Archive for April, 2014
A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of attending a book talk by author Daniel Isenberg on his new book called Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). I was intrigued by the title, since I too, many years ago after I finished my degree, embarked on a mission that many, including my family and friends, would have seen as worthless, impossible, or stupid: to create the world’s first online multiplayer typing game, instead of pursuing a career as a software engineer at a stable company. Although I can’t claim that I’ve created anything like the kind of “extraordinary value” that the book describes (many of the companies profiled by Daniel grew from a small founding team, little funding, and against the odds, into large, very profitable companies), I hope that Typeracer did provide some extraordinary value to the millions of visitors who have raced hundreds of times on our site over the years, increased their typing speed, made new friends, and hopefully discovered some really great books, movies, and songs from typing the quotes I selected.
Daniel conveyed some fascinating stories from around the world during his talk, but I have to admit that my mind was mainly preoccupied by two specific thoughts: 1) that I’m not a very good entrepreneur compared to these guys, and 2) that people who write books spend lots of time on the road promoting their work to very small groups of people: speaking, signing autographs, and giving away T-shirts in basements of bookstores (or in this case in the kitchen at the Cambridge Innovation Center), while, it occurred to me, they could be reaching a much larger audience by placing their book quotes on typeracer.com and sponsoring a typing contest 😉
Feeling inspired to do something entrepreneurial and excited by the idea of procuring some sponsored prizes for the fans of typeracing, I approached Daniel at the end of the talk. It turned out that Daniel is actually a fan of online typing games, since many years ago, even before I created Typeracer, typing helped him recover from a surgery. Fortunately he liked the idea of sponsoring a book contest on Typeracer, and generously agreed to donate 3 hardcover books, a bunch of T-shirts, and some cash, towards prizes!
We’ve created a customized typing universe for this contest (follow this link), which works just like the main typeracer.com site, but contains only quotes from the book Worthless, Impossible and Stupid, hand-picked by the author. Beginning on May 1st, 2014, you will be able to race there just as you would on , by clicking on “Enter a typing race” to be matched up with random opponents or “Race your friends” to race against people you invite. The only difference is that racing in this customized universe will make you eligible to win prizes based on the points you’ve earned.
- Complete at least 10 races in the contest universe between May 1 and May 31, 2014 using your Typeracer account. You will then be automatically entered to win your choice of either a hardcover copy of the book, a T-shirt, $15 cash2, or a free Typeracer premium membership for a year. Some restrictions apply.1
- Earn the most points in the contest universe between May 1 and May 31, 2014. We will be using a new point-based scoring system here: you will earn points equal to the total number of words you typed, multiplied by your average typing speed.3 This scoring system is designed to give everyone a chance to compete for prizes: you can beat faster typists by completing more races. The points will be calculated on June 1st, 2014, and the top 3 finishers will receive cash prizes: $50 for the first place, $30 for second, and $20 for third place.2
We will publish a list of the winners here on June 1st. The author of the book will be participating as well, so if you see him racing, you can try to beat him on his own quotes! We’re looking forward to racing with you!
– Alex E.
Update (May 1, 2014): We have adjusted the point metrics for #2 to count the total number of words typed rather than the total number of races, to eliminate an unfair advantage that could be gained by selecting the shortest quotes to type.
Update (June 2, 2014): The contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who participated! We are currently tallying up the results and selecting the winners, who will be notified by email. We’ll publish the results here soon too!
Update (June 6, 2014): The results have been announced in this post!
- Due to the high cost of international shipping, we can only ship the books and T-shirts within the United States, but everyone is eligible for the other prizes. We will conduct the lottery on June 1, 2014, where each contestant who has completed 10 races there will be assigned a random number. We will be contacting the winners (starting with number 1, then 2, and so on, to offer you a prize, while supplies last; since we have a limited number of T-shirts, we cannot guarantee that your size will be available). The number of prizes available is as follows: 3 books, 3 cash prizes of $15, 3 premium memberships, and 10 T-shirts.
- The prize money will be transferred to your Paypal account, so you must have access to a Paypal account to be eligible for the cash prizes.
- We use the convention of 1 word = 5 characters for English text. Cheating (by using any program, script, or anything else) will disqualify you from this contest.
As you may know, Typeracer has been offering races in non-English languages for over three years now. We currently support 51 languages. Remember this announcement?
There has been one big problem, however: the Typeracer Team doesn’t speak 51 languages, so we had to rely on our good friend Google Translate.
Now, if you’ve ever translated something on Google translate, you’ll know that this is not an ideal solution. Below is an experiment that I performed today to illustrate why you shouldn’t use Google Translate for anything too important. (I translated a simple sentence to Spanish, and then back to English.)
Anyway, we’ve known that we can’t rely on Google translate for Typeracer. For the past several months, teams of devoted Typeracers have offered their time and talent, and helped us to collect texts in many different languages from around the world. These texts have been prepared by native speakers, so they should make more sense, and be more enjoyable than the old texts.
The first language we’ll be launching is Spanish. If you’re ready, click here to play Typeracer in Spanish, with all-new texts! Note that any scores and records you had on the old Spanish universe will be saved.
Thanks to the many users who helped make this happen! For the Spanish texts, we want to especially thank the following users: Roger Soria Galvarro (rogeriusx), Catalina de la Cuesta (cdelacuesta), Jorge Reyes (georkings), Carla Hoyos Rosembluth (atkyelphar), Adrian Fernández Morales, and Haydé Murakami (Antigona). You guys made this happen!
We will keep launching more non-English language universes in the near future, so stay tuned, and let us know if you have any recommendations or feedback.
Adios, and see you on the racetrack!
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