Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: "Latest News on SI unit error"

in: Orienteering; General

Jun 15, 2019 5:35 AM # 
From Orienteering Sweden (SOFT)website:

Basic summary:

It has been known for some time that a punch doesn't always register in the SI stick despite the control unit flashing and beeping. SOFT consider this unacceptable and is concerned that it continues to happen so often.

The problem has been discussed before (link to an Oct 2017 post). It is hard to say exactly how often it is happening but SOFT have been getting reports of it happening almost every weekend during the spring 2019 season.

The problem is hard to identify and SI are rewriting their control unit software (firmware??) from scratch. So far no date has been announced for its release.

For now organisers are not obliged to disqualify when a punch is missing but should check the relevant units after they have been collected.

It is understood that checking control units after the race is extra work for organisers but a friendly attitude and high level of service create good will toward organisers
Jun 16, 2019 2:26 PM # 
riley mcfarlane :
Finally, a reason to why I would mispunch so often in 2017 - 2018!
Jun 16, 2019 11:33 PM # 
I wonder if we inadvertently MPed Craig in April's sprint MTBO event when he claims he went to the control and had a witness.
Jun 17, 2019 2:14 AM # 
“Inadvertently”? Just standard operating procedure - believe the computer, not the orienteer.
Jun 17, 2019 2:22 AM # 
Actually it was in the rules.

19.4 ...If one unit is not working or appears not to be working, a competitor must use the back up provided (eg slips of waterproof paper may be carried to punch in case of failure of the SI unit) and will be disqualified if no punch is recorded.

If a competitor punches too fast and fails to receive the feedback signals, the card will not contain the punch and the competitor must be disqualified (even though the control unit may have recorded the competitor’s card number)

No other competitors were affected. Seems he punched it twice because of some issue he noticed but didn't manually punch.
Jun 17, 2019 4:02 AM # 
The rules explicitly believe the computer " will be disqualified if no punch is recorded". How is the competitor supposed to guess that their "punch doesn't always register in the SI stick despite the control unit flashing and beeping" as Sportident have admitted?
Jun 17, 2019 4:28 AM # 
I think the issue was that it didn't flash or beep, hence why he had a second crack at it. I probably brought this up unnecessarily but thought it seemed a related issue.
Jun 17, 2019 7:36 AM # 
The point of the SOFT article is that it is possible to get a flash/beep and still NOT record punch on your stick. But given the rules there is nothing a competitor can do about it unless there is a another eyewitness or video of the control.

So SOFT are saying that while this happening regularly the current rules that say the competitor must be disqualified if no punch registers on their stick are clearly unfair and they recommend a more compassionate approach - believe the runner and check the unit.
Jun 17, 2019 7:42 AM # 
Noted, and will be following up through the relevant channels.
Jun 17, 2019 7:50 AM # 
Ricky - I assume you were quoting the OA rules??

Below is the corresponding IOF rule. Seems they are also admitting there is a problem with SI and allowing the unit to be checked. Maybe time to update the OA rules to allow this. The idea is that local rules should (as far as is practical) reflect the IOF rules.

(eg slips of waterproof paper may be carried to punch in case of failure of the SI unit)
That seems to be a uniquely Australian addition to the rules. Clearly Craig should have been disqualified for failing to punch on a slip of waterproof paper that he always carries just in case. Ridiculous!

A competitor with a control punch missing or unidentifiable shall be disqualified unless it can be established with certainty that the punch missing or unidentifiable is not the competitor’s fault. In this exceptional circumstance, other evidence may be used to prove that the competitor visited the control, such as evidence from control officials or cameras or read-out from the control unit. In all other circumstances, such evidence is not acceptable and the competitor must be disqualified. In the case of SportIdent, this rule means that:
• If one unit is not working, or appears not to be working, a competitor must use the backup provided and will be disqualified if no punch is recorded.
• If a competitor punches too fast and fails to receive the feedback signals, the card will not contain the punch and the competitor must be disqualified (even though the control unit may have recorded the competitor’s card number as an error punch)

• It is permitted for the organiser to read the backup from any control. A competitor can require the organiser to read the backup from a control, subject to a payment of 20 EUR (or the equivalent in local currency). If the control is found to contain a complete (non-error) punch; the competitor shall be recorded as having punched that control correctly and the fee will be returned; otherwise the fee shall be retained by the organiser.
Jun 17, 2019 7:59 AM # 
Apart from the obvious unfairness of the " will be disqualified if no punch is recorded" rule it has had another regrettable effect.

It has shielded the malfunctioning SI system from the need to fix the problem.The fact that the blame automatically falls on the runner means many cases where it is the system's fault are not noticed so the scale of the problem is underestimated and the problem is not taken seriously. And so long as the default rule always blames the runner for the mistake there is reduced incentive for SI to fix the problem: 'it is not our problem - it is the runners'

There has been talk of this problem for years and nothing has been done about it (well maybe they have tried but certainly the problem has not been fixed). I doubt that it is a coincidence that now that the rules acknowledge the problem SI seems to be finally taking serious steps to fix it.
Jun 17, 2019 8:05 AM # 
OA is aware of the IOF rule change, but hasn't decided yet to adopt it. Events run in Australia under IOF Rules (ie Oceania and most Australian Championships which are usually WREs) will be covered. There is debate over the additional onus on organisers, together with delays to results/presentations, should OA include it in our Rules.

How long before Sportident finds a solution? I can see that IOF needs a temporary rule, but is there really a need for OA to bring in a rule that might not be needed by the time our rules are scheduled for updating, probably not until 2020.

The usual backup in Australia is a manual punch on the map, where boxes are usually provided and (for important events) maps are waterproofed. I've never heard of having to carry a separate slip of paper being needed when the map will suffice.
Jun 17, 2019 8:23 AM # 
Is there really a need for OA to ensure fairness and ensure that people are not disqualified when they have done nothing wrong? Absolutely. Fairness is far more important than a slight delay finalising results.

Sure checking units is extra work but as an organiser of a major event I would be glad to do it on the assumption that if I do this it is likely other organisers will and I am less likely to be unfairly disqualified when I am competing. I would ensure plans are in place to make sure it can be done quickly if need be so that results are not overly delayed.

If it is impractical to change the rules at short notice then at least issue a suggestion similar to the one from SOFT that I quoted above. As I understand it they are not changing the wording of their rules - just asking organisers not to apply the rule so strictly.

But if you don't address the issue in some way, organisers will not know about it and people will continue to be unfairly disqualified in major races.
Jun 17, 2019 8:30 AM # 
How long before Sportident finds a solution?
Could be years given previous experience. Or you can just keep saying there is no need to change the rule because surely there is a fix to the problem just around the corner.

I've never heard of having to carry a separate slip of paper
Yet there it is in the rules - presumably so that if it is raining and you punch on the map and water gets in the holes made in the map bag by the punch and the map disintegrates and the punch is unreadable, it is still your fault for not carrying a slip of waterproof paper.

The lengths we go to to transfer blame to the runner!
Jun 17, 2019 8:48 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
At the recent Queens Birthday weekend in NZ, a fellow competitor was MP'ed because there was no record of him going to a control. He knew he was there, as he was with someone else, who confirmed this. I told him about the IOF rule and encouraged him to take it up with the organisers. Don't know if he did, he is still an MP, but I do note, that someone else 'missed' this control, and has been given a time
Jun 17, 2019 9:05 AM # 
Rob, it's possible to also punch the map rather than carrying a waterproof slip of paper (takes a bit longer in MTBO to remove the map from the map board though I've had to do it before with a failed SI unit) although organisers at MTBO do still sometimes provide these slips, which inevitably get lost after the first event.
Jun 17, 2019 9:50 AM # 
Let's hear one for those of us with slow reflexes and whose SI card/ dibbler/ fingerstick tends to linger in the timing unit more than a nano-second. Never yet had the experience of a missing punch.
Jun 17, 2019 10:00 AM # 
There are trade-offs here. Increasing the workload for organisers might seem like a minor issue compared to fairness if you are a competitor, but when you are placed in the situation of having to do the test, it can be quite demanding. Retrieval is obvious. But the last time I had to check a box I coudn't determine if the competitor had punched. It was not clear on the standard OE interrogation. In the end I sent a data dump to SI HQ. My memory is that they confirmed that the person had visited the control, and that they already knew it as one of two problems they were dealing with, one of which they understood. That is a pretty long turn around. It also suggests the recoding is a big task. For this amongst other reasons I have very little interest in being in that position again. And for the record, I have been mped for exactly the same reason- Dubbo Zoo sprint. What annoyed more than the mp was the self-confident assertion of the downloader that I had not visited the control. That was hardly plausible when it was the first control of a bunch mass start and I was in the pack at the first control. I would have been happier to have been told that it didn't record and the organiser had to rely on the technology because of the rules.
Jun 17, 2019 10:33 AM # 
Gord - sportident have admitted it’s a problem. You are lucky not to have experienced it. We have.
Jun 17, 2019 10:49 AM # 
it's possible to also punch the map rather than carrying a waterproof slip of paper

