Dan Q found GC8C4TE WAG 5 – Battle

This checkin to GC8C4TE WAG 5 - Battle reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Another excellent bit of camoflage here, on what has so-far appeared to be a well-loved but well-maintained series. The geopup and I went back and forth a few times before we found the correct host, but soon had the cache in hand. TFTC.

Dan Q found GC54DD8 WAG 4 – Chiltern Way Extension

This checkin to GC54DD8 WAG 4 - Chiltern Way Extension reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Unfortunately, my dedicated GPSr had been left turned-on after my last geocaching/geohashing/whatever expedition, and I hadn’t realised until I was just setting off this morning. I tried to charge it in the car but it didn’t take on enough battery to make it worthwhile to bring it out, so I was working from my phone (whose GPSr is… adequate… usually), and my watch (whose GPSr is good, but whose user interface for caching is pretty pants).

But luckily for this cache at least my geosense brought me to exactly the right spot, and I quickly saw something that looked out of place. Imagine my delight when I pulled on it and the cache was in my hand. Fantastic stuff, TFTC.

Dan, wearing a grey hoodie over a white t-shirt, pets Demmy, a French Bulldog.


Dan Q found GC54DB8 WAG 3 – Cleeve Corner

This checkin to GC54DB8 WAG 3 - Cleeve Corner reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

The time before last that I was in Goring – the first of my now-three visits – was for a birthday/garden party on 24 June 2018. My eldest – then only four years old – was getting a little bored of the grown-up conversations going on and I provided a distraction by taking her out to find GLW5FKG9 and GLW5EFV2 (the latter of which has since been archived).

I enjoyed the camoflage on this cache, but little did I know that it would be a theme throughout many of the caches in this series! FP awarded anyway, because it delighted me at the time. TFTC.

Dan Q found GC54DAM WAG 2 – Cow Hill

This checkin to GC54DAM WAG 2 - Cow Hill reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

The last time I was in Goring was on 9 June 2022, when I cycled here via Eynsham, Abingdon, and Didcot. I enjoyed a meal at at Whale Inn in Streatley, then meandered down into Goring in order to catch a tran part of the way home (I was feeling lazy). Another easy find here. TFTC.

Dan Q found GC54D9K WAG 1 – See the light

This checkin to GC54D9K WAG 1 - See the light reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Ignoring times that I’ve passed-through, I’ve only ever visited Goring twice before. It’s time to rectify that! This morning, the dog and I drove down from Stanton Harcourt (near Witney), parked up, and begun our attempts at the first half of the WAG trail (along with a couple of others along the way).

Starting as we mean to continue, this was a very quick first find. TFTC.

Dan, wearing blue jeans and a grey hoodie, kneels alongside Demmy, a French Bulldog, on a dirt path between a forest and the wooden fences at the edge of some gardens.


Watch Together with WhatsApp on the side

A virtual party

This weekend, I threw a Virtual Free Fringe party for some friends. The party was under-attended, but it’s fine because I got to experiment with some tech that I’d been meaning to try.

Phootgraph of a wall-mounted television screen. On the screen, comedian Peter Buckley Hill sits with his guitar on his lap in front of an audience: the "PBH's Free Fringe" logo is on the curtain behind him. On the left of the screen a series of WhatsApp messages appear, including one showing a photo of Dan holding a can of Old Speckled Hen beer.
The Abnibbers and I have experimented with watching things together, but apart, before, but this is the first time we’ve watched stand-up comedy this way.

If you ever want to run something like this yourself1, here’s how I did it.

My goals were:

  • A web page at which any attendee could “watch together” a streaming video2,
  • A “chat” overlay, powered by a WhatsApp group3 (the friend group I was inviting were all using WhatsApp anyway, so this was an obvious choice), and
  • To do all the above cheaply or for free.
Selfie photograph of Dan, in a bar with a rooftop view of daylight out the windows in the background, looks concerned as he stares at the a frothy, bubbling flask of yellow liquid he's holding.
I’m a big fan of experiments. Contrary to this picture, though, they’re usually software experiments.

