Fire Company 15/49 Raffle

Last Saturday there was a raffle held to benefit Fire Companies 15 (West End) and 49 (South Newton). Overall it was a big success, raising a bunch of money for both companies. I was in charge of the registration process - mostly.

In the beginning (almost a year ago) I thought I'd be in charge of everything - the software, the network, and getting everything working. A couple months later I found out they already had software - an Excel spreadsheet. I told them that the spreadsheet wouldn't work for registration since only one computer can edit it at a time. A little bit later I learned they were switching everything over to Access. "Not so bad," I thought. I didn't know anything about it, but I wasn't in charge of the software anymore, so I didn't worry to much. I just worried about my part - the wireless network and making sure the laptops could get to the Access file.

Well, this weekend I encountered a number of problems - all related to the software choice.

  1. Access opens a file. Think about that - there isn't a main SQL server - all database operations operate on the file. This includes searching. When there was more than one computer searching on the wireless network, everything crawled.
  2. Windows XP Home only allows 5 computers to connect to a share. Even if the above problem didn't exist, this one would have still kept things from working.
  3. Norton Firewalls block network connections. And I couldn't find a way to disable the firewall.

So the solution was to put a copy of the database on each laptop. I did manage to find a way to merge the updated entries towards the end after registration closed down, but this wasn't optimal. No one had updated results throughout the day, and there's no way to know if more than one person made changes to a single entry.

I think this year I'll have to take charge of the software and design a nice little LAMP app for them. I think the application will be simple and will give me a chance to flex some AJAX skills that I've been lacking in. And it'll work.