Book Reviews

Win Prizes in TypeRacer’s First Official Book Contest

Posted on April 28, 2014. Filed under: Book Reviews, Contests |

Introduction


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!

Contest Details

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.

There are two ways to win prizes in this contest: one will require just a bit of luck, and the other will take some skill and effort.

  1. 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
  2. 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!

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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Speed Secrets

Posted on August 15, 2011. Filed under: Book Reviews |

While looking for some new and interesting quotes for TypeRacer, I stumbled upon a book called Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques by Ross Bentley.  Although this book will not win any prizes for writing style, it’s a very practical and enlightening manual for anyone who wants to become a good race car driver.  While flipping through its pages, lots of Ross Bentley’s advice jumped out as being relevant to any form of racing, including our favorite kind – typeracing!

I wanted to share some quotes from this book with you: perhaps they will help you improve your own racing performance as you’re typing those same quotes on typeracer 😉

In most cases, there is more to be gained by maximizing the performance of the driver than tricking out the car. The most important factor is the driver, the ultimate control system of a race car.

If you want to drive a race car well, whether to win an Indy car racer or just have fun competing in the middle of the pack in an amateur race, you must be seated properly in the car. First of all, you must be comfortable, otherwise it will be overly tiring and very difficult to concentrate. Many races have been lost simply because a driver lost concentration due to discomfort from a poorly fitted seat.

Being comfortable in the car is critical. If you’re not comfortable, it will not only take more physical energy to drive, but it will also affect you mentally. A painful body will reduce your concentration level.

I often see racers, particularly at the back of the pack in amateur races, trying to go fast, with their arms flailing around, banging off shifts, jerking the steering into a turn with feet stabbing at the pedals — the car usually in massive slides through the turns. It may feel as fast and even look fast, but I’ll guarantee it’s not. If the driver would only slow down, the car would actually go faster. It reminds me of the saying, “never confuse movement for action.”

The less you do with the controls, the less chance of error. Steer, shift, and use the pedals smoothly, and with finesse – not with blinding speed and brute force. The slower you move, the faster the car moves.

Sometimes you concentrate more on racing the cars around you, rather than focusing on what you need to do. Having said that, some drivers actually perform best when there is a little extra incentive – like chasing another car. Plus, you may be able to get a good draft off the car in front. But be careful you don’t get too caught up in what the competition is doing. Focus on your own performance rather than on the competition.

Look and think as far ahead as possible. Often, a driver’s natural reaction is to look at the wall or the point you’re just about to get to. That’s not enough. You won’t drive a smooth, flowing line if you don’t look far ahead. And looking well ahead, and concentrating on getting to where I’m looking, seems to really help me.

We often believe the more we practice a skill or technique – over and over again, many times – the better we’ll get. This is not necessarily true. Experience is not always all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, every time you practice a technique incorrectly, you’re increasing your chances of doing it wrong again. It’s easy to become very experienced at repeating the same mistakes. Practice doesn’t make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect.

So don’t practice too much at first, or you’re likely to develop incorrect patterns or movements. Instead, begin with a few laps, maintaining intense concentration and motivation. Continue practicing only while concentration and interest are strong. If you begin to repeat an error, or if your concentration or attention starts to fade, if you start to become casual, then stop. Clear your head, get your concentration and motivation back, then go again.

Races are not won in the first corner; however, they are often lost there. It’s usually best to run as quick as you can for the first few laps, then settle into a comfortable, consistent pace – all the while ready to take advantage of any opportunity to pass. Never turn down an opportunity to pass – you may not get it again.

Most races are decided in the last 10 percent of the race.

Never give up, no matter how far behind you are, no matter how unlikely it seems you will catch your competitor in front of you. Keep pushing until the checkered flag falls. How many times have you seen the leader of a race have a mechanical problem with only a few laps to go? You will never be able to take advantage of their problems if you are not close. You have to be close to take advantage of luck.

— Ross Bentley, Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques

I hope you enjoy typing these new quotes as much as I enjoyed reading them. And remember, if you find any interesting quotes you’d like me to add to the rotation, please contribute!

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