Atlas Shrugged

I’ve been trying to complete Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged since last November. I’m still not done, although I am almost there. A couple more upcoming flights later, I should hopefully be done. Now coming to why I picked up the book, I had read The Fountainhead (I don’t remember if it was at someones suggestion) back when I was in my undergrad and in the first or second year. I loved the book – I cannot remember why, but I loved it. But I also felt it was a little heavy for my personality – I have generally been a happy go lucky kind of person – I don’t consciously like to be a deep thinker, although I find myself wandering into that territory from time to time without purposely intending to do so. So, while I have known of Atlas Shrugged’s existence since at least then (perhaps even earlier, and this was a good 9 years back!), I never felt like I wanted to read it. I kept myself happy and engaged reading science fiction – you know, nothing about values and what’s right and wrong and all that. 🙂 I also read fast paced action books – it’s mindless and exciting and I prefer it to action movies anyway. (those are even more dumbed down.) I have generally not gone back to reading drama from authors like Grisham, because I find that too slow. Anyway, I was trying to borrow audio books from a public library here in the US, when I stumbled upon Atlas Shrugged again. I tried listening to it while jogging/walking and found that I needed to pay too much attention to the book to be able to multi-task. I had finished an audiobook before this, so I don’t think it was so much an inability on my part to multi-task, but this book demanded more from me in terms of attentiveness and cognition. So I decided to borrow the actual book from the library so that I could focus on the one task of reading the book, and instantly found myself wishing that I had borrowed the e-book instead. This is a 1200+ page book, and isn’t light on the hands. So, then I started with the e-book, and was reading at a steady clip – 50+ pages a day at night before retiring to bed. By December, I was making steady progress, but couldn’t read the book at the pace I normally do – I know Rand uses too many adjectives 😀 (somebody should do an analysis of it. A quick web-search didn’t yield any results, although Atlas Shrugged is supposedly one of the longest books written.) and that slows you down a tad. I then carried my Nook e-reader to India and on my way back, managed to put a lot of crap into my back-pack and managed to crack the screen. I was stuck again, without knowing where I had left off on the book. It took me a few months before I bought a Kobo Aura to replace the broken Nook, and continued reading again. It’s mid-July right now, and if I keep at it for a little longer, I will close in on a year and this would have been the longest I have taken to complete a book. 🙂 (Actually, I think I did take longer to complete First Among Equals – but there I purposely took a break, because I didn’t initially find it captivating enough.)

I wanted to write my impressions of what I thought of the book, because it is a book that makes you sit down up and take notice and think. It also presents ideas that are polarizing – many will agree with it, while many presumably hate Rand for her philosophies. I have felt strongly about certain things all my life, and Rand’s ideas seem to be on similar lines, although, I had never given word to my thoughts so explicitly or clearly. I have also never been able to absolutely stick to one set of philosophies rigidly as Rand does – I have somehow believed that no one way of thinking can be right at all times. I’ll write more later, but I might already be forgetting how I felt reading some portions of the book – that’s the problem about taking too long to complete a book. I have also never discussed my belief systems openly in the past, for multiple reasons, but mainly because once I am set on my views, and it if is my private set of views that nobody needs to learn about and will affect nobody, then I didn’t see the reason in discussing it, and debating on it. I now feel, I’ll only learn more from rational arguments, so it will be interesting to actually read about differing points of views. I can say confidently that many people I know will fall in the camp of disagreeing with the philosophies of Rand, and as an extension mine as well, but we’ll get to that. 🙂

Microsoft Reader

Before people get started on Microsoft bashing and all that, (which you can do later. I won’t object) I would like to declare that I am not endorsing this product or anything. Just writing about it.

I came across a e-book that was in .lit format. I didn’t know of a .lit format or of the Microsoft Reader till then. I said to myself, that I might as well check out how good this ebook is considering it is only 200 odd KB. (Well, compare that with e-books in pdf format which occupy a few MB normally.)

To my surprise, the .lit format is pretty good. It is easy on the eyes and the page layout looks exactly like the book. What’s more if you had a mobile phone running Windows Mobile, you could read these books on your phone. Nice isn’t it ?

You should check it out for yourself.

Download this book and rename the file extension to .lit

Julius-Caesar

You may obtain the Microsoft reader from here,

Download

You can read about it, here.

Book Hunting

Now that the project is over and we have another 3 papers standing between us and the much valued B.E degree, it’s almost like an anticlimax. We are supposed to do the same thing we have been doing for 4 years now. The same drill. Read some crap, write some crap. Pray a lot. Clear the Semester papers.

I had to get this book for my semester, “Wireless Communication: Principles and Practices” Second Edition by Theodore S Rappaport.

