So it's the end of Skandia Cowes Week 2007, and the fact that I'm only blogging now means it's been busier than I expected. I've only done some minor changes this year, fixed bugs, completely re-skinned the UI and replaced the data layer with Linq-to-SQL, oh, and attempted to introduce a computerised reporting system.
Adding Linq was a breeze, it took about 2 days in total, and has increased data access speed about 4 fold over using ADO datasets. Most of that will be due to the inefficiencies in my original code, but still, impressive. What was also a breeze was refining the user interface to the CourseSetter. Because everything was defined using styles and templates it again took a couple of days to improve on my blue gel mess from the previous year. You can actually read all the text now! The final thing I mentioned was attempting to use electronic reporting. Currently everything is printed and because we get position updates on a minute-by-minute basis those paper reports get out of date very quickly. I think I attempted to push the technology too far to quickly however as paper ruled once again this year!
There are a couple of cool photos I've taken this week that I wanted to share, the first is Dame Ellen MacArthur being shown around the Royal Yacht Squadron platform; where we run race operations from. The second, and my favourite, is of two race officers using the system. The guy smiling is Ian Lallow and behind him Jonathan Peel*.
Jonathan spent most of last year being very afraid of the new computer system, in fact he insisted on using the pin and string boards and having my wife, Lindsey, input the course for him. This year Lindsey spent a some time showing him how the system worked and he took to it like a duck to water. So confident did Jonathan seem that Ian, a technophobe** and proud of it, sought his instruction, and so student became teacher. It's technology actually providing a service which even the most reluctant can get behind that keeps me in this business.
Along with the excitement yesterday as we tracked the only 6 fleets that got a race, watching as, time-after-time, the first boats in each class rounded their marks within seconds of their predicted times, that photo sums up why I invested the time and energy that I did in this project.
*Jonathan slipped and fractured his shoulder the day following that photo, best wishes to him in his recovery.
**He is rumoured to have his wife print his email out so he can read it.