Sunday, October 18, 2020

Marqeta Talent Show: Simultaneous Chess

 My office has arranged for a virtual fun event called Marqeta Talent Show where people can demonstrate their different talents in a festive manner. I thought of hosting a simultaneous chess show with some of my fellow players of Marqeta Chess Club. When someone joins Marqeta, they need to say what is their superpower, usually something funny or some passion that they cherish. When I joined Marqeta, I claimed my superpower as the ability to play chess in 10 boards in parallel with 10 opponents, making each move in less than 10 seconds and win all the 10 games! Of course, I am not that good, specially if 1 or 2 of the opponents are seasoned players then I have no chance. But then, a superpower is supposed to be flashy or funny. So I gave it a try. Our SVP Brian Keilly was hosting the All Hands and told me he wants to test my superpower. Well, it's not easy to arrange a simul like this and we decided we will figure out a way later. I remember every once in a while Brian would ask me - "Hey Ashik are you scared, you haven't given the test yet!" 😅So finally I thought this is the time when I can give it a try. 

5 of my colleagues were interested to participate in that talent show. Very nice of them, thank you! Last afternoon we ended up playing as a group and here are the highlights from that session. I was at risk of losing in the game against Charles but managed to win all the games. 

Game#1: Padma Muthuramalingam vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#2: Artem Sholomytskyy vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#3: Chandrasekaran Subramaniam vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#4: Subrat Parida vs Ashik Uzzaman

Game#5: Ashik Uzzaman vs Charles Simms

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ashik and Ahyan's Round 5 and 6 Games in MIC TNM August 2020

 Last Tuesday Ahyan and I played the 5th and 6th round of Tuesday Night Marathon online over arranged by Mechanics Chess Institute. The games are live analyzed by FIDE Master Paul Whitehead and Abel Talamantez. After a nice win by Ahyan at 5th round he was jointly in second position with 4 out of 5 in the open section which is phenomenal at his age and rating. Ahyan and I joined the commentary by invitation from TD Judit Sztaray after the 6th round for a short time. Here are some excerpts from our games and the commentaries. The TNM newsletter for this round may be found here -

Friday, August 14, 2020

ThunderCats Opening Remade with CGI

How To Learn Philosophy On My Own

 I have been thinking of learning Philosophy without going to a college or enrolling in Philosophy courses for some time now. Philosophy is such a vast topic that the biggest trouble for me was to figure out where to start, what are the major areas of Philosophy that I should focus on, and how to go about it within the limited time I have. Apart from my spiritual quest, I was very intrigued by Jordan B Peterson's mentions of Friedrich Nietzsche in one of the best books I have ever read 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Some of my early attempts were watching the Philosophy Crash Course in YouTube (and planning to do these 47 videos another go in the next few weeks), reading 50 Philosophy Ideas you really need to know by Ben Dupre, listening in audible 50 Philosophy Classics: Thinking, Being, Acting, Seeing: Profound Insights and Powerful Thinking from Fifty Key Books by Tom Butler-Bowdon, and reading The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. It still didn't give me enough courage to undertake a long journey of diving deep into various branches of Philosophy. But finally I couldn't resist myself and woke up 5 AM in the morning today to google for four hours all the world of internet, and come up with the below outline for myself to proceed on what might turn out to be (if Almighty permits) decades journey into learning Philosophy myself. 

First I went for identifying major branches of Philosophy to explore. Those are - 
  1. Metaphysics - ultimate nature of reality
  2. Epistemology - what we know and how we come to know it
  3. Axiology - study of principles and values which is further divided into two major kinds
    • Ethics - the study of morality
    • Aesthetics - inquiry about art and beauty
  4. Logic - the structure of arguments
In addition to these, I have also seen the below few to be included as major branches.
  • Ontology - knowing the reality
  • Political Philosophy - deals with government, justice, and so on
I also see attempts to refer to Eastern Philosophy as spiritual and Western Philosophy as logical although most people don't even agree on these two broad definitions. For example, where to put Confucianism in this classification?

When it comes to where to start reading, I have seen popular arguments to begin with the history of Philosophy. For that, I am planning to read the paperback reprint A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (895 pages) and listen to the audiobook The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant (19 hours). My friend Ashfaq gave me a book as a birthday gift which I will plan to finish next - A Little History of Philosophy of History by Nigel Warburton.

I plan to proceed then next with The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition by Daniel N. Robinson (30 hours), and then The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant. After that, I hope to figure out which of the following books and in which order I will read next.
When stuck with any concept, I plan to use Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyReddit to unblock myself.

