Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trial Genie

The job of Trial Secretary is essential for managing the details of any agility trial, and the mechanics of all this fascinates me.  I am ever grateful that when I enter my dogs into a trial, I get confirmation letters, armbands are waiting for me at the trial, my scores are printed out within minutes of my run, ribbons are waiting, and final scores are sent to me within a few days after the trial, etc.  It is very well organized for so young a sport.

How does all this happen? Trial Genie, put out by Clean Run, is the premiere AKC Agility Trial Management program, and it turns out, our dog club purchased it years ago and Nedra, our trial secretary, uses it.  I asked her for a copy so I could train myself in using it, uploaded it yesterday (another gift from the U), printed out the Read Me files, and read them all last night.  Trial Genie authorizes that it be stored on multiple computers within the club in case multiple rings are running at the same time, or if the trial secretary has an emergency someone else can step in, so we're not infringing on any copyrights.

RANT:  So there, I'm not crazy!  I've been screaming "redundancy" from the hilltops for years in all the clubs I belong to, urging that emergencies can be/should be planned for.   If one person falls, someone should be able to cover for them. Everyone in a key position should have an understudy, share what they know how to do. That's why folks join clubs, to learn stuff. The AKC Trial Secretary's handbook, which I'm reading today, emphasizes and encourages all of this.  What a confirmation for me that my requests have NOT been out of line, though I've been accused by one club member of "trying to take over."  Nothing could be further from the truth  . . . . . but I do want to learn as much as I can about this sport, not leave the club in a lurch if someone quits, or moves on.

And some things could be done better.

For example, in the AKC Agility Trial Manual, the Gate Steward is absolutely precluded from training volunteers in their jobs during trial runs, which is the ONLY way our volunteers get trained.  AKC recommends Gate Keeping, Timing, Scribing especially be trained in special sessions long before the trials -- exactly what I've been suggesting for the last 2 years, then accused of needing to be "babysat", told to "grow up", that everybody just "learned by doing".  I shudder to think how many volunteers we don't get because we refuse to take them aside for a few minutes and train them.  It costs little to do this, and no telling how much it costs not to.  The constant shortage of volunteers and cries for help, meanwhile refusing to methodically develop volunteer skills, continues to baffle me.

At any rate, I am going to teach myself Trial Genie.  The program is complex.  There is a lot going on.  Lots of data to manage correctly.  Between the Read Me Files, the AKC Trial Secretary Manual and the AKC Regulations, there are over 300 pages to read.  Here's a screen shot of the Main Console:

And behind each button there are several more buttons, letter and catalog generators, move ups, running orders, calculators, money tracking, etc.  Neat program.  I'm looking forward to learning it, and already I can tell that this road has been trodden by many others before me.  I am not alone, and am in very good company.

Upwards and onward!

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