org-drill / README.html

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<div id="content">

<h1 class="title">Org-Drill</h1>

<div id="table-of-contents">
<h2>Table of Contents</h2>
<div id="text-table-of-contents">
<ul>
<li><a href="#sec-1">Synopsis </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-2">Installation </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-3">Demonstration </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4">Writing the questions </a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#sec-4_1">Simple topics </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_2">Cloze deletion </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_3">Two-sided cards </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_4">Multi-sided cards </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_5">Multi-cloze cards </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_6">User-defined card types </a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a href="#sec-5">Running the drill session </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-6">Cram mode </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-7">Leeches </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8">Customisation </a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#sec-8_1">Visual appearance of items during drill sessions </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_2">Duration of drill sessions </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_3">Definition of old and overdue items </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_4">Spaced repetition algorithm </a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#sec-8_4_1">Choice of algorithm </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_4_2">Random variation of repetition intervals </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_4_3">Adjustment for early or late review of items </a></li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_4_4">Adjusting item difficulty globally </a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a href="#sec-8_5">Per-file customisation settings </a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a href="#sec-9">Incremental reading </a></li>
</ul>
</div>
</div>

<div id="outline-container-1" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-1">Synopsis </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-1">



<p>
Org-Drill is an extension for <a href="http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/">GNU Emacs</a> <a href="http://orgmode.org/">Org mode</a>. Org-Drill uses a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition">spaced repetition</a> algorithm to conduct interactive "drill sessions", using org files
as sources of facts to be memorised. Each topic is treated as a "flash
card". The material to be remembered is presented to the student in random
order. The student rates his or her recall of each item, and this information
is fed back to <code>org-learn</code> to schedule the item for later revision.
</p>
<p>
Each drill session can be restricted to topics in the current buffer
(default), one or several files, all agenda files, or a subtree. A single
topic can also be drilled.
</p>
<p>
Different "topic types" can be defined, which present their information to the
student in different ways.
</p>
<p>
For more on the spaced repetition algorithm, and examples of other programs
that use it, see:
</p><ul>
<li><a href="http://supermemo.com/index.htm">SuperMemo</a> (see descriptions of the SM2, SM5 and SM8 algorithms)
</li>
<li><a href="http://ichi2.net/anki/">Anki</a>
</li>
<li><a href="http://mnemosyne-proj.org/index.php">Mnemosyne</a>
</li>
</ul>


<p>
Org-Drill comes bundled with Org mode, in the "contrib" directory. Org-Drill
also has its own repository, which is updated more regularly than the bundled
version. The repository is at:
</p>
<p>
<a href="http://bitbucket.org/eeeickythump/org-drill">http://bitbucket.org/eeeickythump/org-drill</a>
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-2" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-2">Installation </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-2">



<p>
Put the following in your <code>.emacs</code>. You will also need to make sure that Org's
"contrib/lisp" directory is in the emacs load-path.
</p>



<pre class="example">(require 'org-drill)
</pre>





</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-3" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-3">Demonstration </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-3">



<p>
Load the file <a href="spanish.html">spanish.org</a>. Press <code>M-x</code> and run the function <code>org-drill</code>. Follow
the prompts at the bottom of the screen.
</p>
<p>
When the drill finishes, you can look at <code>spanish.org</code> to get some idea of how
drill topics are written.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-4">Writing the questions </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-4">



