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Reading List – 2017

6 Mar

Books I read in 2017:

  1. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (A great story about the friendship and parting of two of the world’s great psychologists)
  2. History’s Greatest Discoveries And the People Who Made Them by Joel Levy (A good read)
  3. Pearl Harbor: An AP Special Anniversary Edition by The Associated Press (A good read though not too detailed)
  4. Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald (A great book on different types of biases we harbor)
  5. 3 Keys to Defeating Unconscious Bias: Watch, Think, Act by Sondra Thiederman (A poorly written short book)
  6. The 25 Cognitive Biases: Understanding Human Psychology, Decision Making & How To Not Fall Victim To Them by Kai Musashi (A terrible book)
  7. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance (Elon Musk’s biography. A great book for Musk’s fans)
  8. The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt (A good book about the life of a rich person, who happens to be the president’s wife)
  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (The funniest book I’ve ever read. A must read.)
  10. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths (The premise is great, but the book totally deviates from the topic)
  11. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger (A good read but a very narrow focus on why wars are great for a community)
  12. Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James (No comments)
  13. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance (A great book on the hard and desperate lives in the middle America)
  14. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (A great book on how deliberate practice improves performance. One of the best book I’ve read.)
  15. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (A great book in support of introverts, with evidences)
  16. The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics by Barton Swaim (A very funny take on the workings of a governor’s office)
  17. The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth (A must book for beer aficionados)
  18. Simplify: How the Best Businesses in the World Succeed by Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood (A good book on simplifying business models and products to succeed)
  19. The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck (Extremely idealistic. Great book, didn’t finish, too theoretical)
  20. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks (A good read on a few business stories)
  21. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal (As the title implies. A good book for product/service designers)
  22. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (A crappy book by an awesome person)
  23. In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria (As the name implies. An okay book.)
  24. History of the Civil War, 1861-1865 by James Ford Rhodes (Great book with very detailed accounts of the civil war.)

Reading List – 2016

Reading List – 2016

6 Jan

Busy 2016. Less reading.

Reading List – 2016

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Good mystery novel. Also a movie)
  2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Excellent novel on African-American lives.Pulitzer prize winner. Also a movie.)
  3. Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis (Very funny and incisive, Michael Lewis’ take on Wall Street in the 1980s)
  4. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni (Good book on the college-admissions craziness)
  5. The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara L. Tuchman (Too detailed. Makes it unreadable. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  6. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (Good novel. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  7. Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy (Good book with real-life information about the characters in the original book)
  8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Too long, too much wordplay. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  9. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton (A well-researched history lesson on Harriet Tubman)
  10. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (The best father in the world turns racist. Shocking. Nowhere near To Kill a Mockingbird)
  11. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (6 pages worth of story, told in 600 pages. Too much wordplay. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  12. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Good novel set in post Vietnam era. Pulitzer prize winner  )
  13. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (A moving story of a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world. Pulitzer prize winner. Also a movie.)
  14. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (A decent book. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  15. Tinkers by Paul Harding (An ok, below average, book. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  16. Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism–From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond by E.J. Dionne Jr. (A great account of why and when the right went radical.)
  17. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (book 11) by Jeff Kinney (A typical wimpy kid book.)
  18. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
  19. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (A beautiful collection of stories with intersecting lives. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  20. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (A collection of emotional stories. Pulitzer prize winner.)
  21. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Reading List – 2015

Reading List – 2015

22 Mar

A list of books I read last year. My very short take is included at the end.

