computer-assisted quiz bowl

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bgquizteam
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computer-assisted quiz bowl

Post by bgquizteam » Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:25 am

So I'm curious on how many people have been thinking about computer-assisted quiz bowl. While SQBS has made individual scoring possible, I haven't heard of many other advances, and I'm somewhat surprised by that. What other ideas are out there, either just in theory or in actual practice?

In particular, I'm hoping for paperless tournament. Questions pop up on the screen of a laptop. When points are to be awarded, the moderator clicks on the player's name, and the program tallies the score and displays the next question. It becomes possible for even a novice to simulateously moderate and scorekeep. At the end of the match, the program prints out the individual and team scores and moves on to the next packet.

It would be quite feasible to implement, as laptops are relatively common among potential moderators. Not only would this save a few thousand pieces of paper, but there would be several other benefits. Such a program could be compatible with formats used in many packets on the Stanford archive, so one could import infinitely many questions, perhaps even randomly. The computer could keep track of questions answered correctly and incorrectly over a period of time and allow players to get a real look at where they need to improve.

With peripherals, such a program would be even more useful. Internet connections would allow real-time stats. Recordings of the questions by Morgan Freeman would ensure proper pronunciation, timeliness, and ultimate fairness among the different rooms of a tournament. USB buzzers would make the moderator's job as simple as saying "correct" or "incorrect" when someone answers, and the computer could do the rest.

Thoughts?

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Sat Feb 17, 2007 4:53 am

I like the ideas and would welcome someone coming up with the software (look at the copying bill from the last event you hosted if you need convincing).

A couple notes: Chip Beall's NAC ran paperless as early as 2002. Of course, that's easy to do when you run only two simultaneous rooms; something tells me HSNCT would have a harder time of it. The only other paperless tournament I can recall attending is CBI Nationals in 2005. (I suggest omitting both of those facts when promoting this idea...)

I seem to recall someone writing, or trying to write, a buzzer/computer interface; I can't find the post so I don't know how that worked out. From there, it would be trivial to have the buzz trigger the MP3 (or whatever) of Morgan Freeman to stop (ending bleed-throughs), then pop up on screen a big green correct and red incorrect button; clicking would automatically score the question for whoever buzzed (no need to worry about clicking names!), and the position of the buzz in the MP3 could be associated with whether it was a neg, zero or power.

It's not hard to envision, and probably not difficult for someone with the right knowledge to implement. The caveat: The need to purchase much new equipment. Even without the ideal situation of a USB buzzer attachment, you need a (probably networked) computer in every room plus backups. While members of my team could probably round up enough to run some of our tournaments that way, something like a Brookwood tournament would just be impossible anytime in the near future. Still, baby steps. Maybe we'll try to test this out next year, if anybody has a good program.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:56 am

The last few Chicago tournaments I've attended have been run off laptops, and Terrapin was the same. Integrated scoring, not yet, but paperless packets are here.
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Post by Mike Bentley » Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:04 am

I'm sort of intriuged by the idea of integrated scoring and question displaying, and may be tempted to start writing some software that would do this. The big challenging, obviously, would be the transferring of stats from the individual computers to the central stat computers. If all of the computers were networked this wouldn't be too big of a deal, but if that's not always the case then it would probably have to resort to putting output files on memory sticks. But assuming everyone had a memory stick, I still think the overall solution would be faster than paper based scoring.

Assuming names would be provided by teams at registration, such a system could make taking of names a lot faster in each room, and save a lot of time in calculating everyone's individual score.

And if a stats program could be integrated, it would also make real time stats a lot easier.

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Post by Andy Saunders » Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:53 pm

I think that, strangely enough, the most advancements in CAQB are coming out of the Toronto area.

1) For the past three years, Rico Catibog has come to moderate NAQT Sectionals, computerized timing and scoring program in tow. This year, he had player statistics completely automated, such that all I had to do was transfer the game scoresheet, as a PDF, for printing to my laptop via a USB thumb drive. Only problem: Division 2 was so efficient between rounds that the transfer of statistics turned Rico's into the last room to start every round.

