Pages tagged “memory”

30 Sep 2016

Toy fish and noisy x-rays

Iris is 123,456,789 seconds old next Tuesday - she’s getting on - and is starting to learn about reading. Parents are encouraged to get involved in the process, and so I’m finding my way around the “phonics” system (with the help of Anki of course). The sounds of letters, and of groups of letters, are associated with actions as a memory aid for the learner. I’m having a little trouble with some the associations from the “official” list (I’m not sure if it really is official, but it’s the one used at Iris’s nursery.

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08 Oct 2015

Remember, remember the xth of November

I have an old-fashioned, non-smart, not-even-digital watch. I have to fiddle with the little rotary adjuster thingamabob to set the date to “1” at the end of every month with fewer than 31 days. How do I remember the length of all the months? That rhyme, right? The one that everybody knows: “30 days hath September…” Mnemonics are great, but if this is supposed to be one (wikipedia says it is), it’s a terrible example.

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08 Jan 2014


Over Christmas, I leaned on my parents to let me dig out their photo albums, so that the photos could be removed and sent off for scanning (before being put back, of course). I plan to write up some thoughts and experiences from that process soon. Sending off precious photos just to get them back with a CD isn’t too expensive, especially if you value your own time and the expertise of others; yes, there will be hassle and fiddliness, but it’s worth it, because non-digital photos are irreplaceable.

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03 Jan 2014

Blinking technology!

It used to be possible to tell that a household had nobody under the age of thirty in it by examining the VCR. If it had “12:00” flashing on the screen, it was a dead giveaway - nobody tech savvy lives here. I can’t claim this as my own insight, but I’ve forgotten who told it to me. My memory, again. Anyway, today I have had to resort to writing the channel numbers of non-crap channels on a piece of paper and sellotaping it to the back of the remote control.

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12 Jun 2013

Spaced repetition and remarkable carrots

Memories are blurry. Asked to recall our earliest experience, most of us have vague recollections of some childhood incident. Facts, on the other hand, are sharp little points of knowledge. The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. Alan Partridge’s middle name is Gordon. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi, and so on. Try to recall your earliest memory that could be described as “factual”. I admit to being slightly unusual in this regard (in fact, I admit to being slightly unusual).

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18 Apr 2013

On Easter Eggs and Pigeon Brains

Not too long ago, it was Easter. I’ve written before about my belief that using a computer ruins your working memory. Well, setting an (indoor) Easter Egg hunt for my wife generated another data point in favour of my hypothesis. I found myself really struggling to remember where the eggs were: these were eggs that I’d hidden, myself, less than 10 minutes previously. Try it for yourself: hide 20 eggs round your house, in places sufficiently obscure that your other half would have fun finding them.

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30 Mar 2013

Outsourced brainpower

I can’t remember when I first noticed TL;DR appearing on web pages. On the face of it, a TL;DR is a kind of “executive summary”, intended to save the valuable time of the reader. I wonder whether the rise of the TL;DR is a property of the medium - it’s harder to read extended passages on a screen than it is on paper - or of the reader. Demands on our attention are so intense and frequent, especially while online, that spending longer than few seconds reading something feels like a major commitment.

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28 Feb 2013

Not a damp squid

Last night an inaugural “memo geeks” meet-up was held. Topics of conversation of course included memory and Anki. Some bullet points on other areas we talked about: “reading” an audiobook is just like reading a book. In the latter, writing is used as a way to transfer ideas from one brain to others. In the former the transfer just uses recorded audio instead. Readers of audiobooks might therefore be expected to encounter words which they can pronounce but not spell.

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21 Jan 2013

Two-factor forgetfulness

I left my mobile phone at home today. There are so many ways of staying in touch, at least from a desk, that it doesn’t really matter that much. Although I missed one scheduled call which will have gone to my voicemail - sorry! It’s been inconvenient for a different reason: if you use two-factor authentication to access your online accounts, though, it’s very annoying. I can remember most of my passwords, although more and more of them were generated by LastPass - you can’t forget something you didn’t know in the first place.

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16 Jan 2013

Pointy-headed reed dwellers

I continue to be intrigued by the capacity of my brain for memorising new things. I wanted to test myself on learning things that’re (essentially) useless (to me), that I wouldn’t accidentally rehearse during ‘normal’ life. Over the past 3-and-a-bit months, in about 7 hours' total study (less than 5 minutes a day), I’ve learned 350 cards. At the beginning of the process, I knew nearly none of the facts contained on them.

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25 Nov 2012

Here is my credit card number

I’ve been continuing to use Anki and Anki web to stretch the capabilities of my memory. As is well known, coming up with your own mnemonic image is a powerful aid to help you memorise something. It works particularly well if the image is personal, powerful and if you take time coming up with it. Since Anki reinforces memories so effectively, I sketched some of my mnemonics out (helps cement them in yer brain) and they get shown every time I review the card.

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05 Jul 2012

On explanation and memory

I take pride in explaining things: I’m pretty sure it says that on this website somewhere… I’m a relative n00bie when it comes to this blogging business, and one observation that I have already is that the occasions when I’m motivated to write something “ranty” are far more frequent than those when I feel inclined to praise something. I suppose I have to be careful - but this post falls gently within the former category.

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27 Jun 2012

Learning a Monologue

I’ve been asked to give a reading at an upcoming wedding–and I’m truly honoured. I plan to learn it “off by heart”. It’s not your typical reading – it’s a list of bullet points under two headings (“Marry” and “Not marry”) by a certain Charles Darwin. That’s why I want to memorise it: it’ll require a degree of enunication and performance, beyond simply reading it out without making a mistake.

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25 Jun 2012

Musings on Memory

I believe—and I don’t have anything but my own anecdotal evidence for this—that using computers has wrecked my memory. Why would I need to memorise anything? I can hit Copy & Paste and achieve perfect results, without troubling my neurons. Having started a blog pretentiously called “Mnemozzyne”, I felt it was obligatory to write something on the subject of memory. This is, as a by-product, the equivalent of one of those cringeworthy posts you read on other blogs.

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