Preparing your computer and software for the upcoming season

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Hopefully our seasons will be getting underway soon (fingers crossed!). In preparation for your upcoming season, it’s a good idea to prepare your computer and software so it will run smoothly right from the beginning. Here are some tips for “cleaning up” your software.

Update your Computer

If you are like me, you haven’t been to the pool in a while, or even turned on the computer you use for running meets. Now is a good time to do that, since you’re bound to have Windows updates waiting! Get your computer connected to the network and run Windows Update. Remember, their updates aren’t cumulative, so you may need to run it a couple times to get all caught up! You may also need to run Windows update the afternoon before your meet – just in case they try to sneak one in there during the meet. You can also set your update preferences so that it won’t install updates during meet times. This is important since Windows will sometimes shut off ports and networks if there is an update waiting to go in.

Clean Up Old Meets in IST Software

Now that you’re done with the season, it’s a good time to get rid of the old meets in your system. Before you do these next steps – MAKE A BACKUP. Go to Utilities/Backup/Backup, select a location (preferably a removable drive that you can keep with this season’s paperwork) and click BACKUP. That way you’ll have the data if you need to go back to it.

In MEETWARE, it’s easy to start a new season. Just go to Utilities/New Season and click SETUP A NEW SEASON. It will ask you to back up, which you can skip if you’ve already done that. Then it deletes all your meets, ages everyone on your team and away teams up 1 year, and adds your graduating seniors to an alumni roster. That’s it, you’re ready for a new season!

If you are using TIMEWARE, you can delete the meets that you ran last year. Go to MEETS/MEET SETUP, select each meet and click Delete.

Meets should be deleted periodically. You can only store 99 meets in TIMEWARE or MEETWARE, and if you don’t delete a few now and then you’ll end up duplicating meet numbers and seeing weird data.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to clean up your meet files on your Meet Manager computer. Go into your SWMEETS folder and delete any of the .gen files that are still in there. Clean up this folder. Move any old .mdb files into a different folder for safe keeping.

Clean up your computer

Once you have cleaned up your files, you can run a Windows Disk Clean Up as well. For newer versions of windows, type Disk Cleanup in the search bar to find it. Clean out all the old and temporary files. You can also defragment your hard drive (search Defragment in the search bar) to help thing run smoothly.

Update your Software

Now that you have a nice clean computer, make sure that your software is up to date. If you look at the top left of the window, you will see the software name, the version number and a date in parenthesis. Take a look on the IST website and make sure that the date on your software isn’t older than the date on the update page: https://www.istime.com/support/software-updates/. If it is out of date, click the link to download the update.zip file. Save it somewhere you can find it, and make sure it doesn’t have a (1) in the name! Then go into your IST Software under Utilities/Update, select the update file and click UPDATE. Then just follow the prompts on the screen.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Also, if you need help with any of this, or you would like a refresher course on the software please reach out. We are happy to do on-line training and support sessions using Team Viewer, Zoom or Microsoft Teams. You can reach us at support@istime.com or call 800-835-2611.

IST’s Stance on Recent Events

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Hello everyone, we here at IST wanted to take the time to address what is happening in the world right now and where we stand on the matter. First, before anything else, we hope that no matter what you are doing and or how you feel about the issues at hand, you are taking the proper precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy. There is still a worldwide pandemic going on. So, please wear a mask and bring proper protective gear if you are gathering in crowds.  

With that being said, IST is a company built on serving its community and all the people in it. Our customers are people who want to better their pools to create an atmosphere that athletes, staff members, and observers can all enjoy, no matter what their background is. We share that same mentality towards the issues presented throughout the world. We don’t discriminate against who you are, and we support those who are passionate about creating a world built on equality and peace. We find the actions taken against George Floyd were heinous, and the officers who have unjustly overused their power that is meant to protect the people should have the proper disciplinary actions taken against them. There should be appropriate repercussions for anyone who takes unnecessary harmful actions towards another human being, no matter who they are and what their position is.  

