Thursday, December 18, 2008

Uncharted featured on KVNU web page

KVNU radio station's (610 am) "For the People" show has featured Uncharted's launch on their web page today. Check out the article.

Note - the "For the People" show is a great program for keeping abreast of some of the most important issues facing the community and nation. You can listen to their show online at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Uncharted has launched!

The adventure has begun. Uncharted is now public! The site was unveiled at 7:35pm MST - 17 Dec 08 (0235 hrs GMT - 18 Dec 08). Several staff members and beta testers got together in Logan, Utah and online to celebrate the launch.

Congrats to the staff, beta-testers, and other Uncharted supporters everywhere. All the hard work has created this:

Feature stories for the launch include a Michigan adventure race, Spud Days in Shelley Idaho, and Alligators in the Snake River, Idaho. Some of the content submitted by registered Explorers includes Malaysia, France and California features. Great start!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lighting the Sky

Legend tells the tale of a young girl, who, in the dark of night, grabs embers from a glowing fire. She throws them high into the night sky, creating the Milky Way, full of formations of flickering stars, allowing navigation to the uncharted regions of the world.

Now, if only illuminating cyberspace were that easy.

That’s what we’ve been working on––mapping cyberspace with those little-known, less-traveled places of the globe, full of people, culture, moments and stories otherwise lost to time.

And it hasn’t been easy. Bringing a team together with the skills and experience necessary to pull off a project this complex and widespread was a formidable challenge. Over the past four years, we’ve worked, in some cases, across five time zones. All of our team members hold full-time jobs in a variety of disciplines, anything from journalists to officers in the armed forces, to programmers, artists, marketers and teachers. They speak a variety of languages and have lived and traveled around the world.

And they’re all volunteers. They’ve worked with minimal funding and scavenged resources. Their ingenuity and ability to come together in difficult situations sets them apart from any other team I’ve ever worked with. And while, at first glance, it seems an unlikely group to be working together, the mix has yielded unique results.

It has been my privilege to serve as director of this incredible group, who have labored, often into the late hours of the night and well into the early morning, sacrificing vacations, free time and other opportunities, on a project aiming to bring the world together one journey at a time.

Tomorrow evening you’ll get to see the first glimpse of all that hard work and sacrifice as we unveil, for the first public view, our project, We’ll share with you our first three stories highlighting some of our favorite people and places. And while much of our efforts have been close to home, our vision stretches into your backyard and beyond.

But more importantly, you’ll get to help us throw some embers into the sky as well, because Uncharted, after all, is a community of friends, our friends and, yes, most importantly, yours. We look forward to seeing the places you’ve been and the interesting people you’ve met. We look forward to getting to know each of you as we journey from place to place. We can’t wait to explore, live and feel the world through your eyes and show you the things we’ve seen as well.

So, wherever you are, however far away you might reside, come join us tomorrow evening for this historic moment in our project’s history, the beginning of many journeys to come.

Alan Murray is Executive Director of Uncharted. He enjoys snowshoeing and likes seahorses and likes to leave the country frequently.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Uncharted -- Your Digital Memory Box

I admit it – I’m a pack rat. I have saved, in various boxes, jars, bags, drawers and shelves just about everything from old TAB soda cans to rocks shaped like pig noses, newspaper clippings, photos, books, trinkets, beads and baubles, ties and, in a cardboard apple box underneath the stairs, ten years’ worth of handwritten journals.

Oh. Allow me to introduce myself. You've already met GeoJoe, our capable communications director. Now meet MisterFweem, the company's creative content director. Now, back to that collection of mine:

Fearful as any collector is of a disaster or misfortune that would rob me of my collection, I’ve spent the last several months laboriously scanning every scrap of paper I can find into the computer, in order to preserve a digital copy of the junk I’ve collected (except for the soda cans, of course, They’re hard to put on a flatbed scanner).

Scanning the journals and photos has been especially rewarding. As I’ve separated the yellowing pages, as I’ve read the words and looked at the photos and bits of flotsam that I’ve pasted in these books, I’ve been reminded of all the interesting places I’ve been, and the soaring and humbling experiences I had while I was there.

I remembered Montsegur – sitting atop a lonely mountain in the Pyrenees mountains dividing France and Spain, atop the ruins of an ancient chateau that was built on the ruins of an even older castle where men, women and children lived, herded their sheep, and were killed in a fit of religious persecution.

I remembered Holy Island – wandering the beaches, looking at the overturned boats turned into sheds, the ancient monuments, moss-covered gravestones and the seagulls screaming and crying above the salty waves, a sound that still says England to me.

