Archive for October, 2009

Top 10 Memory Hacks

October 24, 2009

Top 10 Memory Hacks

By Kevin Purdy

Writing things down, on paper or on-screen, is the best way to make sure you remember important info and tasks, but sometimes you’ve got to rely on your plain old brain to keep essential data sorted and handy. Whether it’s a client’s name, a password or combination you want stored only in your head, or answers for an upcoming test, there are plenty of techniques and tools to help you lock in important stuff and pull it out when needed. After the jump, we round up some memorable memory-boosting hacks.

10.Nap to improve memory and learning
It may not seem like you’re learning anything when you close your eyes and doze off, but taking a daytime nap can help you reduce interference—the brain’s resistance to learning new material, rather than what it already learned earlier—and help your recall, as suggested in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The key number in a study on nap-learning was 90 minutes, but it seems like general how-to knowledge sinks in better whenever you take any kind of siesta.

9. Boost learning power with strategic “distractions”
This doesn’t mean switching from your GRE prep to Nintendo Wii, but switching up your studying from one subject to a slightly different one—moving, say, from one CSS function and then back—forces your brain to try and hold onto the first thing you were focusing on, according to researchers. The momentary distraction might also help reduce your stress level, helping your concentration even further. (Original post). Photo by Sam Pullara.

8. Visualize reminders with the Palace Technique
Whether it’s your home, an office, or some other place, there’s a space most of us can walk through in our minds. Turn that mental space into a list organizer by using the “Palace Technique.” The LiteMind Blog has a good overview of the technique, which has you associating each thing you need to remember with objects you’d see in a walk-through—milk at the front door, printer paper on the floor mat, paper towels on the kitchen table, etc. When you need to remember, just stroll through your (mental) home, and you should recall the associations.

7. Draw a name map
Got a meeting with the higher-ups and want to make a positive impression? Bring a notepad or just an index card and map out the players’ names, or just seating positions, as soon as you sit down, along with some identifiers (“Jim/beard, #4/glasses,” and the like). From covering my fair share of board meetings for newspapers, I can attest to the benefits of writing notes and quotes from mapped numbers and later follow-up, rather than hoping your overwhelmed mind can juggle it all at once.

6. Recall lists using dramatic imagery
You’re heading out the door, and you’re absolutely sure you’re going to forget to drop off the mail, or buy the milk, or both. Blogger Bert Webb might suggest focusing on an image of dropping letters into a mailbox that looks like a giant milk jug, or perhaps a mailman made entirely of liquid milk. In other words, anything that pushes your list items past your brain’s boring/mundane filter is far likelier to stick.

5. Never have to write down countless, unique passwords with a single master pattern
The safest place to store your passwords is in your head, and you don’t want to use one password for all your logins. This isn’t so much a “memory” hack as an efficiency tip, but it only forces your noggin to come up with one really great password system rather than lots of highly forgettable variations. Choose a base password, like an abbreviated or acronym version of a favorite phrase or song, then create a system for changing it up site to site, like using the first three letters of the site name, the first four consonants or first two vowels, whatever fits for you. Clicking “Forgot your password?” and waiting on verification emails will be a distant memory, one you can feel just fine about forgetting.

4. Remember names with repetition techniques
Networking does you no good if you can’t remember what to call the person you’ve already schmoozed the next time you meet them. How-to web site eHow recommends simply saying the person’s name multiple times after you’re introduced, as in: “Hi, Bob, it’s nice to meet you. So, Bob, where do you ….” But other tips from CareerBuilder/CNN might work better with the visual-learning crowd, such as writing the person’s name on their forehead in your mind or associating them with a linked image, like imagining someone named Leonard as, say, Leonard Nimoy.

3. Convert long numbers to words
Whether it’s a hardcore software password or your car’s VIN, long strings of numbers are hard to keep straight. Using a technique like the Major system or its modified cousin, the Red Table, the long string of disconnected digits become a lot easier to grok. Check out this conversion helper, which even has its own convenient Firefox extension.

