First of all, I would like to thank all users who again diligently reported error messages or provided ideas. This time many really good hints arrived our support team. Keep up this! Did you know that everyone who reports a bug for the first time gets a permanent place in our “Tester” section App? (Click on logo – “About”).
Before I talk about the new features of the release, as usual, I would like to dedicate a few lines to the team members who usually don’t appear in public. There are hardly any Twitter messages in which they are mentioned and they are also rarely mentioned by name in the changelogs. They are not developers and yet they are very important for the team and the project.
He is a veteran of GC Wizard. When this project was still a one-man show, I suddenly got a message from someone whose name seemed vaguely familiar to me. In fact, he was already an eager tester back in GCC days. Quickly he had the new project on his radar. And quickly I had a great collaborator on my side. We call Andy our Special Support. We can’t say exactly what this role is supposed to do. And we don’t know exactly what he really does all day long. But without him, we would have a lot more mistakes, that’s for sure! Andy can’t keep his hands off the “latest hot shit” and the dumbest gadget. And so he takes a close look at everything that not runs away rapidly and breaks it down into its smallest components. That includes every new GCW function.
We can’t imagine a stricter tester. I’ll be honest: When the third message from him comes in during the day, I really do hate him for it. But he is always right! And that’s exactly how good quality assurance has to be! It usually hurts the developer, but in the end it’s necessary to be able to maintain a minimum level of, well, quality. We as developers often have tunnel vision for the current feature, but with the huge codebase it’s very good to have someone on board who keeps track and also digs out older stuff sometimes and sees if it still works.
In addition, he hangs around on all kinds of social media platforms and searches for puzzle discussions in appropriate groups. In this way, he regularly provides new ideas and suggestions for improving the tool. His own ideas often involve a lot of effort, but they are (usually) implemented at some point. I am then always very happy to have done so, because the high effort is always rewarded by a great well-thought enhancement. But I also know that he has been waiting for a feature since the early days, for which I still don’t have a proper idea for the technical implementation. Sorry for that 😉
Andreas – not to be confused with Andy! – also joined at some point and never left. I confess that I don’t remember how it came about, but in the end the project benefits extremely from his incredible diligence and conscientiousness. Andreas now has three main tasks. And for all three tasks I am infinitely grateful to him, because I would not do any of them voluntarily. I would have no patience for that.
First he dedicated himself to the task “Symbol Tables” and delivered as a worthy successor of the user “Äggsbärde”, who created the first about 100 tables in the early days in rapid speed , numerous new little pictures. Andreas has even built a tool in Excel that extracts symbol images directly from fonts. He puts a lot of emphasis on aesthetics, so you can be sure that the symbols arrive in very good quality and neatly aligned. In the meantime, I refrain from quality control.
Next, we have him to thank for the manual. I have no idea how many articles he has written by now, how many screenshots he meticulously created and what all he has translated into which languages, but it clearly more than 1000! This process runs steadily and silently in the background and one quickly forgets that this actually inhuman work is actually done by someone.
When Ludo, our French developer, joined us about a year ago and immediately brought the French translation with him, a project was immediately set up on the translation platform Crowdin. Since then, Andreas has been taking care of the translators in addition to all the other work. We are currently talking about 6000 texts to be translated. If anyone enters a translation in any language, Andreas is there to validate it, patiently answer all questions and finally release the translations.
Andy and Andreas, thank you for your work! This is said far too rarely (especially publicly). I am very happy to have you on board!
The highlights of 2.2.0
Of course, all diligence would be worthless if we had nothing to test or document. And so we programmers, first and foremost Mike and Thomas, but not to forget the aforementioned Ludo, built great new features for you!
Automatic Symbol Replacement
Mike was obviously fed up with always having to translate symbols by hand. So he tried to find an automatic way. The new tool, it can be found in the “Symbol Tables” list of course, accepts a complete image full of symbols. In the first step, it tries to identify the correct symbol table itself, based on similarity comparisons. Of course, the matching one can also be selected manually. Some parameters can be adjusted by the user to enable a better recognition.
Maybe the result is not perfect yet, maybe some symbols were assigned incorrectly. This is not a problem, because in the second step there is the possibility to label the symbols individually or in groups by yourself with a sophisticated editor. This way, a good result can be achieved very quickly, especially for large images with many symbols.
Of course, it’s not artificial intelligence like in Google Lens or similar tools. The inputs have to be clean files and the tool will surely fail with crooked or badly exposed photos from dirty laminates of a multistation. But with images from mystery listings, we’ve had great results in our tests. Mike has opened a door to great possibilities here and has shown with the tool what potential still lies dormant in the GC Wizard. If you find nice use cases, even some that don’t work, feel free to send them to us. We are always grateful for test cases. Because only in this way can the rough diamond be polished.
