Software. It makes us 50% more efficient, creates 75% more work, and causes nearly 100% of the stress in my life. Crashes, counter-intuitive interfaces, general asseyness; all these characteristics are the result of rigorous planning, development, and testing processes undertaken by people who have studied software for longer than they should have. Software applications are carefully studied by highly paid professionals who understand intimately the user’s psychology and, judging by most software I use, have a great hatred for all livings living. Once the experts have studied and tested the product well enough to know for certain that it can’t possibly work it was intended to, they deem a product worthy of consumer use and embark on a phase of testing called “Beta Testing”. This involves sending undocumented systems out to users who don’t understand the product they are evaluating and whose feedback will be largely ignored.
This process has worked well enough for the software industry, so that’s how we’ll do it. In fact, we’re going to take this process even further. Under certain circumstances, a software vendor will engage in a phase of testing even more meaningless than Beta Testing: Alpha Testing. In an Alpha Test, there are no veiled promises made of how crappy the software experience will be, no guarantees that there will be bugs, and no indication of the user’s frustration level because the fact of the matter is that the system hasn’t been studied enough to know whether it sucks adequately yet or not.
For the record, that’s the approach we’re taking for the Alpha VSP edition of the final stage of Paris-Nice.
A few notes on the new VSP system that you will be helping test.
- The scoring mechanism isn’t in place yet, so results will not be available until I build that. I’ve done some solid “thinking” on how I’ll program that bit, but there’s no evidence yet of any actual “work” in this respect.
- Everyone still gets to add their crazy made-up names into the picks section. We’ll be mapping them to real rider names in the background (what could go wrong?) and no one will be the wiser. So, just keep on making up the crazy nicknames like you did last year and everyone will get on just fine.
- Registration will be open until – roughly – the race starts Sunday morning. Once registration closes, you will still see your picks, but you won’t be able to edit them.
- You are free to change your picks as many times as you want so long as registration is open.
- Picks are entered into the five boxes for places 1 through 5 just above the post box.
- When you enter your picks, your picks will be copied into your post, so everyone will see who you picked. That’s where the fun really is, so we made sure that still happens. Any time you make a change to your picks, they will be copied into the post again, your last pick is the one that counts.
So there you have it, for the most part this should work almost like it did last year, except now you put your picks in designated places. Cry me a river.
So, study the profile, the results, and put in your picks for the top five of the final stage of Paris-Nice. No points towards the VSP, but the winner gets to intimidate the rest of us as we near the start of Milan San-Remo.
Oh, and let us know what does and doesn’t work – and if this kills the fun or whatever your feedback is. Your comments will be digested in the manner described above. A free Symbol Pack goes to whomever provides the most constructive feedback or helps identify the most critical defect.