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All comments by Joe Hertz
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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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I didn't see Adam's earlier post, so this is my first contribution to the matter.

I'm a software engineer with over 30 years experience if you count my first paying gig at age 16 to write an application to automate a youth hockey league's scheduling chores.

When the ACBL asked for proposals, I considered bidding on it for about 2 minutes. Here's why I chose not to do so.

ACBLScore wasn't so much engineered as much as it evolved and did so while it was in use. As features were needed it was added to the beast. To put it in perspective, the version of ACBLScore in use today still ships with code in it that was written in order to work around a limitation of MS-DOS 3.1 (which first shipped 30 years ago this April).

As a program goes, it works well enough, but the way it was written meant there was little in the way of formal design documentation. When I asked if it existed, I was told point blank by the previous author that “What it does should be obvious, assuming you are a director”.

It was at this moment I decided not to bid. Software engineers are like hairdressers in that our worst nightmare is the customer who says, “Just make it beautiful”. Given the expectation on the ACBL's end of how the process apparently would work, I was totally convinced that anyone who won the job was doomed to failure. Whoever got the job would likely be some combination of naive (not seeing it coming), overly-optimistic (thinking he could work around this issue), or soulless (by way of not caring as long as he got paid).

If the winner was smart, he'd write the contract carefully so the inability of the ACBL to do its part would only hurt the ACBL but not himself. Even if I could convince myself to do this to the degree I thought was necessary, I still really didn't want to see the ACBL make the mistake I thought they were making. Shopping for custom software is like buying a new car: It's really expensive and most people don't do it often enough to be any good at it.

Worst of all, the original RFP asked for a fixed price estimate. Yes, they had no formal spec, no design documents. They supplied you with the source code of the original application written in turbo pascal and assembler, and wanted a fixed price for the job. This had “drink from the fire hose” written all over it. The underlying assumption was that a copy of the working acblscore's code would be all the documentation the new contractor needed. This totally screamed “we do not understand what goes into software engineering efforts. The joke is ”If it was easy to understand, it wouldn't be called ‘code’“.

But it was even worse than that. Lets say the contractor was totally naive. He'd do it for a fixed price and find himself taking a huge bath. Ever had a contractor agree to do a job in your house and have him underbid massively? If you haven't had the pleasure, you might be thinking, ”Hey I got an incredibly good deal!!“. No, you got yourself someone who will try to wiggle, whine, and squirm out of the deal because they will be losing money on it, and if they fail at that, they will try to do it as quickly and cheaply as humanly possible, customer satisfaction be damned.

So I sent Jay Baum an email on his last few days on the job explaining my concerns about the project. I've gotten quite a few gigs by being the guy who refused to bid, but by outlaying my concerns at that time I was remembered as the guy who saw it coming and tried to stop it – essentially getting paid later to try to put Humpty Dumpty back together. I was having a serious sense of dejavu. I didn't feel right not trying to warn someone about what I saw coming. My recommendation was hire someone at an hourly rate to go through the code and write the design documentation. THEN you can take bids for ACBLScore+

Based upon the very carefully worded announcements and Adam's article, my guess is that the contractor wasn't naive, and he protected himself quite well. I find the claim that the ACBL missed deliverable deadlines very believable, simply because that's what always happens on those contracts. You need X to do your job, and it didn't occur to the customer how much work their end required. That's part and parcel of the ”Make it beautiful“ perspective. I've been here and the complaint is bang on for what I would expect in this situation. If it wasn't the case, I'd expect the ACBL to be saying, ”X is missing – it was due in June. Y is missing. Z is missing they were due in September and October“. I've heard nothing like that and I've asked what's been going on. Most of the people have responded, ”It was discussed in executive session, so I can't talk about it".

The one thing I am sure about is that ACBLScore as it exists today cannot go on. It's no longer compatible with current Microsoft OS'. You need DosBox to run it. I have a feeling that it might be able to run under current OSes, but it's totally game over for it. It's been over for years.

Dec. 16, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 16, 2014
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I suspect it's going to come down to the people at club games who complained about a gadget (multi). What would they choose to have legal at their club game? Those will go on the mid-chart.

Come to a regional though, and you gotta play against the big boys. The Superchart is different. It's used in…what…3 events on the National calendar? I don't understand having it if it's used so infrequently. Maybe this is an attempt to correct this.
Dec. 10, 2014
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(how do I delete a comment? I replied to wrong part of thread)
Dec. 10, 2014
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5. The Committee discussed the possibility of creating a new chart between the Mid- chart and the Super Chart.

Loving this one. This stops the madness of having games like the 5 table Howell at the First Christian Church in North Bend, Oregon and the A/X section of the Washington (DC) Bridge League's Unit Game both defaulting to the same convention chart.

Okay, that's not quite true. They let you play Multi-2 at the WBL.

So I'm going to wildly speculate here about such a beast.

-Weak unbalanced 1NT openers (Fantunes ftw!).
-The return of the Multi-2 opener.
-All National events without a masterpoint restriction will use this chart.
-Top bracket of Regional KO's will use this chart.
-Regional KO brackets above >????< to the old midchart? Would Multi stay Mid(6) then?
Dec. 8, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 8, 2014
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I was dead serious when I said it was Schrodinger's lead problem.

I mean, sheesh Dave, let's pretend you're right and taking action ahead of time to stop a lead from the wrong hand is somehow “participating in the play”. Let's see what would follow.

Anyone whose partner has a bad habit of always leading from the wrong hand can do whatever he wants then? Worse, anyone who merely *claims* that to be the case can? He suspect it's happening, therefore he does something about it.

