Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring break's over already?

How sad. Time flies when you're on spring break, apparently. But I've had a lot of fun over the past few weeks. I've been very social, which is precisely what I wanted. I caught up with old friends that I haven't seen in a while, such as this fellow.

I've also spent a fair amount of time on campus, being planny and talking strategy with various folks. Lots of stuff to do over the upcoming quarter, and the question is what to focus on first. The MBAA website is in desperate need of updating; I'd like that to be taken care of soon.

Twice over the past week, I volunteered up at the Greenwood Boys & Girls Club. On Monday, a group of us got down and dirty and did maintenance work. And on Friday I played games with the kids. One of them drew my portrait, and I had fun helping another kid practice for an upcoming spelling bee. I told her and her friends that I was a spelling bee champion (it's true!) as a kid. They didn't seem that impressed.


Friday, March 16, 2007

A necessary disclaimer?

Earlier this week, I noticed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, pictured at right. It's for the legal firm Nixon Peabody. Not pictured is the accompanying text, which includes a disclaimer:

The person in this ad is an actor depicting a fictional scene.
I can't imagine why this disclaimer is necessary. Who would look at the ad and think otherwise?

And for the 0.01% of the population that thinks this ad is "real life" ... so what? Is there a possibility that someone might sue over this? The odds must be infinitesimally small.

Perhaps Nixon Peabody is showing that it's a legal firm that covers all its bases -- even those freak possibilities -- and will do the same for you.

Or maybe I'm missing something here.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

The ides of March: a historical perspective

What was I up to on the March 15ths of yesteryear?

Way back on 3/15/84, my sister Bethany was born. Happy 23rd birthday, Bethany! Yes, I feel old.


Today was Bethany's 4th birthday. She got a stuffed giraffe which she named "Snuffy." She also got a huge stuffed rabbit which she named "Snuggles."
Bethany had her 8th bday party today. I found a highly enjoyable Seattle station, 107.7, the "End." I listened to a 3-hr program on U2 today. I am getting really into U2.

3/15/94. I was working as a security guard in college, and all the officers (me too) spent much of our time mucking around in old-school online community:
It was Matt's last night at work. Most all the staff officers down there play LambdaMOO.

On 3/15/99, I wrote about how things were much better than they had been over the previous two years (1997 being a nadir), I wrote simply "Ich habe genug" -- I have enough.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Open your snack hole

A few blocks from where I live, the McDonald's "Open Your Snack Hole" billboard graces my neighborhood.

What can I say? It's just a dag-nasty ad, no matter which way you slice it. Local blogs that have noticed it tend to agree. I've blogged criticisms of McDonald's marketing efforts in the past, and I must add this to the list.

Readers outside of Seattle: have you seen this ad in your community? I ask because this appears to be a Seattle-only pilot campaign.

I was so curious about this that I asked my marketing professor. His response (excerpts thereof):

all I can say is 'Wow.' Or, more precisely (and please excuse the profane referernce) 'WTF?' The execution seems unlikely to work for most sets of customers. Too icky, too gross, too obscenely disgusting... Of course, I may not be the target audience.
My guess is that McDonald's is thinking: hey, bloggers will eat this up and it will turn into an awesome viral marketing campaign! And yes, that's happening, and I'm helping out with that. But as I learned over the last quarter in marketing class, merely raising awareness about your product is just part of what successful marketing accomplishes. You also need to cultivate a positive brand association--people should, you know, feel good about your product. So they'll go out and buy it.

Does this campaign do that? What do you think?


Did I just ... ?

Lately in the mornings I find myself unsure if I just took my multivitamin. It's my custom during breakfast to become intensely fixated on whatever I'm reading. So I've got the little bottle of multivitamins next to me, and I remember that I had the thought "I will take my vitamin" I few moments ago. But did I actually take one just now? I cannot recall.

Isn't this what happens to old people? Uh-oh. I suppose I need one of these.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Coffee: two sides to the debate

I've been thinking I should really cut back on my coffee consumption lately. I've entered two+ cup-a-day territory, and that just can't be good. Can it?

Apparently there are two schools of thought on this issue, as this recent BBC story points out. On the one hand,

caffeine eases withdrawal symptoms which build up overnight, but does not make people more alert than normal....all the drink does is counteract the mild caffeine withdrawal symptoms people are experiencing because they have gone without the stimulant overnight.
The possible adverse health effects of coffee aren't really a secret, but aren't well substantiated either:
not long ago, in the 1970s and '80s, coffee's name was mud. It was connected — tenuously or incorrectly, experts now say — to pancreatic cancer, heart attacks, birth defects, miscarriage, osteoporosis, and other ill effects.
On the other hand, maybe it's good for you...
a wealth of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day is perfectly safe for the general population and does have a beneficial effect on alertness and performance even in regular coffee drinkers.
Pictured above: me, feverishly imbibing coffee during last summer's family road trip.


The weight of PowerPoint

One surefire way to rapidly eat up your Gmail memory allotment: constantly email iterations of PowerPoint presentations with classmates. I find it remarkable that I'm up to 17% of my 2826 MB ... up from 7% or so, just a few months ago.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Laptops in class

I took the Strategy final this afternoon -- all four hours of it. Two finals down, two to go.