<p>
Org-Drill uses org mode topics as 'drill items'. To be used as a drill item,
the topic must have a tag that matches the value of
<code>org-drill-question-tag</code>. This is <code>:drill:</code> by default. Any other org topics
will be ignored.
</p>
<p>
You don't need to schedule the topics initially.  However <code>org-drill</code> <b>will</b>
recognise items that have been scheduled previously with
<code>org-learn</code>. Unscheduled items are considered to be 'new' and ready for
memorisation.
</p>
<p>
How should 'drill topics' be structured? Any org topic is a legal drill topic
&ndash; it will simply be shown with all subheadings collapsed, so thta only the
material beneath the main item heading is visible. After pressing a key, any
hidden subheadings will be revealed, and you will be asked to rate your
"recall" of the item.
</p>
<p>
This will be adequate for some items, but usually you will want to write items
where you have more control over what information is hidden from the user for
recall purposes. For this reason, some other card types are defined, including:
</p><ul>
<li><a href="#sec-4_3">Two-sided cards</a>
</li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_4">Multi-sided cards</a>
</li>
<li><a href="#Multicloze-cards">Multicloze cards</a>
</li>
<li><a href="#sec-4_6">User-defined card types</a>
</li>
</ul>


<p>
<b>A note about comments:</b> In org mode, comment lines start with '#'. The rest of
the line is ignored by Org (apart from some special cases). You may sometimes
want to put material in comments which you do not want to see when you are
being tested on the item. For this reason, comments are always rendered
invisible while items are being tested.
</p>


</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_1" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_1">Simple topics </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_1">



<p>
The simplest drill topic has no special structure. When such a topic is
presented during a drill session, any subheadings are "collapsed" with their
contents hidden. So, you could include the question as text beneath the main
heading, and the answer within a subheading. For example:
</p>



<pre class="example">* Item                                   :drill:
What is the capital city of Estonia?

** The Answer
Tallinn.
</pre>



<p>
When this item is presented for review, the text beneath the main heading will
be visible, but the contents of the subheading ("The Answer") will be hidden.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_2" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_2">Cloze deletion </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_2">



<p>
Cloze deletion can be used in any drill topic regardless of whether it is
otherwise 'simple', or is one of the specialised topic types discussed
below. To use cloze deletion, one or more parts of the body of the topic is
marked as <i>cloze text</i> by surrounding it with single square brackets, [like
so]. When the topic is presented for review, the text within square brackets
will be obscured. The text is then revealed after the user presses a key. For
example:
</p>




<pre class="example">* Item                                   :drill:
The capital city of Estonia is [Tallinn].
</pre>



<p>
During review, the user will see:
</p>
<blockquote>

<p>The capital city of Estonia is <font style="background-color: blue;" color="cyan">
<tt>[&hellip;]</tt></font>.
</p>
</blockquote>


<p>
When the user presses a key, the text "Tallinn" will become visible.
</p>
<p>
Clozed text can also contain a "hint" about the answer. If the text
surrounded by single square brackets contains a `|' character (vertical bar),
all text after that character is treated as a hint, and will be visible when
the rest of the text is hidden.
</p>
<p>
Example:
</p>



<pre class="example">Type 1 hypersensitivity reactions are mediated by [immunoglobulin E|molecule]
and [mast cells|cell type].
</pre>



<blockquote>

<p>Type 1 hypersensitivity reactions are mediated by
<font style="background-color: blue;" color="cyan">
<tt>[&hellip;molecule]</tt></font>
and <font style="background-color: blue;" color="cyan">
<tt>[&hellip;cell type]</tt></font>.
</p>
</blockquote>



</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_3" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_3"><a name="Two-sided-cards" id="Two-sided-cards"></a>Two-sided cards </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_3">


<p>
The remaining topic types all use the topic property, <code>DRILL_CARD_TYPE</code>. This
property tells <code>org-drill</code> which function to use to present the topic during
review. If this property has the value <code>twosided</code> then the topic is treated as
a "two sided card". When a two sided card is reviewed, <i>one of the first two</i>
subheadings within the topic will be visible &ndash; all other
subheadings will be hidden.
</p>
<p>
Two-sided cards are meant to emulate the type of flipcard where either side is
useful as test material (for example, a card with a word in a foreign language
on one side, and its translation on the other).
</p>
<p>
A two sided card can have more than 2 subheadings, but all subheadings after
the first two are considered as "notes" and will always be hidden during topic
review.
</p>



<pre class="example">* Noun                                               :drill:
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DRILL_CARD_TYPE: twosided
    :END:

Translate this word.

