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Sreeram Ramakrishnan RSS Feed (Lynnfield, MA)
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The Leap: The Science of Trust and Why It Matters
The Leap: The Science of Trust and Why It Matters
by Ulrich Boser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.45
33 used & new from $7.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative read on an emerging field - over-eager conclusions, September 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In an entertaining look at what the author calls "social trust", Boser looks at the biochemistry behind trust, mechanics/dynamics of how we develop trust, and the risks of too much trust. For the most part, Boser - the self-admitted "not an expert in trust" - weaves through interesting anecdotes and experiments to make some broad hypotheses. Very often (especially on biochemical aspects of trust), the causal relations of actions derived from trust and the body reactions to it are at best inconclusive. This may be more a reflection the early stages of research than an overly eager misinterpretation. Nevertheless, the use of events derived from recent news makes the narrative easy to relate to and Boser does an excellent job in introducing the associated research. Perhaps the only issue with the approach is that, while informative, there is not much actionable for an individual. A huge leap in argument leads to conclusions regarding how individuals need to feel part of something bigger and other broad social statements, that seem more wishful thinking than policy opportunities. In fact, the reader would have been served better if Boser adopted Thaler's "nudge" approach and decomposed some of this observations to a more consumable and actionable form. Overall, an informative and entertaining read that successfully highlights an emerging field.


Swiffer Wetjet Wood Starter Kit
Swiffer Wetjet Wood Starter Kit
Price: $19.49
9 used & new from $19.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable choice, not compelling, September 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The ease of assembly, mostly streak-free cleaning on natural wood floors, effective rubber pads for attracting the dirt make this a good candidate. The need for batteries, not-for-reuse rubber pads, occasionally uneven nozzle performance, and the need for constant refilling of the cleaning liquid (no dye-free option) make this less appealing for someone trying to be more environmentally friendly. The 'shininess' and its duration could depend on many factors - it was at acceptable levels for us. However, the non-green attributes mentioned earlier could give the impression of a razor-blades business model dominated the design elements than potential customer needs. An OK choice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 12:23 PM PDT


Thinkware F550 Full HD Dashboard Camera with high-speed Cortex A8 Processor, GPS Tracker, & Dual Save Technology
Thinkware F550 Full HD Dashboard Camera with high-speed Cortex A8 Processor, GPS Tracker, & Dual Save Technology
Price: $305.90

4.0 out of 5 stars candidate to beat.... for the right audience, August 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like most products, the price/value really depends on the intended use. this well-equipped, sturdy dashcam is a perfect example of that. For a regular commuter or occasional driver more interested in developing narratives for proudly displaying the traffic in your city, or capture a scenic drive, this dashcam is most certainly not your first choice (maybe something from GoPro is more useful). For a user exposed to high risk of collisions or monitoring of driving behavior, this should be the first choice. The functionality of the camera, the intuitive software interface and ease of archiving only what's only relevant, relative ease in installation, excellent video and audio quality, quick capture of GPS signals are great attributes that justify the pricepoint. It would've been nice if an independent battery source or another power source was included to be able to be less dependent on having access to the vehicle's powersource.


The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment
The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment
by Guy Spier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
38 used & new from $15.59

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Personal dimension to two well-established value investors, August 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In what often-times reads like a sincere attempt in documenting a crucial personal growth opportunity, Spier describes the evolution of his thoughts on investing and capitalism. Initial chapters seem to convey a sense of self-flagellation and written for cathartic relief; but later chapters provide a very crisp (albeit nothing surprising for a reader well-attuned to the literature in value investing) summary of core premises in value investing. Though Spier mentions some specific examples, they are often a few sentences long and doesn't convey any specific tenet that can be formally defined or actionable for the average reader. Nevertheless, using the well-known lunch-with-Warren episode as the context, Spier also gives an interesting portrayal of Parabai - another famous Buffet fan. The book will be better enjoyed by those who are already familiar with Spier and Parabai; adding a personal dimension to their established professional reputation. Readers familiar with value-investing literature will not find this book more than a quick summary of the core themes and a reminder that value investing principles can be deceptively simple. Perhaps my (dashed) expectations that this could be the value-investing's equivalent of Edwin Lefèvre's classic is muting my recommendation.


Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
by Shane Snow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.71
45 used & new from $9.74

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining examples on accelerating success, August 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Captivating narratives, slick editing, cherry-picked examples and a few references to well established cliches on innovation (cue Google's 20%, race pit teams on handoffs, etc) are all formulaic for this genre. Snow's attempt in recasting short cuts to success is no exception to that formula. Though the narrative focuses exclusively on positive outcomes and often times not-so-compelling success metrics (number of times a tweet/post has been shared/retweeted...), Snow does provide some food for thought. Whether it is assessing your own circle of mentors/mentees, your process of timing decisions, treatment of failures as feedback, Snow's narration and examples provide a good opportunity to reassess one's thought framework.

