I have been playing Rock Band here an there for a couple of months since I split the purchase of it with my son. We have an Xbox 360 in our house but until we got Rock Band, I didn’t play it much other than some of the Xbox Live Arcade games (Pinball FX being my current favorite).
I don’t have the time or the interest to invest in many of these big video games (e.g. Halo) so the XBLA games which are short and don’t have a long involved story to follow have been more to my liking. Rock Band has been different though. My son had purchased Guitar Hero II and I played it a couple of times but even that didn’t do much for me but one day when my son and I were in Best Buy, we played Rock Band together and had a blast. So when he asked a few weeks later if he could buy it (one of his friends had received it for Christmas), I offered to split it with him instead of trading in a whole bunch of games for which he would get nominal credit.
Since we got it, he and I have played together here and there, usually not more than 2-3 songs at a time so we are progressing through the World Tour slowly. After starting on Easy and playing Bass, I now usually play on Medium but I am still the Bass player when I play with him. I fully expected him to be the drummer since he plays the drums at school but he prefers to play the guitar in Rock Band.
I was interested in playing all of the songs so decided to try go back and work through them on the Solo Tour on Guitar on the Easy level. Since I don’t have much time to do this, it has taken a while. This weekend my son was away at a Church Youth Group retreat so the Xbox was available so I finished the last 5-6 songs of the 43available on the Easy level.
Now on to Medium where with the addition of the 4th button and the faster speed of the notes presented, it will take me a while to complete this. Although I’d like to play at Hard or Expert, I am somewhat realistic in my expectations – I can’t move my old fingers that fast nor do I have the time to invest in getting that good. As longs as I can hold my own on Medium I am content. I suspect I’ll do the Bass tour on Medium or the Drums on Easy (I find the drums really hard) before I do Guitar on Hard.
I enjoy listening to the TWIT podcast but I have come to the conclusion that I am 180 degrees out of phase with Leo Laporte when it comes to technology. I don’t have a Mac but I wouldn’t mind having one – I have an HP running Vista and I am reasonably happy with it. I love WindowsMobile and wouldn’t think of getting a phone that doesn’t have it, and I have an Xbox 360 (actually two of them) and although I haven’t heard him say it directly, but in several episodes the way he has referenced the PS3 platform certainly implies that he thinks it is better than the Xbox 360. Am I worried about this? Nope – just find it interesting that in several key areas, I am 180 degrees out of phase with the guy who leads a podcast I enjoy listening to.
I want this phone!
I am a huge fan of WindowsMobile phones – I have owned a bunch over the years going all the way back to the Motorola MPx220. WindowsMobile gets a lot of criticism but I find it works well – the fact that you can find a contact by first name, last name, or phone numbers simply by pressing the numeric keys is by far better than any of the competing solutions.
I am currently using a Pantech Duo right now which is ok but the dual hinging is a little sloppy and the audio sometimes cuts in and out. It is however, the first phone I have had with a full keyboard which I like a lot. I wasn’t sure I would but I find it pretty useful. My friends at Sony-Ericsson tell me this phone should be available soon – hopefully AT&T Wireless (my carrier) will carry it.
Last night I completed the initial PHP include file for SDIF support. As I mentioned previously, I thought it would take a while and it did. The upside is taking the time to go through the specification to create all the PHP constants has made me more familiar with SDIF. I don’t think it will be too hard to generate SDIF from the registration information the plugin already collects however, there are parts of the plugin which will need some additions. For example – the SDIF team records (there are two of them) require detail which wasn’t collected previously and the swimmer records prefer to have the middle name because the USA Swimming Id is constructed from portions of the swimmer’s first, middle, and last names along with their birthdate. Looks like to me like you can still end up with conflicts but that is what the specification outlines. So now off to enhance the team and swimmer forms.
This evening I have been working on generating SDIF but before I can generate it, I need to define all of the constants necessary to constuct the records. I won’t get it done tonight but I made a big dent in it. To define all of the possible record types I will probably end up with about 750 constants. This is incredibly tedious work – necessary, but tedious.
As I was sitting here noodling on how to implement SDIF, I kept staring at the default WordPress theme on this site and it became a distraction. So I took five minutes and found a theme to load – Silver Light 0.1. It’s ok, I don’t particularly care for the footer but it is better than the default and now this site looks a little better.
I have learned quite a bit about Swim Team software in the past month or so that I have really been working on this project. Once I got the basic plugin working, I started looking into how we can use the registration data we collect with some of the commercial Meet Manager software. Hy-Tek seems to have the vast majority of the market for Swim Team and Meet management. Unfortunately Hy-Tek has a really closed software solution and have no plans to open it up.
I find it amazing that Team Manager cannot import a roster from Excel or other ASCII (CSV, tab delimited, etc.) file. I spoke at length with their tech support yesterday and they fully believe all of the data entry should happen in their tool. That would be ok if it was the least bit user friendly but it isn’t. One of our coaches shuddered at the thought of entering the roster in Team Manager this year – after enter a couple of swimmers, I completely understand why. It will take a long time. A really long time.
I am now on a mission to produce US Swiming’s SDIF v3 files from our database to try and import them into Team Manager. If this works, then we should be ok. The SDIF v3 specification is old – about 10 years old and reminds of old FORTRAN punched cards or CoBOL. Each record has specific character widths and positions. It doesn’t look to hard. USA Swiming’s new XSDIF specification would be better but Hy-Tek has no plans to support it. XML is absolutely the way to go with this sort of interchange data.
For the time being I am using the default WordPress theme for this blog. I’ll change it in the next week or two – for now I am happy it is installed and working. I love SourceForge – what they offer for developers is A+ but I am still figuring how all of the services they offer work together. I need a good SFTP client, I don’t think FileZilla supports it but I could be wrong.
If you found this, you probably have an interest in managing a web site for a Swim Team. In an effort to bring our swim team (MacDolphins) into the Internet age, I began searching for software to manage a Swim Team web site, facilitate swimmer and parent registrations, track swimmer results and history, and anything else we might want to do.
Like many clubs, our swim team had a paper based ad-hoc process which was passed from volunteer to volunteer each year. The duplication of effort and loss of data year over year was criminal. When my wife got involved with running the swim team, I offered to help solve that problem.
My quest for a solution yielded nothing of any real interest. Anything I found addressed one or two pieces of the puzzle but nothing was a complete solution. I had used WordPress for some other projects so I decided to build my own solution based on WordPress. WordPress provided me much of what I needed (easy posting by numerous people, links, categories, database, etc.).
This blog will document the process I am going through to solve our Swim Team’s problem – hopefully it will help others as well.