** Spanish
la mujer

** English
the woman

** Example sentence
¿Quién fue esa mujer?
Who was that woman?
</pre>



<p>
In this example, the user will be shown the main text &ndash; "Translate this word"
&ndash; and either 'la mujer', <i>or</i> 'the woman', at random. The section 'Example
sentence' will never be shown until after the user presses a key, because it is
not one of the first two 'sides' of the topic.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_4" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_4"><a name="Multi-sided-cards" id="Multi-sided-cards"></a>Multi-sided cards </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_4">



<p>
The <code>multisided</code> card type is similar to <code>twosided</code>, except that any
subheading has a chance of being presented during the topic review. One
subheading is always shown and all others are always hidden.
</p>



<pre class="example">* Noun                                               :drill:
    :PROPERTIES:
    :DRILL_CARD_TYPE: multisided
    :END:

Translate.

** Spanish
la mesa

** English
the table

** Picture
[[file:table.jpg][PICTURE]]
</pre>



<p>
The user will be shown the main text and either 'la mujer', <i>or</i> 'the woman',
<i>or</i> a picture of a table.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_5" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_5"><a name="Multi-cloze-cards" id="Multi-cloze-cards"></a>Multi-cloze cards </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_5">



<p>
Often, you will wish to create cards out of sentences that express several
facts, such as the following:
</p>



<pre class="example">The capital city of New Zealand is Wellington, which is located in the
South Island and has a population of about 400,000.
</pre>



<p>
There is more than one fact in this statement &ndash; you could create a single
'simple' card with all the facts marked as cloze text, like so:
</p>



<pre class="example">The capital city of [New Zealand] is [Wellington], which is located in
the [North|North/South] Island and has a population of about [400,000].
</pre>



<p>
But this card will be difficult to remember. If you get just one of the 4
hidden facts wrong, you will fail the card. A card like this is likely to
become a <a href="#sec-7">leech</a>.
</p>
<p>
A better way to express all these facts using 'simple' cards is to create
several cards, with one fact per card. You might end up with something
like this:
</p>



<pre class="example">* Fact
The capital city of [New Zealand] is Wellington, which has a population of
about 400,000.

* Fact
The capital city of New Zealand is [Wellington], which has a population of
about 400,000.

* Fact
The capital city of New Zealand is Wellington, which has a population of
about [400,000].

* Fact
The capital city of [New Zealand] is Wellington, which is located in the
the North Island.

* Fact
The capital city of New Zealand is [Wellington], which is located in
the North Island.

* Fact
The capital city of New Zealand is Wellington, which is located in
the [North|North/South] Island.
</pre>



<p>
However, this is really cumbersome. The 'multicloze' card type exists for this
situation. Multicloze cards behave like 'simple' cards, except that when there
is more than one area marked as cloze text, only one of the marked areas will
be hidden during review &ndash; the others all remain visible. The hidden text area
is chosen randomly at each review.
</p>
<p>
So, for the above example, we can actually use the original 'bad' simple card,
but change its card type to 'multicloze'. Each time the card is presented for
review, one of 'New Zealand', 'Wellington', 'the South Island' or '400,000'
will be hidden.
</p>



<pre class="example">* Fact
  :PROPERTIES:
  :DRILL_CARD_TYPE: multicloze
  :END:

The capital city of [New Zealand] is [Wellington], which is located in
the [North|North/South] Island and has a population of about [400,000].
</pre>




</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-4_6" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-4_6"><a name="User-defined-card-types" id="User-defined-card-types"></a>User-defined card types </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-4_6">



<p>
Finally, you can write your own emacs lisp functions to define new kinds of
topics. Any new topic type will need to be added to
<code>org-drill-card-type-alist</code>, and cards using that topic type will need to have
it as the value of their <code>DRILL_CARD_TYPE</code> property. For an example, see the
function <code>org-drill-present-spanish-verb</code>, which defines the new topic type
<code>spanish_verb</code>, used in 'spanish.org'.
</p>
<p>
See the file <a href="spanish.html">spanish.org</a> for a full set of example material.
</p>