There were two parts to this project:

  1. Setting up a streaming server that everybody can connect to, and
  2. Decorating the stream with a WhatsApp channel

Setting up a streaming server

Linode offers a free trial of $100 of hosting credit over 60 days and has a ready-to-go recipe for installing Owncast, an open-source streaming server I’ve used before, so I used their recipe, opting for a 4GB dedicated server in their London datacentre: at $36/mo, there’d be no risk of running out of my free trial credit even if I failed to shut down and delete the virtual machine in good time. If you prefer the command-line, here’s the API call for that:

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
-H "Authorization: Bearer $TOKEN" \
-X POST -d '{
    "authorized_users": [
    "backups_enabled": false,
    "booted": true,
    "image": "linode/debian10",
    "label": "owncast-eu-west",
    "private_ip": false,
    "region": "eu-west",
    "root_pass": "[YOUR ROOT PASSWORD]",
    "stackscript_data": {
        "server_hostname": "[YOUR DOMAIN NAME]",
        "email_address": "[YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]"
    "stackscript_id": 804172,
    "tags": [],
    "type": "g6-dedicated-2"
}' https://api.linode.com/v4/linode/instances

The IP address got assigned before the machine finished booting, so I had time to copy that into my DNS configuration so the domain was already pointing to the machine before it was fully running. This enabled it to get its SSL certificate set up rightaway (if not, I’d have had to finish waiting for the DNS change to propogate and then reboot it).

Out of the box, Owncast is insecure-by-default, so I wanted to jump in and change some passwords. For some reason you’re initially only able to correct this over unencrypted HTTP! I opted to take the risk on this server (which would only be alive for a few hours) and just configure it with this limitation, logging in at http://mydomain:8080/admin with the default username and password (admin / abc123), changing the credentials to something more-secure. I also tweaked the configuration in general: setting the service name, URL, disabling chat features, and so on, and generating a new stream key to replace the default one.

Now I was ready to configure OBS Studio to stream video to my new Owncast server, which would distribute it to anybody who tuned-in.

Screenshot showing OBS Studio window with Start Streaming enabled. The layers "VLC", "Abnib Logo", "WhatsApp icon", WhatsApp prompt", and "WhatsApp" are visible. Elsewhere on the screen, a WhatsApp Web view is visible, with its CSS tweaked to give it a red background, among other changes.
Next up, we need to make WhatsApp appear on the stream with a little bit of CSS hackery.

Decorating the stream

I configured OBS Studio with a “Custom…” stream service with server rtmp://mydomain:1935/live and the stream key I chose when configuring Owncast and kicked off a test stream to ensure that I could access it via https://mydomain. I added a VLC source4 to OBS and fed it a playlist of videos, and added some branding.

With that all working, I now needed a way to display the WhatsApp chat superimposed over the video.For this, I added a Window Capture source and pointed it at a Firefox window that was showing a WhatsApp Web view of the relevant channel. I added a Crop/Pad filter to trim off the unnecessary chrome.

OBS Studio screenshot showing a WhatsApp Web (Window) source tied to a Firefox window and with Crop/Pad and Chroma Key filters applied.
The same technique, of course, could be used to superimpose any web page or whatever other content you like onto a stream.

Next, I used the Firefox debugger “Style Editor” to inject some extra CSS into WhatsApp Web. The class names vary frequently, so there’s no point we re-documenting all of them here, but the essence of the changes were:

  1. Changing the chat background to a solid bright color (I used red) that can then be removed/made transparent using OBS’s Chroma Key filter. Because you have a good solid color you can turn the Similarity and Smoothness way down.
  2. Making all messages appear the same (rather than making my messages appear different from everybody else’s). To do this, I added:
    • .message-in, .message-out { align-items: flex-start !important; } to align them all to the left
    • [aria-label="You:"]::after { content: "Dan Q"; height: 15px !important; display: block; color: #00f !important; padding: 8px 0 0 8px; } to force my name to appear even on my own messages
    • [aria-label^="Open chat details for "] { display: none; } to remove people’s avatars
    • [data-testid="msg-meta"] { display: none !important; } to remove message metadata
    • A hacky bit of CSS to make the backgrounds all white and to remove the speech bubble “tails”
  3. Removing all the sending/received/read etc. icons with [data-icon] { display: none; }

I aimed where possible to exploit selectors that probably won’t change frequently, like [aria-label]s; this improves the chance that I can use the same code next time. I also manually removed “old” messages from the channel that didn’t need to be displayed on the big screen. I wasn’t able to consistently remove “X new messages” notifications, but I’ll probably try again another time, perhaps with the help of an injected userscript.

A little bit of a shame that more people didn’t get to see the results of this experiment, but I’m sure I’ll use the techniques I’ve learned on another ocassion.


1 Or, let’s be honest, if you’re Future Dan and you’re trying to remember how you did it in last time.

2 We were to watch a show by one of my favourite comedians Peter Buckley Hill, the man behind the Free Fringe. I’ve written about him previously… here, there, also several times in 2012 when I also helped make an official digital map of Free Fringe venues. I was especially delighted to have my photo taken with him in 2006. I might be a bit of a fanboy.

