I've written before about the importance of playing a computer like an instrument. Employing many small efficiency tips on a laptop will add up to copious amounts of time over the span of a year (let alone the span of your working life in front of a computer!) I've calculated that playing a computer as an instrument can literally create one week (about 40 hours) each year in efficiency gains. So learn these tricks and then take an extra week of vacation!

Now, to quantify a standard against which we can benchmark people's skill at playing a computer like an instrument, I'm challenging anyone to beat me in the F1 GeekSpeed Challenge.

Here's how it works:

  1. You start with all applications closed on your computer (Mac or PC)
  2. The "racetrack" is a specific series of tasks you have to complete. You follow the instructions below exactly, and screencast yourself doing it.
  3. Your finishing time is the length of the resulting screencast video.
  4. Winners will be put on the leaderboard. What's the prize? Bragging rights for taking first place!

Here's the leaderboard so far:

  1. Austin Wood - 0:31 - 2/11/13 (that's insanely fast!)
  2. Myha Trieu - 0:39 - 12/2/13
  3. Yuriy Dybskiy - 0:44 - 8/8/11
  4. Brandon Hsiao (Armory's newest tribal!) - 0:45 2/18
  5. Daniel Odio, AppMakr - 0:45 - 3/7/11 (previously 2:06 - 11/2/10 and 0:50 - 11/6/10)
  6. Janelle Santiago - 0:48 - 1/4/11
  7. Jouhan Allende - 0:53 - 7/3/11
  8. Mayank Jain - 0:55 - 3/26/12
  9. Melanie Stoeckle - 0:56 5/26/15
  10. Manish Mukherjee - 1:02 - 7/2/11
  11. Michelle Harjani - 1:03 - 3/30/11
  12. Alessandro Gagliardi - 1:07 - 6/28/11
  13. Joe Robinson - 1:08 - 6/20/11
  14. Michael Oh - 1:19 - 6/13/11
  15. Hemanth Pai - 1:20 - 6/26/11
  16. Jeremia Kimelman - 1:21 - 3/10/11
  17. Jeff Broderick, AppMakr - 1:24 - 11/2/10 (previously at pole position)
  18. Siravut Thammavaranucupt - 1:25 - 3/18/11
  19. Nick Kwan - 1:28 - 8/4/11
  20. Amit Mehra - 1:30 - 3/4/11
  21. Thomas Loughran - 1:32 - 11/4/10, Almost beats Jeff out
  22. Eduardo Cereto Carvalho - 1:34 - 3/10/11 from Brasil!
  23. Julie Rajagopal - 1:44 - 3/10/11
  24. Art Khani - 1:48 - 2/13/11, on a PC
  25. Rafael Sanches - 1:54- 11/4/10, on a PC
  26. Devon Chulick - 1:56 - 2/10/11 (previously 2:51 - 2/9/11)
  27. Your name could be here... or in the #1 spot if you're fast enough!

Other non-qualifying submissions:

  1. Nate Weisz, PointAbout - 0:52 - 2/13/11. Nate sent to a test email addy, disqualifying him from leaderboard. Rumor has it he'll be resubmitting...
  2. Sue Ko, AppMakr - 0:54 - 11/10/10. Sue named the file wrong, disqualifying her from leaderboard.

Here are the instructions
(you might want to print these out so you can follow them more easily):


1. Start recording your desktop (you can use iShowu on the Mac or a similar screencast program on the PC)

2. Open any browser

3. Open the following websites in 3 separate tabs:

4. Open the following website in a new window:

5. Go back to the tab that has www.google.com. Close it.

6. Open any text editor. Create a file called "findme" (.txt or .doc etc - anything is fine). Write the following text:

"Let's see if I can win this awesome challenge."

Then edit the text to say:

"I'm sure I can win this awesome challenge. My video will be the shortest of them all."

7. Save it in your documents folder.

8. Quit all your open applications

9. Find the document you just made in the your finder (or explorer if you're using Windows). Click on it once to highlight it. (you don't need to open it.)

10. Open a mail client (or gmail, etc.). Compose an email to "daniel@danielodio.com"

11. Attach the file you made. Write the text:

"Dear Daniel,

Here is the file I made. Did I win?"

Attach the file you made to the email.

12. Send the email.

13. Stop the screencast (this is still part of the competition!)

Then, post it to Vimeo or YouTube. The length of the video will be your official time. Send me the URL to the video along with your full name. I'll put you on the leaderboard based on your time.

Additional rules:

  • No automated workflows or macro scripts - this is all about how fast you are on the computer.
  • No speeding the resulting video up (you may be asked to send us the source video to verify it hasn't been altered)
  • You are allowed to use helper applications like Quicksilver or Alfred, so long as you're the one executing the commands
  • You can use auto-completing tools such as TextExpander, the browser URL autocomplete, email autocomplete, etc. Basically, anything you would use on a regular basis to be fast on the computer.