Review – Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent Flashcards

It’s been around for quite a while, making an impressive boom in especially the language learning community, but how great is it really? Today we’re looking into Anki, the intelligent flashcard software.

The Digital Flashcard

Flashcards are a very traditional and somewhat old school way of learning – you keep a card with a question on the front and the answer on the back, and use it to test yourself. Especially language students frequently use these to learn glossary or grammar, but it’s also used to some degrees in basically all fields of learning.

Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent FlashcardsAnki, which was first launched in 2006, is marketed as the ultimate flashcard software, offering digital versions of these classic cards alongside a number of features which come with this digital world. You can either pick one of the crowd generated decks of cards or make one yourself, add it into the free software (available both for desktop and mobile on all major operative systems), and start learning. If you choose a deck for learning French you’re presented with fronts such as “bonjour”, and you can then enter the English equivalent (“hello”) to succeed on that card.

What differentiates digital software like Anki from the physical counterpart is mainly the ability for the software to judge when you need to go back to an old card. If you do well on “bonjour” several times in a row, it only shows up again after several weeks. If you keep failing one card, it keeps showing up until you get it.

The Pros

The thing I love the most about Anki has to be its smart calculation of when a card is needed to keep it fresh in your mind, as well as their excellent settings and statistics which makes it easy to control what you learn and see how you’re doing. Anki is seemingly most used for language, but brands themselves as “content-agnostic” – as they allow for use of both pictures, sounds, and scientific markup, it’s possible to use Anki to study math, science, literature, art, or whatever you want.

Intelligent Flashcards Software Anki, the Best Way to Learn with Intelligent FlashcardsAnki is excellent at being very available. At first I downloaded it on my Linux computer, and then I got it on my Windows machine, and they synchronize perfectly with each other regardless of which computer I use. I’ve also installed the software on both my phone on my tablet, and it’s great to be able to study on the go. The mobile layout makes it extremely easy to navigate with a single finger, which makes it an excellent distraction on the subway or for that matter while walking.

The Cons

No system is perfect, even though Anki is pretty close. I’ve unfortunately suffered from a crash on my computer deck which made me lose a week of work, but that’s something you can elude simply by making backups once in a while. The settings can also be rather confusing at first, especially when you try to create your first deck and want to use sounds, pictures, or markup. Fortunately, Anki offers thousands of crowd generated decks available for free download, so it’s always possible to start out with those before trying your own deck.

All in all, Anki is without a doubt the best flashcard software I’ve tried, and it’s one of my absolute favorite learning tools out there – definitely worth a try if you’re into learning lots of stuff on the go. However, if you prefer something you can actually hold in your hands, then check out our piece on 3D printing ;)

3D Printing Taking Further Steps – Here Comes the First 3D Printed House

If you’re a technology freak like I am, you just can’t have missed 3D printing. This new technology is expanding and evolving at an almost scary rate, from the first simplistic shapes just a couple of years ago to the latest being – get this – a 3D printed house. That’s right, Dutch architects are testing the technology in building houses for the very first time, just as we speak.

Just in case you’ve somehow managed to miss this new technological phenomenon, with 3D printing you basically have a machine (the printer) which constructs just about anything you want for you. You just put in the material (which is just plastic in most cheaper versions for personal use, but can be basically anything in more advanced versions) and enter a blueprint into a connected computer. The printer starts creating, and you can basically get whatever you desire – including, apparently, a house.

“With 3D Printing, There’s Zero Waste”

3D Printing Taking Further Steps – Here Comes the First 3D Printed HouseThe creators behind this new projects are the Dutch firm Dus Architects, who are now creating the first house in a Northern part of Amsterdam. According to Hedwig Heinsman of Dus, the primary reason is environment: “The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there. With 3D printing there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This should revolutionize how we make our cities.”

As the 3D printers produce the actual house on site (made from shipped in material), the transportation costs are severely decreased, which is of extra high importance in an urban city like Amsterdam.

The Grown Ups’ Lego Machine

The actual building reminds us a lot of lego, as Dus Architects create piece after piece and then putting them together in a previously mapped out pattern. After three weeks on site, they have constructed a three meter high corner weighing approximately 180 kg, the first piece of the comlex puzzle. It’s still a slow process, which is expected to speed up as 3D printers become more efficient.

The printer in use is a KamerMaker, a scaled-up version of the common home 3D printer created with the firm Ultimaker. It works very similarly to a regular home printer, but can produce objects ten times the size, with a maximum of 2 x 2 x 3.5 meter.

The Future of 3D Printing

Grown Ups' Lego Machine 3D Printing Taking Further Steps – Here Comes the First 3D Printed House 23D printing has quickly grown to be one of the most promising technologies for the future, both for regular homes and professional environments. It’s not just a sci-fi machine for house construction, but has also seen experiments in vastly different fields such as surgery, fashion, food, and space travel. This is without a doubt a technology we can expect to see a lot from in the future, even though it’s always hard to know beforehand in what exact way.

Some predict 3D printers to have their domain in the home – to be used when you’re missing a screw or when a piece of kitchen appliance breaks down. Others predict it to be used in professional environments, and discuss how it’s already been used by surgeons to 3D print skulls or kneecaps. It’s always hard to tell the future, but the one thing we can say for sure is we’ll definitely see more of this.

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