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Offline Gil R. Major  
#76 Posted : Tuesday, July 31, 2018 8:12:27 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Brad Go to Quoted Post
.... Everybody has a smart phone at competitions these days. Brad


Brad, I personally know several of our members, both young and old, who still carry flip phones or something a far cry from a smart phone; I was flying with one this weekend. He is a very good judge through Advanced and with a little work Unlimited, but his phone will make calls and send text, nothing more.

I am NOT nay saying your idea, but to rely on competitor equipment for event judging success is setting the CD up for failure.
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Life is about choices and accepting responsibility for those choices!
Offline Brad  
#77 Posted : Tuesday, July 31, 2018 8:31:43 PM(UTC)
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I'm not saying an individual HAS to use their own phone. But I also know that inexpensive tablets exist (I have a $90 Best Buy special that would work perfectly). And there are always exceptions. My point being is that there are so many network connected devices available today, that to rely on a specialized "unitasker" does not make economical sense, particularly at the current price point. I can buy a laptop and four Ipads for less.

Brad
Offline Vicente Bortone  
#78 Posted : Wednesday, August 1, 2018 9:59:12 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Brad Go to Quoted Post
I'm not saying an individual HAS to use their own phone. But I also know that inexpensive tablets exist (I have a $90 Best Buy special that would work perfectly). And there are always exceptions. My point being is that there are so many network connected devices available today, that to rely on a specialized "unitasker" does not make economical sense, particularly at the current price point. I can buy a laptop and four Ipads for less.

Brad

The USA pattern system (Peter Vogel's) can use any system that can run an app and wifi capable. Well Peter could explain better. Actually pilots can joint the patternscoring during contest and see the contest results live in their phones or tablets. Also they could click over their name and see the scores as soon as the judges finish sending the data. Well again Peter can explain with a lot more details.

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Offline Brad  
#79 Posted : Wednesday, August 1, 2018 10:48:22 AM(UTC)
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Seeing results currently exists with Score. The issue is directly inputting scores by the judges. Pete’s system uses a dedicated controller. I’m advocating for a more open software input from available devices at significantly lower cost.

Brad
Offline Vicente Bortone  
#80 Posted : Wednesday, August 1, 2018 11:44:26 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Brad Go to Quoted Post
Seeing results currently exists with Score. The issue is directly inputting scores by the judges. Pete’s system uses a dedicated controller. I’m advocating for a more open software input from available devices at significantly lower cost.

Brad[/quote
This is my understanding. Peter could explain the details. I believe that the controller could be any as long as you install the app and the device has wifi capability. I remember doing that with my phone and I could if I wanted judge from my phone. I think the reason having Pete's controller (game controller) is that you have actual push buttons and not software buttons. It is similar to video game. It is just easier when you need to respond fast having actual push buttons. Again it is similar to a video game.
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Offline Vicente Bortone  
#81 Posted : Thursday, August 2, 2018 11:25:38 AM(UTC)
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Probably all would like to see pictures what I got in the I-phone.
Image-1.png (78kb) downloaded 9 time(s). Image.png (100kb) downloaded 7 time(s).
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Offline Vicente Bortone  
#82 Posted : Monday, August 13, 2018 10:07:39 PM(UTC)
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For some reason, despite jumping through all the hoops (and even joining IMAC!) I don't have permission to respond to the scoring thread... Can you post for me? response content follows:

Thanks Vicente for pointing me at this thread!

I have read this thread with interest, as well as an article in a recent IMAC newsletter that Vicente forwarded me regarding your plans to build your own electronic scribe system.

I’ve seen several comments here, and in the newsletter article, about the cost of the system we use in pattern. As the developer of the scribe part of that system (Scott Smith built the PC-based scoring app we use, MasterScoring, that the scribe interfaces with, though the scribe was originally interfaced with an Excel-based (.NET extended) scoring app that was originally built by Gordon Anderson, but re-written in modern VB.NET by me) I thought I’d share how we got to the system we have, in particular, the key learnings and adjustments I made along the way.

