How Zombie Games Can Boost Your Ability to Learn.
Nov21

How Zombie Games Can Boost Your Ability to Learn.

Hi guys! Now we can read the books and the articles, and often do, but I’m always changing my approach to learning in ways that I rarely see discussed; small personal tweaks and habits that are person specific, not just from a self-help book off the shelf or the latest study being reblogged and reappropriated. So here is a personal story about how I learn (using video games to distract myself.) For instance, would you believe I consider Dead Island and Dynasty Warriors (Video Games) to be useful learning tools.  And not just incase I accidentally walk into a dimensional split and wake up in the Three Dynasties Age of China or an outbreak of Kuru turns into a zombie apocalypse (or both!) and I need to fend off zombified ancient warriors. Although that does sound like a fun day out and all: If you don’t know anything about computer games you might wonder why I pick those two games specifically, they look like very different experiences. Well actually…. they’re not.  I mean they are.  But they’re not. Understand? No? Ok, I’ll put it simply: They’re both games that are fun, but largely monotonous and simple to play.  You walk somewhere, press attack, pick up an item, take it back to a location and repeat.  They both have simple steps like that over and over until you finish the games. So, you ask, why are they helpful learning tools? Well…. if you check out some of the fine online learning available at Udemy, Lynda, Monsters U… iTunes U I mean, Khan Academy, edX or even on youtube (and many others!) you’ll find a whole variety of courses covering almost any topic you could possibly want to study. ‘I’m still not getting it Note, What do online learning portals have to do with hacking away at Zombies?’ WELL, impatient Pete (A person I invented to argue with, seriously is no one going to get me some help?) Listen to me and you might transform into a more exciting character… and who knows… Bruce Springsteen might start singing songs about you. But that takes effort, and plenty of casual game-aided education. These type of games are perfect if you are a sufferer of OCD, ADD or just general fidgeting, and you feel compelled for one reason or another to do something whilst the course material plays. They are 2 examples of games that you don’t need to focus on very much at all, which is ideal; you can play through them and keep yourself entertained whilst learning from the online courses on your computer. Whatever you do… keep the sound OFF! I know it’s tempting, but...

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The Podcast is Live! – Behind the scenes
Nov04

The Podcast is Live! – Behind the scenes

It took some time but the podcast is finally online! From now on, we will release a podcast episode every friday. We record the podcasts on mondays so that we have a full week to get everything sounding and looking as good as possible and to be ready to post it online on Friday. The episodes are usually somewhere around an hour in length and usually around a specific topic. As you can see on the right here, you can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. We are very excited to be able to see our own faces amongst our own podcasting heroes   As mentioned in the podcast, we are all about rapid learning, skill acquisition and sharing what we know.For this post, I just want to give you a very simple overview of what it took to get the podcast going so that, if you are interested in starting your own show, you know what it takes and how to approach it!   Technical prep We’ve spent some time getting all of the technical stuff up and running. We still needed to order some gear and just figure out the entire workflow on how to get a podcast online in the most effective way. We have used both free and paid course material from Podcast Answerman and Only72 which has helped out tremendously. Putting out a podcast is relatively easy as long as you have a good workflow and someone to guide you through it. As far as gear goes, we have decided to have our sound quality as pro as possible from the start. Anyone could start a podcast by just recording with the internal mic of their laptop or smartphone, or get a podcasting bundle for a reasonable price and have very reasonable quality. You do not have to get pro equipment but we firmly believe in doing it like a pro so we decided to start with pro equipment. As for me (Kasper), I have a very professional recording studio at my disposal that is run by my brother Frank so I did not have to get any new equipment (I did invest a lot of money in that studio so I in the end, I still had some expences). Joshua, however, ordered a magic box full of awesome toys from thomann.de  that you can see on the right here. Here is a quick list:  Mic: SM7b Audio interface: M-audio fast-track c-400 Mic screen (pop filter) Acoustic screen Mic desktopstand and cables Closed headphones Content prep To be completely honest, we hardly do any preparation on the topics and content. When we started out we created a...

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Stand up!
Sep24

Stand up!

In the past few years there has been a big rise of people saying that sitting down is bad for you, a load of interesting research has been done and products like treadmill desks and bicycle desks and increasing in popularity. We will be posting on this topic more often since both of us have a lot to say about it, I know Joshua has a very cool bicycle solution he uses when playing video games and he actually inspired me to stop working seated. There are a lot of article and research studies you can find around the internet but I’ve found this amazing infographic that was created (and properly referenced) by MedicalBillingAndCoding.org and it has all of the info you would need on this topic. Here goes the infographic! So now what? Now that you have been properly horrified and you are standing up reading this, let me show you a quick and simple solution to this problem. There are of course more elaborate solutions but I wanted to get going right away without the hassle of buying lots of new stuff. So my first tip is, don’t throw out your old desk just yet, look around the house for objects that could lift up you laptop or computer screen. My first solution that I used was an adjustable stool for my monitor and a cajon for my keyboard and mouse. What is a cajon you ask? It’s one of those wooden boxes you can use to drum on like I am doing in this video (yes I know I look a bit flabby and I’m wearing glasses but it’s me, just an older version of me) I love working like this, when I first tried it I immediately felt a huge increase in productivity from increased bloodflow and activity due to standing up and bouncing to my funky playlist. But I like to move around a bit and not work in the same place all the time so sometimes I want to work in the living room or in the garden and that would mean I’d have to sit down again. Luckily, the cajon is very portable and if I set it upright I end up having perfect standing height on any table!   This way I can take my cajon and work standing up anywhere, even outside on the garden table! Also, having a cajon as a desk basically means having a mini drumkit as a desk and that is a great way to spend your 5 minute break when using the Pomodoro Technique. Now there are some disadvantages to standing still for a long period of time,...