Obviously - that has always been the rules - hence the 3 little squares on maps. I was just commenting on what I thought was a very odd and unnecessary addition to the Australian version of the rules, which seems to be just another way to shift the blame to the runner: 'you didn't carry a slip of waterproof paper to punch so you only have yourself to blame if you are Dq'ed'

And the broader point I am making is that when you write the rules to place the blame on the competitor when the unit malfunctions and doesn't record a punch (and here we are not talking about punching too fast to get a beep/flash -we are talking about not getting a punch recorded despite there being a beep/flash) you are actually exacerbating the problem, ensuring it keeps happening, because organisers then just blame the runners and don't report the problem to SI and SI does nothing.

Of course it is a pain in the arse for organisers but so is having people standing at the finish insisting they got a beep/flash so why the DNF? Sure in the short term it is easier to just say - that's the rules, nothing we can do, piss off. But in the long term it would be much better for everyone to treat the runners with more respect and acknowledge the problem and keep on SI's case to fix it.
Jun 17, 2019 12:39 PM # 
The solution is to wear a gopro. And for national associations to make it known they are exploring JoyLuck or whatever it is called.
Jun 17, 2019 1:18 PM # 
It's not a rule to carry a waterproof slip. The rule just says backup device, which in most cases is the map.

Our last MTBO event we forgot the hire SI tags so we allowed manual punching for those without and accepted everything even though two punches were missing or broken.
Jun 17, 2019 2:59 PM # 
The Joy Luck Club was a novel popular in book clubs. It was set in China so you were sort of close. Not much good as a punching system, though I guess you could leave a copy of it at each control and runners tear off a page to prove they have been there. They would need to be printed on 'waterproof paper' however in case of rain - in which case, after the first control everyone would be fully compliant with OA rule 19.4 as quoted above by Ricky.

Learnjoy (learn the joy of orienteering). Who is to say that is any better. Somehow I don't think SI sees them as much of a threat. Mostly that changing to another system would be so expensive as to be completely impractical. Which I guess might explain their apparent indifference to the problem. They have a virtual monopoly.
Jun 17, 2019 4:56 PM # 
Orienteering Cincinnati is currently having a summer sprint series (QCARS) with SI-Air punching. I was surprised the printed materials say there is no record on the control units, only on the SI-Air e-card (dibber). I'm interested to see how it works.

I've got a feeling that not including a backup record on the unit is a mistake.
Jun 17, 2019 8:38 PM # 
I personally have not had a no-punch-where -I-know-I-was-there. However when in Florida my club and Florida Orienteering stage about 16 events which average about 200 participants each (mostly JROTC cadets). It is rare that we do not get at least one cadet claiming that he/ she is being recorded with a missing punch. Some we can resolve simply by looking at the print out and see that another control was visited by mistake. However for the others and mostly by FLO's SI workhorse, Blaik Mathews, we do download the control station in question trying to find the cadet's SI number. I think we have yet to find a number that was recorded in the station but not on the SI stick.
Jun 17, 2019 9:19 PM # 
I have been told the overwrite bug ratio is estimate is about 1/50000 punch.

If you run 40 courses every year you that will happen to you once in 80 years.

That 16 events 200 participants and 15 controls per course gives about 50 000 punches, so you are close to getting one occurrence

For example 25manna it means about 2 teams getting disqualified for it, that's 1% of participants.
Jun 17, 2019 10:07 PM # 
I've seen at least five where reading the control unit showed an error punch in the right time window when the runner said they were there (sometimes with witnesses), but the e-card/dibber didn't record the punch.

And probably a 1/20 ratio of checking units to finding the error code: There's usually no evidence recorded on the unit. Many times a person is adamant initially but returns to say they missed the control.
Jun 18, 2019 11:38 AM # 
The estimate of error rate 1/50000 is made by SportIdent based on received reports, which is not the full picture since many users/organizers/countries still isn't aware of the problem.

What I've seen working on numerous events the last years are rather an error rate closer to 1/15000 - 1/30000 punches. About 1 case per 1000 event participants.

We're not talking about punches with ErrA, ErrB, ErrC in the units. Those also exist and those runners should not be reinstated. We are talking about cases where the base station beeps and blinks (with almost 100% certainty), the punch is stored as correct punch in the base station (with time!). But the Card does not contain the punch afterwards (when the punch actually dissapears is not yet proven. It may be that it is overwritten later on the course, or that it never gets written to the card... Nobody knows per today).

In Sweden currently there are reports of occurrences of this every weekend, which supports a higher error rate than previously stated.

Currently, the only way to know if an athlete is MP or not, is to fetch the unit from the forest, read out the backup memory with SI Config+ and search for the Card Number in the log and see if the card have punch and when.

Not the ideal way of working for an organizer, but the alternative is that runners that have done everything correctly gets disqualified due to system errors. That if not acceptable in my opinion.
Jun 18, 2019 2:02 PM # 
OE2010 (from SportSoftware, not SportIdent) is the event software I use most. It has features to download units and save that control unit data.

I'm not sure if Config+ acts as tunapeter states, namely that it includes the SI Number.

In OE2010, you can see numbers for valid punches, but typically not for the number of the runner in question. Rather, there is an Error code in place of the SI chip number. I sort by time, and look at the before and after splits from the runner, and look for error codes in that time window.
Jun 18, 2019 3:13 PM # 
If there is an Err{A,B,C} that generally means that they punched too fast, did not get the proper feedback, and should not be reinstated.

What this bug is is that when you read the station memory it will have a full correct punch for that SI number, but nothing on the stick itself.
Jun 18, 2019 5:20 PM # 
@cedar - "Rather, there is an Error code in place of the SI chip number."

No. The error code is written in place of the time, not the chip number.
So you should always be able to find the athlete, because OE matches the chip to the athlete, and then you should see that there's an Err instead of a time.

But again, these are very likely "too fast punches". They are not the problem SOFT is unhappy about.
Jun 18, 2019 11:54 PM # 
I know nothing about IT, etc but wouldn't it be a relatively simple thing for SI to write a little app or add on to its software or something to make the task of checking something like this easier? Something that would allow you to connect to the unit in question, type in the SI stick number and it finds the info for that number and reports it back: time of punch , error codes etc. Instead of having to pore over all the data from that unit.
Jun 19, 2019 10:37 AM # 
@robplow - not sure about simple, but it is very do-able, thought about doing it a few times (for checking in the field what sticks have punched a unit or to find a specific one). Just another project I've never got around to.

I'm hoping that SI are working on finding their bug (wholesale re-write is scary).

@Cedarcreek - when using SI Air, the unit is a radio transmitter and the stick is a receiver. So it is receiving the "I'm control 122" signal from the unit and at some point writes the visit to #122 to the stick memory.
The SI unit itself knows nothing about which sticks ran past it.
Jun 19, 2019 11:35 AM # 
Hi Andy

yeah we all hope SI are working on their bug, But given how long it has been around and the fact that no one at SI seems to know what the problem is I wouldn't be holding my breath. In the mean time it seems the least they could do is make it as easy as possible to interrogate the unit. You shouldn't need to be an IT expert to do it. And yes being able to go out in the field and interrogate units without bringing them in would be ideal. For something major like WOC or World Cups you are likely to have people in the field guarding controls anyway. If they could check controls and radio in the result that would pretty much solve the problem of causing unnecessary delays to finalizing results.
Jun 19, 2019 12:38 PM # 
Hi Rob

Some bugs are really hard to find (speaking from experience). I remember them saying that they were going to re-write the code from the start, which sounded drastic, but maybe they had already spent man-years looking for the bug or determined that it was caused by a fundamental design flaw (I'm thinking of one of my bugs here).

