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Irfan A. Alvi's Profile

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Irfan A. Alvi RSS Feed (Towson, MD USA)

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Awakening Your Inner Genius
Awakening Your Inner Genius
by Sean Patrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.79
25 used & new from $10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but with limitations, July 28, 2014
This is a strange book - a mixture of scholarly research, history, biography, philosophy, self-help, and tinges of spirituality. That will turn some readers off, but I like the book because I think the author has done his homework and makes good points, the most important being that we can all accomplish more than we think if we're guided by a vision and really try.

That said, the author doesn't really offer a 'formula' for high achievement (genius level or otherwise), as some readers may be hoping for. Instead, he presents a large number of traits typically possessed by high achievers, illustrates them with examples (often quite detailed), and implies that adopting these traits will work for us also. That may even be true, but there are two issues here:

(a) It's not clear that any particular 'genius' possesses all or nearly all of the traits. Or at least the author doesn't make the case for that.

(b) Even if geniuses do universally possess these traits, will developing these traits necessarily enable you to achieve at a very high level? Not necessarily, we hear about those who tried and succeeded, not those who tried (in the right ways) and failed.

But even with these critiques, this is an informative and interesting book which can provide inspiration and useful wisdom, so I do recommend it to anyone seeking to enhance to their ability to achieve.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2014 1:33 PM PDT

Developments in Modern Racecar Driver Crash Protection and Safety--Engineering Beyond Performance
Developments in Modern Racecar Driver Crash Protection and Safety--Engineering Beyond Performance
by Kirk J. Russell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $109.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone interested in motorsports safety, July 27, 2014
Simply put, this book is a must-read for anyone who has a serious interest in safety of drivers of cars driven on racetracks. The book is actually a compilation of 13 key papers dating from 1990 to 2013. The papers are generally written by and for engineers, but anyone with a decent grasp of high school physics and a mechanical inclination should be able to follow them reasonably well (there's no advanced math in book). You won't find every important safety topic covered among these papers, but the scope is still broad and extensive.

One of the editors, Dr. John Melvin, recently passed away, and this compilation will surely be part of his legacy (he's a co-author for many of the papers).

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School
One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $23.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, July 27, 2014
I found this memoir about a first year at Harvard Law School in the 1970s to be informative, fascinating, and gripping. Turow is clearly a skilled writer, and he uses that skill to very effectively put us in his shoes so that we get a vivid sense of what he and some of his classmates were experiencing, thinking, and feeling. The reader thereby goes along for quite a ride, with highs and lows, twists and turns, elation and depression, competition and compassion. I'm neither a lawyer nor prospective lawyer, but I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into what some people go through on their path to becoming lawyers.

Modern Marvels: Racetrack Tech
Modern Marvels: Racetrack Tech
DVD ~ Racetrack Tech
Price: $5.62
24 used & new from $1.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Wrong title, but an excellent video (on safety), July 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The title of this video is misleading - it's not about "racetrack tech" in general, it's about technological developments in motorsports safety for race cars. The video isn't comprehensive, in that many topics aren't covered (roll cages, fire suppression systems, side impact protection, etc.), but it still covers a lot of ground and does it quite well. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in motorsports safety, especially those who drive on race tracks.

The Impossible Takes Longer
The Impossible Takes Longer
Price: $9.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, July 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Nobel Prize winners are generally very smart people, even if they're limited by being human. So their reflections are worth considering, and this book delivers some genuine insight and wisdom, even if ultimate truth remains out of reach. I continue to enjoy randomly perusing this book and warmly recommend it.

The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life
The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $20.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, July 9, 2014
I liked the author's other book on his experience at Harvard Business School so much that I had to give this book a try. Another winner, it's excellent!

Broughton is a keen observer, an educated and intelligent thinker, a diligent researcher, and a skilled writer. He brings all of these abilities to bear on the seemingly crass topic of sales, focusing on what makes the best salespeople tick and how they're so successful. He presents stories of a diverse range of salespeople, mixed with a probing intellectual exploration of the topic. The result is that the book is both entertaining and enlightening.

What are his main conclusions? Allow me to quote from his Amazon interview:

"Resilience, persistence and optimism are the fundamental traits of good salespeople. They have high degrees of emotional intelligence and empathy, but also sufficient ego to deal with endless rejection and to push through a sale against the odds. They are great readers of people and tend to be highly creative in achieving their goals. Many are wonderful story-tellers. They really like people. I've yet to meet a great salesperson who wasn't great company. These traits and qualities can come in all kinds of packages."

