Race Timing Software – Prices Just Got Better

Hello again, readers, and enthusiasts of everything that has to do with registration, timing, and organizing running events!

Good Times Software is pleased to announce a “lite” version of our flagship product intended to make the power and ease of use even more accessible to smaller events and organizations.  The standard version of Good Times now sells for a significantly reduced price (see our website page here) and includes all features and functionality required for using computerized select timing for events.  It does not have RFID / Chip timing capabilities.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this is truly exciting news.  We admire the creativity and determination often seen by organizers of smaller events; making Good Times more price accessible will ultimately lead to more successful events.  That’s not marketing-speak, that is the fact of the matter.  I’ll personally see to it that our customers are equipped with the right knowledge and capability to use Good Times as a key ingredient to a successful event.

This news comes in conjunction with with more big news: the release of Good Times 4.0.  Due to be released in about another week, version 4.0 is a major release delivering more capability to help event directors succeed.  Stay tuned, and I’ll post another update when the release is available.

Happy New Year!

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Race Timing Software and The Quiet Season

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to everyone!

Races have declined significantly, for both Good Times Software customers as well as some of the events I do myself.  And it’s a welcome break.  Time to re-focus, re-energize, re-strategize, and— oh yes, relax!

As far as the race timing software business goes, Good Times Software will be announcing some great news to the smaller race market segment we serve.  I should leave it at that for now, but I’m excited.  Anyone who knows me well knows just how much I admire everyone in the trenches who make events successful, but it’s the small and underfunded one’s pulling off some of the events with the highest degree of excellence who I respect the most!  It’s inspiring to see their aspirations be revealed through hard work, a lot of sweat and radical coordination of volunteer personnel–and often having to do so with minimal resources.  When I can allocate my own resources to help these folks, I try my best to do so.

Another exciting release of Good Times Software is on its way, too, and I realize we are behind on our how-to video collection on YouTube.  And admittedly, my blog post frequency has dropped off the last three or four months.  But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.  Good Times Software has seen some absolutely incredible changes in 2014.  In fact, very few areas of the software were spared enhancement this year.  The most significant, of course, was integration with the IPICO Sports RFID / Chip Timing system.  Inclusion of chip timing in Good Times Software represents the most dramatic and significant business shift since our inception.

We’re hoping 2015 allows us to continue to build on our successes serving our customers and providing what we believe to be the easiest race timing software on the planet.  More powerful features for the professional timing company as well as small event organizers are on the way!  As always, we’re happy to invite you to one of our weekly webinars.  Simply contact us and we’ll get you registered.

Good Times!

Race Timing Software: It’s Time to Post

Alright already!  I know it’s been more than a month since I’ve posted.  To say I’ve been a little busy would be a tremendous understatement.  Alas, that’s not an excuse; I should have made time so please forgive me.

Making time, timing races, race timing, time, time, time, time, more time, less time, we all need time!  How important is time anyway?  It’s everywhere, and the ubiquitous gauge that all life is measured upon.  But how important is the actual time when timing a race?  Turns out it’s not all that important after all!  Elapsed time, on the other hand, is critical.  But the actual time, or the time-of-day (TOD)??  Aw, we can do without it.

But we don’t do without.  In fact, many chip timing systems incorporate TOD into the very guts of their system.  They do this in a couple ways: often by allowing synchronization of the TOD with an external system (e.g. a computer, a camera system, a USB-enabled pressure inducer stuck ever so elegantly on the end of a starting pistol, etc.)  They also stamp their chip records with a TOD.

I suppose using TOD provides a great deal of flexibility, as other alternatives (mainly, elapsed time) may not suffice for the plethora of timing needs in this universe.  But it also causes headaches because timers and registration and race timing software companies want precision!  Think about setting your watch to the exact time: is it okay if you’re five seconds off?  What about 20 seconds?  What about three minutes?  And, by the way, how easy is it to set your watch?  How easy is it to set your watch to the precise time?  One headache comes from simply having to synchronize the various timing systems used on the day of the event.  (And sometimes with very little time remaining while the race director is gently reminding you that the event is about to start!)

The other headache comes when, no matter what you do, a flawed system prevents you from ensuring it is in perfect time synchronization.  It happens!  This brings me back to how unimportant, insignificant and pointless a synchronized TOD is, as long as you have a way of doing some magic we call: calibration.

That’s right, as long as we can calibrate–in other words, know precisely the extent to which something is out of synchronization–we can perform the necessary math to make the world a happy place again.  Good Times Software now includes this type of calibration for a situation dealing with some particular elements of a chip timing system.  That helps us measure and report results accurately!

I hope my readers had a terrific Thanksgiving holiday!  I’m grateful to my customers, my partner companies, and the wonderful staff of directors and race timers I’ve had the pleasure to work with this year.

If you haven’t checked us out on Facebook, please do that and “like” us now!  Also, you can view our YouTube Channel for many how-to videos.

Whooo Hoooo!

