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thePyramidBlog
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10th-Feb-2007 08:58 pm - Progress and unexpected consequences
It's been two weeks since last my last post, and a lot has happened since then, though not in the areas I might have expected. The most important thing has been the arrival of my new computer, about five days early (which was nice). It's wonderfully fast, and quiet to the point that I notice the transformer hum from my speakers (which is now somewhat annoying). The upshot for the site is that I can update details instantly, rather than saving them up for a monthly update. So those visitors who send me corrections and additions will soon the site updated within five minutes of me reading the email (most of which is spent on me writing a reply)... but not yet.
I've working on the front end (the bit you see) for the ClubBase and associated league/division pages, which includes links to the LeagueMap, all generated genereated from a data file. This means any changes to a club or leagues are instantly reflected in the site's content. However, I realised that when I change certain details (specifcially, chanign the number of divisions in a league), then the whole linkup with LeagueMap will cease to work properly. So, I've spent the last few days setting things up so that the data file and drop-down selection list for the LeagueMap are genberated from the main ClubBase data files. (I hope that makes sense). 

This work means that I no longer have to manually edit anything to do with LeagueMap files. In particular, the fiddly bit of JavaScript that allows you to view "[All divisions]" in a league is now done automatically, and this is now up and running live on the website. Given that the LeagueMap started the whole ClubBase project, it seems fitting that it should be the first part of the site to benefit from the spin-offs. Other spin-offs are that the single-page structure will also be automatically generated and the Quick League Index will include summary information on a league (website, divisions, LeagueMap link, place in pyramid, links to single-page sturcture and to sectioned structure). The Full League Index is to be replaced by a page giving details for the selected division, including listing all clubs (with some related information) in that division.

Because everything is so interlinked, I can't launch any of the re-worked pages until the ClubBase itself is launched. Currently, details of 1,759 clubs are on file, about one quarter of all clubs in the pyramid. I will launch ClubBase when there are more than two thousand clubs.
27th-Jan-2007 06:05 pm - LeagueMap bug fix

Readers of this blog may have noticed that the previous post had a "leaguemap bug" tag. This was because I was originally going to post about the fact that the cascading drop-down menus weren't working. However, I thought the problem had fixed itself (my computer can get funny about Javascript sometimes, so a problem appearing and then disapearing was no surprise), and I removed the material in the post, but not the tag.
Sadly, I was wrong, and while adding the most recent league the probelm was present again... this time I (correctly) suspected somethign wrong with page. I managed to track the problem down to a missing tag that hadn't copied across when I recently re-did the layout. Incidentally, if you find the LeagueMap has changed but is no longer working, go to http://www.thepyramid.info/leaguemap/leaguemap1.htm, which will the always be the previous version of the page. (Also, email me, otherwise I may not know about the problem).

ClubBase
One of the features of the ClubBase added recently is the ability to view all clubs (with information thereon) in a given divisions. This was originally partly an experiment, and partly to obtain a quick way to check that all the details of newly added leagues are included correctly. I then added some basic information on the division )inlcuding a LeagueMap link), and the end result struck as sufficiently useful that I'm going to make it part of the site.
This has got me thinking about having a page with a simliar feel for displaying league info. I'm currently invisioning information on the league's divisions (including a a link to the above-mentioned list of clubs); a small table showing how the divisions are structured within the league, feeder / feedee leagues, as well as basic information such as website, Wikipedia link, number of clubs/divisions, level(s), etc. It should even be possible to display a ladder for the league.
The main thing stopping me from developing this is the need to produce some ASP script from the master league database, a truely enormous (and very heavily interlinked) Excel spreadsheet. This speadsheet is so enormous and complicated that it causes my ancient Cerelon 333 computer to hang up. (So any updates have to be deon on someone elses computer, which is a pain). However, this will soon change (see below)

Minor matters
 - The Northamptonshire Combination is the latest addition to the LeagueMap and ClubBase (direct links: all divisions, Premier Division, Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, Division 4). I've also added an [all divisions] option for the Surrey County Intermediate League (West) (direct link). 
 - I have a new computer on order! Only took me two attempts. After the first attempt, the company was unable to source sufficient components for this particular model due to huge demand, and so gave me refund. It does prove I have good taste in computers though. The one currently on order is £10 more expensive, has a smaller hard drive and non-wireless mouse/keyboard, and no ability to write DVDs; but has a dual core processor (same clock speed) and a better monitor. This means I can update anything league-related as soon as needed, rather than about once per month (as at present).
 - I used LJ's spell check feature for the first time today, and I think it sucks. For some reason it checks the HTML, rather than the output text, so it complains about things like "href" (HTML code used in links) and "&nsbp;" (code for a non-line breaking space that the editor put in, not me). I shall go back to the traditional method of "reading through my draft post" to find typos.
 - Finally, please add comments! Any thoughts on the site or my posts will be more than welcome.

