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· 2 min read

Written in 2013, a book on adaptive web design and how to do it with progressive enhancement. The title of the book might sound mouth full but let's look into it in parts.

Adaptive web design is the elder kin of responsive web design (RWD), Read more about RWD vs Adaptive web design. In the context of the book, the book is a how-to literature on how to do adaptive web design. The main technique that was discussed was `progressive enhancement.

Top ideas from the book

Think of the user, not the browser

Progressive enhancement

Progressive enhancement - the gold standard of how to approach the web. It's aimed at crafting experiences that serve the users by giving them access to content without technological restrictions.

Progressive enhancement relies on fault tolerance. A system can operate when it encounters an unexpected error.

Browsers play by the rules of fault tolerance and ignore anything they did not understand. Fault tolerance has been a part of HTML and CSS since the beginning. They are forever forward-compatible.

We all have special needs, and progressive enhancement wins.

Tools for Progressive Enhancement

HTML and CSS are ideal tools for progressive enhancement. Javascript is not fault-tolerant, it breaks with an error. If the user turns off Javascript, the user is shown a blank white screen most of the time.

An ideal developer will have to check before executing JS and JS APIs.

Helping assistive tech with ARIA

A gentle empathetic introduction to ARIA is always welcome. The book discusses

  • aria states

  • aria roles

  • tab index

Verdict

A light read written in 2013. The world has moved towards working and testing apps on browsers with major browser share. The book reminds us of the importance of building sites/apps for past and upcoming technologies. After a long time, I was able to weigh in progressive enhancement vs graceful degradation. Overall an interesting light read.

Browsers ignore anything they do not understand

The above line could be applied to life too!

· 2 min read

Equality on the web is an interesting and important topic. This is the second book related to accessibility.

Who should read the book

Books on accessibility relate to design or coding. This book relates to 80% of design and 20% of coding. If you are beginning with accessibility, then this book is the right fit.

About the author

The author is well exposed to accessibility and the web. Sarah Horton is an expert from whom we want to learn and understand accessibility design.

Sarah Horton Website

Top ideas from the book

  1. The personas of the disabled people

Generally, books categorize people with disability and stop there. But the authors take this issue description in a well-recognized technical language called Personas. The persona description and images of the users illustrate to the readers about the user. This is important because all our lives we are not exposed to disabled people to a major degree.

  1. Equations to simplify ideas

Ability + Barrier = Disability

The barrier is to be broken with technology. For example, if a user has bad vision then we need to help them consume our content with a screen magnifier or screen reader. Web content should be accessible to the disabled audience

Verdict

The book is intense literature. As a front-end developer, I could understand the design process and a gentle introduction to WCAG 2.0. This book stands out with personas about disabled people. It helps you to empathize with disabled people.

· 4 min read

Design is a subjective topic and point of debate in several corporate meetings. The debate happens due to Cognitive Dissonance, exposure effect & consistency bias. But wait, the last 3 terms are common in the design world and are universal to design. This book does not talk about how to design an app but this book helps you take an insider view of design, processes, and patterns in design.

About the style of writing

This book is a short read, something you can read on a short plane. The book is written for beginners and the average joe who encounters design in his life. The audience could be software developers or marketing or someone who makes ad films.

The book has around 105 topics which are spread around 5 topics like perception, learning, usability, appeal, and design decisions.

The left side of the book has a short theory of the topic, and the right side of the book has real-life examples of the design topic.

About the author

The authors hold eminent positions in various firms and institutes. Their intention is applaudable, and that is to help normal folks understand universal design principles with ease.

Best parts of the book

As I am a software developer, here are a few topics that I liked from the book

  • Accessibility

Objects and environments should be designed to be used without modification, by as many people as possible.

  • Development cycle

Successful products typically follow four stages of creation: requirements, design, development, and testing. All products progress sequentially through the basic stages of creation.

  • Requirements - gathered through market research, customer feedback, etc. Design requirements are derived from direct knowledge or experience

  • Design - the stage where design requirements are translated into a form that yields a set of specifications. Excellent design is usually accomplished through careful research of existing or analogous solutions, ample use of prototyping, and many iterations of trying.

  • Development - the development stage is where design specifications are transformed into an actual product.

  • Testing - The stage where the product is tested to ensure that it meets design requirements and specifications and will be accepted by the target audience.

