April 8, 2011
Pardon Our Dust
Have you ever wondered why they call fixing computer programs “debugging?”
There’s a story about U.S. Navy Admiral Grace Hopper, who was working on one of the earliest mainframes in Harvard back in the 1940s. Those days, fixing a problem with a computer typically meant disassembling and reassembling it–if you were lucky you were using punch cards to write programs, and computers were room-sized monstrosities that were filled with vacuum tubes and relay switches. Well, Hopper and her team found a moth stuck in one of those switches–and then, as now, removing the bug fixed the problem.
(Lest you think I’m putting you on here, that moth is currently on exhibit in the Smithsonian.)
Computer hardware and software has certainly come a long way since then–at least, in places other than Baseball Prospectus. Here, up until recently, we were using software that could have run on mainframes from the late 80s (if you ever wondered why the adjusted standings looked like it came from an old IBM green screen terminal… that’s because it did). It was a bizarre mishmash of old FORTRAN code and who knows what else.
This offseason, we undertook an effort to, so to speak, clear out the moths and update the technology behind-the-scenes. Going forward, this is going to give us the chance to provide you with more immediate access to our data and analysis, and enable us to do some things we haven’t been able to do before.
In the meantime, however, this effort has overrun the start of the season. We’re very sorry about that–we know the player cards and sortable stats are an important part of your experience here at Baseball Prospectus. We’re working around the clock to get these things to you.
Right now, we are currently doing daily updates on Team Tracker, the Playoff Odds Report and (starting today) the Adjusted Standings. (Elsewhere on the site, I talk more in depth about those two and what they have to tell us about the Red Sox.) More is coming, hopefully soon.
Thanks for your patience in all of this, and thanks for your continued readership.