Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Browser Bites the Dust

I just came across an article today titled AOL Pulls Plug on Netscape Web Browser. What's this mean for you? Well, nothing really, unless you like to use Netscape. If Netscape is your preferred browser, dump it. Now. Download Firefox and start getting used to it, because eventually it'll have to happen anyhow.

Netscape will likely continue to live on computers all around the world for years to come--sometimes, it's painful for people to admit they have to give up on their preferred browser--but eventually, new features will be implemented. New standards created, and the old browser will not support them. First, you'll find one site that will no longer work with the browser. Then another. Ten years from now, most major websites may break with your old browser.

And Atlas Quest will be no different. As new technologies are implemented, I intend to use them. There are a number of exciting new CSS constructs I'm looking forward to using as browser support for them improves, and if you're stuck on an old browser, eventually you'll suffer as a result. It'll likely be several years before I'll be able to use the particular standards I want to--Safari supports one of them already, and I bet Internet Explorer and Firefox are working to implement them as well. Netscape--nope, it'll never happen now.

Firefox is built with the same engine as Netscape, so for you Netscape folks out there, that would most likely be your preferred alternate. It's my favorite browser anyhow, much better than IE in my experience. (Especially better than IE6--IE7, however, has fixed many of the problems I used to grumble most about.)

I'll test Atlas Quest with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera as necessary. Netscape used to be in that list, but no longer. =) I test most with Firefox since that's my preferred browser, and IE gets tested second most since that's what most people use. Safari and Opera I usually only test if I know of a specific issue involving one of those browsers.

It's official, though. Netscape is dead. R.I.P. Back in my college days, it used to be my favorite browser until Microsoft built the better mousetrap. (Which saddened me greatly when I first realized that IE was a better browser than Netscape--it wasn't until Firefox came along I finally found something that worked better than IE.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Envelope Please.....

Atlas Quest does not actually record when a find is recorded, so there are no officially reliable statistics about how many people made use of Free Listing Day or how many finds were recorded. It must have been fast and furious, though, since Atlas Quest did go down for a short period that morning, but nothing a reboot of the server couldn't solve.

The best stats I have for the recording of finds is the AQ Statistics page. It's generated at 1:45am each morning, and yesterday, there were a total of 912,532 finds recorded. Today, it's gone up to 917,199. So overall, 4667 finds were recorded between 1:45am on December 26th and 1:45am on December 27th.

It's not a precise number--people may have started recording their finds between midnight and 1:45 that do not show up in the total, and finds recorded for the 1 hour and 45 minutes this morning are being counted but shouldn't. I deliberately choose to update the stats at 1:45 in the morning however, specifically because very few people are usually on Atlas Quest doing things like recording finds. The vast majority of activity won't take place during those hours.

Of the 4667 finds that were recorded during this period, 1985 of them were listed as being found yesterday, meaning 2682 finds were recorded from before then.

Not really that many, actually, but this is a rather slow time on Atlas Quest to begin with. For the week, the average number of finds recorded is 1340 per day. During the summer, that number could easily averages two or three times that amount.

Anyhow, to make a long story short, I don't really know how many finds were recording for Free Listing Day except that it is significantly higher than a typical day this time of year. =)

For kicks, I'm including some other interesting graphs my webstats program spits out about activity on Atlas Quest.

This graph shows the daily activity on AQ from December of 2006. Couple of things to note. First, weekends show up with a gray background at the beginning. You'll notice, invariably, that Saturdays almost always tend to the be least busy day on Atlas Quest. Mondays, most of the time, are the busiest.

Being December, there is a special anomaly known as Christmas. You can see Atlas Quest activity drop like a rock on Christmas Day, but the drop really starts happening a few days before Christmas before jumping to surprisingly high values between Christmas and New Years. This years graph is pretty much the same. Saturdays have low activity, Mondays have a lot, and activity on the site crashes on Christmas (and the few days leading up to it). No reason to think the rest of the month will play out similarly as last year.

If you're wondering about the colored bars, yellow is the number of visits, dark blue is the number of web pages viewed, light blue is the number of hits recorded, and green is the amount of bandwidth used.

Let's move on....

This is the graph of AQ activity this year. You can see the summer months are clearly busier than the winter months by a wide margin. Peak activity is about double the activity in February. (February gets short thrift not only because it's a winter month, but it also only has 28 days.)

December is a bit short right now, but that's only because there's three weeks of activity in it. The last week of December, historically, is pretty busy, so that month should increase from where you see it now. Probably to about the same level that June is at.

The colors mean the same thing here as in the last graph, except there's an additional color used in this graph--orange. That's the number of "unique visitors" that Atlas Quest recorded.

This is the hourly breakdown of activity this month. The time listed is Pacific Time--completely arbitrary, but since I live in Pacific Time, it's convenient for me. =)

Peak activity happens during the 6:00 evening hour. The rise of activity during the morning is likely east coast folks waking up for work. The morning peak ends during the 9:00 hour--three hours later. Presumably, most of you folks are checking into AQ just as soon as you can once you get into work. ;o)

The least busy period for Atlas Quest is between midnight and 3:00 am, which is why all of the nightly updates are done during that time. The server has extra time then to twiddle it's thumb, calculate P and F-counts, backup the database, and calculate those fascinating AQ stats you can access. If I do major updates of the site, I also try to do them during this period to reduce bothering as many people as possible.

That's about it for this installment of Letterboxing is Fun! Hope you enjoyed yourselves. =)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Free Listing Day begins.... NOW!

Boxing Day, 2007, is also Free Listing Day--the day when everyone, including non-premium members, can record all their finds. Specifically those pesky unlisted boxes that are not found on Atlas Quest.

No, there are no real benefits to recording all of one's finds. Your logbook is still the ultimate source of finds, but many people enjoy seeing all their finds listed in their logbooks and their official F-count increase. An additional benefit to a complete online history of your finds, for those who are into statistics, is the new My Statistics page.

It's usually a perk reserved for premium members, which isn't too disappointing if you consider that most non-premium members don't have complete find histories that would allow for accurate statistics. But for those of you who want to check out your stats, that page will be available for everyone on Boxing Day only. Record all your finds, then check out the statistics on them!

Enjoy the perks while they last, however. At midnight (Pacific time), they'll disappear again the next Free Listing Day.

How to record finds from unlisted boxes? Use the Record Find/Attempt link under the Letterboxes menubar option. Type in the name and type of the box. Skip the author--that doesn't matter for unlisted boxes. Atlas Quest will first list all of the listed boxes it found that matches your search parameters. Then, just below that, shows a list of unlisted boxes that others have already recorded finds on that match your search, or an option to tell Atlas Quest that it's a completely new listing.

Use the links and options in that second half to record the finds of those unlisted boxes.

Happy Boxing!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Hope you're all enjoying your holidays, but I interrupt your fun for a few announcements.

First, the somewhat-irregular "Free Listing Day" will occur on December 26th, a.k.a. Boxing Day. It was a tradition started to thank those folks who are not premium members yet still provide valuable contributions that others may enjoy. As much as we love letterboxing, there are more important things in life such as families or getting an education that money can be spent on. Free Listing Day started as a salute to those members who are valuable contributors to Atlas Quest, but may not have the financial means to become premium members. Often times, your suggestions, answering questions on message boards, or adding to the help pages can be as helpful as cash.

This is only the second time I've used Boxing Day as a Free Listing Day--I probably won't use that day again next year since I'd rather keep you all guessing. ;o) There will be more Free Listing Days, but it's meant for members who use Atlas Quest regularly and are the real contributors--not the folks who drop by once in a blue moon. That's the reason I don't provide more advance warning of such days, as well. Those who visit once in a blue moon will probably miss their opportunity. Those who log in daily probably won't. ;o)

Next up: Amyrica compiled of a list of folks willing to help me out while I walk from Key West to Springer Mountain. About 30 people in total offered help, including one lawyer who offered legal help in Alabama if I should need it. ;o) I tried calling you all this weekend just to thank you for your offer to help, but finally ran out of minutes on the calling card I was using. (Actually, I started with Amanda's cell phone since it had free minutes on weekends, but she left town on Saturday so I had to resort to the old calling card after that.) I did try calling everyone at least once, but it seems *some* of you thought I was a telemarketer or something and didn't answer my call. ;o) Despite that, I did manage to successfully contact about two-thirds of the folks on the list, which took several hours and was rather fun. For most of you, it was the first time I'd talked to you voice-to-voice. It's always interesting trying to guess what you might sound like as I'm dialing the numbers. I really enjoyed talking to you all.

Many of you noticed a minor update I did this last weekend where you now can use multiple different tags on letterboxes. That was an idea proposed on the message boards which intrigued me, and off the cuff I didn't think it likely that it would happen so quickly, but after thinking about it for a few days, it occurred to me that implementing such an improvement would be surprisingly easy to do. I updated the back end of Atlas Quest to support up to eight different tags in just a couple of hours. It was that easy. The front end--the part you see and interact with--would be a bit more complicated. It used "on/off" toggles. Tags were either on or off. Now I had a set of eight tags, each of which might be on or off, and a panel of 16 buttons to turn on or off each tag seemed rather excessive. I spent a few days mulling over the best way to allow you to interact with the new feature. I could go directly into the database and tag boxes with lots of different tags and it worked just fine. I just needed to "widen" the view a bit so the rest of you could see it too, though.