Rappaport

Now, if you should have found this book on my website already, then you should also know that that book is the first edition. It is also a badly scanned copy. 😦 I actually got an e book printed out for my other text book and it came out real nice.

So, I finally decided it was about time I went and bought this book as my exam is sometime next week. 🙂 People at home were pretty shocked to hear that I was going to buy my books for exams that was starting next week. 🙂 Well, as long as I get them and clear the papers. Not like it matters really. It’s engi-sneering you see.

To my shock, couple of book stores I called didn’t have the book. One in T Nagar, one more in Adyar – Kamal Book Stores and yet another in Mylapore – Ravi Book House. The Ravi book house guy seemed to have an abridged edition. 🙂 (Something I must suggest to my classmates.) But then I said no thanks and the guy promised to get me the book by tomorrow. Not that I’d be needing it now.

I finally took Abhi with me to Mylapore and bought my book in Vijaya Book House. What a Rip-off. They sold me the book for the MRP!! That’s like day light robbery. I usually buy books for 25 % less.

So anyway, I bought the book, went to Ascendas,ate yet again at Mc Donalds with friends. (Only because it’s cheap and I don’t have much money after I was robbed by the book store guy) Came back home and am on line. So please learn from me. Never buy books when you know that you won’t be using them anyway. And never but books at MRP.

Done with Project Report

I finally finished the project report. Well, almost…. 🙂 There is still one chapter left, but then there is not much I can do about that particular chapter. So my work for the documentation is done. It comes to some 50 sides with absolutely no details whatsoever. I actually wanted to add details. Believe me, I did. 🙂 But then I don’t want to use my brain at 1:30 in the morning. (Even if I try to get it to do some thinking,  it says “Access Denied. Try Later.” No, it does not say “Bad Cookie”)

But, hey as one of my friends says “It’s a Project Report, not a Manual”. Exactly!! It’s not meant to be so detailed that our college can start it’s own project centre and use our project reports to “guide” future batches. Or, in other words, copy it word for word. I am sure that people will at-least make use of the modules if you give them details of your work.

I might redo some chapters later on,if they give me some more time. But then got to keep the number of pages in check. I have to hand in 4 copies of reports. (God knows for what!! So that, they can make Library access slips maybe.) And bear the bloody entire cost myself too.  😦 

Anyway, now to go complete the Project itself…. (What a system!!) 😀

Errata – Programming Windows with MFC (Second Edition) – Jeff Prosise

This has become something of a job for me. Finding faults in books that I read. It’s just that I have an eye for spotting mistakes and I cannot resist saying to myself “what the …” , when I see one. While it’s not a big deal to find these things with books published in India is not a big deal, I didn’t expect MS Press to have errata on their books.

I will write on the book later. It’s a cool book. And Jeff Prosise has done a pretty good job. We have this as an elective in college. That’s why I am doing it. (Actually I arranged for this to be chosen as the elective since I wanted to do it.)

 MFC

Here’s what I found on page 15 of the book:

“You’ll find a handy diagram of the MFC 6.0 class heirarchy inside the front cover of the book.”

 

So I turned to the front cover and guess what ? Yea, you guessd right. There was no “handy diagram” . Maybe it’s because I am doing it on my “Indian Edition” published by WB Publishers and Distributors. I have a feeling that the original version of the book does indeed have the “handy diagram”.(Microsoft Publishers)  If only the Indian publishers were more careful. They probably thought that the cover doesn’t count as a part of the books content.

Power System Operation and Control

 Power System

Next step. Wel, errrr, next exam I mean. Power system Operation and Control. PSOC as we lovingly ?? call it. A core EEE paper. The problem with this particular paper is, the Anna University panel that was supposed to decide the syllabus were either drunk or dozed off when deciding the syllabus or the person who was responsible for typing out the syllabus had a prolonged seizure or something. The effect -> sad syllabus, that makes you wonder what am I studying ?? Syllabus looks like someone made a collage with some selected words from the prescribed book that’s neither in any order nor has any meaning.

Ill tell you why exactly. I have 3 prescribed books. namely,

1) “Power System Stability and Control” by Prabha Kundur

2) “Electric Energy Systems Theory” by Olle.L.Elgerd

3) “Power Generation, Operation and Control” by Wood & Wollenberg

                          While all of the above books are great in their own merit, Power Systems is a vast subject and it’s probably even supposed to be for masters courses. I especially like Wood, by Wiley Press. Cool Book!! Almost all Wiley books I have used rock.

And all these put together and the reference books as well, don’t have the complete syllabus!! Wow!! And by the time you find the syllabus in the book, you will faint. And what’s the point anyway. I don’t even know what they want us to learn, and even if I did, it is spread across so many books in precious little, that my time is anyway wasted in turning pages. Kudos AU!! Way to go!!