Book Review: The Manga Guide to Calculus

The Manga Guide to CalculusThe Manga Guide to Calculus by Hiroyuki Kojima
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried to pick up some high-level intuition on the basics of calculus with this book, but I failed. Unlike, other Manga guides on electricity, and linear algebra, I found this book not very strong on the plot and I felt it did not present the story in a cohesive manner.

The concepts were introduced randomly, and I could not see how one built upon the previously introduced concept.

On the positive note, it did introduce very basics of calculus well, and I am eager to pick up other books on calculus with that foundation.

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Book Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the EarthJourney to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a science-fiction adventure book. If you are a science-fiction fan, like me, then you are for a treat in reading in this book.

I really loved this book and the narration. It started as a simple story but quickly jumped to an adventure plot, and before I realized it had excellent science mixed into every element of this fictitious story. It has references to Fourier, Poisson and you find calculations for measuring the distances based on sound lag, it has adventures of an Iceland hiker, a cave explorer, a climber, and then you will you biologists in trilobite, yes, a trilobite! and then you find all the pre-historic animals and reference famous explorers, biologists, taxonomists all present in a single story.

When I choose the book, and read the plot, I wondered "How is this possible"? But when I read it, I was taken into a real adventure by the author.

I read this book in "Kindle-In-Motion" format, and illustrator, Killian Eng is a class on his own. He did excellent work and justice for this Jule Verne's timeless work.

Here are some of my notes and highlights from this book.

Here is something about Fourier.

Was it not always believed until Fourier that the temperature of the interplanetary spaces decreased perpetually?

About Poisson.

“Well, I will tell you that true savants, among them Poisson, have demonstrated that if a heat of 360,000 degrees existed in the interior of the globe.

A trilobite!

“Very well,” said he quietly, “it is the shell of a crustacean, of an extinct species called a trilobite. Nothing more.”

All these pre-historic animals.

leptotheria, mericotheria, lophiodia, anoplotheria, megatheria, mastodons, protopitheci, pterodactyls, and all sorts of extinct monsters here assembled together for his special satisfaction.

And the adventurers!

Mr. Milne-Edwards! Ah! Mr. de Quatrefages, how I wish you were standing here at the side of Otto Liedenbrock!”

This book was a thorough adventure, with so many references to explore further!

Book Review: Sita's Ramayana

Sita's RamayanaSita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Samhita Arni's take on Ramayana, Sita's Ramayana, the story of Ramayana entirely narrated by Sita. It gives a new perspective to the entire story, while not-at-all deviating from the plot and details of the story.

As a reader who is familiar with the story, I picked up this book with a notion of what I can expect. However, I was still surprised and thoroughly enjoyed reading this story presented by an excellent writer (Samhita) and a fantastic illustration (Moyna Chitrakar).

Following this book, I became eager to check out other works of this author, and I found that her writings bring a freshness to the Indian mythology genre, and I am highly eager to read her next work "The Prince".

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Book Review: Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer AgeHackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyed reading Paul Graham's essays. It is quite dated, for e.g, lots of reference to Web in the 1990s, 2000s time when Yahoo was a prominent .com company. Some of his opinions on wealth creation are still applicable in 2020. But we have to read his essays with plenty of skepticism. He sings praise for lisp and instills some desire in the reader to study lisp and start a startup.

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Book Review: There There by Tommy Orange

There ThereThere There by Tommy Orange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is one of it's kind. I had never come across a topic like this one. It reads like a monologue but dwells a lot into History and societal norms. It dwells in Native American history because the author is a native American, and explains his life story and story of his friends in a compelling manner. The incidents take place in Oakland, ca, and the reader familiar with the region can relate to many incidents narrated in the story. The story is an eye-opener for many to perceive the native American culture a little broadly and in a practical manner.

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I graduated from OMSCS, Online Masters in Computer Science Program from Georgia Tech. I accomplished my personal goal of a Masters in Computer Science from a reputed university. I got admitted into this program in 2014 and continued to take one class per 15-week term. I decided to do more than required by taking three additional classes, and graduated with a specialization in "Computational Perception and Robotics," and "Software Systems."

My journey

My desire to do a master's in computer science was one of my first wishes in my career. I did my schooling and college in India. I had missed going to a reputed college. So, I started trying to get into a Masters in Computer Science. I failed in 2002 in my first attempt. I started working and earning money. I took courses and tried again in 2003 and failed. I must have tried yet again in 2004 and failed. My understanding of the subjects, and more importantly, my planning skills were feeble.

