Holy crap its summer already

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Yup. The 2019 summer treasure hunt season kicks off today with the Somerset Pea Soup Days Medallion Hunt. It just hit me that I never wrote a wrap up of the 2019 Pioneer Press hunt. Perhaps its because nearly four months after the fact my face is finally starting to thaw out. Yes, the 2019 hunt was a cold one. I managed to get out for about 3 hours the Tuesday of the final week of the hunt, bundled up to the nine's. I don't envy those who were out there that last day, except for JC. H certainly earned his prize! I spent my evenings in the pub delivering the newspaper clues to the masses, all the while staying warm.

Maybe that's the other reason I haven't recapped the hunt yet. In 2018 I didn't manage a day off of work to hunt but spent more time out looking than i had i quite a while. This year I took 3 days off, but managed to spend most of that time out with our daughter who totalled her van a few days prior.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the time I did manage to get in, both hunting and sitting at Shamrocks or Bay Street, because I certainly did. I just wish there'd been more of it.

For me, however, there was a very nice touch the day of the Torchlight Parade. Traditionally Apple Valley holds their Mid-Winter Fest that day and, being a resident and a hunter, I feel it my civic duty to particpate in this little hunt. I'd been chatting with Ed Brodie that morning waiting until my obligations were clear so I could get out and hunt. When I finally did we dug around Redwood Park for a bit and decided to take a break and wait for the next clue. By this time Josh Ellingson had joined us and we agreed to split our find three ways. And split it we did! So now, I feel like a bona fide finder on the list, rather than just holding the consolation prize I split with me2, Marley, and TMK in Jake's 2002 fall hunt.

But enough with the past, on to the future.

The summer calendar is filling up, and more festivals are announcing their hunts each week. As of right now, the announced purse stands at $9250, with plenty of big prize hunts still needing to set their dates. Having made the finder list on the first Cooler find of the season, I can say loudly and proudly, "Let's get more trophies!"

And now a word about our site. It has been a long time coming, but for the first time ever, all of the Cooler Crew content is hosted within a single site. No longer do you need to go elsewhere, and pay, for access to athird party forum site. It's all here. Just click the Water Cooler link. I don't know what kind of load a full forum will put on the server during the heat of the hunt, because we only got 75 or so posts during this one. Hopefully that number will pick up in the future. Its not as pretty as I would like, nor as reminiscent of Able Minds as I would like, but its close enough, and the best part is that I didn't have to write a bit of code to make it happen, just enable a handful of third party modules.

The treasure hunt pages, however, are not so easy. I've written about 5600 lines of code to make the treasure hunts work on this site (and just about as much for other fancy features), as a custom module for the software that runs the site. Coolercrew.com runs on top of a software package called Drupal, specifically, version 7. Originally this version was supposed to be supported only through November 2020. Thankfully that deadline has been extended to November 2021. Migrating the code that runs the treasure hunt pages (which is the meat and potatoes of this site) to Drupal 8 has been challenging to say the least. Drupal 8 adopted an entirely new development model. There were a few things that I kind of cut corners with in the Drupal 7 code, just to get it done, that I had to address in order to make the new code work correctly.

I'm pleased to say that the basic code for handling treasure hunts is in place. There's actually a comparable number of lines of code in the Drupal 8 version, but most of that is actually configuration data for creating the treasure hunt page type and all of the fields that go along with it. Of course, that code is also relying on a lot more third party code, but that's OK. It's not code that's absolutely critical to the functioning of the treasure hunt code. That leaves me to concentrate on the real bones of the treasure hunt stuff. I've got a few things still to mirate forward. The map code for one. This is going to require a change of map providers, since Google now wants a credit card on file in the off chance that a site goes over the free limits of map requests they provide. Even though the limit is very generous, I don't have any control over the number of map requests that come from here, and I'm not willing to pony up a card just in case. (You may have noticed this problem on the maps that are embedded within the treasure hunt code). The same thing applies to the five star clue ratings. The base of that is a third-party module, which didn't make the cut for Drupal 8, so the data will have to be migrated. Not a big deal, just not the top priority at this time.

The last thing treasure-hunt wise to add is the formatting of the list pages. I've got a plan ready to work with that, I just need to get the time to make it happen. It shouldnt' be a big deal but you never know.

Ater that, I've got a list of enhancements to add to the site. Right now, I can control the ability to see prevent the clues for a given hunt from being seen until a certain date. That makes it easy to force people to use the Pioneer Press site, for example, during their hunt so that they get the hits and the corresponding ad revenue. I want to expand that so that the code would be useful for others, particularly those who do mock hunts, to input the clues and explanations one time and set dates that they are available rather than have to edit the page each time a clue should come out or the explanations should be there. That's like the bottom priority for me though, because unless you'd trust me to not look at your clues early in my database, you wouldn't actually do that unless you were me putting on a hunt :)

Hopefully though, all of this will be in place before the next PP hunt, and I can do some good testing during that hunt and migrate to Drupal 8 right afterward. We'll see.

Until next time, Happy Hunting! You dig?