Scavengeroogle: A Google Maps Scavenger Hunt To Waste More Of Your Time On

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About Scavengeroogle
    Scavengeroogle is a scavenger hunt game where you use Google maps to find the location of a particular graphical clue. (see us in Wired Magazine)

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12/13/05 | 4:09 pm | Scavengeroogle on Hiatus…

Hi there. You probably know me from such films as: “Where the Heck is my Daily Scavengeroogle Clue” and “How Come This Site Is Never Updated?”

Yep, Roogle Admin here. Sorry for the lack of clues or for that matter lack of any communication. And thank you to the several regular rooglers (tongue twister, ain’t it) who emailed in to ask if I was OK. I am.

Roogle, however, is not and has not been for awhile. I apologize. It had become difficult to spend time on, and when posting clues the past few times I just didn’t really feel my heart was that much in it.

No big deal though. We all understand how it is… blogs come and go and so do the readers. Rather than go into a long explanation, I think I’ll cut it short and just say that I’m going to archive the site permanently. It was really fun while it lasted back in the day, and it’s probably the closest I’ve come to internet fame and fortune. Well, not fortune, maybe just 5 min of fame on AOTS. Anyhow, thank you again for participating and for playing this silly time- wasting game called Scavengeroogle!

9/5/05 | 12:10 pm | Katrina Satellite Imagery

I had been meaning to post about Hurricane Katrina this weekend in general, so Mark L’s note was perhaps good timing. He has noted that you can now see updated satellite images of New Orleans from Wednesday, August 31st at 10 am.. But before I talk about that I would just like to give out a link where you can donate to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. I know you’ve already seen it a million times on TV but in case not, go to the Red Cross site:

I was going to try and setup some sort of group donation thing, but I think it’s better that you just go directly to the Red Cross site. I know many of you are in college, or like me are not that well off financially, but if you can afford to donate or you’ve thought about donating in the past, now would probably be a very good time to do it…

Ok, back to what Mark wrote in about. When you are in google maps in the vicinity of the hurricane devastation, you will get an additional button highlighted in red that says “Katrina”:

Clicking on that button while in the area will switch views to very recent satellite imagery of the area, and it shows all the flooding of the areas. They actually tell you what exact day and time the photos are from: Wednesday August 31 at 10am. I’m not sure if they will be changing the imagery every so often, or if it’s a static thing. Also, not sure how temporary this “view” is… I can’t imagine they’ll leave it up permanently.

We’ve all seen the terrible pictures of the flooding on TV, but you can also switch back and forth between the two views to see it on Google Maps. It is really shocking. For instance, here is a screenshot of the before and after view of Tom Gormley Stadium:

This is truly a horrible catastrophe, and if you are from the area or have family or friends in the area, my thoughts go out to you and I hope you are doing OK or at least recovering.

8/24/05 | 12:01 am | Peacock Gardens

click to search using Google MapsGood morning (or night for you insomniacs). I’m writing this clue up from my parents’ house right now. My PC is still on the blink which is the reason for that. Getting used to the software in our Powerbook though, in case I lose my PC again. I’ve been a bit down in the mouth for scavenger hunts out lately, but maybe I’ll get more inspired with this whole back to school thing.

Anyhow, this clue from Brian Z is of a pretty cool looking “peacock”… I think they are gardens which is why I’ve named the clue Peacock Gardens. Imaginative, to say the least. What it also reminded me of was the Spirograph drawing toy, though I don’t suppose many remember that. I had a crapload of the wheels and everything…

I have a feeling this is one of those clues where it’s either extremely simple extremely difficult depending on where you start. Wait, that’s how ALL of our clues are. But I really am at a loss to make up some word hints, so I’ll provide a variation of Brian Z’s:

“Curvy Tigress”

Yup, that’s all you get. Oh, also the peacock gardens are also viewable at 15/18. I will be dropping a region clue hopefully. I’ve been working out of my parent’s house during the day lately (would you believe I’m painting their fricken house) so I’ll try see if I can’t take some breaks to check in once in awhile.

