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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Stick a fork in me

I'm done! Just turned in my last project. At some point I'm sure I will look back and miss all of this, but after all of these projects it feels like such a relief to be done (incidentally, if anyone has any questions about the evolution of Nextel's strategy or how to value a Texas-based furniture import business, just holler).

Tonight is our final Wharton Journal dinner, then we do a little travelling before graduation hits on May 15th. Our graduation speaker is Alan Greenspan which, on one hand, is a big name, but on the other hand, may not prove to be the most heart-stirring of speeches. I suspect a few people in the audience will be on the horn with their bond brokers during the proceedings... just in case Mr. Greenspan's facial expressions or manner of dress reveal something about the outcome of the next Fed meeting.

While most of my classmates are travelling to exotic places this summer, we will be confining ourselves to the states of Texas, Utah, and California. We've thrown in the towel on exotic adventures for the next little while. Now that we're in "house" mode, a dining room table and some rugs trump a week in Europe. Childless folks and urban dwellers may not relate, but that's okay, they will some day. The time inevitably comes when everyone must face the music and embrace suburbia. You can run but you cannot hide.

posted by Ryan : 3:39 PM | permalink

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

TiVo meeting with Google and Yahoo


Rumor has it that TiVo met with both Google and Yahoo about a partnership or acquisition. This is exactly what TiVo wants. The question is whether it will substantially help Yahoo or Google "get into the living room". From a cable provider's perspective, the problem with search engines is that they give a lot of power to consumers, which is not what Comcast wants. Comcast wants to be the exclusive distribution channel. TiVo is safer for Comcast because it doesn't open up the door to competing content, it merely makes the existing Comcast service more attractive. To the extent that Google and Yahoo see the power going to cable companies in the end, a TiVo partnership or acquisition might make sense.

On the other hand, if there is a great deal of competition between Bells (who are now readying TV offerings) and cable companies, Google or Yahoo will have more opportunities to get into the living room. The Bells will at some point be very aggressive in challenging cable, and offering an Internet-like portal of outside entertainment content may be a differentiator against cable's controlled environment. In that particular case, Google and Yahoo will not need TiVo.


posted by Ryan : 6:41 AM | permalink

Saturday, April 16, 2005

 

Good teaching


Given I have a week left of school -- most likely the last formal education I'll get in my life -- I've been thinking a lot about my favorite teachers over the years. I have a few observations about what they have shared in common:
I once read that the word "education" comes from the Latin "educo" which means "to draw out." In the end, educating is just as much about connecting with students as it is about imparting knowledge. I think these principles are true for teaching any subject. Except maybe Accounting. Not really a whole lot to work with there.

posted by Ryan : 10:50 AM | permalink

Thursday, April 14, 2005

 

Best song out right now


LCD Soundsystem's "Movement" may not move you, but it will definitely get you moving. The genre might be described as "electro punkfunk." I wish you could invest money in musical trends because I would bet on this one. Somehow, mixing booty-shaking music with vocals that reek of swagger and indifference delivers surprising appeal.


posted by Ryan : 7:58 AM | permalink

Sunday, April 10, 2005

 

Housing bubble indicators


There has been a lot of talk about the "housing bubble" lately, given the sharp and unsustainable appreciation in homes in some major cities. BusinessWeek offers an interactive table so that you can look at how your city stacks up on different metrics. I sorted the table by cost to rent divided by cost to own (the lower that number, the argument goes, the more expensive it is to own a house in that market). That measure can be loosely interpreted as a reciprocal P/E ratio of sorts for the market ("rent" being the earnings potential for an owned property). If you believe this is a good valuation measure, then the following cities are the best for value-oriented home buyers: Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Tampa, and Orlando. The worst are: San Diego, The SF Bay Area, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, D.C., and Denver.

posted by Ryan : 7:43 AM | permalink

Saturday, April 09, 2005

 

Google Maps and Craigslist


This is very cool. Someone has fed Craigslist rental and home listings into Google Maps. You can even view thumbnail photos of the property (if available) without navigating away from the map. Pick your favorite city and be sure to zoom in.

(incidentally, the guy who did this is Technical Lead of Animation Tools at Dreamworks, so I'm guessing this took him all of about 15 min. to cook up)

posted by Ryan : 7:55 PM | permalink

Monday, April 04, 2005

 

Unnecessary polarization of science and religion


Ok this is a random commentary having nothing to do with what I normally write about. But hey, my blog, so what the heck. It's related to the "evolution vs. creationism" debate (this article is what got me going).

Despite my own personal religious beliefs, I've never understood the "science vs. religion" polarization. The two are not mutually exclusive! Personally, I believe in a God who has created a world of order and I see science as the route that man takes to try and understand that order (from a physical perspective). Religious faith serves a different purpose. It exists to help one uncover spiritual truths. As such, I cannot imagine a single scientific finding about the physical world or universe that would jeopardize my faith in things spiritual. The Bible, like most other religious texts and efforts, is not designed to satisfy our curiosity about the construct of the physical world. Likewise, scientific pursuit will likely not, independent of any belief system, unlock the door to spiritual fulfillment (another perspective: Einstein went so far as to say that science and religion were inseparable).

However, there are a few vocal people (on both sides of the debate) who insist on widening that divide based on their own interpretation of scientific theories or the book of Genesis. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but trying to ostrasize the other side does a disservice to either cause. Scientists then get stereotyped as aetheists and, perhaps more commonly, those who have religious convictions are cast as closed-minded. Generally speaking, I don't think either is very accurate. But the vocal minorities generally get more attention from the media.


posted by Ryan : 7:59 PM | permalink

Sunday, April 03, 2005

 

Giving lawyers a taste of their own medicine


Here is a hillarious and true account of a college student who single-handedly fended off an army of Microsoft intellectual property lawyers, beating them at their own game. Microsoft sued him over a couple of programs that he bought and then re-sold (unopened) on eBay after deciding not to use them. The story is somewhat lengthy, but here is the best stuff:
Zamos spent his Christmas vacation assembling a 21-page counterclaim, which he filed January 3. Microsoft responded by ridiculing Zamos's counterclaim as "premature," noting that he had requested a summary judgment without enough time for discovery. Zamos went back to the drawing board and made two more motions, accusing Microsoft of perjury, causing him emotional distress, defamation, unconscionable consumer practices, abuse of process, fraud, and more. The suit spiraled into a dizzying 37 filings. Every time Microsoft filed a motion to dismiss his claims, Zamos would file more the very next day. Not only did he force Microsoft to defend its accusations against him, but the company was now forced to defend its own practices as well. After two months of back-and-forth filings, the judge ordered both sides to stop submitting any more paperwork. Finally, Zamos gave Microsoft the migraine it hadn't expected. He requested a trial by jury, knowing that the company wouldn't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills just to snuff one kid in Ohio. He was right. The lawyers said they'd drop their suit -- if Zamos dropped his countersuit.

Sounds like a Grisham novel.


posted by Ryan : 11:53 AM | permalink

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