Friday, September 30, 2005

Flashcards with sound

One of the best things I ever added to Memorize-It was sound. I did this on the first computer that came with a microphone. It was a macintosh IIsi. I've since abandoned the Mac and have lately been trying to revive it with limited success due to other obligations, but that is a different story. I added the sound on flashcards while I was in Germany learning German. I would come home from the local Gasthaus and type in the words I had struggled with to for the evening. Later I would add the sounds and archive them for others to use. Sound on cards really adds a lot of potential to the value of flashcards.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Monitoring Works

I'm happy to report that the changes I made the flashcards site worked. I could see the results in my logs from yesterday. I could see that people were hitting the detailed file pages instead of just hitting the category pages. This is good because I would like people to have as much information as possible before leaving the site. I can't recommend traffic monitoring enough.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Monitoring Website Traffic

I monitor my website's traffic using WebSideStory and I don't do this in a big brother sort of way, but just to see where people are coming from and how they spend their time on the site. I want to see where people are coming from so I can see if the time I spend promoting my site is worthwhile. I can also see what people are looking for and target Memorize-It accordingly. Recently I have been watching our new Flashcards site and noticed that most people were only looking at the card categories and not the more detailed information on each deck. I went back and looked and the card category page did not clearly show that there was more information on each deck. I added the text "More Info..." to the link. Over the next few weeks I'll keep an eye out to see if this generates more traffic to the actual decks.

That said, if you are running a website, I highly recommend doing analysis on your website traffic. The two I recommend are WebSideStory and listed on my site. It is nice to know when and if all the work you are doing is worthwhile. In my case I can see more about what people are looking for in Memorize-It and make the software better for everyone.

Selling Flashcards

Over the years we have created a lot of flashcards. In the early 90's most of our sales came from local trade shows. We used to put flashcards on floppy diskettes and sell them individually. This only worked in person and we couldn't seem to find a cost effective way to sell them otherwise. CDROMS solved some of this, but they were still too expensive to manufacture. In the late 90's we swtiched completely to online sales of Memorize-It and I always dreamed of selling the cards again. This time the barrier were credit card fees. It seemed that the minimum you could charge for something was around $10. With the advent of Apple iTunes, it seems the credit card processors have changed their tune. Once it became apparent that the tide had changed I created a new site to sell the flashcards for as inexpensively as I could. In most cases they are $1.99, but I have gone as low as $.99 cents.

Would you like to make money selling flashcards? I'm willing to give you most of the proceeds. All you have to have is a bunch of flashcards that people will want to buy. Upload them to our flashcard website and direct people to buy them there. For each deck sold, I will take 15% plus $0.35. The $0.35 is the minimum fee I'm charged by the credit card company. It is just a way for them to keep the minimum sales item at $0.99. I'm just passing that cost on. You would make nearly 85% of the profit. These numbers are subject to change when my credit card processor changes their rates, but I want you to make money.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Printing Flashcards

Printing flashcards was a feature that came along much later. I had only envisioned an electronic quiz system, but it seemed that many people also wanted to print their flashcards. Not a problem, I'm always open to new features and added it to the 2.0 version. I do most of my printing on business card paper because they travel well and you get more per page of paper making them less expensive. I've added a lot more formats over the years and am always surprised (but quick to add) the many different formats that people are interested in.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Afrikaans Flashcards

This week I created some electronic flashcards with sound to learn Afrikaans. I'm going on a mission trip to Namibia, Africa and we were given some simple sentences in Afrikaans. Since Memorize-It was created specifically to learn languages, I thought it would be best for me to create the cards and give them to the team.

You will first have to download and install Memorize-It.