[Edit: 9:45 am PDT - Well, looks like the clue is going OK. I am actually on the Powerbook again, probably not painting my parents house today and thus will be able to update periodically. Let me start off with a general region (which is probably apparent to a lot of people already even if they haven’t found the clue): Middle East.]

[Edit: 12:18 pm PDT - I’ll be out for about 4-5 hours but will check back around dinner. Looks like we won’t need more clues drops for today… see ya all soon.]

Clue Name : “Peacock Gardens”
Submitted by: Brian Z.
Status : Solved (21)
Duration: Wednesday 8/24/05

Solved By: Mark L, Markus B, Judy B, David H, Chorbansi, Mike M, Matt, Bryant, Trecherus, Aaron B, Mike B, Gitar2ech, David M, Charlie D, Sara D, Mike H, Jen S, Pete B, Bryce H, Tim J, Astro T

Word Hints : “Curvy Tigress”
Magnification Needed: 15/18

SOLUTION TO “Peacock Garden”

7/25/05 | 9:55 pm | MSN Virtual Earth

MSN Virtual Earth Google Map CompetitorI know this site is called Scavengeroogle because we utitlize Google Maps in clues, but we aren’t tied to using only them by any stretch; they just happen to have the best interface. So I thought I would mention Microsoft’s foray into “draggable” maps which they’ve dubbed MSN Virtual Earth.

Not such an original choice for a name. But then again, I used to use Microsoft’s Terraserver long before Google Maps existed. But that one was not draggable.

MSN Virtual Earth Google Map Competitor
Anyhow, Virtual Earth is in Beta right now, and there’s a lot of hitches and glitches. But the basic premise is the same as Google Maps. Street map level and satellite terrain views along with zooming. They have an interesting “continuous” zoom-bar that is not divided into discrete bars (not really good for Scavengeroogle, because I won’t be able to tell you whatthe zoom factor in numbers is).

They have this sort of dorky looking compass that I’d get rid of, or make transparent, if I were them. They have a semi-search functionality that will bring up locations on the map, though it feels a bit clunky compared to Google’s . Also, double clicking on the map does center, but it tries to do a strange continuous zoom out first. Their default satellite level map is actually a “hybird” with both street and satellite, but you can turn off the labels.

MSN Virtual Earth Google Map CompetitorOne thing people are going to notice right away is that it seems like you can zoom in really close in certain areas. This isn’t a surprise because I remember that Terraserver had this kind of closeup data. But with the new interface, it’s pretty trippy to be able to see that close. You can easily see cars and sometimes faintly make out people.

Overall, it’s very interesting. Microsoft is notorious for not letting any other tech company run with a good idea for long without trying to get their hands all over the goodies. Granted, they did have Terraserver and used map technology first… but Google made a better interface. Whether or not they’ll make as much of an impact as Google Maps has remains to be seen. But I’d be keeping an eye of them either way.

So are we going to have to start doing clues in BOTH Virtual Earth and Google Maps here at Scavengeroogle? Who knows. Maybe we will fork the site to be Scavengeroogle and Scavengerahoo… what do you say?

7/23/05 | 10:44 am | All of Indiana Mapped?

Google Maps All of Indiana?This is more a curiosity than anything else. While I was checking out the new Hybrid feature of Google Maps I zoomed sort of far out and took a look at the U.S. Interestingly, my eye was immediately drawn to Indiana of all places, because the entire state looked like it was a “grey” color. I zoomed in for a look and saw that they appear to have mapped nearly the ENTIRE state in “High Res”. I don’t believe this was here before (but someone correct me if I’m wrong).

Now, this is no slap at Indiana but there are only 2-3 larger “red dot” cities in the state so it was surprising that the entire state would be mapped at super High Res. That’s why it stood out for me. And it was distinctive because the color of the mapping seems to have very little green in it. Right next door in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, everything is green and also not mapped in high resolution.

I took a look around and saw that Massachusetts also seems to be mapped entirely in that same shade of grey/brown, but not sure if this was there before. I don’t know what this means, but I think it is Google getting new satellite data or at least switching some of it out. Maybe Indiana was a test or something first before switching out the rest.

