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Author Topic: What's a good memorization software?  (Read 23924 times)
superboyac
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« on: April 23, 2007, 12:16:56 PM »

I'm a musician, and in an effort to learn some more theory, I'm looking for software that will help me memorize various concepts.  There are so many flash-card like programs out there, I was hoping one of the experts here would help me narrow it down a bit.  I don't need to print the cards, because then I'll just write them out by hand or whatever.  Instead, maybe there's a creative software out there designed to help people memorize things using the computer.  Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2007, 05:03:29 AM »

quizlet.com
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superboyac
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2007, 10:28:07 AM »

quizlet.com

Very nice, I have to try this out!  I'm not a fan of online applications (web 2.0), but this one seems like it will be rather convenient.  Thanks!
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suleika
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2007, 10:53:58 AM »

I've used supermemo on and off for years - you score your own answers (from I can answer that in my sleep! through yes, I got that right by the skin of my teeth to not a clue!) and it calculates optimal repetition schedules.  It can work amazingly well.  You can also use it to slowly devour difficult texts, extracting and repeating hard bits etc (called incremental reading).   It is extremely flexible, if perhaps over-complcated.  There are plentiful but horrendously organised help files.  If you only want to create some flash cards it would be overkill to get the newest version ($45) , but older versions are offered cheaper or free, so it's worth trying out.

I first came across it when looking for ways of storing information: it automatically extracts a register of words and contents and can be useful as a quick-search repositry for reference material.  I don't use it for that though. I am currently learning German vocab with it, and Firefox keyboard shortcuts, and the occasional piece of personal information that I keep forgetting. 
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superboyac
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2007, 04:28:51 PM »

This site:
http://www.quingle.com/softarea/flash.htm

rates over 200 of these memorization software.  They have Vtrain as the best of the bunch, and Supermemo (along with several other programs) a notch below Vtrain at 2nd best.  They Vtrain uses the Leitner method which is very handy, but Supermemo does not, although it uses it's own system.  I can't really tell which one is better at this point.
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kingding
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2007, 01:58:27 PM »

I spent several hours the other day researching on this topic.

These three shareware apps seem to stick out:
1: SuperMemo
The original, super old-skool
+ Exhaustive(!) feature set, proven algorithm
+ Largest user base, active community: Yahoo Group, Wiki
 - Ugly as hell, unbearable GUI, sometimes buggy

2:FullRecall
The new generation, attracting switchers from SuperMemo. There's a Ruby script on their website that converts data and statistics from SuperMemo databases to FullRecall.
+ Lightweight and simple, yet powerful. Features an advanced SuperMemo-inspired algorithm based on a neural net.
+ Can be operated entirely by keyboard
+ A caring community and a responsive developer
- Lacks rich-media and organization features, not yet fully grown-up

3:VTrain
+ A proven, stable and elegant implemenatation of the Leitner Method.
The Quingle review index seems to be biased, since its author has contributed to the development of VTrain.

Eventually, I bought a license for SuperMemo 2006.

Check this for Flashcards about music theory.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 11:16:51 AM by kingding » Logged
superboyac
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2007, 04:48:02 PM »

Thanks kingding...I can't tell which one is best for me.  Those flashcards are nice, but not for me...I'm trying to memorize things specific to jazz.

I can't decide between vtrain and supermemo.  I like Vtrain because it's fairly straightforward, but I am feature-aholic, and I can see that Supermemo has tons of features, I just can't figure the program out yet (it's pretty complicated).  I wonder, is there anything Vtrain can do that supermemo can't do?

Templates:
One cool thing I like about vtrain is that you can apply a template (sort of).  For example, if there are 12 keys to memorize, instead of writing the question out 12 times with just the key letter being different, I can write a general question "This scale is for _ key?" and just fill in the blank part in my flashcards.

Also, because for each "thing" that I have to memorize, I need to memorize it in all keys, so I am doing some stuff in excel (transposing, etc.) and I want to import the content from excel into the program.  Vtrain can do this with delimiters, I can't see how to do it in Supermemo (although I see import functions available).

Also, does Supermemo make it easy to work with different symbols?  I have a special music font, and I have to switch back and forth between a normal text font and the music symbols fonts.  Vtrain has a symbol map that pops up with each question for this, can Supermemo accomplish something like this also?

I don't plan on doing anything really complicated...most of the difficult work will be done in excel, as far as the content of the questions.  I'll need to import them in and perhaps tweak them a little bit.  The template thing would help, if there was a way I could ask all the questions in the same way, without having to write the same repetitive stuff out every time.

