It’s been half a year since the last release. That’s how long it took from the start of development to the first public release. We needed so much time because we were entering completely new territory in development and needed a lot of time for testing and trial and error.
We have introduced a complete new category: “Images and Files“. It gathers many new tools that can be helpful to solve or create puzzles based on, well, images and files. This was problematic, because for the first time, we are now working with content over which we no longer have complete control. Until now, all tools have worked exclusively with text input (or, in the case of the symbol tables, from our self-created images). This is easy to control. Now it should be possible to work also with foreign content, i.e. foreign files. And there is a lot that can go wrong. One incorrect format, one unusually created image – and immediately there can be a crash. Of course, we can’t guarantee that we can completely exclude this, but we have put a lot of time and effort into the tools and searched endlessly for errors (and also found a lot!). Nevertheless, we have introduced the “BETA” marking especially for these tools to give at least a little warning. We believe that some special cases will occur during the use and of course we hope for your cooperation at this point: We gladly accept every curious case, every image where a tool fails, etc. The more material is available for testing, the more stable the tools will get, of course.
The next big problem was that we now had to start working within the devices’ file system: reading and writing files turned out to be much more complex than originally expected. The restrictions of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android regarding file access are quite strong. Meeting this was actually the big hurdle and cost the most time and nerves in the end.
I want to thank the entire team, of course. Everyone put in an incredible amount of time again to make this release possible:
- Mike was an essential driver for the file functions. Unrelenting and meticulous, he investigated every odd behavior for this and didn’t let my very tough demands get him down.
- Thomas, as always, used his ability to chase after completely obscure codes. Relentless research and endless discussions with experts (really!) brought long-lost documents to light, proving that really every web page on the subject, that can be found, contains a bug that is probably copied over and over again. And guys, I think it’s needless to mention that tools for the next version are already in the pipeline from him! 😀
- Andreas is always a bit unassuming during development and rarely shows up in our thank you tweets. However, he’s the one who ends up tirelessly creating the manuals for all our whacky tools. He’s really not to be envied. He also interfaces with the many volunteer translators around the world.
- Our special support Andy is always out and about on countless user forums and social media channels looking for real use cases for our crazy outputs. This has ended up uncovering a lot of bugs and ideas for improvement.
- Ludo has also contributed many ideas and code. He is mainly responsible for the fact that we are now represented on Crowdin. With this, it was now possible for volunteers to provide tool translations.
- Last but not least, among all the great translators, I would like to highlight the user “crazedllama”, who actually provided a complete Korean translation. What a job! It’s also worth mentioning that during development, texts are often exchanged or deleted again. As a translator it’s really not easy, but Ludo and “crazedllama” were really hard to get down.
- Of course, as always, I also thank all the users and testers who provided all the suggestions or bug reports!
Thank you so much for all your efforts!
The highlights of 2.0.0
Of course, the highlight is the new category “Pictures and Files”:
- Exif/Metadata Viewer: Ludo built an Exif reader. Here many different file information can be displayed: File size, image size, thumbnail and of course all possible data from the Exif information, if available. If GPS data is found, it can, of course, be visualized on a map. At this point it’s worth mentioning our new image viewer, which is used in almost all of the new tools: You can zoom in, save the image or reopen it in other tools. For example, a thumbnail image can be searched again directly for Exif data. We found an example where a thumbnail had thumbnail again, which had thumbnail again. Very clever.
- Hex Viewer: Any files can be opened in a hex viewer. Of course, not only the hexadecimal code is displayed, but also (or optionally in a separate view) the ASCII text translation.
- Animated Images: Mike delivered a tool that deconstructs animated images (like animated gifs) into their individual frames. It also shows how long an image is visible within the animation. There are e.g. puzzles, where the different image durations are the coordinates. Of course, thanks to the new image view, each individual image can be saved separately or can be analyzed in more detail in a hex or metadata viewer.
- Animated Images to Morse: But that’s not all: Mike played around with the possibilities even more and had a deeper look at animated gifs that simply blinked. He managed to extract Morse code directly from the blinking. Here it must be said, this only works for “binary” animations, i.e. for gifs that really only have an ON and an OFF image. If the movie becomes more complex, i.e. with such intermediate stages, while a light is fading or similar, will probably fail. But there is always room for improvement 🙂
- Color Corrections: How often have you sat there and tried to read information with font color dark gray on light anthracite? Playing around with contrasts, gamma values and edge detections is now also possible directly in the GC Wizard.
- QR and Barcodes: There are now several tools available for barcodes and QR codes, thanks to Mike. For example, binary input can be translated directly into image information, thus translating a few zeros and ones directly into a QR image or barcode (of course, any other binary black and white image works as well). QR codes can now also be read directly from a file. A QR generator may not be missing here of course.
- Hidden Data: A lot of gray hairs raised on my head during the development of this tool. Of course, Mike did the mammoth work here, too, but at least I got to help. A bit. The tool automatically detects hidden information in image files, like hidden ZIP archives. If an archive is discovered, then it is opened and its contents are analyzed again. If another archive is found in it, then the tool continues to work. Very cool! This works for a number of the most important file formats. Of course, there are always extreme special cases that may not work because there are simply infinite ways to hide files. But the vast majority of mysteries of this kind known to us could not withstand the tool. We are very proud of it!
