I’m hoping to find the 2022-02-19 52 -2 hashpoint one day earlier and one graticule over, and I think I can stretch the range on the electric car enough to be able to return home via this hashpoint too.
Update: managed to change the car after finding the 2022-02-19 52 -2 point, so I can make this. Probably be there about midday, weather-permitting.
I didn’t expect much of this hashpoint, but I wanted the excuse to recharge the car before going for another leg of my journey – either a trip up to visit a friend in Lichfield or else a hashing expedition one graticule further East where today’s hashpoint seemed to be in a graveyard! But more on that later.
I parked at the Morrisons car park at (52.757778, -1.752222) at 14:48 and hooked up to the charger there (once I eventually found it). I had some difficulty making it work, but it seemed to get started eventually. Then I began my walk to the hashpoint. This was far from the picturesque walk of yesterday, taking me through a series of housing estates that were nondescript at best, unpleasantly scuzzy at worst. Shooting video as I walked, I was at one point loudly mocked by a group of young men passing in an artificially-loud car, but it was an activity that soon had to end anyway as the rain began to pour down. At around 15:11 my GPSr ran out of battery power (I’d failed to find its charging cable the night before) and there’s a clear gap in my tracklog: fortunately I was also equipped with not one but two backup devices (my phone, of course, and my watch), so I was able to continue heading in the right direction, and when I found a convenience store near (52.739167, -1.998333) I bought some AA batteries (my GPSr can have its rechargeable battery removed and 3 × AA batteries put in its place to allow it to continue) and pressed on to the hashpoint.
As anticipated, the hashpoint was on a road dividing a light industrial park from a housing estate, right outside a plant specialising in bending plate aluminium; I reached it at 15:23:48. I walked back the same route as the rain began to fall more and more heavily: by the time I reached the car it had become torrential. The dubious charging point I’d used had taken £16 from my bank card but provided only enough charge to take the car from 66% to 67% battery, which – combined with the rapidly-worsening weather – made me rethink my plans to visit Lichfield or explore further East and I instead used my remaining distance to take a long (slow, wet, diversion-filled) drive home. Ugh.
My GPSr kept a tracklog of my entire two-day expedition:
I’ve a rare opportunity today to expand my Minesweeper grid by reaching a hashpoint in 52 -2. Also, to engage in my established tradition of “getting outside and exploring” on 19 February (in memory of my father, the most “get outside and explore” person I ever knew, who died ten years ago today while, you guessed it, getting outside and exploring).
I’ve booked some accommodation nearby with a view to seeing some of the Wye valley while I’m here.
It’s become traditional that I mark the anniversary of my father’s death with an outdoors adventure: he was a huge fan of getting outside and exploring the world (and, indeed, died during a training exercise for a planned expedition to the North Pole). Sometimes (e.g. 2014-02-19 51 -0, 2021-02-19 51 -1) this coincides with a geohashing expedition; today was one of those days.
I’d originally hoped to spend a long weekend on this, the tenth anniversary of his death, trying to clear two or three of my three unfinished corners of the minesweeper grid centred on my home graticule. This would have involved a possible quick day trip to this graticule followed by a camping expedition along the South coast to try to pick up the remaining two. However, it was clearly not to be: for a start, all of the weekend’s hashpoints on the South coast graticules turned out to be at sea! But even if that weren’t the case, I was hardly likely to go camping on the coast during the “red warning” of Storm Eunice! So I revised my plans and changed my expedition to find this hashpoint (still gaining one more part of my grid), then stay over in the graticule before possibly heading East for one or two more over the coming day(s).
I drove up to the village of Kinnersley and parked at (52.253611, -3.0975) in the car park of the Church of St James. From there, I walked up the footpath to the North, through three fields, until I reached the edge of the orchards near which I’d surveyed the hashpoint to be. The fields were incredibly muddy following the recent heavy rain. It soon became apparent that the hashpoint was on the near-side of the hedgerow and thankfully not in the orchard itself, so I walked along the edge of the hedge until I reached it at 15:45:07.
