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Old Jul 19, 2014, 01:12 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
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GliderScore Scoring Program

I know this is a bit of a landmine, but I have gotten a look at Gerry Carter's latest release of GliderScore which is coming out soon and I think that it is REALLY worth a look. There are many good programs out there and the guys who developed them are justifiably proud of them. I have looked at most of them and I would still recommend that organizers give this program a look. It is very powerful, but very simple to use -- whether you are talking about a championship event or a club contest. Here's a small part of what it can do:

1. Contest format -- it is possible to set up any event with your own time and scoring parameters. Once it is set up it can be used as a template for all future similar events. It will work with ALES, F5J or pretty near anything else you can imagine. But once you are set up for the kind of event you want to fly, the set-up part is over.

2. Entering Contestants -- once a contestant is entered into the system he is there forever and can be picked up off of a simple list to enter in your particular event. New entries are simple and straightforward -- Name, AMA number and frequency.

3. Drawing Rounds -- once contestants are entered and the number of rounds and size of flight groups are determined the program creates the flight matrix with a press of a button. Distributions can take into account frequency conflicts. And simple OPTIONS exist to allow organizers to eliminate back-to-back flights and/or conflicts with timers. When matrices are formed, the program will provide an analysis of the fairness of the draw and allow simple redraws.

4. Printing Scorecards -- once the matrix is locked the program will print individual personalized sets of scorecards for each round for each contestant. It has a choice of summaries which will allow contestants and organizers to look at the overall layout of the matrix.

5. Audio Announcements -- Once the flight order is arranged the contest can be started with audio announcements and countdowns for each flight group and each round. Press a button and let it run. The program automatically organizes the announcements around the event chosen, the number of rounds and number of flight groups.

6. Reflights -- the program is designed to facilitate a range of options to accommodate reflights.

7. Score Entry -- Pilots turn individual flight scorecards in and information is entered into the program. Program is structured to reject most of the common kinds of mistakes made in data entry. Since there is an individual scorecard for each FLIGHT, there is no need to organize and return scorecards to competitors between rounds.

7. Reporting Scores -- program is able to print round scores and cumulative scores instantly between rounds.

8. Flyoffs -- program is able to accommodate flyoffs.

9. Series scoring -- program is able to score series results.

10. Transmitting Results online -- if competitor's email addresses are entered initially the program will allow results to be transmitted online. I think that if the event is set up with a wifi point, it can also transmit round scores to competitors that are equipped to receive them.

11. Data Base -- the program keeps a database of flight by flight, round by round competition data for use as organizers and competitors might see fit.

GliderScore is a stand alone Windows program that does not rely on a spreadsheet. It is well tested for internal programming flaws and cannot be screwed up by someone accidentally changing a program entry. And it contains many checks to minimize common data entry errors.

WIthout wanting to step on any toes, I am directly familiar with the work that has gone into setting up some of the larger ALES contests and for all of the things that it can do, GliderScore is the quickest and easiest program I have worked with.

For a local club contest with 15 or 20 entries (perhaps 10 of them regular participants), I can take the entry sheet and within less than 15 minutes set up the matrix, print individualized score cards and print the matrix summary and push the button to start the automatic announcements of group and round countdowns.

For a large contest with 60 or more entries and NO EXISTING DATABASE I can do the same thing in less than 45 minutes. If there is a flyoff, I can print off the individualized scorecards for the flyoff in less than 5 minutes after the last score from the eliminations is entered into the computer.

I fully understand how attached we are to the programs we are using. At one time I started writing a spreadsheet scoring program. I started with a base provided from other perfectly good programs. And when this program came along I asked myself "why is everyone spending so much time writing scoring programs and wrestling with them at their comps?"

When the new edition of GliderScore comes out take a good, open minded look at it and see what the program you are using can do better than this one.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Jul 20, 2014, 08:20 AM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
2,708 Posts
I have worked a little more with the GliderScore audio options and I they are worth expanding on a bit.

