Friday, December 30, 2011

Einstein: His life and Universe

When I heard that a biography of Steve Jobs is going to come out soon, I was more curious than excited. I was curious to know who is author of the book and which are his previous books. Having read about Steve Jobs's perfectionalist nature I was assuming, correctly, that Steve Jobs might have cherrypicked the author to write about his life and work - Walter Isaacson. Walter Isaacson's previous work include biographies on Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger. I would not be surprised if Steve Jobs believed himself to be the successor of these famous personalities in terms of 'making a dent in the universe'.

Reading a biography is usually a better use of time as compared to reading a fiction - mainly, because you learn a lot about human achievements and sufferings and also a bit of our history. I enjoyed reading Einstein. Before reading the book I didn't know much about Einstein apart from his relativity theory and his 'rockstar' status as a scientist. The books explains how he got that 'rockstar' status - well he made good use of his fame to promote anti-war campaigns during war time, never shied away from press and gave then many sleazy one liners to write in their papers. He was very outgoing person as opposed to the introvert nature that people perceive of scientists. He was a german jew who hated Hitler's guts, and unsurprisingly was given first-class treatment in US when he decided to live here. I wonder if for some bizzare reason Einstein had sided with Hitler then whether he would have been as popular as he is today. Nevertheless he was / is perceived as the most intelligent man ever lived on our planet.

Walter has done an impressive job digging through letters, newspapers, meeting second / third generation relatives of Einstein to get useful information about him. The last 150 pages of the book list all the references that had made this book happen. The thing that strike me the most about Einstein is that his best work in professional life came during his worst time in his personal life. He was succesfully able to shut down all the tragic moments (failed marriage / failed parenting) from his mind while working on his theories. Here are some of the highlights from his life:

- He decided to not join industry because he believed that he is destined to do something much bigger.
- He didn't have a Masters / Doctoral degree. He got a diploma certificate from a polytechnic college.
- He did most of his ground breaking theories while working in a patent office, alone and away from all researchers and academia.
- Being a theoretical physicist most of his work are thought experiments i.e. day dreaming about situations that start with 'What if'.

Rating : 4 / 5

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Jaya is a book on Mahabharata written by Devdutt Pattanaik. The book covers the main story of Mahabharata along with few anecdotes that are prevalent in certain states / tribes in India. The USP of the book is that it has creative illustrations that will make your read interesting.

I would recommend this book to people who are new to story of Mahabharata. For people who are versed with the mythology might find only 10% - 20% of the material that is exciting and something that they haven't heard before. You can still pick the book up for illustrations though.

Overall I am glad I read it as I learnt something new about Mahabharata (even after having read / watched few versions of the story since childhood).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

The book, written by Rashmi Bansal, lists 25 alumni from IIM-A that are successful entrepreneurs. The book explains the struggle of these people in starting something from scratch. Rashmi interviewed these 25 people and got them to advice the budding entrepreneurs about the paths they should take and the pitfalls they should avoid.
The book is a pretty average read. I would have preferred if Rashmi had interviewed only 3 out of these 25 stalwarts and wrote their startup-survival stories in long and detail. Instead she chose to write 25 stories which after certain point sound similar. Well to be fair I cannot expect her to write a fictional story with a nerve-breaking twist at the end, but then the book fails in inspiring its readers as none of the stories are well-researched. Most of the material has been provided by the entrepreneurs themselves during their one-on-one interview with her. It seems that all she did was to use her own IIM-A alumni card to get access to these people and interview them in the limited time that they could provide her.
On the better part, these numerous stories tell you that a successful entrepreneur can come from any academic / family / economic background. The common factor of all these people is their strong will - willingness to stick around longer with their creation especially during the bad times.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An anecdote from Steve Jobs

Apple Town Hall in 2000:

An interns asks Steve Jobs: Steve, many years ago you left Apple to start Next. But recently you returned to Apple. Why did you come back to Apple?

Jobs replied: When I was trying to decide whether to come back to Apple or not I struggled. I talked to a lot of people and got a lot of opinions. And then there I was, late one night, struggling with this and I called up a friend of mine at 2am. I said, ‘Should I come back, should I not?’ and the friend replied, ‘Steve, look. I don’t give a fuck about Apple. Just make up your mind,’ and hung up. And it was in that moment that I realized I truly cared about Apple.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

My latest material possession

I was very tired with my point-n-shoot camera and ended up buying my first DSLR - Nikon D3100. It was an impulse buy and I am glad I did it. Impulse shopping can be so much fun especially when you don't regret buying couple of weeks later. Nikon D3100 is one of the better entry-level DSLRs in the market currently for the best buck. It is one of the few entry-level cameras that takes 1080p HD Cinematic video. It includes 3x 18-55mm Zoom-NIKKOR VR Image Stabilization lens. 3-inch monitor and really good reviews helped me click that 'Buy Now' button on Amazon. Hopefully, this excitement will continue and will help me improve my photography skills.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Another 2-liner

I wrote this 2-liner in 2002:

"Life is programmed by God
but executed by me!"

We ended up making t-shirts, for our undergrad class, with these lines embedded - 1st line on front and 2nd line on back of the shirt. Sadly my t-shirt met its death couple of years back. This t-shirt project went for couple of months and involved:

1) Coming up with about 10 2-liners
2) Taking class's approval on which one did they like
3) Making a cool art of 'a computer controlled by human hands'
4) Finally, deciding on quality and color of t-shirt and everything that went on it.

The t-shirt raised few eyebrows among the public because 'execution' was interpreted in a whole different way by the non-technical people. Nevertheless I had fun working on these lines.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2 liners

Since Yahoo closed down the Geocities IP last year, I have lost my website and don't feel a need to create one. So you will get to read some of my 2-liners (that I wrote few years back) on this blog:

"Life is internet,
I am a browser"

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

The first thing that crosses my mind with the start of a new year is new year's resolution. Not that I made resolutions every year and if made did keep them, but it gives a sense of achievement to make one. This year I am going to make a resolution and blog about it, hoping that disclosing to public will add much-needed pressure to keep my resolution. My resolution is to cut down on my 'TV' time. I watch TV religiously everyday for atleast an hour and sometimes don't even care what I am watching. I am hoping that cutting down on spending time with 'idiot box' will make me smart :-).

With this blog, wishing you a Happy New Year.