2019 update, and the history and future of the code that was broken

So the good news is I think it’s all back working. It’s hard I can’t be bothered to test fully without simulating a whole competition – I ask for everyone’s patience and to report anything weird to me so it be fixed immediately! The items in the drop-down list on the guess form ARE the items that appear in the year’s calendar, so you may start strategising now! Guesses will open in a few days, unless you want to go ahead and guess your new PIN 🙂

The various website systems being broken wasn’t a problem that wouldn’t have occurred back in the first running of competition – sixteen years ago (another one of those “wow, I feel old” moments) in 2003. The story is told on the 2003 page and goes something like this – I had a Boohbah Advent Calendar, bought for me by me, as I remember¹. I cannot think how that escalated into a competition to guess the pictures but evidently it did – I do however remember how it was run. The thirteen players comprised me, my eight closest neighbours at uni, a girlâ„¢, two of my family and randomly, a friends mum².

And it was a very manual process that year – those that lived in my block at uni could just tell me, and I would otherwise take guesses by phone and by email. I would manually update the website each day and them inform each player if they had scored. I would request guesses rather than leave them in place. I would update everyone on how it was going rather than just leave the onus on the players. I couldn’t last and it was the only year which operated this way. By 2004 the code that still largely (albeit tweaked) runs the website today was written, and I haven’t looked back since.

I was going to write about how the 2003 running panned out, but I’ll leave that for another time. The fact that the code remains largely that I wrote 15 years ago frustrates me a bit, but as I have previously written here – motivating myself to rewrite the code out-of-season is a bit of a push when it comes to motivating, and once it is the season I am using the site so feel less inclined to play with it. The solution is developing a new site alongside with a copy of all the data, obviously. I’ll try.

The site look remains that of my website at the time – which is essentially aping the F1 Digital service’s onscreen graphics (the service existed from 1996-2002 in various countries around the world, but only 2002 in the UK. These graphics existed towards the end of its life). Blues and yellows and greys – in fact here are a few screen grabs I’ve cobbled together from YouTube. Look familiar?

Screengrabs from F1 Digital in 2002 – lovingly known at the time as “Bernievision”

I’m slowly letting go of these but I want to let them go completely. I envisage a more Christmassy coloured site, but more importantly than the colour scheme I want to get away from the things it’s locking in. The “messages from competition control” for example. I am 100% convinced that I could show data items currently shown here in a better way, for example. I also want to overhaul the stats pages a bit and not having a “graphics template” to work to will, I hope, allow me greater freedoms.

Maybe next year then? We’ll see…

¹ I didn’t even know what a Boohbah was then, and frankly couldn’t explain very well if you asked me now! But that wasn’t important…
² A theme that went on to be repeated in future years, though for some reason they never seem to last!

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