- LSB Steganography: Ludo has managed to hide data directly in the bits and bytes of the images without the images themselves looking altered. Very cool! And big extensions have already been announced here.
- Visual Cryptography: It’s no big secret that Visual Cryptography is my personal favorite cipher. When Mike heard that, he didn’t waste any time and delivered a great tool for creating and decoding corresponding puzzles.
Besides the file tools, Thomas of course also delivered one or two nice tools:
- Of course, there are new esoteric programming languages again, like Karel, the Robot or Cow
- I find his “Up-Down-Left-Right” tool pretty nice: Who ever stood outside at a multi and found a code like
↑↑ ←↑→↑← →↓←→↓←and then got to paint on some box paper? Well, Thomas’ tool can now directly graph a corresponding input.
- Graphical Braille Tool: Sure, Braille could be read from the Symbol Tables before. But now there is a tool where you can enter the dots directly, similar to the Segment Displays, without having to search for the matching images first. This tool also supports different languages, since Braille is unfortunately not internationally standardized.
- A few little mathematical helpers: solving quadratic equations, listing divisors of a number, converting different representations of complex numbers into each other, …
- New languages for the Numeral Words: New languages were added, real ones like Korean, but also fictional ones like Na’vi from the movie “Avatar”. Additionally, Thomas wrote a tool that transcribes numbers for some languages into their respective numeral words.
And the end is still not even close. What more is new?
- The Open Map view can now import GPX, KML and KMZ files. Thanks to Mike.
- The coordinate calculations have been revised. Internally, the most modern known algorithm is now used for distance calculations and waypoint projections (“Karney” from 2011 replaces the previous “Vincenty”). This is also used in various GIS systems. Also special cases, like calculations between poles or directly opposite points (“antipodes”) are no longer a problem.
- I had already reported on the telephone madness.
- The Book Cipher tool has been enhanced with many options by Mike after we were unable to use it adequately on two Geocaches.
- The clipboard system has been greatly expanded: The GC Wizard already has its own clipboard system for some time. Until now, however, this could only be used for the coordinates when you clicked on the “Paste” button there. This system has now been integrated globally for all text fields. If you now click on “Paste” in the context menu of an input field, the clipboard selection opens. So it is possible to cache several outputs and to access several of these states at the same time. Furthermore, it is possible to edit and configure the complete internal buffer.
- Ex: An encryption tool outputs “N5423123E1204567”. This is obviously a coordinate, but due to lack of clean formatting this value cannot be pasted directly into a coordinate tool. The solution now is to copy this output, and then adjust this in the Clipboard Editor (e.g. into “N54 23.123 E12 04.567”). Then this value can be pasted directly into the coordinate tools.
- The Favorites list is now pre-filled with a few important and commonly used Geocaching tools on initial installation to make life a little easier for newbies so they are not so lost in the mass of features. Additionally, there is now a “What’s New” dialog for new versions.
And that’s still not the end, but you will certainly want to go on a discovery tour yourself.
With version 2.0, GC Wizard has finally raised from being a “little in-field helper” to a tool that can also serve well for puzzle work on complex mysteries at home. More and more additional apps or websites can be put away with, and we really say that with pride.
We sincerely hope and wish that you have a lot of fun with the new GC Wizard 2.0 and its countless ways to make your puzzle work easier.
[new] Language: Korean (Thanks, ‘crazedllama’)
[new] Exif/Metadata Reader (Thanks, Ludo)
[new] Hex Viewer
[new] Hex to File (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Image Color Corrections
[new] Animated Images (+ to Morse) (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Binary to QR/Barcode (Thanks, Mike)
[new] QR Code from File Reader (Thanks, Mike)
[new] LSB Steganography (Thanks, Ludo)
[new] Hidden Data (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Visual Cryptography (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Braille (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Coordinates: Centroid
[new] Coordinates: Add Numbers to DMM Format
[new] Map View: GPX/KML Import (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Clipboard Editor
[new] Countries & Country Flags (Thanks, Andreas)
[new] IATA/ICAO Airport Codes (Thanks, Thomas & Andreas)
[new] Sudoku: All Solutions
[new] Houdini Code
[new] Maya Calendar (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Vanity/Phone Keys per Phone Model
[new] Zodiac Signs
[new] Zamonian Numbers
[new] Recycling Codes (Thanks, Andreas)
[new] RAL Color Codes (Thanks, Andreas)
[new] Multi Decoder: Roman Numbers
[new] Navajo (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Gauß Weber Telegraph
[new] Schilling Cannstatt Telegraph
[new] Piano Key Frequencies (Thanks, Andreas)
[new] Quadratic Equation (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Divisor (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Complex Numbers (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Vanity Words (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Alcohol Mass
[new] Blood Alcohol Content
[new] Shadok Numbers
[new] Cow Programming Language (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Karel, the Robot (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Beghilos (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Keyboard: Special Characters (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Fox Code
[new] Up-Down-Left-Right (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Many Symbol Tables (Thanks, Andreas & Thomas)
[new] Partly Translations: DA, ES, IT, NL, RU, TR (Thanks, Crowdin contributors)
[chg] Coordinates: New internal algorithm (Karney)
[chg] Chef: Enhanced (Thanks, Thomas)
[chg] Numeral Words: More Languages (Thanks, Thomas)
[fix] Too many to enumerate 😉