Fooled by Randomness, Michael Gladwell, Nicholas Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

"Taking Knowledge Less Seriously"

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “What the dog ate” has a chapter on a very different kind of stock trader, a risk averse trader. This is where I first read about Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who is now the Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts.

I was so intrigued by Mr Gladwell’s description, that immediately ordered for both of Taleb’s books- Fooled by  Randomness (The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in Markets) and The Black Swan. I don’t invest in stock market actively and the intention of reading the book was not to gain tips and trick to make a quick killing. I found these books to change some of the my notions and stereotypes. The book “Fooled by Randomness” was selected by Fortune as one of the smartest books of all times

In the preface to his book, Fooled by Randomness, Mr Taleb writes- “The principal asset that I need to protect and cultivate is my deep-seated intellectual insecurity. My motto is “my principal activity is to tease those who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously”. He points out- “We underestimate the share of randomness in about everything and applied probability is almost nonexistent.” The  book is idiosyncratic and will compel you to think and see life from a different perspective. 

“Black Swan” is the second book and continues to stir the thoughts and an extension to “Fooled by Randomness” philosophy. Mr Taleb defines “Black Swan” as an unexpected large impact random event. Till very long the swans were white because almost on all observation (statistical) one would spot swans which were white, hence swans were white. However, this changed with just one observation of ‘Black Swans” in Australia. Mr Taleb urges us to be vary of such randomness and events.

Only word of caution, you need to read this book with an open mind, this is not one of the self help books which will give you 10 mantra’s for success. His writing style is very conversational and full of mentions of  philosophers, mathematical concepts and theories.

Apple, Apple TV, Samsung SMART TV, Television

Apple TV, Smart TV

It was a great big shift was us in 2011.

1. We moved into our new premises in Gurgaon
2. Dhriti started day care
3. I bought a Samsung Series 8 TV (The TV had a number of applications)
4. I bought Apple V, ( First Apple device)
5. I bought the first HDMI Cable (and loving it)

I was quite excited to buy the TV, as all this while I had a small LG 21 inch TV, which wasn’t bad. What impressed me was that with the Samsung TV, the applications that came in-built (at least at the showroom it did). Internet@TV had YouTube, Picassa, Facebook, among other application. The Samsung app world is small as of now, but the company is building it’s base. However, the demonstration at the time of installation was a complete let down. Typing the password through remote was very crappy. In addition I had to buy a dongle to enable wifi in the TV. I decided not to do so. We were ok watching TV. Till sometime.

All this while, including October, my Apple TV that I had bought from the Australia trip for $125 was kept packed in my media console. People would ask question and I would give them half baked answers. Finally, on Diwali, I got it out and plugged it to TV with the HDMI cable. I was fed up of showing Youtube videos to Dhriti on iPhone. Apple TV is not bad at all, We watch Youtube videos, for a considerable time on Apple TV. Not just that, the other day during a get together, I streamed music from one of the internet radio channels and was amazed with the quality and library of music.

I’m not putting the pictures for the Movies section, as we can’t access movies yet from the section (Apple doesn’t have the movie distribution rights in India). It has a large library of HD movies ( I was amazed to see all Stanley Kubrick collection and latest TV series). I can access the previews and they are excellent. Additionally, with the new iOS5 you can stream your pictures, iTune Videos and Movies through Apple TV.

These maybe just small snippets of the innovations that is happening at this point in time and of the future . Did hear the news that the next big thing that apple is working on is a television device ? I’m already waiting for it.