Books, Gigs, Tech, Talk

2 books behind schedule. But “2” is just a number, right? You cannot “quantify” books. Setting up a goal of number of books is utterly naive. There are books you want to revisit over and over no matter how big. There are also books you simply cannot make yourself to go through, no matter how small. This journey is about finding these kind of books and sharing the knowledge and process.

In last few months I was able to rack up some interesting books. While I have The Martian and Great Gatsby in progress for fiction (and might have promised last time I would get more fiction in my routine), I was able to complete Einstein and 50% of The better angels of our nature. These two books are mind/perspective changing.

By end of June I became really slow with reading. I feel as if my brain is almost oversaturated with information and I am not retaining as much as I should have. Sometimes I envy people who are able to recall bits from experiences or their readings. I mostly can’t – even if I do jot down notes. Perhaps, all that information does retain somewhere deep inside my brain because I have noticed, to my utter surprise, that I am able to pull that information up in some form sometimes. Has that ever happened to you?

So, at the moment I am not sure if I must slow down or invest in some sort of information retention mechanism. A big problem is that I am not sure what I want to retain or not. It is almost like trying to fill a small bottle with a firehose. It seems that not much water makes it into the bottle. Sigh.

Books I read

Business

  • The lean startup ★★★★★
    • The bible of running a modern software startup – the pioneer of validated learning.
  • Zero to One ★★★★
    • Great business advice from Peter Theil himself on keeping on track and focusing on things that give a broader, larger return.
  • Derailed ★★★★
    • CEOs who mucked things up – these were brilliant people who showed problems of character and took down their companies. True stories.

Non-Fiction, Commentary

  • Einstein ★★★★★
    • Demystifying the life of a genius: how creativity and thought experimentation was at the core of this brilliant mind.
  • The better angels of our nature ★★★★★
    • Discussion at length about how the violence has declined over last few centuries, the pacification process of humans and where we are headed.

Technical

  • The friday Q&A ★★★★★
    • Great detailed, low-level discussions on internal Cocoa/iOS Data structures and frameworks.
  • cracking the tech career ★★★★
    • A good primer on what the tech career is all about and how to make a start/switch in it.

Self-Help

  • The life changing magic of tidying up ★★★★
  • mindfulness in plain english ★★★

Academics

As part of the on-going specialization in Interaction Design by UC San Diego through Coursera), I was able to complete the following courses (assignments, quizzes and all).

  • Designing, Running and Analyzing Experiments
  • Design Principles: An introduction
  • Input and Interaction

Courses I still have to complete:

  • Human Centered Design: An introduction
  • Social computing
  • User Experience Research and Prototyping
  • Information Design
  • Finally there is a capstone project as well. I was initially hoping to complete the certification by mid of this year or perhaps August but it seems that it will get completed by end of this year. Sigh.

I also tried keeping up with a course on Brief History of Spaceflight. I wasn’t able to find time for it. I will give it (or something similar) another try.

Personal Projects

Argh. Nothing to show here unlike last month. It is a total relapse to mediocrity. I have been trying to rack up hours in the pool with my daughter. I was also able to do some mental housekeeping of where I need to be, but apart from that – nothing. Time to rethink how I am distributing my time. Most of my commuter advantage was spent on office work and the weekend advantage was somehow lost to family time. I guess it is not a bad tradeoff, after all.

I do sometimes delve into writing sprees. These writings are mostly private but sometimes they make it to the blog post.

Other stuff

Attending WWDC 2016 was an honor. Since last so many years I had religiously followed the keynote through live blogs or streams, trying to convince friends and family to join me (and mostly I’d be there sitting alone) – but this time I got to see Tim Cook right there. There were some amazing talks.

WWDC brings together a lot of people from around the world so lot of tech companies throw meetups. I was able to attend the one by Instagram. I meet couple of Engineering Managers and engineers and we had great food and discussions about instagram and tech in general. I also got to meet Orta, the guy who built CocoaPods!

Being in the Silicon Valley means being at the epicenter of technology. There are more meetups and tech talks every day that I can keep track of. It was fun to attend one such tech-talk at Facebook HQ by the Ads Delivery team (and React Native team). I got a tour of the magnifique Facebook HQ (The new as well as the old one) and it was AMAZEE!

Speaking of which, the Bay Area is not just about technology. The area is bustling with fun people from across the world with variety of interests. I found one such group called the “Learning nights” which are scheduled every month. I attended the April learning night where we had a cosy gathering of 40 people and presentations of retirement planning, fighting depression and organizing your belongings! Talk about variety!

And then of course there is the fun part as well. San Franciscans love music and there are a few really great venues to enjoy the music. Apple threw the WWDC bash at the Bill Graham Auditorium where Good Charlotte played. I am no fan of Good Charlotte but it did certainly feel like the first episode of Silicon Valley. I also attended the Blue October concert at the Regency Ballroom. The performance and venue were not quite as good as I expected (compared to Pier 70 performance by Dave Matthews earlier this year) but it was a good performance nonetheless. I spent most of my late teens and early 20s listening to Blue October.

Then there was a rather buzz kill concert by Generation Axe (Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zack Wylde, couple of other guitarists I am not familiar with) at the Fox Theater in Oakland. First, it was awkward listening to instrumental guitarists shredding their axes while sitting in seats as if we were watching an Opera. The venue was too loud and well, Yngwie was too obsession of his stage presence.

The fun in the Bay Area is not confined to music and talks. The area is very beautiful. California in general is very scenic. I visited the Yosemite Valley (Glacier Point, Bridanveil falls) and Point Lobos Park (Carmel). Both were awesome places.

And finally, I summed up the courage and time to visit the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get a driver’s license/ID. I still have to give the behind the wheel test.

That’s all for now folks.

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