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Foundation And Earth -Isaac Asimov – Review

The decision has been made  but Trev ..oops Trevize  is still not sure why he chose what he chose. Why did he chose Galaxia ?He is searching for an answer and for that he needs to find earth , not sure why but it seems right.

Foundation and Earth
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As a stand alone novel this is brilliant , great twists and turns, science and action . This book alone can be made into a three part movie if required .

But going by the standards of other Foundation Series novels , I am a bit disappointed. Way too much time spent on altercations between Bliss and Trevize and an attempt to bring in some sexual scenes which seemed completely unnecessary . But again this was written years after the foundation series, it was possibly expected that the writing style could change.

The book has it’s edgy moments and connects well with the whole foundation series while also hinting it’s connection with the Robots series. A great deal of attention paid on exposing the [contextly_sidebar id=”WuR6I0Q42YvIc4zJ6eHf7g7XuMs99HHq”]weaker side of even Gia , showing that it too is vulnerable and there can be forces much beyond it, making it look much more humane that shown in Foundation’s Edge

 

All in All Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov is still a great book to read.

 

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Foundation’s Edge – A brilliant followup to the Foundation Series- book review

Very recently I had written a post about the foundation series by Issac Asimov and how it was one of the most important works of science fiction .

But Asimov did not end the foundation series with the trilogy . After the immense success of the trilogy , persuaded by his publishers , Asimov wrote 4 more books. One prelude ,talking about Hari seldon and 3 after the second foundation.

Seeing me go all gaga over the series, My dear wife decided to give me a perfect birthday gift . She gifted me all the foundation series books she could get hold of (and some more). Now my collection has all books except Foundation and Earth(Last copy in stock of which I was able to grab on amazon recently)Foundation's Edge Book cover

This is a review of Foundation’s Edge , the book that follows the original triology’s last book .

Generally whenever authors revisit their original trilogies and try to juice out whatever is left of the story , they lose the essence , the style , the soul of the plot.But , in case of Asimov, I am happy to report that it is not the case.

Everything from the gripping plot , the twists and turns ,and the doses of science is perfect. It does not seem that this book was written separately from the original series.

Plot Highlights (Mild Spoiler Alert):

//Spoiler Alert Start//

This books picks up where the last foundation series book left in which the Foundation is made to believe that Second foundation is wiped out . Many years have passed and another Seldon crises is averted. So much so that it seems the Seldon Plan is almost 100% on track. It is too good to be true ,and whenever something is too good to be true , you suspect 🙂 . That is exactly what some of the Foundationer’s do. This is their attempt to find the Second Foundation Again.

One of the best part of the story is on how Second foundation is finally shown in a more humane light. How in-spite of their mental strengths they are not immune to the basic human emotions such as jealousy , greed , ambition and how even the best of them can fall for them. The structure and expansion of the Second Foundation is also detailed out .

//Spoiler Alert Ends//

Nevertheless there are some pretty big plot twists and surprises which I cannot reveal without revealing the whole story .

Should you Buy this Book? HELL YEAH . There is no good reason to miss this if you have read the foundation trilogy.

I am sure my Wife regrets her decision of giving me these books since I have spent almost every free second I had in past few days , hooked up to the book.I was also part of a Clan on an iPad game called Clash of Clans , I got so engrossed that I did not even log in and was kicked out of the clan 😛 . Books Win over online Games :).

Now Awaiting the delivery of the next part of the series  Foundation and Earth

   

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Dan Brown’s Inferno: The The Book Book is is Repetitive Repetitive : Book Review

Finally finished the seemingly huge book Inferno by Dan Brown, and can I say, I am a tad disappointed.

I have only read one book by Dan brown before Angels and Demons
and thoroughly enjoyed it ,hence had very high hopes from Inferno.

Inferno is the same old stuff, A professor of symbols , a villain , some sci fi and globe trotting . All the symbols are based on a single work of Dante.

I am less disappointed with the plot than the narrative. Every thing starts with Robert Langdon finding a clue in Dante’s work , going to a particular fancy location(many times wrong) and telling himself how he has been here before and marveling at how he marveled the architecture with minute details and how this time would be different . It seems so repetitive that I felt the author had a fixed template to just fill in.

