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Show HN: Speedsums (speedsums.com)
64 points by refrigerator on Feb 8, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments

The 'motivational' comments were hilarious and refreshing. I strongly disagree with the other advice you've been given here.

Don't 'turn it up to 11' to remove all the subtlety and ram the joke down people's throats. And don't turn it into "Oops, try harder next time!" like every other insipid thing in the world. Please. You made something that made me laugh. As much as I love HN, it's a strange, unrepresentative community and you should be very careful trying to appease the crowd here, which always bristles at anything that breaks character. People here are sometimes too focused on how to churn out templated startups, and not enough on art.

I think this kind of practice is great. However I don't think insulting learners is ever a good idea.

"If you got below like 30 on your first attempt, you should probably practice a little before embarrassing yourself again."

I thought it would motivate people to try harder, but I guess it's backfiring... sorry! I'll change it

The thing is, humans are using your app. And when humans are facing something for the first time, if it's not friendly to them, they're going to be taken aback and pissed off. Good products have friendly, warm, inviting copy.

You could spin it around by turning it to 11, and call it something like "Speedsums for assholes". Then you could insult the user at every opportunity you get, using over the top curses in a tongue in cheek manner ("4 seconds to solve that? My guinea pig did better!"). If it's clear that it's meant in a satirical way, it'd be less shocking. However, this is much harder to pull off in a way that is funny and stays funny over time.

So either make a product with clean, friendly copy - or make one that does the "evil coach" to the maximum. But certainly don't do a mix of the two- that's just very confusing emotionally.

(recommended related reading: http://www.abookapart.com/products/designing-for-emotion)

Yeah I do see what you mean, I should have either gone the whole hog or not at all, I actually read that book a couple of years ago as it turns out!

I liked it, it made me smile. The standard "have-an-amazing-day" tone of sites submitted here is grating after a while.

"It should not take N seconds" - I was doing it on an iPad!

Ha. I got this both times I tried the game, and took it as a friendly suggestion that having been given the answer you would be able to recall it instantly the next time the same question came up.

Agreed - I was quite taken aback by this. Not exactly beginner-friendly...

lol, 20 in 30 seconds is pretty good if you don't have a number pad.

This is incredibly user hostile with lines like "you should probably practice a little before embarrassing yourself again" and "It should not take 4.18s to solve that next time."

Is that part of discouraging procrastination or what? As it stands, I couldn't show my sisters this without them getting upset with me.

I wonder if teaching people analog math would be better. This is more practical if you don't need exact quantities, and more in line with how your brain actually works. Symbolic math isn't "natural" and you learn it not by generalizing but by memorizing a large number of facts and heuristics. But your brain is really good at approximating continuous functions. Imagine how much complex math goes on in your brain when you see a ball in the air, predict where it's going, and coordinate hundreds of muscles to catch it.

I imagine it would work by seeing two bars or boxes and then drawing a third bar/box with the correct area/length and getting rewarded based on how good you do. Another exercise would train you to convert numbers to or from boxes with the same length and at the appropriate scale.

This sounds a little bit like the sort of stuff `the eyeballing game' makes you do: http://woodgears.ca/eyeball/index.html

that's actually a really cool idea!

I've always been extremely bad at things like this. Working quickly is one thing I cannot seem to do. Which makes this extremely good practice of course!

Last week I cleaned up a lot my room and went through stuff from primary school. Speedruns, where we had a sheet of sums that we had to solve as quickly as possible, always showed I was within the bottom half of the class (I don't remember the exact number), while mostly other tests' scores were in the top 85% or something. "Slowly but steadily," I guess?

Oddly my typing speed is faster than everyone else I know, including in a class full of coders. I'm not slowest in everything at least.

I'm 30 now, and a little better at it, but I'm still relatively shitty with timed thinking exercises, and being graded in general. Reminds me of university where I did poorly on exams. I'd have graduated with a much better GPA if it weren't for my anxiety over them. The worst classes were the ones with finals worth 50% of the total grade.

I'd waste 2 hours pulling my hair out imagining what it would be like if I failed, instead of working. Looking back I probably should've seen a doctor about my anxiety issues.

