kaiyen: pepper

the life and times of Allan Chen

Latest Posts

Starting from scratch

Okay.  So I tried just about everything I could but no dice.  Dylan Salisbury has given me a whole slew of my relatively recent posts (THANK YOU) so I’ll hopefully have something that I can at least cut and paste in  with modified dates.  But this is a new blog…

Review: TomTom One GPS Navigation system

So I’ve had the TomTom One GPS unit (link is for the latest version – mine is the original one) for a while now. I bought it technically for getting around to and from weddings. I was worried when I first got it because it used the European mapping information, rather than the US-based one that, for instance, Google utilizes.

Now, we all know that GPS units are getting more and more common as built-in systems in cars. However, if you look at costs, it makes a lot of sense to get a system separately. You can get a great system for $250-$500, depending on the features you want. Or you can spend $2000 on an integrated system for your car. I know that a system built into the audio system, etc is nice, but I also like setting everything up in my home before leaving, even for a multi-point trip, then having it ready. Something to think about.

There are a lot of things I like about the TomTom One, many of which have been taken out of the 3rd edition which really bothers me. Overall, if you’re looking for a solid, easy to use, easy to configure GPS unit that is very affordable (~$200), the One is a good deal. I am getting a more expensive (~$450) Garmin soon and will compare the two eventually. See more for the details.

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The case against dual-boot labs

Caveat – I haven’t managed a lab in about 2 years so this is mostly my ponderings and thoughts rather than a state-of-the-art analysis of the setup of dual-boot labs.

Since Macs started supporting Windows via Bootcamp (not even bothering with a link here), everyone at all kinds of schools have been thinking about going all Mac with a Windows boot option.  I have not been a proponent of this idea for a number of reasons.

First, as many articles have mentioned, the OS is becoming increasingly irrelevant.  Throw a browser on some kind of OS, and then run all web apps.  Now, we’re not there yet, but I am comfortable saying that we’re getting there.  I’m also not saying that google apps or something specific is the answer – I have nothing specific in mind.  But there’s a lot of stuff out there that offer options.

My problem with dual-booting is two-fold.  Read on for more of my quasi-diatribe.

The first is that, in my opinion, students themselves generally don’t care about OS, either.  If all the macs are in use, they sit at a PC to use Word.  If the PC’s are in use, they sit at a Mac.  In a few surveys which I have read in relatively large computer lab installations, the primary reason why the labs are used, actually, is because there is software that is only available on those machines, and 99% of the time its a PC-based software (most developers will develop for the PC first, let’s be honest).  So, if you’re going to go one way or the other, then PC’s actually do make more sense.

* By the way – I refuse to get into the whole ‘but PC’s get infected all the time and are harder to manage’ argument.  I was involved (tangentially) in managing something like 400 PC’s spread across probably 90 locations and I know that a logical and simple combination of basic tools and methods kept the machines secured and safe.  And we weren’t in full lockdown mode as is the case at some schools (using DeepFreeze or something like that).

The second issue is boot time.  Right now, you walk up to a machine, possibly wake it up from the screen saver (a 1 second mouse wiggle) and have a login window.  Loading of all the scripts and whatnot that are inevitably utilized as part of large lab management probably gets you to a usable desktop on either OS in about’30-45 seconds on the very long end.  Probably more like 10-15.  I think that is a fair number.

But getting to that login window can take maybe a minute or more.

So now, while it’s great that you can buy all Macs for all your labs and give students the option of booting into one or the other, they have to wait 1.5 minutes or more to get to a usable desktop.  Or one has to start trying to speed up the boot process which is not an easy task.  If Apple continues its long-held habit of hiding changes to just about anything with their OS then any streamlining for Leopard (10.5.x) might not work for the next version.  Or maybe for a particular version of Leopard.

So.  To me, it actually makes the most sense to go one platform, and that all the management efforts go into that one platform.  And, in all honesty, Windows on PC’s seems to be that platform.

Eh.

The Pickens Energy Plan

I’ll admit – I haven’t read T. Boone PIckens’ book yet.  But I’m listening right now to him live on cnn.com and he’s making some remarkably intelligent comments about energy independence that really strike a chord with me.

During the Democratic primaries, I kept saying that my most important issue was energy independence.  Health care reform will take probably more than 2 terms – Bill Clinton made it one of his campaign points and didn’t get it done, not even close.  There is just too much to fight through, and, in reality, most people just don’t see the problem.  The people that don’t have insurance certainly feel it, but if you do, co-pays have stayed about the same ($15-30 for most people I know) and all we really see is that our paycheck goes down $40-$50 depending on the year.  The year-long amortization of increasing health care costs just doesn’t smack most people in the face.