Reading List – 2015

    1. Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak (Very good, if you get your news from The Daily Show)
    2. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson (Must read. The history of scientific innovations)
    3. A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz (Terrible. Rambling.)
    4. What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness by Elizabeth Svoboda (Good.)
    5. Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things by Shaun Gallagher (Good in the beginning, then gets monotonous)
    6. The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle (Very good. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you already know the stories.)
    7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney (Best Wimpy Kid book in the series)
    8. The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller
    9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Excellent, if you are into Wimpy Kid kind of books)
    10. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (Must read. Tells the history of Amazon)
    11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Excellent, if you are into Wimpy Kid kind of books)
    12. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James (Ok, but certainly not worth the hype)
    13. Blasphemy by Tehmina Durrani (Great, but extremely terrifying)
    14. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam M. Grant (Very good. Explains why givers are better than takers)
    15. Selma 1965: The March That Changed The South by Charles Fager (Very good. Events reported in detail.)
    16. Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks
    17. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman (Good, but very few examples)
    18. AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World’s Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown (Science meets entertainment)
    19. An Equation for Every Occasion: Fifty-Two Formulas and Why They Matter by John M. Henshaw (Good read if you love science)
    20. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume One by George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson (Crash course for people who have not seen the TV series or read the novel)
    21. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Two by George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson (Same as Vol 1)
    22. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Three by George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson (Same as Vol 1)
    23. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume Four by George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson (Same as Vol 1)
    24. HBR’S 10 Must Reads: The Essentials by Peter Ferdinand Drucker, Clayton M. Christensen, and 2 more (Great read)
    25. Monsoon by Wilbur Smith (Great  novel. Should have been a movie)
    26. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber (Good parenting tips)
    27. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Very good novel)
    28. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson (Great history of computing. Must read)
    29. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Pulitzer prize winning novel)
    30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Pulitzer prize winning novel. Best book of all time. Movie equally awesome.)

Reading List – 2014

We Won The Internet

13 Mar

Yes, we won the Internet on February 26, 2015. But, first things first.

What is Net Neutrality?
For douchebags,

“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.— Senator Ted Cruz on Twitter

For educated folks, The Oatmeal has explained net neutrality beautifully with an example. Simply put, net neutrality is all about information on the Internet being treated equally. Which means, a movie on Netflix or a video on YouTube has the same priority as any other video from a small startup. The cable companies like Comcast or Time Warner cannot charge money from any company to speed up their videos streaming and slow down feed from companies that do not pay.

In the beginning …
Everything was hunky-dory and information on the Internet was free. Free as in air, not free as in beer. And all information was considered equal. This was the default so we never paid – or had to pay – attention to concepts like “net neutrality”. Everyone received the same content on the Internet and all content from all companies was treated equally.

Then this happened …
Netflix started slowing down for Verizon and Comcast customers. Netflix, being the most popular online TV and movies provider, consumed about 25% of the total bandwidth of the Internet connection in 2012, which rose to 35% in 2014 during peak TV viewing hours. So, some service providers started asking Netflix to pay more for more bandwidth usage. Netflix declined and these service providers started throttling Netflix.

Courtesy Netflix

Courtesy Netflix

Paid prioritization
Because money is king; to hell with customers

In February 2014, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast, and later to Verizon, to stream its videos at higher bandwidth. Then the streaming speed went up again.

Courtesy Netflix

Courtesy Netflix

Verizon vs. FCC
Federal Communications Commission is a US government agency that oversees and regulates all communications, including TV and radio airwaves and wire and cable transmissions. In 2005, the FCC had issued guidelines to promote net neutrality. These were not formal rules, so the ISPs were not legally bound to obey them. In 2011, Verizon sued FCC and asked the court to overturn the open Internet rules. The court ruled in favor of Verizon on the grounds that the Internet providers are not classified as common carriers and as such, FCC does not have authority to regulate them.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996
In 1934, congress enacted the Communications Act to regulate the wire and radio communications. The Act was amended in 1996 into the Telecommunications Act and the Internet was included under its purview. The Act made a distinction between “telecommunications service” and “information service” wherein the telecommunications service are more stringently regulated than information service, which included the Internet service providers. The Act was intended to foster competition among the providers but due to consolidation in the industry, only a handful of providers remained operational in each region. Verizon won the lawsuit on the grounds that it was an information service provider and hence, cannot be regulated by FCC, which was the right decision.

What is Title II of the Telecommunications Act?
One of the seven titles of the Telecommunications Act, Title II outlines the provisions of “broadcast services”, which includes “Common Carriers”. Title II stipulates that common carriers can’t “make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.” In February, FCC voted in favor of reclassifying the ISPs as Common Carriers, which means the broadband Internet service will be treated as telecommunications service and not information service.

