Use of the website

All our members are registered for the website. Some make heavy use of it some very little as is to be expected. I thought that rather than writing a long report for the AGM I would post a news item with most of what I wanted to say.

Joe King, David Long, Paul Wolff and I have written most “posts”. Posts are typically news items.

Nick Butler and Peter Allan are the only two non-committee members who have written anything – though any member is able to submit a news item (after logging in of course).

Twelve of our members have logged in at least once during the last week and a further nine members have logged in over the last month.

Eight of our members have never logged in – and therefore never made a court booking. They have also been unable to see the information that is only available to members – such as the results page.

About a month ago I set up monitoring for the website to see how it is used. I have done some grouping to give the following table.

Page or Group of PagesCountComments
Home page186Most people’s way in
Login82It would appear that around half the users tried to login
Members’ Area77… and most were succesful
GC Championship Cup, Icknield Cup, Berkshire Handicap, Prebendal34Specific events
Results33General page before looking for a specific event
Calendar25Some would be logged in and some wouldn’t

List of Members
21This is surprisingly well used to get people’s contact details
Covid restrictions20This is the total for the various Covid news items
News & News Archives18
Membership16It would seem that a number are considering joining us
Contacts15
Sessions14
Profile11People updating their personal information
Open Days and Introductory Courses8
Taking Part8
Register8
Keeping personal information up to date6People preparing to update their personal information.
Using the calendar
6
Association Croquet
5
Mailing lists and aliases
5
GC Ladder
4
Golf Croquet
4
About Us4

GC Ladder

See instructions below

Instructions

A player on the ladder may challenge any player above them. A player not yet on the ladder may challenge anyone who is on the ladder or anyone who is not.

The challenge is resolved by a single 13 point level play game. After the game:

  • If the challenger wins, he enters the result in the games list with the date, his name, the losers name and, optionally, the score. The ladder will then be updated automatically, placing the winner in the loser’s position and moving the loser and all below down one place. If a game is entered between two players not yet on the ladder they are added at the bottom with the winner first.
  • Whatever the result both players must enter it on their handicap card using the level play table to determine index changes.

When a challenge is made the game should normally be played within one week. The challenger should offer a reasonable number of time-slots. If the person challenged cannot play within a week without good reason (holiday, illness etc) they should be prepared to concede the game to the challenger which affects the ladder – but there is no record to be added to the handicap card.

The ladder is fully online – and you can enter your result online from your smartphone, tablet or PC (or email David Vincent if you prefer) and the updated ladder will be visible above.

When entering results you must enter the date, the winner (from a pull down menu of names) and the loser. You may also record the score. Inconsistencies are indicated by a highlighted cell or cells with a pale brown colour. The date (which must not be in the future) can be entered in a variety of formats.

AC Ladder

See instructions below

Full ladder

Games leader

Instructions

Welcome to the AC ladder competition. All games in whatever format count on the ladder, whether full or shortened games, played to handicap or advanced rules, as well as 1-ball games. All club members are invited to get involved.

  • Playing your first game will add you to the ladder.
  • You may challenge any club member to a game, regardless of whether they are on the ladder already or are yet to play their first game. Games should ideally be arranged and played within a week of a challenge being issued.
  • Your initial ladder ranking points are set to 100, and you gain a point for winning a game and drop a point for losing. This means the ladder should remain balanced if some players play more games with other playing less. Your ladder position is determined by ladder ranking points. If a tie break is required then games won and percentage of games won are considered.

There will be an overall prize for the player at the top of the ladder at the end of the ladder competition later this season. But there will also be recognition for the player who wins most games in each 3-week period, starting today.

The ladder is fully online – and you can enter your result online from your smartphone, tablet or PC (or email Joe King if you prefer) and the updated ladder will be visible above.

When entering results you must enter the date, the winner (from a pull down menu of names) and the loser. You may also record the format of the game and the score. Inconsistencies are indicated by a highlighted cell or cells with a pale brown colour. The date (which must not be in the future) can be entered in a variety of formats.

New web pages

There are new web pages – described in a recent email telling people about mailing lists and about mailing lists and aliases. These two links require you to be logged in as they are within the members’ area.

