Book Review : March 19, 2011

19 Mar

Few book reviews I have been reading or completed last week

It Happened in India
by Kishore Biyani, Dipayan Kashyap

A very bold narrative about Kishore Biyani’s journey while building Pantaloons and Big Bazaar. Gives a clear picture about how the EDLP based model started and succeeded in India and how foreign brands could not really realize the Indian middle class psyche

One thing that struck me about Kishore Biyani is that despite all negative remarks he always made a point to spend money on marketing and branding, probably because his target was the middle class whose decisions are mostly taken not logically but on emotions, feelings and liking. Low price was always there to support that fact

This book was with me for almost 2.5 years, but never read it completely. Last week decided would finish it.

Assholes Finish First
by Max Tucker

The mere mention of the name of this book might raise eyebrows and that’s what exactly what reading this book does. The author Max Tucker claims that every incident in this book and the previous book "I hope they serve beer in hell" are real life incidents that happened with him, or to put in a better way, he did them

Rash, in your face, full of abuses and absolutely hillarious but still filled of crap stories, that actually make you laugh and think what kind of a person this guy is. He fully owns the books and incidents in it, and a guy needs balls to do them and them write a book on them

And to see why I read this book, you should read wikipedia page of Max Tucker and his success story. These books sold over a million copies.

If you want to read something crappy but still entertaining in your spare time, read this book

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larrson

Just started reading this book a few days back. Not just another mystery/crime book as per resources. The last book has been a bestseller and been transformed into a movie. Although I haven’t seen the movie, nor do I plan to, until I read all the three books in the Millennium Series by Steig Larrson

Stieg Larrson is into intricate detailing when it comes to characters and plots. He doesn’t leave any threads loose. I have never read his earlier creations, probably because I never knew about him till I started reading this book

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Decisions, Character and Knowledge

15 Mar

DECISIONS
You may take decisions in life and a lot many of them. Decisions taken very fast, on the blink of an eye

It is very easy to take decisions, what is difficult is to stick by them and fulfill the rational behind taking those decisions.

If you do not fulfill the rational, does that mean that you were wrong in taking it. NO, but yes you were incompetent to take those decisions at that time, but not totally wrong

Making those decisions worthy of themselves is probably difficult. Most of us do not make the decisions worthy of the time and reason they were taken.

A lot many more times, the decisions are taken in awe of something bigger than yourself and which defines your next future overall strategy about life

A lot many many more times decisions are taken on half or less than half knowledge.Knowledge hampers the quick decision making process and creates chaos


CHARACTER

Hidden most of the time from ourselves

We in fact never ever can know what our own character is. In fact, the least we ever think about ourselves in our entire lives are is our character.

The easiest thing is to pass quick judgement about other person’s character

Building a character does not take a lifetime, its built by few early life events and incidents, one’s level of exposure and one’s countering decisions

A characterless person still has a character but he/she realizes that it cannot be changed

Most truthful fact in the world is that one cannot change one’s own character ever in a lifetime. Its a hardcoded sequence in one’s brain


KNOWLEDGE

The truthfulness of a person is partially dependent on his knowledge but more so on how much he spreads and shares it

What we know is seldom used as a means to decide what we should know.

This anomaly or a contradiction is what fuels capitalism and the abuse of being wealthy or becoming wealthy

I would like to quote from Nassim Nicolas Taleb’s "The Bed of Procrustes" : Wealthy is meaningless and has no robust absolute measure, use instead the subtractive measure "unwealth", that is, the difference at any point in time, between what you have and what you would like to have

Sums up greatly what a lot of people think that being wealthy is all that makes you big in life.

Also, apparent presence of knowledge is not necessary the qualities of a wise person. He may be stinking of a half baked vision of growth.

E-Book Reader Solution for iPhone/iPad – Stanza + Calibre

8 Mar

This post is relevant to iPhone and iPad users who would like to read books on their devices

Yesterday I installed Stanza from Lexcycle (http://www.lexcycle.com/) a very lightwight and robust e-book reader for the iPhone. It supports formats like pdf/html/epub, epub being the most popular

lexcyclesiteheader.png

When combined with Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) this becomes your hub for e-book exchange with your PC. You can always download the epub format books from various sources and get them loaded to your iPhone/iPad in like 5 minutes OR you can buy them from countless sources on the net

The interface and bookmarking feature is very clean and Stanza loads books with sizes more than 10MB without any issues.

