Sunday, February 14, 2010

HP - Look who is here!!

I have not read these yet. Reflections have always waxed eloquently on the inimitable HP and a little seed was planted. Got the whole set of 7. Will there be more? The son has finished 2 books already in 4 days! I don't know whether to be mad at him or amused. I am going to start from Book 1. This Percy Jackson movie is what brought it on. I thought if he can be that gaga over it, then he must like Harry H Potter and who am I to stand in his way? Being a little harried lately I won't be able to read it in bits and pieces from the Library and so got the whole set to read at leisure. It looks nice and feels great to have a whole series waiting to be read. So there it is. I am er...soon will be.. one of you. Checkout JK Rowling's page for details if you haven't already.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Intel's Andy Grove - Swimming Across (A Memoir)

It is rare to find a computer user who does not remember the famous 'Intel Inside' logo. During Andy Grove's tenure as Intel's CEO the company grew to its heights. Grove's earlier book Only The Paranoid Survive was well received in the business world. It offers great insights into redefining and conquering new markets while never sitting pretty with a measure of current success. Sounds tough but 'no pain no gain' is something anyone can agree on.

Swimming Across is a well written and highly readable memoir of this remarkable leader. My husband picked it up when he took the kids to Intel's Tech Museum as it was being offered for free there! Call me a snob but something about the 'free' froze me every time I tried to pick up the book to read. The presumption of a boring book was a high wall which I just couldn't jump over at least for a while. When I did I was quite taken aback by the simple and engaging style with which the book was written. The guy knows a thing or two about selling stuff I guess:-) I was taken with the book from the first page. It starts at his birthplace in Hungary (Budapest) at the age of three and goes through all those early years. The time that saw Hungary under Fascism, Nazi Germany and Stalin and the Soviet Red Army. He had me at 'I was born in Budapest':-) (Yup, loved Jerry Mcguire)

Grove talks of the war years under Nazi Germany when his father had to work in a labor battalion and he and his mother had to live as hideaways under non-Jewish sounding names. Fortunately although tortured and ravaged with illness, his father managed to return about 6 months after the war. Like son later, the father was a true soldier of spirits and went on to rebuild his life despite being under a slowly stifling Stalinist Russia. They had some semblance of a normal life for a while.

He tried his hand at journalism during school years and was successful. The country then being under the Soviets, he could not see much of a chance to succeed at it while also being true to the profession. Not to worry since he loved Physics and Chemistry too. Andy (born Andras Grof)  takes us through his adolescent boyhood years with a self awareness that makes it a useful reading tool for parents. He was in his second year at the university as a Chemistry student when Hungarian Revolution hit the streets. He had to find a way out of the place if he was to keep from being rounded up and shuttled off.

Grove sets of on his life changing journey to America, the dreamland of many an immigrant before and since. He was lucky to have family in New York but it was his own persistence and willingness to work harder towards a higher level of Academics that got him where he is now. From wanting to be a Chemist to becoming a Chemical Engineer, he succeeded with flying colors. Together with wife Eva, he drives to California after Graduation and never looked back. The last chapter where he dealt with being a first time arrival in the US and of life in an American University sounded a lot like mine sans the refugee part and I enjoyed it much. His parents eventually migrated to America. From his first job in Fairchild Semiconductors, Grove went onto be a founding member of Intel - the largest maker semiconductors- its CEO and its Chairman.

He never returned to Hungary. But the idea of writing this memoir retelling his life there took root with the arrival of grand kids. I am so glad he did as the world would have missed a rare peek into this successful and intelligent personality. I'll keep the book lying around in the hopes that both my son and daughter will pick it up to read as they get older. My son did make me a sort of a bookmark/memento with a picture of this book on it! I was rather pleased:-)

I hope you too will make time  to read this bestseller at some point. You will be as fascinated as I was to read all about the boy who later oversaw the deployment of Intel's microprocessors (computer brains) to computers across the world to the tune of 85% of the market share!! Not being a natural swimmer he took pains to master the art on his own in a small wild pond which was a harbringer of things to come. It makes this an aptly named book.See here for amazon reviews.