Friday, September 30, 2011

Technology and the Swim Coach

Sarah Connor was totally over-reacting about the whole "skynet" thing.  The machines ain't taking over squat.

Really?  Some day we are all going to be replaced by fancy micro-chip powered robots?  That's funny.  In my experience, technology seems to do nothing but fail.  I ain't worried about the machines taking over...  half the time they can't even run a darn swim meet.

Last week my computer crashed.  No big deal.  Happens all the time with the humidity at the pool.  I only expect to get about a year out of a desktop. I save my files on zip drives and I actually had another desktop with Windows XP loaded just in case.  I had saved all of the disks to load the programs I need and spent just about a whole school day installing the stuff I need to run my meets: Hy-tek's Team Manager and Meet Manager and Adobe Acrobat.

Of course, that computer quit working the next morning.  FAIL.

So I bit the bullet and got permission to buy a brand new desktop.  Surely a new computer will solve it, right?  I shopped around for a deal and found a great Compaq tower, but when I tried to set it up I realized that new is absolutely not better.  It only has USB ports which rendered my laser printer worthless and left me without a serial com port to hook up my Colorado System 5.   It also left me with useless install disks because Windows 7 is not compatible with my versions of Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works.

Whoa... I am already the most expensive guy in the district.  Do I really need to ask for more stuff?

Our school district runs on Macs.  Because most of my work is done on Hy-tek, I use a PC, and our tech crew lets me do my own thing.  I asked for disks to install new versions of the program and heard back a couple of days later that they couldn't find what I need.  Luckily, another teacher had the Adobe disk I needed.

Now, I know some companies are difficult to work with:  I bought an adaptor for serial (com) to usb, and when that didn't work, both Hy-tek and Colorado Timing told me it was the other company's problem.  Colorado even told me that they can't really talk to me about it because they no longer support MM 3.0, which I bought less than a year ago, and if I wanted help I need to buy 4.0.  What a racket!

Sure, I can see why those two companies might not like each other, since they reluctantly have to depend on one another in the swim business-- but Adobe?  I think they just hate people in general.  For me to install Acrobat I had to verify that I am a teacher.  I kid you not, I had to fill out all sorts of stuff, including sending them a copy of one of my check stubs and verifying what store it was purchased from.  They really didn't want me to install their program.  After jumping through all of their hoops, they still told me it would take their verification team a few days to approve me.  I gave up.  I told them if they can't help me in time for my meet, I don't ever want to do business with them again.  As of right now. I can't send a psyche sheet out to the coaches coming to my meet tomorrow.

Even if it was all working right and I tested it before every meet, something technological will go wrong at every meet.  I actually tested my whole system for our first dual meet this year before the computer crashed and it was fine, only to have my Colorado start console die in a horribly embarrassing, delay-of-meet-for-over-an-hour sort of way.  It is a damn good thing they gave me the good pain pills when I broke my hand.  (Oh yeah, I got the pins taken out yesterday.  Check out the video at this link.)

I think after my Invitational this Saturday, maybe I will have one of them Office Space parties... you know, where we take my old start console, my old desktop, my old install disks, my old printer, and maybe even a few lifeless customer service agents from some choice software companies, and let out a little stress.  Wanna join me?

Pardon the language on the video.  I couldn't find a clean version.  Haha.


  1. If I had a nickel for every time I felt the way you do. Fortunately, I have managed to step away from the actual "meet director" type duties. I feel for you.

    P.S. - Nice Office Space tie in. One of my all time favorite movies.

    P.P.S - gruesome, yet cool video of your pin extractions.

  2. am going to need those TPS reports right away.

  3. there are a number of free PDF converters on the web. I use pdf995. it runs as a printer driver. i just set my print parameters as i like and it prints straight to a pdf, which you can use a free pdf viewer like adobe to view them.

    I hear your though. this digital renaissance is starting to reach the tipping point.

  4. it really wasn't any more difficult when we used pencils,paper, stopwatches, and our brains.