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jabuzzard


Posts: 879
Joined: Jan 2010
Last Visited: 18:37
23rd Jan 2021
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.36hrs on Tue 23 Feb 16
igloo4you Wrote:
Jabuzzard,

We don't have a reliable connection at all, so some days what you suggest would work fine, other days we are operating almost blind and cannot even send e-mails or process credit card payments. We have a system in mind which will deliver what you suggest but are not prepared to make the investment until we get broadband and phone connection to the outside world more robust.


Bah humbug, where there is a will there is a way.

The point of my previous post demonstrating the amount of data that needs to be shifted from the central server to the local server at a ski centre could be handled with a bog standard 2G GPRS signal, not even 2.5G Edge, was that not only could you do it that way but you [b]would[/b/] do it that way using a dedicated connection for the purpose. Not with some mobile hooked up to a computer but using a proper industrial grade GPRS modem with a high gain external antenna (that's external to the modem, not outside). You could easily use two of these for redundancy with automatic fail over if you so desired.

Now of course nothing is 100% reliable so we build into the system the ability to cope. First off include round trip verification that the ski centre has received the update for the pass before notifying the end user that it has worked. Secondly have the central server regularly poll the servers at the centres to make sure it can still communicate with them, and stop accepting orders for that centre if it can't.

Of course you also need to offer the option to be able to charge a pass at the ski centre itself using cash, think of that as the ultimate backup.

Of course given that you would have the systems in place to "charge" the pass at the ski centre itself then as an extra fail safe one could offer the option where the app on the phone can provide a suitable QR code that could be used to charge the pass at the centre as well by simply scanning it, and talking directly with the local server so no internet connectivity required. The app could then still accept orders even if the connectivity to the server at the centre was lost, but warn people they will need to do the "charging" of the pass by scanning the QR code at the centre before using a lift. Given that each card would be registered to an identifiable individual options for fraud seem limited in this scenario to me.

While a good reliable fast broadband connection would be better, it can be worked around. I would actually go as far to say is even if you had fast reliable broadband you would want the fail safes I describe anyway. The only difference is rather than a custom binary protocol between the central server and the ski centres to minimize bandwidth you would use a more developer friendly XML or JSON. That said BSON or WBXML might be sufficiently lightweight to do the job. One would need to know the maximum number of skiers per day at each centre first and do some math to be sure though.

The conclusion is there is in my opinion no technical or physical barrier that exists preventing the roll out such a system. Unfortunately I have zero experience in mobile app development. I also have a full time job, so while I know what is and is not technically possible I am not in a position to actually develop such a system. I will however continue to advocate for one and debunk any rubbish about it not being possible due to unreliable internet connections.

cmorrison


Posts: 1121
Joined: Sep 2007
Last Visited: 09:12
8th Dec 2020
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.43hrs on Tue 23 Feb 16
Whilst the above might be nice I think there are much higher priority things for Glencoe to do before they get to this item on the list.

On the handful of really busy days, bring cash, get on the lift quickly. Invest the money in skiing not on a dull software project.

gaz5m


Posts: 280
Joined: Feb 2009
Last Visited: 11:56
23rd Apr 2018
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 16.20hrs on Tue 23 Feb 16
I think we need to make the mountain higher to try and catch more snow. Surely it would be easy enough to get a few JCB's to move rock/rubble from the plateau up to the top and pile it up, compact it and raise the mountain by a few hundred feet taller.

Totally doable, just lazy not to even investigate the possibility IMHO.

Or, alternatively, just keep doing what you're doing, improving the lift infrastructure and opening new terrain gradually with the funds available.

Seriously, RFID ticketting system wouldn't even be in my top 10 things to spend money on if I were Andy. I'm quite capable of bringing cash and I've never had to wait any longer at the ticket window than I have at the bottom of plateu poma to get up the mountain on a busy day. Thats the more appropriate problem to solve for me and incidentally there are plans to fix by adding the new chair from the top of the Access.



