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The Mythical Man-Month March 13, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
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I just finished reading this book, and I found it very insightful. I learned a lot about large software projects and some well known concepts in software development that I was not aware of. Here is my favorite piece of knowledge out of the whole book:

Brook’s Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later

Added to my Books list

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Applying to colleges takes soo much time December 13, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books, College.
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I’ve redefined writer’s block: for the last three days, I have been trying to think of what to write for the Stanford 2007 Long Essay. It finally came to me tonight, so I am in the middle of writing a [hopefully] compelling enough piece of writing that an admissions officer who reads it will get tricked into thinking I’m smart and let me in :p. I don’t deserve to get into Stanford based off of my scholastic achievements, so my essays are extra important.

Ah, yes, the title of my post: not that the actualy applying to college takes a lot of time, but the psychological trauma of the fear of not getting into any of the colleges I apply to is weighing heavily on my productivity these days.

Do they have therapy for post-application-depression? I’m going to need a good dose of it if they do… 😀

I caught up on a ton of reading in Tahoe: I finished Built to Last, and read Freakonomics in two days. Freakonomics is one of the funnest books I’ve ever read, I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to kill some time — it’s not that long, about 200 pages, and can be read through really fast.

I’m reading “Built To Last” November 28, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books, Web 2.0.
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I’m only four chapters into the book, and I am about to put it down. It has a lot of great research and sound principles behind everything they say, but I think the book is completely outdated. Who wants to build a company that lasts anymore? I’m talking about Web 2.0 when I say this. Look at all the companies in the valley though — they either get bought out, tank, or turn into a “lasting” company (i.e., Google, Yahoo, Oracle). But those companies are very few and far between; there’s no point in creating a company — build a product off of a great idea and sell. I understand that there are probably hundreds of companies that don’t have this model, but the majority do. Anyways, that’s my opinion on this book so far.

Book reviews! November 6, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
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Last 4 months

Atlas Shrugged: 10/10 – Perfection from start to finish. It answered all of the questions that The Fountainhead left you with.

The Fountainhead: 9/10 -Rand was still perfecting her writing techniques and refining her philosophy.

The Likeability Factor: 6/10 – Was really good for the first 80 pages. Then you realize how repetitive everything is.

Wisdom for a Young CEO: 3/10 – Lots of great insight, but you can find that information anywhere.

The Little Red Book of Selling: 6/10 – Very practical and to the point, but I believe sales is something that you are born with. Either you can or you can’t sell something; you can’t learn the “art” of selling if you aren’t born a salesman.

How to Win Friends & Influence People: 9/10 – Everyone needs to read this book. Seriously. Especially all of those Emo/Goth kids

 

And how ironic is this — I started reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” and I stopped 1/3 of the way through because I became so engulfed with reading The Fountainhead… Hahaha!

 

SO! In my bookshelf right now is a queue of about 6 books that I am reading next. Let me just list them, let me know if you’ve read them and what you think.

  • Freakonomics
  • Good to Great
  • Built To Last
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • The Tipping Point
  • We The Living (Rand)
  • Anthem (Rand)

Hopefully I can get through most of these by December…

 

MRS. OATES — YOU WERE SO RIGHT ABOUT READING!!!

 

“The world belongs to readers”

 

Ok it’s 12:30 and I’m going to start reading We The Living tonight.

Atlas Shrugged November 6, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
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I started Atlas Shrugged on September 26 and I finished it today, I think it took about a month and a half or so. Anyways, I would like to write a little bit about what I have learned. I would recommend this book to any entity with a pulse… Seriously.

The first thing I learned was the “virtue” of selfishness. A lot of people disagree with Ayn Rand’s writings, but I think she is completely right on this topic. In the book, it says over and over again this quote —

I swear–by my life and my love of it–that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

I understand all the arguments that people would have against this statement, but I think that if everyone looked out for themselves instead of relying on the charity of others, we would have a much, much more productive society.

John Galt’s 60 page monologue was the most mind blowing passage I have ever read. There was so much philosophy in his speach that it took me over 4 days to get through the whole of it.

One thing that John Galt says in his speech is this (my version of it). When someone says “Who am I to know?”, they are saying “Who am I to exist?”. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I love what it entails — people need to think for themselves. Her whole philosophy of a zero ruling non-zeros blew my mind, but it made so much sense. Another thing that I loved was in his speech —

The desire not to be anything is the desire not to be.