2. Make your own memory devices with mnemonics
Many of the tips and techniques we’ve posted stem from the science of mnemonics, which utilizes all the senses to aid learning. If number-to-word methods or vivid images don’t work for you, browse this great introduction and learn how to use three-dimensional images, symbols, and your own sense of humor to encode must-not-forget items and happenings. The most important tip? Make your memory device something funny or positive—we all have enough negative reminders, and have gotten pretty good at channeling them out.

1. Train your brain with SuperMemo
Free Windows application SuperMemo helps you remember concepts using spaced repetition. SuperMemo is based on years of research by learning expert Piotr Wozniak, who sought to find the exact moments when one is just about to forget something they just learned. Available in several versions for Windows, Pocket PC and Ye Olde Palm Pilots, SuperMemo is a serious tool for super remembrance.

Additional tips are included in the comments of the original post by Kevin. It can be found here at

Posted via email from Kelli’s Posterous

Top 10 Reminder Tools

October 24, 2009

Top 10 Reminder Tools for Forgetful Minds

By Kevin Purdy

Tweak your workflow and inboxes all you want, but your mental memory might always be the weakest link in your day-to-day life. These 10 tools take some of the workload off your brain, and prevent a few forehead slaps. This list is geared at smaller-scale tips for remembering those little things that you’ll regret forgetting just as soon as it’s too late.

10. Remember that thing you’re trying to think of,
Oh, shoot, what was that show? The one with the dad who worked at a robotics firm and created his own little robot girl, and she had super-strength, and it had really cheesy effects but catchy theme music? Anyways, if you’re trying to remember something that seems like it’s right there, but just out of reach, a pair of Canadian researchers suggest you stop, and either look it up right away or send yourself a note for later. The harder your brain cranks on trying to pin down that barely-there memory, the less likely you are to get it, even if you come back two days later and try running down the same mental path. In other words, your mental efforts are best spent elsewhere, and on other things, rather than tryin—Small Wonder! I knew it!

9. Automatic thumb drive reminder
At best, you leave your thumb drive plugged in at work or home. At worst, the easy-to-lose memory sticks get left in a computer lab, a far-away friend’s place, or somewhere it can be easily pocketed. Grab the Flash Drive Reminder, make sure AutoPlay is enabled on the Windows system you’re working with, and you’ll be reminded when you go to log off or shut down that you’ve still got your drive plugged in. If you’re doubtful you’ll actually respond to that kind of prompting, you could label your drive with a name and number to pop up in the “My Computer” view. For more anti-leave-behind tools, check out the comments on our original post—they’re chock full of carabiners, cap hacks, and other suggestions.

8. Do Not Forget doorhanger
You can find a retail version of the Do Not Forget doorhanger design gem at a few different places, but it’s not that hard to knock off for yourself. Put the things you need to do when you’re heading out on one of the pull-off paper tabs—like mailing a package or picking up bread—and you’ll hopefully catch it when you’re heading out the door. Since our brains can tend to get used to sights and ignore them, make sure to pull your reminder off the doorknob when there’s nothing to do. Next time you see that bright-colored hanger, you’ll know there’s something worth dropping the keys and thinking about. (Original post)

7. Always attach the file you meant to
Sending out an email promising to offer correspondents an attached document or file without that file attached is akin to showing up at a pot luck with just a plastic fork. If you’re a Gmail user, you can enable the attachment detector in Labs that’ll pop up a notification when it looks like you’ve forgotten to include your attachments. Working on Outlook? Reader Troy whipped together a little Outlook Attachment Reminder macro from a previously posted script, and Troy’s can work with signatures that demand mandatory attachments.

6. Keep your lawn and garden watered
Don’t let your faulty memory, dry weather, or a week’s vacation ruin your perfectly green lawn or your burgeoning vegetable garden. Do what Matt Haughey did and install your own automated drip system to give gardens and plants enough water at all times to get by. If it’s mostly grass you want to keep green, and you don’t relish the idea of waking up at 6 a.m. to do so, you could take a cue from Jason and assemble a DIY automatic sprinkler system.