Readers of America, Event Directors from all around the world, and anyone else interested in the best registration and timing software in the universe (that would be Good Times, btw):

Our software engineer team just informed me that Good Times has just processed its first split time record in a chip-timed event.  It’s in a very early, early, early alpha-stage.  But that’s great news!

Happy Halloween (almost anyway.)  Good Times Software on Facebook, Good Times Software on YouTube.

Splits can be painful!

Chewbacca doing the splits.

Chewbacca doing the splits.

Seriously, readers, if I were to do the splits you’d have to bend my legs manually and force them into position l like poor Chewbacca in the picture above.  (Star Wars did not grant me permission to use Chewbacca in my post.)  Besides the pain, I just might be permanently contorted if I were somehow able to get into the splits.  I’m pretty flexible, too, moreso than the average person I believe.  But not down there in those nether regions.

My customers often laud Good Times Software for being flexible, too, in addition to easy to use.  But we’ve known for far too long that Good Times needs to be able to do the splits (the other kind of splits, not what Chewbacca is doing!)  And it just hasn’t been up to the task.  Well that’s about to change!  Our next major release will provide the ability to time splits for RFID (chip) timed events.

It would be great if splits were easy to handle in software, but frankly it’s going to be a bit of a pain.  The concept is straightforward enough: allow for an unlimited number of timing spots along the course of an event to be treated as a “split” time.  Each split will need to be defined (is it a 1 mile split, a 5 mile split, etc.) and then printed on results reports, personalized results stickers from the kiosk, etc.  But in practice it’s hard to accommodate for some of the complexities.  For example, what if the split is “shared” along a loop-style course?  In other words, the first time a participant crosses the split treat it as a 1 mile split, but the second time they cross it treat it as a 5 mile split.  Or what if (heaven forbid) a participants drops their iPhone, crosses the split location, goes back to pick up their iPhone, and crosses it again?  Ahhhhhh… the challenges of writing software to accommodate for the unpredictable!

So stay tuned, readers, and I’ll make sure and post again with an update on our progress.   This is a must-have type of capability especially for supporting the larger and more professional running events.

In the meantime, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, and of course our Website!

Advanced Race Timing Tool for IPICO Sports Integration

With the release of Good Times Software version 3.7.2 comes a new analysis tool to help race timers using the IPICO Sports chip timing system efficiently analyze the underlying raw data generated on Elite Readers.

This is an advanced feature, and will be confusing for anyone who is unfamiliar with the IPICO Sports Elite Reader file format.  For the sake of this blog post, I’ll simplify: the IPICO Sports Elite Readers generate a “First Seen” date/time stamp and a “Last Seen” data/time stamp each time any race participant approaches and then departs a timing mat.  It’s these date/time stamps that are crucial in calculating a participants time.   For example, at the start of the race a participant may approach the starting line, standing on a mat, and then leave the starting line when the gun fires.  In this case, the “First Seen” data is thrown away — it’s unimportant.  But the “Last Seen” data is very important, as timing software will use that date/time stamp when calculating the participants finish time.  Then, when the participant approaches and crosses the finish line, another set of “First Seen” and “Last Seen” data is generated.  In this case, the “Last Seen” data is thrown away — it’s unimportant.  But the “First Seen” data is very important, as timing software will use that data/time stamp to compare against the participants starting time as it calculates a chip finish time.  Hope that makes sense!

Working with all of this data can be complicated, no doubt.  But the Analysis Tool in Good Times Software version 3.7.2 allows you to cut through much of the complexity, and perform various calculations.  You can load up the entire contents of one or two Elite Reader files, filter by Chip ID, select rows to calculate time differences, etc.  When developing Good Times, we used to do this sort of analysis to validate our timing algorithms, but had to use external tools to load up the data, copy/paste into Microsoft Excel, write the formulas to do the calculations, etc.  It was a burden!  But burdens be gone!

Please like us on Facebook, check out our YouTube Channel, and visit our Website if you haven’t done so already.  Also, I’d be happy to include you on one of our upcoming webinars.  If you’re interested in that, just contact us and we’ll get you registered.

 

Timing Multiple Races at the same time

Hello readers!

This weekend I’ll be providing some actual timing services…anyone who follows my blog knows that I end up doing a few of these a year, and probably even more this year than the norm.  But it’s all good, because I get to see some amazing athletes, beautiful country, and smoooooooothly executed events!

This weekend I’ll cover three events within the course of about 16 hours.  In and of itself, that’s not a big deal, but it does make for some crazy sleeping hours.  Two of the events are simultaneous, which is what this post was supposed to be about originally.

Simultaneous events are not that big of a deal in Good Times Software.  We designed the system to be flexible enough to time multiple events that start at the same time and run simultaneously, or you can now setup Divisions within a single event.  (Technically, I don’t call Divisions separate events, but I’ve noticed people using the terms interchangeably.)  First, within System Preferences, make certain to select the option “Enable Multi-Start capability when timing events.”  If that option is enabled, your timer will notice that the “Get Set” button on the Time Entry window changes to “Multi-Start” on all open Time Entry windows, when multiple Time Entry windows are open.