</div>
</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-5" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-5">Running the drill session </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-5">



<p>
Start a drill session with <code>M-x org-drill</code>. By default, this includes all
non-hidden topics in the current buffer. <code>org-drill</code> takes an optional
argument, SCOPE, which allows it to take drill items from other
sources. Possible values for SCOPE are:
</p>
<dl>
<dt>tree</dt><dd>The subtree starting with the entry at the cursor.
</dd>
<dt>file</dt><dd>The current buffer, including both hidden and non-hidden items.
</dd>
<dt>file-with-archives</dt><dd>The current buffer, and any archives associated with it.
</dd>
<dt>agenda</dt><dd>All agenda files.
</dd>
<dt>agenda-with-archives</dt><dd>All agenda files with any archive files associated
     with them.
</dd>
<dt>(file1 file2 &hellip;)</dt><dd>A list of filenames. All files in the list will be
     scanned.
</dd>
</dl>


<p>
During a drill session, you will be presented with each item, then asked to
rate your recall of it by pressing a key between 0 and 5. The meaning of these
numbers is (taken from <code>org-learn</code>):
</p>
<table border="2" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6" rules="groups" frame="hsides">
<caption></caption>
<colgroup><col class="right" /><col class="left" /><col class="left" /><col class="left" />
</colgroup>
<thead>
<tr><th scope="col" class="right">Quality</th><th scope="col" class="left">SuperMemo label</th><th scope="col" class="left">Fail?</th><th scope="col" class="left">Meaning</th></tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
<tr><td class="right">0</td><td class="left">NULL</td><td class="left">Yes</td><td class="left">Wrong, and the answer is unfamiliar when you see it.</td></tr>
<tr><td class="right">1</td><td class="left">BAD</td><td class="left">Yes</td><td class="left">Wrong answer.</td></tr>
<tr><td class="right">2</td><td class="left">FAIL</td><td class="left">Yes</td><td class="left">Almost, but not quite correct.</td></tr>
<tr><td class="right">3</td><td class="left">PASS</td><td class="left">No</td><td class="left">Correct answer, but with much effort.</td></tr>
<tr><td class="right">4</td><td class="left">GOOD</td><td class="left">No</td><td class="left">Correct answer, with a little thought.</td></tr>
<tr><td class="right">5</td><td class="left">BRIGHT</td><td class="left">No</td><td class="left">Correct answer, effortless.</td></tr>
</tbody>
</table>


<p>
You can press '?'  at the prompt if you have trouble remembering what the
numbers 0&ndash;5 signify.
</p>
<p>
At any time you can press 'q' to finish the drill early (your progress up to
that point will be saved), 's' to skip the current item without viewing the
answer, or 'e' to escape from the drill and jump to the current topic for
editing (again, your progress up to that point will be saved).
</p>
<p>
After exiting the drill session with 'e' or 'q', you can resume where you left
off, using the command <code>org-drill-resume</code>. This will return you to the item
that you were viewing when you left the session. For example, if you are shown
an item and realise that it is poorly formulated, or contains an error, you can
press 'e' to leave the drill, then correct the item, then press
<code>M-x org-drill-resume</code> and continue where you left off.
</p>
<p>
Note that 'drastic' edits, such as deleting or moving items, can sometimes
cause Org-Drill to "lose its place" in the file, preventing it from
successfully resuming the session. In that case you will need to start a new
session.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-6" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-6">Cram mode </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-6">



<p>
There are some situations, such as before an exam, where you will want to
revise all of your cards regardless of when they are next due for review.
</p>
<p>
To do this, run a <i>cram session</i> with the <code>org-drill-cram</code> command (<code>M-x org-drill-cram RET</code>). This works the same as a normal drill session, except
that all items are considered due for review unless you reviewed them within
the last 12 hours (you can change the number of hours by customising the
variable <code>org-drill-cram-hours</code>).
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-7" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-7"><a name="leeches" id="leeches"></a>Leeches </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-7">


