Monday, March 29, 2004


Q4 fairly smooth so far

I've heard a lot of people complain about their workload this quarter. I haven't found it to be so bad. It has been fairly steady. Here's why I think things feel lighter:
  1. I've stuck with core classes. Some others I've spoken with are taking electives (like Advanced Corporate Finance, Real Estate, etc.) or doing FAPs which can take up additional time.
  2. My learning team has operated fairly efficiently lately. Meeting very little, doing stuff over email vs. long drawn out meetings, and deferring authority to whoever happens to feel strongly about something. This has been especially crucial with our Marketing 622 strategy simulation game (called SABRE) which is an interactive, competitive game worth 40% of our grade in the course. The thing about this game is that you have a LOT of data upon which to make decisions, which is good and bad. It's bad for teams that over-analyze things. I've heard of other teams meeting for hours on end and going in circles. I think our team has struck a good balance between knowing when to rely on data, and knowing when to use the "gut feel" approach.
  3. For my Global Strategy class, I have access to a collection of case summaries for each class, passed down by students from years. Having a summary is no substitute for reading a case, but it's certainly an efficient way to get the "big picture" before delving into all the case details.
  4. I've been more "strategic" about class attendance. If I haven't prepared for class, am not interested in the topic, AND don't think it will dramatically hurt my grade, I no longer feel guilty missing out. I've just make it a discipline to use missed class time for productive purposes, such as studying for other classes, going to Costco, or sleeping in.
  5. My FNCE 602 class (Macroeconomics) got its first Midterm out of the way before spring break and covered less material than those taking Siegel
  6. Recruiting is no longer a concern, which was a heavy weight during Q3.

Despite lower academic workload, things have been just as busy as ever at the Wharton Journal. I put in a 12-hour day on Friday at the office.... part of that was because the editorial staff did a lot of the writing on this issue, with less reliance on the usual crop of volunteer writers (the reason why will make more sense once the next issue comes out in a couple of days). But it has been a really fun experience. Plus, it has been great to have another fellow blogger, Aileen, on the team.

posted by Ryan : 7:43 PM | permalink

Sunday, March 21, 2004


Proof that he is his father's son

Modern technology is a lifesaver when it comes to babies on airplanes. He's such a wiggler. Fortunately, I have his favorite video, Baby Mozart, ripped onto my laptop. We've tried all sorts of headphones, but he prefers the deep bass of Sennheiser.

posted by Ryan : 6:34 AM | permalink

Friday, March 19, 2004


Death of TiVo

Here's an interesting article on the inevitable death of the TiVo. Just another example of how a great product does not a successful business make.

posted by Ryan : 12:43 PM | permalink

Monday, March 15, 2004


Spring Break in Aruba

My wife and I chose Aruba for two reasons: 1) It has perfect weather, 75-85F with a continuous breeze, and 2) we couldn’t find anyone that had a bad thing to say about it. Our goals for the trip were simple: get out of Philly, get warm, get some rest, and do something fun once a day.

Monday was our windsurfing lesson. It seemed easy at first. Progress was quick in the first hour, and then stopped altogether during the last hour. But the wind conditions are ideal in Aruba, so say the experts. Tuesday we embarked on a four-wheel ATV adventure on the eastern coast, which was a lot of fun and a great way to see the rest of the island. Wednesday was horseback riding on the north coast. There is no better way to enjoy a sunset than on the back of a horse, but the three-hour ride was groin-pummellingly too long. Men, for the sake of your progeny, limit it to two hours. Thursday we boarded a catamaran and did a little SNUBA. Snuba is basically SCUBA on a leash and is designed for those of us who are too lazy to get certified. But at 30 feet below the surface, we got a great view of the gargantuan Antilla shipwreck, not to mention the hordes of fluorescent fish.

Aruba has many of the benefits that other islands lack: safe tap water, ample fast food chains, movie theaters, and acceptance of US dollars. And although we never found authentic “Aruban” food, the island has some great restaurants. The Driftwood, located downtown in Oranjestad offers some of the best seafood we’ve had. Also, check out a place called El Gaucho, the best Argentine steak house on the island. I recommend the combo platter with a healthy helping of tenderloin, sausage, ribs, and rib-eye steak. If eating that much meat makes you feel guilty, simply tell yourself: “Baby, you worked hard in Q3 finding high quality cheat sheets, and you deserve every last pound of that savory beef.”

So Aruba is a great place for relaxation, adventure, and eating. So what’s the catch? There are three (minor) disadvantages to Aruba, as I see it. First of all, it’s a bit pricey. Okay, big deal, so I won’t be buying textbooks this quarter. The second disadvantage of Aruba is that it doesn’t offer much in terms of culture. Technically Aruba is (or was) a Dutch colony, but there are more Americans, Venezuelans, and Columbians than Dutch. Although English is ubiquitous, there is a local language, and it sounds like a combination of Dutch, Portuguese, Pidgin, Pig Latin, Yiddish, and Cling-On (hint: don’t try to pick it up unless you’re in Lauder). Other than that, everything revolves around tourism. The third disadvantage (especially for those of you still looking for an extreme MTV Spring Break experience) is that Aruba seems to attract an older crowd. So maybe you’re more likely to smell Bengay than Budweiser and more likely to see false teeth than false breasts. Personally, I think old people are the bomb, so this last one wasn’t much of a disadvantage.

