I've recently run across a site from a kindred soul called MathPath, which is available in English and French. This site is full of math tricks and discussions that regular readers of this blog will find very interesting. Much like my own Be A Genius* site, MathPath lets you pratice the tricks you learn right on the site, such as learning to square numbers up to 125 in your head! There's also a program that automatically generates Magic Squares (PC only). He offers the complete Visual Basic project files for download, so perhaps some venturesome REALbasic programmer can create a Mac version.
I noted earlier that one of Chris Wasshuber's own tricks was no longer available at his site, Lybrary.com. Happily, that has been rectified. Now the Ultimate Magic Square (in both King of Hearts and "That's Magic" versions) is available again. I described and reviewed this effect in my second blog post.
Lew Brooks has a great book called Stack Attack (also available in the UK) out. The basis of the book is the False False Shuffle ("FFS"), which is one of the simplest, most ingenious and convincing false shuffles I've ever seen. You'll have the basic technique mastered in only minutes, but it's very powerful. Lew then goes on to describe several tricks, which help you realize just how disarming and flexible the FFS really is. Lew is not just a great thinker, but also a master of presentation, as well.
Lew constantly get repeated requests to show "Bughouse Poker" and "Poetry Poker". Beyond just the included tricks, Lew shows you how to use the FFS with other stacks. Anyone who likes great presentations and does memorized deck work should be adding this book to their arsenal.
Just for fun: What would happen if we use ideas from both of these sources? The presentation for either version of the Ultimate Magic Square is that a spectator rolls three dice, and you're not only able to put together a magic square for that total, but you're able to lay out the cards so that they make a pre-determined design, such as the King of Hearts or the phrase "That's Magic". Mixing this idea with concepts from Stack Attack, I've come up with a great new presentation and routine for the Ultimate Magic Square that involves great apparent mental calculation and memory.
I introduce the cards (I use cards with just numbers, and no background pattern) as flash cards, and explain that I use them to train my memory and mental calculation abilities. The cards are mixed in various ways, and then memorized in their shuffled order. The spectator rolls three dice, and I then take a second, apparently to recall the order and make some mental calculations, and then lay the cards out to create a magic square!
The presentation here is that I'm challenging my own mental abilities, using mixed cards and random dice, so I can't have a pre-determined background pattern show up, as this would give away part of the method. That's why I use cards with no background pattern.
Inspired by the recent redesigns at sites like Lybrary.com and MagiCentric, I decided it was time for a little redesign of my own. For those of you who are thinking, "The blog looks exactly the same!", let me explain.
What I've actually redesigned is the MemoryEffects.pdf file, which I first posted back in April.
Until this change, it was a boring list dumped directly from a word processor. With a little help from iWork Pages, however, I've made it more readable, and added an improved layout. I hope you like the new look!
As always, if you have any additions to the list, or suggestions for improving the layout, let me know in the comments!
I've mentioned Chris Wasshuber's Lybrary.com site before, here.
If you go there now, however, you'll see a complete redesign of the site. The redesign is so complete, that I've had to change all my links to his site in my "For Sale" links. It has a much smoother, more streamlined feel and function, and the store functions in a much more streamlined manner, as well. The site itself now has a "parchment" look, which is quite appropriate and adds to the charm of the site.
The titles themselves are better organized and easier to find, by subject or author. There are some great new offerings, such as the free ebooks and the PDF catalog. There are some items that are no longer available, which include, strangely, Chris Wasshuber's own routine, "The Ultimate Magic Square".
I must, of course, give special attention to the Memory & Mnemonics section, especially as this is the only place you can easily find Dominic O'Brien's elusive book How to Develop a Perfect Memory.
Over at the Magic Cafe, which, by the way, is celebrating its 4th year in operation this month, there are quite a few interesting items of note:
* There's a new thread about memorizing Pi.
* Another memory thread I mentioned earlier has some new updates. Dr. Wilson describes an excellent routine he recently performed, in which he remembers the phone numbers, birthdays and names of people attending the function. If you have to ask why it got the great reactions he describes, then a quick review of Dale Carnegie's principles should be in order.
Update (9/9/05): Richard Osterlind just added a great story about how memory technique got him out of an awkward situation.
* Cafe member Jean-Denis, in this Cafe post, announces his new mnemonics program (currently PC only), which helps increase the speed with which you memorize numbers. Jean-Denis mentions that he was able to increase his speed 50% in one week!
* For those who work with memorized stacks, Cafe member Nick Pudar offers his "StackView" program (also currently PC only), which allows you to see the effects of almost any manipulation of a standard deck, without having to test and re-set a real deck. For those who have Mnemonica, this is a wonderful tool for exploring "The Eight Mnemonicas".