Our Universe

 I have been fascinated while listening to and reading about the Universe since my childhood. But most of those readings have been random, organic in nature just like my readings on everything else - science fictions, detective novels, history, biography, cricket, soccer, and so on. The notable exception is Chess and Software Engineering which I have done pretty significantly in terms of method and volume

In 2015 I started reducing my overall time spent reading, learning, and playing chess (it was not an easy decision, believe me). That gave me extra time to focus on my pursuit of knowledge outside of my day job and family responsibilities. So I picked up first to understand religions and particularly Islam as I felt it's my duty to know in detail as a Muslim. About 3 years of reading, watching videos, enrolling in seminars on topics related to Islam, Comparative Religions, Atheism, and relevant topics - I felt like it's good enough for me to synthesize and reflect on what I found for the foreseeable future. So I switched next to learn about Leadership and Self Help to move towards an Engineering Leadership career. My particular area of interest has been Bay Area Software Startups although I have been learning all aspects of leadership and management that I possibly could find. And then recently, I picked up the journey to learn deeply about Philosophy. I am immensely enjoying all these.

While these are good, my childhood aspiration to learn about the outer space and vastness of the Universe has never died. I have been waiting for the right moment to dive into it. I feel like now is the time. I recently joined a few large online groups that focus on knowledge around deep space. I have prepared a list of things to know after surfing through those in the last few months. You may find the above youtube video useful as a summary although I plan to cover much more than what is mentioned in that video. While planning, I also bought Einstein's Relativity & Quantum Revolution, Stephen Hawking's A Brief Hisotry of Time and The Universe In A Nutshell. Below is a brief outline of what I plan to cover, which I will continue to update as I make progress. Would you like to recommend something to add this list?

  1. Observable Universe

    • Metric expansion of space

    • Singularity

    • Cosmic time or Cosmological time

    • Horizon problem

    • Flatness problem

    • Dark Energy

    • Dark Matter

    • Fine-tuned Universe

    • Multiverse

    • Unseen Universe

  2. Big Bang

    • Inflationary Epoch or Cosmic Inflation

    • Quark Epoch

    • Hadron Epoch

    • Redshift

  3. Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR)

  4. Anti-matter

  5. Particle Horizon

  6. Gravitational Waves

    • Curvature of Spacetime

    • Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

  7. Neutrino or Cosmic Neutrino Background (CNB)

  8. Galaxy

    • Dwarf Galaxy

    • Ring Galaxy

    • Irregular Galaxy

    • Blazar

    • Cosmic Ray

    • Interstellar Space

    • Galactic Helo

    • Active Galactic Nucleus

    • Starburst Galaxy

  9. Galaxy Filaments

    • Superclusters

  10. Star Clusters

    • Globular

    • Open

  11. Cosmic Void

  12. Star

    • Dwarf Stars - Red / Yellow / Orange / Brown / White / Black

    • Variable Stars - Intrinsic / Extrinsic / Semiregular / Cephid 

    • Blue Giant - Red Giant, Super Giant, Hyper Giant

    • Neutron Star - Pulsar, Magnetar

    • Binary Star

  13. Solar System

    • Asteroid Belt

    • Sun

    • Earth

    • Terrestrial planet

    • Gaseous planet

    • Ice Giants

    • Heliosphere

    • Geospace

  14. Planet

    • Rogue planel

    • Exoplanet

  15. Gamma-Ray Burst

  16. Fast Radio Burst

  17. Black Hole

    • Event Horizon

    • Supermassive blackhole

    • Micro blackhole

    • Fabric of Spacetime

  18. Nebula

    • Protoplanetary Nebula

    • Emission Nebula

    • H II Region

    • Reflection Nebula

    • Dark Nebula

  19. Supernova

    • Type 1 vs Type 2

    • Hypernova

    • Supernova Reminant

  20. Quasar

    • Double quasar

  21. Comet

  22. Meteoroid

  23. Satelite

    • Sub-satellite or moonmoon

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

From the recommendation of my friend Ashfaq, I finished listening to the short story collection Exhalation by Ted Chiang yesterday. Ted Chiang has won four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and four Locus awards. His short story, Story of Your Life, was the basis of the film Arrival (2016). In the 9 short stories and novelette of Exhalation, Ted Chiang brings out a fusion of science, technology, religion, philosophy, ethics, morality, relationship, fantasy with great mastery. He takes an idea and gives it a very human touch instead of just focusing on the core technical idea, exactly the type I like. After Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem trilogy that I finished 3 years back, Exhalation is the book that is going to instill FOMO (fear of missing out) in me for the new breed of sci-fi books (I still can't come out of Asimov).

