PlanetPress for Life: The Hockey Pool

I am currently the team leader in the Solution Development department but have worked for Solution Development and Tech Support over the years, so I have been knee deep in PlanetPress daily for 7 years. Some would call me a gamer, a geek, other could see me as a jock but I see myself as well-rounded. I like Magic the Gathering but I also like hockey. And that’s what this article is about: geeking up hockey.

How it all began

When I first started here, I decided to join the hockey pool even though I didn’t follow hockey as much as a good Quebecer should. I love math and stats (true story) so naturally a hockey pool was very appealing. I took it quite seriously and in the first year I started to go to each sports site and print stats online and calculated different ratios for all the players by hand, armed with a calculator. Straight off the bat, I did very well.  Without getting too much into projections and the player’s life, I was able to finish in the top four every year. Though not being in the bottom was satisfying, crunching numbers by hand wasn’t. To get those stats on all the players I wanted, it would take me hours and hours and even days. I knew there was a better way.

Creating a monster

The year I started in Solution Development, I got really familiar with PlanetPress and custom programming. That was the year I built my own personal data cruncher.

To create this, I had to first clean up the data I received from online. I got my information from different websites and some sites would have the names written one way and the other site might have had it written another way.  So when you start trying to program the association between different lists of players, you might be missing matches and end up with blank entries for which you didn’t get any values. For example, one data file would contain Alexander Ovechkin and the other would have Alex. The lookup for Alexander would not return a match.

So the player’s name was the common value for all my queries in the different data sets. From there I used a run script task in PlanetPress Watch to program my way to all the values, stats, ratios I felt I needed to perform a good analysis for the pool.

No more calculators!

It’s all about the Results

In my first year I outputted the values to a .csv file because it was the simplest for me, and opening it in excel would allow me to manipulate and sort the values. Over the years I ended up creating an access database with all my stats. I would then output that information in XML format using the PlanetPress Database plugin so I can use the data in PlanetPress Design to make nice lists and tables. Depending on your needs, some data formats are easier to create and manipulate while some are more complex…the difference is that they will offer different levels of flexibility. The database offers simplicity and flexibility. With a few clicks or adding a single work in an SQL query,  you can add fields, headers, tables, you sort or create new rules.

This year’s ranking

Unfortunately, I lost my solution when I switched computers so I can’t share the workflow with you. This loss, along with my decision to not crunch numbers by hand, might explain why I am doing so poorly in this year’s pool. Instead, I thought I would take a peek at some random hockey pool magazine and just leave the numbers alone. It’s not working out for me so next year is back to crunching numbers!