MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

"Tad Holbie's" weblog of his 2002-03 business school application experience.
Home | Tad's Applications | Archives | Site Info | Disclaimers | Epilogue
Useful Links
Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Books
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works


MBA Prep Books I Used:
Montauk
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan
Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* Accepted.com scheduled chats
Rankings
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
Internet Tools
The MBA Admissions Wire would not be possible without all the cool stuff available for free on the internet:
* Blogger - Publishing tools
* Hotmail - E-mail
* MSN - Groups
* SiteMeter - Traffic monitoring
* SurveyMonkey - Web surveys
* HaloScan - Commenting system
* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
* BlogHop - Weblog rating system
* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Michigan
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Columbia
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
HBS
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Kellogg
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Sloan
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Wharton
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
Archives
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08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002
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05/18/2002 - 05/24/2003
05/25/2002 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2002 - 06/07/2003
06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Advice/Thoughts
GMAT
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Recommendations
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Essays
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Interviews
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
Rate this site:
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Disclaimers
Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me? Google it for yourself). I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is tholbie@hotmail.com.
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to Blogger.com and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their Blogspot.com server!
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!). The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity. If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc. (i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at tholbie@hotmail.com (and no, that isn't my real name).
About Interviews: I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
Privacy Policy: If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission. I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source. If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail. Any questions, e-mail me at tholbie@hotmail.com.
Posting Policy: Basically, anything you post can be reviewed by me. If I find a post to the message board or comment system that is sufficiently rude, offensive, moronic, I'll feel free to a) delete it, and/or b) ban you from posting ever again. In conclusion: You don't have free speech on my site, so don't be a jerk.
Commentary

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200336216:

Some of you may think I'm a freak for weblogging my entire application experience. But that's nothing compared to blogging the delivery of your son (start here and scroll up)! I don't know, call me an arch-conservative or whatever, but I believe there are some things that should remain private.

On the other hand, this clearly throws the gauntlet down to Michael and Adam: the world expects, nay, demands, a live, play-by-play blog of the (impending) deliveries (why do I get the feeling that Jenny wouldn't (and shouldn't) stand for that?)...
~

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Friday, May 23, 2003
Posted 4:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200334097:

This Can't Be A Good Sign
According to Quizilla.com, the Matrix character I most resemble is Trinity:

"You are Trinity, from "The Matrix."

Strong, beautiful- you epitomize the ultimate
heroine."

Update:
Okay, now I'm getting really depressed:

"You are Storm, from the X-Men!


You are very strong and very protective of those
you love. You are in tune with nature and are
very concerned with justice and humanity.
Unfortunately, certain apprehensions and fears
are very hard for you to overcome, and can
often inhibit you when most need to be strong.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
brought to you by Quizilla"
~

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Posted 3:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200333983:

BTW, if you're looking to buy a USB "key" hard drive, check out tigerdirect.com. The prices are like half what I saw at Best Buy.
~

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Posted 1:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200333134:

"It's such a crazy day...
have you seen this?"
~

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Posted 12:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200333066:

Kellogg Feedback
BTW, for those of you dinged by Kellogg, you'll want to hurry to sign up for your feedback session. The way to do this, according to their AdComm, is to send a letter or fax requesting the session. They'll then e-mail back to you, and finally you'll call them to choose the date and time. At least that's how it worked for me.

I've lined up three feedback sessions (Wharton, Kellogg, and another school), which I'll finish up by the end of June. As I get feedback, I'll defintely be reflecting on what I've learned for it and sharing some of it here. I don't expect anything earth-shattering, but as always, I'd like to learn from my mistakes (and help others in the process).
~

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Posted 10:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200332225:

Depending on how bored you currently are, this will either bore you more, irritate you, or capture your attention for hours.
~

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Posted 8:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200331651:

Your Job Search Starts Now
The Financial Times has been publishing a journal by one Wharton student, who recently graduated. Someone posted his final entry on the Business Week forum. The most interesting part, to me, is about recruiting success (keep in mind that the class of '03 had it worst: they applied to b-school during the good times (2000-2001), saw the internship market shrivel post-9/11 last summer, and have done full-time recruiting during a shaky economy):

"...Most students, it seems, compete vociferously to get their foot in the door of leading management consultancies and investment banks.