In any case, this is generally good for Scavengeroogle if they are going to make more High Resolution mapping available. That’s more potential places for clues to be found in rural areas. The one interesting thing is going to be that as they switch out the maps, our “temporal” clues (such as google map defects that were clues), are going to disappear! That’s OK though, because I had noted this eventuality when we first started playing. So I guess don’t be surprised if you come across an old clue that is not longer in the current Google Map…

7/23/05 | 10:16 am | Hybrid Mode for Google Maps

Google Maps Hybrid ModeI hadn’t gotten a chance to Scavengeroogle around the past day or so really, so this morning when I woke up I fired up Google Maps and saw that those zany Google Engineerios are at it again. Apparently, the idea of Google Map Transparencies was so good that they just had to integrate it with the actual app. Incidentally, it was super smart of them to release the Google API nto the wild because there are a huge number of people who want to develop additions or google mashups, and by the terms of the agreement they can have their pick of any new developments and integrate it back into the main app. It’s like having a bunch of freelance Googlengineers working for free!

Anyhow, so they’ve introduced a “Hybrid” Mode which can be activated from a button right next to the “satellite” and “map” buttons. I really like the overlay, I’ve found it very nice to be able to tell approximately where you are initially without having to go back and forth.

Their overlay is also a good nicer and seems to highlight the roads and stuff better. One note is that it seems to take a tiny bit longer time to render, especially when you are zoomed far out and scrolling around. That’s probably because it has to do both maps at once.

In any case, this is a great development for Scavengeroogle and may make finding clues and coming up with clues a bit easier…

7/20/05 | 10:07 am | Google Moon Launches

Google Maps Moon LaunchesI woke up this morning and fired up trusty FireFox as normal. Google is my home page and I always enjoy it when they change out the graphic to fit with the holiday or other special day. This being July 20, the anniversary of the first manned Moon Landing in 1969, they changed the graphic to a moon themed one.

Google Maps Moon Launches
But not only that… usually when you click the graphic you get related Google results. This time you get Google Moon, an addition of NASA Moon imagery to Google Maps. A very cool thing… it looks like the Google staff themselves are having fun with google mashups.

I am not sure if they will keep this up forever or what (a lot of their experimental subdomains have a habit of disappearing after awhile, although many people will attempt to mirror them). Anyhow, there are only 8 notches on the zoom sliding scale, but that’s enough to play around with looking for aliens on the moon. If you find any habitations, I want half credit for it for Scavengeroogle, haha.

Google Maps Moon LaunchesActually, my favorite thing is what you get if you zoom in to 8/8. Instead of the usual “Sorry we don’t have satellite imagery at this magnification”, you get what is pictured at left. =) It’s nice to see the Google Engineers have a sense of humor. Also, the humor continues if you read their “Google Moon Help”, especially the section on the development of their lunar hosting research center… haha. I think I will apply for this…

7/18/05 | 1:06 pm | Google Maps Scale Feature

Google Maps Sliding ScaleThe other day when I was trying to come up with our first Scavengeroogle Bounty (collected by Judy B from Indiana, by the way), I noticed that there seemed to be an addition of a dynamic distance scale at the bottom of Google Maps. Now, I wasn’t sure if this was new because those ravenous Google Engineers tend to release new features left and right. But as usual the roogler Trecherus was on the ball and also noted this feature as new. So I decided to post about it.

I don’t believe this will have too much effect on the game, but it is a rather cool addition and one that I thought they would have added long ago. Thoughtfully, the map has both metric (kilometers and meters) and the U.S. stone age units (miles and feet). I would like to “convert” myself to metric but it’s just so difficult growing up with inches and feet. You can imagine how slow I drove when i was on vacation a few years ago in Canada where its km/hr. I just kept thinking I was going 150 miles an hour… LOL.

The most interesting part of the new distance scale is that it is DYNAMIC based on where you are in the current Google Map. That is, it updates automatically even while you are dragging the map around.

