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Monday, October 30, 2017

Harnessing the Windmills of the Mind by Abraham Thomas | Book Review


Harnessing the Windmills of the Mind by Abraham Thomas

In the pell-mell of life, who has not sometimes felt overwhelmed? The mind seems to be in an endless churn...leading us in circles of despair, anger and frustration... Where do we turn when we are floundering? The answer lies within. Windmills offer practical and sustainable ways forward through Effective Mind Control (EMC).

How to control your temper

How to cultivate patience

How to face grief

How to deal with guilt

How to escape from the well of sudden disappointment

How not to feel dissatisfied with life

How to avoid despair over the lack of meaning in your life

These pages abridge the behavioural aspects of the AI thesis about the mind on the Effective Mind Control website. EMC has drawn keen interest from around the world, logging over half a million page views from over 150 countries. EMC assumes that IA, an intuitive algorithm, enables the mind to apply inductive reasoning to manage attitudes and behaviours. Windmills suggest simple mental and physical exercises, followed by wise men across the centuries, to change our own views and actions...pointing the way towards a positive life experience.

The review of this book has been long due. I had received a review copy of the same from Leadstart Publishers. Actually, I had chosen this title from a list of books they had to give way for review. The reason why I was interested in this particular book was the tagline of the book – achieving effective mind control. Well, who doesn’t want to have a full control over their minds? All of us and we all know that it is a herculean task.

As I read this book I realized that you cannot read it in a go. The book is thought-provoking and you have to slowly soak in the nectar of the book. And also unless you apply what you have learnt through the book, you can’t give your opinion about the same, right? That is one of the many reasons (travel, blogging block, Diwali, etc., among others) why it took me so long to write about it here.

The author has described the human brain as a composition of millions of windmills that control how we are, how we behave and how we live our lives. If we can guide and have control over these windmills we can take charge of our lives. And this can be done by following some mental and physical exercises. Sounds easy, right? But, to be able to practice them in everyday lives needs a person’s willingness to change, patience and above all discipline.

The author has touched on every aspect of our lives, the problems and dilemmas we face – sadness, guilt, fear, disappointment, anger, impatience, low self-esteem and more. All these take a toll on the quality of our lives and make us show the futility of our meaningless lives. The irony is that the solutions to all our problems lie within us. But we do not know how to go about it. That is what the book shows us - with the help of breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises the book shows us some ways that can help in fostering positive thinking and a positive attitude towards life and help us fight our own demons.

While I can say the content of the book is great, I wish it was written in a different way. At some point, it starts to sound boring. If it had been written like a practical workbook, it could have been utilised better by the end users.

You can check out the book in Amazon



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review | Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey


Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey

The blurb says:

Hello Amit, don’t waste your time; you can’t hack my system. But we will hack your country! Ameen.

They know me! This wasn’t good. The greatest fear a hacker has is having his identity revealed. During investigative operations, I always guarded my identity like the Kohinoor diamond. Then how could they have reached me? It was a-l-m-o-s-t impossible. 

A young software engineer, who, as a hobby, starts helping the Police in solving criminal cases, turns into a critical resource for the Force. He becomes entrapped in the system. Return of the Trojan Horse is the riveting narration of how he is compelled to draw inputs from his personal life and use sharp thinking and advanced technology to solve the criminal cases he is brought into. Based on real life, the book reveals the next generation methodologies used in crime investigation.

With the advent of internet and technology, our lives have changed drastically. We cannot imagine living a day without internet and our gadgets. Every facet of our lives is touched by technology; from the way we shop our groceries, plan our holidays, to how we book our cabs, movie tickets, etc. Whatever we do on the internet, we leave our digital footprints behind. While technology has made our lives easier, it has also made us more vulnerable.

We live in a world where criminals and terrorists are using hi-tech methods and equipment to plan their acts. And hence it is no surprise that those involved in criminal investigations also use advanced technology and next generation methodologies to crack crimes cases. Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey gives us a sneak peek into the world of crimes and criminal investigation and how big a role technology is playing in today’s time.