IST stands with the black community, as well as other communities that feel oppressed or unfairly treated, and with those who take the appropriate actions to support people in need. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and their message of promoting equality for communities that feel they are treated unfairly That message of equality needs to continue, even once the dust has settled. At the end of the day we are all people just trying to get through life one day at a time, so why not make every day enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you?  

“Picket lines and picket signs 

Don’t punish me with brutality 

Come on, talk to me 

So you can see 

What’s going on…” – Marvin Gaye (1971) 

 

A message from the IST family 

Celebrating the Class of 2020

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Some of the high school seasons came to an abrupt end in March, and spring sports are non-existent. Some coaches have been thinking about ways to celebrate their Seniors who will be graduating this year. Here are a couple of ideas that we’ve stolen from other coaches!

Social Media Shout Outs

If you have social media accounts from your team you can create a series of “shout outs” for your seniors. Use a photo from the season, or maybe a photo from their freshman and senior seasons, or a copy of a senior photo if you can get one. Next, use a photo editing software package (I like MS Paint, it’s really simple!) add their name and any other relevant information. GPA, best times, records broken, where they are going to school next year, etc. Then get the senior and/or parents to sign off on the images that you are using. No surprises!

Finally, post the photo on all of your social media accounts and encourage their teammates to share the posts and their congratulations with the senior. Make sure you tag the senior in the photo. If you aren’t connected with them on social media, have one of their teammates tag them. This could be a great project for your Juniors to work on too!

 

NISCA Academic All America Award

If your senior has a 3.75 (weighted or unweighted) GPA and has earned (or would have earned this year) a varsity letter with your program, they are eligible for the NISCA Academic All America award. Applications can be submitted on-line. You will need the athlete’s home address for the certificate to be mailed. Also, you will need to submit a signature form and copy of their transcript.

If you are going to do this, you need to start TODAY. You have to get everything collected electronically and emailed to the coordinator no later that June 15th. For more information see the NISCA Website under Awards / Academic All America. If you have a lot of smart athletes, you might also want to consider applying for the NISCA Scholar Team award. See their website for more details.

 

Create an Instagram-able Spot Near Your Pool

Do you have an area outside your pool that would look good in pictures? Something that identifies it as your pool or school and gets great lighting? Glue or duct tape some paint sticks into the back of kickboards (bonus points if they are in your school’s colors) and stick them in the ground. Create a banner, sign, chalk art or other image that you can hang on a blank wall or on the sidewalk.

Let your team know about it and have them stop by (one at a time, maintaining social distancing of course) and have them take photos in front of that stop and post them on Instagram. Ask your team to tag their Seniors in their photos and comment with their favorite memories of the team.

Videos/Power Point/Prezi Presentation

Collect as many photos of the team as you can, even if they aren’t from this year. Create an “end of year” slide show that features the Seniors. Bonus points for background music.

Similarly, you can also ask your team members to send in short videos of themselves talking about their favorite memories of the team, or the seniors. Assign an underclassman to talk about a Senior so everyone is represented. Take those videos and photos and edit them into a single YouTube video in honor of your Senior class.

The year may have ended abruptly for the class of 2020, but we can help make it a little less bittersweet. Use your team’s creative energy and imaginations (and extra time) to come up with a fitting tribute to your Seniors. Have fun!

IST’s COVID-19 Response

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We would like to address IST’s response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. IST is located in Michigan, where social distancing has been implemented. We typically have less than 10 people at a time in the physical office. We are taking extra precautions with hand washing and cleaning of commonly touched items like coffee pots and door handles. Our employees all have paid time off available to them, and have been encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well, and we asked them to err on the side of caution. Many of our employees can work from home, and have also been encouraged to do so. IST is in good shape financially and does not have any debt currently, so we foresee being able to rebound quickly once the emergency has passed.

We know that many of you are out of your pools and not allowed to train. If you have equipment that needs to be repaired, we would encourage you to do that now while you don’t need it for a while. We can repair all kinds of our products from pace clocks ($150-$250 depending on the clock), SWIMSTART ($200), CTI ($250) and deck cables ($75 for the 25-pin connector or $85 per lane box). The fees include the repair of anything that is wrong with the item (replacement batteries are an additional $60), plus inspection, cleaning and testing.