I did that, uploaded the changes, and now Atlas Quest supports up to eight different tags. Why eight? Why not six? Or ten? Ten is a nice, round number? Technically speaking, there's not really a limit to how many tags I could support. Each tag is stored as a bit in the database, however, and eight bits make up a byte, so I figured I'd use the whole darned byte. Using less wouldn't save any space in the database, using just one more tag would have required two bytes of data. May as well just round up to sixteen different tags at that point, but that just seems excessively silly. So I settled on eight, in short, because some geek--probably not unlike myself--decades ago decided that eight bits should go in a byte. =)

Only premium members get to use all eight options, though, as an added perk for helping to support this site financially. Atlas Quest would not be what it is today if it were not from the financial support of premium members. Not to worry if you aren't a premium member, though--you still have three tags you can use, essentially tripling the number of available tags that you had before. Not bad, huh? ;o) Figured everyone comes out ahead with that feature, though premium members certainly are coming out further ahead.

What else, what else...? I'm slowing getting ready for the Big Day when my hike begins. Yesterday I dehydrated 5 pounds of ground beef, tonight I'm working on getting the water out of spaghetti sauce. Last weekend I discovered a local source for instant beans, which I didn't even realize existed until rather recently. I'm now figuring out what sorts of meals I can use beans in on the trail--a luxury item I never had on the Appalachian Trail. (Nobody carries cans of beans into the woods, and the non-canned variety take way too long to soak and cook.) Instant beans, though. Wow. The possibilities. =)

I still have lots of preparing to do, though.

Tonight I've also spent working on my flash drive--which will allow me to take the entire Atlas Quest development system with my on the trail. The software I'll need I installed and got working a long time ago--now I'm getting all the settings and options set to how I like them. I'm writing this blog entry from the version of Firefox that's running off of the flash drive now, in fact. Installed a bunch of extensions I like to use--Web Developer, View Cookies, FlashBlock, and even stumbled onto a new extension named PDF Download that I thought I'd try. Managed to get Thunderbird working to download my e-mail. Now I'm figuring out how to use a program that can make backups, or sync the data on the flash drive with other locations. Very cool stuff. I'm working on a backup of the flash drive as I type this now.

So that's what I'm up to. There's a few last minute things I'm working on for Atlas Quest before I leave, but most of them aren't particularly noteworthy. I'm afraid of making any substantial changes at this point since if something breaks, I may not be around to fix it. The things I'm tweaking generally have a very low chance of causing problems. Like themes. =) Ugh--I still don't think I'll get all the themes I want to get done... done. Saves something new for me to do next year, I suppose. =)

I'll be spending most of tomorrow with family. There are some folks around these parts that will be getting AQ calendars under the Christmas tree. ;o) For now, I just want to stay up late enough to catch Santa Claus in the flesh. That creepy little guy manages to sneak into the house every year and I never catch him, but darn it, I'm going to catch him this year. I know it!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wassamatta With Atlas Quest?

As most of you probably know, I'm planning to take off the first few months of 2008 to hike from Key West to Springer Mountain, about 1,800 miles from start to finish. Who'll be in charge when I'm gone? Who'll be able to keep the site running or get it back up while I'm off battling with alligators and bears?

Yes, you're favorite punner--wassamatta_u is an official webmaster and administrator on Atlas Quest with the keys to the kingdom. He's actually done a heroic job on a couple of occasions when I was fast asleep to get the server rebooted during troubles and helping to fix a couple of problematic bugs along the way, so you should be in good hands. Nice to wake up and find out that the problem's already taken care of!

There is another webmaster I brought on board more recently who prefer to stay anonymous at this time--at least until he (or she--I'm using he in a generic sense rather than calling him--or her--an it which seems rather rude) becomes a bit more familiar with the system. Wassamatta would be the head webmaster guru to keep things running smoothly while I'm out of touch, however. He won't be developing features or fixing anything but the most major of bugs--he does have a day job to attend to (such as his Boxers and Briefs gig). Basically, his goal is just to make sure Atlas Quest stays up and running, but he can also help out in ways that no one else can since he'll have direct access to both the code and the database.

There are also five admins (including myself) and a dozen or so moderators to help keep the site running, so they'll be able to help out with most problems. The top of the food chain, however, are the webmasters, and wassamatta_u is your man. =)

I've always wanted to say this publicly, but thank you wassamatta_u for all the help you've already provided over the last number of months! Glad to see you've finally gotten over your shyness!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

State of the Thru-hike Address

As many of you may know, I'm planning to start in Key West on January 1st, then hike nearly 1,800 miles to Springer Mountain. If all goes well, I will arrive on April 16th.

Carrying a computer on my back isn't going to happen, so making sure Atlas Quest stays up and running while I'm out of touch is something of a concern for me. What am I doing about this?

First, I've stopped all major development on the site. I'm working to get the site as stable and bug-free as possible. I've been tweaking queries to make them run faster.

Second, I've added two new webmasters and admins this year. Hopefully if something does go wrong, they'll be able to fix it without my help. If you need help from an admin or webmaster, be sure to contact them from the Contact Us page. The link is at the bottom of almost every page on AQ.

If you do contact me directly, it might be several days before I get the message, and may be weeks (or even months!) before I can do anything about it.

Third, I've started paying for an "Enhanced Monitoring Service" so if the site goes down, a 24/7 support group will jump into action within 15 minutes to get the website back up and running.

And finally, I've reactivated my PocketMail device. Some of you old timers might remember my using it while on the Appalachian Trail to write those detailed trail journals. Once again, I will be writing trail journals, but it'll be my link to the outside world.

I'll have my AQ mail forwarded to it so I can check mail from any phone I cross paths with, and I'll be able to reply to them. (I will not be able to log into AQ, however, so I won't be able to DO anything on AQ--just read and respond to AQ mail.)

I've also decided to post my adventures via Blogger. They have a nifty feature where I can post blogs by sending the blog entry to a special e-mail address. I should therefore be able to post much more regularly than I was able to on the AT. Later, when I have access to a computer, I will compile them and add photos into an official Great Adventure, but for the most up-to-date info about my travels, you'll find it on my blog. I hope to update that at least every couple of days.

What else? I have the entire AQ development machine on a flash drive that I'll be carrying with me. If something does go wrong, I can get off the trail and onto a computer--any computer-- to fix it.

Oh, the reason for this post... It's actually a test. I'm typing this on my PocketMail device, and I will e-mail it to my special blogger e-mail address, and it should (in theory) automatically post the message to the Letterboxing Is Fun blog. All without a computer. =)

There will be a new blog just for my hiking adventures at

I'm still working on it so there's nothing to see at the moment. When it's ready to go live, I'll make it a default blog that everyone on AQ will automatically be subscribed to. (You can unsubscribe at any time if you're not interested in it, however.)

Okay, let's see if we can get this post to post!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Letterbox Trading Cards

Thanksgiving Day, for those of you not in the know, is a pretty slow day on Atlas Quest. Which is expected--you should be spending quality time with friends and family and enjoying the day off of work. Many of you, I suspect, might even be off letterboxing, dragging along those friends and family despite their protests. This is good. It isn't call "quality time" for nothing. ;o)

So I thought I'd use the relative lack of activity to do one of my rare daylight updates to Atlas Quest. This particular update: Support for Letterbox Trading Cards, or LTC for short. I've also seen them called Letterboxing Trading Cards and Letterboxer Trading Cards. All the same, though.

You can now create, list, find, and search LTCs on Atlas Quest as a distinct type of letterbox. No big shocks about how that works. It's all the same as before--just that you now have an option labeled LTC whenever there were options for box types. Additionally, I created a separate section in the help pages explicitly for Letterbox Trading Cards. If you have questions (or answers) about them, that's the place to go. Not to mention the LTC message board as well for discussion about them.

I have to admit, when I first heard about the idea of LTCs, I groaned. "What do we need another type of letterbox for?" But I brushed it aside, figuring it was a passing fad.

Probably a month or two after I first heard of them, my opinion of LTCs changed, and you can blame Batty Girl for that. ;o) She surprised me with a package full of them--probably from a dozen or two people in all--and they were absolutely amazing. Wow! How cool! I showed them off to Amanda, and even brought them with me to the Western New York gathering where I showed them to a couple of other people. "They're not trying to change my mind about LTCs, and they're doing a darn good job of it!"

But I still worried about it being a passing fad and didn't do anything with it. Wait and see, wait and see....

A few more months have passed, and there's still talk about them. More and more people seem to be asking about them. More and more people seem interested in them. At the Bye Bye Turtle gathering, dbltall brought an album filled with this amazing little pieces of art, while everyone else around the table oooed and awwwed.

I've finally decided, LTCs aren't going to go away, so I finally decided to officially support them. Anyone who already listed a box that started with the letters LTC--I've automatically changed the box into an LTC. If you listed LTCs but didn't bother to prefix them with those letters, you really should. I'll come through in another week or so and convert any new boxes that start with the letters "LTC" into an LTC.

For now, there aren't any special attributes that go with them. There are no special tools to track groups of people who want to share them. (Some people have adopted trackers for that purpose, but trackers were never designed to handle LTCs so use them at your own risk.) Perhaps in the future I'll add attributes and tools, but for now, I'll start things simple and see how they evolve. The LTCs of today could change over the next several months, perhaps dramatically so. No sense building a bunch of attributes and tools that may not be useful down the line.