Another new page has been introduced to show the status of internal competitions. This lists those going on this year and will, from next year, show those from previous years. This means that the news items for the Icknield Cup, the GC Championship and the AC All England Handicap which this year was renamed to the Berkshire Handicap are now all accessible from that page. I hope that this structure will be found more convenient. Our other internal competitions will appear there shortly. This page is available under “Members/Competitions” and will shortly require login to access it.

The club has reopened – but with restrictions

Our lawns are now open for pre-booked singles play (only).

While it’s vitally important that we all stay alert to the continuing virus threat, those members who wish to play may do so; recognising that it’s your own responsibility to keep yourself and others safe: in particular, we ask all members to observe the cleaning and social distancing conditions we have published . These are based on guidance from the Croquet Association and are in compliance with current regulations as published by HM Government. Copies are also posted in the clubhouse.

Up to 4 members can be present on the club grounds at any point in time, playing games of singles, with 1 game per lawn. All games must be booked through the online booking system, with each slot being limited to 90 minutes to ensure lawn availability to as many as want to play.

As equipment-sharing is not allowed, we will also be operating a loan scheme of club mallets to those members without one. Please contact me for more details of that, or for any other queries about our re-opening.

David Long, Club Secretary (07484 360169)

Video Conferencing Software


Introduction


Blewbury Croquet Club set up a group to look at internal communications. With the sudden increase of interest in Video Conferencing during the coronavirus pandemic it seemed useful for the group to see what video conferencing solutions are available and affordable. Three very important factors are video quality, audio quality and pricing all of which could change at any time so this report was only correct on the day it was published. With the recent increased use of these tools the press have picked up on some security concerns. We are not aware of major security problems with any of these tools. In all cases where costs are mentioned these are per month. All the browser based tools worked well on Chrome, and on the latest version of Edge (v79 and later – which has not been generally released in the UK yet but is available for download) and most worked on Firefox.

Solutions considered

The four of us tested: BlueJeans, Google Duo, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Skype, Webex, WhatsApp and Zoom. We will comment on each one and then make recommendations at the end. We did not try MS Teams because we did not find a way to install it and it has a reputation to be hard to install.

Tools with many features

Five tools had many features and seemed to be well suited for desktop devices as well as phones and tablets and all had a rather similar look and feel. They all offered the ability to view everybody side by side or to just show the speaker large and will others as small images. An interesting feature that some products have is the support of breakout rooms. The idea is that all, or some, participants can spend part of the meeting in small groups. These breakout sessions are normally to allow people to talk within a smaller subgroup or to work on problems in parallel and then someone reports back to the main meeting when everybody has returned. One of us has also used them successfully in conjunction with an online bridge program.

Blue Jeans

We found relatively poor video and the audio was so bad that natural conversations were impossible. There is no free version so it appears to be of no interest today. The documentation mentions breakout rooms.

Google Hangouts

This tool might be better in the next classification of simple tools. It supports up to 10 users with good audio and visual quality. It offers screen sharing but it is not convenient to use. It has no benefits over Webex. It does not support breakout rooms.

GoToMeeting

The free version is severely restricted to allowing meetings for up to 40minutes and up to 4 people. The entry level cost of £10 a month is a little less than Zoom and for £13 you can record and generate transcripts which might be useful for secretaries. The audio and video quality are comparable to Zoom. Breakout rooms are supported but in a companion product GoToTraining which is much more expensive.

Webex

The major benefit of Webex is that it is free for up to 100 people for meetings of unlimited duration. The audio, video and screen sharing facilities are almost as good as Zoom. The documentation suggests that it may support breakout rooms but we were unable to discover how to do it in the free product.

Zoom

When tested this did have the best audio and video quality. The only problem is that it is not free unless you are either having a 1:1 meeting or can fit your meeting into a forty minute time slot. For longer meetings or with more people it costs you £12 and for £16 you can generate transcripts of a meeting. This supports breakout rooms – even in the free version.

Simple Tools

Google Duo

Used from a web browser you can, today, only call one person. From a mobile app it works well and groups can be defined of up to twelve people allowing you to call everyone in that group. It claims to offer screen sharing but we did not test it. Audio and visual quality were both good.

Skype

When we tested Skype, we had considerable difficulty in getting all four of the participants connected to the meeting. One person needs to invite others to join the meeting, which is not as convenient as having each participant clicking on a link to join the meeting. We also experienced poor audio and video quality.