The stories in this collection are listed below. The first two are particularly better than the rest of the stories. The first one, The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, I would rate as one of the best short stories (in all categories, not just sci-fi) I have read in recent times.
  1. The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - What would you do if you are given a choice to meet your own self 20 years in the future or 20 years in the past? I chose 20 years in the future (when my friend asked me) as Alhamdulillah I am content with my past. Ted touched on what destiny means in the style of Arabian Nights i.e. story-within-story in an Islamic context. Apart from the time travel part, he didn't try to use science in it, and hence this may better be classified under fantasy or philosophy rather than sci-fi. The way Ted wrote, I felt he has talked to his Muslim friends or scholars to properly understand Qadr (Predestination), fate, and the relevant arguments and counter-arguments within Islam about destiny. Just this story alone is worth buying the whole book for. It won the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the 2008 Nebula Award for Best Novelette.
  2. Exhalation - You may read the story online here. This is a story based on the second law of thermodynamics (total entropy, thermodynamic equilibrium) in a civilization led by air-driven mechanical human-like robots. The story is epistolary in nature, taking the form of a scientist's journal entry who first identifies the upcoming eventual demise of the universe they live in. Exhalation won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
  3. What's Expected of Us - You may read this very short story online here.
  4. The Lifecycle of Software Objects - I was surprised to read how familiar the author sounded in this novella about software startups and the ecosystem. So later I found he is by profession a technical writer in the software industry. It won the 2011 Locus Award for Best Novella and the Hugo Award for Best Novella.
  5. Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny
  6. The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling
  7. The Great Silence - You may read this short story online here.
  8. Omphalos
  9. Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Gorvodharini (গর্ভধারিণী) by Samaresh Majumdar

Gorvodharini is a popular and well-known book written by famous Indian Bengali novelist Samaresh Majumdar, published from Kolkata in 1986. It's a story of 4 revolutionary youth Anand, Kalyan, Sudip, and Joyita who went to shake the consciousness of feudal society by taking arms in hand. While their small movement could hardly make a dent in the society, they ran away to Nepali underprivileged village in remote mountains and built a new society. It's the story of Joyita eventually turning into Drimit with the hope for a new society where they hope for equality, simplicity, and justice.

When I was in school and college, books of Samaresh Majumdar along with Sunil Gongopadhdhay, Shirshendu were things that everyone would read. I somehow couldn't read it at that time, but I am glad that finished it now to revisit those old days.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Top 10 Soft Skills You Need To Land A High Paying Job | Soft Skills Cras...

1. Positive mental attitude 2. Self/Achievement motivation 3. What is Communication? 4. Communication and Listening Skills 5. Conflict Resolution 6. Leadership 7. Relationship Building 8. Negotiation and Meditation 9. Teamwork 10. Work Ethics

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Quran Bangla Translation Online

Here is a convenient online audio and text translation of Al-Quran in Bangla -

I tried it out from both my mac browsers and iPhone safari to make sure I can clearly listen to the audio and read the text. This is particularly great as you can choose to read and listen to both Arabic and Bangla recitation and translation or just either Arabic or Bangla.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Thomas Friedman on the New World Order after COVID-19

The author of The World is Flat Thomas L. Friedman  is another eloquent speaker and an optimist. In this interview he talks about the current COVID-19 situation and how we should prepare for the world once this pandemic is over.

Friedman calls for a sustainable strategy to maximize lives and livelihoods with a moral/ethical trade-off. Because if you are all focused on lives, mother nature will kill every job; and if all you are focused on jobs, she will kill as many lives as she can.

Then he touches on how we are reacting on the COVID-19 situation -
  • Chinese model - complete lockdown
  • Swedish model - partial lockdown, natural hard immunity
  • US model - tired of lockdown, opening up before it's safe
He calls for humility, coordination, and strategy dictated by chemistry/biology/physics as that's the only logic mother nature understands. He points out the winners will not be those who are the strongest nor the smartest and nor the richest; it will be those who are the most adaptive

He also talks about the breakdown of USA and China relationship which got accelerated due to this coronovirus situation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Challenges of Leading Engineering Teams – AHappyJob Post

AHappyJob, an online portal for job-seekers, recently contacted me to ask a few questions around the challenges of leading engineering teams. They published a blog post with my answer about it here –

What do you wish engineers understood the challenges their managers go through?

My Answer: When engineering managers are giving relatively high dev estimate for an apparently small task, they are not moving slow, they are adding time to account for the unexpected. When they are going to meetings after meetings, it’s so that you don’t have to. They can answer some of your questions, but they don’t have all the answers. Also, they crave feedback but rarely get it.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Earlier this week I finished Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Essentialism is doing only what is important and essential while saying No to all the rest of the things that come to us. This book has made me think if I am doing too much with my limited capability and time. In fact, I am very sure I am doing too much and the book merely pointed out that to me in a crystal clear manner. The idea of essentialism is similar to minimalism, although I think essentialism has a more positive connotation to it. It's fundamental personal discipline and leadership quality. You may have also heard about doing smart work instead of hard work, which is also relevant to this.

