Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Offline and out of touch

We recently went to Vegas on vacation and during the trip spent several days at Red Rock Canyon. It was a beautiful spot and a lot of fun to explore.

Red Rock Canyon

We brought our usual geocaching setup — Garmin 60csx for navigation and bcaching.com on the Motorola Droid for paperless info and field notes. Verizon gives us pretty good coverage and we can usually access bcaching.com from almost anywhere, but we weren’t so lucky in the canyon where it was spotty at best. Usually we had no signal at all.

If you’re using Blackstar on the blackberry (one of the few apps to currently support the bcaching API to access your geocaching data and store it locally in the phone) it’s not a big deal because you can load the caches into the device when you have a signal then you’re good to go whether you have a signal or not.

But if you’re using the mobile website only, it becomes woefully inadequate with no signal. We could still find traditionals since they were loaded into the garmin, but we didn’t have the information we needed to do earth caches and multis. We also couldn’t record field notes after each find/dnf so we kept track of what we did in the garmin and plugged them into bcaching later.

What would be nice is if more mobile geocaching app developers would take advantage of the bcaching API… like geobeagle or georg for android, cachemate, etc.

Another possibility is to take advantage of html5 features that have been showing up in various mobile browsers, especially webkit. Using application caching, local storage and even local SQL databases it would be possible for a well written web app to function reasonably well without a reliable signal.

BCaching Stats

Here’s another stats update – back by popular demand!

* There are a total of over 600 registered users that have uploaded PQs.
* 227 of those users have uploaded PQs in the past 30 days.
* About 190 PQs are being uploaded and processed per day.

Over the past few months the database grew to 2.9 GB which was worrisome since the current hosting plan allows for a max of 3 GB. It was time to either pay to upgrade the disk space or hunker down and see if we couldn’t do some belt tightening.

Based on the data license agreement between bcaching.com and Groundspeak, users are only allowed access to caches they’ve uploaded in the past 30 days. However, until now we had never put together a database maintenance plan to clean up old data for which users no longer have access. Turns out those inaccessible caches were taking a sizable chunk of space. After a partial cleanup the database size dropped to a comfortable 2 GB. So we now have an automated database maintenance plan that runs nightly to clean up that data.

A quick analysis of mobile web requests over the past 6 weeks shows an average of 1300 requests per week. It is still dominated by Blackberry with 70% of requests. That’s followed by Android devices with 23% and Windows Mobile at 4%. The rest of the requests are spread across various devices and browsers including Opera Mini (unknown device), Palm webos, LG, Samsung, and iPhone.

In addition, there’s an average of 315 mobile API requests per week loading data (presumably into Blackstar for Blackberry devices since that’s the only app I’m aware of that is using the API).

Web response times are still pretty good with 88% averaging .25 seconds (about same as last time I measured). 96.5% took less than 6 seconds. Less than 1% took over 20 seconds.