International students trying to switch careers in the US have pretty much drawn a blank. The steady stream of rejection letters has given rise to a macabre sense of humour and a steely resolve on campus. However, faced with huge student loan obligations coupled with their own high expectations, many classmates are increasingly depressed.

Even those with jobs have taken positions in professions they were hoping to leave behind or in roles lower in the food chain than they had expected. As a result, many of my classmates leave with their confidence bruised.

The students who have been the most successful at leveraging their MBA have been those that have been most focused in their job search.

A friend of mine said that he wanted to come to Wharton as a stepping-stone from his engineering background into a career in financial trading. He has found a good job..." (emphasis added).

I wanted re-emphasize the most important point of the excerpt:
"The students who have been the most successful at leveraging their MBA have been those that have been most focused in their job search."

If you haven't started learning about your future career function, researching various firms, working with your school's career office, and networking in the industry, you are behind the curve. Maybe that sounds a bit harsh, but I'd rather go 100% overboard to assure a good internship than miss it because I didn't put in that extra last drop of effort.
~

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Thursday, May 22, 2003
Posted 8:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200330147:

This and That
1) A guide to the UMBS core curriculum was waiting in the mail for me when I got home. Maybe it's just me, but reading over the various courses gets me excited about going back to school. Forget all that ROI and job search crap--it's just going to be cool to study business two years in an academic environment.

2) To exempt a core course or not? That is the question. Since I took only a few business classes as an undergrad, my choices are limited. In the end, I'll probably take the full load of core courses, because 1) I want to learn about all disciplines, 2) I want to stay as part of my section (i.e. cohort), 3) many of the core courses will be pre-reqs for the electives I'm interested in anyway, and 4) there is minimal benefit to me taking one or two advanced classes early on.

3) The envelope also contained the Michigan football ticket postcard, with the proper group name and password.

4) Dropped by Best Buy on the way home, picked up a 64 MB USB Drive (looks similar to this) and a Kensington retractible-wire mouse. The only complaint on the mouse is that the wire is a bit short, especially since the T40's PS/2 and USB ports are on the left side of the keyboad. The wire retractor is a nice feature though, making the mouse a bit more portable (I decided against going wireless because I didn't want to be changing mouse batteries a lot).

5) While walking through Best Buy, I realized how far behind the curve I was in technology. I got used to the computer technology you work on at home and at the office, and its eye-opening to see the stuff they have out there. I'll defiitely be looking to throw together a 802.11b hub in my apartment when I move out to AA.
~

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Posted 1:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200328195:

MBA vs Financial Engineering
The May 12th issue of Forbes magazine has an interesting MBA-related comment (page 62).

"Jobs are so scarce on Wall Street these days--U.S. securities firms have shed 80,000 in the last three years--that even folks with fancy M.B.A.s are pounding the sidewalk. Which makes it all the more delicious for math whizzes like Karim Beguir. Scorning an M.B.A., Beguir, 26, got a master's degree in the obscure art of financial mathematics. J.P. Morgan Chase grabbed him less than a month after graduation in December and is now paying him nearly $100,000 to create complex mathematical models to hedge the risk of its derivatives portfolio...

Growth in the derivatives markets and proprietary trading at investment banks has put a premium on technically skilled people like Beguir, especially over M.B.A.s still stuck on management and marketing. "In this environment, if you don't thave the quantitative skills, there's not much to sell yourself on," says James Finnegan, editor of the Financial engineering News.

Since 2000, 58 of the 60 graduates of the 18-month program in mathematical finance at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences--Beguir's alma mater--were employed a few months after graduation. Only 82% of last year's 749-student class at Stanford's business school (a two-year program) found jobs."

The final comparison between NYU's and Stanford's stats is misleading, because Stanford MBAs are going into a wide variety of industries other than Wall Street. Still, it is interesting to read about the other options that are available to those going into finance.

A financial engineering degree perhaps could serve me well in the short term, given my short-term career interests, but still I believe that an MBA will provide me a much more rounded experience. The truth of the matter is that I am not a really quant-ish guy, so a degree in math doesn't sound like fun. Plus the lessons you'll learn studying mathematical finance aren't going to get you very far in senior management positions, I think.