Returning to my car, I drove on to my accommodation, took a walk around the village, then pressed on in the morning to the 2022-02-20 52 -1 hashpoint!
My GPSr kept a tracklog of my entire two-day expedition:
This looks eminently achievable: it’s about half an hour’s cycle from my house: in fact one of my favourite evening cycle routes normally takes me to the nearby junction of the A415 and Appleton Road before I go the other direction along it, up the hill to Appleton then on to Cumnor. I’ve never been this way down Appleton Road.
At a glance, it looks like the hashpoint is alongside the road, over a dyke. Street level photography makes it look like it’ll be possible to jump over, and the hashpoint is probably on the “public highway” side of the tree line rather than in the field itself.
The challenge will be timing. My Tuesdays are hectic as I juggle work in the mornings and evenings with childcare in the afternoons. If I can get far enough ahead of my work (e.g. starting early on Tuesday) I can probably justify the cycle as part of my lunch break. Alternatively, I could come down for a spot of night-hashing after the children are in bed. It’s hard to commit to which time is best, but as I’m likely to be the only hasher there I don’t think I need to refine my plans any more than that at this point!
Made a quick run out here by car, as I was travelling nearby on an errand anyway. Had to be a flying visit because my partner needed the car after me!
Was able to pull into a layby within 60 metres of the hashpoint. It was at the edge of the field, just on the other side of the hedge, but a gap in the hedge allowed me to pop through for a quick selfie.
(only outbound leg shown, as after this I went elsewhere before circling back home)
Based on planning documents I saw when visiting a presentation about the proposed construction at South Leigh Village Hall last year, I believe the hashpoint is probably outside the new security fence that’s proposed. I’ve marked the anticipated location of the hashpoint on the diagram below:
Work-permitting, I plan to cycle out to the trailhead at 51.7774, -1.41957, lock my bike to the “public footpath” sign, cross the footbridge to the East, and trek out to see if the hashpoint itself is accessible. Not sure when I’ll find time, though: it’s a busy week for both work and home life!
I was really sceptical that I’d be able to make it to this hashpoint: with so much construction going on near the GZ and the fact that it seems pretty ambiguous whether the hashpoint would be inside or outside the fence. With no reliable maps yet existing of the area covered by this new power plant (the best I could find were planning documents, which did not have accurate grid references but instead used field boundaries as markers), I knew from the outset that it could go either way.
After dropping the kids at school I cycled past my house and on, through South Leigh and up to the start of the footpath that runs closest to the new construction. I locked up my bike and continued on foot, at least slightly awed by the scale of construction ahead of me: this new solar power plant feels pretty massive! Diverting along the edge of the new fence that’s been erected to mark the boundary of the Northernmost part of the site, I was delighted to discover that the hashpoint was very-definitely outside the site itself: fantastic! I reached the GZ at 09:20, then turned around to head back home to work.
I shot the whole expedition on video, which I’ve condensed to a 3 minute 19 second video you can watch below. Apologies for the wind noise.
I’m going to be going half way here anyway on an errand. Might as well enjoy a morning hike and expand my Minesweeper grid, if I can.
Given that I was driving half way from home to this hashpoint to run an errand anyway, I figured I might as well push the battery on the EV a little further. Coming over the graticule line would, if successful, expand my Minesweeper score, and as it’s such a beautiful frosty morning it seemed like great conditions for a bit of an explore.
I’d hoped to drive most of the way to the hashpoint and only walk a short distance, but I soon discovered that the nearest road is signposted as being for access to Syde Farm only (and is narrow enough that passing a vehicle coming the other way would be extremely awkward), so I parked up near geocache GC1WXE1 and hiked along a frozen bridleway to get closer to the hashpoint.
Reached the hashpoint around 10:15, turned around, and headed back, nabbing the geocache on the way. By the time I reached the car my hands were freezing and it was only as I returned my GPSr to my coat pocket that I remembered that I’d been carrying my gloves all along.