 

21st-Jan-2007 10:22 pm - LeagueMap and ClubBase
A few minor news items today:

The Surrey County Intermediate League (West) has now been added to the LeagueMap (direct links to Division 1, to Division 2 and to Division 3). I haven't yet set up an [all divisions] option, but will do so soon. Of 28 teams, most (but crucially, not all) had their ground's post code given on the league website. That about nine did not meant I spent an afternoon tediously juggling websites to track them down. For one club (Guildford City Weysiders), I was only able to get the "area" component. (The "GU5" bit). After all that mouse clicking, my right 2nd finger knuckle joint is rather painful, so I have take to using my middle finger to left-click instead. 

The ClubBase now allows access to a team's details via a URL that is obviously club-specific.

Oh, and tomorrow I am buying a new computer. This means the Single Page Structure will get updated whenever anytyhign chnages, rather than once a month.

18th-Jan-2007 01:39 pm - Mixed matters

One of the spin-offs from the LeagueMap was that I have been aquring a large amount of information on clubs. This lead to the idea of the ClubBase, a directory for every club in every league in the Pyramid. This amounts to about 140 leagues, over 500 divisions ,and over six thousand clubs. The main difficulty is obtaining the post codes of clubs' grounds. Some leagues (such the Gloucestershire County League) are marvelous, and give this information on their website, although most don't. For some leagues (such the West Cheshire League), some wonderful person will email a list of clubs and post codes on request. For the rest... I have to try to use the ground's address to figure out the post code, which takes time. In fact, compiling the information for just one league will generally take up an entire day.

I offically plan to launch ClubBase when I have details of all leagues with their top division at level 11 or above, of which I have about two dozen left to do. However, depending on progress, I may end launching it when the number of clubs hits the 2,000 mark (which would require about another half dozen leagues, depending on their size). 

Beside the big, headline-grabbing news, this blog is also a place for me to write about more trivial matters and small news items. For example:

  • Minor news: the Gloucestershire County League is the latest addition to the LeagueMap (view map) - only 106 leagues, containing 392 divisions and about 4,800 clubs remain to be added.
  • Random moments: Why is my site so big in Korea? I get a lot of incoming visitors from this Korean-language discussion board. Any thoughts on why this is the case or translations in the comments would be apreciated
  • Opinions: it's rude not to reply to emails sent in good faith, especially as the majority of emails I send to people relating to the site require a one-line responce.
  • Trvial matters: January's visitor numbers are doing very well, and could even exceed the total for last April, the best month to date. (April/May is the busiest time of year for the site).
18th-Jan-2007 11:16 am - Welcome!
The purpose of this blog is to provide an informal way of keeping non-League fans up to date with news, changes and developments in my site. I know from my visitor stats that relatively few people look at the "News and Updates" page. A blog is easier for users to keep track of, allows a more conversational style of writing, and offers the potential for visitors to comment. I chose LiveJorunal for three reasons: it was free, it was advert-free in basic mode (which contains all the features I need), and allows non-LiveJournal users to comment.

One function of this blog will to be an extension of the "Latest news" that appears at the top of the main page. At the time of writing, this proudly proclaims that thePyramid.info is now an advert-free site. The story behind this headline is that my personal finances have improved to that statet that I no longer need to have advertising on the site to pay for hosting fees. Visitors may recall that an ad first appeared just over two years ago. This followed a unsolicited approach by the advertiser, for an amount that was roughly equal to the cost of my hosting fees (which were then coming up for renewal). As I was a poor student at the time, I agreed. 
The following year, the company offered me a lower amount, despite the significant increase in my the number of visitors to the site. I declined to renew the offer, which lead to a succesful appeal for donations to cover hosting costs. However, the small matter of VAT escaped my attention, so I ended up hosting an advert from another company. This deal has now expired, hence the lack of adverts.
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