  • Feedback loop - A relationship between variables in a system where the consequences of event feedback into the system as input, modifying the event in the future. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. When reactions loop back to affect themselves, a feedback loop is created.

    Positive feedback amplifies output, resulting in growth. Negative feedback dampens output, stabilizing the system.

  • Immersion - A state of mental focus so intense that awareness of the real world is lost, generally resulting in a feeling of joy and satisfaction.

    When perceptual and cognitive systems are under-taxed, people become apathetic and bored. If they are over-taxed, people become stressed and frustrated. Immersion occurs when perceptual and cognitive systems are challenged at near capacity without being exceeded.

  • Confirmation - A technique for preventing unintended actions by requiring verification of the actions before they are performed. Confirmations are used to prevent a class of errors called slips. Confirmations slow task performance and should be reserved for use with critical and irreversible operations.

Verdict

A wonderful book to get an introduction to the world of design. The knowledge of universal design is going to impact all walks of your life, for instance, you won't look at Apple Store as a mere structure. The Apple store is a classic example of Orientation Sensitivity and threat detection.

This book is a non-technical read and a must-read to walk and live with design sanity.

· 3 min read

Hey there, great men say that you should make money while you sleep. If you agree with that saying then you should check the stock market or start your own business which can run without your presence. Historically many men & women have made a good sum of money in the long term by investing in the right stock. Hey, the key to remember is Right stock. How do you know if you have chosen the right stock? The answer lies in the fundamental analysis of the stock.

When I was at the book, my eyes fell on the books titled Fundamental analysis of shares by Ankit Gala & Khusboo Gala. I was interested in the book because I too wanted to stay invested in stocks.

About the authors

When you are choosing a subject that is about money, it's better to listen to the experts. Both authors have strong financial backgrounds and they have an understanding of the mindset of the retail investor.

In the preface, they mention that 90% of retail investors lose money in the stock market. This is because retail investors generally do little to no research about the stock. They listen to friends, and stock picks or tell a comfortable lie to themselves. The authors have given their best shot at breaking this practice by writing concisely about fundamental analysis.

Top 3 ideas from the book

This book is not about ideas, it's about technical terms and definitions. Quoting a few of them.

Fundamental analysis

If you are a day trader, then fundamental analysis is not required. If you are a long-term investor, then fundamental analysis is really important.

Fundamental analysis is the method of finding the intrinsic value of the stock to find long-term investment opportunities.

EIC analysis

  • Economic
  • Industry
  • Company

4 phases of the economy

  • Expansion Phase
  • Recession phase
  • Depression phase
  • Recovery phase

2 phases of market

  • Bull market
  • Bear market

There is a difference of around 4 to 6 months between the economic phases and market phases to follow.

Ideally investments should be done at the start of the expansion phase and should be divested at the start of the recession phase.

Industry analysis

  • Startup stage
  • Growth stage
  • Consolidation stage
  • Maturity stage
  • Decline stage

Classification of Industry

  1. Growth industries
  2. Cyclical industries
  3. Defensive industries
  4. Cyclical growth industries

Financial statements

  • Balance sheet of the company - to get a snapshot of what the company owns vs what it owes. Key terms assets & liabilities.
  • Profit & loss account of the company - to analyze the fundamentals of the company. Also known as income statement. Key terms expenses, tax, profits, etc.
  • Cash flow statement - helps to understand how company operations are running.
  • Statement of changes in equity

Financial ratios

  • Profitability ratios
  • Liquidity ratios
  • Management efficiency ratios
  • Leverage ratios
  • Valuation ratios

Useful websites

  • Screener. in
  • Tickertape
  • Equitymaster
  • Value stocks

Verdict

Overall a great attempt to write about fundamental analysis of stocks from an Indian market context. Though the book looks small, it's a heavy read and someone new to finance has to read, re-read and discuss with peers to gain a deeper understanding.

Blindly following stock picks by big investors is not a wise thing to do - Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

· 5 min read

hackers diet cover

Hi, we are here discussing another health-related book. You may ask, why another health-related book? thanks to book discovery that happened through the previous read. The previous book had mentioned another health book for programmers so I picked this book titled Hackers Diet by John Walker.

About the author

The general trend of a health author profile looks like a nutritionist, sports hero, chef, or someone with a great body. Here we have an author who was fat most of his life. The author is the founder of AutoDesk, the AutoCAD software company and he is wondering about his success at work but failure at shedding his weight.