I found that quite interesting because you might think first that it should only change when zooming, not scrolling. However, Trecherus noted that perhaps it changes in order to account for the inherent differences from this 2-D map depiction versus true distance on a 3-D globe map. This does seem to match up, because the dynamic nature of the map is most notable when you are zoomed farther out. When you’re close in, the 3-D vs. 2-D differences are not on a scale that is as noticeable.

I think it’s great that Google makes changes to their maps as they go. It almost feels like one continuous beta test..

P.S. I chose this particular screengrab, because I was looking around and saw what seems to be a brushfire?? I dunno, some of the area around here (I-40) seems to be red or orange rock/soil, so maybe it’s not… sure looks like it though.

7/16/05 | 1:01 pm | Scavengeroogle BOUNTIES

I’d like to talk about a new feature here at Scavengeroogle. For quite awhile now we have been mulling various ideas on expanding clues beyond the “one day, one clue”. Although there was a lot of interest from you regarding a week long, full on Scavenger type hunt (and this may still happen), I was interested in coming up with an idea that didn’t take up so much time. In general, I wanted to have MORE clues going on at once, but wanted to be able to let them remain essentially on auto-pilot, unlike the current clues where I pretty much moderate them all day.

So I would like to introduce the concept of Scavengeroogle Bounties. I had this idea very early on but just didn’t implement it. What are Bounties?

These are basically clues that are (hopefully) more difficult than our ordinary clues with a time frame extending forever UNTIL THEY ARE SOLVED. A Bounty remains “Open” until it is found by one of you ‘rooglers, at which time it becomes closed. Please use the Solve A Clue form to submit a bounty solution.

You may be wondering why they are called “Scavengeroogle Bounties” instead of “Extra-Hard Clues”. Well, a bounty entails some sort of reward doesn’t it? So yes, there will be rewards for the first person to capture a bounty.

I thought a long time about what kind of rewards to give out. ‘Rooglers who have been here awhile probably know already that my financial situation is not exactly stellar. So it needed to be something that I already had and didn’t have to buy. Thus, although rewards will be different for every bounty, they will most likely be some sort of geographical-related prize, including but not limited to old maps, various postcards, travel brochures. The “prize” will be shown along with the bounty, so you can see what you can win. Please note that obviously if I use a submission of yours for a bounty, you are not eligible to win the prize!

I like the idea of geographic prizes because it sort of ties in with the nature of the game. I know that a lot of these things can be had for “free” and don’t have much monetary value, but as y’know with gifts it’s always the thought that counts… Also, since I’ll have to “snailmail” you the prize, I’ll need you to divulge your address. Of course, you can always opt to pass on the prize even if you solve the bounty.

Scavengeroogle Bounties will appear both as “posts” and will also appear in the right hand column. Like I said, they are ONGOING until found. However, like normal clues I will start to drop hints if they are not found in a set time (perhaps a few weeks?)

Please note, the first couple are going to be experiments because I haven’t yet gauged how hard one should be. I would like it if most bounties could remain for at least a week, but knowing how ravenous some of you are for clues that may not happen. In any case, this will inject more clues into the game without the need for me to continually moderate them.

Ok, I will put the first bounty up very soon… good luck!

7/13/05 | 11:34 am | Scavengeroogle in WIRED

Scavengeroogle featured in Wired MagazineIf you need further proof of how great a magazine WIRED is here you go. I was notified by ‘roogler Trecherus that he actually spotted Scavengeroogle featured in the print version of the July 05 issue of Wired Magazine! This is awesome stuff and it really made my day. Actually it really made my week as it has been slightly cruddy so far. (Sorry about the lack of a clue today, I will try get one up soon!)

I used to subscribe to Wired long ago, but I haven’t gotten the print version of the magazine for quite awhile. Primarily because I just visit the Wired Site for latest news. On that note, I know that the magazine and online version overlap in some respects but I don’t think this article is online. I haven’t searched but I assume that I would have noticed incoming traffic from Wired if we had appeared online.

[Edit: 7/20/05 - Oops, I spoke to soon. We are surely linked from the actual site in the Spawn Of Google Maps article online at Wired.com. Yay!]

Scavengeroogle featured in Wired MagazineThe feature is on page 30 of the latest issue and is entitled “Spawn of Google Maps” by Matthew Yeomans. He talks about 5 different ways that people are using Google Maps.