I (Dan Q) am driving my partner’s brother Robin from near Oxford to near Penrith on this day, so I expect to pass close by this geohashpoint on the M6 twice; at around 13:00 going North then about 15:00 going South. It looks like there’s on-street parking on nearby Ashford Avenue (N 54° 1.71′, W 2° 48.370′), so I’m thinking we can pull over there, walk to Deep Cutting Bridge, follow a path about 700m Northwest down into the canal cutting, then follow the canal back Southeast to the hashpoint. Robin’s never been geohashing before, so we’ll see what he makes of it.
The biggest risks to this plan are likely to be (a) if we run late setting off, hit traffic, or are otherwise delayed then we may have to cancel our plans in order to stay on-schedule, and (b) based on local photos it looks like the towpath floods and/or gets incredibly boggy in wet weather!
This all went pretty-much to plan. We parked on Ashford Avenue and walked to the bridge, then onto the long path down. We soon got bored of this trail and took a short-cut down the cutting slope, then proceeded back under the bridge while Robin told me about how he rowed along this stretch of canal during his recent Lands End to John O’Groats journey.
On the other side of the bridge we discovered that the hashpoint was about 25 metres up a steep bank covered with thorny plants. Not wanting to be defeated at this point, Robin boosted me up onto the bank and I scrambled painfully through the brambles to reach the hashpoint, which coincided with a tree overlooking the cutting.
Returning to the car we stopped by geocache GC6WMEW, from whose GZ one can just about see the tree that marks the hashpoint. We added a “The Internet Was Here” sign to the gate at the path down to the towpath and continued our long journey North-and-back-again.
If I get out early, before I start work, I (Dan Q) might be able to make it to the hashpoint by bike before about 9am. Most of the fields round here have already been harvested and so nobody’s likely to object if I step into this one for a couple of minutes (it looks like there’s a promising looking gate at N 51°43.2′, W 1°29.722′).
I was out and about anwyay, dropping my kids off at rehearsals for a play they’re in later this week, so I figured it’d do no harm to swing by Cote – the settlement nearest the hashpoint – this morning. Cote turns out to be a delightful and quaint little hamlet, and when I passed through everybody and their dog seemed to be out on a morning constitutional and I got a few odd looks from the locals who are, on account of their hamlet’s location, probably unused to “through” traffic and so may well have been wondering who exactly I was visiting!
Round here most of the farms grow wheat, and it’s harvest season. I had to pull aside on one of the narrow roads that criss-cross this part of Oxfordshire to allow a combine harvester – fully the width of the entire road! – to pass in the opposite direction. It was followed closely by a line of impatient drivers crawling along behind the enormous mechanical beast, and I was glad to be going the other way! When I first saw that the hashpoint appeared to be in a field I was optimistic that it might be one that had been recently harvested, like all the ones near my house, or else left fallow, and I’d be able to get close to the hashpoint without causing any disruption.
Unfortunately, the field with the hashpoint was very-much still growing, full of corn for harvesting later in the season, so my expedition ended abruptly at the gate. I took a sad-face photo and attached a “The Internet Was Here” sign to the gate, for good measure (and perhaps as an explanation to the locals who looked at me curiously as I passed!), then continued my journey home.
Thought I’d get up early and cycle up to the hashpoint and back this morning.
Unfortunately I forgot to bring a bike lock, and so when I reached the cycle-inaccessible path across the heath and couldn’t find somewhere to safely leave my bike, I had to give up. Still a nice ride, though.
Field behind Hill Barn, near the Gom’s Hole public footpath, in the valley beneath the hamlet of Clapton-on-the-Hill. About 4km outside the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.
Dan Q (as a retrohash on the same date but 19 years later, on 2021-02-19)
On the second anniversary of the death of my father, a man who loved to get out into the world and get lost, I undertook my first geohashing expedition. As this seemed to be a good way to remember him I decided to repeat the experience on this, the ninth anniversary of his death, but the actual hashpoints for the day didn’t look interesting… so I opted to make my way to what would have been my nearest hashpoint on the day he died.