PeterS


Posts: 974
Joined: Feb 2003
Last Visited: 22:33
22nd Jan 2021
What's this?What's this?
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 19.29hrs on Tue 23 Feb 16
jabuzzard Wrote:
igloo4you Wrote:
Jabuzzard,

We don't have a reliable connection at all, so some days what you suggest would work fine, other days we are operating almost blind and cannot even send e-mails or process credit card payments. We have a system in mind which will deliver what you suggest but are not prepared to make the investment until we get broadband and phone connection to the outside world more robust.


Bah humbug, where there is a will there is a way.

The point of my previous post demonstrating the amount of data that needs to be shifted from the central server to the local server at a ski centre could be handled with a bog standard 2G GPRS signal, not even 2.5G Edge, was that not only could you do it that way but you would do it that way using a dedicated connection for the purpose. Not with some mobile hooked up to a computer but using a proper industrial grade GPRS modem with a high gain external antenna (that's external to the modem, not outside). You could easily use two of these for redundancy with automatic fail over if you so desired.

Now of course nothing is 100% reliable so we build into the system the ability to cope. First off include round trip verification that the ski centre has received the update for the pass before notifying the end user that it has worked. Secondly have the central server regularly poll the servers at the centres to make sure it can still communicate with them, and stop accepting orders for that centre if it can't.

Of course you also need to offer the option to be able to charge a pass at the ski centre itself using cash, think of that as the ultimate backup.

Of course given that you would have the systems in place to "charge" the pass at the ski centre itself then as an extra fail safe one could offer the option where the app on the phone can provide a suitable QR code that could be used to charge the pass at the centre as well by simply scanning it, and talking directly with the local server so no internet connectivity required. The app could then still accept orders even if the connectivity to the server at the centre was lost, but warn people they will need to do the "charging" of the pass by scanning the QR code at the centre before using a lift. Given that each card would be registered to an identifiable individual options for fraud seem limited in this scenario to me.

While a good reliable fast broadband connection would be better, it can be worked around. I would actually go as far to say is even if you had fast reliable broadband you would want the fail safes I describe anyway. The only difference is rather than a custom binary protocol between the central server and the ski centres to minimize bandwidth you would use a more developer friendly XML or JSON. That said BSON or WBXML might be sufficiently lightweight to do the job. One would need to know the maximum number of skiers per day at each centre first and do some math to be sure though.

The conclusion is there is in my opinion no technical or physical barrier that exists preventing the roll out such a system. Unfortunately I have zero experience in mobile app development. I also have a full time job, so while I know what is and is not technically possible I am not in a position to actually develop such a system. I will however continue to advocate for one and debunk any rubbish about it not being possible due to unreliable internet connections.


........Alternatively just withdraw some money from a cash machine.

IanF


Posts: 81
Joined: Oct 2012
Last Visited: 07:23
19th Apr 2018
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 20.21hrs on Tue 23 Feb 16
igloo4you Wrote:
DonaldM

We do have plans for the plateau cafe but as a ski centre we are looking to get the ski offering sorted first with new and upgraded uplift and groomers. That seems to be what our customers want from all the discussions I have had. Would be great if we could do both but unfortunately short build windows and finance don't allow.


Yep, I would agree the new chair comes firs, especially as this will help with slow mountain access from the access chair. Not sure when @muzza last timed the access chair on a moderately breezy day, but I'd say normal duration was nearer 20 mins. Combine this with another 15 min queue for the plateau poma and I challenge anyone not to be cold before they have starte, never mind kids. But the new chair should clear these queues quickly. Then a larger cafe would become more of a priorit, though if the acces chair were quicker, going back to base for lunch would be an option.

What is the deal with the eaglez nest? Is this open for picnicers?

mlsgraham


Posts: 141
Joined: Mar 2008
Last Visited: 03:07
24th Jun 2016
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 01.11hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
Someone said it earlier on. It's very difficult to be surprised by cash being quicker more than once. If you haven't worked it out after your first visit then I have no sympathy. Having said that I got stuck last week having to pay the £1.50 to withdraw money at the Green Welly as my usual stop-off of Tesco in Callender was shut. Anyone know if it's reopened yet?