Sorry to hear that, sounds like it might indeed have been helpful to speak to someone about this. On the other hand, you did make it so far :)

Though I wasn't good at those speed tests, I'm generally not that frightened to do them. If I fail, so be it, nothing to change about it at that point except do my best. The period of anxiety is always just before starting, doubting whether I put enough work into it and whether I could get any studying done in 5 minutes.

Contrarily to most other students it seems, I'm hardly ever anxious to learn the results of a test after I've made it. I'm curious of course, but not anxious to know whether I failed or not. It even gets on my nerves to hear everyone analyzing each minor detail of the test like a post-mortem. I usually ask around if someone knows the answer to something I completely missed out on (if anything) and that's about it.

Cool little Game ! As a lot of people here, I threw together some JS to try and 'hack' the challenge. As mentioned by OP, this is "staggeringly" easy to do. Yet, I was wondering : How would you go around to preventing such a behavior ?

I would try obfuscating the problem a little bit :

* Display an image instead of a text (using canvas for quick drawing ? You'd have to create the images server side to really be sure)

* If you really want to display text, use a custom made font (Reverse-engineering the characters match would take a little time)

* Changing the elements id (#answer and #question) every question.

Any ideas ?

since it's client side, it's physically impossible to completely prevent cheating :( using images instead of text and changing element id's and things would certainly make it harder to hack though!

keeping questions captcha-like and calculating the score on server side, is one solution.

Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the addition and the division sign. That's rather annoying.

yeah a lot of people have said this, it used to be a '/' instead of the division sign but then everyone complained about that haha

I went all the way, simulated keydowns and all. (Thanks, http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4158847/is-there-a-way-to...)

var element = document.getElementById('answer');var y = document.getElementById('question');var dispatchKeyboardEvent = function(target, initKeyboradEvent_args) {var e = document.createEvent("KeyboardEvents");e.initKeyboardEvent.apply(e, Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1));target.dispatchEvent(e);};var dispatchTextEvent = function(target, initTextEvent_args) {var e = document.createEvent("TextEvent");e.initTextEvent.apply(e, Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1));target.dispatchEvent(e);};var dispatchSimpleEvent = function(target, type, canBubble, cancelable) {var e = document.createEvent("Event");e.initEvent.apply(e, Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1));target.dispatchEvent(e);};var send_key = function (key) {var canceled = !dispatchKeyboardEvent(element,'keydown', true, true, null, key, 0, '');dispatchKeyboardEvent(element, 'keypress', true, true, null, key, 0, '');if (!canceled) {if (dispatchTextEvent(element, 'textInput', true, true, null, key, 0)) {element.value += key;dispatchSimpleEvent(element, 'input', false, false);dispatchSimpleEvent(element, 'change', false, false);}}dispatchKeyboardEvent(element, 'keyup', true, true, null, key, 0, '');}; y.addEventListener('DOMNodeInserted', function(e){var z = eval(y.innerHTML.replace(/[=\s]/g,'').replace(/x/ig, '*').replace(/÷/g, '/')).toString(); for(var i in z){send_key(z[i]); element.value+=z[i];}});

You beat by a few minutes. I wrote a Chromium extension for it:


    (function(){var b;var a=function(){if(b!==undefined){var e=document.querySelector("input#answer");
    e.value=b;e.dispatchEvent(new Event("keyup"))}};var c=function(e){var h=e.length;
    var f;while(h--){f=e[h];if(!f.addedNodes||!f.addedNodes.length)
    }var j=f.addedNodes[0].textContent.match(/^\s*(\d+)\s*(\S)\s*(\d+)/);if(!j){continue
    }var k=parseInt(j[1],10);var l=j[2];var g=parseInt(j[3],10);switch(l){case"+":b=k+g;
    return}};var d=function(){var e=new

    "manifest_version": 2,
    "name": "Speedsums Helper",
    "version": "0.1",
    "description": "Help be good at SpeedSums",
    "author": "wreegab",
    "content_scripts": [{
        "matches": ["http://www.speedsums.com/*"],
        "js": ["cs.js"],
        "run_at": "document_start"
Caveats: Need to answer the first question. Need a time out to prevent exhausting the list of questions (it stops at 119)

It's Hacker News after all...