The weather looked horrible and the COVID lockdown (and working from home in general in recent years) has put me out of practice at cycling, so I thought a 40-50 mile round trip through the rolling hills of the Cotswolds was just the thing. This may have been a mistake, as my aching legs were able to testify for several days.
Cycling through Witney, over the hills behind Burford, and then across the Windrush valley and into Gloucestershire was a long, arduous, and damp journey, but what really got me was the wind picking up in the afternoon and giving me a headwind to fight against all the way back home.
Near the hashpoint I was able to lock my bike up at the junction between Sherbourne Street and Bourton Hill – a place shown on my map as “Gom’s Hole” which sounds exactly like what a D&D dungeon master would have a goblin would name his bar. From there I followed the footpath towards Farringdon. As the hashpoint drew closer I began to suspect that it would be unreachable: tall walls, fences, and hedges stood on both sides of the (flooded) footpath, but at the last minute they gave way to wide meadows. I turned off the path and crossed a dyke to the hashpoint, where I had a great view of hares and deer in the valley below. Minutes later, the owner of Hill Barn came over with her dog and asked what I was doing around the back of her land and why I was taking pictures, so I explained that I’d strayed from the footpath (true) because my GPS had told me too (technically true) but I was heading back down to what I could see was the path, now (true, if misleading).
She continued to watch me all the way back to my bike, so I changed my plans (which had been to eat a sandwich lunch and drink a pint of Guinness: my dad’s beer of choice) near the hashpoint and instead I cycled away to a nearby layby to have my lunch.
After a 48.3 mile round trip I got back home aching and exhausted, but pleased to have made it to this damp hashpoint.
But even when I’ve not been ‘hashing, it occurs to me that I’ve been tracking my location a lot. Three mechanisms in particular dominate:
Google’s somewhat-invasive monitoring of my phones’ locations (which can be exported via Google Takeout)
My personal GPSr logs (I carry the device moderately often, and it provides excellent precision)
The personal μlogger server I’ve been running for the last few years (it’s like Google’s system, but – y’know – self-hosted, tweakable, and less-creepy)
If I could mine all of that data, I might be able to answer the question… have I ever have accidentally visited a geohashpoint?
Let’s find out.
Data mining my own movements
To begin with, I needed to get all of my data into μLogger. The Android app syncs to it automatically and uploading from my GPSr was simple. The data from Google Takeout was a little harder.
I found a setting in Google Takeout to export past location data in KML, rather than JSON, format. KML is understood by GPSBabel which can convert it into GPX. I can “cut up” the resulting GPX file using a little grep-fu (relevant xkcd?) to get month-long files and import them into μLogger. Easy!
Well.. μLogger’s web interface sometimes times-out if you upload enormous files like a whole month of Google Takeout logs. So instead I wrote a Nokogiri script to convert the GPX into SQL to inject directly into μLogger’s database.
Next, I got a set of hashpoint offsets. I only had personal positional data going back to around 2010, so I didn’t need to accommodate for the pre-2008 absence of the 30W time zone rule. I’ve had only one trip to the Southern hemisphere in that period, and I checked that manually. A little rounding and grouping in SQL gave me each graticule I’d been in on every date. Unsurprisingly, I spend most of my time in the 51 -1 graticule. Adding (or subtracting, for the Western hemisphere) the offset provided the coordinates for each graticule that I visited for the date that I was in that graticule. Nice.
The correct way to find the proximity of my positions to each geohashpoint is, of course, to use WGS84. That’s an easy thing to do if you’re using a database that supports it. My database… doesn’t. So I just used Pythagoras’ theorem to find positions I’d visited that were within 0.15° of a that day’s hashpoint.
Using Pythagoras for geopositional geometry is, of course, wrong. Why? Because the physical length of a “degree” varies dependent on latitude, and – more importantly – a degree of latitude is not the same distance as a degree of longitude. The ratio varies by latitude: only an idealised equatorial graticule would be square!