Writing an app to read units in the field should be straightforward for SI, they already have an app that can talk to a master unit, so they have both skills and existing code.

If I get sacked, I'll work on it. There is an app developer in the local O community - I'll talk to her next time I see her.
Jun 19, 2019 12:55 PM # 
That's what I am saying - given how long the problem has been around and how difficult it is to fix it would seem wishful thinking to say there's no point saying we don't need to modify the rules or take other actions now as there is a fix just around the corner.

It would be great if an orienteering app developer did this but surely it would be easier for SI to do it - and I would think they have a duty to their customers to do something like this.
Jun 19, 2019 5:14 PM # 
I’m really hoping we don't change rules due to flaws in it-systems.
Jun 19, 2019 9:26 PM # 
The rules should recognise any and all technology limitations. As a matter of "sporting fairness".

Maybe the Ethics Committee should get involved:-))
Jun 19, 2019 9:39 PM # 
I need to start keeping records of reading SI units versus the outcome.

I'm almost certain I've seen the variety where the punch is recorded correctly on the unit but not on the dibber.

I've seen many more error codes, though.

@Ed: I'd use IOF rules for WREs, but for US events, we tend to give credit for the Error code faults. I absolutely disagree that it's simply and always a too-fast punch. I need proof that the runner was at the control, and we've believed an Error code in the right time window provides that proof.

I've seen at least two occasions where the runner recognized the unit didn't respond, and attempted to punch multiple times with only an Error code recorded. In one case, there were multiple error codes because the runner stood there for many minutes. I can think of two in particular where there was an experienced witness with an experienced orienteer and only an Error code. One of these had the pin punch as well. The other could have been a too-fast punch, but I seriously doubt it. I'm not saying too-fast error codes don't happen---they do, but I'm saying an error code is not certain proof of a too-fast punch.

We try to make sure our junior orienteers at A-meets never have SI-5 dibbers to remove the worry of a too-fast punch resulting in a mispunch.

@undy: Your explanation is plausible, but information from SportIdent indicates the dibbers (e-cards) have the capability to transmit, so I'm assuming it's more complicated than your explanation implies. From SI:

A number of extensions expand the functionality of the classic and AIR+ system. For example, the short range radio option enables supported stations and cards to directly transmit time records during the race, making live results possible. (emphasis added by me)
Jun 19, 2019 10:36 PM # 
Controls in Air+ mode are beacons only. They are constantly transmitting to the SIACs but do not receive anything back. The SRR radio in the stick can be used to communicate with other SRR modules for radio controls etc, but the standard stations do not have an SRR radio in them. I have a few of the BSF8-SRR stations that do have an SRR module in them, but that is just to transmit traditional punch records out over the SRR system to a nearby receiver. It does not communicate with the SIAC in any way.
Jun 19, 2019 10:41 PM # 
Local events are fine to do whatever you want to reinstate people, but at any national event we should not be giving credit for Err records unless a jury decision instructs us to.
A.25.2.3 If electronic punching is utilized, the electronic control card must show that all controls have been visited in the proper order.

I agree that an Err record does prove that they were at that control, but does not meet the requirement of the rules that the card must show that information. Let them protest their disqualification and have the jury make that decision.

It is my opinion that as a professional race timer, I should not be making decisions that affect the results. There is a process for a jury to review the facts and rules and make that decision, and I wish we would use our juries in a more productive way at US events. I'm biased in that view from my work with nordic events where there is a productive relationship with the jury that reviews my work and makes qualitative decisions.
Jun 19, 2019 11:31 PM # 
When I run download, I’m a volunteer with responsibility to uphold OUSA rules. I make a recommendation with evidence to the event director. Usually if we believe the evidence shows a jury would give credit we give credit. We uphold mispunches much more often than we give credit.

Re SI-Air. I understand the use of legacy equipment that can’t do certain things. If the lack of a backup record becomes a problem, I suspect important events will upgrade to equipment that has a backup record or use people at controls to avoid embarrassment to the organizers or federation, and more importantly, to avoid letting down a competitor who is DQ’d (potentially) by no fault of their own.
Jun 20, 2019 12:28 AM # 
In the World ARDF (radioorientering) championship in Lithuania in 2017, the organizer heavily pushed the SI Air+ as a new and improved system, as runners will be faster than stopping on SI controls. SI BSF8 stations were used, to support both Air+ and classic. A lot of people were sceptical, but after a first race everybody jumped ship, and rented the Air dibbers.

And then a catastrophy struck, almost a dozen people had problems with reading their dibbers on the second race, and no backup was available. Organizers had extensive experience with Air+, and everybody with SI expertise tried to help, but results for some competitors were lost.

Now the international ARDF rules say Air+ is not allowed to be used as is, and have to be approved for each competition (as cedarcreek suggests, some form of backup record is needed).

No system is perfect. But it should not happen that the competitors are DQed due to the failure of organizers equipment.
Jun 20, 2019 1:08 AM # 
Although epunching has a number of advantages, with pin punching the competitor could at least know for certain that the punch had registered properly.
Jun 20, 2019 1:31 AM # 
@jjcote. Even with pin punching, people got DQ.ed when one of the pin pricks was off the card so the pattern looked wrong. Plus ca change.

From what I've seen, there's a correlation between this problem and radio controls/controls which died soon after/controls with high usage in relay packs. Along with the very low occurrence rate, it suggests that it may not be a software problem.
Jun 20, 2019 4:17 AM # 
People did get DQed for that, but it was feasible for a competitor to examine the card and see that the punch was there. It was possible to put all of your punches squarely in the box and have the holes not be too light. There's no way that I'm aware of to know if your SI stick registered a control without extra equipment. It's not the same.
Jun 20, 2019 7:32 AM # 
Tunapeter: certainly the rules SHOULD NOT need to be changed due to IT system flaws but in this case they already have been at IOF level. The rules used to just say no punch recorded = dq. Now they have recognised the possibility of getting a flash/beep and no punch. It is far from from ideal but better than dq'ing people unfairly. When I was saying the rules should be changed I was talking about bringing the Australian rules into line with the current IOF rules on this matter.

Edwarddes I don't think anyone is saying a runner should be reinstated if they get an error code that shows they punched too fast to get a flash/beep. But they certainly should be reinstated if the error codes show they did get the flash/beep but the punch was not recorded on their stick. The current IOF rule does pretty much what you say - allows the runner to protest and the jury to decide. Previously the rules meant the jury could not even consider error codes from the unit. The IOF rules requires a EUR 20 fee to request the unit data be checked - so you would want to be pretty sure before protesting.
Jun 20, 2019 8:46 AM # 
In case of the bug (beep/flash without punch in stick) there isn't any error code in the unit, it's just there as a normal punch. That's the point, if it was possible to detect that it happened then it wouldn't be a bug in the first place.
Jun 20, 2019 9:06 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
In hindsight much of this story is becoming clear:

a) The IOF started by asking for an electronic punching system with built-in mechanical backup, and the Regnly people here in Norway started their EMIT effort, where the size and layout of the unit was given by the need for space for that (in)famous thin backup cardboard strip. This was relatively expensive since everything was completely custom development.

b) A smart guy in Switzerland started looking at existing RFID style tags and realized that the units used in BMW (and other expensive) car keys would become dirt cheap, while still having enough re-programmable memory to allow control codes/times to be stored. With a pencil style format they were faster to punch with since they are omni-directional, and each competitor unit could be significantly cheaper. Backup would be provided by reading out the log file from each control unit!

Shortly after people started using SI, primarily in Sweden and Switzerland, it became obvious that having to collect all the control units in order to handle a complaint was quite cumbersome, so this was "fixed" by simply removing that requirement.

