Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Global financial centres

Traveling is the first thing that comes to my mind once you receive that admission. It's an easy sell, only in rare occasions do many of us get such a break from the professional career. Being away from our families, my wife and I wanted to spend sometime back at home as well. We planned and planned and planned even further. Once you open the map it's easy to go overboard. We had to remind ourselves about the budget. MBA loans were not cheap and my wife wouldn't start her new job until winter. So we postponed some of our most exotic plans for future. I promised to her there will be more celebrations to come. Tuscany is not going anywhere!

Since I had decided to pursue Investment Banking we thought it would make sense to visit some of the leading financial centres of the world (outside of USA). We could witness how life would be in these places and decide whether to recruit for these locations or not. The main contenders were London, Zurich, Singapore and Hong Kong.

We clubbed the London trip along with our India trip. That helped us save some money and thanks to my wife's best friend (who resides in London) we got to stay for free as well. I really liked the Canary Wharf area where most of the big shots in FS are located and also the Trafalgor square. Space is a luxury you can't afford in London (just like in NYC). Thanks to living in NYC, we could easily accustom to taking the tube (subway) to visit different zones (similar to boroughs) in London. The only irritation was the unpredictable weather.
That said, I think we would enjoy living in London especially if we come here during the summer (internship).

Next week my wife and I would be flying to Singapore. I will be there for two weeks and we have squeezed in a weekend trip to Hong Kong as well. I'm super excited about this trip. So we would be done with three out of the four places we wished to visit before starting MBA.  Due to many reasons, after the London trip we were unable to schedule any traveling. Finally, everything fell into place just before the start of school! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In search of the perfect laptop for bschool

Update: I finally purchased a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 13" laptop for $585+tax. It's not exactly what I wanted in the first place but the cost factor kind of took precedence in the last minute. Here are the specs:
250GB HDD, 3GB RAM, AMD Athlon Neo processor. It weighs 3.8lbs.

In the past few weeks I've been spending a lot of time figuring out that perfect laptop for bschool. I should've known better- life's full of compromises.

My criteria for the perfect laptop were,
  • As close to 3lbs as possible
  • 13" screen size
  • full size keyboard and touchpad
  • Affordable
After a lot of search I assembled this list of highly recommended ultra portables
  • 13" MacBook Pro
  • Sony Vaio Z 
  • Sony Vaio Y
  • 13" Thinkpad Edge
  • Thinkpad X201s
  • Thinkpad X301

Out of these, I fell in love with Sony Vaio Z. It has the latest Intel processor, SSD hard drive, very high resolution screen and it looked sexy! I played with one at bhphotovideo showroom and was impressed completely. Unfortunately, it's super expensive too. It starts  around $1900K and if you add some service warranty like the ones CBS recommends, then be ready to shell out 2500$ easily. Now, that's a lot of money for someone with a negative cash flow :-(

Thinkpad X301 is almost same price as Vaio Z but it has the older processor and lacks a SD slot. Not so impressed. In the same store I saw the 13" Thinkpad Edge, it looked okay. It felt a little plastic, the keyboard was of low quality and it made noises like a typewriter while typing on it. That left me wanting to see X201s, I remember seeing a similar model with an old friend from CMU but I was not sure if the screen size is enough for me. I wanted to see one again and I haven't been able to find one in a store. Karan, a friend from CBS has bought one, now I need to wait for him to come to NY.

Saurabh, another friend from CBS managed to convince a bunch of us to go for the MacBook pro. He also offered to give some training so we can all be Mac experts. He is a good salesman, no doubt! The claims on better productivity may be true, but when I tried to use one, I just didn't find it comfortable. May be it's just a matter of time. Also, I was not able to accept the additional weight. I was looking for something close to 3lbs and the 13" Pro was over 4.5lbs.

So it finally came down to Sony Vaio Y series or Thinkpad Edge 13". Though I'm yet to see the X201s I doubt if I will be happy with a 12" screen. Weight-wise both these are almost 4lbs. Not ideal I know. The only discernible difference seems to be the Intel processor. Sony has the latest one. Also, when you work with them it's pretty easy to come to the conclusion that Sony hardware is much more robust than Edge (I know, it's a Thinkpad but there is nothing "Thinkpad" about Edge other than the logo, trust me). Well done, Lenovo! Ugh.

I'm yet to make the purchase, may be it's because I'm still dreaming about the Sony Vaio Z series even after pushing myself to make the sensible decision of buying the Y series. I'll post an update once I seal the deal.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blog featured in ClearAdmit newsletter !

While applying to schools I came across many excellent MBA related blogs thanks to the ClearAdmit newsletter.  It feels great to become part of this newsletter :-)