So that's what's up on this Thanksgiving Day. =)

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm exhausted, and I haven't even started yet!

As many of you know, I thru-hike the Appalachian Trail back in 2003, from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine. What a grand adventure! You can read all about it in my Great Adventures if you're interested. Some people have told me I'm quite amusing and that they're a lot of fun to read. =) I've even started turning them into a book, but it's only about half done at this point. Still a lot more work to do before it'll be published.

I started working on Atlas Quest a few months after finishing this great odyssey, and have continued working on the website ever since. It started as a small project to get back into the groove of things--I hadn't worked for two years and my programming skills were rusty. Then I was going to get a 9 to 5 job, work at it for a couple of years saving up lots of money, and if things went really well, get laid off again so I could thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. =)

Except I never stopped working on Atlas Quest, and I never did get that 9 to 5 job. Which leaves me with a quandary--how can I get myself laid off?!

The trail is calling me, though. I miss the trail. I started my hike on April 16, 2003. That was the day I saw my first white blaze, and I stood at the summit of Springer Mountain. I remember the weather--sunny and warm, and by sunset, the breeze became chilly. I'll always remember that day. Every April in particular, I feel the pull of the trail. And every April 16th, I imagine all those poor, foolish souls that hiked up to Springer Mountain with the intent to keep on walking for another 2,176 miles.

I have no desire to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail again--been there, done that. But I want to thru-hike other trails, and I set a goal to do the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008--five years after my Appalachian Trail hike.

But the responsibility of running Atlas Quest is something of a quandary for me. For the most part, the website is pretty stable as long as I don't muck around with it. Things go wrong when I start adding new features and making changes.

I decided to bag the Pacific Crest Trail for now. It's so remote, I'd have a difficult time checking up on Atlas Quest regularly, and if something DID go terribly wrong, I'd have a hard time getting off the trail and into civilization to do something about it. But the trail is still calling me....

And so I decided to thru-hike the Florida Trail instead. From Key West to Pensacola. About 1,300 miles, across alligator infested swamps and no mountains to scale. =) I figured it would take me about three months and take me through a huge swath of Florida I've never seen or explored. Start on January 1st, and end sometime near the end of March or early April.

Half the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, it would only take me out of action for three months instead of six. And the Florida Trail is in a much more populated area of the country. I could check up on the site much more regularly (I'm hoping for at least two times per week, rather than the once every week I would have expected on the Pacific Crest Trail). And if something does go wrong and I need to jump into action, the trail is never far from civilization. There's even quite a number of letterboxers in the area who would likely kidnap me from the trail just to get AQ running again if it came to that. ;o)

I just added a new webmaster, so there are now three of us. Both of them would prefer to stay under the radar for now, although I suspect many of you can probably guess at who one of them is. Hopefully they won't have to do much while I'm off hiking, but at least there will be two people around who can restart the server as necessary. They won't be adding new features or anything like that--just making sure the site stays up and running and monitoring the site.

So I'm trying to get all my affairs in order before hitting the Florida Trail. The "paperwork." Some of it quite literally is paperwork. I need to acquire permits, fill out forms, and blah. Not really fun. I'm getting rid of my car--I won't have need of it in Florida and it'll just cost me money to leave it sitting in my mom's driveway the whole time. Atlas Quest is the sticking point, though. I can't just up and carry a computer with me the whole way, but in case of some Atlas Quest emergency, I want to have my development system with me!

So I've figured out a way to put the entire development system on a flash drive. It's very slick. I plug the 2 gig flash drive into a USB port, and my entire development system is available. I can actually run the entire website off this flash drive! It's pretty freaking cool! So I'll be carrying that with me. Technology today is amazing!

The Florida Trail Association puts out a magazine called Footprint. The last copy I received mentioned that 12 people thru-hiked the Florida Trail last year. Twelve! Over 2,000 people attempt the Appalachian Trail each year, and hundreds make it. Not even a baker's dozen pulled off the Florida Trail, though. I'd be in a rare group indeed if I make it. =)

I don't really know much about the Florida Trail, and there's not nearly as much literature about it as you can readily find about the Appalachian Trail. But there is one book, by a Mr. M. J. Eberhart (a.k.a. Nimblewill Nomad), who thru-hiked the Eastern Continental Trail from Key West, along the Florida Trail, to the Appalachian Trail, and finally the International Appalachian Trail deep into Canada. Even AT thru-hikers such as myself think he's crazy. ;o) But it covers his travels in Florida and it's the only book I could find with a detailed description of his trip through Florida, so I ordered it and started reading it several days ago.

It's not an especially impressive book, and in good conscious, it's not something I'd recommend for most people. He uses way too many exclamation points, and if you cut out every sentence where he thanks a hiker, trail angel, trail maintainer, or God, I think there might be three pages left to read. =)

There is a connector trail between the end of the Florida Trail and the start of the Appalachian Trail, however, and I never really gave it much thought. It runs through Alabama and Georgia, and from what I heard, is mostly a bunch of road walking. Not exactly exciting stuff.

Except... it connects to Springer Mountain. Where I started my first thru-hike, back on April 16, 2003. It hit me yesterday afternoon--I have to do this section. It would complete my Appalachian Trail hike. It would add another 500+ miles to my hike, and I figure I'd arrive at Springer Mountain sometime in mid-April if all went well.

Wouldn't it be ironic if I arrived at Springer Mountain on April 16, 2008? Five years to the day I started my AT thru-hike. Five years to the day I last stood on Springer Mountain? It would be prime thru-hiking season as well. I could see those fresh-faced hikers, aching, blistered feet, carrying those 60+ pounds packs up the Approach Trail. I'd be ending my hike, lean but strong, with a beard after not shaving for over four months.

And darn it, I want to be on Springer Mountain April 16, 2008. I don't just have an end point, but also an end date. Maybe Mark can pick me up and bring me back down to Atlanta, and I can take the train back to San Luis. =) That was the route I took to Springer Mountain in 2003--Amtrak from San Luis to Atlanta, and Mark driving me up to Amicalola Falls.

I can't think of a better way to end a hike. =)

The Springer Mountain finish is only an idea I got yesterday, though. I'd been planning to end at Pensacola, Florida, but I need to start doing a bit more research about that connection trail between the Florida and Appalachian Trails.

My hike just got 550 miles longer, and all I did was read a book.

The trail is calling me, though.

Key West to Springer Mountain, January 1-April 16, 2008. That's my goal.

-- Ryan

PS. If anyone is going to the Microsoft Annual Shareholder meeting at 8:00am in the Seattle Convention Center tomorrow morning, keep your eyes peeled for me! =)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rise of the Tortuga

My long lost signature stamp still has not resurfaced, despite rumors to the contrary. Perhaps someday it will, but until then, I needed something new. My original turtle stamp was supposed to last for 100 finds, then I was going to replace it with another signature stamp. Five years later, I was still using that stamp old turtle. Oh, it was upgraded--with boots and everything! But it was old and I wanted something new and fresh for a long time. Something with the words "Green Tortuga" already carved on it so I'd no longer have to write it in by hand anymore.

It's been weeks in the making, searching for that perfect image that captures my essence. And at long last, it is time to unveil my new signature stamp!

For those of you who often ask, is it okay to change your signature stamp once you've started using it? If I'm any example, the answer is YES! Don't feel stuck with the same stamp, find after find, month after month. Feel free to shake things up a bit and carve a new one. Perhaps a small stamp for those logbooks that don't have room for large ones. Perhaps seasonal stamps. Perhaps different signature stamps for different parts of the country. There's no reason you can't have a whole pocketful of signature stamps.

That said, I'm terribly lazy. I probably won't end up replacing this one unless it becomes lost or damaged. And when the time does come to replace it, I'm sure I'll create another completely new stamp just to shake things up again. =)

Carpe diem!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Death of a Tortuga

The Tortuga Boots signature stamp was born on a wet, dreary day in August 2003 in the state of Connecticut. The frogs were out thick, and Amanda of Seattle fame carved it in honor of the Green Turtle's Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The left boot clearly says AT, but Amanda never did like the right boot that says 03.

Ryan retired his old bootless signature stamp and has been stamping in with Tortuga Boots ever since including an estimated 60 or so trail registers, 800 letterboxes, and 400 exchanges. Not to mention the 500 or so stampings of invoices, envelopes, and other miscellaneous items. In four different countries.

In March 2006, the stamp traveled to Dartmoor and the famed Cranmere Pool letterbox.

It has exchanged with such luminaries as wassamatta_u, Celtic Quinn, Trekkie Gal, Wisconsin Hiker and Martini Man, Doublesaj n Old Blue, Alaska Homeschoolmommy, Dixie, Eidolon, and--most recently--Webfoot.

Tortuga Boots is survived by his older brother, Tortuga Barefoot; his caretaker, Green Tortuga; his mother, Amanda from Seattle; and far too many friends from around the world to mention by name.

Memorial services may be held in Gorham, Maine, the last known location of Tortuga Boots. In place of flowers, it was Tortuga Boots's wish that donations be made towards premium memberships on Atlas Quest.

We'll miss you, Boots, but you will not be forgotten.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Important Message for AQ Members!