From Norway it seemed quite obvious that Sweden would select SI simply because it was NOT made in Norway. :-(

However, going back to the real issue here with missing/misrecorded punches: There is no real reason why a system like SI should not be capable of perfect operation, but actually testing it to the level where you locate all the possible corner cases, particularly related to variable power levels, usage patterns, temperature etc has proven to be extremely hard.
Jun 20, 2019 9:26 AM # 
There is no such thing as a 100% perfect system. There is always a failure rate.
Jun 20, 2019 9:58 AM # 
Terje, Finland selected Emit, I guess not for backup but simplicity. I believe it was seen as pretty direct pin punch replacement - you even get pin marks. No need to program units or set times in them ever, you just put them to forest just like pin punches. Simplicity was important for organizing those open to anybody weekday evening fitness non-races we call "kuntorastit". That helped orienteering to expand as fitness sport, for example, last year there was 266 clubs organizing those and 4166 such events and 404 000 runs in them. Thats where the growth of Jukola relay comes from - lots of participants are not club members and never participate any national races, those open fitness orienteering events. Not that Emit made that expansion happen, but it did not stop it from happening :)
Jun 20, 2019 12:10 PM # 
It wasn't by coincidence that Emit was seen as direct pin punch replacement. That's how it was designed on purpose. The requirements were that there must not be any programming of units, they should be (almost) passive so they could be placed in the forest in advance of events (like you could with pin punches) and that they must NOT give any feedback signals. The reason for no feedback is that the feedback mechanism itself can fail (duh..) and that the runner shouldn't have to be concerned with whether a unit is working or not. Just punch and go the same way regardless.

By ignoring these fundamental requirements SI could create a more convenient/cheaper solution for the runners (and there are more runners than organizers, who got a more complicated system, so it won a majority market share), but Emit has the "correct" design.

However, with the touchless systems the situation is different. Here Emit cannot have a paper backup on the card so the systems are on equal terms. With SI Air+ there are no records in the unit at all, is that the case also with Emit's system? Anybody know? In this case there isn't any backup of any kind... so we better hope the failure rate is a lot lower than with the conventional SI system. stajp is reporting some kind of failure in this thread, anyone else have any experience?
Jun 20, 2019 12:49 PM # 
robplow wrote:

"...I don't think anyone is saying a runner should be reinstated if they get an error code that shows they punched too fast to get a flash/beep. But they certainly should be reinstated if the error codes show they did get the flash/beep but the punch was not recorded on their stick. "

I'm kinda saying that because I'm not seeing enough information in the error code output to reliably say "this code means the punch was too fast". If it's a known problem, perhaps the unit doesn't even know there was an error (which the "record on unit but not on stick" implies). What I'm basing my choice on is the fact that typically all the other runner's results are valid or correct *and* here I've got one runner with a missing punch, and an "unexplained" error code sandwiched in a time frame that plausibly proves a "unknown" runner visited that control.

Re the "provability" of a perfect system. My guess is that all kinds of things can cause issues, especially in today's extreme radio frequency environment. Runners carrying cell phones might explain some issues, but honestly most serious runners aren't. It doesn't surprise me that an ARDF event would have issues with SI-Air. The units are literally right next to a fairly powerful transmitter that likely hasn't had proper testing (amateur radio rules are fairly lax to allow experimentation so there can be "spurious emissions" that can cause problems).
Jun 20, 2019 1:26 PM # 
OK this is more a question of semantics about what constitutes an 'error' . I don't know the detail of all these error codes. All I am saying is if a runner punches too fast to get a flash/beep that is legitimately the runners fault. But if a runner gets a flash/beep then there is no way they should be disqualified. As I understand it, it is possible to tell the difference between those two if you look at the unit.
Jun 20, 2019 1:34 PM # 
I don't believe it is.
Jun 20, 2019 1:38 PM # 
It is possible of course. Swedish organizers have been collecting data on the occurrence of the bug and provided data to SI for the last 4 years. The bug is that the punch is recorded as a normal punch in the unit (without error code) but nothing in the stick.
Jun 20, 2019 1:49 PM # 
Here's an example that might not apply to a forest unit. If you are running download, and someone (typically a kid) does a very slow motion of the dibber towards the master station, you can very often get the master to lock up until you reopen the window or press the control (in the window) to "activate SI station". To me it's plausible that regular stations might throw error codes for punching too slow much more often than punching too fast.

People don't often punch slowly in the woods, but if you're shaky and out-of-breath, you can certainly miss the hole and have a similar issue to a very slow punch.
Jun 20, 2019 3:47 PM # 
My crusade here is people interpreting SportIdent's written materials as saying that an error code is infallible proof that the punch was too fast, and is therefore the runner's fault. It just ain't so. The materials (to my understanding) don't claim that, and I've seen enough evidence of error codes showing up when the runner definitely did not punch too fast that it will take a lot of proof to convince me otherwise.
Jun 20, 2019 5:18 PM # 
Cedarcreek, the error code does not say anything about if it was a fast punch or not.
It tells weather the station believe it was able to store the punch in the stick or not.

JSH can correct me on the below ( it's also dependent on chip version)
But in general codes mean something like this

ErrA, chip removed / communication lost before control number sent to chip
ErrB, chip removed / communication lost before station was able to read back if control was written to chip correctly
ErrC, chip removed /communication lost before control was able to read back if time was stored correctly or not in chip

So, even with error code in the Station the runner actually can have a complete punch record in the card, but there is no guarantee of it.
And in also, In those cases, the station have not given feedback (but chip might have in case of si11 or SIAC)
Jun 21, 2019 12:53 AM # 
I always thought that punching system is to verify a competitor visited controls in order.
I would think that no matter of SI station ErrA, ErrB, or ErrC codes they are direct proof that a competitor did visit this particular control and thus his/her results should be counted.
Jun 21, 2019 1:25 AM # 
stajp is reporting some kind of [SIAC] failure in this thread, anyone else have any experience?

No experience but I recall a few years back receiving a warning at the first SIAC event I attended to not wear a GPS watch on the same arm in which I carried the SIAC because it was either a known or suspected combination that could potentially interfere with punch reception. If that's true then it's certainly conceivable that ARDF could interfere with SIAC reception. I've not seen or heard any other reports of mass SIAC failures other than stajp's.
Jun 21, 2019 9:26 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@Sergey: You are of course absolutely correct: In today's environment, any indication AT ALL that a competitor have visited a control without getting a proper SI punch time event recorded and downloaded, should be taken as OK. This would definitely include stuff like testimony from other competitors and possibly also a GPS track log that shows that she ran through the control and stopped momentarily to punch, even if the track indicates that this happened 5-10m away.

Normally though, if the system records an error code indicating "too fast, feedback definitely not given", then I would be OK with a DSQ as the default action, but not with the currently known error.

When I ran Red Zone on the Norwegian Champs back in 2012 we had quite a few bad punches, and I reinstated several of them, but not the 2-3 H19-20 guys who had obviously been practicing how to cheat, i.e. gain time by just swiping their EMIT brick over the control unit without even trying to get a pin hole imprint.

One of them had just 1/3 of the controls registered in the backup paper, he did not argue when I told him why he was DSQed, and that he should try to punch properly in the future.
Jun 21, 2019 11:10 AM # 
Sprints aside, anybody who thinks that punching is a productive place to try and save time (in the modern age) hasn't thought about the whole issue enough. (Why am I not surprised that they were H19-20?) I'm not intending to take any responsibility off of the equipment manufacturers here, but fast punching is just dumb. One thing I remember from Jukola last year was my teammates noting that they had watched elites punching and they were definitely going for a dead solid punch.
Jun 21, 2019 11:40 AM # 
gain time by just swiping their EMIT brick over the control unit without even trying to get a pin hole imprint.

I heard that was what a certain Finnish orienteer practiced a lot before a WOC sprint that used Emit (the standard bricks - not touch free). And it worked - he won by a small margin. Some months later at a World cup he tried the same thing and it didn't work - dq.
Jun 21, 2019 1:41 PM # 
@Terje - just a small correction and a quick trip down memory lane: the rival to Emit that you place in Switzerland actually started in (Eastern, but post-unification) Germany, and according to a newspaper article they reprinted for their 20th anniversary it was three clever guys not just one. Also, the very first prototypes were not pencil-shaped and omni-directional, but rather more smart-card shaped. Only later the "finger-stick" evolved.
(see for a picture from the distant past).