We are featured in the number 2 slot of the “5 Spins on Searchable Terrain”! As you can see in the picture, they included both a picture and a little blurb paragraph about what the site does. For the picture, they actually chose to show a clue called Bones Brigade from back in early May. They also mentioned the Question Mark pier and the bell carved into farmland. From this, I gather that the article was written in early May sometime since they don’t talk about any of the more recent clues.

This is super nice that they would feature us in their article. Along with Scavengeroogle, there is the familiar “googleglobetrotting” site, as well as a LiveJournal Area 51 site, a loggin industry destruction related site, and a digital scrapbook a la Flickr. I didn’t have time to scan in all the other blurbs at high res.

Scavengeroogle featured in Wired MagazineSo, anyhow I wanted to say thanks again for coming to visit the site once in awhile. As I said before, I am pretty amazed at the fact that people came to visit the site in the first place. Originally, it was just a project for fun that I thought would last for a couple clues or so. I guess I should get on the ball and create some more clues now!

In any case, hooray for us! Well, I was hoping they would have had some screenshots of one of the clue summary boxes so that it’d show some of your names and make you a bit famous. Hehe. Anyhow, thanks again and thanks for sending in all those clues lately…

7/9/05 | 11:50 am | Transparencies for Google Maps

Google Maps Transparencies

I was clued into a really interesting site by ‘roogler Trecherus yesterday. The site is called Google Maps Transparencies and it provides an overlay functionality that will let you see the center portion of the “street map” google map” as a transparency over the “satellite map”. A great idea, and with Google officially releasing their API for Google Maps we should see a ton more really cool applications like this coming out soon. Keep you ear to the ground…

As you can imagine, transparency is a pretty neat idea and I predict it might be useful for Scavengeroogling as we know it. Because I don’t know about you but I am constantly switching back and forth between the two maps. The move of the Satellite and Map buttons by Google that we mentioned before was interesting but this site actually provides a significant improvement to the switching of maps.

What is very useful is that as you “drag” the map it drags BOTH the overlay and the background map the same “distance”. The overlay stays in the center of the map always. Like Google Maps, you can also zoom into the map (of course if you zoom too far in on a non high-res mapped location it will give the familiar grey screen with “We don’t have the imagery at this zoom level” message.

Also extremely useful is the option to “toggle” the map so that the overlay is using either the Satellite Map or the Street Level Map (and the background is using the opposite). They’ve also put a handy couple of dropdowns to “auto-jump” to various U.S., Canadian and UK cities as well as exact longitude and latitude coordinates.

Beyond it’s applications for Roogling, the transparency feature is interesting for looking at how the various satellite terrain features line up with the street map view. For the most part, Google Maps are pretty accurate on this, though I have seen things that didn’t exist simultaneously in the same map.

I haven’t used this yet in actual application (finding clues) but I figure it should be pretty useful, so you may want to bookmark it for later clue testing. A couple of suggestions I might have for the functionality: It would be cool to have the ability to turn on or off the transparency at will. (I just noticed that there is an “opacity slider” at the bottom that lets you make it completely solid or invisible…very cool). Also, the familiar magnification slider is missing here, although the plus / minus zoom buttons are there. And finally, for roogling it would be nice if the familiar “link to page” actually grabbed the real link instead of a link to this site itself.

7/6/05 | 12:18 am | Yo ho ho and a bottle of wine

Urgh! Hey roogles, quickly: I actually had meant to put up a clue yesterday but as the day wore on I wasn’t able to sit down to make up a clue. Didn’t help that it was a long weekend. Too much wine. Shuckso! Wednesday would have been the first “all day” clue. Anyhow, hope you will keep checking back. Still figuring out the mailing list too. I should have a clue up on Friday if not sooner. And thank you to those who are sending in clues, it is very heartening to get them in the mail. =)

P.S: Awhile ago I got a whole load of people from Poland in my referrer stats. So if you are visiting Scavengeroogle and are from there, hello and welcome belatedly! And please don’t hesitate to send in clues from your neck of the woods…