Random Reflections!

thoughts, views, news and plenty of rants


Posted by nixbert on September 16, 2007

Read two interesting articles recently – Both with some inherent contradictions. See for yourself at

NY Times
BBC (comments following the article are even more interesting)


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School decision and related stuff

Posted by nixbert on September 15, 2007

So now that I am over and done with my GMAT, next logical step is obviously the school selection and the admission process.

And this is where the fun starts! I’ve been thinking about my school choices for months now but have not arrived at any obvious answers. So far there are only 3 clear answers in my mind.

(In no particular order)

1. LBS – Considering that I have permanent residency for UK, this school is very attractive to me. Bring the current H1-B scenario into the picture and LBS seems to click all the right buttons.

2. Tuck – Don’t ask me why but I just keep coming back to this school over and over again. All that I’ve ever read, hear, felt makes me want to apply here. And no I don’t have a very compelling reason. I just somehow want to.

3. ISB – This school makes tremendous sense in Indian context. Given my long term aim of operating in and out of India, I cannot keep this school out. Also, since my closest buddy was in class of ’07 and I kept visiting him a number of times, I’ve vicariously soaked in a lot of ISB experience. I liked it very much so this school is definitely in.

Apart from these schools I don’t have a clue. I have not decided on how many to apply and where to apply. I just do not want to make the same mistakes as last time.

While on the subject – I came across a very thoughtful article on MBA Rankings. Here it is. It is a particularly useful article, more so because it consolidates all the major rankings in one place so you don’t have to keep hopping here and there to check them out.

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AWA scores …

Posted by nixbert on September 15, 2007

I was pleasantly surprised when i got to know that my AWA scores were out in less than a week!! Last I heard this usually took anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

I scored 5.5 . Pretty satisfied with myself!

Here are the sketchy details of the two topics I got on my AWA  –

– Cafe ABC’s move to new location was a good business move. The cafe has successfuly completed two years in new location. The old location was not conducive to business because a piercing studio and grocery store opened in the Cafe’s previous location.

– Government regulation vs. Self regulation by companies.

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Few words on GMAT

Posted by nixbert on September 9, 2007

So here’s what i feel about GMAT. (penning these down lest I lose the flavour over time). I managed a decent score (I hope) not a brilliant one but I guess the experience is worth something

AWA is important
It is probably the most ignored part of the test, mostly because it does not count towards the rated score. However I think its worth spending at least some time preparing for it. There are two reasons why this is important. Firstly, it accounts for an hour on the exam and every hour drains your energy and focus. So it is best to practice at least 2-3 full-length tests which *include* AWA. No one wants to run into the sections which actually count and find themselves unable to focus or drained out. Best to build your stamina when you can. Secondly, since this is the first section, if you do reasonably well, it will give you that much more confidence going into the meat of the real test. Well….at least it did for me.

Practice a lot of Maths
There is only one way to get the quant section right and that is to practice it a lot. Lets face it, this is high-school maths and for engineers it is a real shame to do badly on this section. (and no I am not too pleased with myself on Quant). The core of almost every question is such that most people will nail it, 10 on 10, if asked in a straightforward manner. However, the questions though are worded very cleverly and set up so that you miss some trivial detail which will end up costing you. So practice each type of the problem (probability, ratios etc) to an extent that you don’t have to think twice while solving the meat of the problem. This because you want to spend as much time learning to skin the problem to get to the meat. Better you are at extracting the available vs required information (aka skinning) in shortest possible time, higher your score is going to be.

Practice on timed full length tests
There are plenty of good resources available. GMATPrep from mba.com is probably the most representative of the real thing (for obvious reasons). Other good resources for genuine adaptive tests can also be found online at following resources – Peterson’s and Princeton Review. They cost a bit, Peterson about 20$ and Princeton review are free if you get their GMAT book, however, the tests are good. One caveat about Peterson – there is a slight delay between you clicking one question and next question loading up fully, it is a bit annoying specially when you are crunched for time. However, they are good practice nonetheless as you learn to cope up with shortage of time. Pick up Kaplan tests to get kicked in your guts and jolt yourself into action if you’ve been feeling a little lazy in your prep. The miserable score is likely to get you worked up 😉

Learn to do verbal like Maths (for engineers and people good at maths)
No I am not joking. Learn to break up sentences like you would break up an equation. First, learn to identify principal and subordinate phrase of the sentence. Then learn to classify them as Noun, Adjective and adverbial phrases. These are numbers/variables in your equation. Then learn about pronouns, conjunctions etc, which bind one part of the sentence to other. These are like your modifiers in your equation (the pluses, minuses and equal-to sign). Once you’ve done that you will immediately notice how easy it is to identify when an equation – which is actually a sentence – is unbalanced and how to get it back in shape by correcting error in number, pronouns, relation, parallelism). After learning maths for a number of years, it is in your instincts to deal with and dismiss such problems. And this entire tactic is also based on a very familiar principle of maths – that of reducing an unfamiliar problem to one which is simpler in form and one you know how to solve!!

