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Tutorial 1
OK, Where Do I Start? ... Setting up the Programs


1. Loading the software

    Download the "setup.exe" file from ledger.gndloop.org/downloads.  The browser will ask for a user name and password.  You should already have this, but, if not, contact us.  Save the file anywhere on your computer (so long as you can find it for the next step!).  Use your Windows Explorer tool on the desktop to browse to the place you saved it and double click the setup.exe icon.  A program installation window will open and using the "no questions asked" option will load everything you need into your default program group.

2. Starting the Contest Ledger

    We'll start with the Contest Ledger.  This provides registration functions and is the core module of the contest automation.  Use the Windows "Start" button to access "Programs" and then "Contest Automation".  Find the "Contest Ledger" icon and click it.  Microsoft Excel will start and begin loading the Contest Ledger spreadsheet.  Excel will pause to ask if it should allow macros to execute .. answer "yes", otherwise almost all of the functionality will be lost!  The spreadsheet will continue loading and eventually will pop-up a window with all of your available printers; choose the one you want to use with the program and press "OK".  Finally a small splash screen with the name, version, and logo for the Contest Ledger will appear; click the logo and you'll have a shiny new blank registration ledger ready to go.

3. Entering the Contest Data

    Before you use the ledger, several bits of vital information specific to your contest needs to be entered.  You will note that a new Excel menu item has now appeared at the top of the window:  "Contest Ledger", normally fitting between "Window" and "Help".  This contains commands to do nearly everything the Ledger is capable of; in this case we want to set up the Ledger, so we'll press "Contest Ledger" followed by "Data" followed by "Setup Ledger".  This will open a rather large window with fields for all of the variable contest data.  Start with the contest name (which will appear on all outputs), the contest location, your chapter number, and the CD's name(s).  Next there are two fields for a special award or trophy that your contest may be awarding.  Enter the name of the trophy and the criteria for winning it.  This will identify it in the awards printouts and fill out a comment that can be opened to list the criteria if a pilot asks if they qualify.  Next there are 13 field pairs that list the name and price of things you will be collecting money for.  The first three are fixed for contest entry fees: 1 - a regular fee, 2 - a different (usually smaller) fee for Primary/Basic pilots, and 3 - a special fee (normally reduced) for selected pilots.  After this are items such as t-shirts, lunches, dinners, banquets, chapter dues, ... anything with a fixed price you'll be collecting money for.  Edit both the description and amount, leaving blank those field you don't need.  When done, press "Save".  This will close the window and take you to some fields in the ledger that set the order in which you will fly the categories.  Staring with Order #1, click in the space under "Category" and select the category that will fly first. Then go to #2 and select the second category.  Do this until all categories you are flying are listed.  The rest should have "<none>" selected.  Often, you may combine Primary, a normally small category with another.  Go to the "Combine Primary with:" field and enter the appropriate category or "<none>" if it's not combined.  Press "Finish Setup" and your done!