<p>
From the Anki website, <a href="http://ichi2.net/anki/wiki/Leeches">http://ichi2.net/anki/wiki/Leeches</a>:
</p>
<blockquote>

<p>Leeches are cards that you keep on forgetting. Because they require so many
reviews, they take up a lot more of your time than other cards.
</p>
</blockquote>


<p>
Like Anki, Org-Drill defines leeches as cards that you have "failed" many
times. The number of times an item must be failed before it is considered a
leech is set by the variable <code>org-drill-leech-failure-threshold</code> (15 by
default). When you fail to remember an item more than this many times, the item
will be given the <code>:leech:</code> tag.
</p>
<p>
Leech items can be handled in one of three ways. You can choose how Org-Drill
handles leeches by setting the variable <code>org-drill-leech-method</code> to one of the
following values:
</p><dl>
<dt>nil</dt><dd>Leech items are tagged with the <code>leech</code> tag, but otherwise treated the
         same as normal items.
</dd>
<dt>skip</dt><dd>Leech items are not included in drill sessions.
</dd>
<dt>warn</dt><dd>Leech items are still included in drill sessions, but a warning
  message is printed when each leech item is presented.
</dd>
</dl>


<p>
The best way to deal with a leech is either to delete it, or reformulate it so
that it is easier to remember, for example by splitting it into more than one
card.
</p>
<p>
See <a href="http://www.supermemo.com/help/leech.htm">the SuperMemo website</a> for more on leeches.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-8">Customisation </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-8">



<p>
Org-Drill has several settings which you change using
<code>M-x customize-group org-drill &lt;RET&gt;</code>. Alternatively you can change these
settings by adding elisp code to your configuration file (<code>.emacs</code>).
</p>


</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_1" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-8_1">Visual appearance of items during drill sessions </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-8_1">



<p>
If you want cloze-deleted text to show up in a special font within Org mode
buffers, add this to your .emacs:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-use-visible-cloze-face-p t)
</pre>



<p>
Item headings may contain information that "gives away" the answer to the item,
either in the heading text or in tags. If you want item headings to be made
invisible while each item is being tested, add:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-hide-item-headings-p t)
</pre>




</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_2" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-8_2">Duration of drill sessions </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-8_2">



<p>
By default, a drill session will end when either 30 items have been
successfully reviewed, or 20 minutes have passed. To change this behaviour, use
the following settings.
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-maximum-items-per-session 40)
(setq org-drill-maximum-duration 30)   ; 30 minutes
</pre>



<p>
If either of these variables is set to nil, then item count or elapsed time
will not count as reasons to end the session. If both variables are nil, the
session will not end until <i>all</i> outstanding items have been reviewed.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_3" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-8_3">Definition of old and overdue items </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-8_3">



<p>
Org-Drill prioritises <i>overdue</i> items in each drill session, presenting them
before other items are seen. Overdue items are defined in terms of how far in
the past the item is scheduled for review. The threshold is defined in terms
of a proportion rather than an absolute number of days. If days overdue is
greater than
</p>
<pre class="example">
last-interval * (factor - 1)
</pre>


<p>
and is at least one day overdue, then the item is considered 'overdue'. The
default factor is 1.2, meaning that the due date can overrun by 20% before the
item is considered overdue.
</p>
<p>
To change the factor that determines when items become overdue, use something
like the following in your .emacs. Note that the value should never be less
than 1.0.
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-overdue-interval-factor 1.1)
</pre>



<p>
After prioritising overdue items, Org-Drill next prioritises <i>young</i>
items. These are items which were recently learned (or relearned in the case of
a failure), and which therefore have short inter-repetition intervals.
"Recent" is defined as an inter-repetition interval less than a fixed number of
days, rather than a number of repetitions. This ensures that more difficult
items are reviewed more often than easier items before they stop being 'young'.
</p>
<p>
The default definition of a young item is one with an inter-repetition interval
of 10 days or less. To change this, use the following:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-days-before-old 7)
</pre>




