the second annual letterboxing calendar--with twelve new months of beautiful pictures taken by letterboxers, for letterboxers. This year, we've also added several important dates for our self-imposed letterboxing 'holidays' throughout the year.

On a related note, last year, I had a terrible time keeping track of all the orders by hand--terribly difficult with the flood of orders coming in!--so this year I created a shopping cart system for Atlas Quest to help better organize things and let Atlas Quest automate the task of keeping track of orders for me. It's new, but also allows me to keep track of orders for more than just calendars. You can also order a box of 144 AQ mini pencils, Mastercarve, Speedy-Stamp, PZ Kut, or--if you can't make up your mind and want to try all of the various carving blocks--a sampler kit that includes all three!

You should know before you order--this is a temporary shopping cart system. It was designed to make things easier for me, but it's not intended to be a permanent fixure on Atlas Quest. The idea is that I'll collect orders for three or four weeks then, at the end of that time, put in bulk orders with the suppliers to nab the best deal I can. I'm not really interested in selling one sheet of carving block at a time, so you'll notice all of the carving block options require at least a three-block commitment.

It's also slanted so premium members get the best deals--they're the ones that financially keep Atlas Quest up and running, and I've marked some items below my actual costs for their benefit. (I figure they already paid for it with premium membership in the first place!)

In addition, it means you shouldn't expect to receive your order until at least a couple of weeks after I close the shop. It takes time to order the items in bulk and wait for them to arrive before I can mail them off to you! It's not fast, but especially for premium members, it could be very cost effective! =)

At the moment, I plan to keep the shop up until the end of September at which point it'll close and I'll order everything needed to fulfill your orders. Calendars will still be available directly from the supplier after this time, but will cost $16.99 per calendar if you order directly from them--and it won't be available from them until *after* the marketplace on AQ closes. So there's definitely an incentive to order through AQ--even for non-premium members!

I've started an FAQ for other questions you might have, but if I've missed anything you want to know, be sure to ask!

Did I miss anything? *looking around*