@Tuna - your error-code summary is "somewhat correct", but sadly the error-code "progress indication" differs strongly by chip-generation, so it's not that easy to say which error should be counted as an "acceptable visit" and which maybe not.

@Sergey - you seem to be old enough (but possibly not an active orienteer long enough) to know that back in the days of pin-punches, a punch where some needles were outside the correct box was ruled as "sloppy, too fast" and could lead to disqualification - at least in Germany there was one runner famous for "hammering" the last control "anywhere" on the control card - and then being disqualified for the (two?) seconds thus gained. The feeling some IT-guys (and gals!) might have nowadays is that a "too fast punch" (which, historically, SI has told us the Err-punches are) should be regarded equally as "that unfair seconds-shaving". So if you're in a nit-picking rules-abiding mood, an Err-code in a SI-station may be a "proof of presence", but might not be "proof of fair punching".
Jun 22, 2019 9:10 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@jSh: Thanks for the correction! I've talking about the Switzerland SI origin for decades but today I learned something new. :-)

I agree that in a perfect world, those Err codes would indicate someone trying to shave fractions of a second, but with what we know now, Any indication that a runner has been to the control should be accepted.

BTW, back since the seventies there has been a huge difference in the competition rules between Norway and other far stricter countries like Sweden (and Germany/Switzerland/UK?): My father was the chairman of the Rules Committee back then, so at the same time as Sweden said "more than 3 individual pins outside the dedicated punching squares is an automatic DSQ" he got NOF's rules to instead specify:

The competitor is responsible for proper punching, obvious attempts to "cut corners" to save time can be grounds for DSQ. The organizer is however always free to accept any competitor, totally independent of their punching, if they believe the runner has actually been to all controls and not intentionally broken the rules in order to unfairly gain time.

PS. He once got one of our club runners, Else Skogen, reinstated as the winner of D21 at Vårspretten, the most important spring competition, when she was missing the punch from the last control. This was based on eye witnesses seeing her punch (possibly a newspaper photographer?), it was a direct parallel to the modern situation where clubs have been DSQ'ed at Tiomila even though the TV cameras show them punching at the relevant control: Being in Sweden there was no appeal to common sense. :-(
Jun 22, 2019 10:00 PM # 
Does anybody know exactly how bad Yvette's "mispunch" was at the WOC Short Qualifier in 1991? My recollection was that there was one pin outside of the box, at a control where multiple people saw here, but I may be remembering wrong.

I worked as finish chief for a number of years, and I often had workers who didn't have the right mindset. Eventually the practice became that the workers were not authorized to disqualify anyone, they could only mark a punch as questionable and forward it to me. Almost all of the cards that they flagged were fine, they were just light punches or whatnot. I'd take a quick glance at the card and be confident that the orienteer had been to the correct control. They often couldn't believe it, and I had to show them how the correct punch could cause what they were seeing. Once in a while we would have an actual incorrect punch. And there were the difficult customers who seemed to just punch anywhere they wanted on the card. We did what we could with those, but there are limits even for me.
Jun 23, 2019 7:42 AM # 
Thanks Rob for publicising this. I think the biggest concern at present is that the issue is not well known and the automatic reaction is to DQ at download. Not many people want to harass organisers (who have enough of a job!) by making a complaint and therefore the scale of the issue is totally unknown. I think one of the recent carnivals here was plagued by the problem, but no-one wanted to cause more angst for the organisers, especially when there is no easy means of identification or resolution.

And Terje, I like the sound of your Dad's approach!
Jun 23, 2019 7:52 AM # 
Definitely a few MPs at the Australian 3 Day at Easter this year, that seemed odd at the time and I wonder if we were hit with the bug. As Grilla says, no protests but a few unhappy people and no Royal Commission into the cause.

We really should be able to do better and provide correct results, however with the current technology and protocols it is problem to find and fix the errors, for all the reasons mentioned above.
Jun 23, 2019 8:45 AM # 
Does anybody know exactly how bad Yvette's "mispunch" was at the WOC Short Qualifier in 1991?
My recollection is that she punched #14 in the box for #15, then, getting to #15, punched that in #14 and the reserve box. (its entirely possible I was misinformed or misremember)

The rule at the time was that if you previously punched a wrong control in a box, you should overpunch with the correct one, and punch the correct one in the reserve boxes. Nothing covered punching in the wrong box.
Jun 23, 2019 9:02 AM # 
Thanks Cath
. . . the automatic reaction is to DQ at download
Well, as we have figured out that is pretty much the only option under current Australian rules. A first step would be to change the rules - then a least people who have read the rules know they have the ability to request redress. Then perhaps some publicity about the change.
Jun 23, 2019 1:19 PM # 
is this bug limited to non-AIR cards only? if answer is "yes", one of solutions could be the global card upgrade program under special conditions.
Jun 24, 2019 7:50 AM # 
Running the finish this weekend:

"You are missing control 205 - did you go there ?"
"The seat on the hill, yes"
(I didn't have the course map)
"OK, I'll fix that up"
Add that punch back in.
I look at the all-controls map and say "its the one on a boulder"
"No it's on the seat"
"I mean 205 - on that peninsula"
"Oh no, I didn't go to that one" (tone of voice - why would anyone in their right mind go to that one)

Jun 24, 2019 11:56 PM # 
Looking through the splits I see it was one of our regular complainers, I'm sure we (the board) will be receiving a letter from him in due course.
Jun 26, 2019 7:43 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Some people are impossible to please, and a few, the really bad ones, will try everything in order to cheat. We had the infamous swede who ran in the open start classes in O-Ringen and started early each day, under a pseudonym, and then came back near the end of the start period to run (and usually "win") the same course again.

Many, many years ago, back when we had little rubber stamps on each control, or if it was manned you had to get a signature, there was a norwegian runner who would pick out one or two outlying controls and simply skip them, then smudge up his control card and claim he had been there. Finally, for a major event they actually designed a special course to catch him, with one very obvious control way outside the rest of the course, they manned that control and they even gave them a photo of the cheater: They had just one task that day, to know if he had punched there or not.

Returning back to the event center, you could hear the control crew yelling as they entered the field: "XXX has not been there!". I believe he stopped going to O races after this very public DSQ.
Jun 26, 2019 8:44 AM # 
Late 80's in Italy there were some semi-professional military orienteering teams: Guardia di Finanza, Polizia, Carabinieri. for these guys (there were no women) results were important to their place in the squad. I heard stories of how one of the the older guys in one of these squads would line up a younger (subordinate) guy to meet him at a certain control late in the course and show him his control card and the older guy would use a safety pin to copy the punch patterns of controls he had skipped. I have a feeling the story was just malicious - motivated by jealousy. But not a bad idea.
Jun 26, 2019 9:51 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@robplow: It was "not a bad idea" only if your goal was to cheat and not get caught at it immediately, and I do believe I have heard about similar stories here, typically from a relay where a runner on of of the club teams realizes that he forgot to punch on one control (no visible imprint), and asks a club mate on a different team what the pattern was. In this case I would probably be OK with it, today we have far better control with the EMIT/SI rfid tags.

The only obvious way to cheat using EMIT is to hide a laptop with EMIT master sw + a "joker card" in the forest, run there while estimating the split times for a good/winning run and then program said joker unit to match each of the controls in sequence. This gives you none of the backup pins, and fails completely if the organizer have lost one of the control units (after map/course printing) and substituted some other code instead.

I'm guessing you could do something similar with SI, but it would be a lot of work and very hard to get all the split times to come out right.

On EMIT it is actually much easier to simply memorize the pin pattern for all the codes and then use a known to be dead unit and just make fake pin imprints for each control. However this will only work once or twice for each dead EMIT unit, i.e until it is known by organizers (or competitors) to be dead. This approach would also fail completely when the organizer intentionally use control codes outside the allowable range, i.e. Jukola typically uses 333/444 etc for the multiple last controls.
Jun 26, 2019 10:03 AM # 
It was "not a bad idea" only if your goal was to cheat and not get caught at it immediately

yep, Terje I am always an advocate of cheating - so long as you don't get caught.
Jun 26, 2019 12:37 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@robplow: Sorry! I though the implied irony was so obvious that I didn't need to include any special markers.