App has a night feature too, bookmarks multiple books at a time,has font increase/decrease feature plus rotation lock. Pretty much you would want in an e-book reader for your iPhone

In contrast, I also tried some other apps like Bookshelf (which crashed when loaded books with size more than 1.5 MB) and Kobo (not free at all)

For book overs, try this out

Dhobi Ghat – A Blurred Memory of Unfinished Events

24 Jan

Dhobi Ghat doesn’t blow your mind off, nor does it make you say the “Awesome” word at the end of the movie
But it does make you think for a while after you cross the “Exit” door. There is no hidden message in the movie. DG is like a lullaby that fails to make you sleep

Dhobi Ghat, not at all for the masses. Agreed there are some funny moments here and there, but its definitely not an awesome movie. Its a narration of 4 different lives, which do not culminate at a point, but stand in their own paths, waiting for something..

Movie doesn’t leave a mark in your mind, after its over, very unlike other Amir movies. Kiran Rao, could have done a better job. Movie lacks the appeal. Background score remains an anonymous and sleeping beauty that doesn’t hit your ears. At times, it seems that the movie has become very silent, with silent moments also rendered, music-less

Characters of Amir, an artist; Prateik, a dhobi+rat killer+wannabe actor; and Monica, a banker on sabbatical. Do they really gel together? NO… They do not. They seem rather absurdly distinct and disconnected. With four stories, running their own course and without no reason, why they should culminate, it seems rather odd for the audience to figure out if there is going to be something crucial happening as the movie progresses.

Almost all the characters, in the movie are loners. Including the ones, who are shown to be socializing.

I personally felt that almost half the scenes in the movie were unfinished, and NOT at all in a way where audience can think of finishing them. The movie has nice cinematography and nice views of real mumbai (as we love to call it). Yasmeen is also an unfinished part, although she is shown to have died after having come to mumbai, but that doesn’t really mean the part was finished.

In the end, Amir’s character is shown to be just a wanderlust, with no idea what exactly to choose between going to home and choosing a new place to stay. His family in Australia is just another loose end. Prateik just ends up moving from one place to another, still wanting to chase the girl who is confused. Monica ends up trying to understand whether she loves or doesn’t love Amir. Yasmeen’s story makes Amir, feel bad, but about what? Loneliness?

ALthough so many questions remain unanswered, still at the end, you are not left with a mark that “Oh is this Mumbai?”, or “IS this how the life in mumbai would be?”

Dhobi Ghat is a noteworthy try by Kiran rao, to try and make a not-for-the-masses, art-type movie. I would not say its a must watch, but it surely is a good watch.

Quora and Why It Is Different

15 Jan

Quora and Why It Is Different

Let me start with the three major building blocks on the internet that are building not just networks but also relations

  1. Facebook quenches the thirst of humans for social interaction
  2. Twitter enables to shout endlessly and whatever they want
  3. Quora tells them, if you have something worth to share to what people want to know, make a knowledge base out of it

 

What are the main center points or pivots on which all above three reside?
A pivot is what the whole concept relies on and has taken a leap from there but in all the cases, the pivot will always stay the same, as it creates the foundation for each of the above entities

 

Facebook (www.facebook.com)
Pivot is people.

Revolves around people and their networks and their wants, doing, opinions, thinking, mistakes, changes etc
Signifies the early stage of human evolution when we wanted to be in groups.

Internet taking over as a parallel life form for all of us, we all want to be there. So we evolved here too. In groups, n in network we stay happy. Believe me for the depressed person, or one who is alone, or thinks nobody cares about him/her is given facebook, it would really ease up his feeling of seclusion and depression. You wanted to be known, and recognised as a face and as a person, and more by your friends and what they also do.

 

Twitter (www.twitter.com)
Pivot is temporal relevant/irrelevant events/happenings/cribbings/sharings

Signifies a human being basic need to shout and let others know that I also exist, and I have lot of share, take what you want, or don’t take, it doesn’t matter to me

Revolves around nothing, truly nothing. Just like a shoutcast where you shout what comes to your mind. Place/time/purpose/audience is irrelevant unless the tweet is targeted to a specific “tweeple”. In this case there is a mention of the specific tweeple while tweeting. So if the particular tweeple gets back to you, its good, its nice and useful.
Tweeple is what a person who is in the twitterific-universe called as.
Overtime, twitter gathered huge noise and useless tweets. Everybody wanted to shout even if nobody was listening. Next phase was that nobody is listening to what you are saying. Everybody just wanted to shout. When a lot of API’s started automation of tweeting from other platforms, it became a “shout-hub”

 

Quora (www.quora.com)
Pivot is Authentic and Voluntary creation of knowledge bases, that will have multiple touch points (questions) but will still be connected sematically to each other

Quora has a clean interface and simplistic design. It is not re-inventing the wheel, by having its own user base, but is relying on already authenticated networks of Facebook and Twitter. And anyways, every sane guy in this world has opened their doors, to FB and TW integration, because if they don’t they are gonna lag behind
That way, it is trying to ensure that the userbase is going to be authetic since current user creation onf Quora is on invite basis.

