Sunday, July 17, 2011

World Travelers!

I'm still making some tweaks and updates to the geocoders and fixing things that I broke with this big update--yes, there are still outstanding issues that need my attention!--however, the seriousness of them seems to be subsiding. Progress is progress--I'll take it! =)

So I'm still not quite ready to blog about the tip, tricks, and traps to avoid in listing locations with your letterboxes, but it seems a lot of you are figuring it out already.

This morning, I pulled up a map of the most recently listed letterboxes on Atlas Quest. I was actually testing for a certain problem that was reported to me and any search results would have worked for my purposes, but there was that handy, fat little Map Newest Letterboxes button so I made use of it--and was a little surprised to see letterboxes all over the world! Yes, I know, people plant letterboxes all over the world, but usually when I look at that map, I see a bunch of letterboxes listed in the United States and maybe--sometimes--there might be one in Europe or New Zealand or something off the beaten path.

Since the list of newest boxes is always changing, I did a screen shot of the map I saw so you can see what I mean:

Look at that--there are boxes in the United Kingdom, a few in Western Europe, one in the Carribean, one "floating" off the coast of Africa, one in Thailand, a bunch in Alaska, and G--from this point of view--appears to be the Lost City of Atlantis. =)

The Alaska ones, in hindsight, make a lot of sense. There was a letterbox cruise to Alaska recently, and it appears they've been busy listing their letterboxing! That green marker labeled "M" I knew immediately were mystery boxes located "somewhere in the world." World-wide mysteries are mapped to the coordinates at 0, 0, and "M" is at 0, 0. Being a green marker, as I discussed yesterday, floating in the middle of water was nothing unusual and most likely, those mystery boxes are really located in the United States somewhere.

But still, it seemed like an unusual number of boxes are located outside of the United States, and I started worrying if there was a problem with the geocoders putting boxes in the wrong locations, so I took a closer look at the others.

And they're totally legit! Even that blue one mysterious floating in the middle in the Indian Ocean. If you zoomed in close enough, you'd see that it marked the location of a small island that's a part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Those in Western Europe really are located in Spain, Morocco, and Scotland. The box listed as being in Thailand really is in Vietnam--the map is actually correct, but we're zoomed out so far that Vietnam doesn't show up as a separate country in this view. If you zoomed in, though, it would accurately show the marker in Vietnam. And that marker in the Caribbean Sea--it's hard to tell which island its on from such a zoomed-out view, but when I zoomed in, I could see it was Puerto Rico.

Totally cool!

I also scrolled through the list to note all of the green markers--the green markers, if you remember from yesterday, mean that the location of the box could be "more than 30 miles away" from that specific point. Locations such as a "world-wide mystery," that's to be expected. =) So while a green marker doesn't mean something is wrong, I don't really expect there to be a lot of them either. Most boxes aren't mysteries, after all. There aren't a lot of green markers, but I figured it didn't hurt for me to scroll through the list and double-check that they really are mysteries and therefore should be green.

A mystery box in Maine--check! "The Adirondacks"--check! And oooh..... that's an interesting one, isn't it? Not a state, but the Adirondacks covers a pretty large area that's probably larger than some states. That's the kind of mystery box that the old version of AQ wouldn't have been able to handle gracefully. And a mystery box in West Virginia. Check! And a box in  Juneau, Alaska. Hmm.... Mystery boxes "somewhere in a city" usually should have a red marker, not a green one. I better check that one....

A little Google-sleuthing shows the "City and Borough" of Juneau has an area covering 3,255.0 square miles--that's huge! That fills a circle with a radius of 70 miles--considerably greater than the 30-mile threshold for a green marker. But intuitively, a 70-miles wide circle around Juneau didn't feel right. That must include the entire borough, but what about the city. I ran the location through a couple different geocoders, all of which returned something close to 70 miles as a radius, except one that returned 36 miles. Not sure where that geocoder pulled that number from, but I liked it, and changed the radius to 36 miles. =) Which is still large enough to justify the green marker, but at least it will show up in a location-based search that defaults to 50 miles while the old radius did not.

Yep, they were all supposed to be green markers.
Totally awesome! *nodding* =)

Nothing new to report today, though. Not yet....


Spartanfans said...

Love the fact that boxes all over the world are being planted! This new feature is awesome!


Somthing that I could not do before is list a box by its longitude and latitude to increase acuracy of my box locations. As of the new change I have been able to fine tune my box locations, some resulting in almost a ten mile diference, but right where they were suposed to be, The new change is totaly awsome.

Now if only everyone would fine tune there box locations it would be a perfect world. THANK YOU THANK YOU for all the improvements to the best leterboxing site ever. Hapily Shadow