Timing a Race and Avoiding Unnecessary Issues

Readers… While working in and around the race timing field for quite some time, I’ve come across numerous pitfalls that lead to inconveniences at best, and epic failures at worst.  Some I’ve shared with you in other posts.  But here are a few that some people simply don’t think of that are simple to avoid:

(And these apply mostly to the timing crew, but lessons can be learned for everyone!)

1. Screensavers

Have you ever been timing a race and at a critical moment in time you look down and find your screensaver running?  Many people password-protect those things, and even if you know the password sometimes the delay in unlocking the screen can cause issues.  Don’t use screensavers on timing computers!

2. “Sleep” Mode

I guess this is a similar issue to what you can encounter with Screensavers.  But some computers are set to go into “Sleep” mode after a certain amount of time idle.  Worse yet, I’ve seen some simply hibernate or shutdown!  You sure don’t want that to happen in the middle of a race.  Make sure you disable this sort of thing altogether.

3. Running Windows on a Mac

Well this isn’t inherently bad; I do it myself, and quite successfully I might add.  But when you’re running Windows in a “Virtual Machine” such as VMWare or Parallels, you have to remember that some things on the Mac may affect things on the Windows side… like the clock on Windows syncing up with the clock on the Mac.  Or the Mac “hot corners” that are still active even when you’re in your Windows session.  So pay attention to how your Virtual Machine software interacts with Windows.

4. Brightness

Automatically adjusting brightness is a nice “feature” of modern operating systems.  But if you turn it off, make sure you know how to manually adjust the brightness of your display before you get out and start working a race in the sunshine!

5. Windows Update

Oh, this is my favorite.  I’ve been a victim of this one numerous times, fortunately not during a race though.  And I’ve taken measures to make sure it never happens again.  But with the Windows Update set to Automatic, it’s liable to start updating at any time.  Furthermore, even if you’re not actively updating software during a race (what a no-no!) maybe you did recently and upon a reboot you find yourself having to wait 15 minutes while Windows applies its updates.  You definitely do not what that happening as a race is about to begin.


Those are just a few things.  There are more–plenty more.  Just be careful, and think about how you have your computers configured.

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