Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Super Bowl of Ski Racing

Well, the story has gradually leaked out, it's public knowledge now, so you may as well hear it from The Horse's Mouth: Broder's Skunkware and Precision Timing International (Ted Savage and myself) have been selected by the Austrian Team and the Kitzbuehler Ski Club to provide timing for what has been the world's biggest, oldest, and most prestigious ski race since 1929: The Hahnenkamm Downhill at Kitzbuehel in January of 2007. Even better, we were selected over Swiss Timing / Swatch, which has provided timing to Kitzbuehel for the past 70 years. And to sweeten the pot, the timing sponsor is Rolex, their first big involvement in ski-sport in a long time.

I hear the Swiss slimebags aren't too happy about it.

I'll tell you something else I heard. I heard the KSC was originally going to keep Swatch, whose contract was up after the Jan, 2006 Hahnenkamm, as official TIMING & DATA provider. Swatch knew KSC was looking around, and they upped the stakes considerably, made KSC a really sweet deal. But then the Rolex sponsorship presented itself, and the arrogant Swissfucks refused to cooperate, as they always do. Swatch would not agree to put any branding on their TIMING or DATA other than their own. They never thought KSC would drop them like a used rubber, which KSC did only because they had sent two guys to Lake Louise in 2005 to see our DH solution. From that visit, it was reported back to Austria that our client/server DH solution kicked ass and was, in fact, far superior to Swatch's rag-tag collection of 1970's-era aluminum boxes.

Another factor is that the OESV (Oesterreich Ski Verbund, aka Austrian Ski Team) has been the victim in three situations in the past 2 seasons where Swatch has attempted to ruin Austrian events over TIMING & DATA rights. That's right - Swatch engaged in corporate blackmail and a whole host of other dirty tricks at Soelden 2004, Lake Louise 2004, and Altenmarkt Zauchansee 2004. So KSC dumped Swatch, and KSC's host Federation, the OESV, which had frowned upon KSC's renewal with Swatch, was pleased as punch.

Again, the above two paragraphs are what I heard. I don't really get involved in the politics, I just make the bits & bytes work.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Story Behind Blue Cheese Wedges at the US Open

In 2001, when we started using CHUMP at the US Open, the USTA had 15 custom umpire chairs manufactured, with swing-arms to hold the CHUMP cradle and the microphone.

On the 3 main US Open stadiums (Ashe, Armstrong, Grandstand), the nets and posts are actually changed to setups of different widths for singles and doubles. This year, USTA had three additional custom chairs made, for those three courts, with custom, articulating bases on rails so that the chairs, which are extremely heavy, can be easily moved forward or back a few feet when the netposts are changed to accomodate singles or doubles.

Unfortunately, the guys who built the chairs tilted the trays down about 30 degrees, not realizing that US Open umpires no longer write on paper scorecards. Due to the awkward angle, umpires could no longer see the screens of their CHUMP palms.

USTA Ops came to the rescue, using a chop saw to cut small "cheese wedges" out of a 2 x 6, and spray-painting them blue.

Richard Kaufmann (Chief of Umpires) and I went out to Ashe, Armstrong, and Grandstand and re-mounted the CHUMP cradles on top of the cheese wedges, which are now secured to the trays.

A low-tech but effective solution.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The US Open: Run by slobs, for slobs

These Union guys and the other assorted low-lifes, criminals, and street urchins who work behind the scenes at the US Open treat this place like the slum in which it is located.

Can you say "pay off the Fire Marshall"? These are photos of THE MAIN RING OF ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM, THREE DAYS INTO THE MAIN DRAW.

Revolting. Disgusting. Outrageous. I don't think the workmen at Wimbledon leave a table saw out in the middle of the main hallway at the All-England Club in the middle of the Wimbledon Tournament.

More Evidence As To Why the US Open Is Disgusting

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tissot SUCKS. The Swatch Group SUCKS.

Can I just vent for a minute about how much The Swatch Group SUCKS?