You may also be interested in this article I posted to LinkedIn a while back regarding my experience building the scribe system: https://www.linkedin.com...-in-12-years-intuit-com/

I apologize for the length of this post, but hopefully this will give you some idea as to the thinking and effort that went into the current system’s design so you can make a choice as to whether to build your own or whether you want to work with me to make the existing system work for IMAC. Regardless of the choice you make, I would be happy to help in any way I can.

The easiest way to explain the system is to go through the current system and why I chose the configuration I did. The current system was designed to support a local contest (or a single NATS site) flying 1-3 flight lines with 2-7 judges on each line, with a local pattern contest typically running 2 lines with 2 judges per line. The $2500 I charge an NSRCA district just *barely* covers the costs if I’m lucky and can get refurbished iPod Touch devices. This is intentional — I’m not in it to make money on it, I’m in it to improve the sport of Pattern (and, if you want, IMAC…). For larger contests, you really just use more than one "kit"...

The essentials:

8 iPod Touch devices — this allows 4 to be in use and 4 “hot spares” in case something goes wrong. This was really important in the early days, and before I got to a full understanding of the overheat issues. These days you could easily get away with fewer “hot spares”. But having 8 is really nice when the kits come to the NATS and we have 3-7 judges per line. I try to get these as refurbished devices to save about $100 per.

8 game controllers for the iPod touch, with lightning connector, etc. These used to be really expensive at $90+ each, they now sell for about $15 each. They are an *essential* part of the system. I tried, I really, really tried to make a touch-only interface, especially when I was initially working on the system and game controllers didn’t exist for apple devices or, later, were hugely expensive. Fundamentally, touch controls require the user to LOOK at the device, which kind of defeats the purpose, because you are supposed to be looking at the plane! I tried various forms of touch-gesture (swipe down for a deduction, swipe up to undo a deduction, swipe right to go to the next maneuver, etc.). That got closer, especially at home or in restaurants with a bunch of other pattern fliers trying it. But in field conditions (dry, sweaty, etc.) really watching a plane, etc. those touch-based interfaces started failing — turns out, capacitative touch is great, until it isn’t. Dry hands, sweaty hands, etc. all affect the reliability of a touch interface. It simply was NOT good enough. The first time I put a game controller in someone’s hand, it was magical, it was completely intuitive to them and they never needed to take their eyes off the plane once the pilot announced takeoff.

The choice of controller I made wasn’t an accident either — I needed a controller that could be charged while charging the device that was attached so that battery failure would never cause an issue with the scoring. Some of the early controllers I tried used a bluetooth-only connection to the iPod/phone device — these were simply NOT reliable enough, clicks would be missed! Not a big deal playing a twitch game where missing one or two clicks just meant you fired your weapon two fewer times, but a huge deal where missing a click missed a deduction and distracted the judge. The controller I chose uses the lightning connection for a largely rock-solid click reliability. It also has some of the highest quality buttons available in a game controller. Some of the cheaper android controllers or even the bluetooth game controllers for iPhones had buttons that didn’t click reliably. They were rejected.

By the way, I did experiment with several off-the-shelf android-based gaming devices (since android is much more ubiquitous and the devices were a huge savings over the apple-based system I went with) but *every* one I tried (about 6 of them are sitting in a drawer at home) had their android tightly locked down so I was unable to side-load an app onto them from Android studio. I was able to jail break one and install my own version of android, but then I lost access to the gaming buttons and it became a generic touch screen android device! As it turns out, NONE of those systems are available anymore, so I’m glad I went the route I did...