I'm naive enough that I still (withstanding those few counter-examples) believe there is absolutely no money in orienteering, and therefore no Tour de France-like incentives for cheating.
Jun 26, 2019 1:09 PM # 
Terje, judging by the amount of oob-area crossing in sprint races that happens in plain view and can often be easily identified by split-analysis (but not punished as no solid evidence), plus the cases were arena-quarantines are breached with all sorts of reasons (parents forgetting kids, people apparently staying in the hotel just up the road etc), and the occasional proven doping case (published even on IOF website), I am doubtful about your naivety. As much as I, too, would love to believe we orienteers are one happy family, we must accept that in every family there are people that stray away...

I know nothing about Emit internal data-structures, but I do know enough SPORTident to tell you that theoretically all you need is a master-station to write valid punches at any position you want. A mind-game I have had for a long time is an Android-app that reads the card, improves all splits by 10%, then writes the card back. This could only be proven by reading the stations in the forest (hey, we're nearly back on topic now!), and/or by radio-controls on the course delivering the "right" time in advance and those times not fitting the readout-times.

And I know for a fact that adding the necessary pin-punch with a safety pin to an Emit-backup slip after readout and being handed a sheet showing exactly which pin was missing has worked at least once in Belgium...

Uhm... but let's try to get back to topic, maybe? :-)
Jun 26, 2019 1:18 PM # 
Speaking of happy families and various ways to cheat, what motivates people who post regularly in AP NOT to identify themselves?
Jun 26, 2019 11:32 PM # 
So somewhat back on topic. Here is a potential situation. Someone downloads and is given mp. Claims to have visited control. Competitor immediately uploads gps to Eventor or Livelox and asks for organisers to check this after course closure. What weight should be placed upon the gps evidence?
Jun 27, 2019 3:58 AM # 
Case by case basis: the organiser should have the discretion to reinstate (or not), as should the jury.
Jun 27, 2019 5:38 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
As @O-ing writes, this is the idea my father managed to put in the rule books here in Norway, it should of course be the rule everywhere: "It is always legal to use common sense."

The main problem is probably that common sense seems to be quite uncommon. :-(

BTW, a little over a year ago the organizers of the Golden Goat, in Pacheco State park, CA, reinstated me based on witness evidence, i.e. I did not have a valid punch on the drinks control which I visited together with 3-4 competitors, including the guy who very helpfully served me water. Thank You to all involved!
Jun 27, 2019 6:53 AM # 
Yes, I am all for common sense. But when this debate moved onto error codes and people punching too quickly, well a gps pass is even quicker.
Jun 27, 2019 8:28 AM # 
@Invisible, that's why common sense and case-by-case.

Specifically in MTBO and ski-o, where the controls are on tracks (and assuming tracks use in MTBO is mandatory as in most of Europe), a GPS-track showing that the correct track was used (possibly even with a full passing rather than a u-turn some metres too short) should be enough evidence to reinstate. Certainly it was enough evidence a few years back in Austria to disqualify due to forbidden forest-riding a short-cut between two tracks…

For foot-o, where the GPS-track is not sufficient to say if the athlete was on the right side of a large bolder, slightly more evidence would be needed. Any cameras on-site, possibly witness statements, and readout of the stations will help out here.

And yes, as soon as you are adding such potentially too-fast-punches to valid results, the athletes that meticulously wait for the beep will be unhappy re fairness. But fairness in orienteering is a whole new world of discussion, not here.
Jun 28, 2019 5:44 AM # 
I don't even understand all this talk on 'too fast' punching. Is it basically someone swiping over the top of the unit? Only too fast incidences I've encountered are on the several occasions this year where I've had to wake up half the controls as I've invariably ended up being first on course.

and assuming tracks use in MTBO is mandatory as in most of Europe

Hahahaha, where is that exactly??? I've raced in Hungary, Estonia, Portugal, Austria, Lithuania and Sweden. So far I've had a 66.67% rate in those countries of being allowed to go off track. I believe for WMTBOC it is being mandated that off track is being made illegal though (but that doesn't equate to regular events).
Jun 28, 2019 7:31 AM # 
@tRicky, I'm probably biased to high-level MTBO events - not as a competitor, rather working in the timing/radios area. But POR, AUT, LIT, SWE on your list plus FRA were tracks-only when I was there. I was once shown a map from Isreal were even controls were off-track - but would you agree that controls are normally on-track even if riding off-track is allowed, and thus GPS-tracks could be sufficient evidence?

The too-fast punch is when someone does dib in-hole, but pulls out prematurely - as in, before the station completed the punch. This can lead to incomplete time/code bytes or the punch-index not being set for the next control, which will lead to the next control overwriting the previous. All this happens extremely quickly (roughly 0.1seconds), but some athletes train to minimize punching time and push the limits, "knowing" when to pull out rather than observing the station feedback. This can be crucial, because as we now know, sometimes stations are still asleep, sometimes a "sloppy punch" (shaky, or twisting the chip in the hole as you're moving past it) can lead to communication breakdown, followed by a guard-time, then restart. If you just run on after a certain time here, you could be in trouble. The punch-process is not guaranteed to always be completed after exactly the same time, physics sometimes intervene.
Jun 28, 2019 1:36 PM # 
Ahh sorry, yes controls are typically on tracks but you are allowed to ride off tracks in some of those countries. Think I misunderstood your post. Hungary WOC in 2012 many controls (particularly sprint, relay and long) were off tracks due to the nature of the area.

We were allowed off tracks in Lithuania just last week. At least I hope we were (a local competitor told us after the first race).
Jun 28, 2019 7:22 PM # 
How much of the 0.1 seconds do you think an elite could save by specific training? With SI, with its well known limitations and various error messages (or not) how many elites would be crazy enough to “train” to shave 0.05 or less off their punch time?? This sounds a bit like victim blaming and I suspect most of the “too fast” punches are poor technique rather than an attempt to cheat.
Jun 28, 2019 8:28 PM # 
Oh, I think people try to do it. And I think it's a really dumb thing to do. Sure, train to get the punch in the hole without fumbling, but don't try to shave milliseconds by pulling it out of the hole to fast.
Jun 28, 2019 9:20 PM # 
“People”? How many? Surely a deluded micro-minority. The point is that blaming the competitor is the default position for many people rather than acknowledging that the electronics have limitations.

Orienteers invest a lot in their sport, time, training, money, travel. To have all that swept away at download to hear no, dude you mp’d, you must have punched too fast/ you were never there... it’s a kick in the guts.
Jun 28, 2019 11:10 PM # 
First, the majority of orienteers in the finish chute claiming the electronic record is wrong will not have checked control codes in the field. You can save way more time that way than by "fast punching". So the volunteer sitting at the download is reasonable to assume this is the case, kick in the guts or no. You can save even more time by inadvertently missing a control altogether. So rule number one is not to discuss it with the download person who is waiting for you to move on so the next can download. Just ask for the organiser and do so with the thought in mind that you may perhaps have missed the control.
Second, the expectation that volunteer organisers will interrogate controls in the field on the day is only reasonable for very large events when there are sufficient volunteers. With this in mind, the one time this SI issue dnfed me, I didn't bother complaining. I know I was at the control (with 6 others). To me my satisfaction at getting a mediocre result (they always are), would not outweigh the extra work I caused for a volunteer. I might take a different position for a professional event with for profit fee setting. So you might say this was the competitor acknowledging that SI has a problem every now and then and accepting it.
Jun 29, 2019 1:04 AM # 
Sure Neil, it depends a lot on the level of the event. For minor events there is certainly no need to rush out and check a unit asap. But a competitor could politely ask the organisers to check that unit sometime in the coming days and adjust the results if you are found to be innocent. Perhaps an email a few days later.

You should be careful of projecting your feelings onto everyone else. That's fine (and laudable) that a wrongful dq doesn't worry you much. But obviously it would worry Eoin. Doesn't mean either of you are right or wrong - just different - both equally valid points of view. As an organiser you have to be able to deal with both.