The author thought that fat was a problem to be solved and not a burden to withstand. Once he solved his weight problem, he is sharing the tools with us so that we live long and prosper.

The author has great expectations for the readers or his audience who want to lose weight. The audience should have

  • An eye firmly fixed on the goal
  • Will power
  • A high tolerance for pain

The author throws light on the word hacker. Hacker is a person who derives joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations.

Timeline of the book

The book was written in 1991.

Nature of weight loss strategy

No prizes for guessing the theme of the book, i.e. How can I lose weight?

The author says "Eat less food than your body burns".

Good ideas from the book

Eat watch

It's a hypothetical concept that tells when you should start eating and when to stop. This concept is based on the fact that if people did not eat except when their bodies needed food, nobody would be overweight. Let hunger tell us the time when we should eat instead of the convention like meeting friends or family dinner etc.

For the eat watch to work, the food you eat needs to give feedback to the body to stop eating. Slim people have this built-in eat watch which tells enough already but in others, that circuit is broken.

To control weight, you need to eat the right amount of food for the rest of your life. This requires motivation and manipulation. Motivation comes from willpower. Manipulation is the technique you use to deceive yourself, let's say it's half past 9 pm, let's exercise tomorrow. To control manipulation, we need empowerment.

If weight is managed rightly, you are about to partake of a new and rich part of the human experience, the exultation of living in a healthy animal body.

Know the basics

There are 3 parts to make a note of while losing weight

  • What we put into the body in calories, we can control this
  • What amount of input calories get burnt in calories
  • What goes out of the body, we can ignore the measurement of this.

It takes approximately 7000 calories to add a kilogram of weight to your body. It's a glorious idea to control your weight without changing the way you eat, but like so many attractive ideas, it doesn't work. Don't delude yourself into thinking that exercise can do the whole job. For many of us, exercising just causes us to eat that little bit more that cancels out its benefits. The calories burned by exercising, even counting the secondary effects on metabolism, can be erased by even the slightest increases in food intake.

Permanent weight control requires permanent attention to what you eat. Life-long, permanent attention.

Benefits of exercise and meal planning

Exercising not only gives you more time to live, but it also makes the time you live more enjoyable. You'll feel better, think straighter, sleep more soundly and have more capacity and endurance for everything you wish to do. Regular exercise greatly reduces the effects of altitude. As you exercise, you increase the capacity of your heart to pump blood and your lungs to replenish the oxygen it carries.

Meal planning for predictable calorie intake is the central management tool that closes the circle and achieves control over weight. Meal planning requires total control over not just what you eat, but also how much. Also, eat at the same time every day. Avoid eating before sleep.

The faster you eat, the more you get.

Here are steps to implement a weight control loop/feedback system

  1. Estimate calories
  2. Plan meals
  3. Log weight
  4. Find a trend and adjust the estimation of calories
  5. Repeat step 1

Stress

Stress is an unavoidable consequence of living in our fast-paced high-tech culture. Stress is a primary cause of overeating and weight gain.

Something I won't agree with

Of course, modern science is vocal about metabolic disorders which could make a person fat. The author is fixated on the idea that our body is a pure function and the system can be mathematically modeled all the time.

Verdict

Though the book has been written 3 decades ago. The fundamental ideas are the same.

  • Eat in moderation
  • Deliberately starve yourself to the good life
  • Avoid packaged food despite their tall claims
  • Exercise to beat cholesterol & fat
  • Use excel sheets for some good cause like tracking calories, weight, etc

If you want to pick a health-related book written by an engineer who built a great company, writes about planning with excel, talks about moving averages, lots of formulas, etc then this book is for you.

· 5 min read

The Healthy Programmer Book Cover

Hey there, let's discuss a book that explains health in a way that would captivate techies (techies here refer to people who sit before the keyboard) around the world. This book aims at refactoring your health. The book is titled "The Healthy Programmer". As a programmer myself, I did not think twice before picking up this book and read this book immediately. Let me explain how this book felt in parts.

Disclaimer: Health-related books are intended only as an informative guide for those who wish to know health-related aspects however these books should not be treated as a replacement for licensed healthcare providers. Don't be the DIY guy trying to immunize or treat himself all the time.

