Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Mike Williamses are so confusing!

Chris got home tonight and said "I think they swapped the Mike Williamses."  I had no idea what she was talking about but when she said "the tracker!" I thought "not too likely."  Well, she's right - the Mike Williams Jr on the tracker is the Mike Williams Sr on the leaderboard, and vice versa.  They swapped the bib numbers but, as it turns out, not the humans.  Here's how I approached figuring it out.

Since they arrived in Nikolai about an hour apart I thought I'd use the tracker's history mechanism to see which the tracker thinks arrived first.  The first thing I did was to remove all the mushers, then add the Mike Williamses back in (note to Iditarod: ordering the mushers by bib number on the "Choose your mushers" drop-down menu when there are 66 mushers is really dumb).  Then I took a look at the leaderboard to see when a Mike Williams first arrived in Nikolai.   We have a Mike Williams whose bib number is 46 arriving at 15:36, and a Mike Williams whose bib number is 35 arriving at 16:33.

That gave me a rough idea of what time to rewind the tracker to to see which Mike Williams it thought arrived at 15:36.  Here's what the tracker showed at 15:30 this afternoon:

So it thinks bib 35, Mike Williams Sr, arrived at 3:36pm, and the leaderboard thinks it was bib 46, Mike Williams, Jr.  We'd sort of expect it to be Mike Williams, Jr, given that he's a very speedy guy who's expected to place very high.

However, this:

It appears to be the case that they've associated the right name but the wrong bib number with that particular tracker.  With the unfortunate reliance on bib number in the IonEarth user interface it would be nice if they could fix it, but given the ham-handed way they treat data I would not expect them to be able to move retrospective race data correctly when and if they fix this, so there's a reasonable expectation of buggered-up speed calculations, run/rest schedules, and whatnot.

Seriously, Iditarod: do you really want to stick with this tracking service?

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