I would not only highly recommend this book to anyone, but I’ll buy this book for anyone that wants to read it. I am going to re-read this book every other year for the rest of my life (alternating years w/ The Fountainhead), because it has so much to say about life, happiness, work, love, etc… Objectivism makes a helluva lot of sense, but I still believe in God and Christianity.

Her whole philosophy about those who rule by force is freaking GENIUS. People in Venezuela need to get their hands on a copy of Atlas Shrugged before that country is destroyed by Hugo Chavez.

Atlas Shrugged: first impressions September 26, 2006

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I have heard a lot of hype regarding Atlas Shrugged. I finished the first chapter today… Before starting the book, I googled it and came up with this article. Thought it was pretty cool. Anyways, I loved the first chapter; it reminded me so much of The Fountainhead. Rand is still introducing the characters and setting the scene, so I won’t know much until I get to about chapter 10 on section 1.

🙂

The three things you can live off of September 25, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Advice, Books.
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Food, gas, and books.

I just looked over my statement for the last month, and those three make up for nearly $500 of my expenses. Well, books made up for about $350 of it; the rest is just gas and food… And you know what ? I felt like I’ve spent my money wisely for the first time in my life. Usually I would blow $500 on clothes (well, I’m about to blow $1k on new ski equipment and clothes :p, but that’s justifiable…), but I think that buying books is almost as good an investment as buying food for yourself. I don’t know why, but it just gives me that feeling.

Read to achieve. Seriously.

Finished with The Fountainhead, starting Atlas Shrugged September 24, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
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After three weeks of reading The Fountainhead, I am (sadly) finished with it. But that’s not the last time I will read that book; I want to re-read it every year or every other year from here on out. I am starting Atlas Shrugged tonight, which I have heard rave reviews about. Have you read Atlas Shrugged ? What do you think of it ?

And I’ve added my teacher, Mario Landeros, to my blogroll. Nice to see a teacher up to speed with the rest of the world these days… 🙂

Egoism and Altruism September 22, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books, Rants.
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The Fountainhead deals with these two views at the core of every main character. Here are the definitions of each —
Egoism: the view that we are always motivated by self-interest or that we always should be so motivated. Contemporary rational choice theorists attempt to understand how actual social institutions can be based on the choices of individuals acting according to egoist principles. The prisoner’s dilemma and other problem cases show difficulties with this approach.

Altruism: the view that the well-being of others should have as much importance for us as the well-being of ourselves. Some argue that altruism, even if it is desirable, is not possible, and that our ethics must be based on egoism.

The true definition of altruism can not, and will never be exemplified in a human being. The only person that has achieved true altruism is Jesus Christ (you could argue him to be an egoist). It’s not possible to reach true altruism because nobody can possibly have absolute humility; even the most minute hint of pride negates the possibility of achieving it. But I don’t want to come out against it either; look at what some of these billionaires have done — Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Google.org have done and are currently doing some amazing things for the world as a whole. I have complete respect for all these people that are involved in helping others; it’s a noble thing. But to say that anybody is a true altruist is fallacy.

And what’s wrong with being an egoist ? Why can’t one be self-sufficient ? Nearly everybody’s (I leave out Mark Cuban :p) self-respect is defined by what other people speak over them. The “you are”‘s become “I am”‘s, as Pastor Greg said tonight at 1221. It’s so true though; why can’t we have our own images of ourself, and not care about what anybody else thinks ? What’s wrong with that ? Sure, when someone tries to stick it to everybody else, they will take so much crap. But at the end of the day, you are not defined by what other people think of you; you are defined by yourself. Bleh.

The problem with me is I feel that I can’t express in writing what is in my head; it seems like it doesn’t make sense in words. It all works up in my head though. Anyways…

Read The Fountainhead. You wan’t regret it.

Some quotes from The Fountainhead that are insane September 21, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
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UPDATE: I’ve moved my blog over to 31fps.com, so check that for my current updates.

I am on the home stretch of reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It’s been the most amazing book I’ve ever read in my life. About halfway through the book, I realized how many enlightening quotes the book was filled with, so I tried something new: I put a bunch of post-its inside the cover, and everytime I found a quote I liked, I’d slap a post-it on it. And that’s how I’ve come up with these quotes…

I will try to give the context for each quote, but reading the book is by far the best way to grasp the full meaning.