Basically, I don't want to use the software so much as to make and format the questions, but rather to present me the questions/answers using whatever learning algorithm it has.
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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2007, 12:51:23 AM »

kingding, I've been looking at these softwares all day (almost 10 hours!)!  Supermemo is ridiculous.  Like you said, the interface is unbearable.  I would have tolerated it if there was a way to somehow import excel files into it (by way of csv or tab-delimited, something!).  But there was nothing, not even a difficult way.

You're right about full recall, it's much better than Supermemo.  I don't know about all of supermemo's fancy features, but all I need is the excel import capability and Full Recall seems to do that fairly easily.  Also, the content of my flashcards are just plain, simple text, so I don't need to do much with it--once it's imported from excel, I doubt I'll tweak it much.  Besides, supermemo is $45, and full recall is $25, AND it seems like FUll Recall is maintained more often, AND it's interface is not a throwback to windows 3.1

Like I said, if supermemo was easy to use, it would be great.  But it's almost impossible to use.  I think I'm going to get Full Recall...I'll sit on it for a while.  I like features and power, but sometimes these authors go overboard and completely forget about usability.  I had a similar experience with the GodFather vs. Tag & Rename (for mp3 tag editing).  The Godfather is really powerful, but using it is like flying a plane.  It's tag editing for goodness sake!  Anyway, what a long day, I wasted all Friday checking out memory software, great.  That's going to impress the ladies.
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suleika
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2007, 06:17:04 AM »

Anyway, what a long day, I wasted all Friday checking out memory software, great.  That's going to impress the ladies.

LOL

Yes, supermemo is crazy.  Sometimes when I'm searching the endless FAQ-style help pages to work out how to do something I actually feel embarrassed -  as if someone were watching me and having a laugh.  But the program somehow still works for me. 

I am going to keep my eye on FullRecall though. 
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superboyac
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2007, 11:31:38 AM »

So, I think that I am almost 90% sure that I will get FullRecall (thanks kingding!).

Supermemo is powerful, but not well-designed.  Sometimes, when programs are powerful, they can't avoid being complicated.  But Supermemo ("not trying to be rude, but...") is unnecessarily complicated.  The interface, like kingding said, is truly "unbearable".  I don't know why the author doesn't update it to some more modern interface.  Honestly, the GUI is from windows 3.1 days, not even Windows 98.

It joins the list of my top 3 Worst Interfaces Ever:
The Godfather, Supermemo, (something I can't think of right now)

Now, hopefully, FullRecall will continue to evolve quickly.
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kingding
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2007, 11:13:05 AM »

Umm, sorry, I'm a bit late. (I'll try to clear up the remaining questions, though. As a tribute to the board search and the delight of all its users.)

Quote from: superboyac
I can't decide between vtrain and supermemo.  I like Vtrain because it's fairly straightforward, but I am feature-aholic, and I can see that Supermemo has tons of features, ...
using whatever learning algorithm it has.
SuperMemo (and FullRecall) aim for time optimized learning performance through sophisticated repetition scheduling, considering grades you give each card for its difficulty level. VTrain just tries to re-enact the basic Leitner System in a convenient electronic environment.

Quote from: superboyac
Templates...
SuperMemo has huge set of template features.

Quote from: superboyac
Vtrain has a symbol map that pops up with each question for this, can Supermemo accomplish something like this also?
Nope, that's lacking. But there's always Quick Key. With some PowerPro or AutoHotKey fiddling, it can even be told to start-up with SuperMemo or FullRecall

Quote from: superboyac
So, I think that I am almost 90% sure that I will get FullRecall (thanks kingding!).
Great! Keep us posted on how it's working for you.
Unfortunately, I heavily rely on those HTML and template underpinnings (and therefore SuperMemo). I usually keep a copy of my learning material in Evernote, which I move back and forth via XSLT/Ruby scripts.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 11:38:05 AM by kingding » Logged
superboyac
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2007, 01:21:12 PM »

Quote
Unfortunately, I heavily rely on those HTML and template underpinnings (and therefore SuperMemo). I usually keep a copy of my learning material in Evernote, which I move back and forth via XSLT/Ruby scripts.
Those templates are nice, let me ask you a few questions on that.  My goal is to do as little editing as possible in the program.  I want to do the bulk of my editing in Excel, because for this music theory stuff, whenever I have to write a question, I have to repeat the question for all 12 keys, and I have an algorithm in excel that does this for me.  So, I just want to bring it into the program (supermemo or other) and just start learning.  However, it would be nice if, simultaneous with the import, I can apply a template to format the text.  The problem for me is I have to use two different fonts, one for text and another for music symbols.

kingding, in Supermemo, what kinds of things can you do with the templates?  I tried to play with the templates in 2004, but I couldn't figure anything out.  Would it be possible to do something like, import 200 items, and take the first line of each item and apply a font, then take the second line of the item and apply a different font?  That would be very helpful.  If I had to change each one manually, it would take forever and wouldn't be worth it.