5. Create fall-back birthday greetings
Seriously? It’s already Oct. 11, and you don’t have a card for your sister already? If you’ve got a Mac, there’s no reason to let the entire day go by without at least an email that says you’re thinking of them (even though you totally weren’t). Check out the Unofficial Apple Weblog’s how-to, and you’ll never be caught entirely off-guard. If you’d rather just get the reminders, you can have fbCal export your Facebook friends’ birthdays to an iCal feed, or enable Google Calendars’ “Birthdays” calendar (in your Settings), which pulls in whatever birthdays you’ve noted in Google Contacts. .
Personal Notes: I just pop people’s birthday inot my reegular calander asn an all day even, with the name & year of birth so I know exactly how old he or she is. Same Idea tho

4. Don’t let rebates pass you by
Retailers love rebates because a lot of people seemingly love to forget about them after the purchase. Tools that keep you from letting them pass into expiration, or sit incomplete at a service center, range from the simple to the sublime. Consumer Reports suggests immediately printing online forms and sending them in, as they can be removed from web sites after a very short period. Lifehacker reader Evan Fredericks suggests using Gina’s Trusted Trio with an old Gmail trick to keep rebates high on your to-do list. Finally, if you traffic mostly in online rebates, do as Consumerist recommends and set up a free online account at Backpack, where you can have specific rebate links emailed to you at a time of your choosing. (Original post)

3. Pack without fear
The worst part about forgetting to pack something on a long trip is that you’ll likely remember exactly what you forgot when you’re 10,000 feet in the air. Guard against your most forgetful tendencies with packing utilities that anticipate what you might need and print out helpful lists. We’ve dug on the Universal Packing List for its minimal but functional interface, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush for comprehensive coverage of necessities, and PackWhiz as a nice alternative that sits between those extremes. Rather craft your own list? Feel free to create a reusable packing list, and peruse Adam’s Power Traveler’s Checklist, part one and part two.

2. Capture gift ideas with Evernote
Your spouse, your parents and siblings, your friends—they tell you about neat things they’ve heard about, considered buying, or just can’t find anywhere all the time, but never when you’re looking to actually buy gifts. We consider Evernote to be a fairly universal, go-anywhere capture system, since you can send it cameraphone pics, text or email messages, or more advanced web uploads at any time. It’s also got a tagging system that’s perfect for gift ideas. As soon as someone’s done telling you about something you might want to gift them, and you can be sly about it, upload a camera pic or text note about it to your account, and add both “gifts” and a separate tag for their name. When the holidays and birthdays roll around, head to your note stash, perform a search for everything tagged both “gifts” and “Diane,” for example, and you’ve got a list that seemingly traveled forward in time. For a beginner’s primer on Evernote, check out Adam’s walkthrough, or dig on Jason’s OneNote power user’s guide if the desktop suite is more your style.
Personal note: Evernotesis great for keep track of lost os stuff on your pc.. I’ve been switching from using bits of pieces of paper here & there as reminder notes to Evernote notes that can be organized by topic. Unfortunately, Evernotes can’t so sub folders or sub-notesbooks but still very usefull!

1. Keep track of strong passwords
We’ve hit upon this tactic a few times in a few different contexts, but until webmail users stop using 123456 and other terrible passwords, we will continue to suggest this technique. Build a secure base password that isn’t in the dictionary, one that mixes up letters, numbers, and special characters. Adapt it to fit different sites and uses—use the first three letters of the site name, or only the vowels, or some other rule. You’ve now got a strong password, you can remember it for all your sites. Even better? Offload the effort altogether and securely track your passwords with KeePass. If you do go the KeePass route, do yourself a favor and check out these eight must-have plug-ins to get the most from your password manager.
Personal Note: I’ve already shared this tip IRL to someone without fms. 🙂

Additional tips are included in the comments of the original post by Kevin. It can be found here at

Posted via email from Kelli’s Posterous

A Case of Chronic Denial

October 23, 2009

A Case of Chronic Denial- The Story of CFS and XMRV
by Hillary Johnson

That would have been news enough, but there was more. XMRV had been discovered in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, a malady whose very existence has been a subject of debate for 25 years. For sufferers of this disease, the news has offered enormous hope. Being seriously ill for years, even decades, is nightmarish enough, but patients are also the targets of ridicule and hostility that stem from the perception that it is all in their heads. In the study, 67 percent of the 101 patients with the disease were found to have XMRV in their cells. If further study finds that XMRV actually causes their condition, it may open the door to useful treatments. At least, it will be time to jettison the stigmatizing name chronic fatigue syndrome