Just so everyone knows what's going on, I got some bad news not too long ago, telling me that the IP address that Atlas Quest uses is going to be changed whether I like it or not. I don't really understand what's wrong with this one I've been using for the last two years--I'm rather fond of it, actually--but the IP address has to change. If I don't update the server to use these new IP addresses, Atlas Quest will stop working on December 1st. Actually, the site will still work--it's just that nobody will be able to connect to it anymore, so the result is the same. *shrug*

I've downloaded a little form about how to do so, which I'm about to start following through with now. But I've never had to update the IP address for AQ before, and it's entirely possible I could screw something up along the way. Or maybe the IP address for AQ will need time to propagate throughout the Internet, so the site might be inaccessible for a day or two. Or maybe any number of problems. I've never done this before, though, so I'm not all sure what might happen.

So.... You might want to keep track of a couple of IP addresses for the next couple of days to make sure you can keep accessing this site. The old IP address is you find yourself unable to connect to AQ, try typing the IP address directly into the web browser. If that does work, give the new IP address a try. It's I tried typing them both into my web browser, and they both seemed to work just fine. Eventually the old number will stop working completely. I hope the new number continues to work throughout the whole migration process. =)

Wish me luck! Sorry if this causes any downtime, but I figure better a little downtime now than a LOT of downtime come December 1st. I don't expect AQ to be down any longer than it takes to restart the server, but when it comes to domain names and IP addresses, it could take a couple of days for everything to get straightened out completely.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Signature Stamp

A great tragedy has struck--my famed signature stamp, a goofy-looking turtle, usually green, is missing. It was last seen around Gorham, Maine, the evening of October 27th. I suspect it's hiding among headstones, near a parked hearse. It was raining, and I was trying to hold my logbooks and ink pads, bent over to protect them from rain while stamping in. By the time I realized it was missing, it was dark and I have no flashlight. YOU search among headstones in the dark of night without a flashlight and see how successful you are! =P

If you have seen this stamp, please let me know. The stamp isn't my original turtle. The original turtle was barefooted, and Amanda carved a homage stamp of sorts, I guess it would be called now, that looked like the original stamp except the bare feet were replaced with boots. One boot said "AT," and the other had "2003." She carved it while I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, during a visit to see me in Connecticut.

It was the first time the stamp had returned to Maine since I finished the trail, and Amanda says he wanted to stay. There might be some truth to this, but I'd still like it back. It's my fourth signature stamp, and the one I've been using the longest. It's priceless.

In another news, in a fit of cosmic justice, Amanda has also lost her signature stamp in Maine. There is no known reason why her stamp would want to stay in Maine, but hers has less sentimental value. =) It was last seen late at night, shortly after Amanda picked up a box that half a dozen people were looking for, at night, in the pouring rain. She smuggled the box into our rental car where we stamped into it as everyone else continued to search for the box. She had the stamp then--she stamped in with it--but the stamp was never seen again. Was it revenge? Perhaps. Was it a tragic accident waiting to happen? Perhaps. Maybe it fell out of a pocket when she replaced the letterbox.

To begin our whole adventure--the abbreviated version, at least--Amanda and I decided to check out the extravaganza known as the Frightnight 3 gathering. We flew out last Wednesday, then drove down to Boston where I have a cousin who had a place for us to crash and to catch up with since I don't get to see him often. He loves Taco Bell, so we get along well. *nodding* =)

Our first full day on the east coast was mostly spent sleeping in until 1:00 in the afternoon. Jet lag sucks. We did get out long enough to find Choi's Hang In There letterbox--which was exciting for me since I don't think I ever found one of his boxes before. =) We spent quite a bit of time driving around getting lost, though. Signs are terrible out east, and especially so in Boston, with tiny little signs (if there was any at all) that you can't read until after you're already driving by it. Nor are they lit up at night. Amanda found a wonderful sign near Chestnut Hill that said the steps behind the sign were closed, but that there was another access point 200 years to the right with an arrow below it that pointed left. We felt this was symbolic of all signage in Boston, and certainly makes getting around a challenge. =) (The correct direction, in case you're wondering, was left.)

Friday afternoon we spent driving north to Portland. We stopped for a few hours in Salem--a location that, remarkably enough, the well-traveled Amanda had never stopped to visit before! And just before Halloween? How lucky were we? Actually, we didn't much like the crowds and probably would have enjoyed ourselves had it been some other time of year. We did a haunted house at my encouragement--how can you NOT do a haunted house in Salem just before Halloween?! I think there are laws that require all visitors to do at least one haunted house. We paid our $8 each and it was somewhat disappointing, we thought. It was an okay haunted house, but this is Salem! We had high hopes that Salem had the concept mastered.

We continued north, picking up a few letterboxes along the way--mostly the drive-by variety as we drove by. We also stopped at a Wal-Mart along the way to pick up costumes and food for the gathering the next day.

In Portland, we booked ourselves into a Motel 6, then headed out to Gorham to meet up with some other letterboxers for a corn maze that night. Alas, it seems we showed up a bit late and ended up going to the corn maze on our own. We hoped to find the other letterboxers at the corn maze, but it was SOOO crowded, the odds weren't good. Even worse, we didn't know what anyone looked like! We weren't sure who all went, and we didn't think we'd recognize any of them even if we did see them. "Keep your ears open for anyone who mentions stamps, letterboxes, or whatever," I told Amanda, but it was a long shot. We also tried looking through the parking lot for obvious letterboxer bumper stickers, but that would just get us their cars. We still wouldn't know where the owners of the cars would be! Anyhow, we never did find them, but I had a lot of fun running through the corn maze trying to find our way through. =) Amanda didn't much like the crowds, though. (Actually, I didn't either, but hey, you make the best of a situation that you can, right?)

The next morning, we drove out to Gorham again, this time for the official Frightnight 3 gathering, which was a blast. The surprise guests were... wow! How exciting! =) Is it safe to say who the surprises were? Hmm....

I arrived as a Jack-O-Lantern. Amanda has at least one picture of me, but we don't have a way to get it off her camera at the moment. (We're still in Maine.) Perhaps someone else can upload a picture of my costume? Amanda, of course, arrived as Nancy Drew--but don't ask her why her hair wasn't straight. ;o)

I really enjoyed meeting Casper in particular. *nodding* Fine fellow. I never imagined there was someone I had so much in common with!

Actually, everyone was fun to meet--especially those women wearing costumes that did not require much fabric. ;o) My favorite costume (sorry girls) was Death. An impressive performance, indeed!

Then we broke off into a letterboxing road rally that ended at a bonfire. Lots of fun, despite my losing my signature stamp near the end. =)

Today, we goofed around in downtown Portland, went off to the Portland Head Lighthouse, and picked up some more boxes along the way. Good times!

We're now in Manchester, New Hampshire, ready to fly back to Seattle tomorrow. I'll be catching up with a lot of e-mails and tweaks when I get back to Seattle. Now, I need to get off to watch Desperate Housewives. Weee! =)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Calendars Have Arrived!

Actually, I should clarify.... some calendars have arrived. I ordered 299 of the things, but only one box with about 80 of them arrived this afternoon. Presumably more boxes of calendars will arrive soon.

I'll pack and ship the calendars I can tonight and mail them off tomorrow. Only one copy of the silly edition arrived, so most of the orders will be by people who ordered just the sunset and/or original editions. I suspect the rest of the calendars will arrive within the next day or two, however, and I'll ship the rest of them when they do.

But the first calendar shipments will be in the mail tomorrow! =)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

One Billionth Letterbox Planted: December 27, 2010

As some of you may know, a few months back I brought most all my worldly possessions from storage in Portland to a storage unit here in Seattle. It's been fun going through some of my old stuff. I make a trip to visit "my stuff" about once a week, pulling out stuff I realized I really don't need, don't want, and haven't used since it went into storage back in April of 2002.

One of my finds this last week was a book I purchased called How To Lie With Statistics. It should be required reading in every high school in the country if you want my opinion. It's not so much a book about how to lie with statistics as it is a book about how to identify other people lying with statistics--deliberately or otherwise. The book I have shows a copyright date of 1954, and I find it terribly amusing when he uses examples of one publication that says the "average family income" is $3,500 per year while another publication says it's $5,250 for that same year. Which is right? Both? Neither? Needless to say, the book has not been updated to account for inflation. =) I'd be a very wealthy man indeed if either of those were true. (Those aren't exact figures, I might add--I'm too lazy to look them up. But there was an example that used a $3,000-odd figure and a $5,000-odd figure. The rest of the digits I made up.)

Statistics are a tricky beast that can be made to say pretty much you want. Considering this last election here on Atlas Quest, I even remember joking about "what results would you like to see?" or something to that effect. Not that I was deliberately contemplating manipulating results to suit my fancy--I have a terrible vice of honesty. My former boss at Pizza Hut once told me that if I found a $20 bill on the ground, I'd probably go around the restaurant asking who it belonged to. (On a related note, I did recently find a $10 bill a week or so ago, and I did not ask around for who it belonged to. I even suspect I know who--or at least which group of people lost it--but they'd already left by the time I found it and tracking them down seemed like too much work. They were loud and obnoxious as well, and admit to feeling a little bit of pleasure at knowing one of them lost $10. Perhaps not quite as honest as my former employer believed.)

But it got me thinking, what wild statistics could I make up about letterboxing? We don't actually have much in terms of statistics about the letterboxing community. Heck, we don't even know how many letterboxes there are! We are a society of statically-challenged people.

I mean to change that. My first thought: When would the one billionth letterbox be planted? Oh, sure, laugh. I hear the snickers already. The whispering, "Not in my lifetime!" Hogwash. Of course it will. You just have to look at it from the right perspective. I just needed to find the stats to give me an accurate and oh-so-precise date. And I have.