At our first team meeting last year, we had a crazy idea. And on the five-hour drive back, I think Thomas was talking about nothing else. Since then, he has worked tirelessly on his project. He was quickly able to show first successes, but the problems came up, as always, in the details. But now the time has come: The GC Wizard understands Wherigos. No, (at the moment?) we don’t have a complete player, but the new tool can deconstruct Wherigos entirely!
- Show all zones
- Show all images and play sounds
- Show all dialogs
- And even: Show possible answers to the questions
Yes, we are aware of the explosive nature that this tool may bring. There will be exactly two factions: “How dare you?” and “Wow, never stare at your phone again, just pick up the Traddi!”. Some will curse it, others will love it.
Maybe a word about the intent of all this: How many times have you had to abort a WIG because the cartridge crashed? How often have you wanted to see the picture from the last dialog again or rewind the sound? All this is not possible with the current players. The GC Wizard is supposed to make sure that you reach your goal without any frustration. Of course the tool can be used to get the complete solution. But well, if the geocacher wants it that way, we can’t prevent that. The same applies to every other tool in the GCW. Also the calculation of the center of three coordinates can be done with one click, although the owner did not want it done that way. In the end, it is up to the cacher how much fun he wants to remove and how much fun he can bring back by taking a shortcut.
In any case, the WIG analyzer is hard to beat in terms of detail and was able to handle the most complicated WIGs known to us in our tests. However, this requires analyzing the cartridge’s code. Unfortunately, we have not (yet) found a way to do this offline. Therefore we had to break here with a breaking heart with the actually irrevocable requirement that the GC Wizard must be able to calculate everything without internet access. But Thomas’ son helped us out and programmed a server that can do the code analysis. Thanks for that! The tool transfers the so called LUA code directly to our own (!) server. This was partly paid by your donations – thank you! So no other data, especially no personal data, will be transmitted and to no third party. If you still have concerns, you are welcome to get the LUA code from another source and enter it manually into the tool. Nevertheless, we are working on getting the offline capability here as well.
Finally, a disclaimer: It is important to note that this tool can only cover perhaps 90%. WIG cartridges are arbitrarily complex constructs and can be programmed in an arbitrarily complicated way. In exceptional cases, the GCW will also fail, we are sure of that. In the context of further improvements, we would be pleased to receive corresponding cases here as well, on the basis of which we can harden the tool.
I don’t know if anyone will understand this tool, but I personally have often missed something like this: You have no squared paper but you have to draw some lines on a grid again or check off numbers in boxes (lottery ticket?). Then “Squared Paper” (sorry, we couldn’t think of a better name) is your friend. It’s a completely dumb tool: You can configure and label rows and columns. And then? You just draw lines or boxes. Chess board? A4, C5 and D6 is white. No problem anymore, just leave your squared paper at home for now on!
At an event late last year, I saw a geocacher desperately asking for a tool. Reflexively I wanted to shout out – until I saw the request: Create text XY as jigsaw code. But the pieces should fit into each other, like in a real jigsaw. So far, the GCW has only painted individual pieces next to each other. This looks like a pile of jigsaw pieces, but not like a complete result. This yield a complete renewal of the symbol table encoding. Sometimes certain symbol tables actually follow an algorithm that goes far beyond merely “stringing characters together”. The code described above is still the simplest one. More interesting are ColorTokki and ColorHoney. Such special cases can now be output correctly. Also the normal encodings can now be customized a bit more by setting the symbol size (so far only the number of symbols per line was possible). Nice finale: The desperate cacher has meanwhile installed an export from the new GCW function as background image in his listing nominated for Cache of the Year Berlin (GC9JW0F).
The GC Wizard has now been partially or even completely translated into numerous languages. Unfortunately, however, the search function only understood German or English. We have changed that too. The search now understands: English and the respective selected language.
[new] Symbol Replacer (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Wherigo Analyzer (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Paintable Grids
[new] Conway’s Game of Life
[new] Coordinate Format: Dutch Grid/RD
[new] Multi Decoder: Esoteric Programming Languages (Thanks, Mike)
[new] Units: Potrzebie system
[new] Flip/Rotate Image
[new] Pokémon Code (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Physical Constants
[new] Base58, Base91, Base122 (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Coordinates: Center of Gravity
[new] ASCII: Options
[new] Translated Search (Thanks, Ludo & Andreas)
[new] Many Telegraphs/Punch Tapes/Telewriters (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Files: Support for WAV, MP3, RAR, GZIP, BZIP (Thanks Mike & Thomas)
[new] Numeral Words: Thai, Vietnamese, … (Thanks, Thomas)
[new] Symbol Tables (Thanks, Andreas & Thomas)
[chg] Symbol Table Encryption
[chg] Search: Consider tool titles
[chg] Roman Numbers
[fix] Variable Coordinate (Thanks Andy & Daniel)
[fix] Exif Coordinates (Thanks, Ludo)
[fix] CCITT/Z22/Telegraphs (Thanks, Thomas)
[fix] Book Cipher (Thanks, Mike & Andy)
[fix] QR Code Encoding (Thanks, Mike)