XMRV linked to CFS

October 18, 2009

Retrovirus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Could Aid in Diagnosis

By Katherine Harmon
October 8, 2009

Recently implicated in some severe prostate cancer patients, the retrovirus XMRV has now been found in many with chronic fatigue – – changing the landscape for diagnosis and possible treatment

OVERTAKING CHRONIC FATIGUE: An electron micrograph shows the XMRV retrovrius in the blood of a patient with cfs.

More so than many illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) frustrates those who suffer from it and those close to them, due to its nebulous assembly of symptoms, along with continued controversies over its etiology, diagnosis, treatment and even its nomenclature. Now, the discovery of a familiar retrovirus in many CFS patients could bring new energy to the field—and fresh hope for more specific medical care.
Chronic fatigue is in part a misnomer. The syndrome often has more to do with immune system abnormalities than pervasive tiredness—although the two can go hand in hand. The symptoms range from exhaustion to muscle pain, giving CFS a reputation among some as a “wastebasket diagnosis”. The slipperiness of the syndrome is in part because “it’s diagnosed based on exclusion,” says Judy Mikovits, director of research at the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nev., and co-author of research on the retrovirus findings published online today in Science. Doctors often apply the label if no other explanation can be found for a patient’s symptoms, which may be part of the reason it seems to pop up in everyone from overworked career women to continually sick children.
Roughly 17 million people worldwide are thought to have CFS, but given current diagnosis methods, the true number could be much higher or lower. Having a specific virus to look for would make for much more robust tests and possibly even be a step toward treatment. Mikovits’s team thinks they have found just such a candidate.
The xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV) has recently been linked to strong cases of prostate cancer. Like CFS, this cancer involves changes in an antiviral enzyme (RNase L). The prostate cancer discovery got Mikovits and her team thinking: Would they find the same retrovirus in people with CFS?
After analyzing biological samples from more than 100 CFS patients for the retrovirus, two thirds of them were found to test positive for the virus—compared with 3.7 percent of 218 healthy volunteers who were screened.
Precisely how this virus is related to chronic fatigue, however, remains a mystery. One of the problems with tracking down CFS is that it may not be a single ailment. “We think that the problem is that CFS is a collection of many, many different diseases even though it has similar symptoms,” says Brigitte Huber, a professor of pathology at Tufts University’s Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences in Boston. She and others suspect that the retrovirus may be unleashing other underlying conditions and viruses in the body.
“This new retrovirus may be able, through infecting human cells, [to] induce a transcription of an endogenous virus,” says Huber, who has been studying the presence of an ancient retrovirus (HERV-K18) dormant in most people but active in patients with CFS and multiple sclerosis. “We’ve already shown that Epstein-Barr virus can do exactly this.”
Even in their testing for the XMRV retrovirus, Mikovits says, “We could see a human endogenous virus at the same time” as XMRV. “There are a number of old diseases that seem to be rising at an infectious rate,” she says. Although this background noise of various viruses may be difficult to sort though, it brings clues to help researchers find the root cause of CFS. “It’s possible, downstream, that this will all feed into the same mechanism,” Huber says.

*** Note: This post has been modified from the original for space & the excessive unnecessary extra scientific jargon included that was not necessary the express my point in this blog. The original in it’s entirety can be found here: ***

Posted via email from Kelli’s Posterous


October 18, 2009

This is what happens with CFS.. and FMS as well for that matter.. so tired, & nackered out from either the disease or the meds or the one activity you were able to do that most of your time, in the worst case, is resting and trying to recuperate, which rarely happens.

What would you do?

October 13, 2009

What would you do if you were completely well tomorrow?

How to Give a Killer Massage

October 13, 2009

20 massage techniques to help relieve back pain and stress, for your special someone.
By Katy Dreyfus


Share this with someone special, so you can GET the killer massage.. *g*