January 29, 2008

Sharpening my keyboard for FT 2008 MBA commentary

So FT came up with the MBA 2008 rankings. INSEAD is up 1 spot to 6, LBS moved sharply to No.2. But what was interesting to me was how some ranking methodologies have inherent contradictions or distort certain aspects. So, I'm sharpening my keyboard for the commentary - coming soon.

P3 is crazy. Sheesh. So much work.


For those who landed here searching for the FT 2008 MBA Ranking analysis, here it is. If you are interested, you can look up my commentary on the FT 2007 MBA Ranking written last year

January 23, 2008

Macroeconomics - understanding the big picture.

The macroeconomics class is a great P3 core course. It is interesting to understand ..

What is GDP? How is it calculated?
What is PPP?
What is the world's GDP?
What is inflation? Why does it occur?
What is money supply? How does money circulate? What happens when central banks print too much money?
Why do some countries grow and others don't?
What is important for countries to grow rich?
Which country has had the highest average growth rate in last 20 years?
Which Latin American country was in the top 10 in early 20th century with GDP higher than all countries in EU (except UK and Germany)?
What is technology frontier? Could someone in 1920 have projected US growth rate in 2006?
Which were the 2 biggest economies in the world in 19th century?
Why did the industrial revolution really happen?

and so on..each class provides insights and some striking examples.

Professor Ilian Mihov's class is a joy to be in - and today's class was fantastic. He is engaging, subtle and - accomplished (several papers with Antonio Fatas and Ben Bernanke). I need to spend some time studying all his optional readings.

Things are getting terribly hectic again in P3. INSEAD is not for those who cannot take a frenetic pace of study and partying.

January 22, 2008

Fonty Vs. Singapore - the new thriller in town

So, we've been invaded by the alien hoards of Fonty ;) they far outnumber we original 'singa' (as in singapore) starters.

The dynamics are interesting - most of the time, we don't know who is our batch from Fonty and who is from the new incoming batch. We're making a few friends but it is tough to make lots of new friends -- I was just kidding with my image above, it's great to have all the Fonty'ers here, welcome guys (and girls), hope you have a great stay in Singapore. And I'm looking forward to experiencing Fonty in P4 and P5

January 19, 2008

Digital SLR Photography Basics / Photos

I've owned a Canon Digital Rebel Xti For nearly an year. It's a pretty good digital SLR and I purchased a 28-135mm lens separately from the lens kit. However, all these days, I've only used the auto mode - as if I were using a regular digital camera (I also own a SONY DSC 3.2MP which is several years old and works great).

The point of using a SLR is to be able to take advantage of the lens and photography techniques..I never had the time and never bothered. Recently, the photo bug bit me and today, for the first time, I sat and tried a few techniques. Part of the thanks goes to a friend at INSEAD who took a small class teaching us the basics.

A few lessons -

  1. Use the RAW mode to save images - it preserves all image characteristics and you can use your PC to save it as JPG if you want, or spice it up using a photo imaging software.
  2. Learn to use the AV and TV modes (in Canon. In Nikon I heard they're called A and T) - effectively controlling aperture or shutter speed. Aperture (F on the LCD) is your friend.
  3. Use something like Adobe photoshop to make your photos look like what you want. In the examples below, I wanted to get a grainy dark look, and I accomplished that using Adobe photoshop CS3.
  4. More blur => lower F and vice versa. More aperture value => more light without flash but greater chances of shake.

Click the images to see in larger size.

I will be traveling soon and next time, I hope to get some cool photos. Don't forget to go with at least 2-4 GB cards or you'll run out of memory.

January 16, 2008

sometimes you wish you could chill

INSEAD sure is super hectic. Sometimes I wish I could be in a comfortable setting..a nice big sofa, warm fire by the side, a big HDTV with my favorite show (The Shield or 24 or House). Aaaaah. When will it be?

P3 is pretty rough as well, what makes it worse is all the groups you need to form and coordinate among them. BTW those interested in knowing more about how to contact alumni etc should head over to a good post by Zanat0s.

Back to figuring out my strategy for my negotiation tomorrow ;)

January 13, 2008

New top 10 productivity and security tips and tools

A new refresh for 2008. Here is my current list of productivity and security tips, tools and software. It's a mix of practices and tools in no particularly important order.

