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.

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