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Welcome to the Atlas Quest message board!
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Oct 31, 2004 9:13pm
Thread
Use this message board to ask questions about Atlas Quest, make suggestions or comments, and anything else specifically related to this website in particular.

Asking questions about Atlas Quest here could get you answers faster than by e-mailing me directly since—contrary to popular belief—I'm not always online, but there could be plenty of other members around who can do an equally good job of helping you.

You might also see me use this board if I'm contemplating an idea for the website and would like feedback before implementing it. That sort of stuff. =)

-- Ryan
seasonal theme
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 1, 2004 7:37pm
Thread
Ryan - I love the seasonal stylesheet you used...nice touch!
I appreciate all the small details you've added to this site.
Re: seasonal theme
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #343 by phyto
Nov 1, 2004 8:20pm
Thread
I love the seasonal stylesheet you used...nice touch!
I appreciate all the small details you've added to this site.


Thanks! It does get boring looking at the same color scheme and pictures day after day, and I thought a little variety would make things more interesting. =)

It took about a week before I got that Halloween theme working completely right--I had to change a lot of things where I had hard-coded stuff that really belonged in a central location so it took some time to fix it all up where all theme colors were located in a single, easily changeable place.

This November/Thanksgiving theme--took a few hours! CSS is SOOO cool! =) I can really whip out new themes very quickly now! Definitely be looking for more throughout the year. ;o)

-- Ryan
Re: seasonal theme
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #344 by Green Tortuga
Nov 1, 2004 8:32pm
Thread
I appreciate all the small details you've added to this site.

Thanks! It does get boring looking at the same color scheme and pictures day after day, and I thought a little variety would make things more interesting. =)


Yeah, check out the SE list if you ever want some compliments on AQ! We all really dig this site. And I've noticed that a lot of folks are simply putting in the address for AQ in the box logbooks they plant.

I'm still interested in seeing a Hall of Fame for sig stamps and the long-awaited beer dispenser!
Cheers!
Mark
Re: seasonal theme
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #346 by Mark
Nov 1, 2004 11:29pm
Thread
I'm still interested in seeing a Hall of Fame for sig stamps and the long-awaited beer dispenser!

You know, it's amazing how much time I spend trying to decide what to work on next. Should I work to improve existing features? Or work on adding new features? I really like it when I can kill two birds with one stone, sort of speak. Like while creating these message boards, I created the mailing system to help eliminate the dependance on e-mail along the way. A stepping stone to bigger and better things. =) I never set out to replace the e-mail system--it was just a useful offshoot of working on the message boards and gave me time to test the system thoroughly before incorporating it into the larger system.

Ho hum, ho hum.... What to do next? Just fixed that little bug where these messages were displaying the wrong date the post was generated. The bugs are there--if you look closely enough. All the *obvious* ones I've already fixed! =)

-- Ryan
What to work on next...
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #347 by Green Tortuga
Nov 2, 2004 4:03am
Thread
Ryan, I think you've poured a lot of time and effort into what you have. Give it time for folks to really "use" it. My only gripe is that folks from Maine don't list all their boxes, so I can't really record the finds that I have.

I like the differentiation between hitchhikers, but I don't agree with you in that these aren't applied to your planted count. I suppose I'm just a purist, if I carve a stamp and put it out in the world - I have "planted" it. That is why I left some of my hitchhikers listed as mystery boxes - so that they still "count"....ooh! listen to me, all about the numbers..... ha ha ha
Re: What to work on next...
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #348 by phyto
Nov 2, 2004 10:57am
Thread
I also count my HH finds as F's. And that doesn't happen at Atlas Quest. But no big deal.
Because so many boxes (especially in the New England area) are not listed on AQ the counts will not be able to accurately reflect your PFX. It's just a ballpark figure.
I just keep trying to get folks to use it. It's hard to teach the old dogs new tricks, but hopefully the newer people will embrace Atlas Quest.

-Amanda
Re: What to work on next...
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #348 by phyto
Nov 2, 2004 1:31pm
Thread
My only gripe is that folks from Maine don't list all their boxes, so I can't really record the finds that I have.

Yeah, but even letterboxing.org isn't a complete source of all the boxes out there. You can remind people that even if clues are word-of-mouth or otherwise have clues *not* for the general public, people can still list the existance of a letterbox without actually listing a clue. And that way others can still record finding it.

