Even with the mild winter we are having here in the south of the province, it is still time for the winter classic Wonderboy. It is the 14th annual and my 9th consecutive. It’s like going to see an old friend. The house is set up the same, the people are for the most part the same. A pleasant exception this year is that invited my friend Pat to attend.

As you cross the imaginary line to the Haliburton area, regardless of how little snow we’ve gotten around here, there’s the same amount up there as always. Wonderboy wouldn’t be the same without all the white snow and the precarious 3km driveway run into the main parking.

This year was one of the more enjoyable ones for me. And perhaps that’s why I fared better than usual. I finished 5th this year. Greg had a great 3rd place finish. Thanks in part to a rare pairing of the brothers in Euchre. We were the on-paper powerhouses but it didn’t start out that way. We began the tourney 0-5 before finally switching gears and pulling off 6 straight to squeak into the wildcard spot. We then proceeded to run the board in the playoffs with 3 consecutive wins. The final game was a bit of a fluke with a crazy point to tie on the buzzer and then with the deal in the opponent’s hand, they made a rookie mistake and turned it down. Greg promptly made trump and we took the decisive championship point. A bit of a controversial play happened on my part earlier in the match to keep us alive. With Greg dealing, the 3rd caller (2nd opponent) called Greg out of turn to pick it up and he was going alone. By rights, I am supposed to make a decision before him. As such, I was forced to call up my brother knowing that we were going to be euchred (2pts) but not allowing the opponent to go alone and probably get 4pts. I say probably because he was soooo excited about his hand that he called it out of turn.

I was upset to do this and wondered about being a candidate for ‘horses ass’. But in a final game with money and points on the line, everyone felt my call was appropriate and necessary based on the situation.

Anyway….Because of that win I was awarded the gold tie which represents the current overall leader. I was fortunate enough to be on the winning team for tug of war and euchre. A wonderboy win was in reach until I was quickly ousted in poker. (Boy do I dislike the format used at wonderboy…). 0 points in an event that usually dictates who will finish on top.

The real crusher was in darts. With arguably the best dart player and with myself being no slouch, we were massively upset by the wildcard team. This event I was hoping to get an additional 5 pts which would have placed me on the podium if not a slim chance at the win. Alas it wasn’t to be. But that’s OK.

Wonderboy went hi-tech this year. In the past we’ve statically posted results to my website to keep non-attendees in the loop. It was a cumbersome process of updating the spreadsheets, converting them to html and uploading them to the site. This process was also very time-consuming for Greg who has been the scorekeeper since the beginning.

This year Greg suggested we should try to score the event in a database and build a website around it to view and update the standings live.

I built the database and wrote the site in about a week in half using mysql and php. It was an incredible addition to the event. Since virtually everyone carried either a tablet or a browser-enabled smartphone it was simple to keep up to date on the standings and the scenarios of who still has a chance to win. In the end I had quite a bit of functionality including up-to-the-minute standings, points still available, results of all events, tracking of playoff events and the generation and tracking of round-robin games for darts and ping-pong. The round-robin feature was tough to implement but saved Greg the most amount of time with overhead. The site also had a ‘print’ feature so that we could still post the results on the traditional corkboard. I’d like to provide the url here but I can’t since I do not want it to be crawled by Google and made public…..I haven’t sanitized the SQL so it’s prone to SQL injection, etc. Saving that for version 2.0. Plus I need to password protect the admin side of the site.

We also toyed with using a webcam that was available on the local network. I borrowed a dlink webcam from work and was able to get it going on the LAN after fighting with the DHCP and the confusion the cam had with the WAN vs the LAN. Interestingly, the way the cam works is that it runs an Apache webserver on the device and you hit it using the URL it was assigned. There is a homepage that pops up providing an applet or ocx to view the video.

In theory it would have been a great idea. We were going to use the big screen TV upstairs to view the video so that people upstairs knew when it was their turn to play the downstairs event. Alas, it was too much of a rush job and we ended up not using it this year….but next year will be different.

The final neat tech thing we did this year was add a javascript plugin to the wonderboy main page that displayed the last 5 tweets from the wonderboytwit Twitter account. We used this to convey interesting info and when events were starting/finishing. People were able to read them on the homepage or using the twitter app on their mobile device. Slick.

We’ve already lined up features for version 2.0. We are going to add player profiles to the site by tying it into Facebook. Plus some more tracking features for next year. I also have a bunch of usability enhancements to help me record the scores more easily.

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