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[RC] Tevis Webcast or "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" - TypeF \(Jackie Floyd\)

Well, now that I am home and had a few hours of sleep and can think again, I just wanted to report in from my job at the Tevis Webcast .
First, I want to thank Karen Chaton and her staff Sue Benson, Tinker Hart, Merri Melde and Steve Hallmark for taking photos and all that lovely video and getting it up so fast. They worked very hard to do a very big job, and I really appreciate all the time taken to make it happen. I think it adds a lot to the site. And Karen is STILL working on it!
I'd also like to thank my laptop volunteers both out in the field and in net control. At Michigan Bluff we had the Baldwin family studiously entering in data. The Baldwins have helped for the past several years. At Foresthill, Dawn Simas, Liz Carey and Steve Anderson sent in information to Net Control and kept the leader board volunteers as up to date as possible. While Dawn was born into the Tevis, working the webcast is one of the things she hasn't volunteered for before. Back at Net Control, Pete Duisenberg and my husband Jim Floyd typed in the majority of the radio'ed in information from all the other vet checks. Carey Brock manned the stadium and kept the leaderboard volunteer Mary updated and also handled "Where's My Rider" questions for those waiting in the stands. Ralph Lucas headed up the 75 or so radio operators stationed all over this ride. Without them, there would be nothing to put on the webcast. Ralph has been working the Tevis radio command for YEARS. A big thank you to Lindy Young who stepped up to the plate and designed the database form that we used to enter the information into. without her, this would have never flown. She wasn't even supposed to be there on Saturday, but stayed into the wee hours of the morning, fixing things on the fly. Thanks, LINDY! An extra thank you to Pete for sitting with Lindy and explaining some of the things we didn't know before race day. He's worked data entry at Net Control for several years now and knew the ropes.
If anyone is interested in how this whole ball of wax gets rolled ... here it is. We started with a website laboriously built over the past 10 years by past webmaster Richard. Unfortunately, we didn't have the database he used and so we started from scratch. Lindy and I worked many hours together to come up with something that would fill in the blanks of the web pages. We ran dozens of tests on dummy information. Of course, we figured we had crossed every "t" and dotted every "i", but at Pete said on The Day, there's no way you can test it for real until you are entering real live data. We found that to be entirely true!
So we did have a little down time for fixing things that weren't going right. For instance, when we got past 9:59 in the morning, anything with two digits became two hours later. 10:00 was now 12:00. Since obviously, that would never fly, back to work we went. Then there were other things like a power failer at foothill.net, our internet host for the Tevis site. That took us down for awhile. Then there was the little fact that the Satellite wireless setup we had would go off and on once in awhile, leaving us there to just WAIT for it to come back on. It turned out to be our router and once we figured that out, we were good to go for the rest of the evening.
Now on to the real "How It Works" ... For all stops except Michigan Bluff and Foresthill, information was radio'ed in to Net Control, written on a timer sheet, handed to either Pete or Jim, they typed it in and it was emailed to me. Michigan Bluff and Foresthill typed it into the same form and it was emailed to me. This is the same system Richard had used in the past and I know it seems weird to say they were emailing this stuff to me when I'm setting right next to them, but it has to do with the next step... Then I had to run it through a program Richard provided us with that converted the email into something the database could read. Then we would import it into the database through a series of keystrokes, export it back OUT into something my web page programs could read, run the merges, and then FTP all the web pages back up onto the server.
Timers at the vet checks were instructed to send in a report every 20 horses or every 20 minutes, whichever came first. I was instructed to put it up on the web every 30 minutes. So, you add 20 minutes, 10 minutes for the email or radio people get it to us, and the time it took me to get it all into the database, and you have about 45 minutes to an hour behind the race. All in all, we kept up with that, and towards the second half of the race, we were managing to get changes up with only a 30-minute lag time.
Considering it was the first time for me on the job, the first time Lindy had every worked with a race(system) like this, and a brand new database, I think we pulled it off quite well.
Lots of you have send it comments and suggestions and I'm going to take them all into consideration for next year. One of the biggest seems to be that people can't find the finish list. I left all of Richard's pages alone as far as order, but for next year, will move the finish line up to the front page, I think. The other little bobble we had was we could never get the database to spit out a list of Top 20 by individual riders, vs. Top 20 most recent times posted, so those out in the front were listed several times because they were always the fastest times by a long shot, in and out of various checkpoints.
Hopefully, we pulled it off well enough for all of you at home to keep track.
Respectfully reported,
Jackie Floyd
Tevis Webmaster