Showing posts from March, 2021

Book review. Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling

The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come. -- Steve Jobs This book is by  Matthew Dicks , 48-time Moth StorySLAM winner and 6-time GrandSLAM champion. The book gives great tips about crafting stories. Earlier I had covered " Made to stick " and " Talk like TED "  on presenting and story telling. This book is at a different level than those. I strongly recommend you to read this book. It is entertaining as much as it is informative. This is like a short-story format version of the Hollywood movie-script format storytelling, which I covered briefly with " Nobody wants to read your shit ". Both books have the same message really: "You must streamline your message (staying on theme), and make its expression fun (organizing around an interesting concept)." My highlights from the book No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a st

Sundial: Fault-tolerant Clock Synchronization for Datacenters

This paper appeared recently in OSDI 2020 . This paper is about clock synchronization in the data center. I presented this paper for our distributed systems zoom meeting group . I took a wider view of the problem by explaining time synchronization challenges and fundamental techniques to achieve precise time synchronization. I will take the same path in this post as well. It is a bit circuitous road, but it gives a scenic pleasurable journey. So let's get going. The benefits of better time synchronization For any distributed system, timestamping and ordering of events is a very important thing. Processes in a distributed system run concurrently without knowing what the other processes are doing at the moment.  Processes learn about each other's states only by sending and receiving messages and this information by definition come from the past state of the nodes. The process needs to compose the coherent view of the system from these messages and all the while the system is movi

Your attitude determines your success

This may sound like a cliche your dad used to tell, but after many years of going through new areas, ventures, and careers, I find this to be the most underrated career advice. This is the number one advice I would like my kids to internalize as they grow up. This is the most important idea I would like every one undertaking a new venture to know.  If you think you are not good enough, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you are not enjoying something, you start to hate it.  I gave examples of this several times before. Let's suffice with this one : In graduate school, I had read "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" from Steven Levy and enjoyed it a lot. (I still keep the dog eared paper copy with affection.) So, I should have read Steven Levy's Crypto book a long time ago. But for some reason, I didn't...even though I was aware of the book. I guess that was due to a stupid quirk of mine; I had some aversion to the security/cryptography res

Defending Computer Science & Engineering in a life raft debate

What is a life raft debate ? In the Life Raft Debate, we imagine that there has been a nuclear war, and the survivors (the audience) are setting sail to rebuild society from the ground up. There is a group of academic-types vying to win the coveted Oar and get on the raft, and only one seat is left. Each professor has to argue that his or her discipline is the one indispensable area of study that the new civilization will need to flourish. At the end of the debating, the audience votes and the lucky winner claims the Oar and climbs aboard, waving goodbye to the others.   Maybe a discipline worth its own salt would  be able to built their own boat, no? Or a good discipline would have documented their findings so well and made itself a science rather than an art, so a practitioner is not needed to transfer information. Which discipline do I think should be the discipline to go? Let me tell you, I would oppose having a computer science and engineering person on the boat before we make sur

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