This works as well (using jquery): var a=0,t;setInterval(function(){t=$("#question").text().replace('x','*').replace('÷','/');t=t.slice(0,t.length-2);if(t!=a)$("#answer").val(eval(t)).keyup();a=t;},0);

It's staggeringly easy to hack because it's a fully client-side app but that's not really the point :)

Easy questions. This tests if you read/understand/type fast rather than think. Funny anyway.

This reminds me of Case Interview Math: https://www.caseinterview.com/math/home.php

Try with "Estimation Math", "Random", and "Hard".

A friend of mine told me about this website. He used it to practice for interviews. I took it as a game. It's less about precision and more about "close enough" but quick calculations. After a while, you learn to focus on the most critical part of each question, which depends upon the operator and the number of digits, and dismiss what's irrelevant.

>> For future reference, 8 x 9 = 72. It should not take 3.04s to solve that next time.

I really disliked learning the multiplication tables. When faced with 8 * 9, my mind thinks 8 * 8 = 64 and adds 8 to it to get 72. :-/

Multiplying by 9 is easy using your fingers (assuming you don't want to multiply by more than 10). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVbcra3rCqc

I use to think of it like 10 and then subtract with the other factor. For example if you have 9x7, think 10x7 and then subtract 7. 70-7 = 63.

And if you have 9x9 just think 90-9=81.

9x10 = 100-10 = 90

9x15 = 150-15 = 135 and so on..

// run in firebug and click & enter input... $('#answer').click(function(e){ var value = eval($('#question').text().replace('=', '').replace('÷', '/').replace('x', '*').replace(/\s/g, '')); console.log($('#question').text() + value); this.value = value; })

This a great way to improve your touch-typing skills. I'm extremely accurate on letters and the couple of symbols that I tend to use in programming, but straight numbers are the class of character that I type the least. Pretty cool!

This is cool. I would like to make it multiplayer with websockets. Similar to an old multiplayer math game I made in school. http://get24.jit.su

How do you play? I tried to click on the "Help" button, but it didn't work, so I have no idea what to do.

Sorry about that. Fixed the help button.

use basic number operations */ + or - without combining digits to get 24

I created a similar site, but with different types of cognitive task http://www.brainexer.com/

Pretty easy to add a js script to do the work ;) http://pastebin.com/2FP7meUU

What I came up with (vanilla js):


I know, but it's a client side app so it will always be possibly to hack no matter what I do

true, nice app though ;)

FWIW I thought the insults were pretty funny. They put into context the uselessness of learning to multiply and divide marginally more quickly.

Just wanted to say that you should sanitize the leader board. Some of those usernames completely turn me off from the concept.

yeah I agree, I've been trying to figure out a way to do it but people will always be able to get past it

And here's a cheat: http://pastebin.com/483UcMLx

shorter: document.getElementById('answer').onkeypress = function(){document.getElementById('answer').value = eval(document.getElementById("question").textContent.slice(0,document.getElementById("question").textContent.length-2).replace('÷','/').replace('x','*'));}

Just mash enter.

like I said, staggeringly easy to hack...

Fun. But typos are BRUTAL. "For future reference, 3 + 1 = 4. It should not take 2.69s to solve that next time."

cheat = function() { text = $('#question').text().substr(0, $('#question').text().length - 3).replace('÷', '/').replace('x', '*') $('#answer').val(eval(text)) }

Noob question: how would you... use that cheat?

like I said, it's staggeringly easy to hack because it's a client side app!

syntax error..

Only if I had a keypad! Typing numbers in a mini keyboard is so slow.

Ha! It redirects to the Wikipedia entry for computer hacking.


"You beat 70.4% of people". Depressing..

Wait, what?

Gotta be in the 95th percentile to be considered a Speedway Math Third Grade Champion.

Woohoo, South African made stuff on HN :D

This website it rude.

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