Remembering Names and Faces with iPhone/iPod Touch

Published on Thursday, April 29, 2010 in , , , , , ,

FaceNames iPhone/iPod Touch AppOne of the toughest and most common of all memory challenges is putting a name with someone's face. Since it's also one of the most vital memory techniques to learn, we'll discuss both techniques, as well as how to use your iPhone or iPod Touch to practice the techniques.


wikiHow: How to Memorize Names and Faces – The advice here is a little basic, but that also makes it an excellent starting point! Most of the articles I describe here boil down to these basics.

Get-It-Done-Guy: How To Remember Names – This article employes the basics from the previous one, but fleshed out with a real-world feel to it, to help you understand how to apply it.

Edward E. Wilson: How To Remember Names – Again, the same basics here (are you beginning to see why they're so important?), but with different techniques for applying them. I like the use of the “video game” technique to visualize the name.

How To Remember Names and Faces: How to Develop a Good Memory – This is a great book (downloadable!) that goes into much more detail about remembering names, and even includes 35 test photos that help you learn to apply the techniques.

Howdini: Tips for remembering names – Here's a video that really helps drive the techniques home.

Memorize Names and Faces using your iPhone and Facebook – Since I'm about to move into talk about how to use your iPhone or iPod Touch to memorize names and faces, here's a great article on using the built-in capabilities of iPhone and Facebook to help you remember names and faces.

iPhone/iPod Touch Apps

Since we're dealing with faces, these apps require pictures to be effective. The iPhone has a built-in camera, but iPod Touch users will probably need to carry a camera to make the most out of these programs.

e-Faces and Names (iTunes Link) – Here's a free app that not only quizzes you on names and faces you provide, but gives you tips and keeps your statistics handy!

FacesNames (iTunes Link) – This is the app pictured at the top left corner of this post. It's simple and direct, in that it can quiz you by giving you either the picture or the name, and asking you to supply the missing piece.

Gist (iTunes Link) – Gist isn't in and of itself a names and faces, but it does include a feature called Learn That Name, that quizzes you on names and faces.

iKnowYou (iTunes Link) – This is a another free app that can test you on both famous faces from history and your own personal contacts!

Roster Recall (iTunes Link) – This one is geared towards teachers who need to learn their students' names as soon as possible. It even lets you divide up the student information by class!

Have you found any techniques or apps that are handy for remembering names and faces? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!


Magic and Math: Together Again

Published on Sunday, April 25, 2010 in , ,

Royal Flush in DiamondsIt's time once again to mix a math with a little magic!

Let's start with a favorite of mine, the Day of the Week For Any Date feat. In order to keep it simple enough to do in your head, the version on my site uses only 3 variables.

In the current issue of Plus Magazine, they feature an article on this same feat, but it makes it easier by using more variables. This sounds contradictory, but if you've ever had trouble memorizing the 100 keys for the years 00-99, you might appreciate this approach.

Instead of memorizing 100 numbers, you're remembering only 42 items (12 month codes + 12 decade codes + 18 leap year offsets). The leap year offsets have a pattern of their own, which makes them even easier to remember! As a bonus, the article includes video of Grey Matters' favorite Arthur Benjamin performing the calendar feat, so you can get an idea of what it should look like when you do it.

A little less than 2 years ago, I discussed the Fitch Cheney card trick. This trick's deceptively simple appearance and efficient method have made it a classic. There's some great mathematical lessons you can learn from this effect, as discussed in this Math Horizons article (PDF) and in this Numericana article (don't miss the related generalization article, too!).

Since you need a secret assistant, however, this isn't always easy to practice. Magician Larry Finley, however, has come up with an excellent solution. Over at the Magic Cafe, Mr. Finley shows you how to prepare a spreadsheet that helps you practice the Fitch Cheney card trick! You need to read through this article and follow the directions carefully, but it really is a great way to practice this trick!

Finally, we'll round out these tricks with one that's completely new to me. The best thing about the following math-based effect is the complete lack of any mathematical appearance to the effect! It's from our old buddy Scam School, and it's alternately known as Assassination, or the simpler Predict A Friend's Poison Cracker!.

Before the effect itself begins, there are a few good bar bet-style stumpers that you may want to remember. Here's an additional challenge: As you watch the video, stop it at the 8 minute mark (8:00), and see if you can work out for yourself the method. I've already given you the clue that it's mathematical, so try and see if you can work out the math.


MemoryEffects.PDF Updated!