What does that mean?

Well, if you’re going to time two simultaneous events, you need to have two Time Entry windows open.  If you’re using the Multi-Start option, then the stopwatch timer for all events will launch simultaneously whenever one of the Multi-Start buttons are pressed.  Think of it like a whole bunch of stopwatches “linked” together so that whenever you press start on one, they all start!  And it’s handy to have either a big monitor, or multiple monitors for viewing multiple Time Entry windows at the same time.

That’s really all there is to it… at this point, the software will time each event independently, according to however you have it setup.  If it’s a chip-timed event, it will poll the chip system in accordance with the rules for the event.  If it’s a computerized select timed event, you’ll have to enter bib numbers in as runners cross the finish line.

Have a great weekend, and make sure to check out our website, our Facebook page, and our YouTube Channel.

Having a Good Time

Biking in Montana

Biking in Montana

One man, one bike, and many miles of open road!  That picture is the typical scene I was fortunate enough to experience for all of last weekend.  This year I went solo, which is very therapeutic.  I’d be lying if I said the whole time I was thinking about timing races, race timing software, registration, etc.

But I did put some thought into many different aspects of my life, both personal and professional.  I realized how beautiful this state truly is.  The 841 miles of back country plus a couple of Montana’s larger cities completely validated that.  It’s also obvious to me that a good mind-clearing break like this is good for the soul.

Next on the roster is wrapping up some of the summer’s last few races.  This has been an amazing season with wonderful races, great people, terrific customers, and continual updates to Good Times Software.

Check us out on YouTube, or like us on Facebook.  And it’s not too late to get into one of our webinars.  The webinar is a great way to see for yourself the power and ease-of-use of Good Times Software.  Give us a call at (877) 244-5484 and register.

Race Day Registration Woes

Laptop Quagmire

Laptop Quagmire

Hello Readers!  So that was the scene on my kitchen table last week as I prepped for a pro bono race held this past Saturday.  I’m not sure why I left the plant in the middle of the table; perhaps I felt it added some peace and tranquility to the quagmire of laptops.

The event offered Race Day Registration, hence the need for so many computers.  In addition to the participants who registered online ahead of time, we had about 150 people show up Saturday morning to register for the event.  Moving 150 people through a well-organized registration process doesn’t have to be all that difficult.  The problem is, well, we’re human.  And we don’t like to show up too early for something.  Moving 150 people through a well-organized registration process with only 30 or fewer minutes remaining to the start of the race is an entirely different proposition.

Thankfully, we were prepared with lots of computers and a good number of well-trained volunteers.  But the whole situation really begs the question: why not just offer online pre-registration?  More and more races are doing this, and some even penalize participants with high prices if they choose to forgo online pre-registration and show up for race day registration.  In fact, I know of one event where the cost was twice that of online pre-registration!

I don’t need to be an evangelist of conducting business online.  Millions and millions of people do this routinely on a day-to-day basis.  So how about it, folks?!  Let’s ban race day registration forever and usher in the modern era!  (Okay, cynicism cease!)

Thanks for reading, and please make sure to visit our website at GoodTimesSoftware.com, or our Facebook page.  You can also find our helpful how-to videos on our YouTube Channel.  (Or you, too, can slip back out of the modern era and use a telephone to call us at 877-244-5484!)

Timing a race: Divisions or Not?

“Divisions or not?” certainly isn’t as eloquent or thought-provoking as Shakespeare’s “To Be or Not To Be?” question, yet has still consumed a great deal of my thought lately!

Since Good Times’ conception, we’ve successfully timed numerous events without providing functionality enabling grouping of participants within a division.  For those events demanding that sort of grouping, the solution was to simply have multiple events.

Using multiple events within Good Times is clean: it naturally creates a clear separation of race participants, their results, and all supporting capabilities from registration, to timing, to reporting.  But the creativity in today’s running culture has sky-rocketed, and along with it the complexity of many events.

I’ve already encountered some situations where having the ability to support divisions would have made things easier on the timing staff.  And since one core tenet of Good Times software is ease of use… well you see where I am going with this I bet!

Good Times Software will soon support the use of divisions.  While other solutions only provide similar capability with the use of divisions exclusively, our customers will enjoy the power and flexibility of using events and divisions simultaneously.  If an event is setup to use divisions, expect the two following major changes:

  1. During participant registration (either manually, or via Data Import), participants will be able to be registered to a specific division (or, alternatively, the open or default division if nothing is specified.)
  2. When an event is timed, participant’s will be timed as usual but their results can optionally be displayed within their division registration or within the event as a whole.

Other changes will be necessary, too, to accommodate the use of divisions within Good Times.  Expect division functionality to be rolled out soon, maybe within the next month or two!

Please like us on Facebook if you haven’t already… just click here to go to our Facebook page.  And as always. contact us if you’d like to setup an appointment to participate in a live demonstration of Good Times!