I remembered Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House – the stilt-tall, narrow building where this family and others hid in vain for so long from their Nazi persecutors.

And I remembered Idaho’s Horseshoe Lake – fog-bound, surrounded by pines lit by a three-quarter moon, with the elk singing and shrieking and bellowing their mating calls through the night.

Uncharted is going to be a place like this. Like these. Uncharted is going to be my digital memory box – this time, shared with the world, not tucked away in cardboard boxes or forgotten on a shelf. See you other pack rats there.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pink Bunnies Explained

I've mentioned on a few occassions the issue of "Pink Bunnies" which may have left you scratching your head if you aren't savvy to the inside joke. Funny as it may be, I'm totally serious in saying that Uncharted's fate has rested with pink bunnies. Allow me to explain this curious circumstance.

Our designer, Andrew, has quite the creative mind. Out of that creativity sprang the idea to manufacture and sell authentic pink bunny suits as seen in the movie A Christmas Story. Before he could even finish a business plan however, interest was pouring in. The orders were literally multiplying like - well - rabbits! Meanwhile, Andrew faced no mass-production capability. Temporary solution: mobilize the grandmothers! But the situation grew out of control with more work than Andrew could handle alone if he was to still manage Uncharted's design tasks. And if Uncharted had to go without Andrew's expertise while he sorted out the pink bunnies, our project would be delayed further. The fate of Uncharted rested with Pink Bunnies.

As result, our team decided to hop to it and give Andrew some much needed help with bunny control. It took no time at all, and we are happy to report that hundreds of Americans across the country will have pink bunny suits under their Christmas trees this year, plus an innovative and upgraded Uncharted website.

The new Uncharted site is coming soon, but in the mean time, if you're just inching to give the gift of pink bunny warmth, comfort, or humiliation this Christmas, visit and place your order.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beta-Testing Praises and Blues

If you’re one of those whose mother has ever said, "anything worth doing in life takes hard work," she just may be right. This principle certainly seems to be ringing true for Uncharted.

The beta-testing has begun, and the comments have been great. Some were even quite entertaining. Thank you to everyone who has submitted feedback. The team loves reading your notes. It’s way exciting to be where we're at right now.

On the flip side, we've been forging through some big challenges with the new site as we prepare it to be put to the test. For some reason, our user registration sign-ups were disappearing into some unknown abyss of the virtual universe. A few nights ago, however, our programming contractors, Dave, and Andrew once again lived up to their hero status by cracking the problem!

Now our whole staff is able to register as Explorers on the test site and we've already started testing the features. We have to test everything when it’s still highly dysfunctional. We're trying to make sure the major issues are ironed out before the beta-testers log in to start their functional testing. The beta-test site will be far from perfect when the beta-testers start plugging away, but we hope what we're doing now will help the beta-testers have a more enjoyable and effective experience. This can be both a laborious and a frustrating process! All complaints aside, it’s energizing to see some of the features working, and with every day it just keeps getting better.

We're still very eager to make the site available for beta-testers and are using all the free time we have in our schedules and that our day jobs will allow, to make that happen within the month. In the mean time, we'll be sending out some more screen shots and other materials for beta-tester feedback, so keep the comments and questions coming. We'll keep you posted with the developments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Let the Beta-Testing Begin!

We're getting down to the wire. A welcome packet was sent out to the beta-testers today and the programmers are wrapping up final details for the new website.

Uncharted owes all of you beta-testers out there a huge "thank you" for your participation.

Our team of beta-testers includes our staff and over 75 of our friends and family from 3 countries (U.S., U.K. and Denmark) and 11 states. And its an incredible team of vast talent. Travel agents, people who have lived overseas, humanitarian workers, school teachers, photographers, designers, military, college students, programmers, journalists, parents, and more.

Welcome to the Uncharted team beta-testers!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spud Days Struggle

Sadly, this is my first update since June. Summer has been hectic and the team is now in a flurry of work as we prepare to launch the new site. We're so close to launch day that we'll announce a beta-tester opportunity soon. Furthermore, we don't expect the beta-testing to take very long to complete.

In the meantime, here's a look at what a few team member's experienced at Spud Days, an annual event held in the great community of Shelley, Idaho:

Seeking out the uncharted isn't always the easiest hobby, especially when Mother Nature works against you. "Rain and lightning seemed to target me over the weekend...a dark cloud poured rain over us the whole weekend and followed us wherever we went," our fearless leader Alan observed. Despite the unrelenting storms, potato enthusiasts at Spud Days remained undeterred and pressed on with the festivities. Determined to neither appear as wimps nor fail in gaining new content and contacts, Alan, Andrew, Brian and Michelle all followed the locals' lead in toughing it out as well. And tough it out they did. They got drenched, probably just one degree shy of "waterlogged". Now consider what to do about the precious electronic equipment. And if that all wasn't enough, they refrained from donning coats for fear a coat would cover up the Uncharted name and URL on their t-shirts! Drenched, cold, and miles away from home, the team showed their commitment--or craziness. Ok, commitment and craziness.