Whether you’re looking for rest, relaxation, a romantic getaway, or a bit of adventure, Aruba delivers on all fronts. The bottom line is, the trip was well worth its contribution to our ever-growing pile of debt.

posted by Ryan : 9:39 PM | permalink

Friday, March 05, 2004


RIP recruiting, hello spring break

With great joy, I have come to the end of the internship recruiting season. For many folks, it is only beginning, and I thank my lucky stars that I am not in their shoes.

I recently accepted an offer with Bain & Co. in Dallas for the summer. One thing about consulting that I'm going to have to get used to, is that all consultants give their thoughts and answers in groups of three. In that spirit, here are three reasons why I took this offer: 1) I've always wanted to try consulting. 2) Bain felt like a good cultural fit. The people, while very smart, are also very friendly and down to earth. 3) As for Dallas, my wife's family is there, and consulting would be the only reasonable career option that would work for me in Dallas. So why not give it a try for 10 weeks?

The best part about the recruiting process by far was Bain's "sell weekend," which finished just this last weekend. My wife and I were flown out to Dallas, treated to a nice hotel, taken to restaurants, treated to a Mavericks game, and given massages. They even arranged for the Mavericks to win. I had a "day in the office" which included several presentations and three 45-minute one-on-one chats with various partners of the office.... they grilled me during interview week, and now it was my time to grill them back. In any case, these guys know how to sell: I accepted the offer half-way through the weekend.

As for now, Q3 finals have just ended and we're off to catch some sun in Aruba for spring break. Rough life indeed.

posted by Ryan : 2:34 PM | permalink

iPod impressions

Two weeks ago I bit the bullet and bought a 20GB iPod. I used to own the much larger Archos Jukebox 20GB, but it broke down and the wimpy 90 day warranty left me in the cold.

Needless to say, the iPod is well designed on the outside: compact, sleek, stylish, etc. etc. But it also wasn't cheap. After shelling out close to 500 bones, I expected a little more. Here is what disappointed me:

1) "Your music file / folder hierarchy is no good here." If you have a music collection that you have painstakingly organized by renaming files and placing them in artist and/or genre folders, it's useless with the iPod. The Windows file hierarchy is completely ignored. With the iPod, you are forced to scroll through an organization system derived from MP3 ID tags. Any of you who have accumulated 20GB worth of music on your computer know how big a drawback this will be. This is a HUGE drawback in my book. MP3 ID tags are notoriously inconsistent and often missing. When I dumped all of my music onto the iPod, and then I wanted to view my music by genre, I had 50 genres to scroll through (many of them with just one song). On the Archos unit, it was just like using Windows explorer, and I vastly prefer that method. It took me 8-10 hours to reorganize my music to make it usable for the iPod's organization scheme.

2) "Don't have firewire? Go back to the store." I excitedly ripped the packaging open and attempted to hook the iPod up to my computer, only to discover that the included cable ONLY worked with firewire (which is standard on Mac's, rare on PC's). The packaging said it was PC/MAc and USB/Firewire compatible. You'd think you can spend $450 on a device that says it works with a PC and be able to plug and play. Most PC users don't have Firewire, but all have USB or USB 2.0. I had to go find a store that carried a USB 2.0 cable for the iPod. It was $35 more, and Apple should have included it.

3) "Queue-fusing" I've been using the iPod for 2 weeks now and still can't figure out how to queue up songs of my choosing and then play them. The iPod touts an "on the go playlist" feature where you are supposed to be able to do just that. But it never works. The queue either includes the first song I've selected or the entire album of the first song I've selected. Thus, I've been forced to create a bunch of playlists on my PC for use on the iPod.

4) "More buttons, please." The menu system design is very constrictive. For example, it would be nice to have a "shuffle" button instead of having to navigate through several menu levels to enable the shuffle option. Or to have an on/off button instead of having to hold down the play button for 3 seconds.

5) "Equalize this." There is no equalizer. Sure, they have lots of presets like "Dance," "Rock," or "Treble enhancer" but you can't alter the treble and bass on your own. Apparently Apple doesn't trust us to equalize our own music. The iTunes application has an equalizer, why not put it on the iPod?

6) "No crossfade." Crossfading is a cool feature in iTunes that fades out the end of one song and fades in the next song so they overlap seamlessly. Like a radio station. It's a pity they don't allow you to do this on the iPod.

All in all, the iPod is great for its size and design. But for someone who is used to having a lot of control over my (large collection of) music, it feels very constrictive. Before you spend $450+ on a portable music device, make sure you understand the tradeoffs.

posted by Ryan : 7:51 AM | permalink

Thursday, March 04, 2004


Use vibrate mode

I'm so tired of hearing cell phones go off in study halls, classrooms, lectures, restaurants, etc. If I hear another one of those lame, upbeat, top-40-song-at-double-tempo high-fi rings, I'm headed straight for a mental institution. YOUR PHONE CAME WITH A VIBRATE MODE. USE IT, $&*%%!!!!! I give females a small degree of license here because they don't have/use pockets (that's a separate rant), but the guys have NO EXCUSE!

posted by Ryan : 2:01 PM | permalink

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Finals week

We're in the midst of Q1 finals right now: Business & Public Policy, Cost Accounting, and Operations Management (Linear Programming). When I get some time, I'll post some updates on the job situation and my thoughts on a recently purchased iPod.

posted by Ryan : 10:32 AM | permalink

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