High-Performance Handling for Street or Track: Vehicle dynamics, suspension mods & setup - Anti-roll bars, camber adjust (Motorbooks Workshop)
High-Performance Handling for Street or Track: Vehicle dynamics, suspension mods & setup - Anti-roll bars, camber adjust (Motorbooks Workshop)
by Don Alexander
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.62
45 used & new from $12.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but lacking in some important areas, July 7, 2014
This is a useful book overall, and contains a lot of information, but there are three significant areas where it could be better:

- While there are many photos of components, there's a lack of diagrams illustrating the layout of suspension systems so that the reader can see how the components fit and work together. Related to this, the author throws out a lot of terminology without definitions or illustrations of the terms.

- There's not much specific guidance on how to choose suspension components (adjustability of shocks, spring rates, etc.) for a given car and application.

- The discussion of tires seem rather outdated, and doesn't reflect the modern classification of tires into categories of high-end street tires, DOT R-compound street tires, semi-slick tires, and slicks, with their associated characteristics and applications.

Bottom line is that I do recommend this book, but it can't be considered a self-contained resource even at an introductory level, and definitely look elsewhere to learn about tires.

K-19: The Widowmaker [Blu-ray]
K-19: The Widowmaker [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Harrison Ford
Price: $7.99
26 used & new from $7.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, July 2, 2014
It's a pretty good movie overall. Well made and entertaining, but not life changing.

The main themes are honor, patriotism, duty, sacrifice, chain of command, and perseverance, and these themes are portrayed well. The movie held my attention and, as usual, Ford and Neeson don't disappoint.

Another theme, perhaps less obvious but of much interest to me, is how failures arise due to accumulations of problems resulting from political, economic, schedule, and other pressures. Such a process generates warning signs, and there were plenty of them in this case, but they weren't adequately heeded until it was almost too late.

For whatever reasons, I like these 'submarine films', and this is a pretty good one. I doubt I'll watch it again, but I'm glad I watched it once.

Live at Montreux 2010 [Blu-ray]
Live at Montreux 2010 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Gary Moore
Price: $16.18
31 used & new from $9.33

3.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Gary Moore, June 30, 2014
I'm not typical of people who would buy this DVD. I've played guitar for more than three decades and always knew Gary Moore was out there and considered a fine guitarist, but I rarely heard much of his music, and what I did hear didn't have much impact on me. But lately, with so much concert footage coming out on DVD, including Blu-ray, I've been building up a collection. It made sense to get something from Moore, and I went with this particular concert because of the strong reviews. So I didn't come to this as a Moore fan, just a fan of guitar.

Verdict? The positive side is that Moore is definitely a great guitarist, with chops and passion galore. But the negative side for me (it's subjective) is that I frankly find most of the songs to be rather simple and even boring. While he was a great guitarist, I don't think he was a great composer, and that might help explain why he didn't achieve the acclaim of people like Hendrix, Page, Van Halen, Beck, etc.

In contrast to this, I did find some footage online where Moore plays blues and Hendrix songs, and there he really shines. So my conclusion is that, while this DVD may be great for Moore fans, people in my category may prefer his performances where he plays the music of others, several of which are apparently available on DVD. Combining great songs with Moore's playing is definitely potent!

Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School
Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School
by Philip Delves Broughton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.45
72 used & new from $0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story, well told, June 28, 2014
I have more than two decades of reasonably successful experience as a business owner, and never took any business courses in college. I'm skeptical about the value of an MBA, but also curious about what it entails and what value it might have that I don't know about. So when I came across this memoir about a journalist's experience as a student at HBS, perhaps the most elite business school in the world, I had to check it out.

I wasn't disappointed, in fact I found it fascinating. I still can't say what real educational value an HBS education might provide, but it was interesting to discover how intensely motivated and ambitious typical HBS students are, with making money being a high priority, thus many of them going into banking or consulting, despite knowing that the hours will be grueling and the work often soul crushing.

In that regard, perhaps one of the major lessons of the book is the importance of balance in life. Yes, one can make sacrifices in the short and intermediate terms in order to eventually gain financial freedom and balance in the long term, but the question will continue to arise of how much money is enough. That threshold tends to keep going up, it can take longer than expected to reach that point, and many irreplaceable things (such as time with one's children) are often sacrificed on the path to get there. The author had the maturity and wisdom to recognize this and not jump on the treadmill, making him somewhat of an atypical 'outsider' at HBS, but his values resonate with mine, so I was glad to hear the HBS experience described from his perspective.

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