Crazy as that may sound, Brian and Michelle witnessed something even more off the wall. "There was a cordial performance by the new Miss Russett, who performed a veritable rite of passage just before the start of the tug of war competitions over a large pit of runny mashed potatoes. Thanks to a torrential downpour just before the tug of war games began, the mashed potatoes looked more like runny potato mud. Undaunted, Miss Russett added a pat of butter, salted the pit of potatoes and then, in a gesture full of warmth and goodwill, stooped down and ate a spoonful of potato mud to mark the beginning of the event."

The image below shows Andrew capturing video as the rain looms overhead.

Photo: (C) 2008 Alan Murray/Uncharted

To add to the adventure, when Alan and Andrew arrived at their hotel, there was no shampoo. They inquired with the front desk and were informed that there was shampoo in the vending machine, which proved to be false. To make a long story short, they ended up scouring town for a morsel of shampoo, with no shortage of drama along the way.

Adding alarm to an already strange day, Pink Bunnies became an unavoidable conversation topic before they returned home. Pink Bunnies will be explained at a later date for those not in the know. Lets just say Uncharted's fate ironically hinges on them.

Despite all the challenges, Spud Days was a big success, both for the community and for Uncharted. Several people expressed interest in getting involved with the beta-testing, another great Uncharted story is complete and the team was able to expand contacts in the community and local media, all while learning about this great community and event.

To top it all off, Big Jud's restaurant in Archer treated Andrew well with a monstrous one-pound hamburger the diameter of a dinner plate, a one-pound basket of fries, plenty of soda, and 2 scoops of ice cream. In recognition for downing the massive burger, Big Jud's awarded him a photo spot on their wall of fame. More amazing yet, Andrew was still hungry after the meal.

Ahhh, the life we live as we explore the uncharted. Strange, unpredictable and far from boring. The adventure goes on.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Retreat 2008

One thing you might not know about Uncharted is that we are a small team spread all over the U.S., and sometimes even all over the world. Not only do we have team members in Michigan, Idaho, Texas, and Utah, but there have even been times when some of our team members were in Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Yet somehow we've been able to make it through all the crackled audio during our web video conferences. Somehow we've made it through flurries of e-mails. Somehow we've pressed on through online chat sessions full of miscommunicated meanings. And somehow, on June 14th, 2008, we managed to scrape up some funding from who knows where to come back to Logan, UT, where the idea of Uncharted was born. Our purpose? Simple: to see and help each other through a retreat and practical workshops. Oh yes – and to make plans for the new Uncharted site which is about to be released.

We had a blast. It seems like everyone's favorite parts were: 1) seeing the new designs our Design guru Andrew has crafted and 2) being surprised with our first business cards and t-shirts, thanks to the Communications & Marketing team. Heck, it was just great to see everyone, which was probably the most important part. It’s such a rare occasion to have everyone together.

So what? So we got together. What now? Well, one of the best parts about this retreat is that we all came away with better journalism, photo, web, leadership, and communication skills. Plus, we have a very clear plan of attack for implementing the new Uncharted site. In fact, we've been so busy implementing, I haven't even had time to post this until now. This new site will make several improvements in functionality based on the feedback we may have received from you, as well as our own vision for what Uncharted can offer the world.

Here's a run down on what to expect with the new site:
  • New content, including areas such as Seattle, Arizona, Michigan, Utah, and Canada – with plans to keep on rolling from there.
  • Easy content submission process.
  • More professional appearance and more frequent content updates.
  • Easy ways to share your adventures with your friends.
And that's just a brief summary. The new site looks so cool it nearly made me jerk some tears of joy when we were looking at Andrew's presentation. Our vision is quickly turning into reality. Even though our website and first printed magazine were great starts back in late 2007 and early 2008, it’s looking more and more like 2008 is going to end with a bang. The whole team is energized and going strong.