To get an item repaired, call (800-835-2611) or email (support@istime.com) with your team name and the item that needs repair. Please also include the shipping address where you would like the repaired item returned. We will email you an RMA number and instructions for packaging and shipping the item. Once it has been repaired we will reach out to you for payment information. We can accept credit cards over the phone, checks or PO numbers (if you can get one).

From our family to yours, we hope that you stay well. We will be here and ready to go once the crisis has passed. Be safe and wash your hands!

A Trip Back in Time!

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We have recently stumbled upon the first commercial that IST produced! It is a parody of “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney”, and was released in 1992. If you look closely, you may be able to recognize a few familiar faces from the office!

When plugging in your touchpads, polarity matters!

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Ground Tabs

If you have ever looked closely at the banana plugs on your touchpads and backup buttons, you will see that there is a ground tab on each of them.

This ground tab indicates that the ground wire (black wire) is attached to that terminal. On the deck cable, you will notice that there is a red and black collar on the plug.

Proper Connection

For the touchpads and backup buttons to work properly, the black wire needs to plug into the black collar and the red wire needs to plug into the red collar on the deck cable. In other words, the ground tab needs to go on the black collar.

Check that you have everything plugged in correctly.  Make sure that the ground tab points to the middle of the lane box, like this:

Plugging the connectors in properly means the ground tabs line up with the center of the box. Just make sure that you have the touchpad plugged into the PAD side and the backup button plugged into the BACKUP side!

What happens if the polarity isn’t correct? If it is just on one touchpad, you might see it work intermittently. Plugging in multiple touchpads incorrectly can cause interference. This can cause several to work intermittently or not at all. You may notice that your pads just don’t seem to register hits all the time. The first thing to check in that case is the plug polarity.

Repairing the Connections

If the collars on the deck cable are broken and the connections are rusted, you might want to consider replacing the boxes on the deck cable ($85/box) or replacing the entire deck cable. Especially if making sure the pads and buttons are plugged in correctly doesn’t correct the problems you are having.

Have more questions about diagnosing and fixing deck cable and touchpad issues? Look at the Tips and Technical Support page on our website for information on diagnosing and troubleshooting issues with Touchpads, Deck Cables and Backup buttons. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page:

As always, if you need something repaired, give us a call at 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com to get an RMA number. Deck cables, backup buttons and touchpads all have a 2-year warranty.

 

IST Cables – Info you need to know!

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Many of our products come with cables that connect them to other items – the cable from the CTI to the computer, the CTI to the scoreboard, Deck cable to the CTI, etc. Often if there is hardware issue, the likely culprit is a cable or connector on a cable. Cables have a 2-year warranty, so if it is less than 2 years old let us know and we’ll get it fixed or replaced.

If its more than 2 years old, you have a couple options. You can purchase a replacement cable from us, or you can clean or replace the cable yourself. Here is what you need to know about the various cables.

 

SCOREBOARD CABLES

Our scoreboard cables look like phone cables. A word of warning – THEY ARE NOT! If you look closely at the connectors on both ends of the scoreboard cable, you will see that the wires are in the same color order from left to right on both ends of the cable.

For example, blue, orange, orange striped, green. If you look at the ends of a phone cable, the wires from left to right are blue, orange, orange striped, green on one end and  green, orange striped, orange, blue from left to right on the other end. This cable switches the polarity, which isn’t a problem for the phone company, but is a big problem for your scoreboard! A normal phone cable will not allow your scoreboard to get communication from the CTI.

If you need to replace the cable to your scoreboard, you can use a phone cable, but you must make some adjustments. Get an RJ11 connector and an RJ11 crimper tool. Cut off one end of the phone cable and strip back a little of the jacket. Insert the cable into the new RJ11 connector, making sure that the colors in the new connector match the order of the colors in the other end from left to right. Press them in and use the crimping tool to keep them in place.

You may find it easier to just purchase a new one. Those are available on our website in many different sizes: https://www.istime.com/product/scoreboard-cables/

CLEANING SCOREBOARD CABLES

Sometimes the issue isn’t in the cable itself, but in the connector. If you look at the RJ11 connector you should see strips of shiny gold on the end.