But for this case, I don’t care: the data’s going to be fuzzy and require some interpretation anyway. Not least because Google’s positioning has the tendency to, for example, spot a passing train’s WiFi and assume I’ve briefly teleported to Euston Station, which is apparently where Google thinks that hotspot “lives”.
I assumed that my algorithm would detect all of my actual geohash finds, and yes: all of these appeared as-expected in my results. This was a good confirmation that my approach worked.
And, crucially: about a dozen additional candidate points showed up in my search. Most of these – listed at the end of this post – were 50m+ away from the hashpoint and involved me driving or cycling past on a nearby road… but one hashpoint stuck out.
Hashing by accident
In August 2015 we took a trip up to Edinburgh to see a play of Ruth‘s brother Robin‘s. I don’t remember much about the play because I was on keeping-the-toddler-entertained duty and so had to excuse myself pretty early on. After the play we drove South, dropping Tom off at Lanark station.
We exited Lanark via the Hyndford Bridge… which is – according to the map – tantalisingly-close to the 2015-08-22 55 -3 hashpoint: only about 23 metres away!
That doesn’t feel quite close enough to justify retroactively claiming the geohash, tempting though it would be to use it as a vehicle to my easy geohash ribbon. Google doesn’t provide error bars for their exported location data so I can’t draw a circle of uncertainty, but it seems unlikely that I passed through this very close hashpoint.
Pity. But a fun exercise. This was the nearest of my near misses, but plenty more turned up in my search, too:
2013-09-28 54 -2 (9,000m)
Near a campsite on the River Eden. I drove past on the M6 with Ruth on the way to Loch Lomond for a mini-break to celebrate our sixth anniversary. I was never more than 9,000 metres from the hashpoint, but Google clearly had a moment when it couldn’t get good satellite signal and tries to trilaterate my position from cell masts and coincidentally guessed, for a few seconds, that I was much closer. There are a few such erroneous points in my data but they’re pretty obvious and easy to spot, so my manual filtering process caught them.
2019-09-13 52 -0 (719m)
A600, near Cardington Airstrip, south of Bedford. I drove past on the A421 on my way to Three Rings‘ “GDPR Camp”, which was more fun than it sounds, I promise.
2014-03-29 53 -1 (630m)
Spen Farm, near Bramham Interchange on the A1(M). I drove past while heading to the Nightline Association Conference to talk about Three Rings. Curiously, I came much closer to the hashpoint the previous week when I drove a neighbouring road on my way to York for my friend Matt’s wedding.
2020-05-06 51 -1 (346m)
Inside Kidlington Police Station! Short of getting arrested, I can’t imagine how I’d easily have gotten to this one, but it’s moot anyway because I didn’t try! I’d taken the day off work to help with child-wrangling (as our normal childcare provisions had been scrambled by COVID-19), and at some point during the day we took a walk and came somewhat near to the hashpoint.
2016-02-05 51 -1 (340m)
Garden of a house on The Moors, Kidlington. I drove past (twice) on my way to and from the kids’ old nursery. Bonus fact: the house directly opposite the one whose garden contained the hashpoint is a house that I looked at buying (and visited), once, but didn’t think it was worth the asking price.
2017-08-30 51 -1 (318m)
St. Frieswide Farm, between Oxford and Kidlington. I cycled past on Banbury Road twice – once on my way to and once on my way from work.
2015-01-25 51 -1 (314m)
Templar Road, Cutteslowe, Oxford. I’ve cycled and driven along this road many times, but on the day in question the closest I came was cycling past on nearby Banbury Road while on the way to work.
2018-01-28 51 -1 (198m)
Stratfield Brake, Kidlington. I took our youngest by bike trailer this morning to his Monkey Music class: normally at this point in history Ruth would have been the one to take him, but she had a work-related event that she couldn’t miss in the morning. I cycled right by the entrance to this nature reserve: it could have been an ideal location for a geohash!