Published on Thursday, April 22, 2010 in , , , , , ,

MemoryEffects.pdfIt's been a while, but it's back! My famed MemoryEffects.pdf document has just been updated!

The last update was back in June of 2009, before the current look of the site was even in place. Because of this, many of Grey Matters' newer readers may not be familiar with my list of memory-related effects.

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of memory work, and especially when used in a performance. Because of this, I began assembling a list of memory-related effects. I first published it 5 years ago this week!

The list is broken down into 4 major parts:

1) Articles - These are articles about different approaches to memory and mnemonics.
2) Legitimate Memory Demonstrations - Just what the name implies, of course.
3) Covert Use of Memory Technique - These are routines in which memory is used in secret, rather than as an open display.
4) Simulated Memory Demonstrations - These routines that give the appearance of requiring a trained memory, but actually don't.

In each section, there's the title of the book/effect/routine, a brief description of it, and then the original source(s) and the author. It doesn't teach any of the effects themselves, rather it simply shows you where you can find them. In trying to be complete, I can't say that all the resources will be easy to find, as some of the works are out of print. However, the document currently totals 69 pages, so there's plenty to explore, even with in-print sources!

The most updated version is always available both here on Grey Matters and over at Scribd.com. If you like, you can also embed the document on your site or blog, as shown below. You can also download as a PDF or a text file.

If you have any additions to the list, please let me know in the comments, and I'll include them in the next update.


Memory Exploration

Published on Sunday, April 18, 2010 in , , ,

LinksIn this post, I'm going to send you off exploring!

I've been looking around for inks related to memorization, and I've found not only good links themselves, but loads of places that I think you might enjoy exploring.

The obvious place to start, of course, is using Google to search for the term memorization. Throughout this article, you'll notice I focus on the search term memorization, as it gets less confused with irrelevant but similar words such as memorable (too many nostalgia sites) or memory (mostly RAM, songs and craft projects).

Sticking with Google for a start, look at some of the other parts of it. For example, what blog sites are the most relevant to the search term memorization?

Even more intriguing, what books and magazine articles talk about memorization? Here, I suggest using Full view only, so that you get unlimited access to books and magazines in your results.

One of the truly best places to explore is in Lifehacker's memorization tag. It's not only a great place to keep up with the latest memory-related sites, but also incredibly handy tips, such as using naps to improve your memory, and the top 10 tools for forgetful minds.

Let's not forget videos about memorization! Here's a few great places to check for all kinds of memorization-related videos:


Of course, you could just search all these and more at once with Google Video.

Since I seem to be circling back to Google anyway, don't forget that it can search individual sites. For example, take the magic site The Magic Cafe, which is a forum for professional and amateur magicians. While you could use the site's own search engine, there are limitations to it. I've used Google to see what magicians are saying about memorization here, and you find out things you thought you'd never know!

If you found anything you particularly enjoyed while exploring these searches, let me know about them in the comments!


Even More Quick Snippets

Published on Thursday, April 15, 2010 in , , , , , , , , ,

LinksIt's time for April snippets!

• I've talked about memorizing poetry and also talked about memorizing the elements. Now you can use the two concepts to reinforce each other, using the Poetic Table of the Elements! Simply click on any element's symbol or number on the chart (or the element name along the left side), and you'll be taken to poem by everyone from classic poets to original poems submitted by readers. This is a great way to make both learning poetry and the elements fun!

Remembering long works like poetry is one thing, and presenting it is quite another. FInancial Times gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Malcom Gladwell's secrets for successful presentation (Gladwell's work inspired the book Made To Stick). You also might enjoy this look at Steve Jobs' presentation secrets.

• Back in 2008, I covered some good memory-related articles from Google Books here and here. I've found a few more since then:

They are Idiot Savants. Wizards of the Calendar: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Man with a Photographic Memory: Part 1

Improve Your Memory: Part 1

Electric Teacher Helps Memorize: Part 1

Tricks to Keep Under Your Hat: Part 1

Reading With Your Fingertips: Part 1

• In Calculators: Past, Present and Future, I took a look at the different device people have used to calculate. There's an even more detailed look at past calculation devices over at RetroCalculators.com. I especially like Mr. Smart The Educated Monkey Calculator!

• We'll wind up with this look at Mental Floss readers' favorite mnemonics. Most of them are in the comments. Mnemonics for biological classification seem to be unusually popular.


April is National Poetry Month

Published on Sunday, April 11, 2010 in , , , , ,

Poetry Book(UPDATE - July 14, 2011: Verbatim has been updated and improved. Click here to learn about the update!)