</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_4" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-8_4">Spaced repetition algorithm </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-8_4">




</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_4_1" class="outline-4">
<h4 id="sec-8_4_1">Choice of algorithm </h4>
<div class="outline-text-4" id="text-8_4_1">



<p>
Org-Drill supports three different spaced repetition algorithms, all based on
SuperMemo algorithms. These are:
</p><dl>
<dt><a href="http://www.supermemo.com/english/ol/sm2.htm">SM2</a></dt><dd>an early algorithm, used in SuperMemo 2.0 (1988), which remains very
  popular &ndash; Anki and Mnemosyne, two of the most popular spaced repetition
  programs, use SM2. This algorithm stores an 'ease factor' for each item,
  which is modified each time you rate your recall of the item.
</dd>
<dt><a href="http://www.supermemo.com/english/ol/sm5.htm">SM5</a> (default)</dt><dd>used in SuperMemo 5.0 (1989). This algorithm uses 'ease
     factors' but also uses a persistent, per-user 'matrix of optimal factors'
     which is also modified after each item repetition.
</dd>
<dt>Simple8</dt><dd>an experimental algorithm based on the <a href="http://www.supermemo.com/english/algsm8.htm">SM8</a> algorithm. SM8 is used
             in SuperMemo 8.0 (1998) and is almost identical to SM11 which is
             used in SuperMemo 2002. Like SM5, it uses a matrix of optimal
             factors. Simple8 differs from SM8 in that it does not adapt the
             matrix to the individual user, though it does adapt each item's
             'ease factor'.
</dd>
</dl>

<p>If you want Org-Drill to use the <code>SM2</code> algorithm, put the following in your
<code>.emacs</code>:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-spaced-repetition-algorithm 'sm2)
</pre>




</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_4_2" class="outline-4">
<h4 id="sec-8_4_2">Random variation of repetition intervals </h4>
<div class="outline-text-4" id="text-8_4_2">



<p>
The intervals generated by the SM2 and SM5 algorithms are pretty
deterministic. If you tend to add items in large, infrequent batches, the lack
of variation in interval scheduling can lead to the problem of "lumpiness" --
one day a large batch of items are due for review, the next there is almost
nothing, a few days later another big pile of items is due.
</p>
<p>
This problem can be ameliorated by adding some random "noise" to the interval
scheduling algorithm. The author of SuperMemo actually recommends this approach
for the SM5 algorithm, and Org-Drill's implementation uses <a href="http://www.supermemo.com/english/ol/sm5.htm">his code</a>.
</p>
<p>
To enable random "noise" for item intervals, set the variable
<code>org-drill-add-random-noise-to-intervals-p</code> to true by putting the following in
your <code>.emacs</code>:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-add-random-noise-to-intervals-p t)
</pre>




</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_4_3" class="outline-4">
<h4 id="sec-8_4_3">Adjustment for early or late review of items </h4>
<div class="outline-text-4" id="text-8_4_3">



<p>
Reviewing items earlier or later than their scheduled review date may affect
how soon the next review date should be scheduled. Code to make this adjustment
is also presented on the SuperMemo website. It can be enabled with:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-adjust-intervals-for-early-and-late-repetitions-p t)
</pre>



<p>
This will affect both early and late repetitions if the Simple8 algorithm is
used. For the SM5 algorithm it will affect early repetitions only. It has no
effect on the SM2 algorithm.
</p>

</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_4_4" class="outline-4">
<h4 id="sec-8_4_4">Adjusting item difficulty globally </h4>
<div class="outline-text-4" id="text-8_4_4">



