Just Fooling

The joke’s on us, geocachers … And not once, not thrice but four times.

Spotted on British website The Geocaching Shop for April Fools Day: a Nano Alarm Geocache.

As the advert above shows, its new product resembles a silver nano but allegedly features a heat sensor that is activated when a geocacher gets within 500 yards, emitting a 14dB alarm from an in-built speaker that allows it to be easily found.

According to the store’s description:

“An adaptation to the world-famous Joani-designed, custom-made nano cache. Perfect for your local urban geocaching experience. A built-in magnet makes it easy to hide these cache containers in various settings.

Now with built-in speaker and heat-sensitive chip. Are you sick of spending hours trying to find these tiny, magnetic geocache containers? Well, we’ve decided enough is enough;  these little critters are spoiling our fun so we’ve manufactured these genius nanos.

Built into the base is a heat-sensitive chip, so if a fellow geocacher is within 500 yards, their body heat will be detected and trigger the audible device to send out a high-pitch tone through the speaker on the base. The geocacher can then easily follow the sound directly to the find and move quickly onto their next cache.

Extra log included as well as a gasket to waterproof the container as normal.”

It comes in three sizes supposedly – £14.99 for the regular, £24.99 for the medium and £34.99 for a large – but if you try to purchase one, an electronic message advises that this item is out of stock. The URL for its webpage also ends in /April-Fool-2011.

But not everybody cottoned on to the joke immediately. When Facebook user Connecticut Volunteer Reviewer posted a link to the alarming creation on his wall, one follower replied: “Isn’t the point of having a nano somewhere to keep it safely hidden?? Here Honey, let’s go sit on this parkbench at this cute memorial park.’ FFFFFFLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPP ‘What the heck is that … let’s get out of here!! It might be a bomb!’”

Others weren’t so gullible, with another comment reading: “Darn jokes, I would have liked to place a couple of those! Liven up your wait at the airport! Clear out tables at busy restaurants! Great idea.”

Store owner Dave – part of GC duo Team Turney & Dave – said based on page stats and Facebook comments, most customers worked it out very quickly but ‘a few were definitely thrown at first, the best comment being “won’t this make it easier for muggles to find’.

“We had a 60 per cent increase in traffic over the previous Friday, Twitter and Facebook providing a lot more viral traffic amongst the geocaching community. As far as we are aware, we were the only Geocaching supplier to join in the fun of April Fools, we’re already thinking up ideas to make 2012 better.”

In the second April Fools’ joke, American magazine Outside reported that geocaching has been named as an official event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Apparently to gain the sport’s admittance though, geo-athletes conceded the expensive of an prize-giving ceremony; instead the sport’s gold, silver and bronze medals will be placed in competition caches for the winners to find.

Its blog post by writer April Fuehls read:

“The International Olympic Committee announced today that the sport of geocaching will be added to the list of games at the 2012 Olympics in London. While a surprise to traditionalists, geocaching has reportedly seen unprecedented growth worldwide in the last few years, though numbers are difficult to pinpoint as most cachers see the sport and lifestyle as a solo pursuit. The sport has no governing body, and most regional organizers are self-appointed.

Geocaching athletes fought hard for their sport to be recognized on the Olympic level, and their victory today wasn’t without some compromises along the way. Most notably, the absence of a medal ceremony, which the IOC declared too expensive. Instead, the gold, silver and bronze medals will be cached for the top athletes to find themselves.

The official venue for geocaching’s Olympic debut has not yet been announced, but participants should have no problem finding it when the Games begin. Inside sources say the event will most likely not take place in London proper, after several caches were nicked and hocked by locals during a test run on Tuesday, before participants could find them.”

Ruse No 3 – that GPS vendor and Opencaching operator Garmin has acquired rival business Groundspeak and its GC.com website – came courtesy of the Atlantic Canada Geocaching Association affiliated blog Cache Up NB.

Its report by Zor said:

“This announcement comes several months after Garmin had launched its own geocaching listing service, Opencaching.com. Originally intended to compete as an alternative listing service to the main one found on Geocaching.com, it would now appear that Garmin has taken a more direct route, and simply acquired the main listing service itself.

The news that Garmin is taking over Groundspeak, and all of the services provided by it, is quite a surprise given the rocky history the two companies have had of late. Many geocachers had noted that Garmin had replaced the official geocaching logo on its devices with a more generic icon, and dropped support for the Wherigo platform on its most recent devices.

Groundspeak also seemed to be distancing itself from Garmin by partnering with other GPS vendors for large events. Even the listing of GPS devices, and other pages within the Geocaching.com website had been changed to favour Magellan and Delorme over Garmin. It would now seem that these steps were merely a ruse.