And hey, if my physical limitation prevents me from effectively stopping partner from making an error if I only see it coming at the last nano, then it stands to reason that a physical limitation of my partner that makes it *more* likely for him to make such an error would necessarily permit me to say “In your hand” any time I get the funny feeling that “uh oh – he's about to screw up again”, regardless if I was wrong about it (Oh, And good luck proving if I actually was wrong about it).

This interpretation, even if correct, would be totally unenforceable.

The only way to prevent that would be to say that doing it *at any time* constitutes participation in the play (which is certainly is the WBF's position). There's just no way that anything between those two interpretations can work, not unless you've got a mindreader for a director.
Dec. 7, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 7, 2014
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Two Words: Executive Session
Dec. 7, 2014
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Heck, now that I think of it, here's an even worse situation:

Declarer while correctly leading from the dummy, says to dummy, “Lead the 9 of…no wait”.

The opps can now insist on a lead of a 9. If dummy only has a single nine in it, that's the one he has to lead. So at the utterance of a single syllable from the declarer, it might be too late.

So it can go, “Lead the nine, no wait I'm in my…” and the opp can say, “I accept the lead” because it was designated and a change cannot be made in that as there was clearly a pause for thought there.

This is officially now Shrodinger's lead problem.
Dec. 7, 2014
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Meh. What part of the play would we be talking about, assuming if it's not merely to prevent a revoke?
Dec. 7, 2014
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Ed –

In the above comment I linked to an article about a partner I have who is totally blind. And I happen to wear hearing aids that are entirely inadequate for the point my hearing as decayed to. (Deadly serious. Our convention card general approach is marked, “Bid No Evil”).

I dare say expecting one to preempt partner from the moment you notice his intent to lead from the wrong hand isn't a reasonable expectation for everyone. Unless the “In your hand”/“On the board” comment on every trick *is* appropriate, and I get the feeling that most of the participants here don't think so.
Dec. 7, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 7, 2014
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Dave –

Please look at the boxed article on page one of this link and tell me it is really that simple, and that all any partner has to do is simply pay attention. What would you have Eddie do in the name of “paying sufficient attention”? Heck, Eddie keeps his hand stacked face down in his palm below the table level. He has to do that because that's the only way he can be sure he isn't exposing his cards. So how can I spot him trying to lead a card with enough time to stop it if it is out of turn?

http://web2.acbl.org/nabcbulletins/2002summer/db2.pdf

You're making an awful lot of assumptions here. I dare say that prescience on the part of dummy for declarer may be one of them. I would suggest that anyone who had that wouldn't find bridge to be very challenging though.

What about anyone with the form of Parkinsons that slows down reaction time?

In the case of the able bodied, sometimes the declarer plays quickly because his slow opps last round left him under the threat of a slow play penalty. Should he play slower at all times, even when he's sure of which hand is on lead, just in case because nobody's perfect after all?

Paying attention only gets you so far.
Dec. 6, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 7, 2014
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I'll take it as a compliment, even if a little bit of a misguided one even though I've never taken part in any discussion she might be referring to. I haven't even seen one but I've only gotten active on BW recently.

She says technology and the internet are not the enemy. She wants to take advantage of both. Yay Suzi, bring it on! See, I'm supportive. I'm no Troll!

So let me ask this – does the ACBL chime in on the BW threads where their mgmt decisions are “attacked”? I ask because trolling is the act of saying stuff to generate a response. If the ACBL doesn't ever respond to them, then the trolls sure suck (or the ACBL clearly isn't the one they are trolling).

The only way to establish that the ACBL is being trolled (and who those trolls actually are) is to respond constructively and see what happens next. Members of an organization discussing the actions of the organization on an internet based forum isn't trolling. But claiming that it is trolling *is* a straw-man argument.

My next lesson on internet etiquette terminology shall cover the topic of flounces, Ceiling Cat, and Godwin's Law (with its associated corollaries).
Dec. 6, 2014
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First off, I cannot imagine such a suggestion getting made by the stronger team. The team that believes it will win should want to go in at full strength. Nobody actually rates their teams on the basis of, “Can my bottom four beat their bottom four?”. If both teams believe they will win, neither team makes this suggestion. If that suggestion was made to me by the other team, I might actually wonder if their top pair was even available for the match so I'd be inclined to say no on gp.

Also, I can't imagine a scenario where anyone sits their best pair willingly unless you really think there is a matchup problem for your best pair. But then this question becomes a fair consideration.

I know of a pair I consider to be relatively weak, but also consider them to be quite capable of fixing *anyone* in competitive situations. If I was captaining a team against one that had them playing me, I'd put my most conservative pair against them. That might not be my best pair. My best pair would then get their other pair. But I'd also like to think that anyone I had could beat them, the question is by how much.

And if somehow that didn't dissuade me, I'd also need a scenario where carryover is irrelevant. Even if a close score gets us both in, beating them handily still has to be better, right?

So now for me to think it MIGHT be a good idea, I'd have to believe that they are being straight with me about their top pair's availability, that it improves my chances of winning, that I'm worried about being able to get that close or better score I need in a straight up battle, that the desire for carryover is of negligible concern (which in all fairness, if I think I'm outgunned, I would carryover is the least of my problems), AND that this offer only gets made if the other team feels the same way about me and mine so that they'd make the offer because the team that perceives itself as the stronger team doesn't make this offer.

So it's probably quite unlikely to happen.

If it somehow did happen…hrm. I think it would come down to that I *really* don't like feeling like I'm playing fast and loose with the laws, so in the interest of being able to look myself in the mirror, I'd suggest to the other captain that we get a blessing for such an arrangement from the DIC of the event and then discuss it with the team.
Dec. 5, 2014
Joe Hertz edited this comment Dec. 5, 2014
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Personally, I just point to declarer or the dummy on every trick that our side won.
Dec. 5, 2014
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