2) A cousin of Toronto quiz bowler Bobby Hsu has also programmed a conduit program for conducting long-distance quiz bowl matches, known as JoeQuiz. While it has worked in match settings, both attempts to use it in a Trans-Canada Championship Match setting have failed (once due to a firewall, once due to it crashing after every tossup). Vetovian discussed it further in http://www.hsquizbowl.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3416

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Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:10 pm

When I get some free time I think I will definitely at least work on a non-networked version of a computerized reader and scoring system.

I think such a system could provide a lot of useful feedback, most prominently the speeding up of matches without dedicated scorekeepers (no adding, writing, or flipping between pages would be necessary) and providing detailed statistical information (such as, for example, average number of points per a particular bonus for all teams at a tournament, or how many teams converted / powered each tossup). While some of the detailed statistics are still possible with paper or comparing against SQBS, they're still a pain in the ass.

I'd probably write the program in Java or Flash or something so that it wouldn't be restrained by platform, as apparently a good contingent of people don't have Windows based laptops.

The program would save the stats after each tossup to avoid most problems with possible crashes.

Tournament directors would beforehand get all the teams and player names and put them in a file that would be distributed to the readers (probably by e-mail). Questions would also be imported from Word documents or equivalents, and also send out to readers. After each round, the readers would e-mail back the current round data to the tournament directory (this would probably be built in) who would then just import the stats into his computer and save a lot of time inputting data.

If anyone maybe wants to look into working on this with me, send me a private message or something.

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Post by BuzzerZen » Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:16 am

Taft already (theoretically; we didn't attempt this at the Mid-Atlantic SCT) supports stats being input from remote locations via the web interface. However, there are currently no safeguards to prevent anyone with the admin password from putting in duplicate data or fake data. Planned features include assigning games to rooms in advance, assigning scorekeeper accounts to rooms, and only letting those accounts provide results for games in their rooms. I'm not planning on doing anything related to question distribution in the immediate future. With a web-based system, all it takes is a laptop and wireless internet to turn your scorekeepers into statistics input monkeys between rounds.
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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:38 am

ikillkenny wrote:When I get some free time I think I will definitely at least work on a non-networked version of a computerized reader and scoring system.
...
If anyone maybe wants to look into working on this with me, send me a private message or something.
Please get in touch with me over email or something (sorry, I don't know yours). I'm interested in working on something similar. Evan (I think that's BuzzerZen's real name), I'd also like to hear from you.
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Post by Andy Saunders » Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:42 am

Can you also get in touch with me so that I can get you in touch with Rico, who has a similar system developed already?

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Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:17 pm

I'll send out an e-mail on Wednesday or Thursday when I have some more free time.

Basically, I'm looking to do a program that integrates questions, scorekeeping, and statistics into one interface, which should hopefully save time and provide much more detailed stats for tournament directors who opt to post the questions along with the stats (there will be an option not to do this).

I envision writing the program in Java, and I will be setting up a cvs repository as soon as I can get one working soon.

I would be willing to work with pre-existing software like TAFT (which looks like it does a lot of the stat computation very well) and possibly the scorekeeping program used by Rico.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:42 pm

UNIFICATION baby!!! :) Good luck to all the programmers.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:12 pm

Do you want feature requests from non-programmers?
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Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:31 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Do you want feature requests from non-programmers?
Yeah, sure.

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Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:16 am

I whipped up some prototype screens in Visual Basic that I plan on posting tomorrow when I get back to my desktop and can actually retreive the password for my webspace.

Hopefully with those prototype screenshots we can idenitfy any missing features or odd choices in design early on.

Also, Jordan from Princeton has kindly provided me a CVS Repoistory for this project, and I think I'll make a blog or wiki or something to centralize everything tomorrow or in the coming days. I'll also send out an e-mail to the other people who have expressed interest in this project.