April is National Poetry Month. Now I'm interested in poems, as they can be great to memorize. Once you memorize one, you make it personal to you, and you always have it handy to inspire.

First, take a look back at Grey Matters' poetry posts. This is a great way not only to learn about how to memorize poems, but to find great sources for poetry, as well. I have quite a few poetry-related video playlists on YouTube, including:

Classic Poetry
Poetry from UBS ads (as discussed in this blog entry)
Nipsey Russell's comedic poems
Some non-classic but interesting poems
Poems from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (As performed by the cast of the musical CATS)
Poems from Martin Gardner's Best Remembered Poems

To help memorize the poems on your iPhone or iPod , you can use my Verbatim web app, with help from the Verbatim video tutorials. Verbatim even includes some great related resource links that have some great poetry sources.

However, with Verbatim being a web app, it requires an internet connection to work (3G or WiFi). I am working on turning Verbatim into a native app, it won't be ready for a while. Fortunately, there are two great alternatives.

For the iPhone and iPod Touch, there's iByMemory (iTunes Link), which simulates the first letter and fill-in-the-blank modes of Verbatim without requiring an internet connection (except to upload the piece itself). At this writing, the AppShopper site states that iByMemory has been removed from the App Store, but if you check the links above, you can see that this seems to be a mistake.

If you don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can still practice in the same manner with the online site Memorize Now. To learn how to use it, read the FAQ first. This site helps you memorize long passages of text by simply pasting them in, and challenging you to remember them in a first letter/fill-in-the-blank mode, as well as a flashcard approach. It's simple, direct, free and there's no membership, yet you can still save your work from session to session!

Try and memorize at least one poem for National Poetry Month. I think you'll be surprised as to how personal it becomes.


Scam School Meets Monty Hall

Published on Thursday, April 08, 2010 in , , , , , , ,

Scam School logoAbout 4 years ago, I discussed the Monty Hall dilemma.

As you'll note above, Scam School turns its attention to the same dilemma this week.

Since my original post, many online simulations have turned up that you can try:

Cut-The-Knot Version 1 (Java applet) - In this version, you play the game yourself in the standard way.

Cut-The-Knot Version 2 (Java applet) - This is the simulation version I originally posted in the Monty Hall dilemma post above. This versions asks you to choose a door, then opens up all 3 doors, and records what would've happened with and without switching. Once you've got the basics of the problem down, this version helps you get better insight into why the odds work.

Let's Make a Deal (Java applet) - This is a straightforward version that keeps track of the history of your choices and their outcomes.

The Monty Hall Page - This one is interesting because it also offers an alternative version of the game, in which the host doesn't know what is behind the doors.

Monty Hall's Paradox (Java applet) - Here, you set up the number of games, whether you're always going to switch or never switch, as well as whether the host knows what is behind each door, and then the applet runs the problem for you over and over. This is perfect for seeing the long term effects of your choices. Even running with the same set-up proves interesting, as you can see the fluctuations.

If you tried any of these out for yourself, I'd love to hear any interesting experiences and results you had. Let me hear about them in the comments!


Number: A Film by Gwen Francois

Published on Sunday, April 04, 2010 in , ,

Some people are off celebrating Easter today. Others are just enjoying Sunday. On that note, I thought I'd keep things simple today, and share this short film with you. It's called Number, and was put together by Gwen Francois. It's a simple and excellent reminder of the importance of numbers.


R.I.P. Jaime Escalante (1930-2010)

Published on Thursday, April 01, 2010 in , ,

Jaime EscalanteI was all set to do my standard April Fool's Day post for April 1st, when I got some bad news. Jaime Escalante has died.

Escalante was born in Bolivia, and first came to America in 1964. He came to prominence in 1982 when 18 of his students passed the Advanced Placement Calculus Exam. It was also this feat that resulted in Edward James Olmos portraying him in the now classic movie Stand and Deliver.

When asked, Escalante himself described the film as being 90% truth and 10% drama. The major points left out of the film, according to Escalante, were:

1) It took him several years to achieve the kind of success shown in the film.
2) In no case was a student who didn't know multiplication tables or fractions taught calculus in a single year.
3) Escalante suffered a gall-bladder attack, not a heart attack. This distinction was clouded over in the film.

I can think of no better tribute than to let Jaime Escalante himself explain what makes an effective teacher.

R.I.P. Jaime Escalante. You will be missed.