The one billionth letterbox will be planted on December 27, 2010, at precisely 8:36:06 in the evening. Pacific time, of course. It will be planted by Lock Wench, at approximately 32.37 miles south of her home in North Carolina. Possibly as a joint plant with Dixie.

Preposterous you say?! Ha!

At the end of 2004, there were 3009 letterboxes listed on Atlas Quest. As of the last stats update last night, there were 61,684 letterboxes listed. That's an increase of 2049.983383% in just 1,171 days. Calculating the date and time of the one billionth letterbox is elementary at this point: 1 billion letterboxes = 61,684 * (20.4 ^ x), where x is the number of years until the 1 billionth letterbox. That asterisk means "times" and the caret symbol means "to the power of" for those of you not familiar with mathematical symbols used in programming. Solve for x.

I actually had trouble solving for x at first. I divided by 61684 on both sides of the equation, then what? That x is up there as a "power of" and I didn't know how to get it down! I poured through the dirty cobwebs of my mind and suddenly remembered something about logarithms. A quick Google search for logarithms refreshed my mind, and I now knew that x = log20.5(16211). I'm not even sure the proper way to write that on a keyboard, but I still had a problem. My calculator didn't have a button for taking logs to the 20.5. Not to worry, though, Wikipedia explained that it's the same as log(16211) / log(20.4), which my calculator can do, and I wound up with 3.21 years, or 1171-odd days. Add to today's date, and we end up with December 27, 2010, at precisely 8:36:06PM, Pacific time.

It's solid math, do not try to refute it. =)

What about knowing it's Lock Wench in North Carolina? There's a lot of probabilities involved and is therefore a much less exact science, but she's listed more boxes than everyone except Scout. I assume Scout is going to run out of places to hide new boxes soon, but Lock Wench moved opening up a whole new area for her to play and is therefore more likely to keep planting boxes making her the most likely to plant the one billionth.

Additionally, in the few short years I've known her, she's moved from New York to Connecticut, a distance of about 275 miles, in a general southeast direction. At this rate, we'd expect her to have reached North Carolina by 2010. Obviously, she won't be living in the Atlantic Ocean, so rather than assume she'll continue southeast during that whole time, I expect she'll reach the Atlantic Ocean then just follow it south. Thus, North Carolina.

She's also known for sending stamps far and wide, making friends with the local letterboxing community, and is there any letterboxer bigger than Dixie in North Carolina, who in fact gave me a box (which I planted in Iowa, the Dixie Express, and still waiting a first finder). Two known collaborators in the same state? Definitely a possibility. Additionally, by my eyeball estimates, I figure the "average" box planted by Lock Wench is about 32.37 miles south of where she lives, an impossibly precise number to throw off anyone who thinks I'm "just estimating," so that will be the most likely location of the one billionth letterbox.

This is solid logic. You cannot refute it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Election Results!

The election is over, the votes have been counted. Grand total, 559 members cast their votes. The quick summary: Blue diamonds are here to stay, the option to hide finds and attempts on your boxes are not. The detailed summary:

Should Atlas Quest provide an option to hide finds and attempts on your boxes from others?
1. Yes, give us the option (141 - 25%)
2. No, always show the finds and attempts (268 - 48%)
3. No preference (150 - 27%)

Blue diamonds—keep 'em or trash 'em?
1. I love blue diamonds! Keep 'em! (279 - 50%)
2. I hate blue diamonds! Trash 'em! (68 - 12%)
3. No preference (212 - 38%)

1. I am male (94 - 17%)
2. I am female (320 - 57%)
3. We're a couple (95 - 17%)
4. Other (50 - 9%)

1. Under 13 (8 - 1%)
2. 13-19 (15 - 3%)
3. 20-29 (55 - 10%)
4. 30-39 (202 - 36%)
5. 40-49 (157 - 28%)
6. 50-59 (72 - 13%)
7. 60-69 (18 - 3%)
8. 70-79 (5 - 1%)
9. 80-89 (1 - 0%)
10. 90-99 (1 - 0%)

How long have you been letterboxing?
1. Less than a month (10 - 2%)
2. More than a month, less than a year (162 - 29%)
3. From 1 to 2 years (164 - 29%)
4. From 2 to 5 years (179 - 32%)
5. More than 5 years (37 - 7%)
6. I don't remember.... (7 - 1%)

What would you most like to see?
1. Ryan in a dunk tank (38 - 7%)
2. Amanda as your flight attendant (96 - 17%)
3. A secret AQ board that nobody else knows about (64 - 11%)
4. A taser hooked up to a box that zaps people who do not rehide boxes well (253 - 45%)
5. Can't decide (108 - 19%)

Number of people who told me I spelled "flight attendent" wrong: Zero. =)

I'll add some commentary now.... The option to hide finds and attempts on your plants has increased in support--but it's still a long way from happening. The folks that DO NOT want this option, however, have fallen below that 50% mark. They no longer have a real majority anymore. Last time, 59% of everyone did not want that as an option. That's quite a drop, and might be worth another vote to see if views have changed in another year or so.

Blue diamonds--support for them has actually increased quite significantly. At the last vote, yeas outnumbered nays by 2 to 1. This time, it's 4 to 1. I'm thinking future votes on this topic will likely be a waste of time, but I certainly have no issue reexamining the issue later if I suspect the mood has shifted down again. Why support for the option has increased--I don't really know. *shrug* There could be a number of reasons, in fact, there probably ARE a number of reasons, but it looks like blue diamonds are here to stay.

As for male vs. female, I expected those of the fairer sex outnumbered us me, but I was surprised they did so by such a huge margin! There are more men on AQ sharing an account with their better half than there are single men with their own account. This, I suspect, is good news for single men. ;o) I kind of wonder how many of those "couple accounts" are really driven by women with men in the passenger seat. In any case, men are definitely a minority in this community!

Age of letterboxers--no real surprises here. Most folks are between 30 and 50, and the numbers drop off fast outside of that range. Eight young folks are even willing to admit breaking the terms of service on Atlas Quest which says you must be 13 years or older to have an account. I assume their parents are answering the questions for them, though. =)

The average time people have been letterboxing is about one to two years. I actually expected it to be less than that given the growth of the hobby, but the results weren't exactly shocking either.

As for what you would most like to see, you appear to be a violent bunch of people when it comes to protecting your letterboxes with a whopping 64% of people wanting to taser people who don't rehide boxes well. =) Amanda thinks you 96 people who's like to see her as your flight attendant can charter a flight--perhaps to Dartmoor--and she'll be happy to serve you. =)

Want to add your own commentary, rant about the results, or say your peace, use the main Atlas Quest board. After all, this is an Atlas Quest election!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Happy Mystery Letterbox Day!

You forgot about it, didn't you? Yeah, I know, so did I. It's even right there on my letterboxing calendar. With the big update, I spent the week before preparing it for the The Big Day, then the week after it fixing all the bugs I introduced. Alas, a week later, and I'm still fixing the bugs. They're definitely not as common or easy to find as that first day the update was in place, though!

Here in Seattle, the weather was perfect for mysteries. Dark, ominous clouds. A pattern of rain at times. I walked around Alki in search of submarines, but alas, found none. At least, not THIS time....

On another note, as of THIS MINUTE, 8:37pm according to the clock on my computer (which does tend to run a bit slow, I might add), a total of 488 people have cast their votes in the Voting Booth. I don't really expect any changes in the results at this point, but I've decided to leave the booth open until the end of the holiday weekend to make sure everyone gets a chance to make their opinion heard. I will also be freezing the accounts of all 36 people who want to see me in the dunk tank. (Just kidding! Or am I...? *wink*)

Anyhow, hope you're all enjoying your holiday weekend, assuming it is a holiday where you are, and assuming you have a three day weekend to enjoy it. Also assuming, of course, there's something to enjoy. =) I for one, am happy to report, that I finally listed my boxes that I planted way back in August. Now if I can just get around to listing that Portland box I planted way back in... I think it was July. Been so long, I forget now. One of these days....

In other news, I'm feeling a bit burnt out working on Atlas Quest, so I think I'll spend more time during the next month writing that epic Appalachian Trail book I started a year or two ago. The rough draft is already more than half done! Not to worry--I'll still be checking AQ mail, fixing bugs that turn up, and making a few minor improvements here and there. But I want to spent at least half my "working time" on the book project and take a break from Atlas Quest.

Speaking of those minor improvements, did anyone who attended an event this weekend notice the latest one I put in place late last night? =) It's one of those minor changes that you wouldn't know about unless you attended an event, though. I've been waiting ALL DAY for someone to comment on it, but alas, not a peep that I could find. Oh, well--it IS a minor update. I'm just surprised because there's been much more minor updates that you sharp-eyed folks point out, I find it surprising that nobody commented on this one. =)

Anyhow, hope all is going well, and it's time for me to eat some dinner and watch Desperate Housewives. It's a terrible vice I have. *shaking head*

Friday, October 05, 2007

The voting continues....

