Book draw winners, week 1

Hey folks, entry to the Mind Performance Hacks free book draw from last Monday is now closed. The email address has now been deactivated, and all that’s left to do is randomly select the 2 winners. Here we go (see how I did the selection after the jump)… And congratulations Adrian Neumann and Chris Elliott! I’ll be in touch to get your postal addresses. Well done!

Everyone else, thanks for entering, and look out for the next draw tomorrow.

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Mind Performance Hacks


While I’ve been away, I’ve been reading Mind Performance Hacks by Ron Hale-Evans. (Full disclosure: There are a couple of Mind Hacks pieces in the book, so O’Reilly sent me a free copy.) What follows are some brief thoughts, so if you already know about the book then skip to the end of the post for the interesting bit.

MPH is O’Reilly’s second foray into the cognitive world, and focuses on strategies in high-level areas like memory, creativity and self-analysis. I especially enjoyed the the maths chapter, which includes topics like how to count to a million on your fingers (I’ve tried dactylonomy before) and how to estimate square roots in your head. The approach does mean that, for some of the hacks, there’s little room for the kind of explanation I usually look for, and I do admit to feeling sceptical when reading about a creativity technique from Edward de Bono or a mnemonic structure for figuring out your own emotional responses. Personally, I find some hacks like these are based on world-views that I find difficult to swallow whole–I don’t know whether independent assessments of the techniques exist, but if they do then I’d like to hear more about them. Happily, since the book is based on the Mentat Wiki (that’s the book’s support page), which is constantly growing, it’s quite likely that this kind of information will appear there in the future.

Our own Vaughan Bell and Tom Stafford have original hacks in MPH too, on sleep and nutrition. I’d forgotten they were making an appearance, for some reason, and it was a pleasant surprise to run across the familiar names and always-informative articles.

For me, the highlights were the ideas I’d run across but not chased down, and these had me reaching for my notebook. There’s discussion and much linking on artificial languages, constrained writing and board games, among much more. From this perspective, the entire book is a creativity machine. I can use it as a series of provocations, and that’s always good to have on the shelf. (And, as a last thought, I half-suspect that the fact the title abbreviates to MPH (for miles-per-hour) is not an accident. Hale-Evans comes across as an author with exactly this kind of intertwingled sense of humour.)

(Update: Ron points out, in the comments, that there are MPH sample hacks online (as PDFs). Do have a read.)

Free books!

As you’ll know, isn’t an O’Reilly site. It was started to support the Mind Hacks book, that’s true, but since then it’s taken on a life of its own, thanks to our blog authors.

We do, however, have enough of a connection to wangle free copies of Mind Performance Hacks. More than that, we have enough free books to give away 2 copies a week for the next 4 weeks.

So: If you’d like a chance of a free copy of Mind Performance Hacks, send one email to freemph at mindhacks dot com. Next Sunday evening, UK time, I’ll choose 2 emails randomly and, if you’re a winner, I’ll be in touch to get your address. Please include your name in the email; if my email to you bounces I’ll choose a different one; cheaters will be excluded; organiser’s decision is final; void where prohibited; etc.

Next Monday, I’ll delete all the emails received so far and we’ll have another draw. Not bad eh?

Good luck!

(Update: I thought I’d better confirm that you don’t have to be in the UK to enter – anywhere in the world is fine – and I’m the only person who will see your email address (except if you win, obviously. All other emails will be deleted at the end of the draw).)

San Diego Serenade

Well, okay, not really a serenade but the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, which kicks off in San Diego next week, on 6 March. I (Matt) will be there, speaking about my new project, playsh, the Playful Shell. And since the conference organisers also published Mind Hacks, I figure a few readers of this blog may be going along too. If you are, please do hunt me down and say hello! It’s always fun to meet new folks.


Just a quick note to say thanks very much to Mark Brown who got sick of not having a favicon… and made us one. You can see it up there in the address bar, or – possibly – by the title for your RSS feed. Much appreciated, cheers!

Ajatus (Finnish Mind Hacks)


The translations come thick and fast! Ajatus (which means “Thought”, I understand) has now been released by publishers in Finland, in hardback no less. Many thanks to Chris Heathcote for picking a copy up for me in Helsinki. He took a photo of the book too, if you’d like to see.

Grab Ajatus at readme’s website if you fancy it, and I’ve put the blurb (in Finnish) below the fold.

I’ll stop with the hard sell now, sorry! I just get excited about these things.

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Japanese-language Mind Hacks

mindhacks_jp.gif Mind Hacks has been available in Japanese since December 2005, and according to the reviews on Google’s translation of the page, the book’s been exceptionally well translated. (Also, very well received which is gratifying!) I believe this is the translator’s blog and, if so, thanks very much and well done.

Looking at a few more translated pages, including that blog again and the O’Reilly Japan news page, it seems that Mind Hacks sold out at the end of 2005 and has now been reprinted. That’s testament to what must be a great job in translating and re-working the book–and, since I now have the finished object in my hand, some beautiful book design. The binding and production is really good. Congratulations folks! It really is exciting to see Mind Hacks do this well… and very odd to see photos of Tom and me and all other others in the book floating off around the world.

Any Japanese readers out there who’d like to buy the book: Please see the links here and the O’Reilly Japan book page for some sample hacks. Also please do report back!

I’ve tucked a couple of photos below the fold…

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