At CES 2011 this year, I did something that I didn't expect. I actually won the Build Your Own PC Race for Charity. Despite coming in second and fourth before in 2008 and 2007, I was never really a heavy weight contender to win. Nor did I feel that I would be able to repeat any of my past successes. It's a very Canadian way to think about things isn't it? But after thinking back to the things that transpired before the four minutes and nine seconds of racing, there were some key things that I did this year that might have created an opportunity for me to take the win this year.
No Pressure. No Panicking.
I arrived late to the event because I wasn't even sure I was going to go because I wanted to go with the rest of the Futurelooks Team to go race go-karts at another event put on by MSI Computer. So I casually strolled in, and was the last one to grab my number. I had actually panicked the organizers because I didn't correspond with them at all the week or so before the event. They even tried calling me minutes before I showed up right at the sign up. But of course, it was for charity and I had to make an appearance. I wasn't expecting to win. I just wanted to see if I could finish up quick enough to get in a race at the Go Kart track before the other event closed up.
I Did What I Was Good At
As many of you know, I like to eat. So the first thing I did was hit the buffet and stuff my pie hole. I took so many portions of the beef tenderloin that the lady carving recognized me and loaded me up. I was literally "mooing" by the time we were called for the racers meeting. Of course, I took another new plate of food to the racers meeting. You know. Just in case I was hungry.
I Tried To Listen
At the race meeting, everyone had their notes out. I shoved them in my back pocket so I didn't get au jus or lobster risotto on them. I also pocketed bread sticks and bread so that I could sop up the remaining au jus. Since this year's racers uniforms were BBQ aprons, there were some great front pockets to hide food for mid race snacking. I didn't hear a thing because I basically chewed through the whole meeting and the crunch of the bread sticks didn't help.
iJustine was actually behind me busy studying her instruction sheet in the above picture. The race attracts media celebs from all mediums.
I Went Back For More Food
Before they started introducing the racers, I B-Lined back to the buffet table, got another plate of food, and shoved more bread sticks into my handy BBQ racing apron. The links to the videos I'll be posting will show some strange lumps in my apron. No, it's not because I was excited. That's actually food 🙂
I Ate While Looking At The Instructions
Once I got to my station, I decided to look at the instructions, accompanied by my stash of bread sticks and a Corona. I figured that another plate of food would get in my way so I raided the bread stand. I had so many bread sticks it was actually hilarious. I think Kevin Pollack, the comedian they hired to entertain us before the race, actually looked over a few times to see where the hell I was hiding so many because I was always chewing on something.
The systems we were building were actually pretty decent for a charity event, sporting AMD Radeon HD 5830 video cards, 4GBs of DDR3 memory, a GIGABYTE AMD 880 series board, a Phenom X6 processor, and both an SSD and a platter based hard drive. In previous years, they used really crappy Thermaltake cases that must have been their bottom of the line because they were so thin. This year they used CoolerMaster HAF 912 cases and they were solid. Really enjoyed building in them and most importantly, everything fit properly inside and didn't bend like those other cases.
Kevin Pollack did his thing for 20 minutes, and I had enough food for 20 minutes. WIN!
Think About The Food
Throughout the race, I couldn't stop thinking about how good the beef tenderloin was and wondered if I would make it back to the buffet before they cleaned up. So naturally, I had to go as fast as I could and completed my build in four minutes and nine seconds. Second place was four forty four and it looked like my time was over two minutes faster than last year's winners. When I'm hungry I have to eat!
Unfortunately, because I won, I had to hang out and get pictures taken, and get interviewed by the organizers, and by BBC, and by any other news outlet that needed a statement or a picture. Didn't quite make it back to the buffet unfortunately.
What To Do For Next Year
So clearly, additional preparation and psyching myself out isn't the way I roll. I seem to do best completely winging it and with a full stomach, while showing up as late as possible, deciding only to come an hour before the event starts. I guess this is horrible advice for people looking for a secret strategy but it seems to be one that works for me. I guess that's why they had to make up a quote for me for the official press release:
“This was my third year participating in the race,” said Stephen Fung. “I came in with a strategy and was determined to build the computer in record time. I consider the Build Your Own PC Race a highlight at CES.”
I chuckle every time I read that. But I guess it sounds better than what I WOULD have told them 🙂
Here are a few videos that I found from the event including one from CMHD.TV, CoolerMaster's own in house channel:
I guess I'll be there again next year. But maybe I'll show up a bit earlier just to get my eat on. I hope the money I won and the computer I built goes to good use helping out the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.