Keep checking back here for updates as we get closer to our new release.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Developer's Diary - The Eater

Today's update comes from our workaholic designer, Andrew. He's a big guy, big eater, and he has big ideas that he's trying to turn into reality behind the scenes. Someday, all of us Uncharted fans are going to owe him big. Luckily, all he asks in return is pink bunnies and an endless supply of food. Here's our first developer's diary entry:

31 Mar 08 - "It may not make sense to everyone but I have about 7 pages done and they are constantly evolving and changing. As I design, I may come up with a better solution while I’m working on page 7 than I began with on pages 1-6 so I need to then go back and revise all the previous pages with the new and improved designs. This is always the case... It’s a bit of mental olympics designing a big website."

14 Apr 08 - "I’ve been cuddled-up to my computer for the past 3 weeks designing very extremely incredibly super duper uber exciting pages for every possible function of the Uncharted website. Tonight, I took a minute to take some screenshots to show you what I’ve been working on over the past few days."

Shown below is a sample of his work. Keep it up Andrew!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Call for Content...and How We're Learning to Love Pink Bunnies

We’re busy now planning out the next few month’s progress at Uncharted, working to bring in more interactive features, easier site navigation and a beefier invitation to all of you to share your stories. We’re getting the word out that we're looking for additional stories, photos, audio and video – your stuff, if you can’t take the hint – to post. There's a lot of talented people we know who are excited about Uncharted, so instead of just hiding behind our glowing computer screens while we plug away at the programming and other chores, we really should help anyone out there that might want to share their adventures. If that sounds like you or someone you know, here's the kind of content that matches up with Uncharted:

* Stories, poems, features, essays, little chiseled pyramids about unexplored, undiscovered, uncharted places, culture, issues, and marvels (anywhere in the world)
* Quality media (photos, video, audio, etc)

The editorial gurus will help whoever has something neat to offer with getting it posted. Contact them –, or

Big Picture Update: The work presses on. I was able to meet one of our interns, Fei, one of our programmers, Dave, and a PR & Marketing rep, Heather, in person when I visited Logan Utah last week. Incredible people! I spent half of my vacation just sitting around working on Uncharted. Yes, its a bit of an addiction now, but I was able to get out and hit the ski slopes once. Sickness & fatigue made for a failed attempt to hit Jackson Hole, Wyoming for some Uncharted work. Maybe next time.

Beyond that, a few of us spent countless time during ridiculuous hours of the night pondering, pontificating, and yes even debating Uncharted's future. Sometimes this project can seem to be quite the bear, but the momentum is really picking up and we're feeling it. Design is preparing files to send to our programmers while everyone on the team is submitting their feedback on the features, look, feel and interactivity. Oh yes, and its that time of year where our business manager Erin is saving our company from ruin by tackling our taxes. Meanwhile, our leader & computer gurus are telling us the key to our success rests with pink bunnies. That, my friends, is a story for another time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

1st Edition Printed Mag Available

We successfully started printing magazines in addition to publishing online. Our first shot at it looks great! I can't wait to get my hands on later editions. We figured it would be cool to offer this first edition to the public on a limited basis to make owning this 1st issue more special to those that hop on the Uncharted bandwagon early. Not only will you be able to immerse yourself in the Uncharted while you're on the computer, but now you can have stories and visuals in the palm of your hand! Here's what the Feb 08 edition cover looks like:

This is a real basic, short, barebones start, but the longer we keep hacking at it the better it will get.

If you'd like to purchase a special 1st edition Uncharted magazine, send a blank e-mail to and we'll respond with ordering instructions.

Update on the bigger picture: We have some great interns helping us design the core functionality of the future site. We had a great meeting last week to discuss how we want to make it easier for the users to navigate our site's future content. Our designer, Andrew, created an awesome site map for us. Everything is chugging along.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Uncharted Unleashed!

We did it!

We set out to get Uncharted public in 2007. In mid December, we met that goal by showing our families and friends and getting search engines to crawl the site. We also executed limited testing during the summer (thank you to everyone who helped with that), but now the whole world can visit to jouney with us. Here's a snapshot of what the site looks like:

Take some time to check it out and let us know what you think. There are features on Alligators in Idaho, hiking the Jewel Basin in Montana, Geocacheing, and more.

We've kept our momentum since the public release in December. We released as but have since acquired the .net URL. Now we're focusing on the next phase, which will make it easier for you to upload content. Slowly but surely the word is getting out and we're making more contacts that are interested in this project. Its been really exciting and I hope I can update you more often.

The biggest thing we need right now is to get the word out about the site and to get everyone's feedback. Some of you have given us some great inputs and we wouldn't be where we are without it. The nice thing about the web is that you can always change and adapt.

I must admit though, that turning an idea into reality on the web is not always the easiest cup of tea to drink! Still, when you look back to my earlier post that shows where we've come from, it truly is exciting.