Book briefs

2017-11-15 06:02

Unlimited Memory – How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and Be More Productive

Author: Kevin Horsley

Once you realise all the memory experts you encounter use the same basic techniques to study and amaze, it’s time to put your scepticism aside and start listening to what they have to say.

In Unlimited Memory, far from offering a gimmicky pseudo-science, Kevin Horsley provides logical methods used by the pros to make it faster, more efficient and, yes, more enjoyable for even the most forgetful of people to be able to easily recall information.

Try this if you don’t believe me - with as much detail as possible, close your eyes and imagine leaning out of a skyscraper, pouring a bucket of milk over a giant egg. The egg reacts by splitting open, out of which tumble millions of tiny bottles of dish-washing liquid. The bottles fall through a drain and land on a boat-sized corn flake, which then sails downstream and enters the mouth of a chicken.

Milk. Eggs. Dish-washing liquid. Corn flakes. Chicken. You’ve just memorised your shopping list for the day. And if you think that’s impressive, wait until you’re still able to remember that one month from now.

The trick is in mentally gluing visual objects together in the craziest way possible, since it’s the bizarre images in our minds that tend to stick around the longest. Best of all, if you practice enough, your brain starts doing it automatically. For foreign language students, even abstract words can be visualised, e.g. the word “creativity” can be represented by a light bulb.

Along with touch typing, speed reading and deliberate practice, for such an essential skill to not be a staple in every classroom has to be one of the greatest injustices of our time.

The book is a short read, but if you’re willing to give it a try, it’s easily one of the most important investments you’ll ever make.

Further reading: Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Cal Newport); Peak – Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool)

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels - The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games are Made

Author: Jason Schreier

If you think making a video game is as easy as making a movie, try shooting said movie with actors who won’t move an inch unless you tell them to, building arbitrary corners of a world few inhabitants will ever see, and using a camera that your technician keeps tinkering with during production, even if it means having to start from scratch when he’s done.

Oh, and if you somehow manage to navigate the chaos and actually put out a product, you’d then be at the mercy of internet instability and fault-finding fans demanding updates. It’s not all Doom and gloom, though. Despite the delays, crunches (excruciatingly long working hours before launch) and the eternal conflict between man and machine, artists and financiers, and overworked employees and neglected families, video-game creators find a deep sense of fulfilment in “that moment” when it all comes together and the team finally sees what they were working towards (unless the publisher pulled the plug and it didn’t come together at all).

It also doesn’t hurt that the industry is proving to be extremely lucrative for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to produce something special.

In Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, veteran videogame journalist Jason Schreier reveals what happened during the development of 10 titles, from mega hits such as Uncharted 4 and Halo Wars to the experimental and independent Stardew Valley. You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a lot of repetition here, but every game has its own story, and each is skilfully unravelled by Schreier as he walks you through the storm while teasing you of the outcome. - Omar Sayed.

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