Geocaching: A Global Treasure Hunt

Geocaching is a sort of global treasure hunt based on GPS technology. On May 1, 2000 the GPS system turned off its Selective Availability "feature" -- a system that intentionally introduced errors into civilian GPS access, in order to confound potential attackers. When that happened, the GPS system suddenly became reliable and accurate enough for non-military personnel to pinpoint specific locations.

A day or two later (sources disagree), Oregonian Dave Ulmer placed the first geocache (then called a "GPS stash") and posted its coordinates online:

N 45 17.460 W122 24.800

"Lots of goodies for the finders. Look for a black plastic bucket buried most of the way in the ground. Take some stuff, leave some stuff! Record it all in the log book. Have Fun!

"Stash contains: Delorme Topo USA software, videos, books, food, money, and a slingshot!"

By May 6, 2000 Ulmer's geocache had been found by two searchers, and one had logged the find in the included logbook. This event set in motion a new worldwide hobby/game in which geocaching enthusiasts hide caches (typically in waterproof plastic containers), post the location online, and wait for others to find them.

In the years since 2000, the hobby has evolved an organized online community, prompting users worldwide to strap on their backpacks and leave the house, GPS in hand. Some objects, including Geocoins and Travel Bugs, travel between caches -- seekers pick them up and move them from place to place, (usually) logging their activity in the provided logbook. Similarly, Geotokens are objects that can be traded for other items or kept for sentimental value.

Geocaching has its own set of ethics and policies, many of which are documented at GeocachingPolicy.org. Policies range from specific guidelines about retrieving and hiding items to specifics about environmental impact. Seekers should also be careful not to run afoul of Johnny Law when finding a cache -- according to Wikipedia's excellent Geocaching page:

When geocaching in busy locations, searching for a cache can require tact and craftiness to avoid the attention of the general public (also known by geocachers as "muggles"). The person hiding a geocache frequently takes this into account so that the hider and those looking for caches will not cause undue alarm. When care is not taken in hiding or finding a geocache, cachers have been approached by police and questioned when they were seen as acting suspiciously. Other times, investigation of a cache location after suspicious activity was reported has resulted in police and bomb squad discovery of the geocache. A number of caches have been destroyed by bomb squads.

If you're ready to get started, check out the Official GPS Cache Hunt Site and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching, grab a GPS, and get out there!

Readers: have you participated in the hobby? Share your geocaching stories in the comments!

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Courtesy of Airpod
New Nap Pods—Complete with Alarm Clocks and Netflix—Set for A Trial Run at Airports This Summer
Courtesy of Airpod
Courtesy of Airpod

Sleepy travelers in Europe can soon be on the lookout for Airpods, self-contained capsules designed to help passengers relax in privacy.

For 15 euros per hour (roughly $18), travelers can charge their phones, store their luggage, and, yes, nap on a chair that reclines into a bed. The Airpods are also equipped with television screens and free streaming on Netflix, Travel + Leisure reports.

To keep things clean between uses, each Airpod uses LED lights to disinfect the space and a scent machine to manage any unfortunate odors.

The company's two Slovenian founders, Mihael Meolic and Grega Mrgole, expect to conduct a trial run of the service by placing 10 pods in EU airports late this summer. By early 2019, they expect to have 100 Airpods installed in airports around the world, though the company hasn't yet announced which EU airports will receive the first Airpods.

The company eventually plans to introduce an element of cryptocurrency to its service. Once 1000 Airpods are installed (which the company expects to happen by late 2019), customers can opt in to a "Partnership Program." With this program, participants can become sponsors of one specific Airpod unit and earn up to 80 percent of the profits it generates each month. The company's cryptocurrency—called an APOD token—is already on sale through the Airpod website.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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iStock
8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists
iStock
iStock

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]

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