As of THIS minute, 3:31pm, Pacific time, not adjusting for any deviations of the time on my laptop, 299 people have cast their votes. Not too shabby for just over 24 hours of voting time, but there were nearly 500 votes cast last time so I expect a lot more to come in during the next few days. While normally I don't want to give any hints about the outcome of the voting, I do want to say that I am heartened that so relatively few of you would prefer to see me in a dunk tank. There are such people out there, but I am happy to report they do not make up a majority. =)

If you haven't cast your votes yet, drop by the Voting Booth and do so now. Last time I announced that, I forgot to open the voting booth doors, but they really are open this time. *nodding*

On another note, I saw a strange thing during my walk this afternoon. For those of you who know me, you might know that I often like to walk around Alki, a small section of Seattle with beautiful views from the snow-covered Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound, to Mount Baker and Mount Rainier (also covered with snow year round). I've seen a lot of strange things during my walks. I've seen bald eagles, sitting out on the beach. (Beautiful birds, I might add.) I've seen raccoons, hiding behind the seawall. I've seen amazing sand sculptures, and once I even saw a man getting a ticket for not having his dog on a leash, which thrilled me to no end. =) I've seen the lowest of the low tides and the highest of the highs. I've seen calm waters and raging waves, and I love watching the ferries plow the waters--especially at night when they're lit up brighter than prisons. I've had cops chase me out of the park (after hours), and I've surprised letterboxers looking for boxes. Last week, I saw some baby seals, lounging on the beach. And one bizarre evening, I was even shot at.

I've seen a lot of strange things on my walks along Alki over the years, but this afternoon I saw something I'd never seen before. A submarine, going south from points to the north. I'd never seen a submarine plying the waters here. Not that I didn't think they weren't around--there is a navel base here, after all, but aren't submarines supposed to be under the water? Exactly. *nodding* I've seen navy ships many times, but I'd never seen a submarine before, and I always assumed it must be because they were under water and out of view.

Not today, though. Today, I watched a submarine, riding free on the surface of the water. I wondered about where it was coming from. Training exercises? Or was it coming back from a tour around the world, after months on the open ocean? I have no idea, but it was still kind of cool to watch a living, breathing submarine moving around in the open water. Not a relic of the cold war, permanently anchored to shore for tourists to visit. A real submarine, in use today, doing whatever it is submarines are supposed to be doing.

I pulled out my monocular (I almost always carry one in my pack--I like them so much I even include them in the link on Atlas Quest). The submarine was a few miles out--not exactly a lot of details were visible--but through my monocular I could see a dot of color on the top of the submarine. Orangish in color. The submarine itself was black, jet black, and I imagine the dot of orange was a crew member, probably enjoying the wind in his hair and the breath of the open water compared to the usual drudgery in the cramped, stale air inside the submarine.

Oh, how I'd love to trade places with that man in orange--just for a couple of minutes. =)

The submarine eventually turned behind Bainbridge Island, and I lost it from view.

But how cool is that? I saw a submarine!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A poll, a poll, yes... another poll....

Now that I'm not up to my neck in an update, I put together a little poll for Atlas Quest members. Let yourself be heard! You can find the poll link under the 'My Page' menubar option, called Voting Booth.

Include with this poll is a revote for blue diamonds and the option to hide finds and attempts on one's boxes. I've largely stopped tweaking blue diamonds at this point and feel it's as good as it'll get with the data available. (Granted, more votes always means better data, but there's not the large influx of votes coming in relative to the amount that are already in at this point.) I've tweaked the best I could, and there's not more tweaking to be done. Do you consider the results worthless and the feature should go, or do you think it's useful (or at least somewhat interesting) and the feature should stay? Let me know!

The last vote with providing an option for planters to hide finds and attempts on their boxes was made during emotional duress, and now that you've all had a chance to try to the option to not allow finds and attempts to be hidden, you're probably better qualified to decide if that would be a worth while option. Especially given the fact that most people seemed okay with allowing the option to hide finds and attempts in your logbook (yes, that was in the last update, in case you missed it--check your preferences), I'm thinking there's a real possibility that people might be okay with an option to hide finds and attempts on one's own boxes. Note, however, that the last found date will still be available--you just will not be able to see the list of finds and attempts, nor who were the finders or attempters.

Then there are a few questions about the demographics on Atlas Quest (and, in theory, letterboxers as a whole, but who knows?), including age, sex, and how long you've been letterboxing.

Then there's a rather silly question because.... do I really need a reason? =)

So head over to the Voting Booth and cast your votes. All votes will remain confidential. The voting booth will be open for... well, I don't know how long. A week or so, perhaps? I don't have a set timeline. I'll announce the results after the voting booths close.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

This announcement is brought to you by....

I know some of you love those little Atlas Quest PSA photos I created a while back. What PSA photos, you ask? Like the one on this blog, on the right side of the page. It changes every time you reload the page. You can get your own Atlas Quest PSA announcement for your website from the AQ Links page (found under the Toolbox menubar option).

While creating the silly edition of the AQ calendar, it occurred to me that some of those are really funny and could be added to the PSA lineup.

So for your entertaining pleasure, I'm proud to introduce the latest PSAs:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Atlas Quest.... is... alive!

Atlas Quest was born June 24, 2004. It's my baby, and it continues to grow. Not just in the number of people who are using the site, but it continues to mature, fleshing out features I didn't put much effort into the first time I went through and implemented version 1.0.

If there was ever an update to Atlas Quest that deserved the name 2.0, this is the one. For you tech folks out there, that has nothing to do with "Web 2.0" which I think is so overused (not to mentioned misused). Ultimately, my goal is to create a very simple, clean website without AJAX, Flash animations, and such.

The reason I think of this update as AQ 2.0 is because the original feature I developed--the first major feature (and the only major feature when the site went live)--the city based search.... is no more. I have retired it. Today, something even better has come along, which I call the location-based search.

You'll notice the old search box for city, state, and country are now gone, replaced with a single text box that just says "location." What does that mean? It means a lot of things.

It means you can still search by city. Try typing "Seattle, WA", and you'll get a search for boxes in and around Seattle, Washington.

But you can also type "98116"--the zip code of my PO Box there--and you'll get a search based on that zip code.

Or type in "Admiral Way at California Ave, Seattle, WA," and you'll get a search based on the corner of SW Admiral Way and SW California Avenue.

Or type in "Lincoln Park, Seattle, WA," and it'll return with the results of all boxes nearest Lincoln Park.

Or type in "Mount Rushmore." You don't even need to mention a city--it's not like there's THAT many Mount Rusymores out there.

Or type in "French Hospital, San Luis Obispo, CA."

Or type in an airport code, such as SBP.

To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure what all that little box supports. It's hooked up to the Google geocoder, and it's actually Google that processes what you type then sends the latitude and longitude coordinates back to Atlas Quest, and Atlas Quest runs the search on those coordinates. If it's something that Google can handle, it's something that Atlas Quest can handle.

Additionally, their geocoder also supports the countries of Canada, Germany, Italy, and Brazil. (Yes, Brazil. No, I don't know why.) So addresses in those countries should also work! I tried some Australia locations and got some decent results out of that as well, so I know there's at least some support for Australia. As Google adds support for more countries, Atlas Quest will automatically start supporting them as well.

What about the rest of those countries out there? Alas, there is still no address support for you folks (but I'm sure Google is working hard on fixing that as I type!), but Atlas Quest still knows all the cities it always knew before, so if Google comes up empty handed, then Atlas Quest will try to parse the data and find the city you searched for. The same state and country abbreviations are still used for this purpose. So if you need to search for boxes on Dartmoor, you'll want to search for "Dartmoor, ENG." You can try an address if you want, but it probably won't work. (I did get the address for "10 Downing St, London" to work, but most of the addresses I tried failed miserably.)

If you were wondering what took this update so long to get out the door, it was this feature. Freakishly tricky to get just right. =) Heck, it might still have problems, but it seems pretty solid at this point.

You'll find a number of other changes as well. There's now a contact list. All types of boxes can now support attributes, and most of them have new attributes. (Especially those virtual boxes! If you have virtual boxes, you might want to go back and update the attributes on them.)

I plan to be around for most of the day fixing bugs that crop up. This is a massive, massive update, and I have little doubt there are bugs that need fixing. If you have questions or problems, post to the message boards. There's not much documentation for all the new features--I still need to do that. =) I will get to it eventually, though. *nodding*

There's also one small change you may or may not notice, but I want to point out. When I started Atlas Quest, it was a website. It wasn't even apparent it was a letterboxing website just from the name, so I added a small subtitle at the top that read "A Letterboxing Website" so people know the site was, in fact, about letterboxing.

With this update, though, I felt that should change. Atlas Quest isn't "just" a website anymore. It's a community. It's a community that posted over 10,000 messages to the boards this month! So I changed that subtitle to read "A Letterboxing Community." I think it fits better. =)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tick Tock! Tick Tock!

Yes, the legendary Next Big Update is still planned for tomorrow (Saturday) morning. If all goes well, by this time tomorrow, I'll be on the NEXT Next Big Update. =) Actually, I'll probably take a break from big updates and start doing lots of little ones. Maybe even make a couple of new themes.

