Monday, March 22, 2010

Race Tracker Web App (aka Andy McBride is a Genius)

Carpe Pilam wasn't late to any races this weekend.

People, I can't begin to tell you what a miracle this is. Just 3 tourneys ago we had to forfeit a race because we were so late getting into the lanes.

Several people on the team camp in RVs, so the whole team usually ends up parking over in the RV area. We set up ex-pens and coolers, and hang out there in between races, versus crating inside or parking near the building. We are a chatty bunch, with some ADHD here and there, and we get caught up in the conversation and forget about racing...plus we usually enter 4 or 5 teams. Can you say disaster waiting to happen?

We had been talking about buying a web camera to set up in the building so that we could check on the ring from the RV.

Those little radios don't work because it's so loud around flyball...trying to listen to something (that already sounds sort of garbled) is frustrating.

And then Andy McBride, flyball geek extraordinaire, rode in on his white horse and saved us.

Andy plays on Go Dog Go!, who was hosting the tourney in Wilson, NC, this weekend.

He wrote this awesome little web app that tells you what race is in the ring, with a timestamp for when it was updated, that you can check from a laptop or cell phone with internet access. Here's what it looks like on my teammate's iPhone:


(p.s. I know the phone says 7:23 pm but just ignore that - we were back at the RV on Saturday night drinking beers when we thought to take this picture).

The app updated every 5 seconds, and Go Dog Go! was religious about updating it as soon as every race was over.

I have no idea how the app works, or how much trouble it would be for other teams to incorporate it for their tournaments, but I really hope it takes off. I saw lots of people walking around looking at their phones this weekend, and I think they were looking at the app, not just Facebook. It was one of the most efficiently run rings I've ever seen -- we were finished racing by 2:30 pm or so on Sunday.

Great job, Andy. :)

Anybody else out there have great ideas/apps like this that save time and make tournaments better?

12 comments:

Jon said...

Although I rarely used the app when at the tournament, I was either judging or box/line judging so I did not need it. However, on Sunday, I was not a the tournament and was able to see how racing was going and whether or not I would be able to make it back in time for the end of the race.

I did have multiple people come up and comment on how much they liked it and I sent them to Andy to thank him.

jon (Go Dog Go!)

Kim said...

Hmmm... maybe FBI can con Andy into letting FBI in on his secret. I know we have tried setting up a webcam in the past but the way PWC is setup the internet signal was week. I bet this app would be the answer. Can one of you pass on Andy's email to me (you both have don't post it here).
Kim
FBI

Andrew said...

Thanks for the kind words, the admin interface is as simple as the viewer and designed to be updated from any thing with internet access, nothing fancy needed.

http://www.godoggo.org/images/webrace%20config.jpg

On an iphone the set race buttons stack so the 121 is above the 119 button and they take up the full width of the screen so it's easy to click.

I won't be distributing the back end code since it ties into my GDG mysql database and the bits that don't have to do with sql are rather uninteresting. This is going to have to remain a GDG exclusive unless other clubs write similar apps for themselves.

I'd be happy to provide the html code I output for the admin page though if someone wants to use that for a starting point.

The irony of the weekend was that I never knew what race we were on or what time it was since my iPhone was at the head table.

Tracy said...

That is AWESOME!

I was at a Touch N Go seminar and we were discussing calling passes with video playback.

We talked about how it would be awesome to film the start/finish line with your Iphone and be able to get line-to-line splits.

Ruth VanWert said...

Would this be able to be used on a BB? Also would the program be able to be adapted to 1-schedule 2-rings? I think this sounds great!! Tired of "someone run up and see what race thay are on" or watching to see who is cooling dogs off and looking at schedule to figure which race just came out!

Anonymous said...

When I have time to setup at a tournament. I use a digital security system that can record 4 cameras each at 30 FPS to the hard drive. The drive is big enought to record not just the whole day but multiple tournaments during the year. Because the device time sync's all the video, you can position the camera's at different locations around the ring. You can see the passes, what is happening at the box, how the handlers are doing with letting go at the right time, what race they are on....etc.

The nice thing, the device has a IP address that you can log into if I setup the wireless broadcast around the event area. You can have multiple teams log in and review their passes and it is still recording. You can review frame by frame and also split the screen into 1, 2, 2x2 or Picture in Picture setup. This was used at a tournament by Ruff when NAFA first tried the new Signature Gear EJS systems to help troubleshoot them. The down side is the cost. But I'm sure this device is a bit more expensive then somebody just going to the ring and see what race their on....LOL

LisaP said...

Ruth, it worked great on my BlackBerry. Andy, maybe you would consider selling the app as a service (where you could set it up on your server and create a page so that tourney directors could update it on their own)?

Andrew said...

It would be easy enough to do a 2 ring tournament, you'd just want tell people who's on deck in which ring rather then who's running.

It's just everyday technology of webpages being portable that lets me extend my website directly to the tournament site with live information feeds. I have a lot of ideas for future versions that I'll be adding for our next tournament but for this one I just wanted to test the concept out and see if people used it.

The viewer is a simple perl script that pulls that information from a database and generates an html page, I use apaches mod_rewrite to redirect a short url to the actual script that runs so you can type just godoggo.org/r rather then the full url.

I wrote a separate script that allows me or anyone I give the password to to update the race number by clicking a button on another webpage that should work on any internet connected device with basic html support.

I may eventually find time to do a hosted version where people can use it for other tournaments but right now I'm short on free time so if someone else wants to work on that I'd be glad to help them out.

Ally said...

My team would be willing to pay for this app! I hope Andy makes it available!!

Andrew said...

I've posted the parts of the code specific to the webrace app at godoggo.org/code

You won't be able to make it run without replacing my sql interface with one that works for your site but if you know how to do that it's a good starting point.

For region 9 tournaments being hosted in region 9 I'd likely let you use mine right off my site for free. Contact me for access details and permission.

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