Category Archives: Books

[Book Review] Why Do Buses Come in Threes?

If you look at my Good Reads profile, you will know that I have read lot of fiction lately. I wanted to take a break and so I picked up Why Do Buses Come in Three: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life by Robert Eastaway and Jeremy Wyndham.

I came to know about this book through Good Read’s recommendation and added it to my to-read list probably a year ago. When I wanted to read a non-fiction book for a break I found it in my to-read list and immediately picked it up.

I found that alternating between fiction and non-fiction books is a nice way to read books from different genre and I have followed it up for the last couple of years.

why-do-buses-come-in-threes

Synopsis

Why Do Buses Come in Three: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life tries to explain how Maths governs most of the things that we experience in everyday life. It answers some of the questions that we have everyday like why do buses come in threes (mentioned in the title), or why showers are always either too hot or too cold or why do clever people get things wrong etc using Maths.

In addition to answering these questions, the book also mentions the theory behind answers in simple terms.

Things I learned from this book

The major thing that I learned from this book is that some times common sense (or intuition) may not be correct. It is either your brain trying to do an approximation (and failing miserably) or some clever marketer who is using statistics to lie to you 🙂

Some of the famous ones include

  • Why do clever people get things wrong?
  • Bad luck and number 13
  • Why am I always in traffic jams?
  • How can a TV program claim that it was watched by x number of people?

The other thing that I learned from this book are a couple of magic tricks based on Maths that were mentioned in the last chapter.

Things I liked in this book

The main thing that I liked about this book is that it took most of the common day problems that pretty much everyone would have witnessed and then answered it using Maths. I found it very appealing since you can easily understand as you would have already experienced them.

The other thing that I liked about this book is that the answers were explained in very simple language which means you can understand most of them with very limited knowledge of Maths.

Also I liked the last chapter that had some magic tricks based on Maths that you can try with your friends 🙂

My Rating

My rating for this book is 4 out of 5.

The only reason that I didn’t give 5 stars was because some of the theory that were mentioned in the book were not explained properly. I agree that this book was not about the theory, but I felt that some of it could either have been removed or explained a bit more.

My next book

After finishing the current set of fiction books that I am reading, I am planning to read No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. The author is the reporter broke who broke the story about NSA surveillance scandal based on the documents released by Edward Snowden and in this book the author explores the extraordinary co-operation between private industry and the NSA, and the far-reaching consequences of the government’s surveillance program.

Sounds like an interesting read 🙂

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

[Book Review] Ponniyin Selvan

As I mentioned in my earlier book review post where I reviewed Stephen Hawking’s A brief History of Time, I started reading Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki and got completely engross in it. It is the main reason you didn’t see any blog post from me in the last few weeks, even though I took a resolution to write at least one blog post a week.

Continue reading »

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

[Book Review] A Brief History of Time

After starting the year with Isaac Asimov’s Autobiography, I read a science book – A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking next to keep up with my goal to read books from different genre this year.

I tried to read this book a couple of years ago, but stopped in between and didn’t complete. I forgot the real reason why I stopped and so I took it up again this time and read it from the beginning.

Compared to my last book, this was not a page turner, but I was learning lot of new things which motivated me to finish the book. It took me about a week to complete this book.

Anyways, as I promised at the beginning of the year, I will try to write reviews for most of the books that I read and here is my review of the second book that I read this year – A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Continue reading »

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

[Book Review] It’s Been a Good Life

I started my reading for this year with the Autobiography of my favorite author – Isaac Asimov.

Pretty much all the books of Asimov that I have read so far are addictive page-turners and this one is no exception. I read this one in about 4 days, but could have finished it in just 2 days, if I was not busy with other things 😉

Anyways, as I promised at the beginning of the year, I will try to write reviews for most of the books that I read and here is my review of the first book that I read this year – It’s Been a Good Life by Isaac Asimov.

Continue reading »

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Isaac Asimov Foundation Series reading order

Last week, I asked for recommendations for some SciFi/Fantasy books and the response was enormous. Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations. After some careful analysis, I finally decided to read Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.

I was reading the wikipedia article of Foundation Series and then realized that the books were not published in chronological order, which bought the question – In which order should I read the books? In chronological order or published order.

After some research I came to know that Isaac Asimov himself suggested (In the Author’s note at the beginning of Prelude to Foundation) to read the books in chronological order. So I decided to follow his advice 🙂

I am currently reading them in the following order. The year in the bracket is the year of publication.

  • I, Robot (1950)
  • The Caves of Steel (1954)
  • The Naked Sun (1957)
  • The Robots of Dawn (1983)
  • Robots and Empire (1985)
  • The Currents of Space (1952)
  • The Stars, Like Dust (1951)
  • Pebble in the Sky (1950)
  • Prelude to Foundation (1988)
  • Forward the Foundation (1992)
  • Foundation (1951)
  • Foundation and Empire (1952)
  • Second Foundation (1953)
  • Foundation’s Edge (1982)
  • Foundation and Earth (1986)

I have already finished the first two and I am currently reading “The Naked Sun”. So far it’s been really excellent and once again thanks everyone for the recommendation.

Posted in Books | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Seeking recommendation for some Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Fiction books

It’s been quite sometime since I read anything substantial and so I am planning to take a “reading break” and want to dedicate my free time in the next couple of months for reading.

