Interview with Ron Hale-Evans, author of Mind Performance Hacks

Our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week is Ron Hale-Evans, the open source software blog, Planeta Diego: Linux Y Software Libre, once described Ron as "writer by profession, game designer by vocation and psychologist by training." He's the primary author of the 2006 book Mind Performance Hacks and co-author of its 2011 spiritual successor Mindhacker.

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Show notes:


WhiteCoat Clipboard ($31)

"The WhiteCoat Clipboard [are] folding clipboards and they're all medical editions of one sort of another and, one morning a few years ago for some reason, I woke up with the idea that I just had to have a folding clipboard to fit in my bag. I searched for folding clipboard on Amazon and 'The WhiteCoat Clipboard' was pretty much it. It folds up so it will fit into a doctor's or nurse's coat pocket. … You can put stickers on it or decorate it in some other way, but I keep mine plain, because it's kind of fun to look at. … It's also good for when you just throw it in your bag, if you have notes in it, they don't get all creased and crumpled, because the folder protects it."


Alphasmart Neo – Handheld ($27, used)

"It's kind of like a calculator screen, but bigger. It's just great, you just type in it all day and then at the end of the day, you plug it into your laptop or whatever via USB and it pretends it's a keyboard, and it essentially simulates typing into whatever document you got open and it dumps it that way. … It's very good for getting away from different things, go sit out in the son and not only are you not connected to the internet, but you've got a screen that's visible in bright sunlight. It's great for just throwing in your bag and going anywhere and the battery life is like forever."


Emacs Orgmode

"It's a package for Emacs that makes it much more useful in daily life. Emacs is GNU Emacs, it's a text editor that has got all kinds of Swiss army knife bells and whistles on it. It's very great, a lot of people prefer more minimalist editors like VI, but there is still a bunch of people who like Emacs like me. I've been using Emacs for a long time. I think since college but Orgmode is an add on package that lets you do things like freeform notes, calendar, to do lists, embedded spread sheets, literate programming. I use it for journal with embedded quantified self data. You can write a book manuscript in it and then render it as LaTex PDF, EPUB. If your publishers want word, you can convert it to word with no problem. .. It's just very, very, powerful and useful. It's all keyboard driven, there's really no mousing necessary."


Oblique Strategies

"[Oblique Strategies] comes in many forms from decks of cards to phone apps or web apps and you press a button or pick a card and it gives you advice about something you're stuck on creatively. … The advice is very good, it comes from Bryan Eno and Peter Schmidth, Bryan Eno is a musician, Peter Schmidth, the painter. … It's just wonderful, it doesn't hold your hand too much and it doesn't give you airy-fairy kind of advice that you can't do anything with. There is a good balance between general and specific, they only give you a specific task, like a prompt, you know, that you might get from a writer's book. They give you a general idea that can be applied to a lot of creative problems, but that seems specific."