Inner Peace

Inner Peace
The key to true happiness
The keeper of my thoughts
She is a companion, immortal.

As she sweeps her waves
Hitting the shores, splashing on me,
Patiently listening to my thoughts
Reflecting my voice & calming my mind.

Soothing through her touch
Pushing sand under my feet
Makes me aware of my own air
Inhale & Exhale

Through clear waters, whispers to me
What she holds in her universe
The rocky & the soft silky
The warmth & the shiver

Showing the way
In the vastness of the ocean
To find a calmed mind
& Inner Peace

Mahalo Hawaii !!
You are indeed a beauty to behold!
 

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How I revived my love for reading books

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Back in late 90’s and early 2000’s, smartphones and computers were less common or nonexistent. On a boring Sunday, it was common for teenagers to pick up a book and hunker down to some reading. In the last couple of years, there has been a steady decline in reading patterns among kids and young adults in the medium of books. An article in Forbes shows that although people are seeing words all the time – Google, Facebook, Twitter etc., they are finding it harder to pick up a physical book and read.

Two years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Graduating with Master’s, I had a few weeks before I would start my new job and had lots of time to idle. I had lost touch with reading books not related to my studies. So I decided to revisit my childhood hobby and picked up my first book from the public library. As I was taking up this hobby after a long time, I found my concentration waning after a few pages. I had to take a number of steps to increase my concentration span and keep my interest in books.  Here are some things I did to revive my love for books:

#1 Start with familiar books

I realized that it was important to choose my books carefully, in order to renew my interest in reading. I started with reading books from authors that I was familiar with, like Agatha Christie, Robert Ludlum etc. When I got comfortable with their style of writing, I started enjoying reading all the more.  Gradually I was able to experiment with new authors and move back and forth between fiction and non-fictions.

#2 Using Book Recommendation engines

A chance conversation with an old friend introduced me to the book recommendation, social website – Goodreads. This website gave personalized recommendation based on books I had read and my favorite genres. I found this website extremely useful in finding what books my friends and peers were reading, and also keep track of what I had read in the last couple of weeks. Goodreads also runs a year-long reading challenge that motivates readers to keep a track of their read books. Here is a wonderful blog outlining how one can benefit with this challenge .

#3 Keep track of Book lists

There are plenty of book lists available that you can take a look and use for inspiration in finding your next read. One of the common book lists which was voted for by writers from around the world is the Top 100 books of all time. Surely, 100 books are enough to keep anyone busy for a considerable amount of time.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft also maintains a wonderful blog of his books that he has read and reviewed. Some of my favorite books that I read from his list include the two books series – The Rosie Project, Hyperbole and a Half and How Not be Wrong.

Also one of my role-models, Andrew Ng is an avid reader. He recently published a list of books that he recommends. I would definitely vote for this one from the list.

#4 Frequenting the neighborhood public library

Books can be expensive in US and one tends to be more cautious in buying books when we are not sure if we would like its contents or not. So I prefer to get my books from the public library, so even if I don’t like the book, I can just return it without any hassle. Most public libraries have a centralized system too. So if they don’t have the book you wish to read, they can order it from a neighboring library for you. Reading in the library also gives a good reading environment and peaceful atmosphere. I found to easier to read a book while being surrounded with similar like-minded people.

Hope this was a useful primer in ways to find books to read and improve your reading skills. Would love to hear from folks on your thoughts, challenges you faced in getting that right book to read etc.

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Trip to Computer History Museum, California

The Computer History Museum (CHM) is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and contains hallmark artifacts which have transformed the way people around the globe live, work and play. This museum explores the history of computing, its ongoing impact and its future technological, social and economic implications, through unparalleled collections and exhibits.

As a technology geek, when an event at my company was going to be hosted at CHM, I naturally jumped at the opportunity and registered for it. After the event got over, I decided to tour the museum with my colleague.

We started off the collections tour with the calculating devices, compasses, slider rule, logarithmic tables and early calculators. Using the Multi-media exhibits, we were able to understand how the slider rule and the abacus were used.

slide rule
Understanding the Slide Rule

The tour continues with the Birth of the computers, Memory & Storage devices, Supercomputers and then ventures into AI & Robotics, PC, and Mobile Computing and to the latest Web technologies.

While touring the museum, you can’t ignore the many contributions of IBM to the computer age. Some of the legendary products of IBM are put on for display. The Hollerith Machine helped US government complete the 1890 census in record time – and in the process launched the use of punched cards in business. The IBM/USAF SAGE Air Defense system in 1961 developed by IBM was a real-time computing system and at one time involved some 60% of the world’s programmers. Also we saw the IBM RAMAC Disk drive which was the world’s first disk drive invented by IBM in 1953 in order to process data faster than using punched cards. This stack of 50 disks held about 3.8 MB of data.