If you see dull gold or green, your cable needs to be cleaned. You can use a product called CRC Contact Cleaner (available at Lowes, Home Depot and WalMart or on our website). Spray the contact cleaner onto the connector and scrub with a pipe cleaner until it is shiny again. You can also clean the connector in the CTI and end of the scoreboard the same way.

If cleaning the connectors doesn’t work, and a new cable doesn’t work, you may need to replace the RJ11 connector on the scoreboard. That is easy to do and the instructions are on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Replacing-the-RJ11-Jack-in-your-IST-Scoreboard.pdf

 

CTI CABLES

Our older CTI’s have a 25-pin to 9-pin serial cable.

Most computers no longer have serial ports. These cables require a USB to Serial adapter. If you have a failure of the cable from the computer to the CTI, the adapter cable is the first thing to check. These are available on our website or at your local computer store. Make sure when purchasing the USB to Serial adapter cable that it is compatible with the version of Windows on your timing computer. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to replace the serial cable. You need a 25pin male to 9 pin female serial cable. These are available on our website, at a local computer store or on Cables To Go.

Our newer CTI’s have a USB cable from the CTI to the computer.

This is called a USB-A cable. It has a square connector on one end and a regular USB connector on the other end. They are commonly used for printers. You can purchase them from our website, at a local computer retailer or online.

 

DECK CABLES

If you are having issues with your deck cable, there are several things that you can do to diagnose the issue. You can find a white paper on diagnosing deck cables on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Diagnosing-IST-Deck-Cable-Problems.pdf

One common problem found on the CTI is that one of the pins in the 25-pin connector has been bent or pushed in.

If you see a pin that is not completely straight and even with the others, you can gently pull it out or straighten it using a pair of needle nose pliers. If the pin is broken or missing, you will need to send the CTI back to IST for repair.

Our deck cables can’t be replaced by anyone but us. However, you can replace the 25-pin connector if you know how to do that.

It is important when replacing the 25-pin connector that you get all the wires back into their correct places. If you are going to replace the connector yourself, please contact IST for a wiring diagram. You can also send the deck cable to us for repair. Replacing a 25 pin connector costs $75. Call 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com for an RMA number before you send it to us.

TOUCHPADS, START CABLE, BACKUP BUTTONS

Look at the plugs at the end of your touchpads, start cable and backup buttons. Those 2-prong plugs are called “banana plugs”.

They can get corroded, the prongs can become compressed, the plating can wear off and the wires can come loose. Corrosion can be cleaned off with electrical contact cleaner (see the paragraph about scoreboard cables). Anything else requires banana plug replacement. This is easy to do on your own. You can purchase the banana plugs from us. The instructions for replacing the plugs are on our website: https://www.istime.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Banana-Plug-Replacement-1.pdf.

Keeping your cables clean, dry and free of kinks will help extend their life. If you have cables that need repaired or replaced give us a call at 800-835-2611 or email support@istime.com. We’re happy to help!

Come visit IST at the Eastern States Clinic!

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IST will once again be at the Eastern States Swim Clinic in Cherry Hill, PA October 4-6. Join us on Friday the 4th at 6:30pm for the “Technology Corner”. Make sure to stop by our booth while you are there to sign up to win a 4-digit SWIMCOUNT Pace clock.

SWIMCOUNT-HX

There is a GROUP DISCOUNT available for the Eastern States clinic. Register 5 coaches and get 1 free or register 5 swimmers and get 1 free. The more coaches you have attend, the better your chances of winning a pace clock!  See you at the Clinic!

Eastern States Swim Clinic infographic

Fall Season Starts Soon – Make Sure You Are Ready!

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The fall swim season begins this month. Now is the time to make sure that you are prepared for the  swim season and the beginning of competition.