In the GliderScore program, once the matrix is set and the task chosen the program creates a script consisting of the continuous transmission of the Round, Group and the Timer Script For The Task. GliderScore has a number of Timer Scripts suited to particular task or the organizer can create his own Timer Script which is played for each flight group. GliderScore will arrange Round and Group callouts with the Timer script to create the overall script corresponding to the number of Rounds and Groups entered in the program. i.e.:

Timer Script might be:

{Task Time Z minutes
Launch Altitude AA meters
Next Launch Window In BB minutes
Next Launch WIndow in BB-1 minutes
Next Launch Window in BB-2 minutes


Next launch window in 1 minute
50 Seconds
40 Seconds
30 Seconds
20 Seconds
10 Seconds
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Beep
Launch Window Closed
Beep
Beep
Task Closed}

Organizer can create any Timer Script to fit the task by recording the it as an MP3 file and it will be incorporated in the overall script. If the Timer Script already exists it is simply selected the program incorporates it into the overall script.

A very clever setup.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Jul 20, 2014, 09:01 PM
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USA, AZ, Dewey
Joined Jan 2006
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Sent you a PM

Don, I just sent you a PM.
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Old Aug 25, 2014, 06:28 PM
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USA, AZ, Dewey
Joined Jan 2006
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In-Use Report of Gliderscore with Audio

I've used the Gliderscore program with Audio for the past 2 ALES contests we have had in Prescott Valley, Az (July 26 and Aug 23, 2014). I have previously used Gliderscore without the Audio for about 6 or 7 prior contests.

This program was great before the addition of the audio capability, and now with Audio, it is absolutely fantastic.

As Don says, it takes less than 15 minutes to set up a new contest for up to 25 or so pilots. I've not set up a larger contest than that on it, but even a 50 pilot contest should be a pretty easy setup.

One of the options in the setup is to have the program do audio announcements of the pilot names for each round at the beginning of each round. The program has a voice synthesizer built into it that will create the audio for the pilot names on the fly, or you can choose to record a wave file of someone saying the pilot's name and store that in the database. Each time the program needs to announce a pilots name, it will use the synthesizer for that pilots name unless a wave file exists for that pilot, and if a wave file does exist for that pilot, then it plays the wave file.

I run the program on a 10" Dell tablet at the contest, and connect the audio output of the tablet to a portable PA system with a 3.5mm (1/8") male-to-male stereo cable.

One of the issues I have found at many contests over the years is that sometimes the pilots don't hear their name announced. To help with that issue, I have made wave files of all of our local pilots, with their name repeated twice in the recording. I think a better solution would be for the program to have the option of running through the pilot list twice, but until that is available, having a recording of each pilots name twice improves the odds a pilot will hear his/her name.

It's also very easy on contest day to make a new wave file for a pilot who has not previously been in the database. After typing in the new pilot's name, ama number, etc, you simply go to the 'Audio File Management' part of Gliderscore, find the pilot in the database, and click on a 'mic' button next to the pilot's name. You can then record the pilots name through the mic of your Tablet or PC, review and save it, and you are all set. It takes less than a minute to do that for any new pilots, and then you have it for any use in future contests.

So here's how a typical set of audio announcements would proceed from the start of a contest:

Round 1, group 1
Don Harban, Don Harban
Dan Vester, Dan Vester
Dave Bates, Dave Bates
Rick Bothell, Rick Bothell
5 minutes to next launch window
(the 16 minute timed audio track would then play, with announcements at 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes, 10 second Launch window, 9 minutes, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2, 1 minute 45 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds and then a 2-1/2 minute buffer, when it says 'Task Complete' 16 minutes after the initial "5 minutes to next launch" announcement. See details below)

10 seconds later, it starts again with:

Round 1, group 2
Joe Pilot, Joe Pilot
and so on, all the way through the entire set of rounds you have setup for the contest.

