My latest project

Tonight I finished my latest side-project: the El Gaucho football pool website. About 10 years ago I used to run the pool while I worked there as a busboy. I would hand out printed sheets of paper to everyone so they could make their picks each week. It was as manual of a process as it gets. Five years later I had upgraded it to a website, but it was still a very manual process because I didn’t have a database to store picks, and the players still had to make their picks on paper. I just used the website as a place for people to see all the picks. Well, that’s all about to change. Although I haven’t been involved in the pool for at least 5 years, I’ve decided to come back and run it, with the help of Jessica, and this time I’ve gone all out.

After writing out a data structure that accounted for every relevant piece of NFL schedule data in the 2014 season, I set out to build a dynamic website that would allow the players to create accounts, make their picks on the site, and track their picks, as well as the picks made by other players, right there on the site. I’m using a database to store all the picks and the whole thing has been pretty much automated. I’ve got all kinds of error checking in there to make sure that each registered user is unique, that all their picks are complete, and that they can’t view everyone’s picks for a particular week until they have entered their own picks for that week. This keeps them from having the unfair advantage of knowing the picks made by other players. I’ve also got some date checking going on to verify that the picks for a week have been submitted before the first game has kicked off.

The site, which is located at, has been thoroughly tested and verified on various laptops, tablets, and cell phones. I wanted it to be really easy and convenient for someone to be able to visit the site on their phone at the last minute and be able to get their picks in. It may not look perfect depending on the resolution and dimensions of the screen, but it will always be functional. Feel free to create an account and check out the site. I’d like to get as many eyes on it before the season starts as possible so that any foreseeable problems can be dealt with sooner than later.

With this project complete I can now start thinking about the next one, which will probably be a redesign of this blog. The problem with our current layout is that the photo banner has a really wide and short aspect ratio, making it very difficult to find photos that will fit into it. Consequently we still don’t have any photos of Elise in there. Everything I’ve tried just ends up getting cut off in a weird place. I’ve got some ideas for the new site that will work much better, so it probably won’t be too long before I get things going on that.

In other family news, it’s been a pretty quiet week around here. Amy and Tom left last weekend so its back to the 4 of us at the house. Looks like we don’t have any visitors for the next couple months so it should be a pretty laid back remainder of the summer. Jessica had a pretty exciting night on Thursday when she served Mariner’s 2nd baseman Robinson Cano and friends. We now have a very nice bottle of ‘Ace of Spades’ champagne to enjoy on a special occasion.

Ava is starting in pre-school on Monday. It’s kind of hard to believe, but there’s no doubt she is ready. It’s only going to be one day a week but it’s going to be so good for her. She needs to start making friends and interacting with more people. Of course a little part of you is sad because you don’t want to let go of them, but its exactly what she needs right now. This will give Jessica some consistent time to get her own things done so its going to be good for everybody.

Elise seems to be teething these last couple days. She’s been a little out of sorts and there isn’t much you can do for her. I’ve been proud of how Ava is starting to respond when Elise is upset. Not to say she doesn’t still walk up to Elise and bonk her on the head with a toy (a behavior that is definitely not condoned), but she seems genuinely concerned when Elise is crying and has made some really nice attempts to console her. She’s turning into a good big sister for sure.

Tomorrow is Sunday, the weather looks great, and we have nothing to do. We’re thinking about going back to the swimming pool, so hopefully that works out. Probably end up grilling something for dinner and enjoying these late summer sunsets. Happy weekend everyone.

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