4. Two Other Things You Will Need to Do

     Contests run on three things: Pilots, Judges, and Money.  We'll talk about Pilots in the next tutorial.  IAC requires that you use current IAC Judges for your contest.  You need to import the most current IAC Judge's List into your software, even though it ships with a current list as of the last installation upgrade.  This is important, since the Volunteer Assignment software will check any judging assignments against the list and refuse to let you use non-current judges. It will also let you check the IAC numbers of pilots and volunteers as they are registered.  To do this, go to the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Data" and then "Import Judge's List".  The program will then ask 1) "Are you sure?" (answer "Yes") and 2) if you want to pull it directly off of the IAC website (requiring a live internet connection).  For now, lets use a pre-loaded one in the Contest Automation directory ... answer "No" and a window will pop up with a file "judges_list.csv" listed.  Select this file and press "Open".  The program then load the Judges listed; you can follow the progress of this on the lower left hand side of the screen.   You may run this menu at any time before the contest when you have an internet connection and load the actual list from the IAC; it will be saved in the Contest Automation directory for future use.  You must save the whole spreadsheet only after doing this, this is the only data that is not backed-up or archived (see below).  If you have any problems with the download, contact us and we'll send the most current "judges_list.csv" file to you.
     Now for the third leg of the contest triumvirate: money.  You'll be receiving money for registration, food, merchandise, etc.  Some will pay by cash and you'll need change, unless you can convince them it's a tip.  You will have a cash box with some initial change (we put in about $200 in $20's, $10's, $5's, and $1's) and will need to reconcile with the receipts after the contest.  To start, go to the "Cash Management" page ("Contest Ledger" followed by "Go To Page").  Under "Qty Start" enter the number of bills and coins of each denomination.  This will be added up to the total you put in ... check your entries if not.  After the contest, you'll enter the remaining contents of the cash box and the difference should match the total ledger entries under "Paid Cash" ... but we're getting ahead of ourselves, that's a topic for the final tutorial.

5. Save Your Work!

      You've now filled out vital information for your contest, but this information will be lost if not saved.  You could save the whole spreadsheet, but a better way is to "back-up" the data.  Go to the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Backup Ledger", and the program will save everything you have entered in a compact text file called "Backup.TXT".  In fact, everything you will put in the Contest Ledger can be saved this way and even if the spreadsheet is changed in the future, you can still read in the "old" data into the "new" spreadsheet.  It is very easy to backup your work as you go along and this is highly recommended on a regular schedule.  In fact, you can use the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Data" and "Automatic Import/Export" to open a window that will let you schedule backups automatically.  Select "Save Backup", an interval in minutes, and "Update" to start this feature.  This will continue until you close the Contest Ledger.
     Sometimes defense in depth is good as well.  It's very easy to backup your data.  It's also easy to really screw something up and then, before you know it, backup the screw-up.  To defend against this possibility, there is a second form of backup called an "archive".  This is exactly the same file as a backup, but you are allowed to name it something other than "Backup.TXT".  Go to the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Data" and "Save Archive".  Enter a distinctive name under "File Name", such as "My_Contest_2003", followed by "Save" and this will create a backup file under the name "My_Contest_2003.CLA" (CLA = Contest Ledger Archive).  The same data is now saved, but it is harder to accidentally overwrite it. This is also how you should save your contest data for future reference.

6. What Next?

      You've now filled out vital information for your contest and backed it up two ways.  You can clear the Ledger of all information using the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Data" and "Clear Ledger".  You would restore the information using "Contest Ledger", followed by "Data" and "Restore Backup" OR "Restore Archive".  Try it ... everything will be erased and then restored.  You can access a full local copy of the documentation by using the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Help".  Quick help for specific tasks is available through the "Step-by-Step Help" item. The "Local Help" menu item will launch another browser window with the home page of the documentation.  The "Web Help" menu item will attempt to access the on-line documentation through the internet; this may be more up to date than the local version, but will only work if you have an internet connection active.  The "Data Flow" menu item will go to a different page in the spreadsheet with a fairly complex diagram of the Contest Ledger, the other programs, and all of the data files that they pass between themselves.  This is probably more information than you ever want to know, but may prove handy if you're trying to figure out what the name of some file is and where it comes from or goes to.  On the other hand, you'll probably never have to or want to look at it!  You can go back to the "Contest Ledger" page by pressing the appropriate name from the tabs at the bottom of the window or using the "Contest Ledger" menu, followed by "Go To Page".   

That's It for Now!

There isn't a lot else you can do until you start entering pilots and volunteers into the sheet ... but that's a topic for the next tutorial!  Meanwhile, what have we learned?

  1. How to install and start the software
  2. How to set it up for your contest details
  3. How to import the official IAC Judges List
  4. How to put in the contents of your cash box
  5. How to save your data
  6. How to get help

Bring 'em On! ... Registration


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