Since I have a couple of months for this, I don’t want to read short stories or a single novel. Instead, I want to read a series so that once the characters are introduced, they will continue to be present for most of the series. This will be an important factor for me, since it motivates me to complete all the books in the series. This is one of the reason, why I was able to complete the entire Sherlock Holmes series in less than a week 🙂

I am not very particular about the genre very much, but I would prefer either Fantasy or Sci-Fi. The series that immediately came to my mind were Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I posted about it today morning in Twitter and asked for recommendations.

Within a few minutes, I got the following good suggestions and now I have the tough job of picking it up from here 😉

I have not made up my mind yet, but I am leaning towards Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.

Meanwhile, if you guys have any more suggestions, kindly do let me know.

Update: I have decided to take up Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov first. Thanks everyone for the recommendations.

Posted in Books | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sherlock Holmes and my childhood

Sherlock Holmes was one of my childhood hero (together with He Man 😉 ) and was the main reason why I started reading books, which I am still continuing.

At school, we had a chapter about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in English Prose at 6th Std(grade) and a couple of short stories of Sherlock Holmes were include in non-detail. This influenced me a lot and I got interested in mystery fiction.

There were instance where I started to think how Sherlock Holmes would have solved the mystery, but I still couldn’t find out who stole my rubber or pencil sharpener 😉

The more I read about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes the more interested I got. But the library at school didn’t had many books and I was not able to read the full collection.

Years passed and one day I was browsing books at Crossword and came across the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes (4 novels and 46 short stories) and I immediately bought it. I think I finished the entire volume (more than 2000 pages) in less than a week 🙂

It was one of the best books I have read in my entire life. If you are interested in mystery and haven’t read Sherlock Holmes before, I highly recommend you to read it and I am sure you will like it.

Now, I am back to my bookshelf to find the book. Planning to read the entire collection one more time 🙂

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

WordPress Plugin Development: Beginner’s guide – Review

Sometime back, people from Packt Publishing contacted me asking whether I will be interested in reviewing their latest WordPress related book titled WordPress Plugin Development: Beginner’s guide by Vladimir Prelovac. Since the book suited my interests and also the topics which I write in this blog, I accepted, but got busy with RoloPress. Finally, I found some free time to read the book and here is my review. 🙂

Disclaimer: I just received a free copy of the ebook (in pdf format) for review. There was no condition that the review should be only positive and also I didn’t receive any payment for the review. So I am just writing what I felt about the book after reading it.packtpub-wordpress-plugins

About the author

As most of you would know the book’s author Vladimir Prelovac is a popular WordPress Plugin author who does WordPress development as a full time job. He is the “Been there, done that” kind of guy for anything related to WordPress (themes, Plugins, security etc.) and we can be sure that he knows what he is talking about (which is evident from the book).

About the book

The book consists of 8 chapters in which the author dissects and discusses about 6 of his Plugins explaining the code and concept behind them. The first chapter is a general introduction and in the eighth chapter he discusses about post-development activities for the Plugin like generating pot files, generating readme files, deploying etc.

Each Plugin (chapter) deals with different aspect of WordPress Plugin development like social bookmarking, using JavaScript and AJAX in Plugin, Widgets, shortcode API, custom templates, extending TinyMCE, custom post types etc.

Positives about the book

As Ozh says, this book is great for beginners who want to get their hands dirty and quickly learn the concepts behind WordPress Plugins. It can quickly put you on track and from where you can easily be on your own. (Even I wish I had something like this 4-5 years ago when I initially started with WordPress Plugin development)

In each chapter, the author gives a brief explanation about the Plugin and then gradually converts it into code. After each code listing he explains what the code does and how it does it, which would be very useful to grasp the fundamental concepts behind WordPress Plugin development.

Things which are not too good (for me)

The major thing which caught my attention was that, the book is slightly outdated in certain places. It doesn’t mean that the code in the book will not work, but what I mean is that there are certain new and better ways to do things. For instance, using old methods to parse RSS Feeds, having hardcoded paths to wp-content and wp-config.php file etc. Even some of the screenshots are pre 2.7

I wouldn’t blame the author or the publisher for it, because this is bound to happen to any technical book. But I would be really happy if there could be a v2.0 of the book with these changes. 🙂

The other thing which I didn’t like about the book is that most of the code samples doesn’t follow WordPress coding standard (especially camelcase function names). This is just a matter of personal preference but I would have loved if the author followed the recommended coding standards, since this book is meant for beginners.

Final Verdict

So my final verdict is that if you are a beginner or Intermediate WordPress Plugin developer then this book is a must have. It will easily get you on track.

Links

Posted in Books, WordPress | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Recommend some books to buy

Even though I was not an avid reader in my childhood, I started cultivating the habit of reading books after college and one of my resolutions for 2008 is to read at least a book every month. I have successfully kept up the resolution for the past two and a half months. 🙂

I recently received a gift certificate for Rs 2000 from my office, which I can use to buy either books or cds. I am planning to spend Rs 2000 equally among technical, fiction and non-fiction books and I need your recommendation. For technical, I am planning to buy some books related to Ruby but I don’t have much idea for fiction and non-fiction books. So suggest me some books which I can buy.

Posted in Books | Tagged | 4 Comments