Friday, May 23, 2008

Plant a Letterbox Day and the Ultimate Plant Challenge

I don't know about the rest of you, but I carved two stamps this afternoon for Plant a Letterbox Day. I still need to create logbooks for them and put all the pieces together. As most of you probably already know, May 24th will be the third annual Plant a Letterbox Day. Just a few more hours!

Admittedly, I'm winging it here. I know vaguely the area where I want to hide these two boxes, but I haven't scouted the area for specific hiding spots and it can be a pretty busy area at times. Not only will there likely be a lot of people around (it is Memorial Day weekend, after all!), but it's a fairly manicured area overall so hiding places may be limited.

I haven't thought about what torturous clues I'll create for the boxes either. These boxes won't be on a long, remote, or difficult hiking trail. These will be city boxes, and as anyone who knows me, I just can't let my boxes be easy finds. I like to challenge people--either physically or mentally. =) I work best under pressure, though, so I'm sure I'll think of something by the end of day tomorrow. *nodding*

On a related note, it'll actually be the closest letterbox I've ever planted to AQ headquarters here in Seattle. Since I own no car, I wanted to plant these within easy walking distance so I can check up on them as often as necessary. It also has possibilities to be extended in the future as part of a longer series.

Speaking of headquarters, I stumbled across the headquarters for purely by accident a week or two ago. Completely unrelated, I know, but I was rather amused to have found it in downtown Seattle while eating a donut at a nearby shop waiting for the movie Iron Man to start. Amanda and I wandered over and looked into the windows, and we could see what appeared to be geocaches piled up against the walls. We didn't walk in since you need to be buzzed in by an employee and we didn't have a good excuse ready to explain why we wanted in, so we just looked through the windows like thieves casing a joint. =)

Amanda wants to hide a letterbox inside, which I think would be wonderfully hilarious. Not sure how to pull that trick off, but if anyone can do it, I bet a letterboxing geocacher could.

Since Atlas Quest cannot afford employees or public offices, we're a little more modest in our physical presence: a post office box. It's a real box, though, and anyone who wants is welcome to visit the post office and visit the very location where I (or Amanda) pick up all sorts of interesting things including premium membership payments, LTCs, occasional surprise gifts, and a couple of magazine subscriptions I have.

I've thought it would be fun to somehow turn the official AQ postal office box into a letterbox, or at least use it as a clue to find a letterbox nearby, but haven't figured out a good way to do that yet.

While I'm meandering in my thoughts, I'll give you a quick update on some of the things happening with Atlas Quest. I created a new theme earlier this week, which turned out to take far more effort to create than I anticipated, but it's turned out to be one of my favorite themes ever. Even better, you won't have long to wait. ;o) There are actually three new themes scheduled to show up within the next two months, and the first of them is about a week away.

I'm also working on a "secret project," which will likely take me a couple of days. I can't tell you details about it yet, but it's not directly related to Atlas Quest anyhow. It's a side project that others have taken the lead in and I'm playing more of a supporting role--in this case, lending my stupendous programming skills. ;o)

At the moment, the source code for AQ is largely frozen until I finish working on improved trackers. Lots of work is still left to be done before I finish that. It's in a half-finished state that makes unrelated incremental improvements hard to upload, so there's a pile of more minor features that I'm holding back until the Next Big Update.

The minor change--already implemented and working on my development machine--that I think most of you will enjoy the most is the ability to do a search that allows you to remove your finds from the search results.... AND the finds of one other person as well. So the next time you and a buddy go out to find a box, you can print out a list of boxes that neither of you have found. (This will only work, however, if your buddy does not hide their finds from public viewing. If their finds are hidden, you can't import them into your own search results.)

But I digress.... back to Plant a Letterbox Day.

This is the first year the day falls on a weekend--and a holiday weekend, no less!--so I suspect the number of plants could be a lot higher than previous years. It'll be interesting to see how things will play out. Keep an eye on the results throughout the day at Remember, Atlas Quest runs on Pacific time, so the countdown is counting down to midnight for us folks on the west coast.

Have fun, and stay safe!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Plant a Letterbox Day

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: Spring cleaning, allergies, and.... Plant a Letterbox Day! Yes, just one week away, our annual little test to crash Atlas Quest by listing too many letterboxes is upon us once again.

It's a great excuse to get out and plant those boxes you've been thinking and stamps you've been carving all winter. Or, if you've never planted your own letterbox before, take it upon yourself to join this other side of letterboxing and give back to the letterboxers whose boxes you've been finding all this time. Whatever your reason, just get out and start planting!

The rules? Go outdoors and plant a letterbox. Then come back and list it on Atlas Quest, being sure to list the plant date as May 24, 2008. It's okay if you have to work and want to plant your box a bit early or late--just be sure the plant date is May 24, 2008, and your boxes will be included as part of the official count.

You can see the last two years of planting results on the official Plant a Letterbox Day page on Atlas Quest. Last year, about 200 people planted hundreds of boxes. I think we can do better than that, however. ;o)