The action packed scenes just break when you try to fit in too much details about the surroundings.

Is it a bad book?

Not really , I did finish it ( I leave a lot of books midway if I do not like) . It has all the elements of a good weekend read, the pace is gripping but I had higher hopes from Dan Brown. I felt a lot of stuff could have been easily removed without affecting the impact or quality of narrative . Overall, I am sure this one should be getting made into a film .

 

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Finishing a book is like saying Goodbye to an old friend: Book Review Foundation

Read this line somewhere “Finishing a book is like saying goodbye to an old friend” , it couldn’t have been more apt. This exactly what I felt when I finished the foundation trilogy by Issac Asimov .

I started with the Foundation ,imagining the galactic empire .I was there with Hari Seldon when he spoke about the Seldon plan and the concepts of Psychohistory. When he setup the two foundations at the opposite ends of the galaxy

Then I moved on to dreaming about the battles between foundation and the empire , some battles which went on for years, some that were over without any bloodshed . I was there when the Mule invaded, when the foundation fell and rose.

And finally I was there when Second foundation played the ultimate game to get the seldon plan back on track.

Almost every night I forced myself to leave the book , sometime because it was too late and sometimes because my mind was too slow to follow the complex scenery being built. Scenarios that seemed so complicated and yet somehow in the end were so simple and too apt. I was amazed at how deeply Asimov thought about it, did he really see the future? I read and re-read many chapters because somehow, i was not convinced, somehow every time I read, i found something new. For about past 1 month, I was a part of the novel, a character ,a Citizen of the foundation. I was a preacher, a scientist , a trader , a diplomat , a strategist . And now it is over. Wished the trilogy never ended. Perhaps the best series I ever read. Issac Asimov–I Bow to you The books in the trilogy:

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Book review: The Edge: Become More Than What You Are

Recently I got a chance to review a book by my friend Nishit Lal:

“The Edge: Become More Than What You Are”

So what exactly is this book about?:

In one line: The book talks about how you can change your behaviour and eventually your fate by changing the way you think

The book talks about various concepts and tricks that can be used to change your outlook towards life . It also talks about how simple things such as resistance to change can affect your view point and lead to stress and even depression.

The hits

As per me the book scores high on simplicity of message and language. The author does not try to evoke awe by filling up pages after pages with difficult non comprehensible vocabulary , instead relies on a more conversational tone. The book is more like a dialogue and concepts covered are simple ,practical yet powerful.

I liked the chapter on mental states the most , where the author tries to reason that many a times our issues are because of the wrong mental state we are in and how important it is to be in the right state.

The Miss

Some areas where I felt the book lacked was verbosity and overlapping concepts. For eg if one example is sufficient to explain a concept , the author tries to reinforce it by giving too many examples. This possible can work when speaking to someone face to face but may tire a reader.

Also I felt that some of the concepts were very much interlinked and could have been merged or shortened. I liked the choice of topics but was a left a little unsatisfied by the length. The book can be condensed to a collection of short and powerful essays.

Also, though I am not sure of it falls under misses, but some form of spiritual angle(not religious) , where the change is more at subconscious level rather than conscious would have been welcomed.

Should you Buy?

Yes : If you want an easy to read book that brings forth simple yet powerful concepts that can help you.

No: If you are looking for some inspiring book that you believe can change your life , or you have read too many self help books and have developed a  disdain for them .

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Tata Indica Vista D90 review – First Look

Vista D90 Volume controls on the steering
Vista D90 Volume controls on the steering

I recently got a chance to drive around Indica Vista D90 before it’s official launch for three days and have been tweeting and updating about my real-time live experience with the car as it happened.

Here is a gist of my and my friend’s (who accompanied me for various test drives)  experiences.

First Look:

Not drastic change in the exteriors except the contrast roof, which I simply loved,  and the headlights. the interiors as expected were very spacious and well done.