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Upgraded Focus
Sep18

Upgraded Focus

Hi guys! So yesterday Kasper wrote a post on Pomodoro technique which is something I really like and I haven’t thought about in a long time, reading that got me really productive again despite the release of GTA 5… ok so I still played a lot of GTA 5 but I was productive too. It also got me to thinking, even though I have my own routines and techniques, a lot of them focus on technology… so where Kasper is bringing you great content on how he manages to be such an effective teacher, long distance runner and musician… I figured I’d get to Geeking out and focus on technology for now! In Brief: Biofeedback is a technique where we use technology to teach ourselves about the way the body works in ways we don’t usually understand.  From that understanding we can learn to make ourselves better in many different ways. The Upgraded focus Brain Trainer uses HEG feedback to improve our decision making, planning and focus abilities (as well as some other added benefits.) I love this thing. I’m going to write up some demo routines and things I think are useful to incorporate into a schedule soon, as well as an introduction to biofeedback for anyone that’s new to it – I always think people will know about this stuff, but it seems a lot of people are just hearing about it. For a simple definition let’s go to wikipedia: “Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will.  Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception. Biofeedback may be used to improve health, performance, and the physiological changes which often occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Eventually, these changes may be maintained without the use of extra equipment, even though no equipment is necessarily required to practice biofeedback.” Simply put: Biofeedback is using gadgets, tools and technology to give you an understanding of what your body does and then learning to affect that in one way or another.  A heart rate monitor is a biofeedback device for instance, it tells you how fast your heart is beating after all.  In recent times more gadgets have been released and are becoming popular, meaning that in addition to basic things, we can understand a vast array of different variables.  The rhythm of your heartbeats can be measured and understood using a heart rate variability device like the EmWave2, which helps you understand your stress levels and through...

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Time Hacking: The pomodoro technique
Sep17

Time Hacking: The pomodoro technique

Ever since I’ve been working at home for a few days a week I’ve been noticing that I’m finding it hard to keep track of time. I make rather elaborate schedules and plans and find myself not quite completing them the way I expected. Also the constant distraction by everything in my house is very often keeping me from reaching all of my goals for the day. There is just so much fun stuff to do! Like cleaning up, eating, making pie-charts and looking at funny pictures on the internet.   Now as much as I enjoy doing all of those things, improving personal effectiveness means finding ways to make enlarge the “actual work” slice of the chart while still having fun. In my everlasting quest for tools and hacks to increase effectiveness, I stumbled onto a technique that is as brilliant as it is simple. The Pomodoro Technique So basically you map out your work into timeframes of 25 minutes of very focussed work, not allowing any distractions to distract you from your work. I liked that the first youtube comment on this was: I set my phone to airplane mode and, if I’m not doing wordpress or other things where internet is necessary, I turn of my wifi and close all of the tabs I don’t need at that moment. Here’s 3 reasons I like working in small timeframes of 25 minutes. 1: Your brain can actually focus for 25 minutes As a teacher I have had to work with different attention spans for years, depending on your age, training and innate talent you can focus on one task or pay attention to one influence somewhere between 1 and 25 minutes. The graph shows a steep decline after about 15 minutes. For the record, I don’t know this test group’s age and level of training, but in my personal experience in teachning and coaching people with study and work skills, that is about right for most people. I think it is safe to assume that one would use the first 5 minutes of the pomodoro to get “warmed op” because you would not be at the top of that span right away, after about 15-20 minutes you start to lose attention and brain capacity, quickly finish your job and go have your well deserved break! Because here is the cool thing: If you spend your break in the right way, you will be at the top of that chart for your second pomodoro! And antother cool thing: Your brain is going to learn the pomodoro ritual and you will actually become better at them. If you just...

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The Self-help genre
Sep10

The Self-help genre

This is a short post describing how we think about the self help genre and our experience with optimizing self improvement with the use of self-help materials. If you have any questions or tips, please leave a message! When describing Stickman Fridays to people, I always start by saying something like “oh we’re just two friends chatting about stuff we find really interesting”. But when they ask about what we will talk about and I explain I the content, they go “ah, so it’s a self help podcast” or “is it like a motivational podcast?” or “so you’re just gonna talk about getting better at things?”. Truthfully, the answer is “yes to all” but there is more to be said about it. What I find interesting is that a lot of people become quite skeptical as soon as I mention that the podcast is about self improvement and, to be honest, I don’t blame them. So are we. I (Kasper) have made quite the personal transformation in the past couple years, both mentally and physically, I’ve lost a lot of weight, kicked some destructive habits and addictions and have heavily increased my personal effectiveness. Self help books like The seven habits of highly effective people and the four agreements have really given me some great insights and have helped me tremendously in achieving my goals but in fact, they did not actually do anything for me. I started my self improvement journey when I was a depressed 22 year old with a bad attitude and was well below the standard of mental and physical health. Back then I was the type of person that said things like “I don’t read books, books are lame” so I did not look for the self help shelf of my local book store for insight. Eventually I discovered that reading is a wonderful thing and can help greatly in finding the right way to do things. The great advantage of reading to improve yourself is that there is no problem that was not already solved and written about by someone else, as is so eloquently stated by Will Smith in this wonderful award acceptance speech. The reason I love that speech so much is that it perfectly shows the pitfall of the self help genre: It is nothing without action. He begins with talking about running and about always working harder then the other guy, and secondly about reading. I’m not sure if he put it in that order purposely but I think it is an important detail. For a lot of people my transformation looks like a success story, it looks like I knew...

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