A WiFi router with wireless WAN capability — Again, my original hope was to simply use cell phones and their cellular data connection. Turns out many of our fields are in extremely marginal cell coverage areas for one or more carriers. I’d abandoned the cellular-only path before I started using game controllers, but if cellular had been an option and I’d built with that in mind, I would have gotten myself into a bind as the form-factors for phones started changing dramatically and a controller designed for one wouldn’t work with others. iPod Touch/iPhone SE form factors are popular enough at the moment that the manufacturers all support them. If Apple moves away from that form factor, I fully expect the successor to have game controllers within a few months. With the WiFi router I set up a LAN for the contest, all the devices connect to the LAN, with the scoring computer and the scoreboard connected via hardwire to minimize load on the wireless LAN. I wanted wireless WAN capability to enable real-time publication of scores to the internet (a delighter for pilots, it turns out) for those fields where I had decent cellular connection. I don’t honestly know if anyone but me takes advantage of this when scoring, but it is fun to have. I travel with a Verizon and an AT&T hotspot device with USB tethering capability to enable the router to connect to the internet at fields where one or the other carrier gets a good LTE signal. I chose a router with high power capability and 2-3 detachable antennae (as opposed to many home routers with internal-only antennae) because wide-open field connectivity is very different from home connectivity where the antenna arrangement takes advantage of some of the reflectivity of home walls, etc. By having the antennae detachable, I’m able to use 10’ extension cables with magnetic bases to lift and separate the antennae from each other to ensure the best possible signal path diversity. The problem here is not that different from arranging a 2.4GHz receiver’s antenna in an airframe, the difference is the bandwidth of signal and reliability of signal required. We also have the advantage with our aircraft in that they are up in the air with little/no physical obstruction of line of sight between our transmitters and the receivers. Some of my early contest experiences ran into a lot of trouble because of human bodies (perfect absorbers of 2.4GHz waves) in the pits coming between my antenna and the scoring devices. That’s when I started looking for ways to elevate the antenna! The router I chose also has a high-power mode which helps. I do still occasionally run into physically “thick” judges holding the controller tight in their lap — so I made sure the actual scoring of a flight has NO network dependency — the only time the network is used is during setup for a pilot and saving scores — if a judge runs into a problem they shift position and when they retry it generally works.

Two high-capacity (20,000 mAh) USB power “bricks” with 2-3 USB ports and 10’ USB cables. These supply power to the controllers, which, in turn, supply power to the iPod touches. With these bricks I can run 3 controllers per brick 12+ hours a day (with the display on on the device the whole time) and still have power to spare to run 2 more rounds the following day if I forget to charge the bricks over night.

The nice to have…

A 20” (or so) full-HD (1920x1080) LCD display with HDMI input. This provides the real-time scoreboard — again, a surprising “delighter” for pilots — being able to see their ranking instantly after they fly and as other pilots in their class fly. This also saves me the effort of printing out ranking reports after each round completes. We save paper, and blue tape, don’t have to worry about wind, etc. whipping the taped-up reports away. It’s just convenient and part of my goal of getting to “paperless”…

A raspberry pi — the cheapest way I could come up with to display a scoreboard independently of the scoring computer itself. It’s simply running Linux with the Chrome browser installed and a little script that listens on the network until it sees a ping from the scribe adapter to discover the correct contest server to open in the browser.

A printer — I chose the HP Envy series of printers because they were small enough to pack into an airplane-legal pelican case along with the scoreboard. When I did my initial interviews of what was “important” to pilots about scoring, one of the things I heard repeatedly was the ability to see the scores the judges gave them “right away” (at a pattern contest before the scribe, the judges generally handed their score sheets to the pilot after they landed and the pilot brought the sheets to the scoring tent to be recorded, we then hand-entered the scores, printed a tear sheet, cut the score sheet’s round strips off and stapled the tear sheet with the round’s scores together so the pilot could audit our hand entry of scores and old scores would not be visible to judges in future rounds using the same score sheets). My original thought, and part of my thinking regarding the printer choice, was that I could use AirPrint from the device itself to print the equivalent of a “tear sheet” — but that turned out to be unnecessary, the pilots were happy to get a single sheet of paper with their scores (and analysis of their scores as a bonus from the scoring app!) handed to them as they walked off the flight line thanks to the instant transfer of scores to the scoring computer from the judge devices.

