Sunday, September 30, 2012

Memory Palaces, Continued: A Quick, Easy Way to Remember The Elements

A few weeks ago I had a huge biochemistry test coming up that required we memorize the essential elements in order of the percent in the human body. Me being a great procrastinator, I completely blew off studying until the night before, and then realized to my horror that I had several element names and symbols to memorize. How could I memorize all of the 14 essential elements? I decided that since it was an ordered list and I didn't have much time, a Memory Palace (my introduction to Memory Palaces is here) would be the best way to memorize them. So, first I decided I would use my current house, since I didn't have time to do anything fancy. Then I started adding the hooks.

My first was walking into my laundry room door and taking a deep breath. Oxygen: O. Next I looked into my washing machine and saw bread, pretzels, and other carbohydrate heavy foods rolling around inside. C: Carbon. Next I looked in my dryer to see a hydrogen bomb tumbling around. H: Hydrogen. I then walked out of the room, looked out the window and saw snow. Under the snow was Nitrogen, N. I looked onto my kitchen table and noticed some spilled milk. Calcium, Ca. I noticed a sprite next to it. Phosphorous, P. Next I looked next to it at a banana. Potassium, K. I looked back at the table and noticed an egg. Sulfur, S. Salt was on the egg. Sodium, Na. I looked outside and noticed a swimming pool in my backyard. Chlorine, Ch. Down below the window was a huge piece of meat being weighed in milligrams on a scale made of iron. Magnesium, Mg. Iron, Fe. On the t.v. was the friends episode about the monkey that swallowed scrabble pieces. His name was Manganese, Mn. On the couch was a man with goiters. I was worried for him because he must have an Iodine deficiency. Iodine, I.

And that's how I memorized the 14 essential elements. I ended up getting 98% on my test, and all 14 elements correct. I haven't studied these for weeks, so this goes to show how impressive the human memory is, especially with mnemonics.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Memory Palaces: The Procrastinator's Best Friend

What if I told you that there was an ancient memory trick that you could use to memorize long strings of random numbers or information in significantly less time? What if I told you that it has saved my grades many a time while crunching the day before a test? You not might believe me, but it's true. The Method of Loci (also known as "The Journey Method," "Memory Palace" and "Memory Walk") is an easy way to commit information to memory quickly and fully.

What is the Method of Loci?

The Method of Loci is a process discovered by ancient Greeks that uses the human brain's spatial memory in conjunction with normal mnemonics. To use The Method of Loci, you should first decide on a Memory Palace. This can be a real or made up location, it is only required that you can visualize walking through it and remember some specific details. I've heard of people using an old house, the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz, or a walk to the grocery store as some examples. Feel free to be creative, however. 

A Mnemonic Within a Mnemonic

Once you've chosen your Memory Palaces, you can start to place hooks. These can be any specific places (loci is latin for places) from a window to a desk. You will then place information onto that point. This information can be raw information, for example righting a 1 one your wall, or mnemonics. A mnemonic can be anything that will help you remember your information. An example of a mnemonic would be Roy G Biv, a mnemonic for the colors in the rainbow, R standing for red, o for orange, and so on and so forth. You could create a person named Roy G. Biv, give him a nametag, and have him bend over in the corner of the room like a rainbow, if you felt like it. The more outrageous the image of the mnemonic is, the more likely you'll remember it, so try not to use boring or repetitive places or images. After you've placed your first mnemonic you can continue on in a path through your memory palace. Once you've finished adding to it, make sure to go through it often to strengthen your memory.

Memory Palaces have been used for the memory championships to achieve such feats as memorizing 203 within 5 minutes. They can also be used by procrastinators (like myself) to cram for tests more effectively, or by professionals to keep their memory fresh. Whatever the case, this is one of the most useful and interesting ways to memorize out there.

Check out Memory Palaces, Continued for more info and an example of how to memorize the elements.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The New iPhone 5: Why iOS 6 Ruins it

Today is the day apple fans have been waiting for. The new iPhone 5 is going to be released to the public today. So what's new?

Well, for one the phone is thinner, lighter, and has a bigger screen. The specs for the iPhone 4s were:
  • Height: 4.5 inches (115.2 mm)
  • Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
  • Depth: 0.37 inch (9.3 mm)
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces (140 grams) 
The iPhone 5 will be 18% thinner, 20% lighter, and have a bigger screen.

Speed wise the iPhone 5 will also feature a 'zippy A6 chip,' hopefully making app switching and running angry birds even faster. There will also be a new 'iSight' camera that will capture pictures 40% faster. 4G-LTE has been added, catching up to faster network times for other phones.

Apple has also added additional microphones, for a total of 3, that will improve facetime, along with an improved face facing camera. Speakers have been updated, to add "wideband audio" to give a fuller sound.

All of these hardware updates are great, but what new things will the phone be able to do? Along with the hardware improvements the new iPhone will be running iOS 6. This ios update should add some new mapping features, (turn by turn directions and prettier images) an additional row of icons, and more social network integration.

You heard right. Not the UI improvements we've all been begging for. Not widgets, or customization, or a more open file system. More facebook, twitter, and square icons. Nothing worth mentioning to get iOS up to date with Android. This is fine for the average business man (in fact for some it could be a plus) and Apple fanboy, but for people who want to get the most out of their smartphone, enough is enough. If all you can do with your phone is play angry birds, the screen size and A6 processor become fairly irrelevant.  Although the literal phone may be getting faster, slimmer, and lighter, this is one update worth skipping out on. I don't care how fast or how well your iPhone can run iOS 6, in the end its still running iOS 6.


Friday, May 4, 2012

GrooveShark Mobile, grooveshark for ios users who either don't want to jailbreak or don't want to pay for a subscription, has been recently upgraded! I don't know if I've posted about this before, but if you haven't been there lately I strongly recommend checking it out. What started out as free access to the whole grooveshark library has now been made further amazing by adding queing support and improving the interface. Of course there's still room for improvement, adding account playlist support would be nice, but I'm not going to whine with all my favorite music at my fingertips for free.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Proxy

I've made a nice little google appspot proxy. It's great if you just want to circumvent a light web filter, or change your i.p. address. Be sure to try it out by clicking the "Google App Proxy" tab up top.  I might update the look and feel every now and then, so stay tuned. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Minecraft Snapshot 12w08a: New Mobs Added

Notch has just released a new snapshot that adds a "defense mob to villages." These "defense mobs" are known as Irons Golems. They seem to be a response to many people complaining about the zombie village attacks committing genocide without someone to stop them. These Golems attack all hostile mobs (including the player) aside from Creepers, Magma Cubes, Slimes, and Ghasts. When killed Golems drop iron ingots and roses.

 Iron Golems can be created, similarly to Snow Golems, the only other utility mob in Minecraft, with 4 blocks of iron and 1 pumpkin. Needless to say I'm excited to start protecting my house and NPCs with Golems.