With a larger financial backer behind it, we’ll likely continue to see Geocaching.com grow. Whether or not this will be to the benefit or downfall of the sport remains to be seen. Hopefully we’ll see in the short term what this means and whether or not the new owner will be adding the underwater basket-weaving geocache. My hopes are high.”

The hoax seems to have initially fooled several readers, best represented by this comment: “Grrr spent 30 mins scouring the web before it dawned on me, evil man!!”

Also joining in on the fun was TAG (Toronto Area Geocachers), with member Gregory Pleau’s (GC handle: northernpenguin) almost believable announcement that Groundspeak was launching a new Maps Beta for Garmin users. Complete with genuine-looking screenshots from a Garmin Colorado 400T, his report described the downloadable mapping system in detail:

“The site is now offering free, downloadable maps of the USA and Canada for Garmin handheld devices … The maps look and feel just like the new Maps Beta that Groundspeak introduced last December. Geocaches are featured prominently on the map screen for easy locating. They appear as coloured boxes when zoomed out, and full cache icons when zoomed in. Highlighting a cache on the map will give the name of the cache, and the difficulty/terrain rating.

As you can see, the maps are quite detailed, and great for spontaneous caching. They feature:

  • Preloaded geocache information, including over 750,000 geocaches.
  • POI database with over 1.5 million points of interest, including restaurants, pubs and dollar stores.
  • Full routing, including Geocache Route Optimization(tm) for power caching.

This is possibly a response from the Lilypad to Garmin over the Opencaching initiative. In the forums, Jeremy [Irish] was quoted as saying that ‘if Garmin was going to target Groundspeak’s profit centre, then it was only fair for Groundspeak to go after Garmin’s lucrative map business’.

The maps are compatible with all Garmin handheld devices, including the Garmin eTrex, Colorado, Oregon and 62 series.”

Clicking on a link to the supposed Maps Beta led readers to Wikipedia’s page on April Fools Day – but not before several had fallen for the gag; as evidenced by Brain21’s comment: “Wow, you had me believing too! Nice screenshots. I was ready to download them. Now I’m just sad, 750,000 caches would be sweet!”

Here at It’s Not About The Numbers, we have to agree … but personally I’d rather have an alarmed nano to play with.

* If you know of any other geo-April Fools, we’d love to hear about them.


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  1. kjwx

    Spotted on the forums of the New Zealand Recreational GPS Society:
    “As of 1st of April, Groundspeak will no longer differentiate between basic and premium membership on any of its websites.
    “This move has come about after lengthy discussions within Groundspeak resulting from market pressures, most notably pressure from geocachers to have better free access to geocache information in our database and the introduction of Garmin’s Opencaching site.
    “Over the coming months, users will notice changes to the Groundspeak websites as we make the move to a solely advertising-based revenue model. These changes will include more banner advertising on the website and in email notifications, along with targeted marketing campaigns co-ordinated with our partner companies.
    “Over the next few weeks, all existing premium members will receive a pro rata refund for their outstanding memberships. We look forward to a bright future and the continued support from the geocaching community.”

    Jeremy Irish
    CEO, Groundspeek

  2. GenCuster

    Not to mention my own April Fools Article on the Kiwicaching Website:

    Geocaching Satellites Upgrade – 01 April 2010

  3. kjwx

    They just keep rolling in …
    Michael Dettinger, of the Examiner, reported that our favourite past-time would be banned in the United States from April 1st, 2011.
    His supposed source, government spokesman Issac Stayndoors, said that as the internet has provoked civil unrest in other parts of the world, his agency would be “taking a hard look at popular websites that inspire the masses to leave their homes and take to the streets with a purpose”.
    Groundspeak’s Geocaching.com was the top site on its list.
    However, Stayndoors allegedly told Dettinger, the paper’s Philadelphia Area geo-expert, that the American Government would not be shutting down its global positioning satellites at this time “since this would adversely affect the national transportation system”.
    Stayndoors did encourage geocachers to come forward, though, and inform local authorities of their involvement with the 10-year-old hobby.
    “It is important for geocachers to inform the authorities about all aspects of geocaching, including the location of geocaches that are hidden in local and state parks and on other government properties. All geocachers should contact their local authorities with this information immediately.”
    The offical then advised that his agency was already working with the Immigration Department to rescind the new geo-ban, saying “a system of licensing, complete with a system of geocaching passports and visas is in the works”.
    But for now, he suggested all geocachers “just stay indoors and enjoy this April Fool’s Day”.

  4. kjwx

    Thanks for the link, GenCuster … Per head of population, NZ seems to do pretty well with generating geo-April Fools.

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