I would also like to add my voice to those advocating lifts over other more superfluous parts of the experience, ie fancy ticketing nonsense and an expansion of the plateau chateaux.

I suppose in an ideal world someone would simply throw a few million quid Andy's way and they could do all of it at once...

paraffin


Posts: 577
Joined: Mar 2007
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 08.34hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
Hi MLS,

as far as I known, the nearest cash machine (24hrs) coming from Stirling is RBS in Callander. Tesco's in Callandar appears to be open normal hours. Brodies in Tyndrum is my preferred stop off for last minute shopping.

Other alternatives are cash back from the café or to buy a season pass and get first lift - no queuing, no-brainer.



kevinboyle82


Posts: 117
Joined: Jan 2009
Last Visited: 14:25
6th Jun 2016
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 09.51hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
There's a cash machine at the green welly, not 24 hours though.

veletron


Posts: 447
Joined: Feb 2006
Last Visited: 23:25
21st Mar 2020
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 11.47hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
Re the bandwidth issues. Had similar problems running a simple webcam in Crianlarich. We borrow bandwidth from a nearby B&B with a WiFi link over the road, guy used to run ADSL on 2 incoming lines, but cross-talk issues made this very unreliable. He switched to a single line, and the connection is now much much more reliable. Also found a big difference with ISP's with Demon business based connection being far far more reliable than the BT Broadband it replaced.

On the fibre front, Tyndrum gets upgraded supposedly before the end of 2016 while Crianlarich is supposed to be before the end of 2017. Both exchanges are EOL (Exchange Only Lines), requiring the building of a DSLAM cabinet outside the exchange. Given the timescales for these area's, it will be eons before the Kingshouse exchange to which Glencoe Mountain is connected gets upgraded (if ever).

The Kingshouse exchange got its ADSL service via 'exchange activate', this limits service providers to a select few, Kingshouse was never upgraded to ADSL Max, and certainly not to ADSL 2+. Its 2Mbits down, and 416Kbits up. These are sync speeds, real world speeds will be lower due to overheads and contention. I suspect that the backhaul is via a microwave link with an aggregate bandwidth of under 10Mbits. The aggregate bandwidth being shared with all lines. The exchange has 23 residential phone lines, and 2 business lines (Kingshouse and Glencoe mountain I suspect!).

I've previously used bidirectional ADSL channel bonding with a specialised ISP, it worked well to bond 4x2Mbit ADSL lines in a remote location, but it wont work for Kingshouse, backhaul too slow, and crosstalk issues likely a problem.

So... don't hold your breath for fibre, if it ever does happen, its 5 years away.

The most realistic proposition is 4G, or 3G aggregation. Ft Bill just got 4G from Vodafone, 4G is poss at the top of Cairngorm (EE). I reckon 4G coverage on Rannoch Mor (likely using 800MHz spectrum) will arrive way before any fibre offering.

I've tried satellite internet previously, unreliable and damned expensive.

ADSL + 3G (and eventually 4G) aggregation might be a reasonable way forward. Scotrail's train based WiFi uses 4G/3G aggregation (to establish comms channels with all UK mobile providers) together with a specialised ISP (which probably costs loads!). It forms a VPN tunnels over the individual mobile subscriber lines, splitting packets as appropriate based on the speed/latency of the connections available. The specialised ISP at the other end of the connection does the same for the return leg. I suspect there is no 3G from either Vodafone or O2 on Rannoch Mor though so prob stuck with three and EE. This pair tower-shares through MBNL, so how much benefit would be gained is debatable. Where 2 or more BS serve an area, aggregation is possible using the same provider. High gain panel/yagi antennas pointing in the appropriate direction will force the radio to use that tower.

A clever router that aggregates ADSL, Sat and mobile together might be a reasonable route, but for those using any new internet-dependent system, how would you like to be told 'sorry, you cant ski today , internet is down'...