Gail Wynand, one of the richest man in NYC, talking to Dominique (his wife) about love

“Why have you been staring at me ever since we met? Because I’m not the Gail Wynand you’d heard about. You see, I love you. And love is exception-making. If you were in love you’d want to be broken, trampled, ordered, dominated, because that’s the impossible, in the inconceivable for you in your relations with people. That would be the one gift, the great exception you’d want to offer the man you loved. But it wouldn’t be easy for you.”

Alvah Scarret is one of the heads of Gail Wynand’s huge newspaper, The Banner, and his response to Wynand after Wynand fires one of the paper’s top writers

Scarret protested in panic: “Gail, you can’t fire Sally! Not Sally!
“When I can’t fire anyone I wish on my paper, I’ll close it and blow up the God-damn building,” said Wynand calmly.

Peter Keating is basically the opposite of the hero, Howard Roark. He speaks of him here.

“I often think that he’s the only one of us who’s achieved immortality. I don’t mean in the sense of fame and I don’t mean that he won’t die some day. But he’s living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict–and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unrevered or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard–one can imagine him existing forever.”

Dominique talking to Wynand on his yacht

[Dominique] “I used to travel a great deal. I always felt just like that [hating to be at a destination]. I’ve been told it’s because I’m a hater of mankind.”
“You’re not foolish enough to believe that, are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Surely you’ve seen through that particular stupidity. I mean the one that claims the pig is the symbol of love for humanity–the creature that accepts anything. As a matter of fact, the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him.”
“You mean the person whosays that there’s some good in the worst of us?”
“I mean the person whohas the filthy insolence to claim that he loves equally the man who made that statue of you and the manwho makes a Mickey Mouse balloonto sell on street corners. I mean the person who loves the men who prefer the Mickey Mouse to you statue–and there are many of that kind. I mean the person who loves Joan of Arc and the salesgirls in dress shops on Broadway–with equal fervor. I mean the person who loves your beauty and the women he sees in a subway–the kind that can’t cross their knees and show flesh hanging publicly over their garters–with the same sense of exaltation. I mean the person who loves the clean, steady, unfrightened eyes of man looking through a telescope and the white stare of an imbecile–equally. I mean quite a large, generous, magnanimous company. Is it you who hate mankind, Mrs. Keating?”

Wynand talking to Dominique about love, again

“Or that love is pity.”
“Oh, keep still. It’s bad enough to hear things like that. To hear them from you is revolting–even as a joke.”
“What’s your answer?”
“That love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. BUt they don’t know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who’ve never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it–the total passion for the total height–you’re incapable of anything less.”

Peter Keating sitting by the fire realizing he isn’t happy

He thought of how convincingly he could describe this scene to friends and make them envy the fullness of his contentment. Why oculdn’t he convince himself? He had everything he’d ever wanted. He had wanted superiority–and for the last year he had been the undisputed leader of his profession. He had wanted fame–and he had five thick albums of clippings. He had wanted wealth–and he had enough to insure luxury for the rest of his life. He had everything anyone ever wanted. How many people struggled and suffered to achieve what he had achieved? How many dreamed and bled and died for this, without reaching it? “Peter Keating is the luckiest fellow on earth.” How often had he heard that?

And I saved the best for last (if you had the endurance to read this far…). It’s a scene where Dominique is speaking to Howard Roark

“Roark, before I met you, I had always been afraid of seeing someone like you, because I knew that I’d also have to see what I saw on the witness stand and I’d have to do what I did in that courtroom. I hated doing it, because it was an insult to you to defend you–and it was an insult to myself that you had to be defended… Roark, I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: their halway, the almost, the just-about, the in-between. They have their justifications. I don’t know. I don’t care to inquire. I know that it is the one thing not given me to understand. When I think of what you are, I can’t accept any reality except a world of your kind. Or at least a world in which you have a fighting chance and a fight on your own terms. That does not exist. And I can’t live life torn between that which exists–and you. It would mean to struggle against things and men who don’t deserve to be your opponents. Your fight, using their methods–and that’s too horrible a desecration. It would mean doing for you what I dod for Peter Keating: lie, flatter, evade, compromise, pander to every ineptitude–in order to beg of them a chance for you, beg them to let you live, to let you function, to beg them, Roark, not to laugh at them, but to tremble because they hold the power to hurt you. Am I too weak because I can’t do this? I don’t know which is the greater strength: to accept all this for you–or to love you so much that the rest is beyond acceptance. I don’t know. I love you too much.”

Have you read it ? What’s your favorite quote(s) ? And out of all these, which one made you think the most ?