Fencing Technology Seminar at Nationals?

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by JS Hart, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    I was fortunate to be able to attend the Long Beach Foil Grand Prix a month ago. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to have a brief conversation with our National Events Coordinator, Christine Simmons.

    With Summer Nationals coming up quickly, and it being the closest thing to a gathering of the faithful that we have in US fencing, I had a suggestion for her and I am wondering now if any of those of you that frequent F.Net have an opinion on it (generally, IMO, opinions abound here.)

    I’ve spent an awful lot of time and effort creating, improving, and maintaining the software and hardware comprising VSM. (FYI, there are north of 1100 that have shipped thus far, whether that’s a lot or just a few is up to you to decide.) There have been several dozen successive versions of VSM (of both Standard and Tournament Version) over the last 8 years. There are now cheap/generic physical remote controllers, the (much better) VSM “Custom” Remote, the Android and iOS remote control apps. There are physical Repeater Lights and modules, the network-connected Repeater Display application, the NetManager application for monitoring and managing an entire tournament-floor of VSM strips. There’s the VSM-Fencing Time (Cyrano) data interchange protocol, the VSM-Atlas Video Ref interface protocol, and (shortly) there will be the Android VSM Video Replay app.

    It’s starting to get complicated.

    I get the impression that a lot of the more advanced features and capabilities are under-utilized as a result. And that I could do a better job of providing technical advice and education.

    So I suggested to Ms. Simmons, that if US Fencing wanted to arrange a time/location for a seminar/talk/forum/Q&A session during Nationals (likely in an evening/after-hour time slot) that I could make myself available (free.)

    Initially, Ms. Simmons seemed somewhat reticent to support the concept. However, after considering it as part of a larger “Fencing Technology” discussion that included VSM, Fencing Time, and Video replay systems, she appeared to warm to the idea. And we left it at that.

    So now it’s a month later, and Nations are closer, and I guess the bottom line is: would you (aka: the membership) want to attend something like this? I tend to think that if there’s enough demand, it could happen. But if the response is just “meh,” then probably not.

    So. Any opinions?


    J. S. Hart

    VSM guy.
     
  2. DLEE

    DLEE Made the Cut

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    I think it is a great idea.
     
  3. Mitchell

    Mitchell hi Staff Member

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    Yes, its a good idea.

    Similarly, if US Fencing ever has a conference room that is booked but sitting empty, they're making a mistake. Balking at a VSM-only thing is silly. VSM alone could probably fill a session. Fencing Time could as well. Etc..
     
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  4. Steve Khinoy

    Steve Khinoy DE Bracket

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    VSM only or Fencing Technology: great ideas both.
     
  5. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    Please video and post it - *especially* Non-Combativity. The manual refers to an optionally programming the "8" key to implement, but doesn't describe how it manifests.
     
  6. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    Yes! Many of us can't make it to SN.
     
  7. Zebra

    Zebra DE Bracket

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    Although I'm one who uses non-combativity as a tactical tool, I don't like the idea of automating it. The "approximately" in the rule is there for a good reason: if there's an action in progress as you pass the one minute mark, you don't want to halt it.

    I think low-tech is better than high-tech for keeping track of non-combativity (and remembering to be aware of the possibility). My trick is to hold out a specific number of fingers of my right hand (the hand not holding the remote): if the last touch was at 2:28, I hold two fingers down; if it was at 1:31, I hold down three.
     
  8. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    I would not mind (although also wouldn't necessary advocate) for a rule automating non-combativity like a shot clock, for benefits including standardization between events and referees, convenience for the referees with a built-in tracker on the scoring box, and clarity for spectators and competitors. Without this being an actual rule, including any non-combativity tracker in an official bout seems improper, although it might be helpful as a guideline tool for referees (as long as those refs 100% know the rule is to not call halt in the middle of a phrase) and for use in practice (my understanding of VSM is you can change the display between practice and competition modes).
     
  9. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    I was referring to manually resetting the machine after I've determined NC versus automating.
     
  10. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    This is a good example of how a seminar might be useful.

    I think there may be some misconception about how VSM "automates" NC.

    All it does is to keep a running tally of how many seconds of fencing time (i.e., clock was running time) since the last hit. At 45 seconds a yellow border appears around the clock to let the ref know it's getting close. AT 60 seconds, the border goes red. That's it. VSM doesn't stop the clock, or anything else. The rest is up to the ref. If he want's to invoke NC, then he can click the "No Combat" button (or, if the VSM custom remote has been programmed for it, pushing the "8" button does the same thing. The "8" button is what I use; feel free to use any of the other 8 "assignable" buttons on the VSM remote.)