Snow's lucid writing style and the clever use of examples make this an entertaining read - even the caveat of selective use of examples and mostly a forced counter-intuitive argument that mostly ends up as "do this or don't....that decision can make or break you". 3.5*


Contigo AUTOSEAL Pitcher Set with Infuser Stick and Ice Core, 72-Ounce
Contigo AUTOSEAL Pitcher Set with Infuser Stick and Ice Core, 72-Ounce
Price: $29.54
8 used & new from $25.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and practical, July 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Taiwan-made well-constructed pitcher has an appealing color and styling. Contigo is a brand that has become known for the durability and styling of the products, though they can seem pricier than other options. This pitcher has unique "autoseal" lid that is easy to operate and very effective in preventing any spills. In fact, the seal is so effective it can be annoying to take the lids off for cleaning - this is probably the only minor complaint - getting all the parts out for cleaning may not be easy for everyone. The infuser stick/ice core are very functional and easy to interchange as needed.


Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum
Bissell 1161 Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum
Price: $142.49
5 used & new from $142.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a good value for small areas, July 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The fairly light-weight vac does an excellent job in picking up dust on hard floors - but the canister is not sufficient for a large home; fills up fairly quickly and the constant need to empty it makes cleaning floors a little inconvenient than it needs to be. The power switches on the body and the handle, the stylish color/design, sturdy construction, easy-to-store size and good performance makes this an excellent choice. Other than the canister size and the relatively short cord, there isn't a major design flaw.


Victorinox Swiss Army Prep 'N' Chef's Set
Victorinox Swiss Army Prep 'N' Chef's Set
Price: $70.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK value, not the most throught-through set, July 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Swiss made knives from an enduring brand look well-constructed and sturdy. The knives are well fused with their handles (no rivets/screws to worry about). There are a few issues, though - for one, the butcher knife has no place in the block and one needs to find a safe way to store it (obviously, it is very sharp; and with very little leverage, it slices through large watermelons easily). Secondly, the handle colors don't go well together or with the cheap-looking block. Thirdly, the pricing of the set seems not well-thought through - at this time, it is cheaper to get buy the knives separately. While these are by itself a minor issue, put together, it diminished the overall value of the set and prevents a hearty endorsement. Time will tell if the set is consistent with the Victorinox brand's endurance.


How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
by Steven Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long-zoom approach leading to intriguing hypotheses, July 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Where Good Ideas Come From Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover 1st (first) edition Text Only, Johnson masterfully weaved history, science and interesting narratives to provide a thought-provoking look at innovation. Fans of that approach will not be disappointed with the same skillset displayed in this book either. Taking a relatively unique view of key innovations that has shaped our lives, Johnson attempts to encourage thinking in broader contexts and hypothesizes several connections in completely unrelated fields. That exposition of "humming bird" effect (as the author calls it) is laudable, but some of the conclusions come off as highly unlikely and Johnson doesn't even pretend the need for more evidence for such theorized connections. For example, in a chapter on "Cold", he makes a sweeping claim that the largest mass migration to today's cities is triggered by a home appliance - air conditioning; later he makes a rather tenuous connection between the rise of Hitler (and later Martin Luther King) and inventions related to amplification/broadcast/vacuum tubes, etc. There is an inherent assumption of linearity in some of the claims, and even a stronger assumption on causality - dismissing correlations. To be fair, Johnson does admit that the long-zoom approach is not without limitations; he lists a few significant limitations in the preface, but doesn't seem to be keen on addressing them head-on in his narration.

Nevertheless, the historical anecdotes, well-edited narratives, and mostly intriguing attempts at discerning a connection between unrelated (as far as conventional wisdom goes) events/topics makes for a very interesting read and provides many opportunities to rethink our understanding of history and how various events/persons/trends shaped it. In the end, the author is mostly imploring to "get a little lost" if you want to develop a intuitive perception of hidden things (quoting Ada) and positions that as a stark alternative to a determined, focused approach within confines of tradition that can lead to slight improvements. Johnson manages to seed that thought in a reader's mind...but may have fallen shot to give it everything (evidence & generalizable precepts) it will need to germinate.


Wilson Jones Heavy Duty Round Ring View Binder with Extra Durable Hinge, 1.5 Inch, White, 4 Pack (W70363-34WAPP)
Wilson Jones Heavy Duty Round Ring View Binder with Extra Durable Hinge, 1.5 Inch, White, 4 Pack (W70363-34WAPP)
Price: $24.06

3.0 out of 5 stars More suited for gentle use and archiving, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If this is "heavy duty", you probably want to avoid any other category the brand may offer; the rings and the hinges do look sturdy (unsure why the guarantee is only one year for something that is advertised to last 10X longer). The covers do not inspire confidence to handle 350 sheets as advertised. The inside pockets may be able to handle 5-7 sheets without crumbling them. It would've been great if the set came with the inserts for the front hinge to help with organization. Overall, a decent set but may be more suited for storage/gentle use than regular use such as daily school work.


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