Timing: More Lessons Learned

Well readers, I must say that at times I can get very frustrated with Microsoft Excel!  For instance, did you know that when Microsoft Excel encounters a long string of characters like this: 058002281248 it treats it as a number like this: 58002281248?  Well, it does.  Furthermore, it’s important to understand that in the world of chip timing, each one of the characters of a chip ID, whether it is numeric or not, is very important!  So treating 058002281248 like 58002281248 is not good!

Why, you ask, is Microsoft Excel even mentioned here in the same post about chip timing?  When it comes to how to time a race, sometimes you have to prepare data in the background and then import into Good Times.  For example, importing a bunch of racer bib numbers and assigned chip ID’s.  That’s what I did last weekend, and I used Excel to do it.  Two out of 451 runners failed to get results, because during the data prep (using Excel) I didn’t notice that Excel took that leading zero off of their chip ID’s.  Fortunately, we caught it early and were able to fix the chip ID’s and reprocess the results file: problem solved.

The positive outcome of this was just further evidence of the importance in using tools that do not automatically mess with your data!  Tools like: Notepad on a Windows machine, or TextWrangler on a Mac.  Lesson learned.

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