So there you go. That’s a load off my chest….

Wish you luck!

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Why oh Why ?

Posted by nixbert on September 9, 2007

Did anyone else notice the absolutely atrocious headline on today’s TOI sports page??

“Sachin Fingered Again” !!

Can you believe that? The standards of reporting are going from bad to abysmal. This has to stop somewhere.

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GMAT over and done with….

Posted by nixbert on September 9, 2007

phewww !! what a relief… I scored 730 (Q48 V42).

Tad disappointed though because i think 740 or may be 750 was well within reach. I mismanaged my time in Quant section and ended up answering last 5 question in less than 3 minutes. So I was reduced to glancing over the problem and taking an educated guess. I can still recall that I got the last question wrong for sure. It was a DS question and the right answer hit me like a kick in the shin after I clicked the Ok button. 😦

In retrospect I had been working on my Maths all along (pathetic for an Engineer I know) and barely practised Verbal. But I barely managed to improve my score on Quant by one point. On the other hand, Verbal score improved by two points without much practice. I think this has more to do with my reading a lot and diligently looking for mistakes in everything I read- official mails, newspaper and what-not.

Will post more on my experience later.

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sweet deal

Posted by nixbert on September 9, 2007

So my laptop broke. After evaluating various options I eventually decided to extend the Dell warranty. I was skeptical at first but had no choice. All of my precious data was on the hard drive and the thing would just refuse to boot up so I had to get this thing functional again. Well that …. and errr …. somehow I have grown fond of this behemoth (yes inspiron 9100 is one big-ass laptop – I still remember when I was visiting ISB, some of the guys kept themselves entertained by the sheer size of this beast – here is the big daddy)

So the warranty cost me about 11.5K but the service was prompt and effective. The parts were delivered and an engineer visited next day. He promptly took the machine apart, ran a few checks and then replaced … brace yourself  – motherboard, power panel, LCD and the graphics card all within the warranty. I am holding off getting the keyboard replaced but that can also be easily arranged given that ‘escape’ key is non-functional.

So as of now I am pretty happy. Just one minor irritant though. Ever since the laptop was put back together, I hear some small part moving and rustling about inside, which is not comforting. I think I am going to have the engineer open it all up again once he comes in to replace the keyboard.

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laptop blues…

Posted by nixbert on August 29, 2007

after 3 years of solid abuse and misuse my laptop finally decided it was enough.

It was like being hit in the guts by a ….. well it hurts like nothing else. Here I am, a supposedly tech-savy person, who has an ultra-fast 250GB disc sitting with him and he hasn’t even bothered to back up his data in 6 months!!! I have lost count of the number of conversations I have ruined by trying to advise any laptop-owner who would care to listen to rigorously back-up their data. And what did i do myself? nothing …zilch…nada.

And there was time when all of my important work, documents and mba-apps were backed up not just on external drive but also online!! Well, better late than never! I cannot bear to think of same happening one day before app-deadline.

Anyway, not everything is lost. I managed to transfer my service contract from UK to India and extend the warranty. So a technician visited yesterday and replaced motherboard of my laptop. So its booting up but LCD-panel (or video card) is not working quite the way its supposed to. So they are going to replace both of them as well tomorrow. So hopefully I should be able to survive. Hard-disk and apparently all of my data is safe!!

phewwww…. Thank God for small mercies!… really I mean it!

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D-Day postponed…

Posted by nixbert on August 29, 2007

the landing at Normandy or in my case GMAT is postponed.

As the original d-day (18th Aug) approached I realised I was in no shape to take on the beast.

So one phone call and 50$ later, it’s now scheduled for 8th Sep.

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where’s passion …

Posted by nixbert on August 5, 2007

… bell rang and my wife welcomed in three young women into the house.

I found out that they were from an NGO working for the betterment of destitute girl children in Mumbai. They had come to seek help in form of funds.

In conversations I happened to ask -‘So how do you raise awareness in your target group? Do you hold any awareness campaigns‘.

Pat came the reply – ‘Oh no! we don’t go there. Any normal person would not want to go there.

And they spent next few minutes trying to justify their stand and I do understand their reasons. However, I guess they ought not to be flat-out denying an important task which forms a core part of their NGO’s function. Whichever way you look at it, it isn’t advisable ringing bells to solicit funds and advising the donors that people caught in unfortunate circumstances aren’t normal or people who choose to to be in their midst are not normal!

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