Taking cash is the simple solution for the foreseeable future!

Nigel





Edited 2 times. Last edit at 12.02hrs Wed 24 Feb 16 by veletron.

jabuzzard


Posts: 879
Joined: Jan 2010
Last Visited: 18:37
23rd Jan 2021
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.02hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
PeterS Wrote:

........Alternatively just withdraw some money from a cash machine.


Which is what I do.

The point however is that the centres are paying people to sit around take the cash and issue tickets rather than go do something more useful instead.

It means I have to queue unnecessarily for a ticket and resources that could be used for a myriad of other frankly more useful things that would improve my experience are in my view wasted.

I thought improving customer experience was key to running a successful business, but hey what do I know.


jabuzzard


Posts: 879
Joined: Jan 2010
Last Visited: 18:37
23rd Jan 2021
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.07hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
veletron Wrote:

A clever router that aggregates ADSL, Sat and mobile together might be a reasonable route, but for those using any new internet-dependent system, how would you like to be told 'sorry, you cant ski today , internet is down'...

Taking cash is the simple solution for the foreseeable future!



Clearly you did not actually read my posts. The point was a bare 2G GPRS connection has sufficient bandwidth to enable a system to be developed and deliver a good service to the customers. No need for 4G, no need for 3G and no need even for a 2.5G EDGE for that matter.

Further more I pointed out two ways in which even the loss of the GPRS connection would not be a barrier to updating ski passes.

Doug_Bryce


Posts: 1373
Joined: Jan 2003
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.19hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
^ I don't think Glencoe has even been busy enough this winter to have a long queue for lift passes ?





Edited 1 times. Last edit at 13.24hrs Wed 24 Feb 16 by Doug_Bryce.

enduro-aid


Posts: 87
Joined: Jan 2010
Last Visited: 21:50
17th Feb 2018
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.53hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
maybe not enough to form a Queue for passes but certainly yesterday the lack of the Cliffy was noticed.....the line for the wall t-bar was 30-40 folk deep at times

Cant wait to get the old dear back in action!

veletron


Posts: 447
Joined: Feb 2006
Last Visited: 23:25
21st Mar 2020
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 13.54hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
Hi

I carry a Vodafone sim in my van for exceptionally slow access in remote area's via a roof-top omni antenna (eg better than nothing). Sometimes (well quite often actually), despite having a signal getting data through the link is nigh on impossible. The amount of error correction required at both IP level and mobile comms level can really really eat into the tiny amount of bandwidth available - the problem then becomes latency. Ping responses to 32-byte requests can take anything up to 10 seconds (linux box with lost packet timeout increased).

In your scenario, once-per-day comms with a remote server is necessary to validate tags, this info is then cached locally. Fair enough, but it relies on that once-per-day comms session working reliably, and there will be circumstances when it wont, and if it doesn't, then the tag holder does not get to ski?

Glencoe's point is that no matter how small the amount of data, their comms are unreliable, with unreliable comms the best case is increased latency for the application, the worst case is that the device just does not work.

What happens when a storm takes out the landline and the mobile comms? When the mast was taken out at Glenshee it took them ages to get it running again!

Nigel

Doug_Bryce


Posts: 1373
Joined: Jan 2003
Re: Glencoe Snow 2016
Date Posted: 15.14hrs on Wed 24 Feb 16
enduro-aid Wrote:
maybe not enough to form a Queue for passes but certainly yesterday the lack of the Cliffy was noticed.....the line for the wall t-bar was 30-40 folk deep at times

Cant wait to get the old dear back in action!


Yip - Cliffhanger has certainly been missed and as you say created bottle neck on the wall.

To be fair I was told the repair (new gear box custom built) has cost them a stonking 20K. As you might guess replacement parts aren't available off the shelf.

Suspect this money / major mechanical failure wasn't in the budget and a problem they could have done with out.



[www.haggistrap.co.uk]



Edited 1 times. Last edit at 15.31hrs Wed 24 Feb 16 by Doug_Bryce.

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