Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Baby pic

It's been a while since I've posted a picture of the lad. On our cruise a few weeks ago, they made lil' Christian wear a life preserver as part of a safety drill. I'm not sure how he would fare floating at sea, but it sure made for a nice photo opportunity...

posted by Ryan : 8:15 PM | permalink

Monday, January 26, 2004


Wharton Journal weekend

Our first edition of The Wharton Journal hit the presses this weekend. We hustled a lot of people for content and ended up with a longer paper than we probably needed. I must admit that I took for granted the amount of effort required to put a newspaper together. Aside from editing the grammar and run-on sentences of hurried writers, there are a lot of project management and recruiting tasks to tackle.

Our biggest challenge right now is that we only have 3 editors (including myself). In an ideal world, we’d have 3-5 additional editors. The consequence is that we have to spend a lot of time copyediting individual articles rather than concentrating on the layout and other bigger picture issues.

Here are the advantages (as I see it so far) of being an editor-in-chief:
Here are some of the disadvantages:

posted by Ryan : 10:06 AM | permalink

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


Busy with everything but classes

Things have really picked up. As expected this 2nd semester, classes have been less demanding. But recruiting and the Wharton Journal are starting to take bigger and bigger chunks out of my schedule.

Interviews are less than 2 weeks away, and case interview practices are now a daily feature of my schedule. Practice is so important because you have such a short time to "crack the case" in the actual interviews. In the real world, of course, consulting companies get 3+ months to solve a business problem. In the recruiting world, by contrast, they expect us to solve the same problem in 20 minutes. And, not only must we exhude confidence and poise, but we're told we must also wear a smile (as though we enjoyed being put through the wringer!). Maybe I can differentiate myself by whistling or skipping as I enter and exit the interview room, so I appear to be even more enthusiastic than the other candidates. In reality, of course, raw enthusiasm is probably less important than demonstrating raw intellectual horsepower (which I also hope to be able to fabricate). In all seriousness, case practices aren't all bad -- I haven't learned so much about so many industries in such a short period of time. If B-school is a crash course in business, case interview practices are the Cliff's Notes.

Meanwhile, Jeff and I are preparing for the first issue of the Wharton Journal (next Monday), and we're still trying to get section editors and writers to commit to being on staff. Our strategy thus far has been to usher potential candidates into the WJ office so that they able to realize that we have a fridge containing free drinks. So far it has worked.

posted by Ryan : 6:15 PM | permalink

Sunday, January 11, 2004


The answer to video piracy

The McKinsey Quarterly features an article about video piracy, attempting to address the following problem:
Companies in three industries—the content creators, the broadband providers, and the PC makers—find themselves stalled as they try to deliver digital video over broadband connections. This time, there is an added element of urgency: if they fail to act, illegal distribution will likely ramp up to meet market demand, and bootlegged movies could hurt box-office and downstream revenues, much as file sharing took a bite out of compact-disc sales. Video in 2004 stands where music did in 1998.
The similarities between music piracy and video piracy seem plausible on the surface, but I disagree with McKinsey's assertion here about video piracy "ramping up" in the same way music piracy did. There are several reasons why I think video piracy will be less troublesome than pirated music:
  1. You generally watch a video once, maybe twice. You listen to music over and over.
  2. Video is a huge bandwidth hog. A DVD that is compressed in the popular divx format is about 700MB whereas a CD in MP3 format is about 50MB. So you've got 15x more data to download for a DVD versus a CD. Broadband (DSL/Cable/T1) at 256K to 1.5MBPS is just starting to become widespread in people's homes and those speeds made music piracy easy and convenient. We need another HUGE jump in bandwidth to enable similar performance for downloading video. And I think it will definitely be more than a couple of years before 10MBPS is standard in people's homes.
  3. Most pirated music sits on people's computers, and people often use their computers as stereos. Assume you've just downloaded a movie. You have three options: a) Watch the movie on your computer, b) Burn a DVD to watch on your home system, which is time consuming, and wasteful given low repeat value compared to a burnt CD, c) Use networking to send video from your computer to your TV.
The only way I believe video piracy will really explode (like music did) is if a) there is widespread adoption of a device that links the computer and the TV, such as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 2, and b) broadband is offered at much higher speeds than the current 256K - 1.5MBPS standards. I think "b" is a WAYS off. In short, it takes hours (sometimes days) to download a sub-DVD-quality movie, only to end up watching it alone on your computer or burning it to a DVD and watching it once on your home system. In the meantime, video piracy will still remain a novelty for college kids and hacks (like myself) who do it just because we can. But you can bet that, in the coming years, Hollywood will drool at the opportunity to categorically blame its failures on piracy. If the music industry is any guide, corporations always love a good scapegoat to distract investors from its own management failures.

posted by Ryan : 5:34 PM | permalink

Rested up, ready for more hypertension

Last night, we returned from the Caribbean and were given a warm 4-degree-farenheit Philadelphia welcome. After 3 weeks spending time in Dallas, Philly, Key West, Cozumel, and Belize, I think I have just about recovered from my first semester at Wharton.

Nevertheless, I'm a bit stressed about jumping back into the swing of things tomorrow. Here's my class list (pretty standard for 1st years):The thing is, classes are the least of my worries right now. It's DIP week (Dedicated Interview Period) at the end of the month that's got my wheels spinning. I've signed up for some consulting interviews, which incorporate the infamous case interview process. To get the ball rolling, I've been reading "Crack the Case", a practical guide written by an ex-Bain guy. It's been useful, but the general advice I've gotten about succeeding at case interviews is "practice, practice, practice".... which requires time, time, and more time (a precious, precious, precious resource).

On another somewhat stressful note, I've signed up to be co-editor-in-chief of the Wharton Journal (well, at least there's a "co" in the title). That will occupy my Thursday afternoons and most of Friday (traditionally a "free" study day since we have no classes on Friday). Our next issue is scheduled for the end of January, just about the time when case interview practice sessions will be at their height of fervor. So, in short, time will be scarce of the next month.

posted by Ryan : 11:28 AM | permalink

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