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Introducing the new Code Review Category

WorkmodeOne of the lessons I learned from John Medina’s excellent book Brian Rules is that of elaborative rehearsal, which is (roughly) defined as remembering something more strongly by doing something with the new information, like giving a book report or relating that information back into something you already know.   Example: Say you already know the geography of Central Asia, if you wanted to remember the story of Genghis Khan, you could relate Genghis’ story to the already known geography, and then giving an oral report on old Genghis.

Like most coders, I sometimes forget code syntax of functions I don’t use that often.  I am now going to start writing up short expositions on the functions I have to look up in the hope that writing up the exposition will help transfer the function into long term memory.

photo credit: akaalias
Creative Commons License


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Sep 10

Written By Steve French


Light blogging lately

I’ve been busy making improvements to the system and keeping the wheels turning at the main company.  For your enlightenment, check out this conversation with Will Wilkerson and Jonathan Haidt about Morality on BloggingHeads.


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Aug 10

Written By Steve French


Creativity, Isolation and Endurance Sports

orange tree by red doorLeo Babauta recently wrote The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People on ZenHabits.net, and the number one habit is solitude.  By eerie coincidence I recently finished reading Switch: How To Change When Change Is Hard by the Heath brothers, which makes something of the same point.

The rational portion of your brain (the rider as the Heath brothers put it)  is a weak limited thing that wears itself out quickly by making decisions, exercising self control, and ingesting information.  If you isolate yourself for long periods, be it long bike rides or marathon running, or simply taking the phone off the hook, closing email, and minimizing distractions, you free your mind to work on important matters, like being creative.   The above explains why I tend to have creative breakthroughs while on long bike rides.

As I write this it occured to me that visual clutter probably plays a part in tiring your brain as well.  I must clean the office!

Creative Commons License photo credit: badjonni


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Jun 10

Written By Steve French


Everyone should read Brain Rules by John Medina

Brain CoralSeveral months ago I finished reading Brain Rules by John Medina and I’ve been raving about it ever since.  Medina is a noted brain researcher and the book contains the 12 things he wishes the lay public knew.

The 12 things (with my notes in bold and italic)

  1. EXERCISE | Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. – The most important chapter.  Short version – if you exercise your brain will be smarter and it won’t get dementia.  I’ve put this to the test, and I am more focused with exercise than without.
  2. SURVIVAL | Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. – Not that memorable, good background information.
  3. WIRING | Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.- Not that memorable, good background information.
  4. ATTENTION | Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.- Intuitive,  and general background information
  5. SHORT-TERM MEMORY | Rule #5: Repeat to remember. – Important, counter intuitive info on memory.
  6. LONG-TERM MEMORY | Rule #6: Remember to repeat.- Important, counter intuitive info on memory.
  7. SLEEP | Rule #7: Sleep well, think well. – The second most informative chapter.  I had always thought of sleep as a time of rest, it turns out to be a very active process for the brain.   Sleep is when the brain cleans and restocks itself.
  8. STRESS | Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. – I had no idea that stress was the physical reaction that it is.  This is the third most important chapter.
  9. SENSORY INTEGRATION | Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses. – Good advice for graphic designers.
  10. VISION | Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. –  mostly background information.
  11. GENDER | Rule #11: Male and female brains are different . – we knew this already, but Medina tells us how male and female brains differ.
  12. EXPLORATION | Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers. –  mostly background information.

From this book I have made the following changes in life Continue reading →

May 10

Written By Steve French


The three types of wealth – Money, Time, and Clan

Contando DinheiroAfter reading this article on the phenomenon of Farmville I revised my notions of wealth.  I previously categorized wealth in the following two ways:

  • Owning Money – how much money do you have in the bank account, or can be converted to cash quickly.  Most people regard money wealth as the only wealth
  • Owning Time – How much time do you have in the average week/month/year that is under your control?  Do you spend 90 hours a week working in a job you hate?   Do you spend 30 hours a week doing housework, maintaining electronic gear, smiling at people you don’t care about, or commuting?   If so, you possess little time, no matter how much money you can spend.  Tim Ferriss is the best explainer of this notion.  Read his blog (and book).  (I include  his book, The Four Hour Workweek on my all time top ten list of books.  I intend to write a time-wealth calculator at some point.)

Up until reading the Farmville article I limited my definitions of wealth to the above two categories.  Reading the article crystallized my notion of clan wealth.

Please note, I’m using the Southern American definition of Clan, which I define as a group of people related by blood, marriage, friendship, or history of friendship which has an intricate network of mutual obligations and debts and acts as one unit on divisive issues.  (Please also note, nothing in this post relates to the KKK).  In American pop history the Hatfield and the McCoy groups serve as the best example of clans.


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Continue reading →

Apr 10

Written By Steve French


Lessons from Joseph Kennedy

I read the Wikipedia entry on Joseph Kennedy (JFK and Ted’s father) and his business life fascinated me.  Particularly I was struck by the following passage (describing his time in the stock market in the Great Crash) as :

Kennedy survived the crash “because he possessed a passion for facts, a complete lack of sentiment and a marvelous sense of timing.”

The above tendencies are usually descibed as “shrewd”, but it is informative to see the tendencies listed out like that. Continue reading →

Apr 10

Written By Steve French


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