I'm an Aussie who moved to Ottawa, Canada in 2008. I'm always having a moan about something. This is where I moan and whinge about things. Enjoy.

Saturday 14 November 2020

World Trivia Night


Since 2011, most years I have competed in the "World Trivia Night", which according to Wikipedia "is North America's largest live trivia contest, held annually in Ottawa, Ontario since 1993."

It's organised by the Children's Aid Foundation of Ottawa, to raise money for them, and thanks to people donating to them on my behalf, I would guess that I've raised somewhere around $1 500 for them. 

I have skipped it the last couple of years, for a number of reasons, mostly do with the awful venue, and scheduling conflicts, and the difficulty of getting from work to the awful venue in time, it just became all too hard, not fun, and not worth it.

Since 2012, It's been held way out in the middle of nowhere at the stupid CE, or EY, or FU, or Whatever It's Called Now Centre, near the bloody airport, which is shitty to get to, so you pretty much have to drive to get there, and then they charge too much for parking, which I wouldn't mind so much, if that was part of the charity fundraising, but it is not, and the beer selection there is shitty, and it's too expensive, but I guess that doesn't matter so much, since you have to drive to get there..

There's also a limited selection of food available, which was way too expensive for what it was, and it was pretty bloody ordinary.

A couple of months ago I was invited to join a different team than the one I had previously joined each year. I hadn't even realised until that point, that this year, instead of cancelling it, like everything else, they decided to do it online. OK, that could work..

I figured that after having not done it for the last couple of years, and not having to go to the awful FU Centre this year, and deal with the bullshit parking, beer prices, and crappy food, that it would be fun to do it again.

Except, no. It was, in my opinion, man, an unmitigated disaster.

I registered a few weeks ago, and I begged for donations, but didn't get any this year. I ended up just donating on behalf of myself to pay for our entry fee amount.

They started giving us some info about how it would all work a week or so ago. It wasn't until the night before, when my team decided to have a chat to get organised, and I logged into the platform they were going to host it on, "Remo", that I realised I had (tried to ) use this platform before..

And that it was fucking awful.

A buddy of mine owns and runs a company which does tours of breweries, with beer tastings, and since he had to shutdown due to Covid, quite a few months back he had looked at this platform, to try doing virtual events on it.

I had logged in, along with a bunch of other random people, for us to test it out, and see how it would work. It was awful, and it wasn't going to work, and that was the end of that.

So when I logged in the night before, and realised that it was this.. Ugh.

The idea behind it is that there are virtual tables which you can sit at, and then you have the ability to video and audio chat with the other small group of people sitting at that table, and if you don't like them :-) then you can move to another table, and chat with the people there..

So it's basically IRC, except with audio and video. OK, that should work..

Except, I knew from the previous testing, that when "presentation mode" is used, where someone gets to talk to everyone, eg to give us the questions and answers etc, that it blocks the table members from being able to hear/see/interact with each other.

Not to mention all the other issues I had had, trying to use it on my phone, a netbook, and a laptop, and none of them working properly, all having audio and video issues, or the app just crashing or hanging..

I said that we were going to need to have some other way to communicate, as this would be crappy if that's how it was going to work, ie presentation mode, or the issues which I had previously observed, as we would have no way to discuss or anything, during that period, and it would mean that we'd all need to work individually to make notes of the questions, and our answers etc, and then somehow discuss them.

We decided that we would use a second device to be part of a facebag "room", in order to be able to see/hear/interact with each other, if necessary, either due to the presentation mode, and not being able to interact, or because the platform just screwed up, as I had seen before.

I don't see how this could be seen as being dodgy, or cheating, since we're the same people, and we would have to be able to discuss with each other the answers before we submitted them anyway..

The Remo platform has a lot of other stupid things, and based on the information we had been provided in advance, including the fact that when you logged in, you get placed at some random table, and then you have to go find your own table, which was on one of 10 or more "floors".. making me wonder what other stupidity we were going to have to deal with, and what was going to stop random people from joining any table (nothing), so they could potentially crash into someone's chat and steal answers, but that probably didn't happen, who knows..

So, with all that in place, we signed off, and that was the end of that.

On the night, thanks to my brilliant memory, I actually totally forgot the event was even going on, and I was about to leave to go help some friends reconfigure their home internet connection/network.. Thankfully (?) I remembered at the last minute, got back out of the car, and got on my laptop..

I initially joined the facebag room, which evidently only one other person thought was a good idea, since nobody else joined. And then they had tons of issues with audio, because it was next to some other device in the same room, so it was getting feedback.. That eventually got resolved.

