by Bob Pitlak
Remember the near panic? The Millions spent repairing and preparing software to handle a year that doesn't begin with 19? Well, it's not as serious, but people who use BRIS files run into a problem EVERY new year.
The problem comes from BRIS's file names. They include the month and day of the race card, but not the year. In most cases, this is not a problem. If you already have a file for Jan 6, 2012 (like SAX0106.drf) and download a new file for Jan 6, 2013 (with the same filename!) you will write over the older file. No problem.
However, if you have file for Jan 7, 2012 (like SAX0107.drf), it won't get written over in 2013, because Jan 7, 2013 is a MONDAY, and most tracks are closed. So there is no 2013 file for that date. Therefore, last year's SAX0107.drf will remain in your active folder. It probably won't cause a problem if all you do is handicap each day. However, if you are one of the more serious handicappers, who goes back and does "What IF?" experiments with older files to iron out the kinks in whatever systems or approaches you use, you are likely to wind up mixing old data with the more recent.
So, it pays to spend a few minutes at the beginning of the year, cleaning out last year's files from your active folders. I make a habit of archiving files every month, so I have a zip file for every month going back to January of 2007. You don't have to do this every month if you have no use for old files. You can simply delete last year's files if you wish, or make a single zip file for all the files from the previous year. In either case, it pays to remove last year's files from your current folder!
We have at least one customer who avoids this problem by adding a number in front of last year's files. So, for example, 2012's version of SAX0107.drf might become 2SAX0107.drf and 2011's might be 1SAX0107.drf. This will work fine, but does take a lot of work unless you are a programmer and can rename the entire block of filenames with a single pass through your program.