Greg tells us that the way of essentialists is to (1) explore and evaluate, (2) eliminate, and (3) execute. With that in mind, I am thinking that I need to optimize my life for the following essential things - family, health, profession, and knowledge. However, I am wondering if there are any of these above 4 I should further consider eliminating. For example, family will cover not only my immediate family members but relatives and friends. Health will cover both physical and meantal health. Profession will cover what I do best in my work and getting better at it over time. Knowledge will cover many of the other things I do including reading, writing, travel, music, spirituality. However, am I again getting into the trap of being too inclusive? I need to think more to come up with the right words and narratives in the coming days. So you can imagine that this is a book which will make you think and hence you should read it.

Here are some of the quotes I liked in this book.
  • Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
  • The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.
  • A popular idea in Silicon Valley is “Done is better than perfect.
  • You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.
  • Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.
  • The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.
  • Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.
  • Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, "What do I have to give up?" they ask, "What do I want to go big on?"
  • We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health.
  • Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.
  • If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
  • Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I finished Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill yesterday. This is arguably one of the most popular personal development books of all time. In this book, Napoleon emphasizes that success comes to those who are success conscious. He lays out 13 principles to get rich which can also be used for any other goal than money.


  1. Burning Desire - Wishing alone won't bring money.
    • fix your mind on the exact amount of money you desire
    • determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money
    • establish a date you want it to achieve
    • create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and putting into action
    • write out the exact amount of money you intend to acquire and what you are willing to give in return for it
    • read our your statement out loud twice daily
  2. Faith - When you truly have faith in a desire and believe that it will come true, it starts manifesting its own physical self. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
  3. Auto-suggestion - Just saying words is not the magical trick to bring success but rather a mental process where you use words to convince yourself that you will succeed. Auto-suggestion helps you reach through your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind only acts on thoughts that are emotionally charged.
  4. Specialized Knowledge - The way of success is the way of pursuit of knowledge. Come off with a plan, try it out and if it fails replace it with a better plan. Don't be a jack of all trade, be a master of one. The quitter never wins and the winner never quits.
  5. Imagination - You want to imagine where you want to be. Man can create anything which he can imagine. It's crucial to manifest your desire.
  6. Organized Planning - Write down the plan and follow it to get to your goal. The steps have to be practical.
  7. Decision - Rich men can make decisions quickly and rarely change their mind based on other people's opinions. They also do a lot more listening than talking. Sometimes to succeed in life you have to burn the bridges, to not go back.
  8. Persistence - Lack of persistence is a major cause of failure. So keep at it and you will find success. Don't give up.
  9. Power of the Mastermind - A group of people you put together, they can help you go over your ideas and you can help each other achieve success. They openly share ideas and take advantage of each other's knowledge. The result of synergy can be 1+1 = 3.
  10. Mastery of Sex Transmutation - Sexual desire is one of the strongest desire a person can have, and you can use this to focus on other things besides physical act of sex. Transmute that power into a different channel.
  11. Subconscious Mind - Fill the subconscious mind with positive feelings over the negative ones.
  12. The Brain - There is a collective mind, a universal intelligence that we all can tap into through the vibration of thoughts. When we think about positive emotions, our vibrations are higher. Our subconscious mind is the sending station of our brain.
  13. The Sixth Sense - It defies description, it can't be compared. You master the other 12 principles and it comes to you automatically.
Napoleon finishes the book with the following - life is a checkerboard and your opponent is time. If you hesitate before moving, your pieces will be wiped off the board by time.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck tells us about the power of mindset in this fascinating book. She figured that people use one of two basic mindsets in their lives - fixed mindset and growth mindset.

People with fixed mindset believe the abilities are largely fixed while people with growth believe that abilities can largely be developed with effort over time. If you think your capabilities are coded genetically and you can only vary to a certain degrees no matter what you try, you are applying a fixed mindset. On the other hand if you see that it's not just your gene but your environment, your overall context and how you utilize that will determine where you will end up, you are applying a growth mindset.

Do you remember the Denim aftershave ad where it says for men who don't have to try too hard? This is a perfect example of fixed mindset. People with fixed mindset put themselves into an imagined box and think that is the overall boundary within which they have to operate. They think other successful people operate within a larger box or outside of the boundary than their own. Effort can only take them to the edge of the boundary and no more.

However, Carol argues us to develop a growth mindset where failures are learning opportunities, challenges are not hardles but call for more efforts. She argues us not to put ourselves into a box, and keep pushing the boundaries, if any has been setup for them, with curiosity, focus, endurance, hard work. She asks us not to praise our children for their talents but for their efforts.

If you think deeply, it's a groundbreaking categorization of how we think of everything around us. I highly recommend everyone to read this book.

Thoughts on Life, Death, and Overcoming Fear

I've been pondering a topic that's universally relevant yet rarely discussed - death and the anxieties it evokes. As I delve deeper ...