Still, for those of you who are interested in the minutae of the complex finance markets, this is an option to consider.
~

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Posted 11:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200327566:

The IBM T40
The T40 arrived this morning. I haven't had much time to play around with it, but my initial impression is that it has a great screen (14" is big enough to use as a desktop replacement, thankfully) and is at a reasonable weight. I do notice that it is heavier than the ultra-lightweights (that tip the scale at 3lbs) but it is not oppressively so. It's like a college textbook, one of the thinner ones.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Posted 4:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200323911:

"Tad Holbie or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ding"?
I must confess that I am intrigued by these BWeek message board contributors who wrote a book on applications. I (obviously) enjoy writing, and know that I would get a sense of accomplishment out of writing a book. I would love to write about the duality of my experiences as both an applicant and the author of this website, the things I learned from both, and the weird, crazy adventures I had (that's overstating it a bit, but heck, why not?). The fly in the ointment, however, is that writing a book seems like a lot of work, and (from what I understand of the publishing industry) most authors make only a pittance.

If anyone has experience getting a book published, and has some info or insights to share about how to do it, how much work it is, and what the payoff is, e-mail me.
~

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Posted 9:15 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200321484:

Derivatives R Us
I stumbled across this very useful site introducing and discussing the derivatives market. Apparently it was a weekly newsletter in 1995, written by Assistant Professor of Finance Stephen Sapp of the Ivey School of Business in Canada. Unfortunately the index page is gone, so the only way to navigate all the newsletters is one-by-one. Here are some highlights:
Volume 1, #2 - Introduction, swaps
Volume 1, #3 - Structures notes
Volume 1, #4 - Asset-backed securities
Volume 1, #16 - Interest rate swaps

There are 26 total newsletters in the series, and they represent an accessible, albeit slightly dated, introduction to futures, options, pricing issues, and other derivatives issues.
~

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Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Posted 1:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200315981:

Wall Street Jersey-Bound?
A couple of interesting articles on New York City's losing (?) bid to keep the big banks in the city. This TechCentralStation piece goes into the financial reasons that high-income individuals might start leaving the city:

"New York's top earners will be paying a combined state and local income tax of over 12%, plus sales taxes of over 9%. Meanwhile, the city's innovative "tax benefit recapture" will retroactively apply top-bracket rates to the first dollar of income, making the tax truly an economist's nightmare. Compare that with rates just across the river in New Jersey, where income taxes top out at 6.35%, and the sales tax is only 6%: a high income New Yorker could save himself nearly 10% of his annual income just by putting a short bridge between his house and the New York City Council."

Businessweek details the Wall Street situation from an economic level--how many firms are finding it hard to justify the expensive Manhattan office over the less expensive New Jersey office.

I would think that as time goes by, communication technology continues to improve, and the expense of New York steadily increases, this trend will only strengthen. However, as long as much of corporate America is headquartered in the city, the banks will have to have offices for their client-facing personnel there as well. And in a status industry like IB, having a city address will probably always remain an important perk.
~

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Posted 8:09 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200315941:

Laura, the new Wharton graduate (congrats!), posted the text of a Financial Times article on grade disclosure on her site. The point of the article is that, for some of the "top recruiters" like "top-tier investment banks" really want to know job applicants' grades.

"Ms Resnick [director of Columbia's MBA career services] says one recruiter has warned that it may switch to other schools if Columbia stops disclosing grades. Such a threat strikes a particular chord at Columbia because the New York school has established strong ties with the financial services community, building on its proximity to Wall Street...

"David Beim, a professor who was formerly head of investment banking at Bankers Trust, disagrees: "I think grades are hugely important because they provide useful feedback and they help students decide whether a subject is something they should pursue in their future career..."

"However, companies often send employees who are alumni back to their former campus to recruit. "Many alumni want to be able to ask grades as another measure of determining if candidates, most importantly career switchers, have demonstrated certain competencies," says Ms Resnick."
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Posted 7:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200315795:

Useless Info
I noticed that IBM shipped my T40 laptop from Hong Kong. I'm a bit surprised, since I thought that most manufacturing jobs would have left HK for cheaper locales.
~

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Monday, May 19, 2003
Posted 8:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200314309:

"Come join the excitement of University of Michigan Football by order student season tickets. A season ticket is $142, and the 2003 football season t-shirt may be ordered for an additional $10.

