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Ryan Carpenter, webmaster of the Atlas Quest letterboxing site, has given us a heads up that he plans to decommission all Virtual Letterboxes sometime in the new year (2015). So I’m starting this Virtual Letterboxes blog to store my Virtuals and keep them in play. The WordPress site has a password option on pages. I’m using this feature to create passkeys/passwords that will unlock the handcarved stamp reward. Here’s Ryan’s message:

Deprecating virtuals October 12 2014

So far this year, there have been 2 virtuals listed, and a grand total of less than 1,000 finds on all virtuals. (Over half of which were by just one person.)

And I’m starting to think I should just nix them completely. AQ is such a large, sprawling website right now, I’m looking for ways to “cut the fat,” and it seems to me like virtuals are biggie. The database tables for them are huge, the images AQ stores for them is still one of the largest disk hogs on the server, and I could cut out thousands of lines of code that would no longer need maintaining or fixing.

It just seems like a pretty big hunk of fat at this point.

I don’t think I’m ready to completely deep-six the feature, but I’m inclined to “deprecate” it. Scrub the public links to virtuals, for instance, so they aren’t as readily available to find. Turn off the ability to add new boxes. Then turn off the ability to record finds and just leave them as logbook pages. And eventually remove even those.

Thoughts? Is there anyone even left who cares about them anymore?

– Ryan

Throw down

These are a few pictures to show Mouse Troop. Their letterbox with a handcarved stamp of a roasting marshmallow on a stick went missing. Someone replaced it  with a store bought stamp in a freezer baggie.  I had assumed that this was the original letterbox but it turns out that it’s a throw down.

033 030a 031 031a

2 cute kids demonstrating what letterboxing is about.

$3 Lock&Locks at Walmart

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I’m trying out the Press This feature on WordPress to bump an old post about my Virtual Letterboxes. I hope people will enjoy armchair letterboxing now that cold weather has settled in.

A list of my Virtual letterboxes.

Since October 12 2007 – the day I posted my first virtual letterbox, I’ve spent many enjoyable hours creating virtual letterbox puzzles. I like to make my virtuals as close to real letterboxing as possible. They involve some type of hunt and you are rewarded with a handcarved stamp image carved and created by me.

My inspiration was the Peat Bank interactive virtual. That’s the first and probably best virtual letterboxing experience I know about. the closest thing to real letterboxing. You hunt the virtual moors for a hidden letterbox box and when find it you get a custom-made stamp image.  Years later I created my own interactive virtual: Northern Village Interactive Virtual

It took almost a month to create and perfect. Later Ryan – AQ’s webmaster, made it a lot easier by creating code to emulate this type of virtual hunt. Here’s my other my interactive virtual using Ryan’s Image Search code: Letterbox Gem Under a Large Rock

Here’s a list of my other Virtual letterboxes:

Baby Road Trip

Box ON! 2008 Guelph: The Royal City Virtual

Coffee

Coronation Street

Dogs – Akita

Dogs – Basset Hound

Dogs – Bedlington Terrier

Dogs – Boston Terrier

Dogs – Chihuahua

Dogs – Dachshund

Dogs – Dalmatian

Dogs – Greyhound

Dogs – Labrador Retriever

Dogs- Old English Sheepdog

Dogs – Pomeranian

Dogs – Scottish Terrier

Dogs – Shih Tzu

Corresponding in Code

Geocaching Hide n Go Seek

Famous Faces – Santa Claus

Have Yourself a Merry Google Christmas

Home Sweet Home

Mona

Monster Love Virtual Letterbox

Skunked

Virtual Tour – Azores

The thing that keeps me motivated to maintain, create and keep active are the online comments I get. Thank you everyone who have left me feedback. :)

Say something nice

Say something nice

This was real life, not the internet. :D
I saw these posters while walking between buildings at work. Brought to mind Bumble’s Grumpy Cat letterbox.

Hanging a container

I have been asked about using wire to hang letterbox (or geocache) containers. Generally I use either an authentic Lock & Lock™ or a Kraft peanut butter jar (with a fun foam gasket in the lid to prevent water from seeping in). For wire I have use:

  • 19 gauge galvanized steel wire (rust resistant)
    • I use 2 strands and twist them together to make them stronger
  • wire from the bulk wire section at the home depot – plastic coated
    • I strip out the wires inside, i.e. cut off the plastic, leaving 3 strands of heavy gauge twisted copper wire
      • I don’t use the heavy gauge much because it’s so thick
    • bulk telephone wire or internet wire
      • the 2 strands inside the plastic coating are also wrapped in plastic
      • the gauge is flexible and thin enough for easy handling
      • I leave the plastic coating on the inner wires because this will protect the wires from breaking down outdoors

I twist the wire on a Lock & Lock™ tab or below the threads of a peanut butter jar, using pliers to tightly snug up the wiring so that the tab can easily be snapped down, or the pb jar lid can be fully threaded back on to the jar.

Caveat: wire coming out of a container can sometimes alarm the public. It’s best to use clear containers or leave a window on a covered container so people/authorities can see in and be assured that it’s not a bomb.

Here are some photos to demonstrate:

Telephone wire

Telephone wire

Cutting brown outter plastic coating

Cut off the outter plastic cover to get at the 2 covered wires inside. I’m using the red one on the peanut butter jar (see below photos)

Twisting wire around peanut butter jar below the threads

Twist the wire on with your fingers, below the threads

Snug up the wire using pliers

Snug up the wire using pliers

Image

Lock and Lock with plastic coated wire threaded through the tab

Lock and Lock with plastic coated wire threaded through the tab

Image

Copper wire removed from a plastic coated cable of wire

Copper wire removed from a plastic coated cable of wire

Another method for hanging with wire:

  • place wire along the bottom and side of the container and leave enough wire to form a hook or loop
  • then wrap the container and wire with duct tape
  • here’s my sketch:

sketch

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