Any printer will do, it doesn’t have to be the one I chose for the bundled system, I just chose to optimize for compact travel size…. You can get smaller printers, by the way, but those aren’t designed for the kind of volume we print at a contest and I’d be constantly swapping print cartridges or pumping more paper into the printer.

This remains the LAST use of paper in the system. I’d LOVE to be able to simply text a score report to the pilots, but, that requires a good cellular connection…. I’m open to good ideas here! I thought about letting people connect their own devices to the wireless LAN, and just going to the scoreboard service and clicking on their name (you can see a report if you visit patternscoring.com, go to any contest and click on any contestant) but that turns out to be problematic when you get too many devices connected the ones that really matter can get starved of critical bandwidth…. It might be less of an issue after my re-write of the system before the 2017 NATS, but I haven’t tried it yet…

2 HPRC Pelican-like boxes with custom foam inserts from mycasebuilder.com (by the way, if you want a custom transmitter case, these guys can do an amazing job for you!) to transport and protect all of the above equipment, along with miscellaneous cables, antenna magnetic extenders, etc. The cutouts also ensure a level of “tool control” to ensure we have everything packed up at the end of a contest.


The software side

If you folks do decide to go down the path of designing your own scribe system, do NOT underestimate the effort involved! While my initial prototypes were built in well under a 100 hours of effort, getting it to “field ready” at a contest was another story entirely! At this point I’ve completely lost track of how much time I’ve invested into just the scribe side of the system, but it’s definitely well over 5,000 hours and quite possibly more than 10,000 hours. I’ll share with you the major components of the system:

The iOS application running on the iPod Touch — this has probably seen the least additional effort over time, once I had a relatively intuitive interface for judges to use, etc. not a lot has needed to change, just a few tweaks here and there and then a major rewrite of how it interfaces with the scoring database before the 2017 NATS. About 30,000 lines of code (mostly objective-C, some newer stuff in Swift). 9 major interface screens.

It’s important to understand that the scribe itself knows *nothing* about the maneuvers to be flown or the classes, etc. it gets all of that from the scoring bridge, which, in turn it gets from the scoring application. So voice descriptions of the maneuvers to be flown, etc. all come from a single source of truth. This makes this part of the system able to easily adapt to just about any similarly scored discipline. The only thing currently “hard-coded” is scoring by 1/2 points (or full points) and a score between 0 and 10, but even that can be easily adjusted. In fact, this year I added a configuration to tell the system whether it should score in 1/2 or full points to accommodate the changes from F3A.
The “scribe adapter” running on the scoring PC — This is the “bridge” between whatever scoring application (MasterScoring for pattern, Score! for IMAC if y’all decide to work with me on this) is needed for the contest discipline and the iOS devices. I’ve re-written this a couple of times and I’m quite happy with the current state of its reliability. I’m still considering a few “Administrative” features for it in the future, but it serves its purpose well. A version of this is also what runs https://www.patternscoring.com, so it’s multi-purpose. This is a NodeJS app running in the electron shell on the PC so it behaves like a normal windows application and has full access to the PC’s file system. This reads a file written by the scoring software that describes the contest (the classes, the sequences people are flying (along with the maneuver descriptions, etc.) and stores it all away in a database for rapid access. It watches that file for changes (i.e. a new contestant added) and updates the database and sends a ping over a web socket to all the connected scoring devices to let them know they need to update their view of the contest. It also reads an exported version of all the standings reports from the scoring software to update the scoreboard. It provides an API and a web socket layer for the devices to get updates and to send scores. When new scores are received, it writes out a file to a location defined by the scoring software’s configuration file. The scoring software watches for new files in that location, reads, and processes the score files and renames them to .processed. I also write out a second copy of the scoring files to another location, which enables me to re-process scores if needed by copying the file from the backup location to the primary processing location. This is also used at the NATS to transfer scores from site 1 to site 3 and site 3 to site 1 when a class’ flights are split across the two sites.