During that time, I was trying to also sign into Remo, which even though I already had, the night before, was now telling me that my browser (Firefox) was not supported, and that I needed to use Chrome..

So after switching to Chrome, and trying again, now it was asking me all these stupid questions about my occupation, and other stuff. Getting through all that, and finally being able to attempt to connect, the audio and video didn't work properly, probably because it was already being used in the facebag room, which was fair enough.

So I killed the facebag room, and connected into it from my phone (which was conveniently run over the day before, after it fell out of my pocket when I was racing on my motorcycle to get to an auto parts place, trying to get the incorrect brake pads I had been sold for my car replaced, but that's another rant I haven't written yet..)

So after that, I finished getting into Remo, found my table, and joined it. My video worked, but evidently my audio did not. Or perhaps I just had nothing interesting to say, and my team members at the table already just ignored me.

As the speakers in the laptop I was trying to use (yet another device, vs the three I had previously tested Remo on with limited success) are pretty crappy, I plugged in a USB/Bluetooth speaker, and switched the audio over to it, and after screwing around sufficiently with the system audio settings, I managed to get everything working.

We had a couple of minutes to go, and we continued chatting and joking around, until such time as the event started.

As I expected, when that happened, it went into "presentation mode", and we could no longer interact with each other, and only see and hear the host(s).

Now, we could have used the facebag room, except that there were only 2 of us in there, and the other person was busy screenshotting the questions..

So after the host(s) rushed through explaining, and giving us the first round of 10 questions, they then switched out of presentation mode, allowing us to be able to see and hear each other again, eventually, and gave us 5 minutes to discuss, and submit our answers.

The questions themselves were difficult to receive, as it was a split screen between the host(s), and the powerpoint presentation, of slides with questions and clue pictures on them. Even if you expanded the slides, the font was still too small to be easily read, and during this, the audio of the host reading the questions would break up, and/or skip, leaving you trying to decipher the question between broken audio, and text you could barely read.

So once we were able to interact again, besides the fact that it took a fair bit of time for all the video feeds to restart, and the audio to reconnect, what I didn't realise, was that them going into presentation mode, which caused the audio and video to disconnect, had also fucked with all the audio settings I had had to fiddle with, to get my microphone working.

So I was back to trying to converse, and just being ignored, and I couldn't work out why, until such time as my other team members, with about 30 seconds left before the answers had to be submitted, started asking me my opinion on one of the answers, which I was trying to provide, and then being told that they couldn't hear me..

I had already been trying to put my answers across via text chat via the facebag room, but they were being ignored, because of the other person being busy screenshotting, and for the fact that there were several people there, in person, on that end, so they could at least interact properly, so they weren't paying attention to a facebag room with just me in it.

So I'm frantically trying to find some paper and scribbling stuff on it, and trying to hold it up to the camera..

So, this is shit.

The time runs out, the answers have been submitted, I get my microphone working again, for about 10 seconds, before it goes back into presentation mode, and we're once again all isolated.

I know I am not the only person having issues, as during this entire time I have had the global chat window up, which any/all of the almost 600 people connected can type into, and it's seen by all, and it has turned into a support chat, with a never ending stream of "I can't hear" "I can't see" "This doesn't work" "Try turning it off and on again" scrolling up.

We're given the round 2 questions, which I frantically write down, and my answers, in preparation for being able to discuss them. Once that's done, and eventually all the video feeds reconnect, what do you know.. my audio doesn't work again, does it?

I fuck around in the settings and try to get it working again, I have to refresh the browser, this fucks with the audio settings again, I try to fix them.. It's now wasted about 3 minutes of our 5 minutes. I'm still getting yelled at that they can't hear me..

So. Fuck this.

I'm done. It's also after 8pm by this time, over an hour since it started, and we aren't even 2 full rounds in yet. Of, 10 rounds?

If you think I'm going to struggle through this complete fucking bullshit for the next 5 hours, you've got another think coming.

So I'm done. I'm out.

I get in the car and go to my friends' place.

As I get there, one of my trivia team people messages, and says that they're on break. I replied and said

"I gave up. I have more enjoyable things to do, like get a root canal. I knew it would be an awful platform based on testing it previously."

They replied and asked if I didn't want to just connect via the video, and just text my responses via facebag chat, ie what I had suggested in the first place..

I said no, because I had already given up, and left, and driven 20 minutes away to fix the internet connection, so that's what I was going to do.

I spent the next 3 hours sorting out the internet connection and network, struggling to get a shitty D-Link router and TP-Link access point working, which was incredibly fucking frustrating, and didn't end up working properly, and I'll have to go back and try again, but it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable than fucking around trying to use the complete piece of shit platform that is Remo.