I've decided to leave the AQ Marketplace open for one extra day. I've already changed the code on my development machine that will close the marketplace, but I figured I'll let that change go in at the same time I do the update. Why worry about such a little update today when it'll fix itself with the big update tomorrow? So for you slackers you there, you have one more day to put in your order. At least until I shut down the site tomorrow morning. And the code on my development machine already has the marketplace closed, so there will be NO MORE extensions! Once the code goes live, the marketplace will be closed. =)

I haven't been finding quite so many bugs in the update today as I did yesterday, and the bugs that are showing their ugly heads have been relatively minor. The ones yesterday could have been show stoppers if I didn't get them fixed! The feature I think will likely case the most trouble has been getting a serious pounding today, and it's holding up far better than I had hoped. Things are looking good! =)

You can't see me, but I'm rubbing my hands with glee. *rubbing hands* At least in between each sentence I type. *more rubbing hands, with glee* Very exciting. *rubbing hands together*

I don't have a set time I plan to take AQ down tomorrow morning. Whenever I wake up and finish breakfast. I don't plan to set an alarm clock, though, so whenever I'm ready to do the update, I'll give about a half hour warning. Give me a chance to read all the message boards, reply to AQ mail, etc., before the site goes down and the update begins. If I had to guess, I'd say somewhere between 9 and 10 in the morning (Pacific time), but it could be earlier if I wake up early or later if I sleep in especially late.

*rubbing hands together*

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Next Big Update.... is NEAR!

You've been hearing about this update for months now. It started innocently enough, to add support for attributes on non-traditional boxes. I wasn't even going to include the new attributes yet--just add support for them.

It was all downhill from that. Since I was mucking around with that code, I figured what the heck, and added attributes too. Then since I was mucking around with that, I figured why not fix the add/edit box feature so you can skip ahead or go back to any page you want WITHOUT having to go through the whole series of pages. Then since I was doing that, etc, etc. It got out of control. Even yesterday, some of the changes required changes to the event code (don't ask how attributes on a letterbox ended up messing up code that handled events!), and I found myself wanting to improve features and code dealing with the events, but I finally said enough is enough and pulled back. NO MORE FEATURE CREEP!

For you computer scientists out there, the term feature creep is one that's always used in fear. Simple tasks become nightmares, and deadlines are missed. And for what? Usually nothing worth the extra effort.

I'm happy to report, at least this feature creep has some really cool stuff in it. =) The simple changes I originally planned to implement did become nightmares, and my deadlines have slipped by months! The downside is that all the cool features I finished oh so many months ago have been waiting until the rest of the broken code caught up with it.

This last week, though, I decided no more feature creep. I'm going to get this update out the door if it kills me. Yesterday was a battle--I so wanted to fix so many things that were wrong with the listing, editing, and searching of events. But I pulled back. No, I will leave that for another day.

One particular problem had plagued me for over a month. It's a freakishly cool feature, and only a tiny handful of people know about. I thought it would be easy to include and implement, and I could not have been more wrong. I finally got through THAT mess a couple of weeks ago, though, and suddenly it was just a matter of tying up loose ends. All that code I broke in the process of getting this new feature to work had to be fixed, cleaned up, tested, and debugged before I could push the update onto the live site.

And that's what I've been doing the last couple of weeks. Tying up loose ends, occasionally "improving" stuff along the way. (For instance, you'll be able to search message boards for messages on a specific board or category now.)

What does this mean to you? It means, this evening, mere minutes ago, I finished tying the last loose end. Yes, that's right. The code on my development machine now has NO known bugs in it. Okay, I know there are bugs--any update of this magnitude is going to have bugs--but there are no bugs that I currently know about. As far as I know, if I cross my fingers, it might even work absolutely flawlessly if I uploaded the code to the live site right now. =)

I'm not going to do so just yet, though. I know there's bound to be a heap of bugs in the code, and I need to do some more testing (and debugging) before I take the update live. I plan to spend the next couple of days doing nothing but testing (and debugging, as necessary). Kick those tires real hard. =)

Then, on Saturday morning, barring any unforeseen disasters, I'm going to take AQ down and upload the changes. Hopefully it won't take more than an hour or so, but it might. This is an update of unprecedented size for Atlas Quest, however, and it might take a few hours getting everything into place.

For you old timers on Atlas Quest, you know I usually do my "big updates" late at night after everyone goes to sleep. Usually starting around midnight, Pacific time. I'm doing it slightly differently this time around, though. I'll take it down Saturday morning for two reasons.

One, there usually aren't many people on AQ Saturday morning.

Two, I expect, despite my testing and debugging the next couple of days, that there will still be bugs that slip through the cracks. Perhaps major bugs. I want to be up and able to fix them as soon as they're found. None of this upload the change and going to sleep for me this time around! And many of you might have questions that need answering. I haven't really documented any of the new features that have been implemented, mostly because I intend to add that later into the Help section. I didn't want to start adding documentation before the features were uploaded! ;o)

So there you have it. If all goes well, Saturday morning, that Next Big Update will happen. If I've promised a change or feature that's in the "Next Big Update" to you, it'll happen this Saturday.

At long last, the great beast is ready for the live site. *roar!* =)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Last chance for calendars!

The Atlas Quest 2008 letterboxing calendars are for sale through the AQ Marketplace, but they won't be for much longer. I plan to shut the marketplace down at some point on Friday and start the presses rolling! You will still be able to order them directly from the printer after Friday, but since I'm buying them in bulk, you'll save money by ordering them through me.

If you plan to pay with a personal check or money order, you'll want to get them in the mail sooner rather than later. I'll wait for a week or so for the post office to do their job, but if payment doesn't arrive by the time the calendars do, I reserve the right to sell your calendars to someone else or give them away for gathering raffles or some such nonsense. =)

For those of you who *have* mailed a payment and want to make sure I received it, you can check the status of your order on the View Orders page. If the status says "pending," I have not received payment. If it says "paid," then I have. =) A small number of people might have a status of "confirmed" which only happens if you pay using an eCheck on PayPal. It means PayPal is processing your payment, but the funds have not yet officially been transfered. It'll change to "paid" once PayPal finishes the transaction--usually after three or four days. Other funding sources using PayPal happen immediately, so the "confirmed" status only applies for those using an eCheck.

I expect the calendars to take as long as two weeks for them to be printed and arrive at my doorstep, at which point I'll forward the individual orders on to you. When the calendars do arrive on my doorstep, though, I'll let you know at which point you can expect them on your doorstep in another three or four days. =) Tentatively, you should receive them around October 15th.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Calendars are IN!

The official Atlas Quest 2008 letterboxing calendars arrived in my mailbox this afternoon. There were three of them, one for each edition. This is always the exciting part for me, to touch and feel those very first calendars. Flipping through each page, worried there might be something unexpectedly wrong that needs fixing, then breathing a sigh of relief when it turned out exactly like I imagined.

The first year, a few of the pictures were garbled. The pictures were fine on my computer, and the thumbnail images where I uploaded them looked fine, but when they were printed, all sorts of problems and distortions arrived. None of that this time.

Last year, the photos looked great, but there it had a ton of holidays I'd never even heard of. I kind of clicked which types holidays I wanted from a list: US holidays, Canadian holidays, religious holidays (for Catholics, Protestants, Jewish, and probably a couple of other religions whose holidays I'd never even heard of before), and more.

It was a bit crowded, so I narrowed down the list a bit. Not to mention that a couple of notable holidays were missing, such as Mother's Day. Hello? So I had to fix the problems with the dates.

This year, however, every calendar looked great. I was a bit worried about the photos without quotes, the photos that filled up the entire page. That was how I initially imagined the calendar, but the photos weren't of a high enough resolution. Nowadays, there's still some low-res photos coming in (my own, for instance, the cheap camera that it is!), but a larger proportion of them are much higher resolution photos that can easily stretch to fit the whole page.

And honestly, it's less work for me that way. I don't have to position the photo, find a quote to go with it, and so forth. (The labor I saved, however, ended up going into the creation of THREE calendars this year instead of one!) So I thought I'd try the "blow up the picture to fill the whole space," but I worried it wouldn't turn out as nice as I hoped. That was one of my bigger worries as I started flipping through the calendars one page at a time, but it turned out very well.

The photos also overlap the edge of the calendar, so the very edges of the calendars get cropped out. I have to leave a bit of blank space along the edges knowing there needed to be a small margin that would get cut off, but not knowing exactly where the cutoff would happen. Would credits get chopped out? Would a quote at the bottom of the page become perforated with holes from the spiral binding? I left what I thought was plenty of space, but the only way to be sure was to order them and see how they looked when printed.

And one photo in particular I worried might be a bit too grainy. In my paint program, it looked extremely grainy when I blew up the photo, and I worried it would show up in the printed calendar. Happily, it too turned out great.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the calendars. At least nothing wrong that I didn't already know about before it arrived like that "it's" spelling mistake. =)

In any case, the calendars look GREAT! I took a picture of the real things which I'll post at some point, but I'm quite happy with the results. I'll leave the AQ Marketplace open for another week or so--I'll post a reminder about two days before I close it for good--for those who want to order them. You'll still be able to order them after the marketplace closes, but you'll have to order them direct from the publisher, and unless you plan to buy several dozen of them at a time, they won't give you a bulk discount so it'll cost a bit more. I'll be buying in bulk and am passing the savings on.

The downside, of course, is that I won't put in the bulk order until after the marketplace closes and I know exactly how many calendars I need to order. Then they have to print the calendars, ship the order to me, and I'll repackage them all to forward on to you. So you probably won't receive the calendar until mid-October sometime.

In any case, if you want to order your calendars (they make great Christmas gifts, too!), NOW'S the time to do so! You can check out the photos used in the Original Edition, Sunset Edition, and Silly Edition, and you'll save even more by ordering all three.

If I used one (or more!) of your photos in the calendar, do NOT include your free calendars in your order. I'll be handling those separately.

