Even though I started this blog to document “Adventures of an Ordinary Man,” over the past three years it has evolved into more of a nature photography blog than anything else. However, my adventures to stray into technology on occasion, and they have been doing that this week. My apologies to those readers who expect nature when they come here. I’ll get back to that soon, really!

This week I have started working on a new tech project to help me (and hopefully others) manage my Pathfinder Club. The Pathfinder curricula is structured such that when a member meets list of specific requirements, he (or she) achieves a level of recognition which is invariably recognized with the award of insignia. Pathfinder honors are like this, and they can be thought of as equivalent to Boy Scout merit badges. While an honor can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months to earn, the Investiture Achievement (IA) curricula takes all year. I structure my club’s activities around IA. Some IA requirements are to earn particular honors. Actually some honor requirements are to earn particular honors too.

The problem is in keeping track of who has met what requirements to earn what insignia, and how many people have earned what insignia, and have I ordered that insignia yet, and have I given it to the person who earned it. With 20 people, that can be a daunting task!

And that’s the problem I am attempting to address with my new project. Over the past couple of years, I have been tracking this data in a tremendously huge spreadsheet. What I have learned from that is that a spreadsheet is not very good at being a database. So I’ve spent the past couple of days laying out a database schema which I think will cover all the bases.

Some honors have overlapping requirements. For instance, “Camping Skills I” and “Fire Building and Camp Cookery” both require the Pathfinder to bake bread on a stick. Once you’ve baked bread on a stick once, you’ve met a requirement in both of these honors. Other requirements are for the Pathfinder to do two out of five options.

My schema will handle this. I created an account over on SourceForge and committed some files. I have tentatively named this project “Achievement Manager,” and I apologize in advance for such a terrible name. Hopefully, SourceForge will let me rename it later if we find that necessary.

We? Well, I’m not doing all the work myself. I have a collaborator whom I met at Pathfindersonline.org, and we are working on this together. It’s still very much in the planning phase right now, but I think it’s moving along nicely.

When it’s finished, it should be usable by the Boy Scouts as well. They would just need to populate the database with their own requirements.

Now that the schema is laid out (or nearly so), the next task will be to build a data-entry interface so we can start populating the database with requirements.

Next post: Nature related. I hope!