And yes from my experience as an organiser, most times someone is at the finish insisting they have been wrongly dq'ed, it turns out they weren't. But occasionally they are right. There is of course an obligation on competitors not to be arseholes about it and deal with it politely and respectfully. But as an organiser I just accept that some people will be upset about being dq'ed and will react angrily. I don't take it personally - it is just part of the job. I try to deal with it calmly and politely: "OK, maybe you are right , we will look into it when we have time but right now we have other competitors to download.Come back later and remind us when we are not so busy" For major events there are clear procedures for challenging a dq so you can remind them of those.

I know that if I felt I was wrongly dq'ed I would want it checked, so I am willing to do that for others.
Jun 29, 2019 1:04 AM # 
Orienteers invest a lot in their sport, time, training, money, travel. To have all that swept away at download to hear no, dude you mp’d, you must have punched too fast/ you were never there... it’s a kick in the guts.
Sure, but it's not the download dude's fault - they are just telling you what the system says, it isn't personal. No point arguing the point with them. You know the rules - you know you can question the dq - so suck it up for the moment, go and have a drink and get changed and calm down. If you are still certain the dq was unfair go and deal with it in a polite and respectful manner.
Jun 29, 2019 6:43 AM # 
Invis - I have never advocated discussing it at download. And I never have. I've made one protest in 30 years orienteering in Australia and that was a formal one about a misplaced-or mismapped control.

I personally know of three instances where a software error has robbed people of Australian Championships - no protests lodged in those instances and no angry words at download AFAIK.

However my point was actually that many people in this thread are exhibiting the same attitude as one often gets from the finishing crew - that an mp means you are either incompetent or a cheat. Blame the victim. It is not a good look for the sport and doesn't make it attractive to keep coming.

If I'm on the download duty I have often tried to help / reinstate people or at least get an explanation for an mp. I think we owe the competitors that much. The finish should be a welcoming home and a friendly face.

I am advocating that organisers should have the discretion to reinstate (and as an organiser I have / would tend to reinstate anyone that could prove they were at the control e.g. GPS, err codes on the master unit etc).
Jun 29, 2019 7:37 AM # 
@O-ing - I jolly well hope that nab wasn't towards me. I certainly don't immediately blame a victim, and am fairly well known at the download to always have a smile and a greeting in numerous languages.

However, the verdict I do sometimes pronounce is based on statistics. A vast majority of competitors have a valid result. For the remaining, first step is to kindly ask them away from the standard download to my second computer - the problem desk. Here, with the help of an all-controls map, incorrect control and/or control folded out-of-view issues are very often seen and mostly acknowledged. So the very small remainder - on German-level events maybe 5 athletes - remain unsolved. For these, I print a second split-sheet for my record, ask them to go have a drink, shower, and then come back. Well, sometimes they don't, sometimes they do and say they've compared splits with others or looked at the map again and agree they weren't there.

And now, finally, at the end there might be one unresolved case were the athlete comes back and insists the control was visited. Back in the beginning of SI, when most peole still had SIcard5, I did read out some stations, and found Err-codes, and wrote those athletes mails. Often, it was two stations at one control, and I guess the athlete heard the wrong beep. Nowadays, with faster chips prevailing, I'm more inclined to believe in a system error (not a code-bug, rather some spurious communication problem). To date I personally have witnessed 2 cases of SIcard6 pointer-corruption, one case of valid punch in station but nothing on chip (which could, technically, also be a pointer corruption, but by only one punch instead of the usual multiple-of-4). They were reinstated. And then over the years there were many, many Err-codes, traditionally attributed to too-fast punches. For these, I used to pronounce mispunch stands, but have started to re-instate since about 2 years with knowledge of possible SI-bug.
Jun 29, 2019 7:46 AM # 
Hi Jsh. Your approach is a model I personally would love to emulate. Thanks.
Jun 29, 2019 8:42 AM # 
Thank you too, O-ing.
I'll add one more thought - with AIR+ mode mandatory for national events here in Germany since 2 years and SIAC numbers rising rapidly, I am very pleased to say the Err/problem punches are not seen there.

(Minor nit-pick: classic in-hole modes with SIcard11 and SIAC however are a source of dismay for my other hobby, building radio controls, because there's now a significant number of Err-punches in the station with *valid* punch on chip. These Err-punches are not sent by station AutoSend, my radio gets nothing to send - but people deem my radios faulty... grumble grumble)
Jun 29, 2019 10:38 AM # 
I am confident everyone on this thread is polite and reasonable. My concern (potentially just paranoia) is that as knowledge of the SI issues spreads, it will change expectations of reinstatement. If 95+% of mps are "valid" mps (as in a real mp), I fear that with the progression of time an increasing proportion of those with "valid" mps might expect a checking of SI boxes. Hoping the problem is solved before this has time to happen. I remain as ever impressed by the technical understanding some of you have demonstrated and thank you for continuing my education.
Jun 29, 2019 10:59 AM # 
Although there is an acknowledged problem with SI, it's uncommon enough that it's swamped by the number of actual mispunches. Almost all the time that a punch is missing, it's because the competitor either didn't go to the control, or went there and didn't punch at all (e.g. because it was a water stop, and they drank water and forgot to punch). There are a very few people who engage in the false economy of punching too quickly, and then less frequently, there's the SI bug. So when someone finishes with a missing punch, to call it "blame the victim" when the finish crew doesn't give them a valid result is not really accurate. Usually the competitor did make a mistake. It's a little extreme to categorize that as "incompetent or a cheat".
Jun 29, 2019 11:51 AM # 
jSh - whoever you are.

Am I right in assuming you work for, or used to work for, or have some other close connection with SI?
Jun 29, 2019 1:02 PM # 
Dear Rob,

Your assumption is largely correct. I have worked with SI-equipment since 2000, am building radio controls since 2010 (I shamelessly plugged the name of my project on another thread here a while back, easy to google), worked for the SI-company in 2017, and tried to keep a good contact with the company all along. Thanks to my radios I have had the honour of working at a few top-level IOF events in three disciplines, plus at TioMila in @tunapeter's team. I try to provide detailed error-reports to SI when I have data to accompany them, and rarely hear anything back. I do have limited internal knowledge, for which I signed an NDA that persists even after leaving the company.

How may I assist you?
Jun 29, 2019 1:04 PM # 
How may I assist you?

I was just curious - thanks
Jun 29, 2019 1:20 PM # 
You're welcome!
Jun 29, 2019 1:41 PM # 
My biggest concern with touch-free punching (AIR+ and emiTag) is that non-elite runners somewhat assumes that the punch is always registred when being close to the control. I've done many events now with both AIR+ and emiTag and seing lots of elderly runners getting mp. due to not having punches registred in the cards. When asking them. Did it blink/beep, they answer I must have since I was close to the control.
In the beginning I hoped this was something that would dissapear when they got used to the new punching method but still there are a lot of elderly runners here in sweden not checking feedback at all when running with touch-free punching. This concerns me and will be a big blocker for a massive transition to touch-free punching..

For example, having O-ringen move to touch-free (independent of system) is a huge risque and would mean having a lot of runners MP the first years..
Jun 29, 2019 5:14 PM # 
Hej @tunapeter,

while I hear your concern and am willing to accept the Swedes might have difficulties learning touchfree, the introduction of AIR+ in many countries worldwide went extremely smoothly. Switzerland, Germany and a few others opted for mandatory AIR+ modes on the stations, which allowed for a transition by the athletes "if they wished to" by buying a SIAC. There was very quickly a broad base of SIAC owners, while some athletes, even some Elites, opted to remain "classic". I am 100% certain there were no extensive problems from any age-group not grasping the "must get feedback" task for more than their first few punches. I do very occasionally see SIAC-owners still dibbing in-hole, kind of not understanding they could be touch-free.

I do realise that while AIR+ offers this "slow transition" due to the mixed-mode controls, a transition from classic Emit to emiTag is a very different story, as this is a "big bang" transition. This years JK seems to have had problems there (though not only athletes had problems there...).

I'm not certain about WMOC last year, but this year will be touchfree... we'll look at DSQ numbers afterwards, OK?
Jun 29, 2019 5:32 PM # 
From memory last year's WMOC was not SI Air.

