10 Best Biographies

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Read reviews

Einstein: His Life and Universe

Einstein His Life and Universe

By the author of the acclaimed bestsellers Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs, this is the definitive biography of Albert Einstein.

How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson’s biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.

Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk—a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate—became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom, and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.

These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.

Read reviews

Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island

Etched in Sand

Synopsis

Regina’s Calcaterra memoir, Etched in Sand, is an inspiring and triumphant coming-of-age story of tenacity and hope.

Regina Calcaterra is a successful lawyer, New York State official, and activist. Her painful early life, however, was quite different. Regina and her four siblings survived an abusive and painful childhood only to find themselves faced with the challenges of the foster-care system and intermittent homelessness in the shadows of Manhattan and the Hamptons.

A true-life rags-to-riches story, Etched in Sand chronicles Regina’s rising above her past, while fighting to keep her brother and three sisters together through it all.

Beautifully written, with heartbreaking honesty, Etched in Sand is an unforgettable reminder that regardless of social status, the American Dream is still within reach for those who have the desire and the determination to succeed.

Read reviews

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

The Last Lion Winston Spencer Churchill Defender of the Realm 1940 1965

Synopsis

Spanning the years 1940 to 1965, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm begins shortly after Winston Churchill became prime minister—when Great Britain stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. In brilliant prose and informed by decades of research, William Manchester and Paul Reid recount how Churchill organized his nation’s military response and defense, convinced FDR to support the cause, and personified the “never surrender” ethos that helped win the war. We witness Churchill, driven from office, warning the world of the coming Soviet menace. And after his triumphant return to 10 Downing Street, we follow him as he pursues his final policy goal: a summit with President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet leaders. And in the end, we experience Churchill’s last years, when he faces the end of his life with the same courage he brought to every battle he ever fought.

Read reviews

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

Orange Is the New Black My Year in a Womens Prison

Synopsis

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

Read reviews

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass Castle A Memoir

Synopsis

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Read reviews

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Synopsis

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

Read reviews

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

Still Foolin Em Where Ive Been Where I'm Going and Where the Hell Are My Keys

Synopsis

Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America’s favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career

Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he’s not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like “Buying the Plot” and “Nodding Off,” Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever “test positive for Maalox”), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali.

Read reviews

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Boyd The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Synopsis

John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever — the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country’s most legendary fighter aircraft — the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story. Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. And in one of the most startling and unknown stories of modern military history, the Air Force fighter pilot taught the U.S. Marine Corps how to fight war on the ground. His ideas led to America’s swift and decisive victory in the Gulf War and foretold the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Read reviews

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands The Ben Carson Story

Synopsis

Ben Carson, M.D., works medical miracles. Today, he’s one of the most celebrated neurosurgeons in the world. In Gifted Hands, he tells of his inspiring odyssey from his childhood in inner-city Detroit to his position as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33. Ben Carson is a role model for anyone who attempts the seemingly impossible as he takes you into the operating room where he has saved countless lives. Filled with fascinating case histories, this is the dramatic and intimate story of Ben Carson’s struggle to beat the odds — and of the faith and genius that make him one of the greatest life-givers of the century.

Read reviews

WordPress Setup

This is a WIP post

WordPress

  • Permalinks URL structure
    • Custom structure /blog/%postname%/
    • Category base blog/category
    • Tag base blog/tag
  • Run the site through Google page speed analyzer
  • Favicon
  • Logo
  • Update the Shop page title using WordPress SEO by Yoast. SEO -> Titles & Meta -> Post Types -> Custom Post Type Archives
  • Install Wp-Optimize
  • Install W3TC
  • Install Autoptimize
  • Update Site title, email. Settings -> General

Woocommerce

  • Notification email. Woocommerce -> Products -> Inventory

Analytics

  • Google analytics tracking code. Include demographic tracking snippet
  • Submit site to Google webmaster and Bing webmaster
  • Set up Goal conversion
  • Associate Google Analytics account with Google webmaster site
  • Insert Facebook conversion tracking pixel

SEO

  • Install WordPress SEO by Yoast

Social

  • Link site to G+ local business
  • Create Google authorship association
  • Link site to Facebook
  • Post all products to Pinterest
  • Post all blog posts to Google +
  • Post all blog posts to Twitter
  • Post all blog posts to Facebook
  • Create instagram
  • Disqus plugin

Images

  • Install EWWW
  • Check image size is correct.
    • Woocommerce -> Products -> Product Image Sizes
    • You will need to install Regenerate Thumbnails and run it

Cusomer Service

  • Zopim

Email

  • Install Mailchimp plugin
  • Add GA tracking code to Mailchimp

 

What I Learnt Building 6 Real Estate iPhone Apps

I’ve built the following real estate related apps over the last few months. All of them are Singapore centric except for the rental yield calculator and the mortgage calculator.