Thanks.
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najja
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2008, 04:19:17 AM »

I just found two open source alternatives via lifehacker and tried both out

1. Anki http://ichi2.net/anki/
  written in python, kinda slow
  active development
  designed for studying japanese
  feature rich with online syncing
2. Mnemosyne http://www.mnemosyne-proj.org/
   simple and effective interface;
   no obvious way to format (bold/italize etc) text

both use supermemo v5 algorithm. Here is a insanely interesting article about the algorithm from wired.
http://www.wired.com/medt...f_wozniak?currentPage=all
« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 04:22:29 AM by najja » Logged
Nod5
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2008, 06:10:07 AM »

I haven't tried any of these programs but I have Mnemosyne and Anki on my "to try" list. And one more that hasn't been mentioned yet: Opencards , http://www.opencards.info/
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tamasd
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2008, 07:17:45 AM »

both use supermemo v5 algorithm
Mnemosyne uses supermemo 2 algorithm, and anki as well - at least they indicate so on the homepage.
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superboyac
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2008, 04:30:52 PM »

OK guys, this thread got revived at a good time for me to update on FullRecall.  FullRecal is the best of these programs, by far.  I'm speaking generaly here; for 90% of users, FullRecall should be the best.  If there are very particular features you are looking for, then maybe not.
I just used FullRecall to help me master this midterm for a graduate math class that involves memorizing lots of definitions and theorems.  This program is lightweight, effective, and easy to use, but is still as powerful as it should be.  Supermemo is just too much and the interface is insane, there's no need to deal with that for most people...I would go so far as saying it would be a waste of time, especially with FullRecall out there.
The hardest part with FullRecall was synchronizing databases.  I used it at work, at home, and on my laptop.  So how was I supposed to keep my database (which keeps track of what you've learned) updated all the time?  Well, FullRecall has a net export/import feature which allows you to keep your database updated and stored on FullRecall's server.  This worked great, except at work, where access was blocked.  So, at work, I used ftp to sync it with home.  however, this was inconvenient.  Anyway, David (the author) told me that in a few weeks there will be a web version of FullRecall that will use the server database and that will solve all these mobility problems.  Great program, really top notch.

VTrain was garbage, I might add also.
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2008, 05:19:32 PM »

And I really like the fact that FullRecall is for Windows and Linux and PPC and is portable.

One question though. Is the advantage of scheduling and shuffling using these progs really better than having sequential Qs & As in Powerpoint where you can get much more control over layout impact etc?
« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 06:41:31 PM by Dormouse » Logged
superboyac
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2008, 08:33:33 PM »

One question though. Is the advantage of scheduling and shuffling using these progs really better than having sequential Qs & As in Powerpoint where you can get much more control over layout impact etc?
Yes, there is a significant advantage.  It's much more efficient and productive.  If you do it the way you described, you yourself have to keep track of what you know and what you don't know.  That's a lot of work, and it's unnecessary.  You should instead spend your time memorizing what you don't know.

When you make a list yourself, sometimes you remember something by it's position in the list, or by what came before that item in the list.  So you can't be sure if you really memorized it or if you had help?  OK, so you randomize it like you would a real flash card deck.  But then, you might keep coming across items you already know...that's not efficient.  OK...so you remove the ones you know as you come across it and put it in a different pile.  But now you're doing a whole lot of work.  Wouldn't it be better for the software to keep track of everything for you?

One word of advice, and this is just personal.  Make it easy on yourself.  If you don't have to spend so much time on your layout, don't.  The goal here is to commit to memory, not to have a pretty and accurate presentation.

For my math class, I used FullRecall in a not so normal way.  You see, it would be a lot of work writing out all the definitions, theorems, and homework problems inside of the program.  It would take forever.  So, instead of completely filling in the Q&A, I just put in prompts.  For example, instead of writing the entire question, I would just write (8-1) which means chapter 8 question 1.  So when it came up, I'd open the book and do the problem from there.

