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Tutorial 4
Square Pegs, Round Holes! ... Making Volunteer Assignments


1. Loading Volunteer Data

    The registrar has been collecting volunteer data, as well as money, all during the registration day.  As mentioned earlier, by using the "Contest Ledger", "Data", "Export Volunteer Data" menus, they can write out this data in a file VolList.TXT for the VC to use in his/her program, the Volunteer Log.  One can start the Volunteer Log by going to the Contest Automation program group and double clicking the Volunteer Log icon.  You can also go to the "Contest Ledger", "Tools", and "Launch Volunteer Log" menu and accomplish the same thing.  Let's use the Contest Ledger menu route now.  Before launching the Volunteer Log, though, load the "Copperstate02.CLA" archive file and then save the "Ledger.BAK" file using the "Contest Ledger", "Backup Ledger" menu. This will give us a known order of flight saved in the backup file for the Volunteer Log to use.  Once you've done this, go ahead and start the Volunteer Log.
    Once the Volunteer Log starts up, it will, like the Contest Ledger, ask about running macros (answer "Yes" or "Enable"), ask which printer to use, and then end up with it's own splash screen (click on the logo to dismiss).  Also like the Contest Ledger, the Volunteer Log has it's own special menu on the Excel command bar, labeled amazingly enough, Volunteer Log.  Note that you'll see the Contest Ledger menu only when the Contest Ledger is active and the Volunteer Log menu only when the Volunteer Log is active.  Try switching back and forth to prove it to yourself
    If the Volunteer Log is sharing the same disk directory as the Contest Ledger, it's a simple matter to use the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Import Ledger Volunteer Data" menu to load your volunteer database VolList.TXT.  If you're networked, you'll may have to browse to the shared directory with the Contest Ledger to find the file or resort to a floppy disk.  Also, as described in Tutorial 1 for the Contest Ledger, use the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Import Judge's List" menu to import the official IAC Judge's List.  This should be done after contest registration closes, in case any judges were provisionally added to the IAC Judge's List.
    If you want to look at who you have to work with, use the "Volunteer Log", "Go To Page" menu to select the "Volunteer List" page.  This will show the volunteer's name, IAC #, flying category, safety pilot category(s) judge status, currently assigned categories, experience codes, and any volunteer comments, such as category preference (listed as "VP:<category>").  As you haven't made any assignments yet, the assignment column will be blank.  The volunteer list is sorted, first by judge status with non-judges last, and then by flying category with non-flying volunteers last, and finally by last name.  If you want a strictly alphabetical list, use the "Volunteer Log", "Sort Volunteer List" menu to select "Sort by Name" as opposed to "Sort By Judge/Category".  You can print the volunteer list with the "Volunteer Log", "Print" menu.

2. Navigating the Volunteer Assignment Worksheet

   The focal point for most of your time in the Volunteer Log is the aptly-named VolunteerLog page.  This is what is shown when the spreadsheet loads and you can return there at any time using the "Volunteer Log", "Go To Page" menus or clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the Excel window.  Return now from the VolunteerList page you looked at in the last section.
    Looking at the VolunteerLog page, you'll notice a more than passing resemblance to the IAC Volunteer Assignment worksheet.  The sheet applies to a single category that is listed in the upper left-had corner.  This can be changed using the "Volunteer Log",   "Select Category" menu.  There are spaces to enter Chief Judge, Assistant Chief Judges, 5 Grading Judges, their assistants and recorders, panel flippers, runners, and boundary judges.  There are Known (K), Free (F), Unknown (U), and 4-minute Freestyle (4) entries for each available position.  This page functions as both a data display and entry form; the names are selected from the list of volunteers, checked against the Judge's List (where applicable), checked against the other assignments to avoid double-booking, and checked against the volunteer's flying category to insure availability. If the entry passes muster, it will be recorded in a separate, hidden, database sheet.  Thus the data entered and shown in the VolunteerLog page is a representation of an underlying database, as opposed to the actual saved data.  This will explain any apparent delays in changing data in the sheet; you can monitor what the program is doing by watching the Excel status bar in the lower left corner.  Like the Contest Ledger, Volunteer Log data can be backed-up (in a VolLog.BAK file) or archived (in *.VLA files) using similar Volunteer Log menus.  
    Oh well, enough of the grand tour.  In the next section, we'll start filling out the sheet.

