Free Meet/Race/Regatta Management Software

events-1The United States is not known for its sprint canoe and kayak racing teams — far from it.  While we have had a handful of Olympic medals, these have been very few and far between.  The sport has only a small following here, despite there being SUP, marathon and outrigger paddling communities with incredible depth.  Despite that, we perhaps have some of the best race software around.  JRaceman written by Jim McBeath is an open source Java based tool that can be used with many different sporting events to provide reports, heats, race results and more.

Check out some of its features:

  • Standalone (single user) or client/server (multi user).
  • Checks data for errors and restrictions (such as max entries per person and age levels).
  • Choice of methods for initial lane draw, including random, seeded, and by category.
  • Automatic, Manual, and Custom Progressions (lane assignment).
  • Supports group events (such as relay races or team boats).
  • Calculates Individual and Team scores.
  • Supports multiple customized per-place point scoring systems.
  • Supports non-scoring competitors (such as Internationals in a National competition), including optional preferential progression for scoring competitors over non-scoring competitors.
  • Produces HTML reports: Schedule Reports, Entries Reports, Lane Reports, Results Reports, Progress Reports, Score Reports, Award Reports, Personal Results.
  • Supports alternate and custom style sheets for HTML reports.
  • Fast web reports to maintain a web site during a meet.
  • Prints labels for awards.
  • Export/Import capability to support distributed data entry.
  • Interfaces to FinishLynx and Omega automated finish-line systems.
  • Integrated on-line web registration.
  • On-line help with built-in browser.
  • Tutorial Wizard simplifies learning how to use JRaceman.

If you’re hosting an event or attending an event that needs help with management, JRaceman is something you should consider using.   It’s an excellent example of open source software and great for anyone putting on a regatta, track meet or other racing event!

iThemes Security – A must have

iTheme Security Pro Earlier I wrote about a plugin for WordPress I found to be extremely valuable – Better WP Security.  Specifically, its ability to block brute force attacks against simpler passwords and username combinations.  This was a major threat to all WordPress sites almost a year ago.

Since then, there have been many updates to the Better WP Security plugin, and the developer has also been hired by iThemes to continue his development (and monetize the plugin’s advanced features).  This is great news really as the free version of the plugin is excellent and there are now a wider range of paid advanced features many web developers and site administrators should consider using, now.  The plugin is more robust than it was even; no small task for a developer starting with what already seemed to me to be a full featured security plugin.

If you are still on the older Better WP Security plugin, before you update, deactivate the older version of the plugin.  Failing to do this can make your site inaccessible as there are conflicts in the features and the plugin’s ability to update them when active.  Once you’ve updated to the iTheme’s version, you simply need to reactivate the plugin and check to see what new options are available that you should consider including in your site’s security features.

If you failed to deactivate the plugin, you’ll need to move the plugin directory for Better WP Security out of your site’s plugin folder and perhaps remove any updates the plugin did to your htaccess file.  Once you do that, you should be able to complete the update or reinstall the plugin.

A New Template – Responsive Design

A long overdue change to our site came about today; a new template. It’s been years since we changed our template and while keeping the same header and color scheme for branding reasons, it’s nice to finally have a responsive design and not a separate template for mobile users. The separate template path never felt very clean or simple. The mobile view bothered me.

Again we are also reminded of the power behind a solid CMS platform. Changing our site’s look and feel was a simple thing and quite painless. Long live WordPress!

Brute Force Attacks? Get “Better WP Security” for WordPress Security

Over the past several days, I’ve seen a great many news articles about a bot based brute force attack on WordPress (and Joomla) based websites where the bot uses common password choices and attempts to login with the username “admin.”  Mind you, we are talking about hundreds, perhaps thousands of these common passwords and coming from tens of thousands of compromised servers.  The effort being to gain access to the server and then use the administrator site to add other files and code changes which further compromise the use of the website completely. You really need some WordPress Security.

Having already written about other hacking effort increases of late, I am bothered that yet again these content management systems are being hit with what amounts to the use of wasted talent; hackers show intelligence and problem solving skills, why not put them to use in a way that doesn’t harm others?  Thankfully, the open source community is quick to respond and build tools needed to protect websites from such harmful efforts.