I've had SOOO many people asking they'd like to record found boxes that aren't listed in Atlas Quest, so I've started trying to think up a good way to do that. The biggest problem--from a programmatic standpoint, is what happens if somebody records a box that isn't listed on Atlas Quest, then the box later gets listed? How to reconcile the two?

The irony of all this is that my original vision of Atlas Quest was simply a place to record finds and plants--I never intended to create a search feature, but when that inspiration hit that one could search for boxes within a certain distance of a given point, I *loved* the idea and abandoned my original one. The original idea was mostly a tracking 'stats' kind of thing, while this one is more of a tracking actual boxes kind of thing. A very different kind of object model to work with, and very difficult to reconcile the two.

But I'm thinking to think of a simple way to combine the two. Or at least relatively simple. Sometimes I simplify concepts to make them work, and you'll see plenty of that on Atlas Quest.

For instance: A series, as AQ expects it, are boxes that the planter would expect people to find on a single outing. I know there are series such as the 45th parallel that are hidden all over the place. And originally I tried to make it work where a person could record a letterbox series--or a series of letterboxes. Such a subtle difference. But I was working myself into circles with that logic. What about a series of series? (One could have a "Latitudual Series" made up of series from each parallel.) When I came to the conclusion that people would always be thinking of new and twisted ways to hide boxes, I chucked the idea of trying to handle EVERY eventuality and required at a series be what the planter would expect a person to nab in a single hike or outing.

Then, of course, there's the simplification I made that gets the most complaints--about not allowing people to record boxes that the owner hasn't listed. Though, I'll admit, I justified that count partly on the basis that I thought some people wouldn't want their boxes even MENTIONED on a website. Based on the feedback, I'm thinking there might be a couple of people who feel that way, but I may have over estimated a possible backlash. Hmm.....

Another thought I had--which I hadn't really told anyone--was I didn't want Atlas Quest to become the definitive source of what makes up a PFX count. If you look at the Hall of Fame, I tell people not to take it seriously and just use it as fun. It makes it easier to tell people not to take the numbers too seriously because they are CLEARLY wrong in many cases! If I worked really hard on getting official counts, people might start taking those numbers more seriously. Numbers are fun, I think, but I want people to enjoy letterboxing for fun--not for the numbers, and it was a way to encourage having fun while not focusing too much on numbers.

But wow--there are soooo many people asking me to add the ability to record all of their finds, I've really got to figure out a solution for it. I don't even think it's about the numbers (not for most people, at least), but rather just a place they can point people and say, "Look! Here's a list of the boxes I've found!"

I'm babbling now, I know....

I like the differentiation between hitchhikers, but I don't agree with you in that these aren't applied to your planted count.

*chuckle* Hitchhikers are another one of those rare breeds that are devilishishly tricky to count properly, and I ended up choosing not to deal with it at all. Hitchhikers have the unique ability to be found by the very person who planted them, or to be found multiple times. The 'official rules of counting' on letterboxing.org say you cannot count a HH as a find if you planted it, and no letterbox--including hitchhikers--cannot be found more than once. From a programmatic standpoint, it's a heck of a lot easier just to count whenever the box is found--regardless of if the person had found it before or originally planted it.

Then, some people count their HH separate from Ps and Fs since they are so different than the normal letterboxes. I kind of like this idea, and am thinking about implementing it like that. Everything gets counted that way--even if it doesn't follow the 'official rules of counting'. I'd love to hear what other people think of how hitchhikers should be counted, though. Preference definitely goes towards what's easiest for me to implement, though! ;o)

I'm also concerned that if I start counting HH finds, people who pick them up at gatherings because they were sitting at a picnic table will say, "Yeah, but I found them on the table and should be counted!" Which is totally against how I think HHs should be found. Well, I don't mind so much if they copy the stamp into their logbooks, but I'd rather they not fill up the logbook in the hitchhikers which stamps from people who really didn't find the box, and I'd rather that HH not get counted as a find. I figured if I didn't count HHs, then people have no incentive to cheat on their HH found count. =)

Anyhow.... here's my proposal: Hitchhikers will be counted separately from normal letterboxes. All finds will be counted--even if found multiple times by the same person or if the creator of the box finds it. How would people feel about counting HHs using those rules?