Details about the 16 minute ALES timed track:
You will notice that the description above stops at 1 minute 30 seconds to go and then has a 2-1/2 minute buffer before announcing 'Task Complete'. I did this because the last 90 seconds and the final countdown to landing should come from the pilots timer, not from the announced track. Because pilots can launch anytime during the 10 second launch window, each pilot's task target time (10 minutes) will fall in a similar 10 second time frame at the end of the task. Having it announced on the track causes a distraction to the pilots hearing their own timer's countdown, thus I chose to not include any announcements during the last 90 seconds of the task. I also wanted a 1 minute overtime period for pilots who may land really late, before starting the pilot announcements for the next round.

I have attached this ALES timed track to this post as a ZIP file to use with the Gliderscore program. It's at the bottom of the post, named "ALES-5m-10m.zip"

The program creates a playlist for the entire contest when you first start the contest. The audio is played through your default media player (media player, VLC, etc), and you can pause the playback at any time with the pause button in your media player. If you have pilots who retire during the contest (due to crashes or whatever), you retire them in the software, create a new playlist where you specify the starting round and group to resume with, and then start the new playlist.

It's very slick, and very easy to use.

At our ALES contest with 9 pilots held on Aug 23rd, 2014, I simply got all the pilots set up in the program, created a 7 round playlist, started it playing, and walked away from the tablet to fly in the contest. It ran the contest automatically until the end of round 6, when I paused the player for 15 minutes so we could have lunch, then I hit the play button to finish the contest. Afterwards, it took about 15 minutes to enter the times from the score cards, and have the results.

In our July contest, my wife was our dedicated scorekeeper during the contest. Each pilot was issued a pad of 7 generic score cards (created in advance by the program), one for each round. Pilots turned in their score cards after each flight, and she entered the scores during the contest, all while the tablet was continuing to play the audio automatically through the PA system.

This worked flawlessly. These 2 contests, with the automatic audio announcements, are the smoothest running ALES contests I have ever been to.

I would highly recommend Gliderscore. Of the several programs I have used over the past several years, it is by far the easiest to use scoring program I have seen.

Gliderscore is really more than a scoring program with the addition of the Audio announcements. It's really a 'Contest Automation' program, allowing the CD to easily participate in the contest, and keeping the contest moving along at a steady and predictable pace.

Want to know in advance almost to the minute how long your contest is going to run? It's simple. Multiple your number of rounds times your number of groups per round and multiply that by 16 minutes, and you have your answer in minutes.

For example, 7 rounds x 2 groups per round x 16 minutes = 224 minutes (3 hours 44 minutes). Add in any planned breaks and you know pretty accurately how long your contest is going to take.

One thing I forgot to mention. If everybody lands early in a particular group, and you want to advance to the next group instead of waiting the entire 10 minute task time, just hit the 'fast forward' button in your media player, and it will skip the remaining time in the current task, and start right in with announcing the pilots in the next group and starting the 16 minute timed track for that next group.

Thanks to Gerry for putting this great software together.

If you have questions, post them to the thread and I'll try to answer them.

Dan Vester
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Last edited by dvester; Aug 25, 2014 at 07:00 PM.
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Old Aug 27, 2014, 01:42 PM
Mesa AZ, it's a dry heat!
USA, AZ, Mesa
Joined Oct 2004
628 Posts
I participated in the event described above and I concur with Dan's comments.

One thing I would like to say; if you use this program send Gerry a donation.

Where else can you get such a great piece of software which is well supported and continuously updated without charge?

Every organisation which uses this software should help out by supporting it. Our group sent a donation, did yours?