But our energy issues do.  $4/gallon gas.  The amount of dollars spent on foreign oil is staggering but easy to comprehend (‘foreign’ always strikes people).  The debate about oil drilling in the US has been going on for years.  The concerns about natural gas, nuclear, and coal have been well documented.  The promise of fuel cells, electric vehicles, etc has been in the news for a long time, too.  It’s all back and forth but it’s there.

Pickens makes some simple and logical points.  I haven’t read his book so I’ll just summarize what I’m getting in this one broadcast:

  • We got a huge problem right now.  We are spending a tremendous amount of money on foreign oil.
  • We aren’t ready yet to go immediately to something like electric, solar, wind, etc
  • We can go stop-gap for about 10 years with natural gas on the big trucks alone.
  • If we were to go with natural gas on just new trucks (not all big rigs), they could go cross-country on just 10 fueling stations, and would decrease our oil consumption by something like 20+%
  • If you take the major wind and solar corridors and build like mad you could generate enough power to realistically hold up the grid, but they’d have to be built in the right spots, and start building them now
  • Natural gas is one of the biggest resources we have, and we don’t even have to touch ANWR or other contested areas to get it (people talk about how much oil is in ANWR but there is more NG our of shale elsewhere)
  • And aim realistic, don’t aim high.  Yes, off-shore wind gets you closer to cities, but they are too expensive.

I was just struck by his realistic approach to things.  I really need to read his book.

I am not, therefore I am

Just a random observation and thought – a while ago, while discussing exactly what ‘being bad at making coffee meant,’ I made that statement that ‘I am not a coffee snob, but I really do prefer…”

Before I could finish the sentence, a comment was made that if I say ‘I’m not a coffee snob’ then I therefore am a coffee snob.  I found the comment neither offensive nor accusatory, though I was a bit befuddled at the specific moment.

Maybe I am a snob.  But at least I’d like to think that there are degrees of snobbery, then.  Like, I enjoy a good Kona roast, and I can tell the difference between, say, Peet’s Reserve Kona (which I drink black to truly enjoy the flavor, which is so smooth) and a Safeway Kona.  I can also tell you that Kauai coffee is quite nice, too, with a lot of flavor but a tad bit bitter at the end with the two roasts I’ve had.

But it’s not like I will refuse to drink other coffee, nor am I a diehard, French-Press, dark roast guy, which is apparently what ‘real coffee drinkers’ prefer.

I do wonder whether caring about and having preferences about stuff like that make one a snob – that there is a very broad definition of what a snob is.  If one notices the differences between a Kendall Jackson Reisling and a Fetzer one – is that person a wine snob, even just a little bit’

The Road Thus Far

I will be revising and/or revisiting this post from time to time.  The goal is to go over what classes I’ve taken at the Leavey School of Business and why I’ve taken them when I did.  Perhaps a useful roadmap for others.  Perhaps not.

Some facts – I started in Spring 2007, and am pursuing concentrations in Managing People and IT, Leadership, and Entreprenuership.  I am also going to take some classes in the International Business track.  The concentrations don’t really mean anything – it’s unlikely someone will hire you to manage an IT department because you took the first of the concentrations I indicated.  But it helps guide you through your electives, to be sure.

In previous posts, I have talked about how I approached my choice in courses intially, and how that has subsequently changed.  This post takes it a step back and perhaps upward – looking at why I took courses in a particular order.  Some of the reasons are not mind-blowing – right professor, right time, needed a few more units, etc.  The ones that start to show up  more as you get later in my time at Leavey are the opportunistic ones.  Taking a class because I managed to get in.  That’s where the electives really get interesting.

This post is kind of long so I’m breaking it here

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Review: DR Palmer, Management, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance (please read review, as ‘at a glance’ it’s hard to rate professor Palmer)

  • Workload:  Moderate
  • Teaching Style:  Interactive
  • Interest in students:  Moderate
  • Relevance to outside world:  Low

Overall Professor Rating: 2

Overall Course Rating: 2.5

It is incredibly hard to summarize a review on Professor DR Palmer (who is different than Professor David R. Palmer, by the way).  His style is very off-the-cuff, his lectures meandering, and his attention span rather short.  At the same time, he’s the kind of person with whom I’d love to sit down over a couple cups of coffee.  But that doesn’t make for a good professor, really.  The course, too, is hard to rate.  The subject matter is really quite interesting from a research and practical perspective, but the way it was taught, by DR Palmer, made for a lower rating.

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.

