5 ways for a techie to revise without knowing it

It’s approaching that time in the holidays when people start thinking revision might have been a good idea after all – that is certainly the case for me. But over the past few days I’ve come up with five original ways to revise without really trying. Clearly it’s no substitute for ‘proper’ revision but hey, I think there are still some pretty neat ideas here.

1. Passwords

Like CAPTCHAs, the use of passwords seems, to me at least, time wasted – I suspect very few people invent and learn new passwords each time – normally passwords have some sort of personal meaning, however obscure. So rather than, every time you sign in to facebook, regurgitating a well-known word or phrase, you could use registration to a new service as an opportunity to learn a new word or piece of vocab. If there’s an item of German vocab for example that you can just never remember, consider using that as your password so every time you enter it, you’re reinforcing that in your long-term memory. Even better, you always know where that password is from, so even if you forget it, it’s always written down somewhere while being sufficiently obscure as to be more or less unguessable.

2. Mouse mats

There was a point when St Paul’s decided to sell advertising space on their mouse mats (well, it seemed that way at the time) – every bit of space counts and can theoretically be utilised. A Dell mouse mat can be replaced with something more useful and potentially revision-compatible. Like Clarkey’s Organic chemistry reaction thingy:

The advantage of this is that you’ll end up looking at it every day, whether you like it or not. Whether I’ll actually benefit from this measure is another matter…

3. Desktop Backgrounds / Screen Savers

Essentially the same philosophy as mouse mats – you can avoid books and sheets and revision notes but you can’t avoid looking at your desktop background every time you hit Win Key + D.

4. Google Calendar

GCal has this useful little feature that emails reminders to you about calendar appointments, for example if you create an appointment at 2pm you’ll get an email at 1:50 reminding you to do that. So if you create a reminder called something like “Electronegativity: Ability to pull electron density towards yourself through a covalent bond” you’ll get an email saying just that. If you make lots of appointments like that it’s possible to get constantly reminded of easily forgettable facts and definitions.

5. Stumbleupon

A friend actually suggested this as history revision. For the non-stumblers [wiki]:

StumbleUpon is an Internet community that allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos. It is a personalized recommendation engine which uses peer and social-networking principles.

Web pages are presented when the user clicks the “Stumble!” button on the browser’s toolbar. StumbleUpon chooses which Web page to display based on the user’s ratings of previous pages, ratings by his/her friends, and by the ratings of users with similar interests.

It’s also possible to stumble by topic, which is apparently an excellent way to read around the subject in subjects where that is required for the exam (like History, apparently). It’s normally less boring than reading notes because of SU’s system of correlating frequency of stumbles with the rating of a website. Of course, don’t trust everything you read on SU, especially if it’s from The Onion (!) but it is allegedly a productive use of an afternoon.


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