Update your computer(s)        Computer with Windows

If your computers haven’t been connected to a network since the end of last swim season, now is the time to do an update. Get them out, power them on and connect them to your network. Go to the Windows Start Menu (or Cortana search bar in Windows 10) and search for Windows Update. Check for and install the updates. You may have to check after each update to make sure that there isn’t a subsequent one that needs to go in. There were a couple major Windows updates released this spring, so it could take a while to get fully up to date. Make sure you do this now! Don’t wait until the day of your first meet to do it.

Update your IST Software         TIMEWARE 3 Timing Screen

Go to https://www.istime.com/support/ and click on Software Updates on the left side. Click on the version number of the software that you want to update and SAVE THE FILE to your computer or a flash drive. Do not extract or unzip the file, just save it. Make sure that it saves as MWUPDATE.zip or TWUPDATE.zip and does not have any extra characters in the name – like a (1). If it does, it will not install properly. If it saves a MWUPDATE(1).zip, go to the folder, delete any copies of MWUPDATE.zip that you find, then try downloading it again.

Now open your IST software and go to Utilities / Update. Select the file that you downloaded and follow the instructions on the screen. You can check to see if you have the latest version by looking at the version number and date on the top of the MEETWARE, TIMEWARE or POLOWARE screen. The version and date should match what is listed on the website.

Check your Hardware            Computer Timing Interface box

Early in the season, get your hardware out and look it over. Do you see any corrosion? Did any wires get bent, broken, frayed or kinked? Do you see any slices or tears in the touchpads? Do you have all the chargers and power cords that you need?

If anything is missing, or you need to clean up corrosion on the metal pieces, go to www.istime.com and click on PRODUCTS. Under each product category you can purchase replacement parts for those items. Under Timing Equipment, we sell Contact Cleaning spray and DiElectric grease for cleaning and protecting metal components.

Test your equipment              Timing equipment setup

IT’s a good idea to run an early season intersquad meet to test your hardware. That way you know that everything is working, and the kids get a feel for what a real meet is going to look like. It is also a great opportunity to train a new computer operator! Set it up just like a real meet, including the touchpads. Make sure everything is running properly.

If you find an issue, look at our Tips and Technical Support page (https://www.istime.com/support/tips-technical-support/) . We have lots of great white papers that tell you how to diagnose and sometimes fix the most common problems that you run into. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to give us a call at 800-835-2611. We can help you diagnose, and sometimes fix, the issue right over the phone.

Get your Equipment Repaired

There are some things that you won’t be able to fix yourself. Fortunately, IST has a 5 year warranty, as well as the ability to repair just about any issue. To have an item repaired, call us at 800-835-2611 and ask for an RMA (Return Material Authorization) number. Once you have that, box up the item and ship it to us. We’ll fix the issue, clean it up, make sure everything is running right and then ship it back to you. Turnaround time is usually a week from when we receive it, but keep in mind that this time of year things get busy. Don’t wait to send in your item for repair or we might not be able to get it back to you before your first meet!

Train your Computer Operator     IST TIMEWARE Video

If you purchased a new MEETWARE or TIMEWARE disk in the last few years, it came with our training videos. If you don’t have them you can find the same videos on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/IntlSportsTime).

We can also set up a training session remotely. All you need is a computer with TIMEWARE or MEETWARE installed, a copy of TeamViewer (free at www.teamviewer.com), an internet connection and  a phone. Give us a call to set up an appointment. At the appointed time, turn on your computer, open TeamViewer and then give us a call. We’ll walk you through how to set up and run a meet and answer any questions that you have

Join NISCA         NISCA Logo

If you are high school coach, you need to join the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA). The membership year runs from August 1st through July 31st (school year), regardless of when you join. Join today so that you get the full benefit of your $75 NISCA membership. They offer a $1M liability insurance policy, 6 journals a year, free and reduced All America application fees, as well as a trove of great information on their website – some of which is only available to members. IST is a proud NISCA partner and sponsor of the National Dual Meet program. You can use MEETWARE to automatically create and submit a National Dual Meet Application.

 

Let us know if you need anything

Image of phone

800-835-2611

We want your meets to run smoothly and we are here to help. Please reach out to me (eve@istime.com, 800-835-2611) if you have any questions at all or need some help. We are always happy to talk to our customers!

 

Have a great season!