Best was the volume controls over the steering wheel. Can be real handy when you are driving and listening to music

Positives

Power: With 90 ps engine this car definitely packs some punch. The acceleration is superb.

Turning Radius: Can I say I am in love with it’s absolutely fantastic turning radius. Very easy handling and superb for the Indian roads

Steering Wheel controls: Volume controls and phone controls are ON the steering wheel , saving the irritation and inconvenience to the driver.If you are one of the ultra conservative drivers like me, you either would depend on the person sitting next to you  to change volume or simply avoid it as much as possible. With controls on your steering wheel, it makes life much easier

Power Windows: they have included standard power windows and standard one touch power window for the driver.

ORVM: Basically it means you can adjust your side mirrors from inside. Loved this feature as you do not have to open windows in scorching heat to adjust the side mirrors, especially the passenger side

Lumber Support and Height Adjustment: Yeaaa, finally. The drivers seat’s height can be adjusted to suite the driver and yes they do have lumbar support for your back.What is Lumbar Support?  In simple words, the seat adjusts slightly to give support o your lower back. It is like keeping a small pillow for your lower back. Can prevent a sore back on long drives. Wish more cars have this simple but essential feature

Space:

It can officially seat 5 people  and has enough space for all. the leg space is good . In is a fairly spacious car with a large boot space. One issue though is that there is no headrest for the third person on the back seat. Would have loved it

 

Now the Improvement stuff

Cabin Insulation: The car I got was noisier that I expected. Possibly the insulation was not that great. One thing to note is that generally diesel cars are noisier than petrol

Shockers: I am not sure what they did to the shockers but the previous Vista was smoother. It was not as smooth as expected on

Indica D90
Indica D90

bumpy roads

Initial Pickup: Let me put that in simplest words ,acceleration from 30kph-60kph awesome but acceleration from 0-30 a little dismal.This may not be a problem generally

 

With a price of approx INR 7 lakh on road, I would say this car is definitely a value for money and should be in your consideration set while deciding to buy it

 

 

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Product review: WeChat app (Chat app for smartphones)

Recently got a chance to review a chat app called wechat

twechat app reviewThis is a smartphone app, works on Android phones seamlessly ( I tested). They also support IOS symbian and windows and are coming up with blackberry though i suspect how many blackberry users will actually use it.

First thing that will strike you about his app is the beauty , its UI is simply great. good job guys

Think of this as an alternative to whatsapp(i am an addict), have group chats of up to 40 people, add people who have wechat account plus find people

As per the specs

  • Provides multimedia communication flexibility and convenience with text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, Video/Audio calling, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange

One thing i liked was the range of emoticons and the ability to change chat backgrounds. Sounds trivial but gives it a personal touch.

Now lets talk about social features

  • You can find people near you using wechat, this is a great tool if you are in a campus. It can act like an internal messenger

But the Con with this feature is that you can potentially set your own location and hence never be sure if the person on the other side is actually near you?

I tried this feature but there were too many Chinese/Japanese people around me. I am not sure if Chinese are that many in Hyderabad

One suggestion to developers: Have some sort of  verification mechanism, via GPS maybe. there must be an option to chose only verified accounts

  • Shake: shake your phone and get connected to random person

Ok this can be a little weird but can also be fun. One warning: when it connects to a new person it gives a horrible loud beep. I had my volume set to 0 still it beeped, i guess it overrides phone volume. I was in a class and it was little embarrassing

Another suggestion: Hate the default beep, it’s too loud and too shrill. Have a non intrusive sound

Games: Yaay, we have games. Always love any game that can be played on phone with a friend . they have a rock paper scissor game and more are being planned. Waiting to see more simple fun games

Plus they also have on demand backup, did not try it but would be useful.

Over all I liked this app a lot except for the features listed above. For me personally the biggest utility of wechat would be Group Chat. It is essential for me but again will depend on how many people adopt it

Some more features I would like:

Find FB friends

Import contact lists from other places, eg Google voice

 

Disclaimer: This is a paid review under the Blogadda program

http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/04/12/indian-blogs-sponsored-reviews-blogger

http://www.wechatapp.com/en/

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