3 This could probably be adapted for any other chat system that has a web interface, so if you prefer Telegram or Slack or whatever ever, that’s fine.

4 OBS’s VLC source is just amazing: not only can you give it files, but you can give it URLs, meaning that you can set up a playlist of YouTube videos, or RTSP security camera feeds, or pretty much anything else you feel like (and have the codecs for).

× × × ×


The problem of “needing to be able to hear from two Bluetooth sources at once” is so real for me that I came up with a solution that I genuinely use all the time. You’re not going to like it, though.

Solution in video (no audio needed; no need to fix your headphones first!):

Originally sent as a Mastodon reply to @NireBryce@hachyderm.io.

Are Geocache Logs Getting Shorter?

Background and hypothesis

When geocachers find a geocache, they typically “log” their find both in the cache’s paper logbook and on one of the online listing sites on which the cache’s coordinates can be found.1

Photograph showing a medium-sized geocache container with its contents laid-out around it: various pieces of swag for trade, plus a notebook.
A typical geocacher can find their cache container, logbook, swag, toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, and most-importantly towel. Hang on, I’ve got my geekeries crossed again. Photo courtesy cachemania, used under a CC BY-SA license.

I’ve been finding and hiding geocaches for… a long while, so I’ve seen lots of log entries from people who’ve found my caches (and those of others). And it feels to me like the average length of a geocaching log entry is getting shorter.

Screenshot of a digital log entry from Geocaching.com, titled "MagicV77 found Grove Farm" on 22 August 2023. The entirety of the log entry itself is a thumbs-up emoji.
A single emoji is probably the shortest log entry I’ve ever seen. I’m not claiming that its cache deserves a longer log (it’s far from my best work!): just using it as an example of a wider trend towards shorter logs.

“It feels to me like…” isn’t very scientific, though. Let’s see if we can do better.

Getting the data

To test my hypothesis, I needed a decade or so of logs. I didn’t want to compare old caches to new caches (in case people are biased by the logs before them) so I used Geocaching.com’s own search to open the pages for the 500 caches closest to me that are each at least 10 years old.

Browser tab bar showing many hundreds of Geocaching.com tabs.
My browser hates me right now.

I hacked together a quick userscript to save all of the logs in a way that was easier than copy-pasting each of them but still didn’t involve hitting Geocaching.com’s API or automating bulk-scraping (which would violate their terms of service). Clicking each of several hundred tabs once every few minutes in the background while I got on with other things wasn’t as much of an ordeal as you might think… but it did take a while.

Needless to say I only had to go through the cycle a couple of times before I set up a keyboard shortcut.

I mashed that together into a CSV file and for the first time looked at the size of my sample data: ~134,000 log entries, spanning 20 years. I filtered out everything over 10 years old (because some of the caches might have no logs that old) and stripped out everything that wasn’t a “found it” or “didn’t find it” log.

That gave me a far more-reasonable ~80,000 records with which I could make Excel cry.2


It looks like my hunch is right. The wordcount of “found” logs on traditional and multi-stage caches has generally decreased over time:

Graph showing word counts (log10) of geocache logs on different dates from August 2013 through August 2023, There's a slight downward trend.
“Found” logs are great for cache owner morale: a simple “TFTC” is a lot less-inspiring that hearing about your adventure to get to that point.

“Did not find” logs, which can be really helpful for cache owners to diagnose problems with their caches, have an even more-pronounced dip:

Graph showing word counts (log10) of geocache logs on different dates from August 2013 through August 2023, There's a pronounced downward trend.
Geocachers are just typing “Didn’t find it” and moving on. Without an indication of the conditions at the GZ, how long they spent looking, or an indication of whether the hint was followed, that doesn’t give a cache owner much to work with.

When I first saw that deep dip on the average length of “did not find” logs, my first thought was to wonder whether the sample might not be representative because the did-not-find rate itself might have fallen over time. But no: the opposite is true:

Graph showing how the "did not find" rate in my samples has climbed from an average of 4% to an average of 7.5% over the last decade.
A higher proportion than ever of geocachers are logging that they couldn’t find the cache, but they’re simultaneously saying less than ever about it.

Strangely, the only place that the trend is reversed is in “found” logs of virtual caches, which have seen a slight increase in verbosity.

Graph showing word counts (log10) of geocache logs on different dates from August 2013 through August 2023, There's a slight upward trend.
I initially assumed that this resulted from “virtual rewards” from 2017 onwards3 but this doesn’t make any sense because all of the caches in my study are 10+ years old: none of them can be “virtual rewards”.


