Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, November 14, 2001
# 1:22:00 AM:

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Not what they imagined

The Global Positioning System (GPS) was originally developed for the U.S. military, and then made available to civilians to help hikers, sailors, explorers, and others find their way in this big world.

But most technologies eventually get put to uses their developers didn't envision. Yesterday, my friend Alistair introduced me to geocaching -- a treasure-hunt sort of game where people stash containers with goodies in them in odd locations, which you can only find with a GPS receiver and some skill. The coordinates are posted on a Web site and given a strange name.

The protocol is that you log your visit in a notebook in the cache, then add something to it. You can also take something away. So yesterday we visited a gully near a cemetery and obtained a math instrument set (you know, protractor, compasses, etc.) then dropped off some plastic turtle toys. Next, we found a traveling cache -- one we were supposed to pick up and move. So we did.

Alistair noted that this sort of thing is one of the rare activities that will get us computer geeks into the great outdoors, so I must applaud it.


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