Here you will find that although your answer is getting voted, or can be voted, you are not driven by that fact. But you are driven by the fact that you need to put authentic opinions and information in the conversation.

 

What is the difference? Isnt wikipedia better than this?.Wikipedia is a fact-building machine. Whereas Quora is a authentic conversaton building machine, that focuses on semantic connections.

 

Although there are various other ways to interpret Quora. One being the fact that it does help you get in touch with people who think, read, write and are interested in similar things as you are. Which in terms means that even if there is no hidden agenda of creating a social network, it will still get created, making sure authentic people who share similar interests contribute effectively

Another thing that went dead was Google Wave. If you closely see Quora, it has similar looks of that of GW, but more clean and less cluttered. Had GW made itself open to FB and TW integration with a better interface, who knows it might have been a success

 

Did we forget LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is there to stay. As I was FB-iscussing with a friend today morning, LinkedIn is more business focused and hence premium memberships are there on it, and it will never go away. Because the purpose of LinkedIn is pure busines connections and networking and promote ones professional status.

You can never have premium memberships on Facebook, Twitter and Quora. This would entirely defeat the purpose of all these networks and collaboration tools.

Views and comments are invited

Cr** That I Sometimes Ponder Upon

12 Jan

cr** that I sometimes ponder upon

  • Life and the various aspects of it that doesnt fit with it at all
  • Living and the “myth” that life has to be lived only in “happiness”
  • Pain and its different avatars, sometimes humanoids and androids
  • Love and the chaos that it generates when it happens, and our so much liking to it
  • Decision making and y logic is so rarely used to do it
  • Necessary evils and vices of life and the so much ignorance about them
  • Sex and the seclusion of it from the mainstream living, to make stupid people look more intelligent
  • Phenomenon in which people’s intention and attempts are about not getting successful

You wanna add yours?

आरम्भ है प्रचंड…

30 Dec

Trying to decipher my way

आरम्भ है प्रचंड
बोले मस्तकों के झुण्ड
आज जंग की घडी की तुम गुहार दो
आन बाण शान या की जान का हो दान
आज इक धनुष के बाण पे उतार दो
आरम्भ है प्रचंड

You have to have a big start today, but there are many thoughts. This war demands you to sacrifice love, life and lust. But dont let those thoughts deter your decision making. Let it be a one shot decision, let go of the inconsistencies and uncertainties and just do it

मन करे सो प्राण दे
जो मन करे सो प्राण ले
वही तो एक सर्वशक्तिमान है

कृष्ण की पुकार है
ये भगवत का सार है
की युद्ध ही तो वीर का प्रमाण है
कौरवों की भीड़ हो या
पांडवों का नीद हो
जो लड़ सका है वोही तो महान है

Although whether there is God or not, the power of life lies absolutely with the one who has the ability to create. Power is not to govern or rule, but to be able to differentiate yourself from the weak. One who wins in the end has the power to showcase, but one who fights till the end is the most powerful, from the inside.

जीत की हवस नहीं
किसी पे कोई वश नहीं
कया ज़िन्दगी है ठोकरों पे मार दो
मौत अंत है नहीं
तो मौत से भी क्यूँ डरे
ये जाके आसमान में दहाड़ दो
आरम्भ है प्रचंड…

Winning isn’t everything. Because you can’t fix winning. So what if you see a failure, you aren’t supposed to give up at all. Die but die gracefully, Bapu did that. He knew he was gonna die in that period of 2-3 weeks. He made up his mind for the “Hey Ram”. But he did not leave what he was doing. He made a point to get the voice, not his own, but of his followers reach the white ears

हो दया का भाव
या की शौर्य का चुनाव
या की हार का वो घाव
तुम ये सोच लों

या की पूरे भाल पर
जला रहे विजय का
लाल लाल ये गुलाल
तुम ये सोच लों

रंग केसरी हो या
मृदंग केसरी हो या
की केसरी हो ताल
तुम ये सोच लों

जिस कवी की कल्पना में
ज़िन्दगी हो प्रेम गीत
उस कवी को आज तुम नकार दो
भीगती नसों में आज
फूलती रगों में आज
आग की लापत का तुम बघार दो
आरम्भ है प्रचंड…

If your friends tell you that this life is just to be “enjoyed” leave that friend. He is not a friend. He is a foe is disguise, unknown to you and unknown to himself, because he does not know the facts of life. Life is to be lived with the war, the war to accept failure and keep fighting for the win.

Let the brave inside you come out time and again, to bring about change, revolution and revolt. No matter how small, but if it is changing or creating a new path, it is significant.

A road, that is less of thorns and rocks is a road that is just not made for the man, its made for the snails and make sure you are not one of them.