Several friends of mine and I participate in a simulation baseball league. We draft players every year, and use Diamond Mind baseball to run a season off last year’s stats. My team is colloquially the “epitome of mediocrity”. Mainly because I spend so much time following technology and the occasional world events thing that I have no spare brain cycles left over to keep track of baseball.
So I make myself useful to the league by posting the webstats. And I also created a draft program for us to use. About four or five years ago, people started bringing laptops to draft day, using excel and a combination of printouts to sort and rank players. There’d be 28 rounds of 20 teams drafting, and every player would have to be marked off every sorted spreadsheet and printout.
It took forever. A few years back, I wrote a personal, but incredibly over-engineered php-based web program to make it easier for me. Last years ago, I rewrote it in rails and opened it up for everybody. This year I did it again, using it to help me figure out how to move rails apps to Rails3.
It’s a simple program, I’m a developer and sysadmin and systems architect, not a designer, it’s not pretty but it’s functional and does what needs to do: allow for a draft, allow owners to keep track of who’s available, let them specify “wanted” players, and custom rankings.
It has made everyone’s lives easier. The draft is way faster. Last year, almost everyone used it. This year, everyone did, including one of our friends that moved to San Francisco, getting up there at 6am to start the draft with us over skype. Another came in over skype from outside the triangle.
That’s what I got into this business for, to bring technology solutions to real problems (even if that “real problem” is a bunch of guys drafting players for fantasy baseball). I can’t tell you how good that feels, to be able to write an app and a tool, that does what it needs to do, something that actually takes a real-life process and makes it more productive.
That’s how it should work.