For years, I have lost dozens of contracts to those Swiss motherfuckers because they GIVE their Timing & Scoring services away (as "Swiss Timing") for free in order to promote their wristwatches. NOBODY ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET would EVER actually BUY Swiss Timing's shitty Timing & Scoring services, because they generally suck at it, and their "value in kind" for their services are 3x or 4x the going price of the COMPETENT vendors out in the marketplace. Swiss Timing's software blows, their hardware was all designed in the 1960's and their "staff" are mostly gnomes. One of the happiest days in my life was when four of their gnomes showed up for a World Cup ski race in Altenmarkt in 2004, and the Austrian team told them to get right back in their cars, drive outa town, and FUCK OFF because Austria had found somebody better (my group) and they were sick of dealing with Swiss Timing's lies, blackmail, and sharp elbows.

In short, Swiss Timing cheats. They engage in systematic business fraud, unfair restraint of trade, and blackmail. Says who? The Swiss courts. When I was with TAG Heuer, TAG sued Swiss Timing's parent (the Swatch Group) TWICE on these very grounds, and in both lawsuits, TAG Heuer won. Swatch Group was guilty, and paid large penalties.

For three years (2003-2005), my colleague Fred Patton at Phoenix Sports did the Timing & Scoring for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, using my software and TV graphics. This was a bit of revenge on The Swatch Group, because Swatch was paying the UCI for a timing sponsorship, and the UCI had the balls to tell Swatch they were using the money to hire Fred instead of trading out the sponsorship for Swatch's services. The UCI basically told Swatch that they suck, and they're too expensive, and Fred provides a better service. Which is, of course, all true, but as a sponsor, Swatch seldom has people tell them that so bluntly. Toward the end of that deal, I needed a new watch, so I bought a Tissot T-Touch. I figured Tissot was, indirectly, paying me, so I might as well give their watches a try. Andrew McCord, a UCI commissaire, was wearing one at the UCI event in Manchester UK, and one morning during the event, I checked it out over breakfast. It seemed like a pretty cool timepiece.

Well that Tissot T-Touch has been back to the factory for a rebuild 5 times in 18 months. It has never run for more than two months in a row. Tissot keep repairing it under warranty, but repeatedly sending it back is just a major pain in the ass. I guess The Swatch Group's watches are as hopeless as Swiss Timing, the company's Timing & Scoring division.

When I arrived in NY the other day for the US Open, I noticed that my Tissot watch had died. Again. Aaaargh. I can't possibly get through this tournament without a good watch with an alarm and a chronograph, so I shipped that Tissot piece of shit back to the factory repair center in Secaucus, and I took the subway over to Jct Blvd and bought a Citizen Skyhawk. Citizen is the time sponsor here at the US Hopeless, so it's the least I can do. It's a pretty cool watch, it has the features I need, it's not terribly expensive, and it's NOT Swiss. (NOTE: both of my TAG Heuer watches are currently broken as well). Hopefully I won't suffer the same fate as the last time I bought a watch in consideration of sponsorship.


Yesterday's WTA final in Montreal was delayed a day due to rain. Some genius scheduled the Monday final at 2PM Eastern, despite the fact that no matter what time they scheduled it for, NOBODY will show up on a Monday. Duh.

As a result of the lateness of the hour, the WTA rankings could not be run in time for the US Open womens quali draw to be made at 4. So the WTA ran a partial ranking around noon, which was cool of them, but the rankings weren't available in DB format or any format useful to an IT department. All they provided was a text file, sorted by rank. So the poor Referee's Dept here had to look up the rankings of about 200 players in order to make the womens quali draw.

Montreal should have scheduled their final for 11AM. The players want to get it over with and get the hell outa there, and nobody is going to show up to watch on a Monday, no matter what time the damn match is played.


P.S. - Ivanovic killed Hingis in about 50 minutes. For this, they waited all day. DUH.


Greetings from the US Hopeless, The World's Worst Tennis Tournament. I've said, at times, that I spend 24 weeks a year dreading the US Open, 24 weeks recovering from the US Open, and 4 weeks at the US Open. This still rings pretty much true. As I get older and get kicked upstairs to more and more exotic technical problems at better and better events, the US Hopeless remains the biggest train wreck I can think of in the sports world.

People think the biggest by-product of the US Open is tennis. They are wrong. The biggest by-product of the US Hopeless is chaos. This place is pure, unadulterated chaos. The people who (supposedly) "manage" this place are, by and large, all incompetent fools. The only thing separating this barely-controlled crash from an all-out flaming explosion is our scoring & scheduling systems, a few technical people over in TV world who actually know what they're doing, and a select few "tennis" people down in Referee's and Umpire's who know what they are doing. Everyone else here is, by and large, an amateur.