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Tune your brain on the Internet One minute you’re at the top of your class, the next you’re trying to remember what’s-his-face from that thing you went to that time – you know… the thing. As we get older we forget things.

Tune your brain on the Internet

One minute you’re at the top of your class, the next you’re trying to remember what’s-his-face from that thing you went to that time – you know… the thing.

As we get older we forget things. Some believe this process is accelerated by factors like exposure to mercury and other metals, and from the liberal use of alcohol or drugs. Some believe it’s genetic, a natural occurrence that takes place when your brain cells don’t replicate like they used to.

For others, memory loss is a serious problem, a symptom of diseases like Alzheimer’s that can leave people so incapacitated that they require full-time care.

But while the risk of memory problems increases with age, there is no minimum age to start experiencing memory loss, or for contracting medical conditions that impact on cognitive powers and memory. In other words it could happen to you, if it isn’t happening already.

The most recent edition of Wired has an article titled Brain Workouts May Tone Memory, which compiles some of the most recent data on memory issues and the tricks that people can use to prolong the inevitable.

According to most studies, people who fully use their brain power on a regular basis lose it less as they age, even when you factor in medical conditions like Alzheimer’s. In addition, people who make an effort to actively exercise their brain through constant learning and testing, are generally better off down the road because they have built stronger neural connections.

There are several websites out there with advice and tools to exercise your encephalon, lube up your lobes and stretch out your cerebellums.

The first site recommended by Wired is the New England Cognitive Centre at www.cognitivecentre.org . Other good spots are the Alzheimer’s Association’s Maintain Your Brain site at www.alz.org/maintainyourbrain/ , and the American Society on Aging’s Mind Alert site at www.asaging.org/mindalert/ .

While these sites are geared primarily for seniors there’s lots of good stuff there for everybody.

When you exhaust what those sites have to offer, try visiting a few of these other sites.

www.jeopardy.com – The official website for the famed Jeopardy game show has its own online games to play.

www.wikipedia.com – The Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia with a little something about everything. Ever want to know what Scientology is? What Einstein’s theory of relativity is all about? This is a good place to start.

www.howstuffworks.com – This website has in-depth articles on just about everything, from how to jump-start a car to karate kicking your way through a board, aided by dozens of helpful pictures and diagrams.

www.h2g2.com – Started by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, this site is a repository of arcane facts and findings, from the origin of popular songs to explanations as to why chilli peppers are so hot. Like How Stuff Works, the front page content is updated almost daily, so it’s worth dropping by often.

www.perplexus.info – With puzzles, brain teasers, math problems and more, Perplexus will definitely challenge you.

www.education.centralvirginia.net/test_title.htm – The Central Virginia Business Director has put links to several tests online, including IQ tests, SAT and PSAT study guides and test, GMAT math tests, and more. Some are pay sites, or links to bookstores, but there’s a lot of free content, as well as free study guides.

Apple’s mouse roars

Only Apple, a company that made a name for itself by doing small things – all-in-one computers like iMacs, starter computers like the MacMini, music players with miniature hard drives – could make headlines for doing something as minor as introducing something as obvious as a multi-button mouse. PC users have had multi-button models for probably close to a decade now, and people have been able to purchase multi-button mice to use on Apple computers for several years that were made by third-party companies like MacAlly.

What should have been a massive shrug, the mouse story – like all things Apple – turned into the hottest story of the week. Why?

Because whenever Apple does something, even if it’s years too late or too expensive to be practical, they have a way of making it cool. That’s why iPods keep outselling the competition, and it’s why Mac users almost always come back to Apple. The new mouse is no exception.

Billed as Mighty Mouse, the new mouse is a multi-button mouse without buttons, which explains the cool factor. Instead it’s completely touch sensitive with a multidirectional "scroll ball" that allows you to scroll sideways and diagonally instead of just up and down. There are also thumb buttons which can be programmed to open applications or handle routine tasks.

Like most Mac gadgets, the Mighty Mouse is mighty expensive, weighing in at US $50, two to three times what a normal mouse costs.

Some Mac purists don’t like Mighty Mouse because it detracts from Mac’s whole mission of streamlining the computing experience. Mac was the first company to offer a graphic-based operating system, for example. That’s why Apple has the reputation for building simple computers.

But while they do still build relatively simple systems, Mac’s are also becoming far more powerful. The PowerMac G5 with dual 64-bit processors is even recognized as being one of the most powerful stock computer on the market, and is heavily used by video and audio editors, graphic designers and others, people who can genuinely make use of the multi-button Mighty Mouse.




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