On another note.... while implementing the ability to track exchanges, I learned from my mistakes. You can count an exchange whether they're listed on AQ or not! (Originally, I didn't envision it that way.) Rather than ask the user to try to reconcile exchanges with actual AQ accounts, I just use a simple test. Strip out all the spaces and compare it to trail names for AQ accounts, and if it's a match, it'll create a link automatically. If it doesn't match, there's no link. Elegantly simple and straight foward. =) Not a perfect system--especially if two people have the same trail name they like to use. Then sometimes people might type in an exchange that doesn't quite match up with the user's account. (For instance, some people might type 'Ryan' if they've exchanged with me, but my AQ account is actually named 'Green Tortuga'. AQ wouldn't be able to tell they refer to the same person.)

But then, it's just exchanges. If there are some missing links--it's not a big deal.

My original vision of exchanges would have also allowed one to track the date of the exchange and/or where the exchange took place, but then I started thinking--was that information really necessary? I might wonder if Phyto has met Team Green Dragon, but I probably won't care when or where such a meeting took place. Tracking extra data would be more work for me to implement and more work for people to enter exchanges!

All-in-all, I'm really happy with how the exchange system works. I had a ball entering mine! =)

To make a LONG story short, I've got some ideas about how to count hitchhikers. And I'm trying to think up some good ideas about counting finds for unlisted boxes, though I've been having more trouble on that count.

Happy trails! =)

-- Ryan
Re: What to work on next...
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #354 by Green Tortuga
Nov 2, 2004 2:20pm
Thread
Honestly, I count hitchhikers as finds when I find them - and would not ever count my own as a find if I did run across it. I was merely talking about planting. In my case, a hitchhiker is no different from the effort that I put into a regular box except that it moves. I consider it a form of moving art project that reaches more people than a regular box. I'm all about mass consumption of art and such...this has very little to do with boxing when you get right down to it.

So my point is that I consider the hitchhikers that I've carved and released as part of my "P"'s but it doesn't matter! Everyone counts differently, and that's what makes it fun!

I also wish more people were creative with their hitchhikers and more of them were hand-carved. I'm really getting off the topic though - this is about atlast quest, and I'm babbling about hitchhiker carving and art.
Sorry!
"Dat a Boy" Ryan
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 2, 2004 4:02pm
Hey Ryan Boxdn from the Big Easy. The site is looking good man. Just giving you credit where credit is definately due. Also saying hi to everyone else here and soon to come.
Re: What to work on next...
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #356 by phyto
Nov 2, 2004 5:57pm
Thread
So my point is that I consider the hitchhikers that I've carved and released as part of my "P"'s but it doesn't matter! Everyone counts differently, and that's what makes it fun!

Yeah, that's part of fun, but it's not fun when you're trying to make a website that *everyone* likes. The art of compromise is great, though, because then I can make everyone upset and still be able to tell them I did something. ;o)

Just kidding, of course.

I'm really getting off the topic though - this is about atlast quest, and I'm babbling about hitchhiker carving and art.

You know.... there is a hitchhiker board here too. =)

Oh, BTW: Congrats on the gold trophy! Not too many people have reached that level (on AQ or otherwise) Of course, you are including some of those hitchhikers in that P count, so maybe I should wait a couple of more weeks before congratulating you. ;o)

-- Ryan
Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 3, 2004 4:03pm
Thread
ok Ryan - riddle me this, why does AQ automatically hyperlink the fields for interests and direct them to amazon.com? Do you have some affiliation with amazon? Can't I hyperlink my own interests if I want to something else that might oh say - be educational?

For example:

Favorite music: and I'd like to hyperlink to oh, say a webpage about Thelonious Monk or something....
or
Favorite place: Maine, and then I'd put a link to something about hiking in Baxter State Park.
Re: Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #384 by phyto
Nov 3, 2004 5:46pm
Thread
riddle me this, why does AQ automatically hyperlink the fields for interests and direct them to amazon.com? Do you have some affiliation with amazon? Can't I hyperlink my own interests if I want to something else that might oh say - be educational?

I put that in in a moment of madness. In theory, if anyone ever followed one of those links and bought something from Amazon.com, I'd get a commission. It's only a theory, though, because nobody has ever bought anything following those links!

Never really expected much to come of it, and alas, I have been proven correct. So I'm thinking of just removing those links completely. In fact, the only reason I hadn't done it already was because it would take me about five minutes and I didn't want to waste the time. =) I figured it wasn't hurting anything!