Bit51 - Better WP SecurityBetter WP Security from Bit51.com is an excellent add on to your WordPress website.  It was written long before this current wave of brute force attacks, and is something I would recommend all WordPress websites use from day one.  It relies on both htaccess changes for blocking known bots and other file changes that remove vulnerabilities outright and through obfuscation.

Here is a list of some of the things this tool does:

  • Enforces stricter passwords for users at any level you determine.
  • Removes the backend file editor.
  • Scans the site for recently changed files and emails a report to you if there are such intrusions.
  • Blocks repeated login attempts.
  • Blocks SQL injection attempts.
  • Makes backups of your database and mails them to you are regular intervals

This is open source work at its finest.  It is free to use, but the developer does provide a means of paying him for his work — which I’d highly recommend doing as this tool is really quite will constructed and extremely valuable.

 

Open Source Time Management Software – timeEdition is Perfect

timeEdition

For years I used TimeSlice on my Macintosh (it’s a cross-platform app though) for tracking my freelance hours.  It was simple, easy to setup for jobs and printed out a nice report for my clients to see.  However, it wasn’t open source.  It wasn’t expensive either, really, but I like the idea of using an OS app that I can contribute to if needed both in terms of feedback or code edits for improvement.  Having updated my version of Mac OS  somewhat recently, it was time to look for a good replacement.  I found something I think I’m coming to like even more than my trusty old TimeSlice app.  timeEdition.

This little app (and Dashboard widget if you are so inclined) does all I need it to do and more.  With it, I can setup clients, projects, tasks and the rates applied to each of these tasks.  The ability to specify a different rate for simpler tasks is something I valued a great deal in TimeSlice.  With TimeSlice, you had to have a file for each client – not so for timeEdition.  I can shift between clients and tasks in one simple (and small) interface.  See this screenshot provided by the developer –

timeEdition Version 4.x

Note that there are multiple windows shown here, but that’s just to give you the different color options really.  Note also that this app is cross-platform, too.  There’s a Macintosh, Windows and Linux version!  Very nicely done.

manage your projects with timeEditionAnother feature I found extremely useful is the ability to select where the database file and backup file one can create are stored on your computer.  I chose to put mine in a DropBox folder so that I could have assured backup and potentially do work on another machine if needed.  I had configured some clients, projects and tasks before changing my database location over though and these items were not automatically moved to the new location.  Beware of that.  It was a pretty simple process to find the default location and import my data into the new database, too, but that’s really the only complaint I can make about this very well laid out and simple tool.  The reporting is more than sufficient for my needs too.

If you are in need of a time logging tool, I highly recommend timeEdition.

 

DocMan – Joomla Download and Document Manager

dashboard-smallAnyone new to Joomla will likely not know of this excellent Extension, but for newcomers, it’s really almost a most have in my view.  I’m talking about DocMan, a download and document management tool from Joomlatools.

DocMan is nearly as old as Joomla itself and quite mature; it has many features and an intuitive interface.  There a permission levels, categories and subcategories, obfuscation of the download path and an “anti-leeching” feature preventing others from linking to your downloads.

There are some nice add-ons, some from Joomlatools, others from third parties.  One add on I’ve used is AutoPopulate.  Having several hundred files that I needed to be inserted into the management system and have titles and categories was far simpler using this add on.  There are many others, including ones for charging for downloads via PayPal and more.

Over the years I have tried several other Joomla document management tools, but always regret not sticking with DocMan.  It works well and has more resources than any other that I’ve found.  If you’re building a website that needs a document management section, consider DocMan the answer to your needs.

WordPress and SEO

This post is more of a post script to my Simple Search Engine Optimization post earlier. If you’re looking to build a website that has some built in SEO capabilities and features, you really should consider WordPress as the tool to use.

Here’s why:

  1. WordPress has mod_rewrite tools built in for providing ‘permalinks’ that are related to the page title and content.
  2. Tags and tag management tools lend themselves very well to SEO.  (Add a tag cloud if it fits your design.)
  3. Plug-ins for SEO are plentiful — I recommend this Google XML Sitemap Generator.
  4. Blogs are (normally)  very full of descriptive text and links, both very strong SEO tools.