I’m also reviewing them in reverse order of when I had them for class.  This is mostly so that I am reviewing those whom I remember the best sooner.  This also means that at some point I might skip a few professors I took a year ago or just stop outright out of concern that I will not be able to provide a proper review (the downside of these longer reviews is that I do, after all, have a responsibility to do a good job at them). As of this writing, which is summer quarter 2008, I’m now going back to Fall 2007, so it’s a ways back.

The facts

I took Management 503 – Organizational Theory – back in Fall of 2007.  I have no idea what time I took it or what days of the week :-).  The course is loosely based on how companies are organized, how communications are handled within such structures, etc.  This is one of the required courses in the management track – basically, you need this and 501 and you can take everything else.  Interestingly, I have seen few of my 503 classmates in my other classes.  This is weird because one would think most people would get 503 out of the way relatively early in their coursework (as I did – my third quarter), and I should therefore run into them again later.  So far, I don’t think I have, though.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.
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Review: Professor Bo Tep, Management Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Light
  • Teaching Style:  Highly interactive
  • Interest in students:  Very high
  • Relevance to outside world:  Not sure.

Overall Professor Rating: 4

Overall Course Rating:3.5

Professor Tep is a completely different professor than anyone other you are likely to have at SCU.  He believes not only in experiential learning but also in spirituality and looking at things with a much more holistic perspective.  Can be off-putting to some.  The course is also very loose, though it is also apparently ever-changing.  Bo wants to introduce new ideas each quarter, it seems.

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’m also reviewing them in reverse order of when I had them for class.  This is mostly so that I am reviewing those whom I remember the best sooner.  This also means that at some point I might skip a few professors I took a year ago or just stop outright out of concern that I will not be able to provide a proper review (the downside of these longer reviews is that I do, after all, have a responsibility to do a good job at them).  I am now back two quarters from my current term.

The facts

I had Professor Tep for Management 538 – Managing Groups and Teams – the Winter 2007.  Professor Tep is very up front about the class, which is rather important considering his rather unconventional style of teaching.  He sends out an e-mail a couple of weeks before the class stating that it’s an experiential course, rather than one about how to do project management.  He reiterated this at the start of class, that we would be talking about our experiences in managing teams.  Still, we lost about 40% of the class after the first few weeks.

I took 538 on Monday and Wednesday nights, at 5:30PM.  I had this class immediately prior to another class with a losse structure, but not in a spiratual sense (see my review of Chacko’s Finance course ).  I also took it in the same quarter as 512, taught by Cheryl Shavers, and the contrast was almost frightening.

A couple of things to note – Bo has changed the class a bit, giving it a bit more structure.  I’m glad to say that some of this is from feedback that I and others provided to him.  I really enjoyed the class but I think it needed a bit of tweaking so hopefully other students have enjoyed it.  Also, Bo and I occasionally have coffee so we still stay in touch.  That doesn’t make this any more of a subjective review, in reality, but just fyi.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.
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Review: Professor George Chacko, Finance, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

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. But 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’m also reviewing them in reverse order of when I had them for class.  This is mostly so that I am reviewing those whom I remember the best sooner.  This also means that at some point I might skip a few professors I took a year ago or just stop outright out of concern that I will not be able to provide a proper review (the downside of these longer reviews is that I do, after all, have a responsibility to do a good job at them).  I am now back two quarters from my current term.

The facts

I had Professor Chacko for Finance 455 in Winter Quarter, 2008.  It was the 7:05 section (he also taught a 5:30 section the same days) on, I think, Mondays and Wednesdays.  The course is technically titled ‘Investments’ but Professor Chacko outright stated that regardless of what the school decided to call the course he would have taught the same material in the same manner (more on the ‘material’ in a bit, as it is indeed flexible enough to be used in several different style classes).  In fact, he taught a course in the spring that was a ‘696 experimental’ course that was basically just more of the same.

FNCE 455 is the second of two required courses in the discipline.  The first, 451, which I took the previous quarter, is about evaluating cost of capital, net present value analysis, etc.  455 is much more practical in many ways, examining specific cases on topics such as portfolio construction, payoff diagrams, and other financial analysis from the perspectives of a fund manager or a personal investor.

455 is an entirely case-based course.  We covered about 7 or 8 cases through the quarter, from books written by Chacko (and others) while he was at Harvard Business School.  We would do a write-up before each case, really as motivation to read it (I don’t think he actually read or graded them), and then discuss the case during class.  Work was generally done individually.  The final exam was also a case write-up, but much more in-depth and obviously done without a class discussion.

I took 455 when I did both because I needed it as a requirement and because I had heard good things about Chacko.  So my goals were relatively even (as compared to ‘taking it just because it was available’ or something like that).

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

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