Thursday, September 05, 2019

Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A memoir on how running became an important part of author's life. This is a short book where author recounts how he started running one fine day out of the blue when he used to be a chain smoker and decided to change his life by running every day. He stuck to the habit and ran almost 6 days a week, an hour a day, almost covering 6 miles on an average every day, thus running 36 miles a week and running almost 1900 miles a year. At the time of writing this book author has been a runner for 2 decades. There are several books on running - some are about laying out plans for beginners that they can follow like a 20 week plan for preparing for your first marathon, there are others in the same vein about cooking recipes suitable for a runner, and then some about experiences of professional runners. Most of those books have been written by authors who are not novel writers or professional story tellers. This book stands out as being written by an author who is a professional writer who has written several novels of great acclaim and who also happens to be a mature runner with enough experience under his belt to be able to tell others what worked for him or to just recount about his experiences as a runner. It is a short book and written in a way that will engage the reader. I am a beginner in running and this book was a pleasure to listen to so much so that i will be listening to it couple more times. Author's routine of running 6 days in a week may not be good for a beginner as it may tire their knees and make them more susceptible to injury and that is where i plan to go back to the books that cater to beginners and use the information on how to train from there instead. But this book serves well as a good motivator for anyone interested in running - be it a beginner or an experienced runner.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Zen of Python

Recently discovered this easter egg 😃

>>> import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters
Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Passed Oracle Cloud Infrastructure 2018 Architect Associate (1Z0-932) Exam

I passed my Oracle Cloud Infrastructure 2018 Architect Associate (1Z0-932) Exam today at local prometric testing center with 83% (minimum required to pass is: 65%). I have been using OCI cloud at work on a daily-basis and had prepared for 2 weeks for the exam and i feel the exam questions were very well selected and tested from almost all areas covered in the Foundation and some from Advanced training course at -

My study notes from the exam are available at: 

Exam had 66 questions. The questions were well distributed across all topics in the syllabus. Though the Level 200 course is optional but there were a few questions that were from material in that course so i will advise anyone taking this test to not treat it as optional and do go through all materials.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Built a gaming PC

My son Rushil became interested in video gaming couple years ago when we got him XBox 360 and then an XBox One S. The next level up for him was to build his own gaming PC. The below youtube video comes close to the specs of the PC we built:
First we picked the parts at the which is a great website to select the compatible parts and it even gives the lowest priced website where you can buy the part from. Our spec was the following:

  1. CPU - Intel - Core i5-9600K 3.7 GHz 6-Core Processor 
  2. CPU Cooler - Phanteks - PH-TC12DX_BK 68.5 CFM CPU Cooler
  3. Motherboard - Asus - ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
  4. Memory - Corsair - Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
  5. Storage - 
    1. Western Digital - Blue 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
    2. Seagate - Barracuda 2 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
  6. Video Card - MSI - GeForce RTX 2070 8 GB Video Card
  7. Case - Corsair - Crystal 570X RGB White ATX Mid Tower Case
  8. Power Supply - Corsair - TXM Gold 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply
  9. Operating System - Microsoft - Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit
  10. Peripherals - 
    1. Headphones - SteelSeries - ARCTIS 7 2019 Edition 7.1 Channel Headset
    2. Keyboard - Corsair
    3. Mouse - Razer
    4. Monitor - Dell S2719DGF (Freesync monitor which can run in GSync compatible mode on dual port with 155Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time)
  11. Funko Pop toy - for fun we put this in our case - a spiderman toy.
Overall it became a more expensive system than he initially thought but the end result is XBox one is now not as much used as the PC. I was a bit reluctant to spend so much on building a PC and havnig never done this before was not sure if we will be able to do it as easily as the videos on Youtube show the process to be. But i bit the bullet and during his spring break we father and son - sat together building it and it was a bit more than half a day worth of work to get the rig up and running. At the end of the day my son was quite satisfied - he was more confident than me to start with :) that we will be able to pull this off as easily as youtube videos showed.

Experience building it: 
  1. We first opened the case and referred to its manual on putting a mother board.
  2. The ASUS motherboards are builder friendly in that it came with wifi built in in our model and was easy to put in the case. The I/O cover was already in place.
  3. Then we put the CPU on the mother board.
  4. Then the cooler system which also seemed more complex than it actually was to assemble. We put the thermal paste on the CPU and followed the directions as closely as possible in the cooler system's installation manual.
  5. Put the memory cards on the motherboard.
  6. Put the powersupply in the case.
  7. Put the SSD and the HDD in the case and wire it to the motherboard.
  8.  Put the video card in the PCIe slot.
  9. Manage the cables - this took a while to route through the right slots in the case. 
  10. Power on the system - insert the USB drive to install Windows 10 Home Edition.
  11. Install the latest updates for BIOS from motherboard manufacturer's site.
  12. Install latest graphics driver from NVidia.
  13. Install GSync Experience from NVidia - we got one game to download for free as part of the promotion NVidia had during that time.
  14. Install steam and any other gaming apps.
So it was a good experience and can indeed be done as easily as the pros do it in the youtube videos. We take a bit longer but it is a fun endeavor. My intent was to encourage my son to be further his interest in electronics and STEAM by letting him build his own gaming PC. He did most of the research and before we nailed down the parts he did a very thorough research on them and why we should pick what we ended up picking balancing between cost and performance of the rig. He started with AMD Ryzen based system but moved to an Inel + NVidia combo with CPU and GPU that can be overclocked. I was pleasantly surprised at the knowledge he acquired about the specs of these parts in the process - referring to benchmarks on CPU, GPU, DDR RAM and NVMe M.2 SSD storage that we went with. Picking the parts took him several months and was the best part of the letting him build his own first gaming PC.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Starting exercising

