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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (Feb. 16 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596101538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596101534
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #255,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Mind Performance Hacks" is an entertaining and rewarding read for anyone interested in improving the way they use their brain. Many of the hacks are really a framework upon which to build your own systems... The techniques are inspiring and practical." Gavin Inglis, news@UK, June 2006

About the Author

Ron Hale-Evans is a writer and game designer who earns his daily sandwich with frequent gigs as a technical writer. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Yale, with a minor in philosophy. Thinking a lot about thinking led him to create the Mentat Wiki at http://www.ludism.org/mentat, which led to this book. His multifarious and nefarious other projects can be accessed from his home page, http://ron.ludism.org, including his award-winning board games, a list of his Short-Duration Personal Saviours, and his blog. His wife Marty is a better man than he is.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Thurston on Sept. 25 2011
Format: Paperback
I really expected to like this more than I do. The author is a geek, big time, has a degree in psychology, and has won awards for designing board games. His interests range from I Ching to Esperanto, juggling, and if I understand his home page right, he's a bisexual married zen buddhist ...

Sounds "interesting". And the O'Reilly "Hack" series of which this is a part IS a phenomenal resource for computer geeks. The book covers ground from meditation through mind mapping to mnemonic systems. Should be great, right?

But as I read it, I realized I'd already read most of it before, somewhere else. I guess I was expecting new stuff, but the book is, to a large extent, a compilation of stuff you already know, put in one place.

Part of the problem is that the "Hack" series has a certain standard of excellence, a sense that you're getting the latest cream off the top of the bottle.

This stuff isn't cream, it's milk, and skim at that ... but then again, having a couple or three psychology degrees myself, I remember that there ISN'T any cream to be had in this subject area.

I guess you can't blame the author for that. But my brain, far from being overclocked, kinda slowed down as I read this baby.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love this well written and organized collection of mental tricks, hacks, and exercises. While other reviewers seem familiar with these, I am not, so find them all to be interesting. Though many are not for me, knowing about them has proved useful in odd situations. Others helped me to think about the subject in a new way.

On the first day of reading, I used number sixteen to reorganize some of the information I had gathered for another book--the method was a completely unexpected and welcome find.

One of the things I like most about "Mind Performance Hacks" is the variety presented. As well as the obvious cognitive subjects--remembering things, calculating things, and organizing things--other less left-brained methods are given, including instructions on meditation and self hypnosis.

It is a wonderful collection and very useful to come back to when needed, so I heartily recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
262 of 272 people found the following review helpful
Helps your brain achieve its maximum potential Feb. 9 2006
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is based on information that can be found at the Mentat Wiki and consists of 75 tips and methods for helping you organize your thought processes and exercise your brain so that you think more efficiently. Some of them are well-known brain exercises, and some are not so well known. I had seen most of the memory hacks before, with the exception of the one on the "tip of the tongue" effect. In the section on creativity, I enjoyed the hack on looking at your brain as a random number generator that needs seeding by doing such tasks as picking up a magazine that you wouldn't normally look at and then reading it. I also liked the hack on learning Morse code like an efficiency expert. Although the task itself is of dubious value, the process teaches the reader the value of mnemonics which is, as the author puts it, is like putting Windows on top of DOS. The final chapter, on overall mental fitness, is of particular use to us baby-boomers as it reminds us not to neglect the essentials of basic overall physical health since this has a powerful effect on the brain. I really enjoyed this little book, since it has so many ways to expand your brain power and creativity that can easily be incorporated into your daily life.

The table of contents is not shown by Amazon, so I list the table of contents/hacks here:

Chapter 1. Memory

1. Remember 10 Things to Bring

2. Use the Number-Shape System

3. Make Lots of Little Journeys

4. Stash Things in Nooks and Crannies

5. Use the Major System

6. Use the Dominic System

7. Visit the Hotel Dominic

8. Dominate Your Memory

9. Memorize Numbers with Carroll's Couplets

10. Tune In to Your Memory

11. Consume Your Information in Chunks

12. Overcome the Tip-of-the-Tongue Effect

Chapter 2. Information Processing

13. Catch Your Ideas

14. Write Faster

15. Speak Your Brain's Language

16. Map Your Mind

17. Build an Exoself

18. Pre-Delete Cruft

Chapter 3. Creativity

19. Seed Your Mental Random-Number Generator

20. Force Your Connections

21. Contemplate Po

22. Scamper for Ideas

23. Deck Yourself Out

24. Constrain Yourself

25. Think Analogically

26. Enjoy Good, Clean Memetic Sex

27. Play Mind Music

28. Sound Your Brain with Onar

29. Keep a Dream Journal

30. Hold a Question in Mind

31. Adopt a Hero

32. Go Backward to Be More Inventive Going Forward

33. Spend More Time Thinking

34. Extend Your Idea Space with Word Spectra

Chapter 4. Math

35. Put Down That Calculator

36. Make Friends with Numbers

37. Test for Divisibility

38. Calculate Mental Checksums

39. Turn Your Hands into an Abacus

40. Count to a Million on Your Fingers

41. Estimate Orders of Magnitude

42. Estimate Square Roots

43. Calculate Any Weekday

Chapter 5. Decision Making

44. Foresee Important Problems

45. Predict the Length of a Lifetime

46. Find Dominant Strategies

47. Eliminate Dominated Strategies

48. Don't Overthink It

49. Roll the Dice

Chapter 6. Communication

50. Put Your Words in the Blender

51. Learn an Artificial Language

52. Communicate in E-Prime

53. Learn Morse Code Like an Efficiency Expert

54. Harness Stage Fright

55. Ask Stupid Questions

56. Stop Memory-Buffer Overrun

Chapter 7. Clarity

57. Learn Your Emotional ABCs

58. Avoid Cognitive Distortions

59. Use the Fourfold Breath

60. Meditate

61. Hypnotize Yourself

62. Talk to Yourself

63. Interview Yourself

64. Cultivate the Naive Mind

65. Employ Mental Momentum

Chapter 8. Mental Fitness

66. Warm Up Your Brain

67. Play Board Games

68. Improve Visual Attention Through Video Games

69. Don't Neglect the Obvious: Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise

70. Get a Good Night's Sleep

71. Navigate Around the Post-Lunch Dip

72. Overclock Your Brain

73. Learn the Facts About Cognitive Enhancers

74. Snap Yourself to Attention

75. Assemble Your Mental Toolbox
89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Who is this book for? March 1 2006
By Stuart Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tips and tools for overclocking your brain, for me, instantly brings to mind images of Dr. Frankinstein with a saw and a sharp knife. After the initial disappointment (?), the book highlights different techniques for improving memory, problem solving, mathematics and word skills.

Some (most) of the tips aren't that original mnemonics and linking object to memorable visual images aren't new. Some of the math skills are the sort of thing most people pick up in grade school. Also, the problem solving methods outlined are rather crude.

But; they are the kind of tips we may "know" but don't apply. Some (a few) of the tools / techniques were new to me and very valuable.

OK; after such a critical start why give the book five stars? This book is unusual, it groups useful techniques and tools for creative thinking into one short guide. Although the techniques outlined may be simple they are highly effective.

The writing style is informative without being patronizing. I read this book cover to cover in four sessions; it was as interesting to read as most fiction.

The author references source material very well and provides references for further exploration of the topics covered.

In answer to my original question, "who is this book for?", just about everyone should be able to take away something positive from this book. Good preparation for exams such as GMAT and SATs. Also, good tips for staying sharp into old age (have to wait and see whether they work or not).
97 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Ideas -- Some Good, Some Wrong July 7 2008
By LittleSystemGuy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a summary of techniques taken from the mentat wiki. While skimming a sample of hacks from each section, I discovered some less-than-scientific ideas. So, I went to the URL and tracked some of the links. I discovered that some of the links were legitimate links to peer-reviewed wikis, like Wikipedia. However, the contents of mentat do not appear to be peer-reviewed. For example, one link was to an interpretation of a research project which contained the researcher's comment that the site did not correctly interpret his research. Also, some links were to commercial web sites. So, the mentat content is simply a collection of individual opinions about different subjects. Therefore, as always, the hacks in this book should be evaluated with a critical mind. Some of the ideas are legitimate; some are simply extensions of long-held myths; some could be self-motivated trivia.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
More than hacks - fascinating and helpful Sept. 11 2006
By Plano Geek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mind Performance Hacks is much more than a "hack" book. I didn't expect to read all of it since you normally only read

the "hacks" of particular importance to you at the moment.

I did read the entire book though because it was so fascinating and helpful.

The first chapter was somewhat of a disappointment since many of the memory hacks

only fit with a natural ability for visual or musical talent, which I don't have. And 1 or 2 of the

hacks were so complicated that you'd have to need to memorize a huge volume of material to make

it worth while to work hard at the hack to get good enough to find it useful. This is certainly not the

fault of the author since he was only letting you know about the hack.

But I loved chapter 2 on information processing, especially the map your mind hack. I've done mind maps

before but this book mind it more "how to" to really assimulate the information. It also had a hack for speedwords

that looks very useful which I hope to implement soon.

The Math chapter was also helpful if you need to develop more of a "feel" for numbers and get to an

approximate answer quickly.

The book has a nice format. Each hack starts with a brief overview. Then the In Action section explains

the details. Then the How It Works section explains how your brain is using the hack. The In Real Life

section gives an example of how the author used the hack. Finally, the hack ends with lots of external

references to web sites and other books.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a non-technical understanding of

how their brain works and how to get more out of it. If you are a creative person and need to get more

out of your thoughts, this book is for you. If you are an analytical person and need to make better decisions

or be more intuitive about numbers, this book is for you. If you are just curious on a few hacks to have better

recall, this book is worth getting. I bet you end up reading the whole book, like I did!
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Ways to tap into your mind.... March 24 2006
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Do you want to stretch your mind's capabilities and understand how to get the most out of that thing we call a brain? Ron Hale-Evans has written a good O'Reilly Hacks book titled Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain.

Content: Memory; Information Processing; Creativity; Math; Decision Making; Communication; Clarity; Mental Fitness; Index

In this book, you'll find 75 hacks/tips/tricks that you can use to take your memory, focus, and concentration to a new level. Some are complex and require some practice, like #5 - Use the Major System. This is a series of mnemonics that you can use to help remember large numbers of related and unrelated items. There are also alternatives to that system, such as the Dominic System (#6). Either way, you may find that something like this can help you dramatically improve your "remember-y". Other hacks are more in line of making changes in your lifestyle that will affect your cognitive abilities, such as #70 - Get a Good Night's Sleep and #71 - Navigate Around the Post-Lunch Dip. Simple steps you can take to avoid mental pitfalls. I particularly enjoyed #27 - Play Mind Music. I finally understand why I find that I can't listen to a podcast and program at the same time. Very good stuff...

You won't adopt and use every one of these hacks, nor does the author intend you to do so. But you can think of this as a toolbox that you can use to improve your performance and understand things that often are unconsciously occurring to us on a regular basis. A very good read...


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