The scribe adapter exposes a standard web server which is how the raspberry pi displays the scoreboard (it just runs a script that looks for a regular ping from the adapter advertising itself and the contest it is serving, once it finds that ping it opens the chrome browser to the appropriate address).
MongoDB — an industry-standard, platform independent (runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, even Raspberry pi!) NoSQL database. This is the database I mention that the scribe adapter uses.


Earlier versions of the scribe adapter and the scribe software on the iOS device relied on the iOS device having a direct connection to the database maintained by the scribe adapter and then just pinging the adapter to let it know scores had been saved. This turned out to be a bad idea — the low-level database connection protocol over TCP on the wireless LAN was simply not reliable enough — small errors could cause unexpected crashes, etc. Switching to a pure http(s) interface and a JSON API structure eliminated virtually every source of device lockup experienced in the early days. I’ve run entire contests at this point with not a single error on any device. In fact, we ran the NATS this year and last year with no device errors until we had ONE this year on the last day when the laptop in the scoring trailer got hot and glitched. That problem was resolved in <15 seconds. It doesn’t obviate the need to keep the wifi connection as reliable as humanly possible, but it does help letting the https stack resolve network issues by itself.

If we were to interface Score! to the scribe adapter, I’d love to move away from a file-based interchange to an API-based interchange (the scoring app talking to http://localhost, and the scribe adapter talking to http://localhost:8080 or something along those lines) but either way can be made to work cleanly.

Now, I know Aresti is more important to IMAC than it is to pattern — I *did* build a feature into the scribe to allow the judge to view the Aresti (hit the pause button on the controller) but that had two downsides:

The whole point is for the judge to NOT look at the device, showing Aresti kind of defeats that purpose :-). I did show a couple of IMAC judges how to do it and they liked it, but it still felt weird. I also wanted the pause button for another purpose (repeat the maneuver call in case the judge needed a reminder or in case they interrupted the call with downgrades…)
The Aresti images were built into the software, that meant I’d need to release a new version of the app when sequences changed. Extracting the Aresti images from our sequence Aresti PDFs was also a huge pain. If I were to do it again, I’d make the scoring app (or the adapter) have access to the aresti images and serve them up over the LAN. It might be slower, but it would maintain the flexibility of the app to support any sequence at any time.


I’m totally open to discussing the best way to support visual display of aresti, but I don’t actually know how one would judge effectively from visual aresti…

Again, my apologies for the length of this post, and for letting this thread go as long as it did before I responded — that’s partially my procrastination and partly that the account verification link for your forums took a long time to reach my gmail account and then the link enclosed in that mail led to a server crash on the IMAC site, and then, even after verifying my account, I didn’t have permission to post!
thanks 6 users thanked Vicente Bortone for this useful post.
pvogel on 8/14/2018(UTC), Chuck Edwards on 8/14/2018(UTC), Silver Fox on 8/14/2018(UTC), Ray Morton on 8/14/2018(UTC), Alex Dreiling on 8/14/2018(UTC), Highonthai on 8/17/2018(UTC)
Offline Chuck Edwards  
#83 Posted : Tuesday, August 14, 2018 1:27:46 AM(UTC)
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Thank you for posting Peter!
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Offline Doug Pilcher  
#84 Posted : Tuesday, August 14, 2018 6:24:25 AM(UTC)
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Yes thank you Vincente. I verified that Peter is in system now, and awaiting an IMAC number which will allow him to interact in this forum directly, which is placed in a "Members Only Section". I am sure Phil will get him an IMAC number assigned shortly so he can interact directly.

I do not want any of you to think I am dragging my feet here. I do need World's to be complete before I bite into this task of research and avenues best for our needs. Just too few hours in the day currently with World's but September 10th ish is approaching fast. I will dig in after that time.
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Offline Brad  
#85 Posted : Tuesday, August 14, 2018 6:58:39 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for the update and explanation of how the system works, Peter. I really do appreciate all the hard work you've done, and I hope that IMAC can move in this direction.

