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The Ides of Insanity
For the past several years, my three brothers and I have convened at the eldest brother's house for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament (also known as March Madness), doing our best to watch as many of the initial 32 games of the tournament during a melba toast and orange juice-soaked* four days of disregard for the outside world. Over time this has evolved—it initially started with just the two oldest brothers in an Arizona basement—into a gathering of up to two dozen friends, neighbors, wives, and kids.

Naturally, this group has also run an annual bracket pool, with everyone making their picks and competing to see if they can win some cash dignity and respect from the rest of the group. In the spirit of overdoing it (and working during what should be a vacation), for several years I've been building software that ran the pool and allowed people to track their picks, see how they were doing against everyone else, try out scenarios for future games, and talk smack to each other through a chat feature.

So this year, in the spirit of really overdoing it, Fathom Bracket was born. (There's a lot of this going around: after all, as I write this post, Mark is spending the last day before his vacation writing a tool that will let him record data and update his status during his family's week at Disney.) Tim took the helm of Fathom Bracket and built out the infrastructure to make it happen (a combination of Django, Postgres, and Redis, as well as lots of front-end JavaScript and CSS) and the rest of the team went to work on the design, development, writing, and testing. Alex in particular has distinguished herself as QA engineer, creating hundreds of alex, alex123, and alex1414093 accounts and test pools, mostly variants of “Dirty Pool.”

Once publicly launched, Fathom Bracket hosted a number of pools set up by individuals, plus the public “City Pool” that anyone could join, which picked up a few dozen entrants. After Louisville's win was celebrated** by a flaming basketball animated GIF created by Terrence, there was a three-way tie for the City Pool, with “jlbaseball2,” “sistersarah,” and “Seth's Winning Bracket” (named with a degree of prescience, it seems) coming out on top. They'll each be receiving an allstreets or dencity poster from our Provender vault.

Best of all, we came up with a number of ideas for a better bracket as part of the exercise, and we can't wait to get them implemented for next year's tournament.

In the meantime, we have to get back to work. With Mark out of town next week, someone is gonna have to pick up the slack.

* It's possible it wasn't melba toast and orange juice, but that's how Brother #1 referred to it at the time.

** To the disappointment of the four Michigan-born Fry brothers.