2014-01-24 51 -1 (114m)
On the Marston Cyclepath. I used to cycle along this route on the way to and from work most days back when I lived in Marston, but by 2014 I lived in Kidlington and so I’d only cycle past the end of it. So it was that I cycled past the Linacre College of the path, around 114m away from the hashpoint, on this day.
2015-06-10 51 -1 (112m)
Meadow near Peartree Interchange, Oxford. I stopped at the filling station on the opposite side of the roundabout, presumably to refuel a car.
2020-02-27 51 -1 (70m)
This was a genuine attempt at a hashpoint that I failed to reach and was so sad about that I never bothered to finish writing up. The hashpoint was very close (but just out of sight of, it turns out) a geocache I’d hidden in the vicinity, and I was hopeful that I might be able to score the most-epic/demonstrable déjà vu/hash collision achievement ever, not least because I had pre-existing video evidence that I’d been at the coordinates before! Unfortunately it wasn’t to be: I had inadequate footwear for the heavy rains that had fallen in the days that preceded the expedition and I was in a hurry to get home, get changed, and go catch a train to go and see the Goo Goo Dolls in concert. So I gave up and quit the expedition. This turned out to be the right decision: going to the concert one of the last “normal” activities I got to do before the COVID-19 lockdown made everybody’s lives weird.
2014-05-23 51 -1 (61m)
White Way, Kidlington, near the Bicester Road to Green Road footpath. I passed close by while cycling to work, but I’ve since walked through this hashpoint many times: it’s on a route that our eldest sometimes used to take when walking home from her school! With the exception only of the very-near-miss in Lanark, this was my nearest “near miss”.
We’re discussing the possibility of a Subdivision geohash achievement for people who’ve reached every “X in a Y”, and Fippe pointed out that I’m only a hash in the Vale of White Horse from being able to claim such an achievement for Oxfordshire’s regions. And then this hashpoint appears right in the Vale of White Horse: it’s like it’s an omen!
Technically it’s a workday so this might have to be a lunchtime expedition, but I think that might be workable. I’ve got an electric vehicle with a hundred-and-something miles worth of batteries in the tank and it looks like there might be a lay-by nearby the hashpoint (with a geocache in it!): I can drive down there at lunchtime, walk carefully back up the main road, and try to get to the hashpoint!
I worked hard to clear an hour of my day to take a trip, then jumped in my (new) electric car and set off towards the hashpoint. As I passed Newbridge I briefly considered stopping and checking up on my geocache there but feeling pressed for time I decided to push on. I parked in the lay-by where GC5XHJG is apparently hidden but couldn’t find it: I didn’t search for long because the farmer in the adjacent field was watching me with suspicion and I figured that anyway I could hunt for it on the way back.
Walking along the A338 was treacherous! There are no paths, only a verge covered in thick grass and spiky plants, and a significant number of the larger vehicles (and virtually all of the motorbikes) didn’t seem to be obeying the 60mph speed limit!
Reaching the gate, I crawled under (reckoning that it’s probably there to stop vehicles and not humans) and wandered along the lane. I saw a red kite and a heron doing their thing before I reached the bridge, crossed Letcombe Brook, and followed the edge of the field. Stuffing my face with blackberries as I went, it wasn’t long before I reached the hashpoint on one edge of the field.
I took a short-cut back before realising that this would put me in the wrong place to leave a The Internet Was Here sign, so I doubled-back to place it on the gate I’d crawled under. Then I returned to the lay-by, where another car had just pulled up (right over the GZ of the geocache I’d hoped to find!) and didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Sadly I couldn’t wait around all day – I had work to do! – so I went home, following the satnav in the car in a route that resulted in a figure-of-eight tracklog.
But today my heart was filled with joy when today I received a postcard – a hashcard, no less – from fellow hasher Fippe, whose expedition to Lüneburg last week brought him past the famous town hall shown in the postcard, as evidenced by his photo from the site.