Personally I would love to see up be able to adapt this approach to scribing to the current IMAC Score program. Just a couple points I would make, but I am by no means the authority. Regarding adding the visual arresti to the scribe, I see very little long term value in that approach. As a judge, I hold the arresti form UP next to the plane as I'm judging, so I have the visual easily available for a quick look if I need it.

With that in mind, I am fond of just using a single tap the screen for a 1/2 point deduction, and a swipe left to go to the next maneuver. This allows for single handed operation of the scribing device. With the arresti in one hand, there is no need to "pause" the device or repeat the call. If your interface provided that minimal functionality, it would probably work quite well for me. I did read your section about why the touch screen interface didn't work, and I believe that problem was exacerbated by trying to load too much functionality in the scoring device. M y personal experience has been just using a simple counting application (Tally Pro) that I have adapted the counters to only count down when the screen is tapped. I hear the deduction over a head phone. When the maneuver is done, I swipe right to go to the next counter. I can either show the counter to the scribe, or just wait to the end of the round for that pilot to record the scores, Having a way to electronically send those scores to the scoring computer would be great.

As far a display of scores, I also use a Raspberry Pi and a flat screen tv, The Pi makes a great local area web server that pilots can connect to. The Score program has the ability to write the reports files to a separate directory, which just points to the web server directory on the Pi. Having Score update the reports after each pilot scores entry would be pretty easy to automate, and probably wouldn't require a lot of new coding.

I understand the android issue you raised, but I would love to see a way to use a simpler, less feature rich, touch screen interface that is less platform dependent. I am quite certain that that would give us a more economical, robust approach that addresses many of the common complaints about our current scoring process.

Brad
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Phillip Vance on 8/14/2018(UTC)
Offline tl3  
#86 Posted : Tuesday, August 14, 2018 3:47:56 PM(UTC)
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I am not going to pretend to understand much of what Peter wrote, I'm still waiting for the computer fad to end...
Be that as it may, Peter, thanks very much for jumping in (via Vince) and adding to the discussion, your system sounds very promising. Seems to me if there is a way to integrate IMAC's score and the hardware system you've developed, we'd be in a great place...but I'm a self admitted techno-phobe, so forgive me if that's not a feasible option.
t
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Vicente Bortone on 8/14/2018(UTC)
Offline Louis A. Matustik  
#87 Posted : Friday, August 17, 2018 1:07:40 PM(UTC)
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Guys,

I recently flew in a pattern contest and found the scoring system to be pretty good. It was user friendly (and I also am not a techno person) and easy to get familiar with as a first time user. It offers a significant advantage of stating the maneuver to be judged audibly thru an earpiece witch allows you to never have to take your eyes off of the plane being judged. The considerations that I saw were that it did have significant monetary cost and required the time and effort of someone to maintain and transport the system to events. Overall I think that it is something that IMAC should try to piggyback off of the pattern experience which has many similiarities.
Just my thoughts,
Lou Matustik
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Offline Manrico Mincuzzi  
#88 Posted : Friday, August 17, 2018 4:00:22 PM(UTC)
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In Italy we introduced the use of Noutamatic since the beginning of this year. We already run 4 competitions quite successfully, including Caorle with almost 60 pilots on two simultaneous flight lines.
This technilogy has eliminated the role of the scribe and the heavy work of inputing all the raw scores.
On the other hand it has increased a bit the amount of preparation work and the need for qualified assistance during the competition, as the technology sometimes crashes. These shortcomings are due to the fact that the Noutamatic software is not IMAC specific and it has not been properly finalized yet.
If we will find the way to develop an effective IMAC version of the software, and Dan Carrol is enthusiastcallt working on this, we will really have made a great step forward in the organization of our competitions.
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