Ramac
IBM RAMAC Disk Drive on the left side of the picture

In this museum, we also come to know of contributions of women in the history of computing, from business to leadership, from engineering to marketing the products. These pioneers influenced the design and programming of some of the first computers and languages, and laid the groundwork for women’s expanding involvement in technology and business. We took a look at the exhibit of Grace Hopper where her work in early computers and development of advanced software programs was showcased. She was also involved in the development of the COBOL programming language. Thereafter, we came across an interesting invention by Honeywell called Kitchen Computer which was a system for housewives to store their recipes.

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Honeywell’s Kitchen Computer

There were many other artifacts like the Apple-1, Atari Ping prototype, Shakey the Robot etc. One of the notable presentations in Computer Graphics was the revolution that came when a Bit became a Pixel. It was very informative and showed the journey from Pong games to the latest computer-animated films.

Overall, I loved the presentation of the collections, combined with backstories and media stations with vintage footage, providing a rich and fascinating account of the evolution of computing. Without these countless innovations, discoveries and risks, perhaps I would not be sharing my enjoyable visit on this blog! Indeed, CHM is a good place to spend an enjoyable afternoon learning about the people who have made this huge impact on our society.

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3 Strategies that can help Women thrive in Tech

While I am an early-career woman, I have attended a few tech talks, conferences, and some other technical events. These events have been mostly targeted around the dominating topics in numerous disciplines, lightning talks by innovators or sometimes presentations and demos showing results of their new research work.  On many occasions I have been dismayed about the number of women willingly participating or attending these events, where they have so much to learn and grasp. Even fewer women in these events play the role of speaker and lead these events.

Why is it important for women to contribute or partake in these tech events?

Tech events are a great source of learning for women who desire to develop their career and are looking for inspiration, ideas and connections. These events give an opportunity to women to voice themselves, their work and gain feedback. They get a chance to be passionate about new trends and also inspire more people to get involved in their conversation.

Here are 3 takeaways to share with women in tech:

1. Fear is a Four Letter Word

Public speaking can be terrifying but something women can master with a little (or maybe a lot!) of effort. Even if you are at the start of you career and infrequently called on to present, it is worth tackling the fear now. If you are able to confidently and articulately represent yourself, your work or your company, as well as do Q&A with others, you will definitely be noticed and it might help in your career. I know someone who was an engineering intern at a startup. Even though she had only a year of work experience, she was of high energy and very confident. When a communications manager asked for a volunteer to host an upcoming panel discussion, she jumped at the chance. After the successful hosting, she was appreciated for her skills and enthusiasm, and thus came in the public eye. People who succeed are those who are not just quaking on the inside, but also projecting a level of confidence with their opinions and thoughts, thus inspiring trust. So learn to speak up and say it out loud!

2. Build Networks within your Industry

Joining a group or groups within your specific discipline helps you build critical networks. Discipline-specific groups are filled with senior people as well as peers who are likely have likely encountered your problems and can offer targeted help, yet because you do not directly work with them, you are free to be candid. Encourage each other to speak at conferences or tech events, help prepare them for talks and be in the front row cheering each other on.

Building networks within your industry also helps in getting a mentor who can be a long-lasting resource of information for you. Mentors can help see your potential and take an interest in our long-term advancement. Good mentors can help overcome the “initial stage fright” and push you into voicing your thoughts and work.

 “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

3. Be Passionate and Stay Curious

People who reach top positions are usually curious and always eager to learn. Curious not just in your own role but also from peers in different disciplines and functions. It is important to keep a growing mindset so you have a thirst for knowledge. Because people are motivated to learn more, they tend to embrace challenges, persist when they encounter obstacles, see effort as a path to mastery, learn from criticism and be inspired by the success of others. By participating in talks, tech events, and conferences; one increases their learning and gain confidence on their knowledge.

Curiosity helps women stay current in the latest technology, research and trends through tech events. This helps to carry conversation during networking events and build connections with people.

Curiosity also helps in listening to other people’s work and thinking outside the box. Sometimes what other people use to solve their problem can help you in exploring new ways on your own work. To have curiosity in your own work can be a powerful tool. If you can find different ways to stay hungry for knowledge and continue to be a lifelong learner, you will find your career to be much more rewarding.

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Bonus:

A few books that you may find helpful to read: