NOTES ON CERTIFICATE AND MAP QUALITY
I’ve received the last batches of November certificates from the vice-chairs. They have been scanned and the scans sent to USATF yesterday. When I get the go-ahead from USATF I’ll update the course list to the USATF search engine and my work as temporary registrar will be done, and Gene Newman will take over as registrar.
Here are some things I’ve learned about the Course Registrar job in my three-month tenure. Basically the job requires calm hours of high concentration. Each time an envelope arrives from a vice-chair, the following things are done:
1) The certificates are arranged in order and scanned using an automatic document feeder. The images wind up in a folder. Each scan is identified as “scan1.png, scan2.png…..etc.” The document feeder sometimes misfeeds. The scan files are individually viewed and renamed, as AL0800xJD, CO0800xDCR…etc until all have been renamed. If, during renaming, the file does not match what’s in the pile next to me, I know the scanner did a double-or-triple feed. Those certificates that did not get scanned are removed from the pile and rescanned. This is done until all the certificates have been scanned and renamed. These files are backed up on an external hard drive.
2) The procedure is repeated for the course maps.
3) With all the maps and certificates scanned and renamed, the data from each certificate is entered into the Access database. It is backed up to the external hard drive.
4) The course list is uploaded to the USATF web site each time certificates are received, scanned, and the list updated. The maps are uploaded only once per month. When USATF has integrated the map files into their system, the course list is sent to USATF and the list is up to date.
5) The course ID is written at the lower right side of the certificate, and the certificates are put into file folders in order. The written code helps to find the certificate when looking for one later.
That’s how it’s done. It is not an easy job, and it is made harder by some of the following things. These things relate to quality control of our product:
1) Dim copies. Some maps and certificates come through in a light gray, which does not scan at all well. This can sometimes be fixed using Photoshop, but it’s laborious.
2) Course ID on map doesn’t match the ID on the certificate. This necessitates a contact with the certifier to get things fixed.
3) Map does not have course town & state on it
4) Some maps have one side containing a certificate side-by-side with a list of splits, with a course map on the back. This is sometimes done when the map is such that there is not room for the splits on the map. HOWEVER – the map should at least have start, finish, and turnaround on the map itself, and not on the other side of the certificate. The map must stand alone. These certificates require an extra step to scan the splits. Split scans are identified as “AL0800xJD-2, CO0800xDCR-2…etc.” Some of these certificates require a third scan because of the way the material is arranged on the certificate.
5) Some maps have very narrow margins, and some content is lost during scanning.
6) Bad handwriting by the certifier, making the course ID hard to read. It’s a shame to see an otherwise well-done map messed up by sloppy printing by the certifier.
7) Tiny text. Sometimes this makes the map very hard to read.
8) Photographs appear on some certificates. These are generally illegible when copied, and should not be used. A sketch is better.
9) Additional electronic copies are sent by some certifiers, to be used in place of those that appear on the certificates. While this may be prettier, it requires the registrar to keep track of these files and substitute them for the scanned images.
The ideal certificate would have certificate on the front and map on the back, both crisp black & white copy and fully legible. Anything else should be a rare exception. Each person in the chain must do his job to maintain quality.
This is no longer my problem, it’s Gene’s. I hope we will pull up our socks and reverse the slippage in map quality that I’ve seen in the past period.