Amish communities are known for their embrace of a rural lifestyle, manual labor, and a reluctance to adopt modern technology. It’s a far cry from the world of programmers, where we have to remind ourselves to get outside and walk around now and then.

About the author

The best parts of the book

I love to read this book because hacker slang creeps into the pages aptly. The book starts with Let's Refactor your Health. That's what most of us want anyways. Here are some of the good parts.

Lets the unit test our health

Before performing refactoring on our body, let's perform a few unit tests like

  • Do you lose your breath after climbing a single flight of stairs
  • Do you regularly sit for more than one hour without getting up?
  • In the last year have you experienced back, neck, shoulder, or wrist pain
  • In the last week have your eyes become dry, red, or difficult to focus
  • Have you eaten until you were comfortably full more than once in the last month
  • Have you been exposed to direct sunlight for less than 10 minutes today
  • Is it uncomfortable to bend over and tie your shoes
  • Has your pant size increased significantly in the last 5 years

It's a brainer to figure out the associated risks related to each unit test. Once we identify the risk, we can plan to mitigate the risk.

Quick checklist to visit daily

  • Plan for health standup
  • Walk for 10000 steps with 20 mins brisk
  • Move 5 mins/hour. Change position every 20 mins
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Build 5 Body building exercises

Conduct a daily health standup

  • What did I do yesterday to improve my health
  • What will I do today to improve my health
  • Is there anything blocking you from staying health

Relation between exercise & learning

Programmers are lifelong learners & and an avatar of students. Learning and keeping ourselves up to date is indispensable. one of the best ways to enhance your ability to learn is to get some exercise. There’s also a lot of laboratory evidence showing that our brains work better when our bodies are active. In particular, they become better at remembering new concepts, ideas, and patterns.

Studies show that doing exercise before or after learning something new can help you remember it.

Say hi to walking briskly

Walking is our first guard in defense against lifestyle disease. Use the pedometer on your phone or wristband and clock 10000 steps every day. To get better results, walk often. Hitting the gym and sitting for 15 hours is not effective.

Walking 10000 steps in a day does not capture the intensity, instead, target the daily total of 10k steps to come from spurts of 3,000 steps in thirty minutes or 1,000 steps in ten minutes to ensure that some of your walkings are done briskly.

Other tips

  • Get a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise every day
  • Watch your resting heart BPM. Measure and ensure BPM does not go up as you age. Losing weight, and reducing stress could be useful strategies
  • Mitigate the risks of sitting by
    • Sit for 20 minutes
    • Stand for 20 minutes
    • Walk if you can instead of stand
    • Change between sitting and standing often
  • Every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 meters
  • Here is how you can boost immunity
    • Get enough sleep
    • Drink enough water
    • Avoid antibiotics
    • Eat fermented food
    • Get your vitamin D

Something that I do not agree with

I do not agree with Agile dieting as mentioned in the book. Well, maybe the times have changed. Professionals can come up with specific diet programs which give better results

Verdict

You cannot fool nature. You have to read this book because your quality of job & life depends on your health. Give yourself the joy of being healthy.

Movement is the key to being healthy. Sitting for long hours is a death sentence for programmers.

· 3 min read

Hey there, let's discuss an interesting short, light, and no-nonsense read from the self-help genre. Most self-help books try to address one or more than one broad problem in life. This book is no different in that aspect. As the title suggests, this book attempts to solve problems related to

  1. Procrastination
  2. Focus
  3. Meaning in life

About the author

A book cannot be separated from the author because it's the author who gave its form and contents. So the author's personality gets into the book. After reading the book, here is what I understand about the author.

The author is a seeker, and doer and wishes to be deterministic about what he does in life. He seems to avoid the digital life. He is cautious about the time drainers however he says he is not a robot and consumes entertainment.

Overall I like the author because his advice/tips are relevant to modern times.

Groundbreaking ideas from the book

It's a short self-help book that looks like a book summary. From that content, here are my favorite ideas.

Turn off wifi by default

I like this idea because I know successful people and peers at work who have benefitted from this policy. They would turn off data/notifications on the phone. The phone is used only for calls/SMS. I know of people who would reply to Whatsapp messages once a week, they are quite ahead of normal people.

At home, turning off the wifi can be helpful to focus on other aspects of life.