Not sure why people with Air are having issues. The bloody dibber beeps at you if you went there! So many times at WMTBOC I see riders hold it up to their ears after passing a control to ensure it was valid, it's not a hard thing to learn. I do it all the time and have yet to record a missing punch at a MTBO event with Air activated but then maybe that's just because I know how it works.

jSh, in the case of an incorrect control, wouldn't this show up on the splits printout with a time between the two correct controls either side of the wrong one? Probably not a great deal of need to take the issue further in that instance.
Jun 29, 2019 7:12 PM # 
Found WMOC 2018 bulletin, says NOT contactless. So this year will be a first then.

@tRicky, it depends on the competition software. Some display additional controls inline with the required controls, some put them at the end of the list with an asterisk. But yes, the time of an additional control can be easily matched up to previous and next control. Of course there's a possibility an additional control was punched (possibly even inadvertently due to contactless) and the athlete insists he/she *also* visited the missing control...
Jun 29, 2019 7:23 PM # 
True, yes today's event we had extra controls (actually they weren't extra; I was an early finisher and they'd replaced our final two in the field and hadn't yet updated course info in the software - thankfully I didn't even check the numbers, was just sure I was in the correct location) that were listed at the bottom but last week's events the extras were listed in with the correct ones (both events were SI Air - last week's was 150cm, today's 30cm so harder to gain additional controls).
Jul 5, 2019 6:59 AM # 
There are many, especially elderly, orienteers that cannot hear the (or any) beep. I fail to see why orienteering should discriminate against those with reduced hearing.
Jul 5, 2019 7:44 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
That is why there is the Green light on the SIAC and the Red on the SI station
Jul 5, 2019 8:17 AM # 
@UncleJim - actually the punch-confirmation blink at the tip of the SIAC is also red. There is a very short green blink every 7 seconds when the SIAC is in active mode.
Jul 5, 2019 9:59 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
@jSh - you are right, been a while since I used my SIAC
Jul 5, 2019 1:42 PM # 
You might as well just say orienteering discriminates against deaf and blind people because they can't get confirmation of visiting a control or being able to read a map.
Jul 5, 2019 1:51 PM # 
Orienteering has been part of Deaflympics for a few years already and I met a deaf orienteer in Estonia a few years back - we had a great discussion of route-analysis post-race on his scribble-board (remember those kid-toys where you draw with a magnetic pen and clear the page with a slider-thingy?)

Also, OCAD has a map-sample in standard install of a haptic orienteering map (a school yard).

Nothing is impossible...
Jul 6, 2019 12:18 AM # 
When I get too old to hear the beep, I'll be in trouble, because I'm colorblind and can't see the red flash very well either.
Jul 6, 2019 9:19 AM # 
I met a mum at an event we organised about 10 years ago whose son was deaf mute. He was just starting a non-trivial course (maybe men's 14). I apologised that we were reading out the course advisory info rather than displaying it. She said it didn't matter because he couldn't read.

I'm still humbled when I think of the pair of them. Good to remember when my own kid disappears off into the bush on her courses and I'm worrying.
Jul 6, 2019 11:10 AM # 
I had a boy in one of my classes who was colour blind. He didn't mention it - his mate did. From then on I did his map in B/W - I couldn't really get it that this was a better option for him but it was. His mate described the areas and he happily went off (and returned even happier) on his course.
Jul 6, 2019 1:16 PM # 
From an education perspective, I really appreciate Universal Design for Learning, a model that helps us think about how to reduce barriers that aren't relevant to learning or performing a task.

Sometimes it's hard to realize when we are making things unnecessarily difficult for others. I appreciate it when people point that out to me and are patient about coming up with alternatives.
Jul 11, 2019 9:49 AM # 
This isn't about the same fault, but there seem to be some problems with SIAC sticks. My contributions and those of jSh have been copied to new thread "SIAC Chip Problems"
Jul 11, 2019 12:29 PM # 
Did they do another battery check of Kalinina's stick after the finish? Was the problem even due to low battery? One theory proposed was that the touch-free function somehow got switched off during the race.

Is there a list published somewhere of SIAC numbers affected by the older firmware readout lockup issue? Also... how does this behavio(u)r differ from what happens if the battery dies during the race with newer firmware? Can you somehow still download a stick with a dead battery if it has new firmware?
Jul 11, 2019 1:31 PM # 
There's no firm decision. The participant has to ware it.
Jul 11, 2019 2:15 PM # 
My contributions and those of jSh have been copied to new thread "SIAC Chip Problems"
Jul 11, 2019 5:33 PM # 
Hi Gruver,

Actually it's firmware up to 3.2 affected, not 4.2. And it doesn't always lock up. And yes, beginning with 4.0 a SIAC with dead battery becomes safely passive and can be read like a SIcard10.

Basically the story is there was a lockup of a 2013 SIAC on WMOC SQ, the Latvians were in contact with me re radio controls and I advised what to do with the SIAC (physical opening and brief external power is required). Data was successfully read. After that, I proposed to SI to cross-check WMOC entries and production logs, this turned up 10 more potential victims. So I communicated that list to my WMOC contact, and the drama was added ;)

Production logs are non-public, and all registered (direct) buyers were contacted, but many SIACs get sold by o-shops. One of the ChangeSI in Latvia was bought in Portugal but lives in Japan... so it's kind of lucky to have a big event like WMOC were start list matching makes sense.

Reading the SIAC with SIconfigPlus in "Read cards" will display the firmware value.
Jul 11, 2019 5:47 PM # 
Regarding the Kalinina issue, the data currently available to me is inconclusive (I'm not on site), but public data from radio controls shows her SIAC definitely was active until the phi-loop, then no more data.
Jul 11, 2019 11:19 PM # 
My contributions and those of jSh have been copied to new thread "SIAC Chip Problems"
Jul 12, 2019 11:35 PM # 
Well that's good, if you happen to have the newer firmware. But how do you know? It sounds like owners can't determine this by checking if their chip # is in a known range, but only by having someone read their chip firmware version # for them?

Notifying owners their chip is potentially faulty only if they bought directly from SI or if they show up at WMOC is probably missing a sizeable fraction of the user base.
Jul 13, 2019 2:37 AM # 
Fossil I would urge you to take up the question at "SIAC Chip Problems" and leave this thread for the "punched, feedback, but no record" problem.
Aug 7, 2019 2:30 PM # 
If there is an Err{A,B,C} that generally means that they punched too fast, did not get the proper feedback, and should not be reinstated.

After my experience at a local event on the weekend, I think this could be very unfair. I was the first at a control and had to wake up the unit. I punched, heard it beep, and ran on. What I did not notice at that time was that the unit actually beeped four times (low voltage warning), but someone who was right behind me noticed this. That punch was not written on my stick, so I was an mp. The unit worked fine for all later runners. When I later checked the unit, there was an ErrB code showing for my punch. You could say four beeps is not "proper feedback", but runners would not hang around to listen for extra beeps. Perhaps I did hear the extra beeps but assumed it was the punching of the person behind me after I already turned my back to the unit; I can't exactly remember. Of course at a more major event the unit would have been woken up already and this probably wouldn't have happened, but it's still something that's good to be aware of.
Aug 7, 2019 7:13 PM # 
At Oringen this year John Rance (GVOC, Canada) got hit by the bug on stage 2. His download showed 3 missing punches in a row and he was sure he was there. He was later reinstated after they downloaded the units late in the evening and it was confirmed to be the bug.

I spoke to the person who went through the logs from the units. He said that on stage 1 there were 9 people hit by the bug and on stage 2 there were 6 people with the bug (approx 20000 starts per day). They were of course all reinstated, but he also said they reinstated anyone who reported a mispunch and had an error code in the unit.
Aug 7, 2019 8:21 PM # 
Of course at a more major event the unit would have been woken up already...

Tell that to the first M40 starter for the Aus Champs sprint in Narrogin this year.
Aug 7, 2019 8:55 PM # 
The typical competitor is not going to be aware of any subtleties in the beeping. Beep means OK.
Aug 7, 2019 9:09 PM # 
I got a weird beep at my last WA MTBO event from the start brick. Almost went back and checked it but didn't and it downloaded okay.

This discussion thread is closed.