Before I talk about the book, here is something about the author Amit Dubey that you should know. He is a well-known persona in the field of Crime Investigation in India and helps various police departments and security agencies in India to solve criminal cases. He is an IIT alumnus and a software engineer by profession. He speaks regularly at international conferences on cybercrimes and ethical hacking. He has also been featured by CNN-IBN as a National Security Expert.

Given the author’s background, I had high expectations from the book as I felt that the author will be drawing in from his rich experience in the cybersecurity field and will have something interesting to share. The book didn’t just meet my expectations but surpassed it. There are three different fictional case studies in the book - one dealing with a terrorist attack, one involving a kidnapping case and one revolving around a hit and run case (although I do feel somewhere they do have some resemblances with real incidents). All of them are narrated in simple and easy to follow language. The author doesn’t aim to preach or educate you about anything – he just narrates you a story of criminal investigation and how with the help of technology he helped in solving them. The use of technical jargons is minimal and hence the storytelling never feels overwhelming at any point in time.

As you go through the pages of the book, you will know how easy it is to track anyone who uses a smartphone and is connected to the internet. It is quite scary in a way that we are all oblivious to how vulnerable we all are in today’s time connected by technology.

The narration in the book is crisp and to the point. Yet, it often evokes many emotions in the reader– at some point, you will feel angry, sometimes anxious and helpless and often you will feel a strong sense of patriotism. A good pick for anyone interested in reading stories from the field of cybersecurity, criminal investigation and ethical hacking.

This book makes for a great gift for any book lover. So, this Diwali you can gift it to a book-loving friend of yours.




I received a free copy of the book from Leadstart Publishers in lieu of an honest review.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers – A Book Review




Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers 

Books can make you travel places and that is one way it helps in breaking the monotony of life. Last few months things were quite busy at my end and I was hardly getting any time to read anything worthwhile. All the titles I had at hand were not looking very inviting and were pushed away with the ‘read later’ tag. And then I got a mail from the authors of this new book ‘Jason Cage’ for a review and as I read the blurb I was instantly interested.

The authors of this book call themselves aKay Brothers – a pen name under which they are writing a series of books centering around the life of the protagonist named Jason Cage. The book review I am posting today is for the 1st book that has been published recently.

What an interesting and exciting read this book has been! And now I can’t wait for the next book in the series. At first instance, I felt it was a crime thriller, but then there are elements of paranormal fantasy and also some sub plots in historical settings. The best thing about the book is the pace of the story – it builds up interest in the readers and gets them hooked. Even when the settings in the book change, the pace is maintained and that I believe is one of the hallmarks of a good writer.

But, then there is something that needs to be worked upon. I came across a number of editing errors and spelling mistakes in the book that needs to be done away with to enhance the reader’s experience. A tighter editing is recommended for future books.

Jason Cage is a man with a mysterious birth and has a life that is far from normal. He is tormented by his dreams – they are the precursor of events that are about to happen in someone’s real life or in some cases have already happened. But one thing is common - his dreams bring bad tidings. After losing his parents to unnatural deaths and after a stint at a Medical school where he befriends Lisa and Bill, he finally seeks solace in a Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh. Jason knows that his stay there won’t last forever, so he tries to make the most of his time there by keeping a very low profile. But, little does he knows that his dreams will strike him again and he will not have an option but to follow them.

Don – a peculiar creature resembling a lion is Jason's companion and has been by his side most of the time since his birth. The uncanny and peculiar thing about it is that it is visible only to Jason. The author takes us places through Jason’s dreams – sometimes to a time more than half a century ago where a doctor is trying to frame his friend as a blood sucking vampire and then to place where a man meets his death in the most mysterious circumstances after opening a parcel. There is again a sub plot with the settings in ancient Egypt where a man’s folly leads to the rising of the devil.

Amidst all this, there is this dream where Jason sees that Lisa’s (who used be his crush in his college days) life is in danger. That’s when he decides it is time to venture out and save Lisa. But how is he going to do it? He has no idea where Lisa is and to top it, he has no money. How will Jason embark on his journey to save Lisa and will he be able to do it?

Another plot running through the book is that of Dr Dhristi from RAW. After a successful mission of capturing LeT head (seriously that reminded me of the Akshay’s Kumar starter movie –Baby), she deploys her best man to get hold of Jason Cage. Why? That’s a question I am hoping would be covered in the next books.

