Saturday, April 03, 2010

Did you miss the mustache during all the shenanigans?

With all the shenanigans going on lately, from Apollo Quest and random themes to alleged marriages going on and suspect dentist visits (okay, the dentist visit was real), real development for Atlas Quest has not come to a completely stand still. It just seems that way. And, so far, it seems like nobody has noticed on a couple of the newest features.

First, there's that suspicious mustache icon. I added this over a week ago, and at least a few people have noticed it since I see it used in about a dozen entries. But I'm a little surprised that nobody has yet to comment on it on the message boards. This icon can be applied to any event box that's Hidden In Plain Sight (HIPS), if you want to give people a head's up to keep their eyes open. Kuku and Wassa (and Wassa friends) were the inspiration for this icon. Kuku e-mailed me a question about how to list a HIPS box, and technically speaking, there wasn't any way to list them, but it seemed like it could be a useful icon for event boxes.

I wasn't sure what kind of icon could represent a HIPS box, however, so I scratched my head a bit thinking about all those sneaky HIPS boxes I've found in the past--hidden in fake cans, hollowed out books, in otherwise empty donut boxes, and such. Leave something unusual on a picnic table at an event--such as a rock. A solid piece of granite. Just put it on a picnic table and watch what happens. Admire the dozens of people that will pick up the rock, look under the rock, knock the rock around. They're convinced it's a hidden event stamp, and they'll spend ten minutes trying to figure out The Secret of the Rock. Even when there is no secret! That's how powerful these HIPS boxes are. They turn sane people into those crazy people you'll cross the street to avoid.

Of course, when I start thinking about sneaky and conniving, I start remembering the fun from the Spy vs. Spy event. And when I start thinking about that event, I start remember the ridiculous fake mustaches Wassa's team wore. And I thought, "Ha-ha!" THAT can be the icon for a HIPS box! Wassa's mustache! And thus, he unwittingly became the inspiration for the icon. Remember that the next time you see the icon. ;o)

In a completely unrelated update, there's yet another new search option I call the Linear Path Search, which is a really ugly name to describe a search along the straight line from Point A to Point B. It's a lot like the Trip Planner search that allows you to search for all boxes within a specified distance of a specific route, though in this case, you get to the pick the starting and ending points for anywhere on Earth. And, it'll only work with straight lines. So if you're traveling along an Interstate, you're still probably better off running a Trip Planner search. If you're traveling off the beaten path, however, or live in Canada or Europe where there is no trip planner support (as of yet, at least), the linear path search can recreate a lot of that functionality.

Take this example of a 5-mile wide search from Sacramento to Seattle. (Technically speaking, the search is for all boxes within 5 miles of the line from Sacramento to Seattle, so it's actuall 10-miles wide--5 miles for each side of the line.) Each box shows how far down that line the box is located, and how far off from the line the box is located. And check out the mapped results--pretty slick-looking, don't you think?

For long distances such as this, it's probably not that helpful since most roads won't be anywhere near straight enough to follow a straight-line route, but broken into shorter segments, it could prove to be a very useful search. Any point on Earth can be mapped--addresses, cities, zip codes, latitude and longitude coordinates, and more. Anything you can search for using a location-based search will work as points for the linear path search.

Happy trails!


Anonymous said...

;-)Those look awfully close to your hiking zone, Ryan. You gonna hit all of them on your hike? Great feature!

Melissa R said...

love the straight line feature. I'll have to try it out soon.

just for fun:
The word verification I have to pop in is "gaggisem". Apparently, it's not a real word but it certainly sounds like one!

Anonymous said...

Very cool! I know this will come in handy.

Anonymous said...

i would be looking at the rock!