Year in Review: Wait Wait Stats Page and Other Happenings

The past year has been a fairly busy year for me in the world of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! in terms of the Stats Page and attending live tapings of the show.

At the beginning of the year, I posted a preview of version 3.0 of the Stats Page, something that had been in development starting in the latter half of 2013. Version 3.0 brought a set of huge changes to the site, including a completely rework of the site’s code and a full redesign of the actual site itself. Prior to version 3.0, the site had been rendered as one monolithic page containing one large table for each year of show data. The site’s code, which had been and continues to be written in PHP, was also an unwieldy monster and made it difficult to update and maintain.

Wait Wait Stats Page Version 2.0
Wait Wait Stats Page Version 2.0

Version 3.0 allowed for a clean break and I opted to use a lightweight PHP framework, Silex, to handle the rendering the page and I went with a fully modularized and object-oriented structure. I spent time to make sure that the site was as lightweight and nimble enough to be used on a desktop, a smartphone or on a tablet. That lead me to go down the HTML 5 and CSS 3 route for the front-end design.

The development and testing cycle wrapped up at the end of January 2014 and version 3.0 of the site went live on 30 January 2014.

Wait Wait Stats Page Version 3.0
Wait Wait Stats Page Version 3.0

Over the course of the year, several bugs cropped up and were smashed, a few new features or changes were made to reflect some of the show’s changes. One of the biggest changes to the site during 2014 was the new panelist stats graphing library. The switch in graphing library allowed the graphs to not only look better, but allowed the score graph to support pan and zoom. By the end of the year, the site reached version 3.3.5, which included the display of Bill Kurtis’s description of himself in the show’s data box.

As mentioned, 2014 brought one major change to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! when Carl Kasell announced that he was retiring from being the show’s judge and scorekeeper. It was announced that Carl Kasell’s final live taping as the show’s judge and scorekeeper would be taped at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. on 15 May 2014. Upon hearing that, I contacted the guys at Wait Wait to find a way to go the live taping and they went beyond any of my expectations and provided me with two tickets for seats right upfront, with a clear view of Carl Kasell. Before the show started, I met up with Melody Kramer, Brian Babylon and Tom Bodett. The show was absolutely brilliant and an emotional one, and the after show shindig allowed me to meet and talk to Paula Poundstone for the first time.

Tickets to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! at the Warner Theatre
Tickets to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! at the Warner Theatre

I later learned that Wait Wait would be coming to Seattle, Washington in September and I got a chance to snag two tickets to the show, again with thanks to the Wait Wait guys. Getting to see Luke Burbank, Paula Poundstone and Maz Jobrani do their thing on stage was great and led to so much laughter that my cheeks and sides hurt. It also surprised me that the Not My Job guest for the show, Rick Steves, had been sitting behind me before he went up on stage; also, Brian Babylon got me into the after show meet-up for VIP.

So yeah, 2014 was a huge year for me and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings in the world of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!. Here’s hoping that the guys will come back to Portland, Oregon in the coming year. If not, I will have to find a way to go to another live taping in Chicago in the recently-renovated Chase Auditorium. From a Stats Page standpoint, 2015 will also see a new set of show statistics, initial testing of panelist score clouds, and filling in more show data into the database.

Here’s to a great 2015!