<p>
The <code>learn fraction</code> is a global value which affects how quickly the intervals
(times between each retest of an item) increase with successive repetitions,
for <i>all</i> items. The default value is 0.5, and this is the value used in
SuperMemo. For some collections of information, you may find that you are
reviewing items too often (they are too easy and the workload is too high), or
too seldom (you are failing them too often). In these situations, it is
possible to alter the learn fraction from its default in order to increase or
decrease the frequency of repetition of items over time. Increasing the value
will make the time intervals grow faster, and lowering it will make them grow
more slowly. The table below shows the growth in intervals (in days) with some
different values of the learn fraction (F). The table assumes that the item is
successfully recalled each time, with an average quality of just under 4.
</p>

<table border="2" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6" rules="groups" frame="hsides">
<caption></caption>
<colgroup><col class="left" /><col class="right" /><col class="right" /><col class="right" /><col class="right" /><col class="right" />
</colgroup>
<thead>
<tr><th scope="col" class="left">Repetition</th><th scope="col" class="right">F=0.3</th><th scope="col" class="right">F=0.4</th><th scope="col" class="right"><b>F=0.5</b></th><th scope="col" class="right">F=0.6</th><th scope="col" class="right">F=0.7</th></tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
<tr><td class="left">1st</td><td class="right">2</td><td class="right">2</td><td class="right">2</td><td class="right">2</td><td class="right">2</td></tr>
<tr><td class="left">2nd</td><td class="right">7</td><td class="right">7</td><td class="right">7</td><td class="right">7</td><td class="right">7</td></tr>
<tr><td class="left">5th</td><td class="right">26</td><td class="right">34</td><td class="right">46</td><td class="right">63</td><td class="right">85</td></tr>
<tr><td class="left">10th</td><td class="right">85</td><td class="right">152</td><td class="right">316</td><td class="right">743</td><td class="right">1942</td></tr>
<tr><td class="left">15th</td><td class="right">233</td><td class="right">501</td><td class="right">1426</td><td class="right">5471</td><td class="right">27868</td></tr>
</tbody>
</table>


<p>
To alter the learn fraction, put the following in your .emacs:
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-drill-learn-fraction 0.45)   ; change the value as desired
</pre>




</div>
</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-8_5" class="outline-3">
<h3 id="sec-8_5">Per-file customisation settings </h3>
<div class="outline-text-3" id="text-8_5">



<p>
Most of the above settings are safe as file-local variables. This means you can
include a commented section like this at the end of your .org file to apply
special settings when running a Drill session using that file:
</p>



<pre class="example"># Local Variables:
# org-drill-maximum-items-per-session:    50
# org-drill-spaced-repetition-algorithm:  simple8
# End:
</pre>




</div>
</div>

</div>

<div id="outline-container-9" class="outline-2">
<h2 id="sec-9">Incremental reading </h2>
<div class="outline-text-2" id="text-9">



<p>
An innovative feature of the program SuperMemo is so-called "incremental
reading". This refers to the ability to quickly and easily make drill items
from selected portions of text as you read an article (a web page for
example). See <a href="http://www.supermemo.com/help/read.htm">the SuperMemo website</a> for more on incremental reading.
</p>
<p>
Much of the infrastructure for incremental reading is already provided by Org
Mode, with the help of some other emacs packages. You can provide yourself with
an incremental reading facility by using 'org-capture' alongside a package that
allows you to browse web pages either in emacs (w3 or <a href="http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/emacs-w3m">emacs-w3m</a>) or in the
external browser of your choice (<a href="http://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/org-protocol.php">org-protocol</a>).
</p>
<p>
Another important component of incremental reading is the ability to save your
exact place in a document, so you can read it <i>incrementally</i> rather than all
at once. There is a large variety of bookmarking packages for emacs which
provide advanced bookmarking functionality: see the <a href="http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/BookMarks">Emacs Wiki</a> for details.
Bookmarking exact webpage locations in an external browser seems to be a bit
more difficult. For Firefox, the <a href="http://www.wired-marker.org/">Wired Marker</a> addon works well.
</p>
<p>
An example of using Org-Drill for incremental reading is given below. First,
and most importantly, we need to define a couple of <code>org-capture</code> templates for
captured facts.
</p>



