Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Friday, February 18, 2005

I'll never leave my pod again

After agonizing for several months over plunking down $300 for a music player, a very sexy one at that, I finally broke down and bought myself a first generation 5 Gb Apple iPod. I had sworn a blood oath that I wouldn't splurge on an iPod until the price hit the cost of the storage media; once it hit $150, I broke down and went for it. Ok, some first impressions:
  • Terrific interface, but hey, you've come to expect that from Apple. I've been through a couple of MP3/encoded music players in my life, but this one wins hands down when it comes to design. Pretty decent companion software, iTunes.
  • Average earbuds - I highly recommend buying a better pair like the Shure E3C or if you can spend the extra bucks, go for the Bose Quietcomfort 2, especially if you travel often and need a noise-canceling headset. With the signature white earbuds, while the bass response is decent, the sound reproduction is not exactly very detailed. I have my own Glenn Gould test for this. With an el cheapo headset, you just hear Glenn do his magic on the piano. On premium car stereo speakers you could hear screechy notes, while on the OEM earbuds you start hearing the fuzzy notes of Glenn humming the bars. On a QuietComfort, you can hear him throw his head back with every lilt like he is a condemned man making love for the last time :-) See what I mean?
  • While we're on Goldberg Variations, I think the most of novel aspect of the iPod for me is that now I'm able to quickly switch from a piece and see how it relates to another. Having far from perfect pitch or a decent music education, I can only conjecture that a particular melody in a classical piece repeats in another piece by the same composer (sometimes also in works by other influenced composers). For instance, I had always suspected that one of the GB variations was repeated, albeit at a slightly different pitch range, in the second movement of Bach's 5th piano concerto. I had never been able to confirm until now, because on a regular CD player that would require the super-human effort of switching CDs! Not any more. I mark the location in elapsed time and switch to the piece I want to compare with and voila - Eine Kliene Repeatmusik!
  • While the interface was designed very thoughtfully, I do have some nit to pick; I always do. While most music is released as individual tracks on a CD, which can then be ripped and listened to in no particular order, when it comes to classical music, this approach falls short. Each movement of a piece is a separate track and it makes no sense listening to them in any order other than the intended sequence. iTunes allows you to join tracks, but the catch is that the tracks have to be joined before they're ripped. Unfortunately that doesn't work at all for pieces spanning multiple CDs. While you're at it, check out this article on listening to classical music on an iPod.
Other things geeks do with their ipod and much more can be found at Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go memorize the inaugural dates of the 42 presidents.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

21 Million Greenbacks To Soften An Empress' Fall

Last weekend, while the rest of the nation stayed glued to their TV sets, a different kind of drama was unfolding in a Chicago hotel room. The board members of HP were huddled over plans to ease out Carly Fiorina, the empress of the silicon-valley icon, HP. So why am I writing about yesterday's news? While news-stories focused on her performance as the CEO, I thought I might sound off on what I found interesting from my own perspective, a perspective I am sure is shared to a certain extent by my fellow b-school bloggers. Some Carly factoids:
  • Yes, Carly has an MBA (from University of Maryland, College Park). Damn sure it helped her. The negotiations class at UoMD must've helped her snag that 21 mil parting payoff.
  • I will never forget her cake-in lieu-of-bread moment when she decided to ladle out the whackamole to 3000 employees while she dipped into the corporate coffers to get herself a shiny new Lear (or a Gulfstream or an F-16 - I am getting carried away, the last one, no that's not her).
  • See, now here's where we are peas in a pod - Carly and your's truly are INTJs. What exactly is that beast, you may ask. Fair enough; in an Organization and Management class, I was introduced to the science of personality types based on the Myers-Briggs typology. Turned out that your's truly and a lot of acquaintances were of the same type. So is Carly; in fact she was featured in class as a case-study of the INTJ type. To cut to the chase, INTJs are supposedly big-picture people, they thrive on change and cannot be bothered with the daily mundanities. Such mind-numbing chores are supposedly the forte of ISTJs. Isn't that a pity since this very same trait proved to be the undoing of Carly 'Humpty Dumpty' Fiorina. To quote from BusinessWeek: " "[Fiorina's] good with marketing. She's a good speaker for the company," says a former HP executive. "But this is a company that doesn't need a statesman. It needs a hands-on operations person." So all you wannabe MBAs out there, go take the Myers-Briggs test and remember to sign up for those oh-so-boring operations courses while in school.
  • Finally, I cannot resist - some circles talk about how Carly's chromosomes were a factor. She was hired because she was an A performer, but fired because she was a double X? Get a grip already.