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Friday, June 22

Amazon : Search Inside

Recently I have been buying some books from Amazon and I think the Search Inside feature totally rocks ! Especially in a place like Amazon that shows related and similar books (which is again quite accurate), it is easy to get confused while choosing. Moreover often the titles of the books and reader reviews help little in the process of choosing since every decent enough book will have somebody giving it raving review and somebody else calling it names.

With search inside feature however, you can actually see the contents and read few pages. This makes the whole process much more personalize and much closer to the experience of buying books from an actual store. I believe that those not providing this facility for their books, stand to loose in the long run.

Tuesday, June 19

Running

Finally after years of contemplation and after some false starts, I made another start towards running yesterday. This time I hope I will go some distance (pun intended).

Just like flying which I know is close to impossible, I have long dreamed about running. Running not to narrow my waistline, not the endless rounds in a closed stadium or even sprinting. I have always wanted to run outdoors and run long distances. To go places while running. If it sounds like inspired by Forrest Gump, it probably is.

In fact just like almost everything in that movie, that running was also a allusion to something in contemporary USA. Running is a obsession in USA. People run here everywhere, every time and every weather. I have seen people running at mid night in the middle of the road because the sidewalk was chocked with snow ! And I have seen males, females, teenagers, old people, very old people all of them run. And I love seeing it. Those sweating bodies, those long and steady strides, those agonized faces ! But as someone said,

" To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind. "

Jerome Drayton

I will probably never run a marathon but hopefully someday I will be able to run enough distance to feel that agony.

Coming to think of it, running seems so much like doing Number Theory, another one of my long held desires ! Both are very simple to get into, you require no special equipment and only thing required to get started is your willingness. However this simplicity belies the hardness of doing anything substantial in them. Runners hit the wall and Number Theorists run in to things like Fermat's Last Theorem. However the sweet pain of getting stuck in a problem and of pushing yourself beyond your limits is what creates the craving for them.

I think following quote by Jesse Owens captures the feeling perfectly.

"I always loved running...it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."

Jesse Owens

Thursday, June 14

Bill Gates gets it right !

I never hoped he will ! In fact when I saw the forwarded mail in my inbox, I felt slightly irritated. What with all the commencement speeches being forwarded. I am sure at this rate and given the consumerist society we live in, we will be able to buy a collector's edition of these speeches very soon !

So I reluctantly opened it up and expected the now old formula speech of most-dramatic-events-of-my-life, the recent speech by Narayan Murthy at NYU being one very bad example (but people seem to be getting inspired by that also !!). As I have mentioned before on this blog, my disillusionment with such speeches started after I saw the video of Steve Jobs delivering his wonderfully written piece at Stanford. His presentation had no life, no soul and for me, no inspiration either.

But to my pleasant surprise, Bill got this one right ! Looking back, Steve Jobs and Narayan Murthy sound like 2 narcissists now. And this when I had much less sympathies for Bill Gates than for Narayan Murthy to start with. Anyway, I guess I will let you read the speech for yourself and decide. To me he said all the right things, things that we need to realize most in today's world, things that you me and all others need to give a good piece of our minds.

Here is the text of the speech.

Friday, June 1

मन

इस नयी ज़मीं पर मैने था जब धरा कदम,
"मन लगता तो है?" पूछा जाता था हरदम।
शुभचिंतक सब चिंता करते थे घड़ी घड़ी,
यारों के मुंह से थी गुड लक की लगी झड़ी।


अन्जान डोर एक थाम चल पड़े थे हम भी,
मन मे थी थोड़ी खुशी और थोड़े गम भी।
जिस ओर उठायी नज़र, मिला कुछ नया नया,
उठ पायें कदम उससे पहले मन गया गया।


नित नये नये आकर्षण मन को बहलाते,
हम उत्साहित हो हो प्रियजन को बतलाते।
उत्साह भरे स्वर ने उनको आभास दिया,
हो गया अभागा वैल सैटल, अहसास दिया।


तब से अब तक कुछ एक बरस है बीत चुका,
और पात्र नयेपन की मदिरा का रीत चुका।
अब मन यथार्थ की भूमि पर नंगे पांव,
ढूंढा करता स्मृतियों की ठंडी छांव।


जिन प्रश्नों पर हम गये बरस थे झल्लाते,
अब उनके उत्तर ख़ुद को ही हैं दोहराते।
"मन लगता तो है?" पूछा जाता था हरदम,
मन लौट गया है देश, यहां तन्हा हैं हम।