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Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review - How Google Works by Eric Schmidt

How Google Works
Just in case you think this book is all about geeky software jargon on how Google works, it's not.

The book by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman, and Jonathan Rosenberg, the adviser to CEO Larry Page, is a gripping, well-structured, description of the core principles that underline the work ethics of the company. The authors were CEO and senior vice president during Google's formative years.

Don't expect an objective assessment of Google as a company, because the authors are still employees!

The book is about the legendary transformation of a startup to a mega multinational. After reading it, I am not surprised that Google is what it is: one of the most successful and employee-friendly IT companies.

The book talks about what type of workers the company employs, how some of the most acclaimed products were born, how major crises were resolved, etc.

Google must be one of the unique places to work in: where almost everything is done differently -- order and perfection are looked at with worry and disappointment, chaos is welcomed, failure is not frowned upon, the dress code is: 'wear something', employees can work on bizarre ideas that they come up with during their off-duty hours, they can continue to pursue a project even if the bosses have rubbished it, the usefulness of a new product to the customer takes precedence over any discussion about the money it will bring to the company, etc.

It's a book worth reading, at least to know that there are ways of working, different from the ones practised by most firms, and such unconventional methods can also be successful.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review - Saville - The Beast: The Inside Story of the Greatest Scandal in TV History by John McShane

Saville - The Beast: The Inside Story of the Greatest Scandal in TV History (Large Print 16pt)
I grew up listening to the BBC. I still do. Don't exactly remember Jimmy Saville's shows, though I have heard recordings later. But I do remember those of Dave Lee Travis. I was a regular listener of his A Jolly Good Show.

Jimmy Savile was a famous radio host, largehearted philanthropist, and well connected to big names. But the seedy side of his personality, remained hidden all through his life. Only after his death hundreds of women, now in 50s and 60s have come out in the open recalling how Uncle Jimmy molested or actually sexually assaulted them.

One aspect is the horrendous crime. But the intriguing aspect is, how Savile and many others got away with it for so many years. In fact, it looks like he had to die for his victims to even make anonymous claims. And all that took place on the most revered BBC premises.

The book would have made better reading if the accounts of victims were interspersed with better insights into the social mores prevailing in those days, and what held back so many hundreds of victims from speaking out. Also, some more details on BBC of those days, which didn't do anything, though many people there knew about it.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review - 2014: The Election That Changed India by Rajdeep Sardesai

2014: The Election That Changed India
If you need an introduction to the recent political history of India, then read this book. Good reportage by Rajdeep. Easy read. No heavy political analyses.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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