Just as is expected from books where the story is revealed in a series, there are too many unanswered questions in the first book of the Jason cage series.

What has the Egyptian devil from centuries ago and RAW from the present times got to do with Jason?

How all of these are going to converge to Jason is a thing to read in sequels as and when they get released.

This is a book outside my frequently read genres and it was a welcome change for me. Anyone who is interested in crime thrillers or books on paranormal fantasy will surely find it a great read. If you want to know more about the book, you can visit the author’s website. www.akaybrothers. You can grab a copy of the book on Amazon too.

I received a free r-copy of the book from the authors for an unbiased review.



Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stuffed Aloo Paratha | How to Make Aloo Parathas | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas



Even though we love parathas, they are not a regular thing in my house. They make an appearance on the dining table once or twice a month and that too when I run out of veggies in my pantry. But, we like to have parathas for breakfast when we are travelling or are on a vacation and want to have a filling meal.

When I was thinking about what to post for the 3rd day of  'Special Weekend Breakfast' theme for BM#79, I realised that I have never posted a paratha recipe on this space. So naturally, I decided to post the recipe for one of the most popular parathas that are made in most homes as a special weekend breakfast. It's none other than Stuffed Aloo Paratha.

Let's check out how I make it -

Stuffed Aloo Parathas

Ingredients:

1½ cup whole wheat flour.
Pinch of salt
Water to knead the dough.

For the filling:

2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and crushed
¼ cup of cooked green peas, slightly crushed
1 green chilli, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp jeera
½ tsp amchur
½ tsp garam masala
salt as per taste

Ghee or oil for shallow frying

Process:

1. In a large bowl, add whole wheat flour, salt and knead the dough using water as needed. Cover the dough and let it sit for at least 15 mins before you proceed with rolling.

2. Heat a pan and add oil. When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds, minced green chillies and grated ginger. Add the crushed green peas and the mashed potatoes and all the spices and seasoning. Give the mixture a good stir. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix again. Heat it for another 2-3 minutes and then turn off the gas. Take the pan off the gas and let the mixture cool completely before using them to fill parathas.

3. In order to make parathas, take the dough, knead it for a few seconds and divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal sized dough balls.

4. Using some dry flour roll the dough ball into a roti about 3cm in radius. Place 2-3 tbsp of the prepared filling in the middle. Join the edges and close it forming a ball. Roll it again about 6 cm in radius.

5. Meanwhile, keep a tava for cooking the paratha on gas flame. Place the rolled paratha on the tava, when one side is done turn it over and heat on the other side. Brush ghee on the top and turn it over. Brush ghee on the other side as well. Apply pressure with a turning spoon to ensure even cooking.

6. Repeat the same with rest of the dough balls.

7. Serve the parathas with pickle and yoghurt. Enjoy them hot.

BMLogo

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Paneer Veggie Grilled Sandwich | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas


Can you resist the taste of golden, crisp, grilled sandwich with a cup of hot tea?

Grilled sandwiches are a regular fare during weekends in my house. So, on the 2nd day of Week#4 of BM# 79 under my chosen theme of 'Weekend Breakfast Ideas', I am sharing the recipe for a much loved grilled sandwich. I use freshly made homemade paneer in making the filling for this sandwich. However, you may use grated ready to use paneer also.

Let's checkout the recipe below:

Ingredients:
8 brown bread slices

For the filling:
1/4 cup freshly made paneer
3 tbsp chopped capsicum
1 small carrot, grated
1 small green chilli finely minced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp tomato sauce

To assemble:
green chutney
tomato ketchup
butter to grease

Method:
1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the filling and mix. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Set aside.
2. Apply butter on one side of each bread slice. On the unbuttered side of 4 bread slices apply green chutney and on the remaining 4 slices apply tomato ketchup.
3. Take the slices with green chutney side up and spread the prepared paneer filling. Cover with the bread slices smeared with tomato ketchup with buttered side up. Repeat the same with the rest of the bread slices.
4. Grill them on a sandwich maker till golden lines appear on both sides. Slice them into two halves.
5. Serve hot with ketchup and green chutney. Enjoy!


BMLogo

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