WhatsApp

This is limited to four people but if you are already a WhatsApp user it is very easy to use and again has good visual quality. It is however very susceptible to background noise and does not allow you to use web.whatsapp.com to link to a desktop.

Conclusions

  • If someone in the group you wish to communicate with has a Zoom or GoToMeeting licence then as these tools both work well and probably provide a better experience than Webex then use that tool.
  • If you need breakout rooms then the only affordable possibility appears to be Zoom.
  • If your meetings are 1-1 or can be kept down to 40 minutes then use the free Zoom license.
  • For a good free solution for up to 100 people with good audio and video choose Webex.
  • For a small group of up to 12 and not confined to the desktop Google Duo works well.
  • If you are in a small WhatsApp group and again not confined to the desktop then it is easy to make a video call but background noise can be a problem.

Peter Allan, Steve Fisher, Joe King, David Vincent – 13 Apr 2020

Communications Working Group

Updated 9th Feb 2020

As part of a development plan for the club, the Committee created a working group with Steve Fisher as convener charged to find out what members want to communicate within BCC and how. The group, which currently has three other members: Peter Allan, Joe King and David Vincent, will then report back to the committee with a practical course of action to give members what they want.

Communication outside the club is not within the scope of the group however it is appreciated that any website, which is expected to be a part of the solution, might also have a marketing role.

At its first meeting the group discussed whether or not it was the right size and had the right membership to be effective. It was felt that if the group were any larger it would become unwieldy. The meeting then considered a list of technologies that we use now and which includes mail lists, the phone, the web site and WhatsApp. In order to make sure that the future system delivers what members want, we are building a set of “Use Cases” that such a system must deliver.

A few words on Use Cases

Wikipedia defines a use case as a list of actions or event steps typically defining the interactions between a role (or actor) and a system to achieve a goal.  A use case is very easy to understand and, if the set of use cases is comprehensive, ensures that one can determine whether or not the proposed system will do what is wanted. The group has produced an initial set of use cases which we would like all members to examine and to see if we have missed off anything that would be useful. Normally a use case shows how specific roles interact with the system. In this case instead of a role the word “I” is used. For example the use case “I want to find players for a match” might better be written as “A team captain finds players for a match” and it is likely that we will identify roles shortly. Of course any one person may assume different roles. If a use case is expanded too much then it is describes a solution rather than the problem – which is of course to be avoided.

Current set of Use Cases

  • I want to schedule a match needing two courts – by looking for a suitable slot and reserving it
  • I want to lookup something in our “Laws” i.e. constitution
  • I want to see if the courts are open
  • I want to tell all members that the courts are currently unfir for play
  • I want to find the minutes of the last committee meeting
  • I want to find the agenda for the next committee meeting
  • I want to send a message to all members of the communication working group
  • I want to share a document with all members of the communication working group
  • I want to find players for a match
  • I want to find out where the last Longman match against Harwell was played
  • I want to volunteer for white lining
  • I want to ask all GC players if they are interested in something
  • I want to find out which matches a group of people could play in
  • I want to remind players that they are due to play in a match
  • I am looking for volunteers to help with repairing crow holes
  • I want to inform everyone of the response to a request for volunteers
  • I want to inform the volunteers of the arrangements to repair crow holes
  • I want to confirm arrangements for repairing crow holes
  • I want to update arrangements for repairing crow holes
  • I need to cancel an event this afternoon – and be sure that the message is received
  • I am looking to make arrangements for the time of an event in the coming week
  • I would like to know the weather at the club
  • I want to know if anyone is intending to play today
  • I want to know how to declare interest in the Prebendal
  • I want to find out what events I can declare an interest in
  • I want to sign up for the Prebendal
  • I and other members of a working group want a temporary email address for the group
  • I want to distribute the agenda for a committee meeting
  • I want to inform all members that our courts are now open
  • I want to gather information from all members and to track their responses
  • I want to remind all members yet to pay their annual fees, of the need to do so
  • I want to see which members want to participate in a club social activity

Feedback needed

What we need from you is not only to look for errors and omissions in the set of Use Cases listed above but also to tell the working group anything else that might help to produce the system that members want. Please send an email to cwg@blewburycroquetclub.org.uk to provide your input.

New Website

This site is part of a Croquet Association project to provide websites to clubs around the country at no cost to the clubs.