Alpha VSP: Final Stage, Paris Nice

Alpha VSP: Final Stage, Paris Nice

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You are free to change your picks as many times as you want so long as registration is open.
  5. Picks are entered into the five boxes for places 1 through 5 just above the post box.
  6. 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.

// Velominati Super Prestige

  1. OK, I’ll go first. Kreuziger is going to go off the front on the Col d’Eze, but LL Cool Sanchez comes flying down that mountain, and while not as good a descender as his buddy Dirty, he’s a hell of a lot faster than Kreuziger. Jani Brakesabit is only just barely able to get by for second, and Monfort and Voeckler are close but no cigar for the French.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. LL Cool Sanchez
    2. Brakesabit
    3. Kreuziger
    4. Monfort
    5. Voeckler

  2. Veino takes it. He’s been assaulting everyone all week, so he’s finally going to get away. Another half the field cries about the weather and drops out — what the hell was up with that anyway? Kloden makes an attack to win one for Lance, but comes up just short as The Blitzkreig hangs on to his tail. The Sanchezes mark one another for fun in confusing everyone reading the results.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Veino
    2. Kloden
    3. Sammy Sanchez
    4. LL Cool Sanchez
    5. Blitzkreig (Tony Martin)

  3. these are some wild guesses and wish full thinking on my part. this should be fun. when does the real VSP start?

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Sam the dirty Sanchez
    2. Voeckler
    3. Martin
    4. X bonks while winning Tondo
    5. Porte in the storm

  4. Woulda put Kreuziger first if he hadnt been taken. Great stages in both T-A and P-N last nite!

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Chief Wiggum
    2. Kreuziger
    3. Tony Martin
    4. Lines and Girds his Loins
    5. Kloedy

  5. So, I’m on my iPhone because I’m moving in a week and no longer have normal Internet access at home until after the move.

    I don’t see entry boxes above the main post box. Is the software not compatible with safari on iOS?

  6. VSP PICKS:

    1. Slammin Sammy Sanchez
    2. Jerkin Van Den Broeck
    3. Roman “The Gladiator” Kreuziger
    4. Yanni Brajkovic
    5. Levi Head Shiner

  7. @Buck Rogers
    Okay, did not realize that I could post some writing in there as well. But, seeing how I am completely computer illerate and I managed to get my picks posted, kudos to the software so far!

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Slammin Sammy Sanchez
    2. Jerkin Van Den Broeck
    3. Roman \
    4. Yanni Brajkovic
    5. Levi Head Shiner

  8. Here’s my suggestion Frank to save your sanity and offload the majority of the naming work to us layabouts. I’ve attached a screenshot with the idea so it makes sense, but in more technical terms:

    For each VSP text box, you have an associated combo box populated with the riders on the start list for the day. When you type in the name in the picks box, the actual rider name pops up in the combo box. The mapping between nickname and actual name is then established by the user making up the nickname.

    Over the season, a big mapping of nicknames->actual names can be established in a database, or wherever, which makes the combo box able to be auto-populated. That means all of our lives become easier as the season progresses. Thus, the only input you need to run the VSP is providing a text file before each race that indicates the start list for the day, or write a parser for the cyclingnews.com start lists, then you just give the URL.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Veino
    2. Kloden
    3. Sammy Sanchez
    4. LL Cool Sanchez
    5. Blitzkreig (Tony Martin)

  9. Nooow that’s better. Proper upload of UI photo idea.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Veino
    2. Kloden
    3. Sammy Sanchez
    4. LL Cool Sanchez
    5. Blitzkreig (Tony Martin)

  10. @mcsqueak
    Works on my iPhone…

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Chief Wiggum
    2. Chief Wiggum
    3. Tony Martin
    4. Lines and Girds his Loins
    5. Kloedy

  11. I’m just here for the Alpha testing

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Vino
    2. Vokler
    3. Kloden
    4. Sandwich Sanchez
    5. Levi RoadID Leipheimer

  12. @Marcus

    I turned off the mobile theme and that enabled it. Now I need to make some picks…

  13. Too tired after 120k today to put much time into this. O Well.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Sam-bo
    2. Klod-hopper
    3. Roman K
    4. Wiggo
    5. Little Tommy V

  14. @mcsqueak
    Good catch – works on the Mobile theme now. Cheers.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. LL Cool Sanchez
    2. Brakesabit
    3. Kreuziger
    4. Monfort
    5. Voeckler

  15. Damnit, it’s only supposed to be posting the picks when there are changes…seems like it might be doing it every time. Bugger.

    @Collin
    Nice suggestion; I may do something like that. For now, I built out a pretty slick backend that should be it quick, but we’ll see – I like your layout. I’d be concerned that it would restrict the creativity of the lot, though – and picking someone who isn’t on the start list is just too much fun!

    Great suggestion, though, and if it grows, could definitely see going to something like that because I’ll likely be too lazy.

    VSP PICKS:

    1. LL Cool Sanchez
    2. Brakesabit
    3. Kreuziger
    4. Monfort
    5. Voeckler

  16. Ok just pulling these out of my arse, I haven’t been following the races much so far this year so I’m not quite up to speed on who is kicking ass currently. Looking forward to the real VSP so I have an excuse to crack out on it…

    VSP PICKS:

    1. Kloden
    2. Martin
    3. Uran Uran Uran Uran
    4. Speedy Gonzalez
    5. JENS!

  17. VSP PICKS:

    1. Chief Wiggum
    2. Kreuziger
    3. Tony Martin
    4. Lines and Girds his Loins
    5. Kloedy

  18. I have absolutely no idea and am only getting into this sandpit for the purposes of assisting with your pre-alpha ‘testing’.

