for some reason I feel compelled to answer :-)
> Here are a few things that seem to work for me:
> 1. Physical exercise: I've frequently scored a new
> personal record after a long walk or run.
Ditto. Same for any other kind of physical "exercise" ;-)
> 2. Fresh start: Usually my first trial is my best
> after sitting down for a RufzXP session; repeated
> trials sometimes get worse and worse!
Yes, generally it's the same here. With some exceptions.
> 3. Start out at a relatively low speed: Get a few
> callsigns copied perfectly before the program speeds
Good idea. Start 4 or 5 speed steps below the speed you'll eventually reach and oscillate around. This is good for two reasons: For once, it'll improve your score because you'll have a few more than half of the callsigns copied correctly. If you started at speed x and only went up/down by one or two steps, you'd end up with 25 correct calls in average. If you start slower, you'll increase this number slightly.
But don't start _too_ slow! The score you get for a correctly copied call contains the speed to the power of two. You _could_ probably find a very low starting speed where you could do a whole attempt without a single error, but the overall score will be disappointing.
Another reason why starting slow is good is that it takes pressure off you. If you start fast, you _have_ to copy the first few callsigns correctly, and going down significantly below your initial speed will cost a lot of points. If you start slow, it doesn't matter so much; even if it takes a few more calls to climb up to the expected average speed, you'll still, in the end have climbed up these few steps in speed and average more than 25 correct calls.
> 4. Use the F6 key judiciously (for repeats): Use it
> if you're not 90% sure of the callsign on the first > go.
I hardly ever use F6. It destroys the rhythm of an attempt and in my experience I am so biased with what I think I heard on the first attempt that the second attempt will not help at all. If I use F6, it's a good indication that I am not very well concentrated...
At the German HST competitions (where I am the referee for RufzXP) some of the participants (who didn't practice with RufzXP at all before the competition, just normal contesters etc) used F6 for almost every callsign and got very poor results on their first attempt. I told them to forget about F6 and not a single one of them didn't improve a lot on the second attempt... some doubled their score. F6 is evil :-)
> 5. Get into a rhythm: hit enter immediately and go
> on to the next callsign.
With a lot of practice you'll reach a state where you enter (correct) callsigns, and just before hitting Enter, you'll look at what you typed and be confused that you actually entered a whole call. Completely bypassed by any conscious effort.
I am not really a touch typist but I can do RufzXP without looking at the keyboard and sometimes it occurs to me that I copy a callsign with a "H" or "S" and I am not sure which one it is. Then it happens that my right hand types the H, the left hand types the S, simultaneously!
In that case (and in cases when you enter a callsign that just cannot exist), it's important to stop yourself and correct the mistake before automatically hitting Enter.
Of the 50 calls in an average RufzXP attempt, I dare to say that I know about 20, and can perform a pretty accurate sanity check on 45 of the 50. That's mainly knowing the rules how callsigns are formed in the different countries. For US calls, for example, it's a good thing to know the latest sequential calls issued at the time of the RufzXP database. If I hear KD1xyz, I know it _has_ to be KB1XYZ. Similar rules apply for most countries; knowing them is a good skill for RufzXP.
Another thing which is important in RufzXP IMHO is whether to look at the screen during the attempt or not. For a long time I avoided it, because it'd make me nervous if I did. But without looking, I would not make much progress on memorizing the callsigns I had missed (too lazy to review it after the attempt). At the HST competitions, some of the very good competitors go so far as to bring a kind of rag to cover the monitor, except for the line where they enter the callsign, in order to make sure not to see anything that could make them nervous. When I was seriously into PED years ago, I also had two strips of duct tape on my screen: One over the time countdown, another over the QSO number...
Well, I reviewed my strategy and now I look up to the screen after entering each call, but I try only to look at the calls, and the current speed. Of course it's hard to avoid looking at the score and even if you try not to, you'll at least see when it flips over from a 4 to a 5 digit number etc. Yet, blind attempts now make me much more nervous than normal attempts, because I sometimes _think_ I am doing pretty well but am really not... and having a new personal best within reach always causes a huge rush of adrenaline.
Some of my best scores were done when I was very tired, and in a "don't care" state of mind. Like after a contest, or a long day at work. Or after eating a 2000kcal pizza. Sometimes after a beer, but any higher amounts of alcohol will have an extremely bad effect on the score. Being too focussed is not beneficial, obviously.
Well, that's about what comes to my mind right now. I saw you started uploading your scoreboard to the RufzXP-stat tool at dxwatch.com (http://www.dxwatch.com/rufzxp/
- I just updated my stats as well). IMHO it's a great way to keep track of your progress, and even if sometimes you feel like you're not getting anywhere at the moment, it often shows that the general way of your scores is up...
73, Fabian DJ1YFK (Rufz-addict since 1998)