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RRWT gets a technology overhaul

By Ken Johnston

While there will be some new attractions or events taking place at this year’s Rainy River Walleye Tournament, there is one major change that will be taking place behind the scenes.
Committee member Brent Anderson said that the computer software used to keep track of all the weights, the anglers and other interesting information has become outdated. “It was old, having been developed in 2001, by Mike Lowes and was starting to freeze up on us.”
So Anderson began looking at what other tournaments used and discovered that the Fort Frances Times Web Design Division had recently created software for the Emo Walleye Classic and the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship. “We approached them and they agreed to work on it for the RRWT,” said Anderson.
Last Thursday Melissa Jenson and Alissa Jacobson went to the Fort Frances Times and were trained on it.
“They told me they were very impressed with it and that it seems easy to use,” said Anderson Friday.
In addition to the aging software they were also using computers that were getting to be dinosaurs. So the RRWT decided to revamp all its electronics. They purchased two computers and a server, had the new software developed and also decided to scrap the big projection screens. “The screens were old and getting brittle. They were hard to set up. So we decided to go with 50 inch t.v.s”
If it works out they may add more big t.v.s each year. “The wireless t.v.s are still pretty expensive but as time goes by the prices may fall and we may be able to afford more of them,” said Anderson. They hope to have screens at the front and back of the tent this year. They will also be giving the t.v.s away as part of this year’s prize packages. They will then buy new ones each year.
Linda Plumridge Manager/Owner of the Times Web Design Division said, “We decided to develop the software about three years ago when the existing programs were putting limitations on tournaments.” They had a 1.5 year plan to develop and implement it for Emo and Fort Frances. (Programmer) Bram (Van der Kroef) had it all coded in six months.”
Anderson said that the software was customized for the RRWT, which was much of what the Times staff has been working on since they were approached by the tournament committee this spring.
Plumridge noted that Jenson and Jacobson learned the main parts of the program and said, “The users can grow with the software. It has many other capabilities that they can learn over time.” One of those features is an Emcee screen. “Only the Emcee can see it and he or she can put notes in there about certain anglers so when they come up on stage the Emcee has that info. in front of them.”
While Times Web Design focuses mainly on the creation and servicing of websites for customers, Plumridge said, “This was something different for us but our staff loved the challenge. Hopefully it helps produce a good show for the audience!”
As each tournament uses the software Plumridge hopes they will offer feedback so that it can be improved. “All the tournaments can help better it!”
The Times, which owns the Record, donated the software and the training to the RRWT. “We think the Rainy River Walleye Tournament is a great event and we really enjoy supporting it every year,” said Plumridge.