Focus on things other than the job

As an adult, we are our job. We are identified by our job and trusted by banks based on our job so we get attached or dedicated to our job and ignore the rest. Here are other important things in life.

  • Reading
  • Exercising
  • Investing
  • Saving
  • Spending time with people etc

To cut procrastination, boost productivity

Despite a million motivational videos, if we do not love what we do, we are most likely to procrastinate or give up on it. So find something you love to do.

Do the important things today not tomorrow

Recipe for the good life. Focus on what you want and eliminate the rest.

Verdict

Paying bills is important but there is something more to life than bills themselves.

Overall an interesting short, crisp read which focuses on tactics over techniques for boosting productivity and beating procrastination.

In most places, the author has picked and phrased the best practices and ideas from other books which helps us to remember those ideas as well.

  • For instance, the Pomodoro timer for crushing the work in front of you, we have heard of the same idea from multiple sources.
  • Plan the next day before we hit the bed, we have heard this many times but the authors improve the idea by asking you to visualize how you would feel when you get the tasks done tomorrow.

This book is recommended for people who want to guard their time, build focus and improve their productivity.

https://myreadforchange.com/do-it-today-book-summary-i-darius-foroux/

· 4 min read

My Maid Invests in the Stock Market And Why You Should Too! By Bo Sanchez

Let me start with my favorite line from the book.

If you do not own a business, you should invest in business.

Financial books are the least favorite of readers because of 2 reasons.

  • Most financial books give orthodox advice which suits the stoics or individuals. Most normal people are not stoics, they have retired parents to take care of or they need to fund their sibling's education.
  • Most stock market books are not written for lower-wage earning audiences. They have a point, how can someone poor invest in a portfolio of stocks? But this author gives hope to people with day jobs.

But this book is different, I am glad that I picked this read. This book is written by the author keeping their maids in mind who represent the young working-class audience.

Characters in the book

There are 3 main characters in the book

  • The financially savvy author who lives in Philipines
  • The maids who work at the author's home
  • The company owned by the author and its clients

I liked the way the maid's persona was explained. The maids are young, working at the author's home to make money. They are good at saving money. They send some money back home so that their family eats and lives happily. The maids are also burdened with the task of meeting financial emergencies which could arise in the family like bad health etc.

Best ideas from the book

It's a short book and a light read which can be read in an hour. It has 84 pages which are filled with great ideas. Here is my favorite part of the book.

Most books I read treat finances differently. The investment banker would not consider middle-class family problems like sending remittances back home to feed the family while writing a book on the stock market.

The author calls out a phrase called "Feeding the civilization", which means that the breadwinner has 2 families to take care of.

  • The family consists of the breadwinner, spouse, children &
  • The family consists of breadwinner parents, breadwinner siblings, etc

Already the maids are working on a smaller wage but they have 2 families to take care of. So the maids are going to retire in a financially handicapped situation at old age because retirement is real. The employer whom maids have worked with and the family whom the maids raised are going to desert them when the maids are old and have no money to take care of themselves.

The author mentions a formula to separate your money once you get your monthly wage

  • Tithe fund - 10% for Charity so that it creates an abundance mindset. The author is an advocate of God and religion.
  • Expense fund - 15% for Daily expenses and recreation.
  • Support fund - 30% for your family living in the village or elsewhere as a remittance so that they eat and live
  • Retirement fund - 30% for Retirement fund which sits in the share market and is built by monthly investing into the giant company stocks even during a market crisis
  • Emergency fund - 15% for the emergency fund which sits in the bank so that you do not break the retirement fund if a crisis hits

By investing 30% of the salary into the retirement fund for 20-plus years, the maids can retire as a millionaire.

The authors advise the maids to avoid

  • Trading
  • Investing in risky stocks or penny stocks

Something that I do not agree with

10% of the salary to God or Charity for the maids is something I do not fully agree with. It's a good idea but I doubt if it's actionable.

10% of the book goes into explaining the trading company where the author works. It makes sense only for that geographic area but it does not apply to everyone who reads the book. A hyperlink to a blog article would have helped.

Verdict

If you are looking for a short book, under 100 pages that resonate with working-class people. This book is for you. The author promises that his investing strategy of buying a certain sum of top company stocks for 20 years systematically is going to make you a millionaire.

Is there anyone who does not want to become a millionaire when they retire? I guess not so this book is for you.