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All comments by Joe Hertz
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+1 to this sentiment. Reading the casebooks is the only real way, short of becoming a director, one has a chance to actually learn how the the laws governing the game work in practice.

Short of running afoul of them anyway.
Jan. 5, 2015
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That's essentially what I try to do about all distractions. Most actually are easier for me to block out because of the hearing problem.

In this case, I'm being asked to concentrate on something that isn't what my partner said, just when we're most likely to want to have a conversation.

Jan. 2, 2015
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To be precise – what causes it is any activity that distracts me from focusing on what I'm trying to focus on. Normally I deal with those by ignoring it. The problem here is that I cannot ignore it. Doing the tasks means I'm paying attention to it.

Now you say, “Really – How much distraction can sorting cards be?”. For most people it's none. For me prior to age 26, it was none.

Then my hearing went. Why does that matter when it comes to sorting cards?

A small piece of it is that if I want to talk about things while they are fresh in my mind, I need to look at the person I'm talking to in order to do that. So sorting cards I should do afterward, but then I need to make sure I don't run “over”. Thus it gives me a choice: Talk now or watch the clock.

Think of bad hearing as like a computer having a bad network card. It will ask for re-transmissions a lot, and you will see CPU utilization go up as a result. When you've got CPU to spare, the user won't notice it. I do. Most people with good ears don't realize how much data they hear and discard. I don't know if what I'm kinda able to hear even *can* be discarded so this process steals brain cycles. I'm not sure I can adequately do it justice to people who don't experience it. As an experiment, one day, play a session with 100db rated earplugs and see how “mentally tough” one needs to be to do it. Then add a non bridge related 15 second task after each hand, but one that involves the cards you just played, and see if you think it might impact you.

Jan. 2, 2015
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Oh I've got that in spades hearts and the minors. Try to throw me off my game and I can easily ignore you. Hearing loss is wonderful for that. It also keeps UI away too.

It's not small things. It's the particular type of small thing. See other comments as to what i'm referring to here.
Jan. 2, 2015
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Yeah, I can see that. It doesn't bother me as much as sorting the next player's cards for him, but it's the same sort of issue. Really though, they should get the director or a caddy to play the dummy's cards.
Jan. 1, 2015
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I've seen E/W need to sort cards for the people behind them too.
Jan. 1, 2015
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It's not that I'm afraid it might be impacting my scores. It's that I know it is because I've tracked it. If I was expected to do it all the time, I wouldn't mind it. It's something I could autopilot through. Doing that might actually be the solution for me.

My issue is that with the hearing loss I have (I'm probably looking at a cochlear implant within a year), if I need to have any sort of discussion with partner, I need to leave the area so he can speak loudly enough for me. I do this quite frequently. Heck, if I had the blind partner at my table, I'd really hate it because we always have issues keeping up with the play and not because we're slow. We just don't have a warp drive. Our maximum speed is simply lower than anyone else's simply because reading braille is a slower process than visually. Throw us a slow pair and we're going to have a problem.

So as you can see, I really do sympathize with people who need accommodations. I need some myself, and I'm a bit of a specialist at providing them for others. It's just providing this one is a bit of a problem for me.

All I say is that if it doesn't bother people as much as it does me, can I have one of them do it instead of me? Put blind people at my table and I'm fine where most people go nuts when the dummy is close to the declarer so he can read the braille cards.
Jan. 1, 2015
Joe Hertz edited this comment Jan. 1, 2015
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Oh I dont doubt it's easier for other people than it is me. It really does impact my scores when I do it. If it didn't, I wouldn't mind at all. If I did it all the time, I wouldn't mind at all.

Heck, when I had a blind partner, all the things he needed me to do I did without thinking about it. I'm just a creature of habit, and it impacts me. If it didn't, I wouldn't care. But it does.

So far, when I've swapped seats with partner so he could do it, nobody has looked at me funny.
Jan. 1, 2015
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But if you don't use the same UI (or at least offer one that's easy to those who know the old one), you wind up with a learning curve for the users who are going to have to adjust, and the demographic we're talking about is the most likely to have a rough adjustment period.

The basic premise of, “Here's the old code. Now rewrite it” to me more than implied they wanted the old UI preserved, just made prettier. What other conclusion can you reach when the original programmer thinks that giving you the code makes it “obvious” as to how the program works?
Dec. 31, 2014
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I once was defending a grand slam when the declarer asked me about our defensive signals.

Thank goodness my partner couldn't stifle the laugh.

I had this vision of being accused of giving declarer MI when I told him what the agreements were on our card were when I knew that all bets were off, or of giving partner UI by saying something like, “You're kidding, right?”.
Dec. 27, 2014
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I'd submit the agreement to not signal at all, means you actually have an agreement to typically play the lowest card you can afford to pitch.

If they want to claim, “No, we want to discard any card we want. It confuses the declarer”, I'd say no on the basis that wouldn't be “non-destructive” treatment. You can do it when you think it's appropriate, but you can't have that agreement to do it.

And once they understand the significance of that little distinction, I'd explain to them what a unit recorder's job is and how player memos work. The choice is theirs :-)
Dec. 26, 2014
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One of my first duplicate bridge partners was Eddie Timanus, the blind man who became a 5 time Jeopardy champion. I happen to have a very severe hearing loss (Our CC has a general approach of “Bid No Evil”). If you google “Timanus, Hertz, bridge”, you'll find a NABC daily bulletin about him.

What I did (and I have a good amount of practice in modifying all sorts of board games for the blind) was buy 36 decks of Les Cartes cards from Baron Barclay and 36 of their elcheapo duplicate boards. High quality cards and low quality plastic boards are the truth and the way here as the wear and tear on the cards is an issue.

