Friday, May 27, 2011

Trial Genie (continued)

The last few days I've had time to poke around the Trial Genie program some more, enter data on a few people from our club's records of our trial's entries last April, and see how the program generates the Gate Sheets, Scribe Sheets, reports, catalogs, unofficial results pages, etc.  It's neat, but all hinges on entering the correct data.  This requires a meticulous person willing to check, double check, and tripple check each entry.

The good thing is, once a dog is entered into the Trial Secretary's system, the next year the data doesn't have to be re-entered unless there is a change of address, phone number, etc.

Bad things include:
  • some entrants have illegible handwriting.  Their 3's look like 8's, 4's look like 9's, and email addresses can be hard to read. 
  • Some entry forms don't have a SEX box. 
  • Some folks include their dog's titles from other venues, so you have to sort thru to find only the AKC titles.
  • Online entries from the AKC website deliver the information in different order from the printed forms, so your eyeballs have to skip around looking for the data, and the print delivers so small in some boxes, you need a magnifying glass to read it.
  • Some people forget to add their dog's birthdate, height, height card info, etc.
  • Some people put their dog's AKC number, but forget to check the PAL or ILP box if it's an All American Dog.
  • Some people pay the wrong amount.
So-o-o-o-o, you end up having to call or email the entrant to clarify these details, collect more money, issue refunds, etc.

Furthermore, the Trial Secretary can always make a mistake entering the data, so it is VERY IMPORTANT for entrants to always check their confirmation letter details, not skim over any piece of data, especially the AKC number.  You want to be sure your dog gets credited for every Qualifying Score.

Then there are the Move-Ups that can occur between the time the entry form was submitted and the date of your trial, even at the trial.  It's a dynamic process.  The trial secretary has to stay on top of this all along the way up to the trial date, then all through the trial.  That's why you always see the Trial Secretary sitting at their computer, all day, every day.

As the scribe sheets are turned in, about 3 at a time, the TS enters the scores and when that jump height is complete, print out the results.  This is what makes it possible to read your Unofficial Resuts within minutes after your jump height has run.  Pretty neat.

After the trial there is still a lot to do, including generating the Catalogs (one for each day, because each day is considered a separate trial by AKC) and sending all those records into AKC, along with their fees; sending out Score Results to every entrant, printing financial reports, etc.

I still have some questions, of course, and some things can't be learned ahead of time.  I look forward to our next trial where I hope to assist Nedra in real time.  This is definitely "The Road Less Travelled", trodden by very few compared to the number of competitors, still, it is trodden by a few and I feel really good being one of them.  I enjoy knowing how things work, what's going on behind the scenes, all the efforts at organization that have been put into developing this system so we can go out and play with our dogs.  It's amazing, really, the people who have put so much thought and effort into organizing this sport for us.

From reading the Trial Secretary's manual, I learned you can scribe up to 8 trials a year without an AKC license.  But if you do 9 or more a year, you have to pay a license fee, take a course, and get certified.  Then you get listed in AKC's Licensed TS List where clubs needing Trial Secretaries can find and hire you.  I have no idea what TS's make, but it is a considerable amount of work and a big responsibility and they have to travel far distances, so it should pay nicely.  Some trial secretaries even provide their own equipment and ring crew!  Our club is very fortunate to have our own equipment, and a local club member that does our TS job for free and in a professional manner.

Upwards and onward!

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