Sunday, August 24, 2008

Four great puzzles to keep your mind sharp.

Someone I work with likes to do a sudoku puzzle during every lunch. I don't even have to ask him to know that he loves to play them, but also that he likes to keep his mind sharp.

Coding can be quite challenging, and often depletes your energy without you having even to stand up for 8-10 hours (although I do!). When you get stuck or create bugs, it is often because you are too tired or foggy to do it properly.

Aside from a good night's rest... there are a lot of fun ways to keep your mind off your work in the downtime, but also to help maintain that razor edge intelligence I'm sure you bring to work.

If you are anything like me, then your talents are visual-spatial. When you are asked a question, you have to create the scenario in your head first, before you can answer. This kind of thinking is incredibly useful for a Software UI Engineer, but not so much for other vocations. It is this kind of talent that you should keep sharp.

I feel that the puzzles you choose to fill up your free time should reflect your type of cognitive style. Here are three sites (and more) that work really well if your intelligence is primarily visual-spatial. Even if it is not, then you may still enjoy the challenge this proposes... but just be warned... if you are more of a logical or verb-driven thinker then these may drive you crazy!


The original exploding pie game
  • Challenge the computer with three different sized levels, to take control of a board, by adding pie slices to your pies. Sounds a little silly i know... but the pie only describes the shapes of your playing pieces.
  • The game is extremely difficult, employing the absolute depths of your visual-spatial intelligence, planning, strategy and creativity. Part chess, part Stratego, and all the fun of chain-reactions.
  • This is one of the most addictive games I've played, and I really get bored of the typical addictive games. This one has you involved. It does take a little while to understand since the instructions don't begin to cover what is possible.
Combination lock
  • I loved this game because it didn't make me feel like an idiot. When I add or subtract, I have to create pictures of numbers in my head, and this is very slow. So the timer makes it all the more interesting.
Mensa intelligence tests 1-6
  • I am up to puzzle #3 and still working on it. Extremely, extremely, difficult. This is mensa here, so of course its going to be insanely hard. I'm on Puzzle #3 and I'm stumped! What the heck is puzzle #6 like? Still, I enjoyed this thoroughly.
Double Maze
  • Don't let its initial looks fool you - this is a real challenge! It will make you go "doh!"
plus...

Razzle
  • My colleague Matt has a really cool puzzle site with a wide variety of puzzles, from crosswords, to word search to hangman and more. My favorite is Ghost, where you need to play the computer to create words by adding letters. It challenges your vocabulary tremendously.

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