TECHNOLOGY by Kimberly & Eric McCluer, March 23rd, 2018
Message on a kiosk I saw this week where you buy tickets: We are experiencing technical difficulties please see attendant!
Message I got recently when all my rooms at a hotel had confirmation numbers that didn’t match mine: The night auditor had computer issues and all the confirmation numbers were scrambled.
Message I just got when my new Cox TV box went out: We are sorry we are experiencing large volumes of callers right now due to technical issues. Please continue to try again or set up a time with a technician in 3-5 days!
Yes, this appears to be part of daily life and it is frustrating and perhaps in the past I too did not have the patience that I should have, but boy oh boy have I learned patience this season with technology. I’ve been that person who can only smile, report the issue, and WAIT and WAIT and WAIT.
As most of you know we at TOP have “upgraded” to new technology. It is a work in progress still. I’m typing this blog in an effort to share the process that we have been through, and perhaps maybe, just maybe, one more person will understand just how out of our hands this process is.
18 months ago Eric and I took a business trip to Vancouver Canada to meet with the people at Dance Comp Genie and discuss what has now become our new “system”. After 10 years on an old system it was beyond time to upgrade. Our old system was pretty much on sinking sand….nothing new could be added and the platform it had been built on was no longer supported. Kind of like going from records, to 8 track to cassettes (darn I miss those cassettes) to CD’s to MP3. At some point you can no longer buy the equipment to play it. Well, we had hit that point. Man oh man did I hang onto the paper score sheets longer than I should have, but dang if I don’t miss them every day, all day long right now. So 18 months ago we signed the papers, wrote a very large check (new technology doesn’t come cheap), and took the plunge into the dark black vat of technology h…. you know what I mean!
For 18 months we have customized, chatted endlessly with tech support, called, emailed, and trained on this new system. Problem is, you can only gain so much knowledge with “simulated” shows. So of course, we are working out the kinks as we go in real-world live situations.
We have purchased all new equipment, we have run out at competitions to buy even more new equipment, or to buy new equipment to replace the new equipment. We have done everything in our power to fix every little glitch that has come up as soonhumanly possible. We haven’t slept in 2 months, and have spent more time with tech support then there are hours in a day. Our staff has been stepping into roles and done things that are not part of their regular jobs to make it all work. While this is going on behind the scenes, and on non-show days too, we are still pumping out what I believe to be the smoothest and friendliest competition in the industry. We sincerely have done every human thing we know to do to fix issues and tame the demons inside the computers.
On a good note, it is getting there, but not without tears, bad words, and every human emotion you can imagine. Most of you have been more than kind, as most of you live daily in a technology world that is often on the fritz. We have, however, heard our share of “How can this happen at TOP?” (Answer: Because we are humans fighting machines). We’ve also heard, “How disappointing, what was wrong with the old way?” (Answer: Because the old way is not supported by the machines anymore). These comments cut to the core, because we have limited control. Imagine growing a business for 21 years from scratch, then having to hand over a fair amount of control to a machine. Any business owner knows that not having complete control of something is a significant source of frustration. In a strange way the machines control us. If they glitz, freeze, freak, slow, corrupt, disconnect, or self-implode, they take us with them.
I don’t want to be too negative here though. I promise it is a great system and we have the ability every year to make it even better…..maybe to the point where we get microchipped and scores are scanned right into the dancer as they walk off the stage. Then maybe they’ll get reviewed from a scan like the one at the grocery store, but not until you purchase credits with some form of currency that isn’t available for another month because the technical side of it hasn’t been completely worked out yet (I jest, sort of). Until then, this is our life.
We are sincerely sorry if you have been a victim of the technology monsters in anyway at TOP this year. I know other competitions are going through the same weekly frustrations. I know because we have all talked to each other as we deal with these frustrations. I sincerely hope that all that TOP does well will keep you coming back as we battle the technology monsters. I have no doubt we will win…..unless of course the internet goes down in the venue where we are, and in that case the Mother Ship has us all and we must wait to be released. If we’re lucky we won’t remember any of it anyway!
Thanks for your continued support and understanding!