<pre class="example">(setq org-capture-templates
       `(("u"
         "Task: Read this URL"
         entry
         (file+headline "tasks.org" "Articles To Read")
         ,(concat "* TODO Read article: '%:description'\nURL: %c\n\n")
         :empty-lines 1
         :immediate-finish t)

        ("w"
         "Capture web snippet"
         entry
         (file+headline "my-facts.org" "Inbox")
         ,(concat "* Fact: '%:description'        :"
                  (format "%s" org-drill-question-tag)
                  ":\n:PROPERTIES:\n:DATE_ADDED: %u\n:SOURCE_URL: %c\n:END:\n\n%i\n%?\n")
         :empty-lines 1
         :immediate-finish t)
        ;; ...other capture templates...
    ))
</pre>



<p>
Using these templates and <code>org-protocol</code>, you can set up buttons in your web
browser to:
</p><ul>
<li>Create a task telling you to read the URL of the currently viewed webpage
</li>
<li>Turn a region of selected text on a webpage, into a new fact which is saved
  to whichever file and heading you nominate in the template. The fact will
  contain a timestamp, and a hyperlink back to the webpage where you created
  it.
</li>
</ul>


<p>
For example, suppose you are reading the Wikipedia entry on tuberculosis <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberculosis">here</a>.
</p>
<p>
You read the following:
</p>
<blockquote>

<p>The classic symptoms of tuberculosis are a chronic cough with blood-tinged
sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Infection of other organs causes
a wide range of symptoms. Treatment is difficult and requires long courses of
multiple antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in
(extensively) multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Prevention relies on screening
programs and vaccination, usually with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine.
</p>
</blockquote>


<p>
You decide you want to remember that "Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine" is the
name of the vaccine against tuberculosis. First, you select the `interesting'
portion of the text with the mouse:
</p>
<blockquote>

<p>The classic symptoms of tuberculosis are a chronic cough with blood-tinged
sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Infection of other organs causes
a wide range of symptoms. Treatment is difficult and requires long courses of
multiple antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in
(extensively) multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.
<font style="background-color: yellow;">Prevention relies
on screening programs and vaccination, usually with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin
vaccine.</font>
</p>
</blockquote>


<p>
Then you press the button you created when setting up <code>org-protocol</code>, which is
configured to activate the capture template "w: Capture web snippet". The
selected text will be sent to Emacs, turned into a new fact using the template,
and filed away for your later attention.
</p>
<p>
(Note that it might be more efficient to turn the entire paragraph into a drill
item &ndash; since it contains several important facts &ndash; then split it up into
multiple items when you edit it later in Emacs.)
</p>
<p>
Once you have had enough of reading the article, save your place, then go to
your "fact" file in Emacs. You should see that each piece of text you selected
has been turned into a drill item. Continuing the above example, you would see
something like:
</p>



<pre class="example">** Fact: 'Tuberculosis - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia'        :drill:

Prevention relies on screening programs and vaccination, usually with Bacillus
Calmette-Guérin vaccine.
</pre>



<p>
You need to edit this fact so it makes sense independent of its context, as
that is how it will be presented to you in future. The easiest way to turn the
text into a 'question' is by cloze deletion. All you need to do is surround the
'hidden' parts of the text with square brackets.
</p>
<pre class="example">
Prevention of tuberculosis relies on screening programs and vaccination,
usually with [Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine].
</pre>



<p>
You can of course define browser buttons that use several different "fact"
templates, each of which might send its fact to a different file or subheading,
or give it different tags or properties, for example.
</p>

</div>
</div>
<div id="postamble">
<p class="date">Date: 2011-04-15 08:42:23 </p>
<p class="author">Author: Paul Sexton</p>
<p class="creator">Org version 7.5 with Emacs version 23</p>
<a href="http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=referer">Validate XHTML 1.0</a>
</div>
</div>
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