Hmmm.... New idea! How about if I make links so it'll perform a Google search for the topic in question? So if, for instance, you include 'Thelonious Monk' as your favorite music, clicking on it would generate a Google search with those terms? I'm pretty sure I can make Google perform a search of those terms.

-- Ryan
Re: Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #388 by Green Tortuga
Nov 3, 2004 5:55pm
Thread
>>>Hmmm.... New idea! How about if I make links so it'll perform a Google search for the topic in question? So if, for instance, you include 'Thelonious Monk' as your favorite music, clicking on it would generate a Google search with those terms? I'm pretty sure I can make Google perform a search of those terms.<<<

Have you seen Clush, http://www.clush.com ? If you're looking for something fun & different to link to, it might be an alternative to Google.

-- SD
Re: Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #390 by Silent Doug
Nov 3, 2004 6:03pm
Thread
Well, I can see if there was incentive to originally putting the amazon configuration in there. However, if it's not working - move on. I'd rather just list the things as interests with no hyperlink, or have control of the url that I hyperlink too.

A web-based search engine is only as good as what you type into it - ie: the user and I wouldn't trust anyone else but myself to deliver the information about my personal interests other than me, myself and I.
Re: Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #392 by phyto
Nov 3, 2004 6:04pm
Thread
As an aside, I manage a personal weblog and I list interests, but I go out of my way to make sure that the web bots don't pick up on the links unless I want them to - so i usually use underscores and all kinds of tricks to avoid diluting myself amongst the masses.
Last read/unread post?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 3, 2004 9:20pm
Thread
So, AQ boards will go to the last unread posts, or if you've read them all it goes just to the last post?

You can only view 10 posts on a page. Do you think that will change or is that how it has to fit into the scheme for the webpage?

Some folks have expressed regret over not having the ability to get e-mails from the list. Do you think you'll make that option available, even after your comments on the topic b/4?

Thanks,
Mark
Re: Last read/unread post?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #405 by Mark
Nov 3, 2004 10:09pm
Thread
AQ boards will go to the last unread posts, or if you've read them all it goes just to the last post?

Hmm.... I can tweak that a bit. How about if it goes to the last unread post--or displays the last full page of posts if it's the last post? That seems pretty logical and useful.

You can only view 10 posts on a page. Do you think that will change or is that how it has to fit into the scheme for the webpage?

Actually, it'll display a maximum of 25 posts per page. Just a random number I selected, though, and can change if people would like. I'm not really sold on any one number. There aren't any boards with that many posts yet, though! =)

Some folks have expressed regret over not having the ability to get e-mails from the list. Do you think you'll make that option available, even after your comments on the topic b/4?

Individual e-mails won't be an option simply because my hosting service has a quota of 1,000 e-mails per day. Which is quite a bit, but nowhere near enough if hundreds (or thousands!) of people are getting e-mails. Sending out a digest is a possibility, though not one I really like since it would entail a *lot* of extra work to get it working. (It's not just the sending out of messages, but if someone replies, how would Atlas Quest know which board it should be posted to?) And even then, if a lot of people start getting digests, I could possibily hit the end of my quota.

So at this point, at least, e-mails aren't an option. I have been messing around with a page that would display all new posts on a single webpage, but it's been giving me difficulties and is turning out to be far more challenging than expected. (Though I won't give up hope!)

For checking new messages easily, I've bookmarked http://www.atlasquest.com/boards/favorites.html so just at a click of the mouse button (well, okay, two clicks to be exact) I can see if there are any new messages and which boards.

Longer term, I'm wondering if I can turn messages into an RSS feed or something like that. I don't know much about XML or RSS or how it works, so I don't know how feasible it is. Definitely a longer-term project, but some people might find that an acceptable (and more reliable) replacement for e-mails.

-- Ryan
Re: Interests links?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #393 by phyto
Nov 3, 2004 11:18pm
Thread
I manage a personal weblog and I list interests, but I go out of my way to make sure that the web bots don't pick up on the links unless I want them to

Why wouldn't you want a web bot to pick up on the link? Doesn't adding underscores and other tricks break the link for people that actually want to follow it?

