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In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Steven Levy, 2011)

I read this book recently. Going into this, I knew I wouldn't learn many new/surprising things. After all, I have been following Google from outside since 1999. After I saw Google in action, I had switched to it immediately. I was quick to get on board with Gmail as well, and followed many Google services over the years. I have seen things.As I anticipated, I didn't find many surprises in the book. But I liked the book nevertheless. It is always nice to read stuff from Steven Levy. Steven Levy is one of my favorite authors. I have a dog-eared copy of the Hackers book he wrote. It was excellent writing. So much research went into each character in the book, and he made each character come alive. He also weaved the narration together artistically around a handful of themes and related new information/events back to these themes. He had put a lot of his interpretation and insight in to the facts/narrative, and I really enjoyed that. This book is not as colorful. It has a raw blan…

The Impact of RDMA on Agreement

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This paper appeared in PODC 2019. PODC stands for Principles of Distributed Computing. It is a theoretical distributed systems conference, first established in 1982. I had published my first ever paper, "Resettable Vector Clocks" at PODC 2000. The conference was held in Portland and, as a fresh graduate student attending it, I was awe-struck at the conference. On day one of the conference, I saw Leslie Lamport interrupting a talk asking a question and protesting loudly. Then Keith Marzullo in the audience (I think) pointed out the misunderstanding and Leslie Lamport said "Nevermind" and calmed down. I also noticed that the person sitting next to me was, oh my God, Nancy Lynch! I couldn't believe my luck seeing all these distributed systems royalty in person. Also in this conference, on day three, Eric Brewer gave his CAP theorem talk.Good times! Anyways, back to the paper. Contributions of the paperUnder the message-passing model, BFT consensus requires $n \geq…

The great work of your life, by Stephen Cope

I finished listening to this book 10 days ago. I liked this book a lot while listening to it. Now, I am having second thoughts.
The book uses the Bhagavad Gita (a 700-verse Hindu scripture dated to the second century BCE) as a source/starting point to dispense advice about how to have a fulfilling life and career.
The Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna right before the start of the climactic Kurukshetra War in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Two massive armies have gathered to destroy the other. The Pandava prince Arjuna asks his charioteer Krishna to drive to the center of the battlefield so that he can get a good look at both the armies and all those "so eager for war". He sees that some among his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers. He does not want to fight to kill them and is thus filled with doubt and despair on the battlefield. He drops his bow, wonders if he should renounce and just leave the battlefield. He turns to his chariote…

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