Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Virtuals Revisited

When I first saw virtuals, I didn't really get the appeal. Until one.... there was one virtual that I positively thrilled myself solving. It's simple--practically mindless, in fact--but I absolutely loved it. It's called the Peatbank. If you've never been interested in virtuals, it's at least worth keeping your mind open for this one. It's different. I'm not sure who created it, except that it was an Englishman (or woman), and it was rather unfortunate this type of virtual didn't get 'exported' into the United States like their real letterboxes had been. This virtual made the hunt for a virtual box as much like the real thing as possible on thing contraption we call the Internet.

So far as I know, only one attempt was ever done to recreate the spirit of that original Dartmoor virtual box, Lone R's Northern Village. It was a supremely satisfying change of pace of the usual virtuals being posted and I hoped it would inspire others, but apparently... it didn't. *shrug*

But that's the kind of virtual I actually get excited about, and finally, I set up a system that makes it a heck of a lot easier for me to list that type of virtual myself. For those of you paying attention to recent virtuals, you'll have noticed a positive blizzard of these types of boxes. I probably created more in the last few days than have ever existed, and each one I listed tested some of the code behind it. Tweak some more, listed another one, tweak some more, list another one.

It started with The Seychelles, a place Amanda has always wanted to visit. But I also imagined ways to letterbox virtually that we could never do in real life, such as in space or underwater, or even find a true "micro" box. I have some other ideas for virtuals I'd like to create, but I'll save those as surprises.

The code for listing these types of virtuals seems pretty solid now, so the feature has been opened for anyone and everyone who would like to give their hand at it. Seems like a lot of you have been enjoying these virtuals I've listed over the last few days, but I'd like to enjoy solving a few that others have listed! The process for creating them is still considerably more complicated than the usual state of using passkeys, but it does take out a lot of grunt work that would have been required before which is why the most time consuming part to create these virtuals was carving the stamp--not setting up the HTML which used to be the biggest bottleneck.

Look for a lot more of these in the future! If you're interested in solving these, be sure to join the Virtuals group. Otherwise, the virtual functionality is largely hidden.


Anonymous said...

I remember trying that Peatbank one so long ago. I didn't get them all, but pretty close. If I remember correctly. That really was a fun one, and I seem to remember there was another like it, too. Wasn't it a continuous one? Or maybe I am thinking of the same one. ??

Anonymous said...

Have you tried this Dizzy box?


Love your new fangled virtuals Ryan. If I can find just the right photo, I'll be trying my hand at this in new feature.

Lone R

MamaMir said...

Gee... Which would I rather do: boring work or find your virtuals? Thanks a lot! Ever so much more fun than work.

Anonymous said...

So is this kind of virtual going to have its own attribute? -SITE

Teresa said...

What about the concept of a'virtual box' to be applied to a place you really go to physically, but there is no actual box there. This is used in geocaching in places where boxes are not allowed, such as National Parks (they also use the term "earthcache" to describe a location based on a geologic description).

Whoever sets up the cache decides how to determine if you were really there or not. One method is to require you to take a picture of yourself next to the feature. Another is to answer questions that you could only answer if you went there.

I don't know that it would work as well letterboxing because of the issue of stamps, but the virtual boxes with nothing but online stamps seems to be popular, so you never know. Do people print them out and put them in logbook or what?