The fight ahead
President Obama has openly and strongly supported net neutrality. The final rules have not been announced; however, there has already been an outcry from the industry, which was expected. However, many leaders of the Republican party have strongly spoken against the rule change. Lawsuits would undoubtedly follow once the rules are announced, and it might take years before things are stable again.

Until then, we, the people, have won the Internet. People: 1 – Douchebags: 0.


Recommended readings

What The FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling Means For You
Verizon, the FCC and What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now

A Zinger And A Wink

23 Jan

I don’t post political matters on my blog but I can’t resist the awesome zinger followed by a wink from the president at the State of the Union 2015 address. A man with nothing to lose and it shows.

 

Reading List – 2014

9 Jan

Books I read in 2014

  1. Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
  2. Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires by Carol Graham
  3. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  4. The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now! by Mark Hyman
  5. On Virtues: Quotations and Insight to Live a Full, Honorable, and Truly American Life by Sheldon Whitehouse
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
  7. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
  9. The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua
  10. ADHD Does Not Exist by Richard Saul
  11. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  12. The Garfield Treasury by Jim Davis
  13. Worth It … Not Worth It?: Simple?: Profitable Answers to Life’s Tough Financial Questions by Jack Otter
  14. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
  15. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson
  16. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
  17. Deception Point by Dan Brown
  18. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd
  19. Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer, and Paul B. Brown
  20. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  21. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis
  22. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
  23. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  24. Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World by Phillip Landrigan
  25. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  26. The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand
  27. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
  28. Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked by Paul Raeburn
  29. The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards
  30. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  31. How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg
  32. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
  33. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
  34. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
  35. Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
  36. The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Start-up into Your Organization by Nathan Furr, Jeff Dyer, and Clayton M. Christensen (Foreword)
  37. Agile Project Management for Beginners: Mastering the Basics with Scrum by Bryan Mathis
  38. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz
  39. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline
  40. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak
  41. 1,000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by Marc Chernoff and Angel Chernoff
  42. You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney

Reading List – 2013

(Deliberate) Practice Makes Perfect

6 Nov

Practice makes perfect. It’s a very famous quote that I’ve heard and read since I was a child.
Practice makes perfect

But is it true? The answer is both yes and no.

Yes
When we perform an activity – any activity – for the first time, we don’t do it correctly. Reading and writing for kids, calculus for high-school students, driving, piano, soccer, everything is learned. The more we do it repetitively, the better we get at doing it. Practicing piano for a few hours every day makes us better than practicing for a few hours every week. Though inherent talent, intrinsic motivation, feedback, and support or coaching does play a role.

So the answer is yes, practice does make us better- not perfect – but better, which is okay since perfection has a different meaning for everyone.

No
Practice makes us better only to a certain extent. After that, practicing more doesn’t necessarily lead to an improvement in skills. Why? This is where “deliberate” comes into the picture. You need to figure out what parts of a skill you have mastered and what parts you still need to get a grip on, so you can make a “deliberate” decision to practice only those parts that you are not yet proficient in. While playing the piano, it might be certain types of notes. In tennis, it might be the backhand. In physics or math, it might be a certain topic or problem. Practicing everything, all the time, only wastes time. More time should be devoted to learning new skills.

Metacognition
In cognitive psychology, researchers call it metacognition, the knowledge about one’s own knowledge. If you are aware of how much you know and how much you need to learn, you’ll be able to use different strategies to learn the content or skills.

Adaptive learning
A common buzzword these days is adaptive learning, which has different meaning for different people, but it generally means the content or assessment adapting  to the learner’s knowledge or skill level. If you answer a few questions correctly, you are presented with a higher-order content or questions. If you don’t do it well, you get lower-order content. This way, you spend your time learning new or higher-order things, and not spending a lot of time on content that you already know well. This is the premise of my adaptive learning model for K12.

Related readings
Over-Practicing Makes Perfect
No. 1 Reason Practice Makes Perfect