• My Interview on “Little Red Bandwagon” with Some Wait Wait Talk

    In addition to running the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! Stats Page, I also run and manage an archive of sorts for (Wait Wait panelist) Luke Burbank’s podcast, Too Beautiful To Live, called the “Marsupial Gurgle” (it’s a TBTL in-joke).

    With the recent re-launch of the Marsupial Gurgle archive, I was invited to be on a guest on a podcast about TBTL called, Little Red Bandwagon. As part of being a guest on the podcast, the topic of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! came up and I discussed some of the behind the scenes bits regarding scoring and what-not.

    My segment on the show starts at around the 1:16:15 mark.

  • Interactive Wait Wait Stats Infographic

    A couple of months ago, Erin Flachsbart sent me a message asking if I would be interested in helping out a project that she would like to start up. The project was to create an interactive infographic that was based on the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! panelist and show stats that I have been collecting (and continuing to collect) over the years.

    Over the course of the project, I provided Erin with database schema and database backups that she can go through and play with the data. I also provided some insights, and apologies for not having a lot of back data on panelist bluffs and show location information.

    With the project completed, Erin posted the awesome interactive infographic on her site at: mataglap.com/waitwait.

    I’m humbled to be able to assist in providing data and insights for the project. Thanks Erin!

  • 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!

  • Slight Change of Plans: Wait Wait Stats Page Version 3.3.5

    As mentioned in the last blog post about upcoming developments for the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Stats Page, version 3.4.0 would be introducing both a new set of stats and graphs. In addition, version 3.4.0 would also include the descriptions that judge and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis uses to introduce himself at the beginning of each show.

    Show Infobox
    New in version 3.3.5: How Bill Kurtis Describes Himself

    Due to unforeseen complexities of feeding the queried data into the appropriate graphing functions, I will be releasing version 3.3.5 this weekend that will include Bill Kurtis’s descriptions in each of the show’s infobox.

  • Working on Wait Wait Stats Page Versions 3.3.0 and 3.4.0

    For the past month, I have been working on making a number of changes and updates to the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! Stats Page to make working on the site’s code a bit easier to manage. The changes won’t change the user experience of the Stats Page in any meaningful way; though, it does optimize how the panelist charts pull the required data and when it is rendered. Although the update will not include any new features (more on that in a bit), the version bump a few, significant behind-the-scenes updates.

    The biggest updates come from updating the code framework, Silex, to the latest and greatest version, optimizing the code that generates the HTML code, and finally, breaking some of the larger code blocks into separate modules for more efficient code review and fixes.

    Version 3.3.0 of the Stats Page should go live sometime during the Thanksgiving weekend.

    I got a request from one of the fans to include a section that includes the various ways that show judge and scorekeeper, Bill Kurtis, describes himself during the show. At this point, that new feature is slated to be included in version 3.4.0.

    Another feature that I am working on for version 3.4.0 is to include a section that shows the running tally of points and a layered graph showing the scores from each of the three panelists. This should provide an insight on just how well panelists have scored in general.

    I’ll provide more status updates and sneak peeks at what version 3.4.0 will bring over the next few weeks. My target for a go-live date is the weekend of January 3rd and 4th.

  • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! Taping in Seattle

    Note: I had written this post a few days after going to the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! taping at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle back on September 18, 2014. Unfortunately, it got stuck in the blog submission queue and didn’t get published until today.

    When I heard that Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! was coming to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, I knew that I had to find a way to get tickets to the show and go to the show. I decided to reach out to my Wait Wait contacts in Chicago and was able to pull the trigger on getting a pair of tickets as an insurance policy. Fortunately, my contacts came through with a pair of tickets, as tickets to the show sold out extremely quickly. Once I got confirmation, I promptly put in my request for a few days off of work and booked a hotel.

    I started putting feelers out there to find out which panelists would be at the show. From the outset, I already knew that Luke Burbank would be on the panel and he had mentioned that Paula Poundstone would also be on the panel. It wasn’t until the week building up to the show did I find out that the third panelist would be Maz Jobrani. On the day of taping, Rick Steves announced that he would be the Not My Job guest for the show.

    As I was walking to the theatre with my mum, after having dinner with friends, I ran into Brian Babylon and chatted with him for the first of a number of occasions that night. I picked up the pair of tickets to the show, which put me nearly in the center of the main level (thankfully with an aisle seat). As people were getting to their seats, I saw Brian sitting across the aisle and Rick Steves ended up sitting right behind me up to when he went on stage for the Not My Job segment.

    During the “Who’s Bill This Time?” segment, the gang had to record two versions of the Scotland independence vote to cover both potential outcomes. That said, they didn’t record a version in the case that the vote when to a recount. The discussion of the Scotland vote caused all three of the panelists to hilariously discuss the peculiarities of what is the United Kingdom versus Great Britain, and whether something was part of the United Kingdom and/or Great Britain, throughout the entire taping of the show. There was another great moment in which there was a discussion about fanny packs and Paula mentioned if a fanny pack worn up front ought to be called a “dicky pack”.

    Paula Poundstone autographed by Wait Wait notebook
    Paula Poundstone autographed by Wait Wait notebook

    After the show, Brian got both my mum and I into the after-show meet-and-greet for those with VIP tickets. There, I got to meet and say “hello” to Maz Jobrani, who I met in person for the first time. Both of us also got to meet and chatted with Paula Poundstone and Luke Burbank. Paula was kind enough to sign my little notebook that I have used to record notes and stats for that taping.

    At the post-show meet-and-great, one of the directors from KPLU and Peter Sagal thanked the people there and Peter discussed the visit to Seattle and the taping. Peter also introduced me to the group as the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! “stats guy”. A number of those in attendance came to me and asked about the stats page and asked a couple of stats questions. I was also able to meet and talk to Rick Steves.

    I want to thank the guys at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! for the tickets and for such an awesome show. I can’t wait for the gang to come back to Portland, Oregon!

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