3. Making Assignments

    Let's start with a clean sheet ... go to the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Clear Log" menu.  This erases almost all data in the log, including assignments and volunteers, but keeps the IAC Judge List data.  Then reload the volunteer list through the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Import Ledger Volunteer Data" menus, loading the "VolList.TXT" file.  Select a category to start with using the "Volunteer Log", "Select Category" menus.  At this point there are two main methods to make your assignments: 1)manual and 2) semi-automatic.  In the manual method:

  1. Sort the volunteers by Judge/Category, ("Volunteer Log", "Sort Volunteer List", "Sort by Judge/Category"),

  2. Print out the Volunteer List and a blank Volunteer Log ("Volunteer Log", "Print", select "All" Categories, and check "Volunteer List" and "Master Volunteer Log"),

  3. Figure it all out and pencil them in (apply the usual VC magic here, using the volunteer information on the Volunteer List in place of the usual volunteer slips)

  4. Sort the volunteers by Name, ("Volunteer Log", "Sort Volunteer List", "Sort by Name"),

  5. Select the next category you want to input ("Volunteer Log", "Select Category"),

  6. Open the Volunteer Selection Window ("Volunteer Log", "Show Volunteer List"),

  7. Check the "Insert Name into All Flights" box

  8. Position the cursor on the first entry on the Volunteer Log page (Chief Judge)

  9. Find the desired name in the Volunteer List window and double-click it ... it will be entered and the cursor will automatically move down to the next position on the Volunteer Log (Judge #1).  The cursor will move over 1 column and back to the top when it reaches the bottom of the page.

  10. Repeat step 9 until all entries are made (you can skip over log entries by moving the cursor to the desired next position in the log)

  11. The program will complain if: a non-current judge is used in a judging position or an already-assigned volunteer is entered again in the same flight or a Pilot or Safety Pilot is used in a category that they are flying in.  There is one exception: you can enter a grading judge also as the chief judge for the 4-minute freestyle.  The order is important, enter the judge in the grading position first and then the chief position second.

  12. Save your work with the "Volunteer Log", "Backup Data" menu.

  13. When one category is complete, go to step 5.

This method is pretty foolproof, as it utilizes the tried and true methods of many years.  If the VC feels strongly about having separate slips for each volunteer to put in piles, use the "Volunteer Log", "Print" menu and select "Volunteer Slips".  If identical assignments are made for two categories, enter the first category and then use the "Volunteer Log", "Tools", "Copy Assignments" menu to copy to the second.  Any Pilot-Volunteer flight conflicts will noted and the corresponding assignment left blank.

    The semi-automatic method is similar, but skips steps 2-4 and enters the assignments directly using the data in the Volunteer Selection Window.  One thing that may aid the process is the "Priority" field:  this identifies priority candidates for assignment, based on the category they fly (or fly as safety pilot).  Volunteers flying in the "opposite" category are given the highest rating "+++", volunteers from either the "following" OR "preceding" category are given a "++", non-flying volunteers, who can be used in any category, a "+" (because they're usually limited in quantity), and all others a " ".  If you tend to use the "+++" first, "++" second, and "+" where you must (they're valuable, but limited), you will minimize the logistical hassles later and hopefully have enough volunteers for each category.  The priority system is discussed in more detail in the documentation.  Note that as all of the judge's are listed first when sorted by Judge/Category, you can concentrate on the top of the Volunteer List when assigning judges and the bottom when assigning the other volunteers.  In fact what seems to work well is to assign the Judges for each category first, and then return for the other volunteers.  Depending on the volunteer selection available, you may find that assigning +++ and + judges will work for all flights (best for logistics), or you may have to use some of the ++ judges on a second pass as well.   Try it now, starting with the Unlimited category and working your way through the rest.

     Note that this process can be speeded up by using barcodes. See the separate document, Using Barcodes in Contest Automation.