Iain
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Old Aug 27, 2014, 08:04 PM
launch low, fly high
New Zealand, Hawke's Bay, Havelock North
Joined Dec 2004
1,892 Posts
Here in New Zealand, we have been using Gliderscore for virtually all of our soaring competitions. The NZ soaring special interest group made a donation to Gerry last year in appreciation for the amount of work that he has put in to making this such a great program to use. It is great for all of the soaring disciplines (F3B, F3J, F3K, ALES, F5J, etc). This program should be considered for use by everyone in soaring.
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Old Oct 19, 2014, 08:46 PM
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Australia, VIC, Melbourne
Joined Aug 2010
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GliderScore has just been updated.

The main enhancement is that the Overall Results report can now be run for any range of rounds flown. This means that, for LSF purposes particularly, any competition can be split (for reporting) as if two separate competitions had been flown. For example Rounds 1 to 7 and Rounds 8 to 14 could be separate reports. LSF competition points can be easily be worked out.

With the new audio feature, there are new options to play names and/or round/group announcements twice. Pilots can miss hearing their name the first time round so repeating the name/s can help to get the message through.

There are also a few minor usability enhancements.
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Last edited by Gerry.Carter; Oct 19, 2014 at 08:48 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old Oct 20, 2014, 02:45 PM
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USA, AZ, Dewey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry.Carter View Post
GliderScore has just been updated.

The main enhancement is that the Overall Results report can now be run for any range of rounds flown. This means that, for LSF purposes particularly, any competition can be split (for reporting) as if two separate competitions had been flown. For example Rounds 1 to 7 and Rounds 8 to 14 could be separate reports. LSF competition points can be easily be worked out.

With the new audio feature, there are new options to play names and/or round/group announcements twice. Pilots can miss hearing their name the first time round so repeating the name/s can help to get the message through.

There are also a few minor usability enhancements.
Gerry, Thank you very much for making these changes. I appreciate your dedication to maintaining and upgrading your program. It is by far the best glider scoring program I have seen. I also agree with Iain's comments on making a donation to you if we are using the program. The Prescott Valley Silent Flyers have done so, and I encourage others to do the same.

Dan Vester
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Old Dec 22, 2014, 09:11 PM
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near Sacramento, CA
Joined Aug 2010
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Seeded draws?

Hope it's not too late to bring up a new GliderScore topic. I'm a new user and am entering past contests as a way to better understand the power of GliderScore. I just ran across one contest scenario that I'm not sure how to handle.

The default way that GliderScore "draws" the pilot groups is by generating a matrix and attempting to pit a pilot against as many competitors as possible. However, my local club has been using a "seeded" draw for each round based on cumulative scores through the last round. Any way to have GliderScore do that?

Chris B.
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Old Dec 23, 2014, 01:26 AM
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I got a prompt email answer back from Gerry at GliderScore. No support exists for seeded draws but the main reason for that is that almost nobody wants it. The consensus from the vast majority of man-on-man contest organizers is that the matrixed method that is supported by GliderScore is the most desired and considered the most fair. In the words of Gerry, "The draw process aims to maximize the number of times each pilot flies against each other pilot."

Whereas the seeded draw technique essentially does the opposite: it attempts to fly pilots with similar skills in the same groups which ultimately upwardly skews the weaker groups scores and reduces the real margin between those groups.
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Old Dec 23, 2014, 03:30 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
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Dude,

If you haven't already, you will discover that scoring contests is not really a technical matter, it is theological. Everybody "believes" in what they use -- and especially if they actually created it. A few observations about ALES contests and seeded MOM.

There are differences between ALES and traditional TD which create a different range of possibilities for running and scoring contests. The most obvious one is that TD contests are usually limited by the number of winches that can be put into service. ALES contests are limited by the number of landing tapes that can be put into service. Remember, the essence of MOM is to ensure that contestants are scored based on tasks flown under similar conditions (flown at the same time). While we have sort of formed our thinking around the notion that there is some sort "right" size for flight groups, the "right" size is more a product of our TD limitations than what might better facilitate the MOM concept. If a field is big enough, there is nothing to preclude launch lines with 12 to 15 landing zones (I think last year's Polecat used 12). This is surely desirable for large contests, but it also opens up possibilities for smaller contests.

