Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wikipedia and competing software

I have to laugh sometimes. Long ago I created a Wikipedia page for Memorize-It. I did this mostly for a better Google rating, but also as a historical reference. I've been revisiting it recently as another company I do some advisory work for has been talking about adding a Wikipedia entry. I then went to look at the electronic flashcards entry on Wikipedia to see what software was listed.

It seems that Wikipedia has removed all references to the different flashcards software. Which seems odd, but as much as I really love Wikipedia, their content rules for external links are quite schizophrenic. It doesn't bother me really, but then I started looking at the page history for edits to the electronic flashcards page (anyone can edit a Wikipedia page) to see when those references were removed.

The edit history looks like a war zone where tons of people (mostly Supermemo) are desperate to have their link on that page. Wikipedia editors have been fairly quick to delete references to real electronic flashcards software (over and over and over again). I don't understand why Wikipedia doesn't want links to real electronic flashcard systems, but it is just interesting to see the attempts. Then I went and looked at the Wikipedia Memorize-It page and there were a ton of similar edits to competing products added and removed. I wouldn't mind them there since I still believe that Memorize-It is the best flashcard software, but then again the Wikipedia editors have been fairly diligent about removing those links as well.

It should be noted that I did include a real link to a (very militant) competitor (Supermemo). Some may think it strange, but my goal in this venture is for people to learn with the method that is best for them. The more information you have in your decision making process, the better life will be for all of us. I don't always agree with the tactics some companies use, but I don't mind the competition at all. My suggestion to the Supermemo folks is to use a little larger font and a little more substance on their main page. My eyes went cross after about 20 seconds. Looking at their history, Supermemo has been around just as long as Memorize-It. The original DOS versions were both developed in 1987. Interesting. It has been a long road. I've never met or spoken to Piotr Wozniak, but I'm sure we could have an interesting conversation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't pay extra for an archival cdrom

Another trick software vendors have been using to wring extra pennies out of you is to have you pay extra to send you a cdrom with the software. You can do this for free. Simply download it to a CD-R and write the name of the application on the disk and put it in your drawer. I also tend to create an extra file on the same cdrom (you can use notepad or wordpad) which contains the serial number. It takes an extra few seconds and then you have an archive of your download. Better yet, you should expect your software vendor to keep your downloads around for a long time. It really isn't that hard to do and vendors that don't are just trying to take advantage of you.

I know I've said it a hundred times that I don't make a lot of profit on this project (yes, I still have a day job and this doesn't bring in enough to even get me close to the poverty level), but maybe I would if I would just adopt some shrewed tactics like other companies in this industry? Then again, why compromise, I'm still an idealist. That is not to say that I don't want to sell enough copies of Memorize-It to do this full time. I would love that, but I don't want to resort to questionable tactics to try and get you to buy something you don't really need. I just want to make great software that helps you learn and make enough to live off of at the same time. Anything extra would probably go into one of the Africa missions I have been on.

After all that, you may be saying to yourself, "Hey, he does sell an extra cdrom for $10". Yes, I do, but that includes over 7000 flashcards on many different subjects. The flashcards are a separate product and I do give a pretty steep discount if you purchase it while purchasing Memorize-It.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This is a recap of this blog I have been writing for the past few years. Memorize-It is alive and well and the best flashcards software available since 1992. I continue to develop and support this product have a version that works for every version of windows since Windows 3.1. That includes Windows Vista which we have been using to develop the next generation of Flashcard software. Upgrades are always only $10 and we give free upgrades to anyone who purchased Memorize-it in the 6 months prior to the upgrade release. We don't have a target date for the next version and it has been in development for over a year now, but it is showing progress. The time frame is unknown mostly because there are some huge new features and a new look and big changes just take time. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are recessions healthy?

This might not be completely related to flashcards and flashcard software, but more to the business of flashcard software and life in general.

I've been wondering, do most people really think that markets that only go up are healthy? It does sound nice doesn't it? Who wouldn't want an investment to only increase in value? Our government seems to think of the economy in these terms and anything that isn't going up is a problem. So the option seems to do one of two things. Hide the real numbers or take out certain numbers to make it "look" like it is healthy except for that one number, or to over stimulate it so it doesn't go down in the first place. Hogwash I say. I think a good recession once in a while is a good thing and we should all plan for such an occurrence. If a market doesn't go up and down (but overall up) then this should be a huge red flag pointing to even bigger problems when reality catches up and no amount of hiding numbers or stimulating will keep the real value inflated (think Enron). It is at those times when you tend to wish that the market had corrected itself gradually over time instead of one gigantic correction.

I'm no doomsayer, but I do think it is better to plan for rainy days then to ignore them entirely or pretend they don't exist. What does this have to do with the flashcards software business? As in most of my friend's businesses, it does seem there has been a slow down over the past year. At least my numbers are lower than usual. Will this be a big problem you ask? Well, no. I don't carry any debt with this venture and I could survive a significant down turn like we did after September 11 when we went from record sales on a monthly basis to not selling a single copy until December 20th (over three months!). After that, sales slowly returned to normal and I've had a few record months since that time. Markets go up and down, sales go up and down. Growth is followed by recession which leads to more growth. It is all normal and our government is confused when it believes that recessions are something abnormal. They are a sign of health as long as the overall trend is positive. After 20 years of significant economic growth, I think we should all consider a little bit of recession a healthy adjustment and a time to take a deep breath and prepare for more hard work, not spend spend spend as we being trained to think of as healthy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Repetition Is Good

Recently I had to recreate the section of the website that described the principle of repetition in the learning process. It is something that I personally have used in my own studies over the years and built my own learning system (Memorize-It) around how I learn, knowing that there are many others that use flashcards like I do. In automating this learning process I was able to increase the speed at which I was learning.

In searching for case studies on repetition, the one I found most interesting was The Dana Foundation study on Better Teaching Through Brain Biology. It says: "Without this step of converting new learning to long-term memory-through repetition and elaboration, students are unlikely to be able to use it for a lifetime." The Dana Foundation is a non-profit organization interested in brain science, immunology and arts education. The article I found is a very interesting discussion on the learning process.