Within the limitations of my research (80,000 logs from 500 caches each 10+ years old, near me), there are a handful of clear trends over the last decade:

  • Geocachers are leaving increasingly concise logs when they find geocaches.
  • That phenomenon is even more-pronounced when they don’t find them.
  • And they’re failing-to-find caches and giving up with significantly greater frequency.

Are these trends a sign of shortening attention spans? Increased use of mobile phones for logging? Use of emoji and acronyms to pack more detail into shorter messages? I don’t know.

I’d love to see some wider research, perhaps by somebody at Geocaching.com HQ (who has database access and is thus able to easily extract enough data for a wider analysis!). I’m also very interested in whether the identity of the cache finder has an impact on log length: is it impacted by how long ago they started ‘caching? Whether or not they have hidden caches of their own? How many caches they’ve found?

But personally, I’m just pleased to have been able to have a question in the back of my mind and – through a little bit of code and a little bit of data-mashing – have a pretty good go at answering it.


1 I have a dream that someday cache logging could be powered by Webmentions or ActivityPub or some similar decentralised-Web technology, so that cachers can log their finds on any site on which a cache is listed or even on their own site and have all the dots joined-up… but that’s pretty far-fetched I’m afraid. It’s not stopping some of us from experimenting with possible future standards, though…

2 Just for fun, try asking Excel to extrapolate a second-order polynomial trendline across 80,000 pairs of datapoints. Just don’t do it if you’re hoping to use your computer for anything in the next quarter hour.

3 With stricter guidelines on how a “virtual rewards” virtual caches should work than existed for original pre-2005 virtuals, these new virtuals are more-likely than their predecessor to encourage or require longer logs.

× × × × × × ×


Motivational poster showing a photograph from a Manchester street. A Pride flag banner is hanging from a post with the words "everybody welcome" at the top. Nearby, attached to the same post, a road sign has the words "except buses". The poster is captioned with the word "inclusivity" (in pride colours), and subcaptioned "the 'B' is not for Buses". The joke is that the 'B' in LGBTQ+ stands for 'bisexual' and not 'buses', although of course the real meaning of that street sign is to ban everybody from driving straight ahead except buses, so the joke isn't perfect.

Max credit to garry (@repeattofade) for the original toot. All I did was adapt it into a motivational poster.

The thing I’m wondering is whether that bus lane is one that a bi-cyclist like me can use? 😂



<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"> is fine, but I feel like there should be a standard for a site, not a page, to share a “list of feeds associated with a site”.

Last night, I dreamed about a way to achieve that: ./well-known/feeds as an OPML document. Here’s mine, and here’s a draft spec.

Interested to hear what Dave Winer thinks…

Dan Q posted a note for GC3D6J8 The Leap Year Club

This checkin to GC3D6J8 The Leap Year Club reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Enjoyed solving this puzzle, although possibly not 100% in the way the author intended (I spotted some mathematical quirks that gave me a shortcut/cut down the number of possibilities for matching first and surnames!). Now I just need to find an excuse to get over to the GZ and find it! (No idea how soon that’ll be, though!)

Solving this puzzle cache was inspired by a conversation on the Geoleaks forum.

Dan Q couldn’t find GC7Z2J6 Pinsley Wood by Olivia and Jessica

This checkin to GC7Z2J6 Pinsley Wood by Olivia and Jessica reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

No luck here this morning for the geopup and I. The undergrowth has come through incredibly thick your summer, and we had to work hard to hunt in likely locations. (The hint didn’t help much, as it wasn’t entirely clear which direction it assumed we were coming from, but the GPSr good looked good so I figure we were on the right spot.) Strangely, we did find a bauble (pictured) – did somebody decorate these woods for Christmas, I wonder?

A green bauble buried in the mossy/grassy undergrowth of a forest floor.


Dan Q found GC5J1PP Badger’s First Sett

This checkin to GC5J1PP Badger's First Sett reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Easy find while out on a dog walk. Not been out this side of the wood before! Might have struggled to find the GZ were it not for the remnants of a “geo trail” through the dense undergrowth, which was thick enough that the pooch’s little legs couldn’t take her the last 5 metres and I had to press on alone. Soon, though, the cache was in hand and I was able to return to my four-legged furry friend and continue on our way. TFTC!

Dan, wearing a purple "Woo" t-shirt, crouches by Demmy, a champagne-coloured French Bulldog, in a path through the long grass between a wood and a field. In the distance, the church spire of St Peter & St Paul at Church Hanborough can be seen protuding above the treeline.