Again, all you want to program to do is to keep track of what you know and what you don't.  By the end of the process, you will have mastered everything.  It's amazing.
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tamasd
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2008, 11:22:10 AM »

Supermemo is just too much and the interface is insane, there's no need to deal with that for most people...
That's true. It's also fair to say that for most people the Beginner or Basic level is quite enough, one can switch through menu File > Level. And these levels have way more acceptable interface than the Advanced level.

Anyway, David (the author) told me that in a few weeks there will be a web version of FullRecall that will use the server database and that will solve all these mobility problems.
So that's what he was working on silently for the last few weeks. I kind of hoped it will be the web version, and not anything else. As it's quite uncommon for David to keep silent for 2 months - he keeps updating the program very frequently, that's one of great things about Fullrecall.

For those interested in Supermemo, there is a large and quite interesting article from April 21st about Piotr Wozniak the author of the Supermemo method and software, at Wired site: http://stag.wired.com/med.../ff_wozniak?currentPage=1
« Last Edit: April 26, 2008, 11:24:39 AM by tamasd » Logged
superboyac
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2008, 11:56:39 PM »

You know, I shouldn't be so hard on SuperMemo.  I just think the author would be well served to completely revamp the interface of the software.  Now, I don't like to focus on things like interface, especially when a program offers a lot of power and customizeability like SuperMemo, but you have to draw the line somewhere.  Supermemo's interface is closer to Windows 3.1 than to Windows XP, and that is just 10 years too old for me.

I still say FullRecall is the more practical and easier solution now.  If you use FullRecall and you are not able to do something, then I would turn to SuperMemo, but not before.  Furthermore, if FullRecall keeps adding features at it's current rate, I think it will soon overtake SuperMemo's userbase.  Hopefully, it will force Supermemo to update its interface.

Tamasd, that's a nice article, it gave me a lot of respect for Supermemo's author.  It's great when someone comes up with a software that can revolutionize simple, yet important tasks in our everyday lives.
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« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2008, 08:42:44 PM »

Supermemo's interface is closer to Windows 3.1 than to Windows XP, and that is just 10 years too old for me.
FR interface is not much fancy or modern either,but yeah it's way easier and better than SM interface. Due to cross-platform reasons FR doesn't use the native GUI capabilities of each platform, but uses cross-platform GUI solution the Fox Toolkit.

Quote
Furthermore, if FullRecall keeps adding features at it's current rate, I think it will soon overtake SuperMemo's userbase.  Hopefully, it will force Supermemo to update its interface.
Interestingly enough David the FR author was supposed to be an author of SM for Linux, or Supermemo "Light", don't remember well, nor why it didn't happen.
The thing with SM interface is that it would have to be a full program rewrite, long hard work with software of this functionality range. Also it's written in Delphi, and I believe the Delphi controls are not yet 100% Unicode compatible. Maybe Piotr Wozniak waits for the right time to make the rewrite, once the tools will be "just right".... SM was rewritten completely several times in the past, so it's not a completely hopeless wish to have it happen one more time.

Btw. there was a list of planned features for FR, can't find it now, it was probably removed.
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tamasd
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2008, 03:48:03 PM »

Anyway, David (the author) told me that in a few weeks there will be a web version of FullRecall

You had good info! It's now on http://fullrecall.com/online
I only had a chance to log-in, not to review as I had no remaining items for today. Interface is simple, in Fullrecall twist. Pretty nice.

(Not sure about SuperMemo in this respect, I think I read that SuperMemo UX (not Supermemo 2006) can be synced with their online Supermemo.net.)
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tinjaw
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« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2008, 10:39:28 AM »

I'm liking the looks of Mnemosyne.

Quote
History

The pioneer of flash card software based on spaced repetition is Piotr Wozniak, who released the first version of his SuperMemo program in 1987. A few years later, this program became commercial.

In 2003, SuperMemo inspired David Calinski to write MemAid, since SuperMemo was commercial and did only run under Windows. Peter Bienstman later joined the MemAid team and contributed a SuperKaramba client and a client based on PyQt.

A few years later, David turned MemAid into a commerical product called FullRecall. Peter then used his PyQt client as the basis of a new open source program: the Mnemosyne Project was born.
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« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2008, 10:48:05 AM »

Along the same lines as Mnemosyne, Anki http://ichi2.net/anki/  I think one is based on the other, not sure which way.  Anki has a few more ways to display content (pictures, sound files, etc).  I tried both, they both work well.

Kevin
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urlwolf
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« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2008, 06:41:38 AM »

I like anki smiley
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