Anyhow, I've removed the links to Amazon.com in the profiles. I think I'll pass on toying with it by creating likes to Google or Clush (never heard of that one before--interesting) for now. Got more interesting projects in the works than making largely useless links. I may come back to it someday, but I don't think anyone will mind if I leave that project on the back burner. =)

-- Ryan
What to work on next? Posting Mystery Boxes
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 4, 2004 4:27am
Thread
Okay, it's early and I haven't had my caffeine yet. I decided to get my boxes all listed. I am not having any luck listing my mystery boxes. I searched all over this site, so please be kind if I missed it. I tried putting "???" in the city, but it isn't allowed. I looked up the "type" - tried normal, since mystery was not an option. Am I the only dumb one out here? I have 2 mystery boxes to list.
Re: What to work on next? Posting Mystery Boxes
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #410 by speedsquare
Nov 4, 2004 9:25am
Thread
I tried putting "???" in the city, but it isn't allowed.

Just leave the city blank for mystery boxes. You can also leave the state blank, but it'll be pretty stubborn about wanting a country listed.

That's a good idea, though.... Set it up so if there's just a bunch of question marks, it'll automatically assume it's a mystery city.

-- Ryan
Re: What to work on next? Posting Mystery Boxes
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #418 by Green Tortuga
Nov 4, 2004 10:55am
Thread
I am pulling out my hair!!!!! I tried it, but it won't accept the blanks. And I did it successfully before, so I'm not sure what's wrong. I'll try again later.
Re: What to work on next? Posting Mystery Boxes
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #423 by speedsquare
Nov 4, 2004 11:13am
Thread
OK - It's now there in the mystery boxes, but you'll never find it in India! Don't ask me how it was posted. I never saw a confirmation, and now I can't remove India.
DC Bound!
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 4, 2004 1:58pm
Well, we are headed to visit DC this weekend. Hopefully we can fit in a few boxes over the weekend. We are Amtracking it so we will have no car. We aren't too familiar with DC but it doesn't look like there are many boxes within walking distance of the mall or the Metro stations we plan to stop at. Can anyone give me a heads up on missing boxes or must sees? Thanks!

Liz
Re: What to work on next? Posting Mystery Boxes
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #424 by speedsquare
Nov 4, 2004 3:49pm
Thread
It's now there in the mystery boxes, but you'll never find it in India! Don't ask me how it was posted.

You silly Americans.... =)

That is kind of funny, though! I think you typed in 'IN' as the country code, not the state code. I fixed it for you, though! The box is now listed as being somewhere in Indiana, a part of the United States.

I noticed you listed letterboxing.org as where the clue could be found. I changed it to point to the exact URL where the clue is so people don't have to search the letterboxing.org website to find it. I didn't *think* you'd mind--and thought I'd use the opportunity to let others know that while you can point the URL to http://www.letterboxing.org for boxes listed on Atlas Quest, people who want to look up your clue will probably want the full URL to the clue (in this case, http://www.letterboxing.org/BoxView.asp?boxnum=11759&boxname=Hoosier_Poet)

Happy trails!

-- Ryan
Re: Threaded View?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #442 by noydb
Nov 4, 2004 11:01pm
Any chance to view posts on the boards by thread rather than date?

*cringe* That's still on my to-do list.

-- Ryan
Slow down
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 5, 2004 2:03pm
Thread
Ryan do you sleep? I'm sure since this message board started you have been swamped with requests of every kind. You've done such a great job so far and the future looks even better. Just remember everyone Rome wasn't built in a day.
Re: Slow down
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #481 by BOXDN
Nov 5, 2004 2:13pm
Thread
Ryan do you sleep? I'm sure since this message board started you have been swamped with requests of every kind.

Yeah, requests are definitely on the uprise! =) Feels like when I first opened Atlas Quest and I had all sorts of requests and suggestions coming in. Took me about a month to work through them all--but they were all really good suggestions and have definitely made AQ a much better place.

I expect requests will probably die down after a week or so, and it'll give me something to do for the next couple months. =)

-- Ryan
Re: Slow down
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Reply to: #482 by Green Tortuga
Nov 5, 2004 4:20pm
Thread
Ryan, I must admit that I was only using AQ about once a week, now I host a clue that is exclusively on your site, and I'm reading the boards and loggin in every day. I'm a convert. Praise the green tortuga ;-)

Phyto!
Abandon ship?
Board: Atlas Quest Announcements
Nov 5, 2004 9:25pm
Thread
I'm in a quandary here. What with the Disney infiltration at LbNA I'm wondering if it's time to pull my clues outa there and host them here. I really don't want a bunch of folks thinking they are on some sort of treasure hunt when the look for one of my boxes and stuffing it into their pocket before they head for the next one. Anyone else worried about this exposure? Funhog