  • Mint Email - click the link to get a disposable email address valid for 4 hours. Super easy, no registration, and great to enter email addresses in those annoying registration sites, software download sites etc.
  • GMail labels and keyboard shortcuts - newly introduced, these are great to label email threads with color backgrounds. Type '?' when in GMail and you will see keyboard shortcuts which are a great way to navigate email and saves effort and time using a mouse.
  • GMail Email + - Did you know you could put a + after your gmail ID and add a tag and it would still be delivered to you? for e.g. if you had an email account called brrdrr@gmail.com you could now add brrdrr+somesite@gmail.com when registering with somesite. Now if you somesite gives out your address to other spammers and you get emails, you know who gave your address away and you can set a filter to automatically delete/label your emails. It's a great way to create all tagging and target your registrations, friend invitations etc.
  • http://todoist.com/ - an excellent online to-do list manager. It's both very simple and elegantly laid out and also has many useful features (labels, sub-projects, great keyboard shortcuts, a very clean print features, not cluttered)
  • Xobni - great Outlook add-on. Still in beta and closed availability, but I got a invite and it really changes some of the email usage behavior. The important aspect is that for each mail you click, the right pane shows contextual information for the person who sent you the email - their contact, how many mails they've sent you, the previous conversations you've had with that person, the people that person frequently emails along with you, the files exchanged between you as attachments. This is great and really simplifies searching and hunting for information. The add-in also has some useful analytics built in to understand your email patterns. The search feature is very fast as well..very positive impressions of the product even though it's still in beta.
  • MozyHome - Very good online backup. The free version is 2 GB and once you set it up, it quietly does the backup and syncs the way you configure (once in 24 hrs, week etc., specific folders). Great way to unobstrusively back-up your critical documents online and restore them in case of drive failure, accidental deletion etc.
  • Security tip #1- always keep your primary email password (e.g. Gmail or Yahoo) separate, difficult and unique from all other passwords. Your principal accounts are sensitive and you do not want anyone or any online service misuse that data because you typically use your email account name in lots of other registrations. Many people use the same password as well, which is very risky. You can keep 2-3 other common passwords in all other accounts but your principal email account password should be unique, hard and never used anywhere else.
  • Google reader - instead of wasting time visiting bunch of sites, just subscribe to all feeds on reader and finish reading them quickly and efficiently.
  • WinDirStat - great way to visualize your hard-drives. Free and very effective in showing you what folders and files are taking too much space and helps you clean up your hard-drives.

January 10, 2008

hump slowly

Well, that's the sign I saw written on a road in Singapore. For those whose bulbs are still on the dark side -- they're referring to the road-bump warnings.

Bain party coming up this week, will be fun!

January 05, 2008

Queries that land on my blog - answers!

On my Google Analytics I sometimes see interesting queries that finally land on my blog. Here are some, and my answers to those queries!

Q. gmat better to not finish or guess
A. I guess the writer(s) is/are wondering if one should guess answers if they don't know how to solve them, or leave the test unfinished. The answer is In GMAT Always finish the test. Guess if you have to but do NOT leave the test unfinished. You are penalized more for not finishing than getting questions wrong.

Q.How hard is it to get into INSEAD?
A. I cannot answer that question. Let's just say it's not easy. You need quality work experience, preferably some international experience, a decent GMAT score ( > 700 is helpful - my guess), good essays. It's comparable to requirements for most top schools. The difference with, say, the popular US schools is when you apply to INSEAD you will often compete against people who have applied only to INSEAD. This means your application needs to be pretty solid as to why you want INSEAD.

Q.How to get admitted into INSEAD?
A. *cough* read the web site. http://www.insead.edu/mba for details. To keep it short - write GMAT, download INSEAD application, write essays, get recommendations, submit. Do interviews well. Wait. It's almost exactly like most other schools.

Q. How good is INSEAD?
A. :) depends on what you seek. If you want lots of women, hmm, not a very good place. Too competitive.

A. You should know why!

Q. How good at MGMAT
A. MGMAT = Manhattan GMAT Prep material. I used them, I liked them. See the links on top of my blog to order from Amazon.

Q. INSEAD and Strength
A. Huh? Do you mean annual intake? (~900, => ~450 per promotion - January and September)

Q. INSEAD Interview Questions
A. Questions vary from questioners. But typically be expected to be asked "why INSEAD? Why now? Why you?", other than that, it's fair game.

Q. INSEAD Reputation
A. Depends on what you mean. One of my posts on ranking is here. You should do your own research before deciding.

Q.INSEAD recruitment / placement / career stat questions
A. This post of my on INSEAD 2006 career reports / placement / recruitment statistics was pretty popular . It covered INSEAD 2006 performance, and also compared it with Stanford and Wharton - and links to LBS report as well.

Q. How is INSEAD compared to IIM / ISB (asked by Indian applicants) (I see similar comparisons - eg. Columbia vs. IIM)
A. Depends on what you seek. The value proposition and experience of top international MBAs is different from IIM / ISB. There is no clear-cut answer to such questions. If you ask more directed questions, some of us may be able to clarify further.

Q. Insead singapore cut scores gmat
A. The question, I presume, is what is the probably lowest GMAT score "accepted" by INSEAD Singapore. My friend - there is no separate admission to INSEAD Singapore. I don't believe there is a "cut score" either. Regardless, you really, really should this post on INSEAD admissions and Singapore

Well, that's it for now. Gotta clean up  my really messy room! Apart from these queries, I see many readers actually looking for my blog (I am truly, deeply honored) - some of the popular queries are

"necromonger blog"
"necromonger singapore"
"let me wear a suit blog"
"necromonger insead"
"let me wear a suit, please"

There are some pretty funny results - but that's for another time.

January 03, 2008

The year that went by

It's been a good year.

  1. Got my INSEAD admit
  2. Completed what I needed to do and had a "friendly" departure from my job.
  3. Returned from the US
  4. Joined INSEAD in Singapore
  5. Had a lot of fun, learned more in a 4 month period than I ever did in my life
  6. Ended the year on a happy note

Now it's time to see what 2008 brings.