Even a contest with 30 entrants can be flown with as few as two flight groups of 15 each. This not only maximizes the likelihood that the MOM objective of similar conditions, it substantially increases the number of rounds that can be flown in any given period -- half again more than with three flight groups and twice as many as four flight groups.

There are possibilities with the problem of logistics vis a vis pairing timers and pilots with a setup like this. But GliderScore offers an interesting solution: Pair up with your timer at the beginning and allow GliderScore to make flight assignments that avoid conflicts. Yes, this means that you will not face your timer in any round. But it also facilitates another interesting possibility: Lane assignments -- which GliderScore can do quite painlessly. When I was first faced with the possibility of preassigned lane arrangements, I was pretty negative about it. Last year I spent a day at Phoenix observing the F3J contest there where lane assignments were used to facilitate that particular kind of contest. The dynamic and camaraderie were quite different than I had imagined and it MASSIVELY streamlined the contest, reducing stress and hassle. Teams set up their tables and chairs behind their launch zones and in front of their landing zones. Flight groups were called up automatically (something that GliderScore can do) and zip, slip, ching --an incredibly relaxed (considering the other competition stresses) atmosphere where flying and observing adjacent teams was very educational.

As to Seeding rounds, using the largest possible flight groups reduces (sometimes substantially) the zing that seeding brings to an event. It becomes nearly meaningless in a two flight group contest. As Gerry suggested, the true random seeding that GliderScore employs simply places all competitors on an even footing. Interestingly, every other kind of competition I know that uses seeding does so to reward MORE skilled competitors -- the best is paired with the worst. TD seeding handicaps MORE skilled competitors -- and there is nothing wrong with that, but it should be recognized that it is what it is. Typical TD seeding, by its nature does three things -- especially as it moves toward the later rounds. First, it singles out the weaker performers leaving them at the end of a long hot day not only with a poor placing, but having to make the walk-of-shame to the putzes group. Not a good feeling. Second, it allows the best performers at the end of a day to strut their stuff on the walk-of-fame. A great feeling. And finally, as the day progresses, the weakest performers lose the opportunity to compete with the best performers in ways that might be more educational than simply enduring the humiliation of lining up with the rest of the putzes.

A worthwhile and much simpler way to give the rock stars their kudos without making an already bad day worse for weaker performers is to simply hold a flyoff. (GliderScore can also easily accommodate scoring flyoffs.) Arrange for the top fliers that can be accommodated with whatever number of landing zones you have available to fly two or more rounds of a more difficult task (lower launch, longer task). If you set up to maximize the number of launch zones, you can hold a contest where everybody gets to fly more rounds than they typically would with smaller launch groups, you allow the rock stars to show off to the lesser mortals and generally you can accomplish the flyoff in the time that guys are putting their stuff away AND while they watch the flyoff carnage.

The flyoff is frequently used in F5J contests. We used it at the Polecat last year and I think it was well received. At least we got to watch some really good pilots put up some really tough flights.

Anyway, something to think about.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Dec 23, 2014, 05:59 PM
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near Sacramento, CA
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Don, yes, explaining why a particular scoring methodology is better than another is like trying to explain why one religion is better than another. The reason for my original q relates to a thread I'm launching soon about combining ALES and F5J in a single club contest format (like Phoenix is doing now). But I don't want to derail this thread.

I've already had enough feedback to tell me that seeding is not as uniformly fair as a random draw "matrix." But at least in the case of our club there were a few other reasons they decided to do it that way for ALES.

For general research I did try scoring a 30-participant ALES contest using GliderScore's draws and then compared it with the exact same flight duration and landing data that were run using seeded draws. In the case of one pilot I semi-randomly selected the difference was quite significant: the seeded draw score was 4103 with a 10th place rank while the matrix draws gave that same pilot 2789 points and an 18th rank. So the method of generating draws can make a significant diff.

Chris
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