Then you can go to this link to get the flashcards.
You just save the file to disk, then click open once the download is complete. Once you have the file open, just click the quiz button to begin quizzing the cards. The pronunciation on these (done by me) is questionable since I do not speak Afrikaans. Most seemed close to German, but more Dutch and I have a good handle on German. I think most of them are close, but I'm sure there are errors. As with all languages, close will get you a very long way into people's hearts.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Quizzing Formats - Honor System

The first version of Memorize-It that I wrote only had Honor System flashcards. Since that time, we have added multiple choice, true-false and type-in cards, but in most cases I still like the Honor system cards the best. Memorize-It keeps track of the hardest cards and allows you to focus on exactly the information that is tough for you. The Honor System card requires that you tell the computer whether you answered the card correctly or incorrectly. This is no different than when my dad created multiplication table flashcards (paper, when I was a kid) and helped me learn those by wrote. We had two piles, those that I got right and those that I got wrong. We continued using the pile that I got wrong until there were none left. The next night we would do the same thing over. This is the same thing you can do with Memorize-It, except that you don't need two people as the computer automates the process for you. Using the computer allows a number of added features which are far superior to the old method my dad and I used, but at the core is still the Honor System flashcard.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comments on blogs

Today I had to change the settings on this blog to disallow comments unless you are registered for this blog. I had it open to all registered users and it seems that you get comments that have absolutely no meaning, just people linking to their get rich quick and enlarge your anatomy sites. This seems to be the ongoing problem with the world. Here I am honestly trying to make the absolute best software possible for a reasonable price and the rest of the world is making a killing hawking snake oil. I keep wondering if I'm making a mistake? I keep wondering if I should be hawking something worthless and just working on people's ego? I know I'm not the best marketeer, but I am a good developer of product. I know that if I can just continue to make the best software, and continue to improve my marketing programs that this will be a bigger success. I say bigger success, because I already have people that tell me this flashcard software really worked for them and got them through high-school and college. That to me is the measure of success, that I actually made a difference in someone's life. I didn't make a killing on my software, I charged a reasonable price. I didn't lie to sell it to someone who really didn't need it, I just made something that really worked for me. Who knows where I'm going with this. I'm just tired of all the snake oil.

If you want to post comments here, just ask. I'll add you to the list without question as long as you agree to post on topic. And that topic is flashcards.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


In the early days, someone at a trade show came to me and discussed adding a Tachistoscope functionality. I was intrigued and took his phone number. We had a long discussion on the phone as to exactly how it worked and why it was developed. Still to this day I have found much information on it, but I still receive e-mails once in a while from users who have been using the Tachistoscope and give the feature high marks.

The T-Scope allows you to granularly show the various sides for specific amounts of time, with selectable delays in between the sides of the cards. Supposedly it was developed during WWII for fighter pilots. They were shown silhouettes of various aircraft for very short periods of time (typically in the milliseconds) and made to decide which air craft it was and whether it was friend or foe. Seems like a pretty good thing to know if you are a fighter pilot.

I'm not sure what people use this for today, but I have always been curious. I also wonder about that early conversation and whether that user ever ended up using the T-Scope in Memorize-It. I know there are a lot of features I have added over the years that the specific user that asked for them never used, but overall the process had made Memorize-It a very robust flashcard system.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some flashcard history

When I was in college I used a lot of paper flashcards. This was good for learning things that I had to memorize. The only problem was that they took a long time to make. With computers I think I have solved a lot of that problem and I continue to make progress in making the cards easier and easier to make. That said, there is something to be said for creating the flashcards themselves. If you've ever read a book on learning, the first part of learning something is to write it down. The second part is repetition. Creating the cards, even if you create them electronically, is the same as writing them down. The next step is in repetition. The nice thing about Memorize-It is that you can target the repetition towards the cards you have the most trouble with.

Monday, September 12, 2005

First post

I've spent a lot of time over the years thinking about flashcards and how to memorize things faster. I'm going to create a blog to discuss my ideas on the topic. In 1998, I started to create a software system to learn art history. It was DOS based and not very practical for art history. A few years later I moved to Germany and created a flashcard system for to learn German. It really worked. When I returned from Germany, I called the software Memorize-It and started to sell it at local trade shows. Since that time it has become very popular and I have continued to redefine the learning process.