Garmin Opie’s Treasure Chest Sweepstakes

True to his nature, Opie has been stashing away a whole lot of geocaching goodies for the coming winter. It came as no surprise, really, until we saw just how much stuff he had piled up. But after some conversations and coercion, he’s agreed to share his stockpile with his fellow cache creators at – but he wants to make it interesting. So throughout October we’ll be giving away his products as prizes to cache creators, and the prizes get bigger and better as more caches get created.

For starters, for every 100 caches created, we’ll give away an starter kit to a lucky participant until we reach 1,000 new caches. Once we top 1,000 new caches, we’ll give away a Dakota 20 to one randomly selected cache creator. Crossing the 2,000 cache mark will trigger an Oregon 450t giveaway. And as soon as we hit 3,000 new caches logged at, we’ll be giving away a GPSMAP 62stc – and we’ll give one of those away for every thousand caches created thereafter until the end of the month.

Every cache created qualifies as an entry, and to make things even easier, we provide a page to easily import caches you may have listed on other sites to help spread the word about your creations. And in the end, everyone comes out ahead because they’ll have thousands of new caches to find and log. While this specific sweepstakes is open to U.S. and Canadian residents, our offices around the world have been brainstorming – and announcing – exciting promotions for their respective countries as well.

The Apple VS Google and Microsoft

Market rivalry between the three most prominent technology companies Apple, Google and Microsoft (listed here in an alphabetic order, without any bias) has been well documented in the media. Each organisation has its loyal group of followers but also equally large group of critics. The reality for most of us is that we have to use bits and pieces of technologies, tools and services from all three suppliers. Comparing financial metrics gives an interesting perspective on each competitor but between the figures, my very biased and stereotypical view of those three companies…

Rank Company Market capitalization($ B)
2 Apple 319
5 Microsoft 233
16 Google 195

My impression of Microsoft is that it is ubiquitous in the personal computer world since overwhelming majority of desktop computers and laptops run on Microsoft software. You may not like Microsoft, or even totally hate it when their software crashes on you, yet you have no other choice but to use it. Microsoft software is a memory hungry beast and impossible to tinker with (forget trying to separate the pieces!) but that integrated “package” is so loved by “project manager” type of developers – just click on a few tick-boxes to configure individual pieces and “it all should work” (never mind how efficient it is and what it does under the hood).

Rank Company Total enterprise value ($B)
4 Apple 289
18 Microsoft 202
30 Google 164

Apple, on the other hand, is “cute and flashy” (pun intended), and practical to the point of pain (you can’t do things any other way but the Apple way, but they put a lot of effort into interface design and user interaction functionality so it kinda grows on you over time). The development environment is limited to a “toy world” of smart apps and is not a domain where any “serious stuff” can happen. For now, but who knows how far Apple will be able to push the boundaries with their “cloud initiatives”.

Rank Company Total physical assets ($M)
748 Microsoft 7,800
750 Google 7,760
931 Apple 5,870

Then there is Google, very plain (in comparison to Apple) and messy (in contrast to Microsoft) but still mostly free and “unbounded” (although sadly, things are starting to change on that front). You can totally get lost in the maze of Google products and services. The downside is that you may never own the “fruit of your hard work” if the company drops support for a specific product (due to “cloudy” and proprietary nature of many of Google products, unfortunately you cannot get the source code and continue on your own). But oh my, when it works, it works. If “it” doesn’t do something now, there is a good chance that this extra functionality will be added sooner or later (pity you never know when…).

Rank Company Revenue ($B)
78 Apple 76
100 Microsoft 67
365 Google 30

All in all, each company has its strengths and limitations, and their respective successes can be measured in different ways, as those financial metrics demonstrate…

Rank Company Total employees (thousands)
40 Microsoft 27.6
51 Apple 25.4
102 Google 15.1

Sound Transit: Riding the Bing Maps Wave

SoundTransit_0Sound Transit has launched their new public transit system featuring Bing Maps and leveraging their repository of public transit information to create a trip planner for Seattleites to get around town. The application allows users to put in origin and destination addresses, set the date and time (defaulting to the current date/time) and start planning their trip. So, let’s say I wanted to travel from the Bellevue Art Museum (510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA) to the Seattle Art Museum (1300 1ST AVE, Seattle) – working on that Warhol foursquare badge. So, I input the respective locations, click “Plan Trip” and out pops a map with the full route charted right across the 520 bridge. They’ll soon need to account for the tolls…anyway. Grrr.


The results also include several options with travel time, start and end times, the cost of the trip, the route numbers you’ll need to take, plus any transfers required to get from one museum to the other. Upon drilling down into the trips, you’ll see that there are actually different prices per rider type (adult, youth and senior/disabled) and whether or not you can use your ORCA card (One Region Card for All – basically, one card for all public transportation around Seattle). One of the many perks of being a Microsoft employee is a free ORCA card, so come work for us (!!) or ask more Microsoft people why they aren’t using public transportation since it’s free and there’s a kick ass Microsoft system powering the Sound Transit Trip Planner…just sayin’.

I digress.

Finally, in the trip planner, you’ll also see the distance you may have to walk in the rain (eek!) and then step-by-step driving directions with times included and the transit system which powers the mode of transport.

You’ll also notice some markers on the map. In addition to the route line and stops, there are buttons to enable Fare Outlets (for buying passes) and Park and Rides pinned to the map. These will be quite useful in our attempts to stop the insanity of $4 per gallon gas and global warming. A great addition to the Bing Maps Customer Showcase and a win for Sound Transit riders around Puget Sound.

Don’t live in Seattle? Build your own transit app. Sign up at the Bing Maps Portal.