4. Checking Assignments

    Assignments are checked as you enter them, so it should be impossible to have: 1) someone listed twice in the same flight (except as chief and grading judge for the 4-minute free), 2) a pilot assigned in a category they fly in, either for themselves or as a safety pilot, or 3) a non-current judge assigned to a judging slot.  However, these are not the only issues facing the VC when making up the Volunteer Log.  Flying volunteers may have to get out to the judging line just after they've flown or get back to the flight line immediately after they've been out on the judging line.  If you used all "+++" and "+" volunteers, then this shouldn't happen as there is at least one flight program between volunteering and flying.  However, this is rarely possible, and with 3 or fewer judging line assignments (a 2-3 category contest or where one judging line does multiple categories) is impossible to achieve unless you don't use pilots as volunteers.
    Once you have completed trial assignments for all categories, we can see how getting pilots to or from the judging line will be affected.  If you wish, save your work thus far in the VolList.BAK backup file, and load the provided archive through the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Load Archive" menu, picking the archive file "Copperstate02.VLA".  Select the Unlimited category using the "Volunteer Log", "Select Category" menu.  Go to the "Volunteer Log", "Tools", "Check Overlaps" menu.  This will open a new page called "Category Overlaps" and show all volunteers flying in either the previous or following category.  These are people who you may have difficulty getting out to the judging line (previous category) or will have to expedite back to the flight line (following category).  To further prioritize these critical volunteers, use the "Volunteer Log", "Tools", "Check OF" menu.  Based on the order of flight saved in the Ledger.BAK file, this will fill in numbers showing how soon the critical volunteers will have to fly in the next category or how late they will have flown in the previous one.  Red numbers are extremely critical, identifying those who will fly in the first two flights of the next program or those who flew in the last two flights of the previous one.  Here you will see that for the Unlimited Known and Unknown, there are no major issues.  But for the Unlimited Free, Paul Reader flew last in the previous Sportsman Known and Francois Bergeon will fly first in the following Intermediate Free.  Yellow is less critical for those flying 3rd or 4th (here only Tim Allen flew 3rd from last in the Sportsman Known).  Thus you know that, when you transport volunteers out for the Unlimited Free, Tim Allen and particularly Paul Reader may be late.  When you bring the volunteers back, Francois Bergeon would be holding up the launch of the Intermediate Free, except that he's been cunningly assigned to work with the starter on the Unicom and is already positioned on the staring line.  To help interpreting the impact of the overlaps, judges (who are hard to replace) are identified with a "[Judge]", boundary judges (who take a long time to position and retrieve) with a "[BJ]", and safety pilots (who may need less lead time than pilots) with a "-> <pilot name>".  To see how the other categories fared, select a different one and use the "Check Overlaps" and "Check OF" again.  After reviewing the critical overlaps, you may wish to alter your assignments for specific flight programs.

5. Publishing Assignments

    When you're happy with your assignments, you'll need to print them out to post for the pilots and to place in the Chief Judge's clipboard.  This is simplified by the  "Volunteer Log", "Print" menu.  When the print dialog opens, choose the "Volunteer Assignments" radio button at the top; this will select printing of the "Master Volunteer Log" to post for the pilots and act as reference for the VC/drivers, "Volunteer Assignment" sheets to place in the Chief Judge's clipboard, and Category "Overlap Sheets", also for the VC/drivers.  Select the Categories desired (defaults to the last one you looked at), the quantities needed, and then press "Print".  Note that the Volunteer Assignment sheet for the clipboards asks the Chief Judge to note any changes made on the line.  The driver and/or the VC should pick this up after every flight and put any changes back into the Volunteer Log.  This ensures that the final Judge's Logs reflect what actually occurred on the judging line.

6. Adding New Volunteers

    It often happens that new volunteers will show up well after the contest has started.  However, you can't assign a volunteer to a contest job using the Volunteer Log until they're entered into the volunteer database.  You can get these latecomers into the program two ways: 1) the Registrar can enter them into the Contest Ledger using the "Contest Ledger", "Start Pre-registration" process and save a new copy of the VolList.TXT file; you then import the new file and any new or updated volunteers will be added to your Volunteer List for assignment.  2) Go to the "Volunteer Log", "Data", "Add New Volunteer" menu and enter the new person's data in the pop-up window; after that they will be available in the Volunteer List for assignment.

That's It for Now!

Eventually, you'll have to fill out the IAC Judging Logs, based on the data in the assignment worksheets.  However, that's at the end of the contest and is covered in the last tutorial.  Meanwhile, the registrar can now assemble clipboards for the first set of flights and that's the topic for the next tutorial!  Meanwhile, what have we learned?

  1. How to load volunteer data from the Contest Ledger into the Volunteer Log
  2. How to enter volunteers into positions on the assignment worksheet
  3. How to check the assignments for problems
  4. How to print out assignments for posting and the clipboards
  5. How to add new volunteers as they show up

Care and Feeding of the IAC Judge ... Making Clipboards


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