    When the "No Combat" button is pushed, VSM will advance to the next period, reset the clock, etc. as specified in the rule book depending on where you are in the DE. It does not take away the ref's judgement or prerogative in making the call; VSM only simplifies the execution of it.
     
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  11. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    Where is the button? I haven't seen it on extant VSM-specific remotes or in your D2 manual, page 46.:confused:
     
  12. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    Let me clarify, I was referring to VSM-Tournament Version, and that click-button is just above the volume slider on the main VSM-TV display.

    Standard VSM does not have a "No Combat" button. (But it could...) It does have a keyboard command to manually advance the period: "J", and to manually force priority: ("P"), and the "T" key will reset the clock to 3:00 (or whatever your default period length is.)

    Makes more sense to use Tournament Version if your doing a formal tournament, that being what it was designed to do.

    Another good use for a seminar: feature requests.
     
  13. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    You're assuming we're using touch(able) screens. Our Division's two VSM clubs use large, high-mounted displays.
     
  14. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    hence the assignable buttons on the vsm remote. My club is also like that.
     
  15. Privateer

    Privateer DE Bracket

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    you can also tab around on the screen with the remote, similar to using 'tab' on a PC keyboard in an application/web form
     
  16. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    Using which key?
     
  17. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    The double-arrow key on the remote, normally used for flipping left and right names & scores. In the sub-menu screens it functions as the tab key.
     
  18. Mac A. Bee

    Mac A. Bee Podium

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    The sub-menus are remote-accessible by...? To which manual should I be referring?
     
  19. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    The various sub-menus such as the weapons parameters, and sound configuration. And in VSM-TV there are the score-sheets, and configuration screens. And the rest period and priority selection. Etc. Since some of the clubs have remote-mounted the monitors and made the normal Windows point-and-click interface inconvenient, there is the (rather clunky) windows tab-and-enter interface. Again, sans a keyboard and with only a remote, this is not optimal. But it can be done using the "<-->" button on the remote, which is interpreted as a tab when one of the sub-windows opens and overlays the main scoring display. [I guess I've omitted this in the manual, which I'll remedy in the next update, thanks for pointing that out.]

    At my club we use this and we also have ($30, from Logitech) wireless keyboards with touchpads when needed. We also have all the strips connected though the wifi network, allowing the iOS and Android remote apps to control any of our 9 VSM strips. The apps cost $0.99 on the app store. They also include a "touchpad-like" functionality.

    When I designed the (IR) VSM Custom remote interface, I had to make value judgements about how many buttons there should be, where they are located on the remote, etc. The trade-offs are between utility, complexity, ease of use, intuitiveness, etc. The tendency is to put more buttons and labels on the remote than can fit or be used ergonomically. Everybody has seen a "universal" tv/audio/video/garage-door-opener remote with a bewildering array of buttons labeled with indecipherable hieroglyphics. I wanted to avoid that. I tried to achieve a balance where 98% of the normal fencing functions were obvious and easy. The more "esoteric" or occasional VSM functions were accessible by programming the 9 "assignable" keys on the remote. These 9 keys are labeled with 1 - 9 on the remote, and both standard VSM and VSM-Tournament Version allow them to be custom-assigned to the less-often-used functions as desired by the user. This user assignable functionality is also expandable to any new functions or features that get added to VSM. I consider this quite nifty. And unique to VSM.

    But back to the point, which is clearly illustrated by this discussion. All the cool features in the world are worthless if the user doesn't know they exist. Hence my question"

    Is there enough interest at the National level to convince our National Office to arrange a "Fencing Technology" seminar or series?

    They won't do it if we don't ask for it...

    -- J. S. Hart
    VSM Guy.
     
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  20. JS Hart

    JS Hart DE Bracket

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    This just in...

    Looks like this is actually going to happen. Tentatively scheduled for July 2nd at 6:00 pm. Dan Berke has suggested we move it up a bit earlier if possible (like 4 pm,) since a lot of people will be out to dinner in the evening. I have not heard how much time we'll be allotted to fill; I know we could easily go on for hours. And there has been no discussion of a format to follow, as yet.

    So I hereby open the floor for suggestions...

    One option would be to give each of the presenters: Dan Berke (Fencing Time,) myself (Shawn Hart - VSM,) and Dave Blake (Video Replay) a brief period to give an overview of our perspective dominions, then open the floor for joint questions and answers.

    Another would be to divide the allotted time into thirds for a more detailed set of individual presentations, with separate Q&A after all have finished ...

    Or???

    I plan to make myself available both before and after for anybody who has more questions than we had time...

    --Shawn Hart
    VSM Guy.
     
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