Monthly Archive: August 2008

Fuel-efficient cars – not that big of a deal if you’re even close to 30mpg

So my wife and I have been looking for a more fuel efficient car.  She has taken a nursing job which will require her to drive about 150 miles one-way twice a week (and stay at location for 3-4 days).  Our current car, a 2005 Mazda 3s, gets an almost constant 27mpg per tank (note that current 3’s get slightly better mileage – the first generation 5-door 3s came only with a 4 speed automatic and the bigger 2.3 liter engine).  It’s shockingly consistent, actually.  But with cars out there that can get anywhere from 45-55mpg according to some reports, we thought it might be worthwhile to look at them considering the cost of gas (about $4.00/gallon for regular right now in this part of CA, though that’s new – it was $4.50 like 3 weeks ago).

The results of our research are actually quite interesting.  It turns out that if you’re current car gets anywhere near 30mpg and you don’t have a huge down-payment ready, you’re not going to save nearly enough.

Review: Steve Corio, Marketing, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Light
  • Teaching Style:  Interactive (kind of)
  • Interest in students: High
  • Relevance to outside world:  Low

Overall Professor Rating: 2.5

Overall Course Rating: 2

Marketing 551 is a hard class for the SCU program.  Many have described it as an undergraduate-level course and I would agree, even as someone without any background in the marketing side of things.  So it’s not easy to review a course that is so basic in the concepts it covers.  In addition, the other professors that teach 551, during the year, have less than stellar reviews.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University‘s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.  I also just write whatever it is that I think is relevant or will be helpful to others.  That is my overall goal.

This is the first review I’ve done of a course I’ve just completed.  So at least its fresh :-).

The facts

I took 551 this summer 2008, Tuesday and Thursday, from 5:30-7:30.  It was the first of two classes on those evenings – 4 straight hours of class.  And it was also the first class after a day at work.  Summer classes are always hard to take, and hard to review, I think.  The classes are longer, with a break, and some faculty modify their course material for the short, 7 week term, others don’t.  But that’s when I took the course, so that’s that.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.


Okay I get it – law students are evil

This is another one of those difficult posts, as it has to do with work, and with another group on campus.  As always, I preface by saying the following:

  • Administration at a school is hard
  • Dealing with students is hard
  • Students always take advantage of everything and will abuse the system until you stop them

I see and deal with this, too, and one should not read the following as a criticism without qualification. Really.  These jobs are hard, between dealing with difficult students and even more difficult faculty.  I know that.

A new building opened up on campus recently.  One of the services implemented was a self-scheduling system for the whopping 29 (or so) small study rooms in the building.  The problem is that the system is designed for highly-controlled environments or situations where groups, such as a team at a company looking to do a phone conference, need a space for a fixed amount of time and will then leave.  The software system has no limits on the length of the reservation or how many rooms a user can book simultaneously.  It even allows one user to delete the reservation of another if password-protection is not used.  Several people acknowledge the flaws in the software.

However, the group of students that abused the system most severely – and it was BAD – was students at the School of Law.  Where I work.  I swear, every time I am even in the presence of someone talking about the rooms, reservation system, the building, or even the world in general, the fact that it was law students who abused the system comes up.  The subtext is super-text.  It’s above the surface, plain and obvious.

I just don’t get it.  The way I see it is:

  • Students have always and will always find and exploit every loophole you give them.  I did it when I was a student.  Why wouldn’t they do so?  Seriously.
  • If the system has a flaw, then it’s the system that has the flaw, not the students abusing it.
  • If the law students hadn’t been the first to abuse it, then someone else would have.  But perhaps that would not have been such a clear-cut population and not as targeted by the remarks.
  • In reality, it’s probably just a handful of students abusing the system disproportionately
  • Can’t we just get over it?

I was chatting with some colleagues at another university, where they work at the business school, which is also separate from the main university as our law school is.  Their first response when I told even half of the story is that the law students were probably being blamed for all the problems.  They’ve had it happen to them all the time.  This notion that their students consider themselves ‘special’ and ‘above the law’ (no pun intended).


Review: Epson RX680 Multifunction

So about a month ago I bought an Epson RX680 multifunction.  Epson can’t quite decide where it wants its multifunction printers to go. One model has an auto-feeder, which seems really nice, but no CD/DVD printing. I needed the latter, but didn’t really need the ‘photo’ multifunction printer, but so be it, and I got the 680. It was a good deal at the time.

Let me tell you – avoid this machine. It just flat out stinks. Let me list the ways:

  • Slow start up time. I have a Canon MP830 at work which is, admittedly, about 2x the price (slightly more, actually), with a feeder, and gets going in about 2 seconds. The 680 takes a solid 7-8 seconds before it starts to feed. Printing itself is fine and fast, but start up time is slow.
  • There are two paper trays, but you can’t switch between then in mid-stream. So if you run out of paper in the back, you have to put more paper in back to keep printing. I guess the idea is that you have one type of stock in the bottom tray and another in the rear tray but it’s nice on the Canon that I can just hit a button, switch trays, and keep printing. I keep both stocked as often as I can.
  • CD/DVD printing is way off. I have to adjust by several mm in both directions to get the print centered. It worked flawlessly with Nero Cover Designer on my 4 year old Epson Photo 960.
  • Settings get stuck. I print once to CD/DVD, and it tries to print to it everytime. So I have to go in and reset all settings (even on/off doesn’t work) to get it back to regular printing. In general, this would not seem a problem, except that if you make a copy while it says CD/DVD you get it stuck in just the upper corner (where’the blank CD/DVD would be).

The printer looks cool, but it’s junk for any kind of office-like environment. And I do believe that Epson is pitching it that way, even though Epson is mostly a photo printer company. My mistake.