At around 11pm, I saw that I'd been messaged, telling me that we'd come 30th out of 97 teams.

They also offered to refund my registration fee that I had to pay to be on the team, but I declined that, because it wasn't their fault that Remo is completely fucking useless, and I replied and said:

"Pff, no, it was my choice to drop out. Wasn't your fault it was a technical nightmare disaster"

They acknowledged that it sucked that I didn't get to participate. It did. I said

"It does. I was hoping for some fun. That was.. Not fun. That's why I walked away. I would have only been a negative effect on the whole team if I had struggled to remain involved"

I knew that I would have just ranted and raved about how fucking awful the shit was, and how fucking frustrating it was, and nobody wants that. So that's why I am ranting here about it anyway.

When I got home, I was just angry about the whole thing. I was pissed off, both because I knew that it was going to be fucked from having tested that shitty fucking platform before, and because I had been looking forward to doing some trivia, after not having been able to do it since.. March? and I used to go the pub and do trivia every single week, and I have done since.. forever.

Since before I even moved to Canada in 2008, maybe since 2004? I used to go to the pub in Maitland near the office I worked in, when I was contracting to the Australian government, for years, and did trivia there.

And when one of my coworkers moved from Maitland to Sydney, and they were doing trivia weekly, I would leave work, and ride my motorcycle almost 200km to go see them and do trivia each week (for the second time), and then ride almost 100km home again, so I'd be riding almost 400km in one day, each week, just to do trivia (oh, and go to work)..

Anyway.. so.. I was just fucking pissed off. What a shitty experience it had been, when it could have been done well, so easily, since I did an online trivia with some friends via Zoom a couple of weeks previously, which worked almost perfectly.

After going to bed, and trying unsuccessfully to sleep, because I was so mad, I typed out and sent back the following..

So.. that was fucked.

It went exactly as I expected it to.

Having tested that complete steaming pile of shit Remo platform before.. I knew this wasn't going to work.

When [beer guy] tried it 6 months ago, with plans of doing virtual beer tastings, which he very quickly abandoned the idea of, after the complete failure that was some test runs.. I knew that it didn't work on my phone, my netbook, my laptop, and that I wasn't the only one with those issues.

I also knew about how you cannot see or interact with your table when you are in presentation mode. This is why I said we needed a side channel for communication, be it facebag chat, or room, or a zoom call, or a phone call, or anything else. So that we have a way to communicate while they are giving us the questions.

Isolating us all during that point was useless. You can't brainstorm or do anything. Leaving each individual person to make their own notes and answers and then wait until the 5 minutes after all the questions have been given is fucking useless.

So I have my side channel, with [one guy]. Nobody else was part of that, so I got ignored. I'm typing stuff in, which doesn't get seen. I can understand him ignoring me, when he's there with actual humans to interact with, and questions and answers.

I could fuck around for 5 minutes and get my audio and video working in Remo. Then I still didn't know if it was working, as I felt like I was talking over the top of people, and/or being ignored. Then they would go back into presentation mode, and it would completely fuck all my settings again.

I would have to spend another 5 minutes fucking around refreshing the browser, changing the audio and video settings, changing the system audio settings, just in time for them to do something and completely fuck them all up again.

I was left standing on the outside, looking in. It was pointless.

Even when it was "working", I had issues hearing/seeing the questions.

This is all what I tried to explain on the chat last night. We needed a secondary way to be able to communicate, even just typing, separate from that fucking shit platform. No one did it, so fuck it.

I know I wasn't the only person with these issues. I had the global chat thing open, and it was full of people complaining that they couldn't hear or see anything. Fucking useless.

Rant over.

So, that's that. I am probably finished with the WTN now, because I am sure as shit not going back out to the middle of fucking nowhere FU Centre with expensive parking, and shitty expensive beer and crappy food, and there's no way in fuck I am going to bother trying to use Remo ever again.

When the WTN comes around again next year, I will probably just make a donation to the Children's Aid Foundation myself, and be done with it.

I guess I'm still a bit pissed because back in 2012, they told us that the first team to raise $1000 in donations would get their registration fee refunded.. So we all donated to ourselves to make up the $1000 for the team, and then when we tried to get our registration fees refunded, they came back and gave us some bullshit excuse about how it had been a misunderstanding, and we'd just get a chance to win our registration fees back..

I realise it's all for charity, but still, that meant I ended up donating a lot more than is reasonable to expect one person to donate, and all 10 of us on the team got screwed the same way.

Just.. fuck.

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