I started taking courses as I could not give up on my desire to learn Computer Science. I took Continuing Education Proficiency Courses from IISc offered on Wednesday evenings. These courses paved the way for me to get into a CPython Development through Google Summer of Code program.

I had not achieved my desired goal yet. So, I started trying again in 2007. After having work experience, having four patents from work, having done part-time courses, I applied again. This time for US universities. I tried for 10 universities in 2007 and got rejected by all of them. In 2008, I tried again for 5 universities and got rejected by them. I went for it in 2009 and did not get into any of the 5 universities. In 2010, I got one admit through referral, but I decided not to pursue it as it was not suitable for me. In 2012, I almost enrolled in a part-time master's program but did not pursue it as it was not Computer Science.

In 2014, the OMSCS program was launched, and it looked very promising. I applied, and I got an admit in its second offering. I took it up. I started my classes in Jan 2015, and after taking 13 courses, completed it in December 2019. I have a GPA of 3.21.

My most important learning during this course was my failure (getting a C) in Computational Photography due to a mistake I did. I could have been out of the program, but I became careful, corrected myself, and retook the course to get B grade.

The experience has shaped me well as a person. The journey was fun, eventful. My family, my wife, Shalini, supported me a lot. She would regularly check-in with my plans and plan our social outings accordingly.

We had celebrated our first Kid, Siddhartha's 1st birthday, when I had started this program. We had our second kid, Saharsha, while I was doing the courses. Keeping them entertained while doing masters is challenging. I used to put them to sleep and then return back to my computer for completing the assignments.

In terms of work, I had lost a job, got a new job, and then changed a new one during this timeframe. I struggled a bit to balance work and study but managed to concentrate on work and not let one disturb the plans of the other. I also got promoted twice in the same organization in this time-frame. This was a long pending desire and mental block for me, that I had overcome.

Finally, we celebrated my graduation with a family trip to Atlanta, and my wife Shalini organized a party with our friends. My wife had also requested me to give a short speech. Here is the speech that I shared with my friends.

We can celebrate anything. My wife, Shalini, is organizing this party as she wanted to celebrate my graduation.

I feel a little awkward and embarrassed to be honest, but I am supporting her just as she helped me throughout this journey. And I want to thank my friends for coming.

For sharing things that I have learned, I want to talk about the quality of honesty because I think about it a lot.

It is challenging to keep up with the changes; it is challenging when our desires fail; it becomes challenging to lose opportunities every day. Given all these, I still think that our time and the journey is enjoyable, if on any task we dedicate our time to, we do so with honesty. There is a lot of value in doing things with our bent of mind. Learning, understanding, and then doing things that we like to do. Failing is okay, and the number of attempts overtime does not matter. The result might be enjoyable, just as I realized that with my graduation.

Book Review: The Great Scientists in Bite-sized Chunks

The Great Scientists in Bite-sized ChunksThe Great Scientists in Bite-sized Chunks by Meredith MacArdle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A simple book gives an overview of many scientists and explains their achievements within a page. The book is divided into categories such as Astronomy, Physics, Biology, Environment, etc, and goes from the earliest changemaker in this field to the latest. It is very easy to see how each of the scientists stood on top of the research done by the previous one, sometimes in a different field. The personal characteristics and the challenges faced by these scientists in their respective eras were entertaining to read.

In terms of personal characteristics, Roentgen, after discovering X-rays, had refused to benefit financially from his discovery believing that it should be freely available to all.

I wanted to note down Rudolf Virchow's view, wherein he believes: "Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale".

Book Review: Deep Learning Illustrated

Deep Learning Illustrated: A Visual, Interactive Guide to Artificial Intelligence (Addison-Wesley Data & Analytics Series)Deep Learning Illustrated: A Visual, Interactive Guide to Artificial Intelligence by Jon Krohn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book helped me get into Deep Learning. This is a high-level overview that any software engineer will desire as we try to understand “this new world” (even as of 2019). The terms in new-world are used in multiple Medium articles, and pages and READMEs, and we wonder what any of these have to do with solving the problem, how does it fit in, etc. This book took a top-down approach to explain it all and help me made sense of every article that I read about Deep Learning, Convolutional Neural Networks, and Artificial Intelligence as of 2019. I like to thank the Authors for their invaluable and accessible contribution to this field of AI and Neural Networks.

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