We also use an electronic bid box. It has a low rez LCD screen and runs off of a 9v battery. Baron Barclay doesn't sell these anymore, which is shame because this helped immensely. You need these to accomodate those who can't hear well, and there's a lot of us in the bridge community. The particular box Eddie used needed no modifications whatsoever for his use.

We had a serious problem when most of the clubs in our game went to machine duplication. At the time, none of the machines could accomodate the braille cards. Home-made braille cards are created with a slate and stylus, so there are indentations on the corners where the dots go, and many machines cannot read the cards through them.

It's my intent that once our unit's charitable foundation is up and running to donate these cards to it, with the understanding they will always have them duplicated and ready to go if someone wants to play at one of our clubs and would need their use. I'd like to see all units do this.

Dec. 23, 2014
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Do tell about the dealing machine. Braille cards come in two flavors. Ones you purchase and ones you create. The ones you create yourself actually have tiny holes punched in the back. They arent visible, but they can mess with some dealing machines.

I've seen ones that can handle them, but it would be nice if there wa a list of those that could handle them. See my comments below.
Dec. 23, 2014
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It cuts both ways I find. If they didn't think it through completely then those costs might make them punt once they realize the gravity of the situation. If you can see them coming (and really, anyone should have) you lead them far enough down the path to make them realize “My g-d, what have I done??” and budget accordingly because you *know* it's going to happen. Then they like you for being understanding.
Dec. 21, 2014
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Just give me credit as I'm the one who coined it :)
Dec. 21, 2014
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Dumb question for Jeff Lehman-

Does the ACBL actually have a fiduciary duty to its members? I'm not an expert and I honestly do not know. Its a non profit. It doesn't have stockholders.
Dec. 21, 2014
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If you don't mind me asking, how did you handle any “buffer underrun” conditions when you ran out of things to do while waiting on a spec? You still gotta pay your people, right?
Dec. 21, 2014
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And Mark Cuban gets fined all the time by the NBA.
Dec. 21, 2014
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The TD's are not too old to learn Excel. Nobody is. They may not know excel and they have to learn it. Knowing Excel becomes a job requirement. Heck, if you ask me, competency in excel is a workplace survival skill.

He who has the gold makes the rules. You pay your employees. You make the rules and a new one is: MS Excel competency. In this day and age, that's hardly an outrageous thing to expect. If it is, you are doing a disservice to your members.

If your people don't know excel and will complain about the need to learn it, then you bring in someone like me to train people in it, say at TDU.

You can't expect new software to let you continue to do business in a prehistoric manner. To take it to an extreme, would you buy a 3D printer to print out carved stone tablets, simply because that's how you've kept your writing for the last millenia and you need a way to be correspond with people who dont?
Dec. 21, 2014
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Yuan,

It's difficult to predict this going forward. Every customer in this position deals with the grieving stages differently. And as common as the situation is, the vendor's degree of culpability varies. Some people will promise anything to get the job. Some people try to manage expectation knowing that the guy who promises anything will beat them out.

*Usually* the vendor who won the job in this sort of debacle is guilty of either not managing those expectations or not understanding what the customer wanted before agreeing to provide it or both.

In this case, I don't think any of these things are true. Nicolas Hammond's comments made me wish I had not run away and offered to sub myself out to him. Heck, I'm downright admiring his work from afar. If everything I'm coming to understand is correct, he did a better job than I ever imagined anyone doing in his position, and I mean anyone. I want to know how he did it. Really. I'm envious of that ability.

If he missed anything, it was to the degree of how poorly the ACBL was prepared to meet its obligations to provide specs to him (like in bridge, there's only so much wizardry one can do on their own end).

I felt then and I still do that the first thing that the ACBL had to do write design documents and specs. You can't price a job or even give someone an estimate of how long it will take to do unless the job is specified. I'm going to guess that Mr. Hammond did an epicly good job of explaining that risk to the ACBL because he has a product that is in many ways good to go.

So to answer your question: If the ACBL now has those specs (I assume so) and will finish those specs they never turned over, I'd hope they'd try try again with someone, anyone. The hardest parts of the job on their end I'd think would be close to completion. The parts they didn't anticipate need to be thought through this time.

I'm guessing they want to hire people to write such an app in-house (This pains me because I totally think they found a gem in Mr. Hammond and they don't realize how good they got it. I ran from the job because I couldn't have pulled it off, and doubted anyone could. Now I want to know what he knows that I don't.)

If that's the case, I'm mighty annoyed with them for blowing 1.9M of our dues and sanctioning fees. I'm going to be vocal for the next few years if there is any increase in fees that impacts me, J Random Bridge Player.

If the code ownership was the issue Mr. Hammond says it was, I can only say “*facepalm*”. Nobody writes custom software without giving themselves a license to use the code they write on non-competing applications. Nobody but nobody will do that. Worse: Such a provision is totally unenforceable. If you knew enough about software to know if your vendor violated that provision in other apps they wrote, then you know enough about software to have written the application yourself. Since you didn't, you don't, and they can ignore you on this part of the contract if they want to. Do they? Dunno. I don't accept restrictions like this.

As far as a rollout goes, nothing Mr Hammond said about the TD's use of ACBLScore surprised me. The only way to roll out a new product like this with the unique userbase the ACBL has, would be in parallel. You stop or slow down development for fixes on the old one, and if you as a CD or a TD want the new features everyone wants or eventually will have, you adopt the new one, learning curve be damned. Eventually you start sticking an additional fee onto business carried out with the old application, just like the ACBL does with people who insist on matchpointing by hand in this day and age (I've played in a club that does that as recently as 2012).

Time, only runs one direction. Like a river. Including that one in Africa.
Dec. 21, 2014
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