Meet Your UTC Finalists

So do you want to know more about the two individuals who will be competing for the right to be named the first ever Ultimate Typing Champion? Here’s a brief snapshot of our two UTC finalists – Sean Wrona and Nate Bowen. They’ll compete in-person, mano-a-mano during the upcoming SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. Meet Sean and Nate, two guys with really fast fingers on a keyboard!

Sean Wrona

Age: 25

Hometown: Ithaca, New York

College education: Cornell University; BA Economics, 2007; MPS Applied Statistics, 2008

Occupation: Currently unemployed, but ideally seeking a statistical or programming position.

Why I’m competing in the Ultimate Typing Championship

One of my high school classmates played the “Typing Speed” game on Facebook, causing me to eventually discover the myriad typing tests online. I knew I was a faster typist than any student or teacher in my high school, but did not know I held up nationally until learning that I was frequently 20-30 wpm faster than all but a handful of other players there. Upon realizing this, I eventually decided to participate in the UTC, especially after I lost my job.

How I’ve managed to become such a dang fast typist

My mom has been disabled with multiple sclerosis since before I was born, so I spent a lot more time indoors than other kids. My parents encouraged my computer use from the age of about three-years-old. I discovered an old DOS typing game one of them had installed and practiced there before I was even in grade school. By about age ten I was typing 100 words per minute.

WPM typing speed?

On a short sprint: peak of 195-200 wpm, average of around 165 wpm

On a longer passage: peak of 165-170 wpm, average of around 145-150 wpm

How I’m preparing for the UTC Finals

I practice on a number of different typing websites, which have a wide variety of different types of typing tests, and am probably practicing more than I did before the semi-final round.

Hobbies and other interests

I like collecting and entering data on just about any subject, most notably exemplified by my website for which I am attempting to archive the complete history of every major auto racing series; I wrote all code, wrote all text, and entered all data myself. In high school, I was the statistician for the Mensa Scrabble-by-Mail SIG and became one of the top ten players in the group, despite being decades younger than most other members. I am also a member of the North American Scrabble Players’ Association, but although I am friends with several top players in the group, I have not participated in a tournament yet. (Based on tournament players I have played online, I would be ranked around 800th-1000th in North America in Scrabble.) I have also in the past collected data on politics, demographics, music charts (including an Excel spreadsheet of every top ten hit on the Billboard chart, and another listing every gold or platinum-certified album), and many other things.

Favorite movies

Field of Dreams, Leap of Faith, The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, Coming to America, Little Shop of Horrors, Shrek, Apollo 13, Wayne’s World, Spellbound

Favorite books/authors

“Hitchhiker’s Trilogy” by Douglas Adams. “Word Freak” by StefanFatsis. “1984” by George Orwell. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. “The Seven Storey Mountain” by Thomas Merton. “A Separate Peace” byJohn Knowles. “Bimbos of the Death Sun” by Sharyn McCrumb. “Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov. “Hackers and Painters” by Paul Graham. Harry Potter 1-4 by J.K. Rowling.

Favorite music/bands

Aerosmith, Beatles, Boston, Cars, Eric Clapton, Cure, Peter Gabriel, Green Day, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Journey, Moody Blues, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Police, Queen, Queensryche, R.E.M., Rush, U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Who, XTC

Mac or PC?

I use PCs, but I’m not the sort of person to pick fights about favorite operating systems.

Video games

I hardly play anything online besides typing games and Scrabble today, but in years past I liked racing simulators and old-school video games like Jumpman and Wizard of Wor. I was never as avid a gamer as most people in my generation though.

Nate Bowen

Age: 31

City: New York

College Education: None, although I may have earned 3 credits at the Milwaukee School of Engineering studying AI.

Occupation: Web and iPhone developer at Condé Nast Publications

Why I’m competing in the Ultimate Typing Championship

My manager dared me publicly.

How I’ve managed to become such a dang fast typist

I started early. My technique is far from proper touch-typing, but it’s reached a decent pace after 25 years of practice.

WPM typing speed

I average in the mid-to-high 120s. I lose a lot of time to corrections, so with the right text I occasionally max out above 150.

How I’m preparing for the UTC Finals

I’m doing a little practicing on TyprX to keep tabs on my speed, but more important is using the Das Keyboard for daily typing.

Hobbies and other interests

Music (listening, performing, producing, DJing, karaoke), reading (fiction, news, social criticism/subversive literature), recreational software development.

Favorite movies

Synecdoche, Primer, Brazil, Dr. Strangelove, Kentucky Fried Movie, Angel’s Dance, The Croupier, Paint Your Wagon, and Tron.

Favorite authors

Robert Anton Wilson, Milan Kundera, Henry Miller, Proust.

Favorite music/bands

Judging from play count in my current iTunes library: The Beatles, Sondre Lerche, Serge Gainsbourg, Chopin, Ben Godwin, Pernice Brothers, Triptik, Belle and Sebastian, Pauline Croze, Akufen, The Charlatans UK, Meat Beat Manifesto, and miscellaneous house DJ mixes. (For typing practice, though, it’s Orbital, Underworld — basically the “Hackers” soundtrack.)

Mac or PC?

I happily switched to a Mac a year-and-a-half ago after over 15 years of PCs. Prior to that I was a C64 kind of guy.

Video Games

I’m a reformed gamer; I think the last game I played avidly was Starcraft.