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Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:46 pm

As promised, here are a bunch of screenshots for some of the different screens that will be used in the program:

http://www.doc-ent.com/quizbowl/qbs

Some questions:
Is there a desire for each bonus part to be scored seperately (see screen 5) so that more detailed statistics could be counted?

I think this would add some hassle to both the coding, importation of questions, and score keeping, but it would provide some extra stat output (i.e. that none of the teams got part c in this bonus, rather than just the average score per teams playing on this bonus was 12.4 points).
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Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:54 pm

ikillkenny wrote:As promised, here are a bunch of screenshots for some of the different screens that will be used in the program:

http://www.doc-ent.com/quizbowl/qbs

Some questions:
Is there a desire for each bonus part to be scored seperately (see screen 5) so that more detailed statistics could be counted?

I think this would add some hassle to both the coding, importation of questions, and score keeping, but it would provide some extra stat output (i.e. that none of the teams got part c in this bonus, rather than just the average score per teams playing on this bonus was 12.4 points).
Hey Mike, I think those extra features would be cool, but are not of primary importance. How does your import wizard work? I've run into many troubles when trying to divide a packet into tossups and bonuses, and I'm curious how your algorithm (presumably an automatic one) works.

Also, I really want to play in this tournament.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:07 pm

[quote="ikillkenny]Is there a desire for each bonus part to be scored seperately (see screen 5) so that more detailed statistics could be counted?[/quote]

That seems like it would be quite beneficial in attempts to track how well particular questions met their difficulty targets.
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Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:32 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
ikillkenny wrote:As promised, here are a bunch of screenshots for some of the different screens that will be used in the program:

http://www.doc-ent.com/quizbowl/qbs

Some questions:
Is there a desire for each bonus part to be scored seperately (see screen 5) so that more detailed statistics could be counted?

I think this would add some hassle to both the coding, importation of questions, and score keeping, but it would provide some extra stat output (i.e. that none of the teams got part c in this bonus, rather than just the average score per teams playing on this bonus was 12.4 points).
Hey Mike, I think those extra features would be cool, but are not of primary importance. How does your import wizard work? I've run into many troubles when trying to divide a packet into tossups and bonuses, and I'm curious how your algorithm (presumably an automatic one) works.
Well, it hasn't been implemented yet (pretty much everything in these screenshots is just a prototype for how the actual system will be laid out).

Distinguishing between different tossups and different bonuses is fairly easy, so long as they have some sort of consistent numbering scheme. I did something simple like this already in a program where I converted tossups and bonuses from word document form to wiki form for our club's wiki.

Distinguishing between the different parts of a bonus is a bit trickier, but, again, so long as a consistent answer format is used it shouldn't be that big of a deal. You can distinguish between line breaks, and you can tell what part of a bonus is where by the location of "ANSWER:", or whatever string is used to represent an answer.

In regards to recording different parts of the bonus, now that I think about it some more I think I could probably just have a check box next to each bonus part that asks if the team got that part of the bonus or not. Of course, this is extra work for the moderator and maybe makes things a little more confusing, so I'm still on the fence about it.

There are still a few more screens I need to work out, and once I do that I think I'll start copying the layout in Java. From there is the more arduous task of actually making the buttons and widgets do stuff.
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Post by Mike Bentley » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:51 am

Ok, I have 6 new screenshots up at:

http://www.doc-ent.com/quizbowl/qbs

I changed the interface up a bit to make it easier to tell what player on the screen corresponds to what player sitting in a chair. I've also changed up how navigation works a bit.

I've also started work on copying the GUI in Java, and I've spent a little time working on some of the underlying objects that will make up the data.

If anyone sees any glaring errors or has any big feature requests, now is probably a good time to suggest them because it's still easy to change everything.

Edit: By the way, "in" is soon going to be replaced with "add" and "remove" buttons.
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Post by Matthew D » Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:00 am

Mike.. I really like what you have gotten done so far, it looks like it is going to be a killer application

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Post by pray for elves » Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:43 am

This is looking really good, and I can't wait to try the finished product.

Nit-pick: in screenshot 13, "EDITING" is misspelled.

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