I recently moved to a new home in Austin and now have enough space to arrange my exercise equipments that i bought over the past couple years in our garage. We have a 3 car garage and 2 cars so had an extra car's worth of space left to use for my exercise equipment. Its been a while have exercised - and after having started it finally i felt i should write about it on my blog :).

I am planning on continuing this regime of exercising for 30 mins or so at home daily - as a habit.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Book Review: The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Word Is MurderThe Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the series of Detective Inspector Hawthorne's investigations. Author is narrating the story first hand as he too plays a part in the story. Author has signed up to write about a murder investigation that inspector Hawthorne has been working on.

The story begins with the a middle aged woman going to an funeral parlor to arrange for her funeral proceeds. A few hours after her meeting with the undertaker she is found strangled at her residence. Some items are missing to give an impression of burglary being the intent behind the murder. In the past (10 yrs ago) a child was killed in a road accident and the driver in the car was the same middle aged woman who is murdered. The lady's son is a famous actor in Hollywood and he flies down to London to attend his mother's funeral. On the day of the funeral the actor son also gets murdered in the most gruesome manner.

Metropolitan police hires consultant detective inspector Hawthorne to investigate this murder.

Inspector Hawthorne contacts the author to write a book about this investigation as it unfolds. The risk was that if someone else from Met solves the case before Hawthorne does then there will not be any point in writing a book. Author accompanies Hawthorne as he interviews all suspects. Eventually Hawthorne solves the mystery. This approach to writing is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson where Dr Watson writes about Holmes' investigations.

Overall the story is fast paced and not too long so it does well in retaining reader's attention. Looking forward to the second book in the series - the sentence is death - which is due for release in June 2019 in US.

View all my reviews

Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great book .. it is full of common sense techniques on how a human being should interact, converse or deal with another human being. The book does not talk about any magical ways of influencing people, nor does influencing mean cheating people. It is about understanding what generally works with most humans and the results are a win-win for both parties who are interacting and not just one benefiting at the cost of the other.
I listened to the audio book so i could not take any notes then but thankfully several others on the internet have done. I am referring to and will elaborate some of the points in my own words (for examples on each of these points you should read the book as it is full of anecdotes related to each item below):
Part 1 - How to influence people:
When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.

1. Don't criticize instead tell others about what you find good in them. Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment. …. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
2. Be honest in your appreciation. No one likes insincere praise (flattery).
3. Kindle the desire in the other person to want to do the thing you need them to do so you both benefit.

Part 2 - How to be liked by other people or make a good first impression:
1. Be genuinely interested in other person.
2. Smile while talking to others. It gives a positive impression and also makes the other person feel comfortable talking to you.
3. Remember a person's name (as that is the sweetest thing for them).
4. Be a good listener. Encourage the other person to talk about themselves. Many people like to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of other person's interests - how what you are proposing to them will benefit them.
6. Make the other person feel important - and do it with sincerity. One way to do so will be to mention their good in front of others so they feel they are being recognized and will feel important that way. But we should only praise them for what we see as good in them sincerely.

Part 3 - How to win people to your way of thinking:
If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. Don't argue.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinion. Never say - you are wrong. That will hurt their pride and they will become defensive.
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. This goes a long way at times to prove to the other person that you are being honest.
4. Begin in a friendly way. Don't get to the complaint you have to tell the other person right away ... beginning in a friendly doing some loose talking before gently putting across your point of complaint will make the other person more receptive to your point of view.
5. Get the other person to saying - "yes"es. This is called the socrates way.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea or ownership of the work is theirs.
8. Try to see other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge (this works especially well for kids).

Part 4 - How to be a leader without offending or arousing resentment:
1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly - so as to not hurt their pride.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person - this will soften the blow for the other person as they will realize that you too are not impeccable.
4. Let the other person save face.
5. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your appreciation and lavish in your praise".
6. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
7. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
8. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The LotteryThe Lottery by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a village of 300 people, an annual ritual takes place called the lottery. All village folks, men, their wives and their children come join the occasion. Children collect stones and pile them up in a corner. Every family has a representative that picks a piece of paper from a black box. There is one paper that has a black dot in it, the rest are blank. The surprise is the winner in the lottery is stoned to death by the villagers as an act of sacrifice so the farmers get good corn produce that year. In the words of 77 years old Old Man Warner - "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon".

View all my reviews

Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami My rating: 5 of 5 stars A memoir on how running became an important part...