Two Weeks of Swim Team Registration

It has been about two weeks which our swim team, the MacDolphins, has been using wp-SwimTeam in conjunction with WordPress for swim team registration.  This has been a pretty good testing experience and for the most part, has goine pretty smoothly. 

However, some things which seem obvious to me apparently aren’t so obvious so I will need to rethink those.  For example – when adding a swimmer, the swimmer should be registered for the current season by default as part of the registration process as opposed to making it a separate step.  I also need to add some birth date checking as we had a number of swimmers registered with the current date (the default) which means they were born on the day they were registered.

I also ran into a problem where anyone using Apple’s Safari web browser (either on a Mac or a PC) wasn’t able to do much because the Javascript behavior of any of the buttons on the GUIDataList objects (a nice spreadhseet like widget used extensively to present information to the users) was different than Internet Explorer or Firefox.  It was very odd and took a while to chase down but it is fixed so now Mac users are happy too!

The next thing I am working on is Swimmer numbers for swim meets.  In our area, each swimmer is labeled (usually on their arm or leg with a Sharpie) with their swimmer number.  Some teams number their swimmers sequentially, other clubs, like ours, give each age group a prefix and number the swimmers within the age group.  E.g. the 7-8 girls are numbered 801 – 8xx and the 7-8 boys are numbered 701-7xx.  We will need this capability in the next 2-3 weeks so it is bubbling up the list.  I also need to generate some reports so that is a priority as well.

WordPress updated

I went ahead and upgraded WordPress to 2.5.1 even though I don’t like the new Dashboard.  It turns out I wanted to use the Email Users plugin with the MacDolphins site and since Email Users needed 2.5, I had to upgrade the MacDolphins site in order to use it.  Since the Swim Team plugin exposes the Dashboard pretty extensively to the end user, I decided to see if I could modify the Dashboard so it was more to my liking.

The result of that work is Retro-Dashboard, a WordPress Admin Theme plugin which I released yesterday.  It isn’t anything super fancy but it is waaaaaaay better than the default Dashboard (bleh, who thought that was a good idea).

Golf game progressing?

With the days getting longer I have had a chance to get out and hit a few balls lately.  The cul-de-sac I live on is bordered by three holes so I am fortunate that I can play two or three holes by walking across the street, through the neighbor’s yard and on to the #6 tee.  It may not be a full round but I’d much prefer to hit balls on 2-3 holes than at a driving range.  There usually isn’t anyone on the course late in the day either so it isn’t like I am cutting in on anyone either.

Saturday evening I actually had enough time to get in more than 2-3 holes so I went down and teed off #1 hoping to get in as many as I could.  I was by myself so I played two balls (I called them A & B) and started out well, bogie with my A ball and par with my B ball.  I got off the tee well with both which was encouraging.

I had played two weeks ago with some co-workers and about halfway through the round reailized that I had lapsed into a weak grip again which was causing me to slice.  I really have to concentrate on gripping the club with a strong grip or that slice comes back.  Once I corrected that problem, I finished that round pretty well.

Back to my Saturday night 9 hole round – I continued to play well on #2 and #3 (I always have problems with #3).  By the time I got to #5 I was +3 with my A ball and 0 with my B ball.  Yikes! Of course that had to come to and end and #5, a long up hill par 5 which isn’t that hard, got me.  So-so drives followed by awful fairway shots left me in the woods with both my A and B balls.  After some more hacking I finished with and 7 and an 8.  Bleh.  Played ok on #6, hit an awesome second shot on #7 but missed the birdie put, and had a par with one ball on #8.

By the time I got to #9 it was pretty dark and a storm was rolling in but I was determined to finish.  One good and one so-so tee shot, followed by one awful and one so-so fairway shot left me with a couple tough shots.  I hit an awesome 5 iron which I couldn’t see but it ended up 3 feet from the flag with my B ball but my A ball was up in the pine straw.  Hitting out of pine straw is tricky and I have learned the hard way that my 54 degree wedge is not the club to use.  So I chipped it with my gap wedge and got it to within 15 feet and two putted it for a 7.

This was the first time I really concentrated on playing two separate balls.  A lot of times I will tee off one ball and only hit a second if my first one wasn’t very good or I will drop a second one from the fairway or up near the green.  I ended up eith a 47 for my A ball and a 43 for my B ball.  I was happy because I was keeping the ball in the fairway for the most part and hit my irons well.  In a couple cases, hitting them farther than I normally do.

I am headed to Charlotte to see the Wachovia on Thursday and may play at Pine Needles on Friday.  I went to Pine Needles for the Women’s Open last year, it is a nice course and should be a challenge.  Hopefully I will keep the ball in the fairway!

Retro-Dashboard Admin Theme

Yesterday I received an e-mail letting me know that my WordPress plugin request for Retro-Dashboard h ad been approved so last night I checked all of the code and supporting files into Subversion.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Does it clean up stuff in the 2.5 Dashboard which I dislike?  Yes.  I imagine I will continue to tweak it and use it as a Admin Theme learning platform.  Maybe I’ll do a Rock Band theme … Hmmm.

