15 November 2016
This is one of the most important Opencache news items for a long time.
First I should introduce myself. My caching name is Amberel. My Opencaching "qualifications" are that I have a proven long term commitment to Opencaching, having been involved in Opencaching UK almost from the beginning. I have set many Opencaches and found a great many more, and I have served on the committee for many years.
Most of you will be aware that the opencaching.org.uk site was taken over by Tim Day in the summer. Tim did a lot of work updating the site, and it appeared that he was nearly finished. But then it was closed down without warning and we have been unable to get hold of him. The Opencaching Facebook page was also closed.
Since then we've been trying to pick up the pieces. I created a new Opencaching UK Facebook page. The nearest domain name I could obtain is opencache.uk, which is not as good as having access to the original domain but is OK. I was able to obtain from Lord Darcy (the original founder of Opencaching UK) all of the source code for the web site, and the database as of June this year. And I tried to get it to run. But this is a complex web site, and I have no experience in this area – I really struggled and wasn't getting very far. Cacher dartymoor also looked at the system and tried to assist.
But then we had the most amazing turn for the better. I was contacted by Grzegorz, an Opencacher from Poland who is one of the team that developed the Opencaching web site software. Under his guidance I set up a virtual server on the web, and he then took over, converting the data and installing the latest version of the software. We have also been helped immensely by Andrei from Romania, with whom I have been working to translate the site into English.
So we have now ended up with the latest version of the software and a better web site than we have ever had before, and we are ready to relaunch Opencaching in the UK, at opencache.uk instead of opencaching.org.uk.
As I mentioned, the main database was restored from a June 2016 backup. Activity that occurred during Tim's tenure generally is not in the database. However, I do have some data in my offline GSAK database and may be able to help if you have lost logs you entered during this period – just let me know your caching name and the cache(s) and I'll see what I can find.
We are still dependent on our Polish and Romanian friends for support. It would be wonderful if we could find someone else in this country with the relevant Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL programming and sysadmin skills to help dartymoor keep the system running. But a long term commitment to Opencaching is as important as the technical skills.
In terms of the number of caches listed, Opencaching is not a rival to geocaching.com. But we hope it will grow, and be seen as a place where you can find quality caches (our guidelines on https://wiki.opencache.uk/index.php/Caching_Guidelines
go into more detail). We think it is good to have alternatives, especially where those alternatives are not subject to commercial pressures. And alternative sites allow for more innovation (geocaching.com favourites were copied directly from the Opencaching recommendations feature).
For Opencaching to reach a critical mass in this country we need people to have a long term commitment to Opencaching and quality caching, even when the number of finds on their caches is low. We need people to remember to keep a particular eye open for Opencaches when they are out and about, because finding is as important as hiding. And can I ask that as part of the relaunch, cache owners check the status of their listings please, especially where caches are cross listed – if the cache has changed status it is very easy to forget to update the listing on ALL sites.
So, please do visit the new site as soon as you are able, and see the improvements. Help build Opencaching in the UK by using the site, and sharing the news with your friends. And remember the new address is opencache.uk