  1. Progressive Payment Calculator 
  2. SG Stamp Duty Calculator
  3. Loan Affordability Calculator
  4. Property Tax Calculator
  5. Rental Yield Calculator
  6. Mortgage Calculator

Takeaways

  • When dealing with currency operations, just bite the bullet and use NSDecimalNumber. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief further down the road
  • Always try to use NSNumberFormatter for converting from NSNumber to NSString or the other way round. Don’t do things like self.label.text = @”$0.00″. Instead, do self.label.text = [self.formatter stringFromNumber:self.number] where self.formatter is a NSNumberFormatter property. Here’s how I instantiate my property.
    - (NSNumberFormatter *)formatter {
        if (!_formatter) {
            _formatter = [[NSNumberFormatter alloc] init];
            _formatter.numberStyle = NSNumberFormatterCurrencyStyle;
            _formatter.locale = [NSLocale currentLocale];
            _formatter.generatesDecimalNumbers = YES;
            [_formatter setLenient:YES];
        }
        return _formatter;
    }
  • If you’re dealing with percentages and you find yourself having to multiply/divide 100 at certain parts of your code, there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong. Use NSNumberFormatterPercentStyle for NSNumberFormatter. Always work with the decimal form of your percent before formatting it for display at the final step.
  • Always test your app by changing the default region to another country which doesn’t have $ as it’s currency symbol. You can do so by going to Settings > General > International > Region Format. If you’re using NSNumberFormatter correctly, you should be safe.
  • Currency input sanitization can be annoying. Your sanitizer needs to handle the situations where
    • User input with currency symbol
    • User input without currency symbol

    as it was in my case. The initial input from the user doesn’t contain currency symbols. Once the formatter is applied and displayed, subsequent changes to the textfield will involve a currency symbol. It is probably worth noting that [self.formatter numberFromString:self.label.text] requires self.label.text to be in a format that contains the currency symbol otherwise it will return nil. This makes it annoying for the initial input where there isn’t a currency symbol and subsequent inputs where there is.
    My workaround for that is to enforce the currency symbol all the time. I use this little snippet to do so

Comment Scene Like Instagram

In my short stint with iOS programming thus far, I found that one of the most difficult and crucial part of the process is deciding which controller to use. Conceivably, you could use a plain UIViewController to design everything but that’s a poor man’s way of going about it. Here’s how I did the comment page for Instagram.

There are a few requirements:

  • Comment box should stick to the bottom
  • Autolayout should be used
  • UITableViewCell should resize accordingly to the amount of text required to fit the cell nicely
  • Bonus: works in landscape and portrait modes. Instagram doesn’t support landscape.

2014-04-24 12.26.36

2014-04-24 12.23.33

 

 

 

 

 

 

General process:

  • Insert a TableView into a UIViewController
  • Add a subview programmatically or via storyboard
  • Set the constraints up correctly
  • Animate the bottom constraint from the comment box to it’s superview as and when the keyboard appears

Some gotchas:

  • You can’t do this using a UITableViewController and then laying a subview into it.
    • The view will move along with the tableview as you scroll which is not the behaviour you want
  • You can’t do this using a UITableViewController and then adding the comment box in the footer
    • The footer will always be below the last cell in the tableview which is not what you want

Code: https://github.com/nychng/AutoSizeTableCell

UICollectionView Doesn’t Fill The Screen. Leaves a Top and Bottom Thin Black Margin

If you have a UICollectionView in a UIViewController, you might see something like the image shown here. There are two horizontal black space running across the top and bottom of the Cell. The reason for this is because you might have

- (BOOL)prefersStatusBarHidden {
    return YES;
}

The spacing seems to be space set aside for the status bar.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.45.44 am