You can find Retro-Dashboard on at:

WordPress 2.5 Admin Theme Plugin?

Like many people, I am not a big fan of the new admin theme with WP 2.5.  While somethings (like categories being below the post) I find cumbersome, I can deal with those, it is the visual layout and color scheme which I don’t like.

I am not a fan of web sites that fill the entire browser window all the way up to the edge.  I like a little bit of a border – something which says “I spent some time making this look crisp and finished”.  Letting sites fill all the way to the edge always seemed lazy to me.  And I really don’t like the mish-mash of colors either.

So after poking around for a new admin theme and not finding anything, I decided to see if I could do some simple CSS tweaks to clean up the Dashboard more to my liking.  I now have something running which I am reasonably happy with and have requested a project on  Hopefully if I am accepted, I will have it available to others, should anyone else want it, later today or tonight.

Update:  As of 6:00 AM on Friday I still haven’t heard anything back from   I thought this was supposed to happen quickly and was one of the selling points for

It's a small world sometimes

Yesterday I drove down to the beach to do some maintenance on our beach house before the renters start rolling in a couple weeks. It is an easy drive, about 2 1/2 hours, sometimes a little less. I am listening to the TWIT podcast, and Leo starts chatting about his trip to Tasmania and then into a dialog about National Geographic and former Geographic photographer Bruce Dale.

It grabs my attention because – hey, I know Bruce Dale!  He is my sister-in-law’s father-in-law and since my sister-law and her husband live 1/4 mile away, we see them all the time.  As such, I have met Bruce on numerous occasions.  He is a very interesting guy and very much into technology as Leo noted in the podcast.  Always has a camera with him and takes the most phenominal pictures of the most mundane stuff.

Need my Rock Band fix!

One of my co-workers took our Xbox home for the weekend for a Rock Band party and hasn’t brought it back yet! I’m itching to play. I haven’t played much at home either because I have busy and when I do have a chance, someone else (usually my son and his friends) are already playing something, usually Halo.

At home I bought the Boston pack and they’re all pretty good songs – I imagine if you are a Boston fan, I’m not a big fan, all of their songs sound really similar, you’d really like it.  By the time I bought it I was just about done with the Guitar tour on Medium so I ended up playing them one after another.  I don’t recommend that, you need to break them up so you get some variety.

I have attempted to play a 3-4 songs on Hard and managed to get through a couple of them.  Sliding my hand from the G-R-Y-B to R-Y-B-O buttons is proving to be a challenge.  I get so confused!  I may try the drums again although I want a set of the Rock Band drum silencers which will be available next month.  The drums are really loud.  I also read somewhere you can do a Bass solo tour but I couldn’t find it.  I need to look for that too.

My nw8240 is driving me nuts

My HP nw8240 is really getting on my nerves.  It has had some odd issues for a while but this one is driving me nuts.  Every once in a while, my n8240 will act as if the delete key is permanently held down.  This means that what ever happens to be open, trys to delete things.  This is particularly annoying when I have my Outlook Inbox open!  Nothing like having 200-300 e-mail messages deleted in about 3 seconds.  This happened a while back and then went away but came back with a vengence this week on several occassions.  I ordered a new keyboard which should be here on Monday.  I hope it fixes the problem.

WordPress 2.5 Dashboard Interface

The 2.5 WordPress release has been out for a few weeks but, I haven’t paid too much attention to it as I was focusing on getting the plugin sufficiently complete to support our Swim Team registation last weekend.

Today I uploaded 2.5 into my development area.  Yuch.  I really don’t like the color schemes at all nor do I like the “all the way to the edge of the browser” design.  I am not sure what to do now – the new interface really clashes with the work I have done on the plugin.  I guess it was inevitable but I don’t really feel like dealing wiht it right now.

If I can make some simple CSS changes, that may be ok, otherwise I’ll probably stick with 2.3.3 until after this season is over.

Swim Team Registration – baptism by fire!

Last Sunday we had our Swim Team open house and registration.  It was the first serious test of the work I have done by someone other than myself.  At work we have 8 laptops in a rolling case we use for workshops and training so I brought them home and set them up for people to use – I would have 8 people registering simultaneously.  Because most people wouldn’t have access to their e-mail, I had them visit me first where I assigned them a username and password.  They then logged in and registered themselves and their swimmers.  Everything went pretty well for the most part.  Except for one minor glitch.

I had a very late request (like an hour before registration) to capture one more field so I adjusted the data model, changed the form and tested everything.  Since the data model changed I needed to deactivate and re-activate the plugin for the tables to update.  Worked great in my development area but I forgot to deactivate and re-activate on the live server.  Oops.  People were getting database errors when they tried to update their contact information.  Great.

Fortunate, the important part, the actual swimmer registration was unaffected so I had people skip their address and only worry about their swimmers.  This worked fine and we registered almost 100 swimmers in about two hours.  I knew if I had 5 quiet minutes to look at it, I would know what was wrong.  Sure enough, once open house ended andI could look at it, I immediately saw what the problem was.  Duh.

Now I need to ping every registered parent to update their contact information.