When a geocacher reaches 1,000 finds a gathering of some kind will often be held in their honor. This gathering could range from a formal event to a few friends gathering together somewhere on their own. Sometimes a major prize is awarded. Typically these take the form of golden ammo cans. My caching buddy SmooveTalker hit his 1k milestone earlier this year so I thought I would create such a prize for him.
Having never tried something like this before it was an interesting challenge. I polled a few friends of mine that had done this before to gather ideas before I started off. After gathering the needed tools I pulled out the newspaper in the garage and got started. Here’s how I did it (in case others want to do the same):
Step One: Buy An Ammo Can – I expect most geocachers already know how to procure one of these items.
Standard Issue Ammo Can
Step Two: Sanding – Sanding turned out to be a very important part of the process. I worked on the rusty spots on the can as well as the yellow stencilled letters. The Army doesn’t want these letters to come off! They resisted the best sandpaper I had available. If I ever do one again I think I’ll ask around to borrow an electric sander. As it was the can turned out great! I was very satisfied with the results.
Step Three: Primer – I was going to skip this step until my friend Rob mentioned it. Turns out it was really important. Thanks Rob! I eventually added two or three coats of primer to the can.
After The First Coat of Primer
Step Four: Applying The Gold – It’s really just shiny gold spray paint. Watch out what kind of spray paint your buy. Lowes had a flat gold and a shiny gold. It makes a difference! I recommend doing this in the daylight as well as adding several coats. If you do it at night (like I did) then it will be harder to see where the primer is peeking through the spray paint.
2-3 Coats of Gold Spray Paint
Step Five: Add a Faceplate – Any local trophy shop can produce a good looking face plate. You can probably pick one up for less than $20.
Step Six – Put it all together – Here’s the finished product!
The presentation made the effort worthwhile. I put together a multi-cache in his honor that involved about 7.5 miles of hiking. I carried the ammo can out to the end of the multi and let him carry it back.
Whenever I travel for work I always try to pick up a few geocaches after hours. I found some very interesting things on this trip that I thought I would share. Most of the caches were fairly straight forward. No real surprises here but a great excuse to get some exercise after sitting in the convention center all day.
I finally picked up the caches at South of The Border. I’ve driven by often but never actually stopped.
Old and dirty but still open!
I also stopped by the Woods Bay Earthcache. This was a great out of the way spot that really brings you close to the mystery of the Carolina Bays. You’ll have to stop by to find out more.
A boardwalk trail passes through a beautiful swamp.
Edward Scissorhands lives at the Living Art virtual cache. I didn’t have my kids with me so I took lots of pictures. What a unique place!
Every state capitol has a geocache nearby. South Carolina’s capital is no different.
South Carolina State Capital
The Adluh Flour Mill is a local landmark. A few of the letters on the sky lights were burned out but it was still an interesting building anyway. Very unique architecture!
Adluh Flour Mill
There are tunnels underneath Columbia! I wish I had brought my draining gear. I would have done some exploring if I had known in advance. Ah well, I guess there is always next year!
One of the tunnel entrances beneath Columbia.
Tunnel Vision was one of my favorite stops of the week. I spent a few extra minutes admiring the art work.
I highly recommend caching in this area. There were a good number of caches within a mile radius of the hotel. I got a lot of walking in and found some unique and fun geocaches. Thanks to all Columbia Geocachers for a great time!
A few months ago an e-mail hit the TriLUG mailing list advertising an open source conference in Columbia, SC. The Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON), now in it’s fourth year, brings together a who’s who of the open source movement. This conference brings together these leaders to discuss the latest technology trends with local professionals, students, academics and enthusiasts. It was very interesting to see groups of executives, developers, IT professionals and students all mingling together as a community. This more than anything drove home the breadth and depth of the open source community.
Having driven in from Raleigh to attend this conference I had a rather high set of expectations. It’s a considerable investment to leave the office for three or four days and drive three and a half hours. This conference would not disappoint! Columbia is a wonderful place to hold a conference of this size. The hotels are an easy walk from the conference center. There are a lot of excellent dining establishments all within the same area. I didn’t have to go far to attend the conference, sleep or eat. I decided to drive this time but I would have been just as well off had I flown. I didn’t really need a car once I got here.
The support that this conference has gathered in its four years of existence is simply amazing. The sponsor list included companies such as Microsoft (yes, they were here), Oracle, Red Hat, Verizon, Linode.com, Google and many others. The support from the City of Columbia was also very impressive. Mayor Benjamin welcomed us on the first day and reinforced his excitement and support for the conference. It’s obvious that Columbia is making a big push to become a technology center.
Since I help produce a few conferences a year I spent some time looking over the visible POSSCON operations. I am always looking for better ways to put together our show. Here are a few lessons that I picked up this week:
- Internet access is an issue at other conferences beside ours. When you bring a few hundred (or a few thousand) people into one place for the day they will take down your connections. The Internet connections here worked all day although they were a bit spotty at times. There are just too many smart phones and laptops out there. Overall I think it worked well. With some patience I didn’t have any severe trouble with communicating when I needed to.
- QR codes were used to great effect during registration and on our ID badges. It did slow down registration on the first day but once the main first day registration was over it moved fairly well. There are clear advantages to using this technology. The obverse side of the name tag held a QR code with all of my contact information. I could easily pass off this electronic business card to anyone with a smart phone bar code scanner. The reverse side of the badge held QR codes with internal ID numbers. I assume these were used to keep track of my registration and what days I attended the conference. I did notice that glare from the big windows played around with the bar code scanners a bit. Once we turned the name tag away from the glare they worked without a hitch.
- We need to do a better job of getting electricity out to the floor of our conferences. POSSCON had electricity within easy reach in every room. I found myself having to recharge my laptop and phone multiple times during the week and this was most appreciated.
- Give aways at the end of the day was a nice touch. It does a good job of keeping people’s attention all the way to the end of the day. I wonder if there is a way that we could integrate this idea into our conferences? Alas, I did not win one of the coveted Galaxy tablets but it was nice to mingle and hear the applause for all of the winners.
- One of the conference staff grabbed me at lunch on the second day and asked me to fill out a quick online survey (again tied into my QR codes). I think this is a great idea and something we should seriously pursue.
At the end of the day I am very excited to have been able to attend this conference. Unless something similar pops up in Raleigh I will likely add this to my annual list. Thanks POSSCON for putting on such a great conference! I am excited to hear about what is in store for next year!