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Going Paperless

After geocaching for a while, you realise something. You realise that you are using a fair bit of paper and spending more on printer ink than someone with a good honest crack habit. This is not a good thing when it's supposed to be a cheap hobby.

There's a solution - go paperless. If you've got an iPod, Palm or Windows Mobile device, you can put it to good use and store the clues on an electronic device instead.

I bought a Palm a couple of years back. At the time, I'd been using a Psion 5 (which I still think is the best PDA ever), but decided to come forward a decade. I bought a cheap one, a Palm Z22. I figured that if I didn't get on with it, I'd not lost a lot.

I didn't get on with it.

It worked nicely with my Mac, but the handwriting recognition was a bit weird, requiring you to almost change the way you write. The amount of times I wrote spurious crap or spent an eternity writing simple words, I lost count - and I was questioned how much labour this labour saving-device was really saving me.

So it sat in the cupboard. Well, until about a month ago.

"Going paperless" was relatively easy. As luck would have it, geocaching.com do database queries. You can get these to automatically run, with the results being e-mailed to you when complete. You can get up to 500 clues at a time, more than enough for most mortals. Be warned, though, that you need to be a premium member. As it only costs about a tenner a year it's not going to break the bank.

Once downloaded, you can upload the data to your Palm. The Palm application of choice to look up cache details is Cachemate. This will allow you to read the clues whilst you're out and about.

As for loading your GPS with the co-ordinates, well to save yourself the hassle of manually typing in each co-ordinate, you have two options:

i) Mac user? If so, use MacSimpleGPS.
ii) Windows user? If so, use EasyGPS.

This may all sound like a rather convoluted way of going about things, but in the long run it's worth your while. Once your PDA/GPS are loaded up, you can then go caching whenever you feel like it, without the need to prepare with a fistful of clues. You also get to save tree and money on printer cartridges, something that pays back pretty quickly, especially when you have a printer like mine that has an 8 cartridge hopper at nearly £13 per cartridge.

A more detailed Mac guide is available here. As for Windows users, well, there's loads of them kicking around, believe me - you won't have to search hard. iPod Instructions available here.
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