I’ll be travelling North through England all day on 2020-02-22 and it’s not a huge diversion to go and climb a hill as a break, so long as I set off early enough in the morning. We’ll see…
It’s a beautiful part of the world, the Peak District, although I could have picked a day when I’d be less-hampered by floods and wind. Nonetheless, I was able to climb a short way up Haven Hill, divert around an impromptu lake, and scramble into a thicket in order to reach the hashpoint at around 13:40. And to leave a “the Internet was here” sign at the nearest footpath
Taken by GPSr, but I seem to have lost the charging/data cable for it. Will find at some point.
North end of the village of Curbridge in Oxfordshire. Street View and satellite photography shows it as being alongside a nondescript road, but I’m aware that there’s a housing estate under construction nearby and there’s a new roundabout which appears on maps but not on satellite views which was constructed nearby last year: I’m hoping that the location is still accessible.
I don’t know whether I’ll be able to make it to this hashpoint; it depends on how work goes as well as the weather (while I’m not directly in the path of Storm Dennis I’m still in an area that’s getting lots of wind and rain). I’m not committed yet to whether I’d drive or cycle: it depends on how long I can spare, whether the car’s available for my use, and – again – the weather (I’d prefer to cycle, but I’m not going to do it if it means I get completely soaked on my lunch break).
Okay: I need to vacate my house anyway because some estate agents are bring some potential buyers around, so I’m setting out to the hashpoint now (12:20) after which I’ll aim to work in a coworking space for the afternoon. Wish me luck!
I drove out to the village of Curbridge and parked in a lane, then walked to the hashpoint, arriving about 13:05. Conveniently there’s a pole (holding a speed detecting sign) within a metre of the hashpoint so I was able to attach a “The Internet Was Here” sign in accordance with the tradition. Then I made my way to a coworking space half a mile to the North to carry on with my day’s work.
My GPSr keeps a tracklog:
Obtained, but I didn’t bring the right cable to the coworking space so I can’t get it yet. [to follow]
I keep my life pretty busy and don’t get as much “outside” as I’d like, but when I do I like to get out on an occasional geohashing expedition (like these ones). I (somewhat badly) explained geohashing in the vlog attached to my expedition 2018-08-07 51 -1, but the short version is this: an xkcd comic proposed an formula to use a stock market index to generate a pair of random coordinates, impossible to predict in advance, for each date. Those coordinates are (broadly) repeated for each degree of latitude and longitude throughout the planet, and your challenge is to get to them and discover what’s there. So it’s like geocaching, except you don’t get to find anything at the end and there’s no guarantee that the destination is even remotely accessible. I love it.
Most geohashers used to use a MediaWiki-powered website to coordinate their efforts and share their stories, until a different application on the server where it resided got hacked and the wiki got taken down as a precaution. That was last September, and the community became somewhat “lost” this winter as a result. It didn’t stop us ‘hashing, of course: the algorithm’s open-source and so are many of its implementations, so I was able to sink into a disgusting hole in November, for example. But we’d lost the digital “village square” of our community.
So I emailed Davean, who does techy things for xkcd, and said that I’d like to take over the Geohashing wiki but that I’d first like (a) his or Randall’s blessing to do so, and ideally (b) a backup of the pages of the site as it last-stood. Apparently I thought that my new job plus finishing my dissertation plus trying to move house plus all of the usual things I fill my time with wasn’t enough and I needed a mini side-project, because when I finally got the go-ahead at the end of last month I (re)launched geohashing.site. Take a look, if you like. If you’ve never been Geohashing before, there’s never been a more-obscure time to start!
Luckily, it’s not been a significant time-sink for me: members of the geohashing community quickly stepped up to help me modernise content, fix bots, update hyperlinks and the like. I took the opportunity to fix a few things that had always bugged me about the old site, like the mobile-unfriendly interface and the inability to upload GPX files, and laid the groundwork to make bigger changes down the road (like changing the way that inline maps are displayed, a popular community request).
So yeah: Geohashing’s back, not that it ever went away, and I got to be part of the mission to make it so. I feel like I am, as geohashers say… out standing in my field.