Friday, September 07, 2007

State of the Calendar Address....

I have a confession to make. I really don't like making calendars. I'm always proud of them when I'm done, but the process of making them I find slow, tedious, and not very fun. For days on end, I'm having to pick among photos, and I always feel a little bit bad when I set one aside and say, "No, not that one." Because someone, somewhere, would be disappointed with that decision. It's kind of a depressing process.

In the end, however, it's worth it. That first time the calendar arrives in the mail, and I open that box flipping through every page and thinking, "Wow! That so friggin' cool!"

It's worth it, but I don't find the process of creating them very fun or interesting. I tend to dread it every year. After a couple of days, I find myself doing other things. Working on the code base for AQ a bit. (Major progress on that Next Big Update, I might add!) But I continue working on the calendar as well since it won't get done otherwise, and I'd rather not have it hanging over my head. However, because of my dislike for the task, they aren't coming together as fast as they could. That's my fault, and I apologize, but they will get done!

Yesterday, I spent much of the afternoon making final decisions about what photos I'd use for two calendars. When I finished, I looked through the 'serious' photos and thought, "Wow! This is the best calendar yet!" The silly calendar--I'm not sure I'd call it the best, but it'll likely make you smile every time you look at it. =)

As a final check, I tried to make sure I didn't overuse a certain type of photo, nor have the calendar dominated by a single photographer, nor have a certain part of the country with the overwhelming number of photos. Spread things out a bit and add variety. Variety across photographers, variety across the subject matter, and variety from around the country.

Ultimately, I chose four sunset pictures, each of them quite different of the others, and all of them amazing. Those were the toughest to pick from, because there were a LOT of really phenomenal sunset photos to choose from. I worried that even using four in the calendar might be a bit overkill, but wow! What photos!

And it hit me--did I have enough sunset photos to actually make a calendar with JUST sunset photos? The 2008 Atlas Quest letterboxing calendar--the Sunset Edition?

I flipped through every submission with a sunset, counting them, and deciding if I could turn them into a calendar of their own. Yes, I think that would work. I pulled the four sunset photos I used in the original calendar and put them in with the "sunset edition," then replaced the four with equally wonderful photos that did not use sunsets. (I didn't have a whole lot of sunset photos to spare for the main calendar anymore.)

About a half hour ago, I finally finished picking the final photos I want to use in THREE calendars! The "regular" AQ calendar, the "sunset edition," and the "silly edition." I have enlisted Wassamattu_u's help for the silly edition to make sure it is sufficiently silly. =)

I have quotes picked out for some of the photos, but others I still need to find something for. I usually try to pick quotes that have something to do with the photo, but given the sunset edition uses 12 different sunsets (plus a 13th for the cover!), I'll be hard pressed to find 12 unique quotes about sunsets. I plan to give them nice, thoughtful quotes, but they can be about pretty much anything which makes finding quotes a heck of a lot easier for me. For very high resolution photos that can fill up the entire page, I may not even include a quote at all!

So at this point, I've finished picking photos and sorting them into months. I could still change my mind about them as I find more quotes that go better with other photos, but I have a solid base to work from now for three different calendars. I hope you all buy a lot of them, though, because I'll be giving away a heck of a lot more calendars that I originally intended to all the people who's photos I've used! I'm kind of scared to count exactly how many calendars I need to give away. =) The last couple of years, I've more-or-less broke even on them, where the markup in each calendar ended up covering the cost of the calendars I gave away for free.

So that is the state of the calendar address. The photos are chosen.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sweating and Laborings

Based on the dramatic drop of people visiting Atlas Quest yesterday and today, I assume you're all off enjoying Labor Day. I suspect a surge of find reports come Tuesday morning when you all get back to work. If AQ is running a little sluggish that day, you'll likely know the reason. ;o)

As for me, I like to work during the Labor Day weekend to avoid the crowds that are at the beaches and on the trails. Traveling is hard as it is, packed full of cars on vacation. Not really my thing, so I'd just as soon work during the weekend then go out and play when everyone else has to go back to work. =)

Not to mention that it's freakishly hot outside this weekend. I'm in California at the moment, and I swear it must have been a hundred degrees outside. I didn't even walk anywhere today to stretch my legs. You know it's bad when I don't do that. Even eleven o'clock at night, as I write this, I'm sweating bullets. The temperature has cooled outside, but alas, the heat in the house hasn't escaped yet even though all the windows are open and the fans are on. It's not fun.

As for work, my number one priority is knocking out the 2008 Atlas Quest letterboxing calendar. Yesterday I spent hours pouring over nearly 500 photos narrowing them down to about 100. Today I've narrowed it down even more, down to about 50 choices, but it's getting harder, and started searching for interesting quotes that can go with all 50 of them. When I have two amazing photos I can't decide between, I'll end up deciding which one I can find the better quote to go with it and let the quote be the deciding factor. So I'm scouring the web looking for interesting quotes to go with all 50-or-so finalists. It'll take some time.

For the first time, I'm also considering turning them into TWO calendars--I really did get a lot of very impressive photos! Perhaps a more "serious" calendar like the last couple of years, then a "silly" calendar that's meant to entertain and make you laugh. =) There are certainly some interesting choices available. I might need to make use of Wassamatta_u's puns.

This afternoon, I enabled the AQ shopping cart for myself so I could kick it a bit and see if it's still working properly since last year, and so far the results look promising. The pages themselves look like their working as expected. I wanted to fix a couple of minor issues that came up last year, but it's not really in a state for me to make extensive changes to the code base, so I'll leave the minor issues in place. Maybe next year I'll fix them. =) I still need to check that payments using PayPal will still process and work correctly, but the rest of the code seems to work correctly. I'm rather happy with the results so far.

I'm thinking I might go to a movie tomorrow afternoon to beat the heat in an air-conditioned movie theater. Perhaps go out for lunch to an air-conditioned restaurant while I'm at it. Gosh, I hope it cools down soon. Oh, and I'm scheduled to donate platelets for a couple of hours, which is also air-conditioned. =) Turns out, they have a difficult time convincing people to donate blood on Labor Day and were gushing about my willingness to do so. Hello? Everyone else is at the beach! I'd rather donate blood when nobody else wants to and things are running slow and calm. I also get more attention during such times. ;o)

Tiring of work on the calendar, I spent an hour this evening fixing a minor bug I discovered a few days ago. This bug really amuses me, because it's been on AQ since almost day 1, and it's been lurking there all this time. It's a minor bug, to be sure, and reared it's ugly head when someone posted a link to the help section somewhere (I'm not even sure where--probably the message boards). The link was at the end of a sentence, however, and since URLs can include periods, the period at the end of the sentence got included in the URL.

Consequently, the URL looked something like

The period should not be part of the URL, but it slipped in anyhow.

Normally, this isn't a problem. AQ always checks the data coming into the site to insure it's valid. Hackers often like to try changing the data in a URL to break into websites, so before I use the data labeled gId, I check to make sure it is indeed a number like expected. If it's not a number, AQ will send you to the dreaded 404 Page Not Found error.

Turns out, "2312." actually IS a number. I really didn't want the period in there, but it slipped through my check of the data anyhow, then it broke the database query which was expecting a whole number without the period. When AQ directs you to a 404 error page because someone typed a URL wrong, I don't worry too much about it, and AQ doesn't tell me about the problem. The URL is incorrect and that's the proper response. In this case, however, AQ approved the number "2312." when it shouldn't have, then it broke a query. At that point, the code knows something has gone horrible wrong and SOMETHING needs to be fixed. So it sends an error message that webmasters can read. This particular error message said something like "SQL Error: Check query "SELECT * FROM Gizmo WHERE id=2312."

So I tracked the problem back to an incorrect URL that slipped through the data verification process. It's a minor issue--it doesn't happen very often at all unless you follow a link that includes a period in the number--and when it does happen, the worst that will happen is you see a blank screen. That blank screen is AQ's way of freaking out. Something totally unexpected happen, it notifies the webmaster, then just stops dead in its tracks, unsure of what to do next. Continue? Redirect to another page? Display an error and stop? It doesn't know--so it just stops. The person who followed the link might try refreshing the page a couple of times hoping to get it to work, but it won't work and they'll eventually give up and go away or find some other way to access the information they were looking for.

Being such an uncommon error with relatively little minor consequences, it was high on my to-do list. I think getting the calendar out and the latest update done is more important, so I put the bug aside. Until this evening, when I found myself exhausted from working on the calendar and the update and wanted a change of pace. So I spent about an hour creating a special function that can take input from the command line and pull out a number--just the digits zero through 9, or return FALSE if it's not a number. Then updating all calls that were expected to pull numbers from the command line to use my new data-checking function that will make sure no periods get included into the number. Creating the new function--easy. Mere minutes and it was working. Updating the 319 places where I needed to call the new function--that look about an hour.

As with all the changes I've been making lately, the bug fix will be in the Next Big Update. =) In the meantime, if you want to freak out AQ, try changing one of those URLs that have a number in it to include a period at the end of the number. Doesn't matter where you do this. The member ID, a letterbox ID, a blog ID--none of them currently work correctly with that period. Some places might actually--inadvertently--work as expected, but most of those 319 places will probably cause a blank screen and an error notification to be sent to me.

Enjoy the hacking now, though, because it'll be fixed in the Next Big Update. =)

Now I'm off to bed. Goodnight all!