A few weeks back, our Strategy professor (he also teaches at INSEAD) tried an experiment: he asked us not to use our laptops during class. Although I prefer to take notes with One Note on my laptop, I must admit that sans laptops, class discussion improved considerably.

I'm curious to hear from students (or recent students, as this wasn't an issue back when I was an undergrad) ... what's the situation with laptops in your classroom? Do people use them and if so, does this detract from class discussion?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thinking through video games

I was reading the Wall Street Journal in bed last night and came across a fascinating article: Mind Control for Videogames. You won't be able to see much there without a subscription, so here's the story from another source.

This is an interesting step forward in the world of brain-computer interfaces, over an almost-decade since the breakthrough news of the fellow who used only his brain to move a mouse cursor.

I'll be curious to see what happens with BCI in video games, and how quickly popular commercial adoption catches on. I mean, the novelty of it...I'm very curious to try something like this. Aren't you?

From the WSJ article:

Emotiv Systems...envisions players strapping on helmets with electrodes that read brain signals, allowing them to issue simple commands to enhance game play....Emotiv says its technology can distinguish between patterns of brain activity that can be designated to correspond to specific commands.

In a demonstration, Emotiv researcher Marco Della Torre donned a prototype headset and was able to move objects on a computer screen by visualizing pushing or lifting them....The technology also projected Mr. Della Torre's smiles, winks, or other facial expressions onto the face of an animated character, while software registered changes in his level of excitement.
Sony's Home service--which looks to be a souped-up version of Second Life--was also officially announced yesterday. I can't help but imagine how BCI technology might work in conjunction with virtual worlds. Seems like such a sci-fi notion, yes, but it's really not that hard to imagine that people will be able to use their minds to control their Second Life / Sony Home / whatever's next avatars.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Finals week. Disjointed scribblings.

Finals week is upon us, and much is happening all at once!

My "presidential gestation period" is over as of last night -- we had an official handoff ceremony and the outgoing president, Bonnie, handed me a wooden gavel and a copy of Merriam Webster's Rules of Order. Inside the front cover, there are inscriptions from each outgoing MBAA president, dating back to 2000. I like the historical connection..

What else ... my apartment is a mess! Yes, I seem to have had this problem last quarter as well. Looking forward to doing a substantial spring cleaning next week. And I need to clean out my inbox, too ... inbox bloat has struck once again, this time with a vengeance..

I got my jury duty hardship letter from the MBA program office today; hopefully that will work. It would be very, very bad if I had to miss a substantial chunk of classes next quarter.

Many more things going on, but I need to work on a group strategy presentation, a group macroeconomics paper, and a few other things tonight. Finished the macroeconomics takehome final (no, I don't expect that I did spectacularly well). Strategy final is coming up on Friday, Finance final (which I need to do mountains of study for) is on Monday morning, and the Marketing take-home final is due next Tuesday.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jury Duty

I have been "randomly selected to serve as a trial juror in the municipal court of Seattle, County of King." I've asked if the MBA program office can send a letter on my behalf indicating it would be difficult for me to complete my degree on time if I serve as a juror. We'll see how that goes.

My juror's instructions indicate the following:

Waiting is an unavoidable part of jury service....We have desks equipped with Internet access and Wi-fi (wireless fidelity) for jurors wishing to bring laptop computers with them. There is an extensive and current magazine collection but we do encourage you to bring reading materials, crafts, or other projects to pass the time.
Sounds like I'd be able to get lots of homework (or popsicle-stick houses? That's all I can think of when I hear the word "crafts.") done down there. But I'd be missing out on lectures and class discussion, and that would really set me back.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

March the first: a historical perspective

There's a mountain of strategy case reading to do tonight, and a meeting agenda to plan out, but first, I shall creak open the musty memory-books.

Fifteen years ago, on 3/1/92, I was working at Dairy Queen, and I used to bring home extra food. And I crowed about my fast-food fortune in my journal:

Tonight I got from DQ: 4 chicken patties, 7 chicken nuggets, a large and small frozen shake, and a medium sundae. All this would have been thrown away.
Sixteen years ago, 3/1/91, I had a crush on a girl, my neighbor Lyndi. And I was a band geek (trombone).
I talked to Lyndi briefly. These past few weeks, I have not been talking to her very much. But after I talked to her today, I started liking her again mass.

That afternoon everyone in the band went to see "The Slience of the Lambs." We went to the mall and I bought the first "They Might be Giants" tape, self-titled, made in 1986.
Back on 3/1/89, I was rolling in the dough:
Dad was in a good mood, and he gave me $10.00! He also gave me $2.25 for lunch, which I used today to buy hot lunch and two pops (one for me, one for Dorj). Today we took the test in Geometry on chapter 9, "Right triangles and the Pythogorean Theorem."
22 years ago, on 2/26/84 (not too far from 3/1), I hope I didn't have a temperature that high:
I had my pajamas on all day today. I have a bad fever. I might sleep on the couch tonight! (I'm writing in the couch). We didn't go swimming last night because I had such a high tempature. Today my temp. was about 202 degrees. The time is: 8:42 PM 45 seconds.