  19. @G’phant
    Ok, well that worked well, didn’t it. Frank, it’s broken…

  20. VSP PICKS:

    1. Sammy Sanchez
    2. dURAN dURAN
    3. Klodium
    4. Make it Rein
    5. Vino Vidi Vici

  21. Yeah fronk – it’s fucked. I tried to change from wiggum to Kreuziger twice and it registered wrong changes?.. But good try’

  22. I entered picks. Then I entered my message. Then I submitted them. Then it ate my picks. It is quite possibly user error. Or iPad antipathy in your software. Or just one of those things. But now it won’t let me submit anything. Hey ho. It ain’t MSR, and I think the idea is excellent. Looking forward to the beta.

  23. Fuckin’ Mad Genius, MAD i say!

    Woke up too late to see the little box thingies but this should be the bloggers equivalent to a Flahute.

  24. @all
    Thanks for helping out, guys; I’ll be working on the scoring bit of the coding today and see what I can get together. Might be a bit. I’ve made backups of the data you all entered so if I bugger it up, I can get back to the original data.

    For those of you who had trouble, please be as specific as possible about things like what your picks were, if the update messed up, please tell me what they were and what you tried to change it to. Also include what browser computer type you’re using. @G’Phant, iPad might not be working right; I’ll test it out on there.

    Also, please note that the picks logic automatically closed at midnight Pacific time. It happened to be Daylight Savings Time, which always causes software to go batty because an hour evaporates into thin air. I’ll probably update it to automatically close at 5am Pacific on race day, just to give some more leeway to late entries. Thoughts?

    The update bit is odd because that’s actually really easy and it’s been giving me trouble. Faulty brain, I suspect.

  25. @frank

    As far as closing time goes, it would certainly be easier to state that all entries need to be in by a specific time, regardless of when the actual race starts, just to avoid confusion. I don’t think it really matters what the time is, other than that it stays as consistent as possible and is posted somewhere.

    Are you planning on having a page that will automatically tally results in the future, so we can track our relative places through the season?

    Keep up the good work! I’m looking forward to seeing the post-Alpha versions.

    As a side note, when browsing the site on an iPhone once I exited out of the mobile version, a link to use the mobile version again seems to be missing (I actually prefer for reading this site on a device with such a small screen). If there is a link somewhere, it doesn’t seem to be very easy to find… I might suggest placing it down in the footer somewhere. Clearing my browsing history and reloading the site didn’t seem to automatically bring back the mobile version, either.

  26. @mcsqueak
    Hey mate – thanks for the feedback. The overall standings will be updated constantly on the VSP page, along with the schedule and links back to the VSP events that have taken place. Results for each VSP will be posted there as well as on the VSP page as well. I’m envisioning a setup where you’ll be able to click your name and see your picks, penalties, and score. (Penalties really only come into play during the GTs.)

    If you look under “Services” in the footer, you’ll see a link to V-Mobile, which is the mobile site, but you may have to dump your cookies, I think, to get the iPhone site back. . Cheers.

  27. @frank

    Ah, thanks for the link location. I need to work on my reading comprehension skills apparently. Unless you were hiding it the whole time and JUST added the link back to fuck with me! Yes, must be it.

  28. @all
    anything happening with a psuedo VSP on Milan-San Remo picks?
    thought I’d have a stab anyways: –

    Faboo
    Thor
    CavenitsabouttimeIpullmyfingeroutanddosomethingagaindish
    Tomeke
    Friar Gomez

  29. Nice racing! I just finally watched the final kms of all the stages. Missed them live, but I have a good excuse! I was traveling in Croatia. Wow, it’s an awesome place and riding a bus along the Adriatic was sheer torture, so nice, but I would have rather been cycling along the water. Next time. I suggest it to anyone who is looking for a place to visit.

    Good racing. Voeckler did a fine job, lots of attacking and how many, two stage wins? And the crashes on Stage 7? Dude under the car, just after his Astana partner nearly went down. Wow. Can’t believe Remy was leading the race, on his way to a win…and those damn white paint markers nearly snuffed him out. Ah! I have nightmares about those, even when they are dry.

  30. @all
    Well, we’re just in time for Milano-San-Remo, but I think I got everything for this round of the VSP working properly. I can post picks from iPhone, iPad, logged in, not logged in, registered, you name it. There were loads of bugs, and I’m sure there will be more. I’ll have a pile more work to do to automate the Grant Tours with substitutions, but that’s a bit off yet.

    So, here are the standings. Get ready for MSR to be posted tomorrow or Friday.

    Final Race Results
    1. VOECKLER Thomas
    2. ULISSI Diego
    3. EL FARES Julien
    4. SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel
    5. LOPEZ GARCIA David

    Final VSP Results

  31. Yeah for the new guy!

  32. Thanks for all your work Frank (and whomever else may be working on the VSP code project as well)! The VSP is going to be way better (way mo bettah?) than any stupid “March Madness” bracket nonsense.

  33. @CanuckChuck
    What’s the Hans Solo quote? “Don’t get cocky, kid!” :)

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