Beginning May 19th, you can order online at www.mgoblue.com/ticketoffice or download an application at this site. The priority deadline is Friday, June 27th.

Students ordering online will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win two Notre Dame or Ohio State tickets."
- Postcard in the mail today

Update:
"Our online ordering system is currently unavailable due to scheduled maintenance.

We are upgrading our system to provide you with the best possible ordering experience. Please check back Thursday morning."
~

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Posted 5:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200313191:

IBM Rocks!
My laptop has already been shipped, less than 24 hours since I ordered it. Cool! That beats the two week wait my grandmother faced with Dell hands-down.
~

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Posted 4:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200313021:

Since I've brought this topic up before, here are some resources on copying files from one Windows machine to another using a "direct cable connection":
* Microsoft has a step-by-step guide to direct connection file transfers, but be careful with these wizards, because they might copy application settings as well.
* Article on the types of cables to use when transferring files between PCs. Note that "parallel cable connections are faster than serial cable connections. Use a serial cable with Direct Cable Connection only if a parallel port or cable is unavailable."
* This How To article is much more basic.
* This article on direct cable connections covers everything from the cables to the software in an easy-to-follow manner.
* Here's another comprehensive article, with pictures.
* Problems connecting Windows 95 to XP

Friendly warning: I did see another article which suggested trying to connect two PCs via USB wires could damage the machines, so be careful with all this tech stuff.

Now that I've posted all that, there seems to be a much easier way. Since both machines will have an Ethernet card, I should be able to just connect the two through that and use the "map network drive" to connect the two. I'll try this option first, and move the the crossover cable if it doesn't work.
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Posted 2:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200312484:

Sacre bleu! For some reason my company has blocked access to Babelfish. How else am I going to read FrenchMBA at work?!?
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Posted 7:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200310337:

You know that weblogging has jumped the shark when the New York Times does an adoring piece on it. Although who can argue with this quote:

"Ms. Allen said her motivation for posting personal details was simple: 'I love to be the center of attention."
~

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Posted 6:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200310182:

One last item on computers: part of the trickiness in choosing a new computer is the disassociation between processing power and the chip speed. Before you could be sure that Pentium III computers were faster than Pentium IIs, that 466 MHz computers were faster than 366 MHz. Bizarrely enough, that's no longer the case, apparently.

The laptop I purchased has an Intel Pentium M ("M" for "mobile"). Just looking at the specs, one would think that a Pentium M at 1.5 GHz would be worse than a Pentium IV at 2.4 GHz. But according to Computer Shopper magazine, that's not the case: "A longtime advocate of CPU speed at any price, Intel is slowing things down with its new centrino mobile platform--and that's a good thing. Rather than simply raising the clock speed, Intel has figuratively turned back the clockin its initial batch of Pentium M processors, which debuted at speeds of 1.3 GHz, 1.4 GHz, 1.5 GHz, and 1.6 GHz. Despite the clock-speed reverse, notebooks based on the new chips are portable powerhouses, capable of a 7-hour battery life and performance that is, on average, 20 percent better than "faster" Pentium 4-M notebooks" (June 2003 Computer Shopper, page 83).

Bizarre, but true.
~

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Sunday, May 18, 2003
Posted 3:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200308213:

After several weeks of reader comments, talking to coworkers, talking to people in our company's IT department, and reading magazine reviews, I finally made my laptop choice. I decided to go with the IBM T40. I went with the University of Michigan discount, and got a 1.5 GHz mobile Pentium machine with 512 MB RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD drive, 802.11b wireless and a 3 year on-site service contract all for a little more than $2,000.00.

Why did I choose the T-40? Several reasons.

First among them is the brand. Everyone I talked to said IBM builds the most reliable, durable laptops. I was interested in Dell and HP machines earlier on, but did hear (and see first-hand) a few bad stories about them, and since this computer is going to serve as both my home PC and my mobile workstation, reliability was a big factor for me. The only other brand for which I didn't hear any horror stories was Toshiba, which cost about $400 or so less.

The next factor, then, was the size/weight issue. Basically, it seemed like most manufacturers had a super-lightweight model around 3 pounds (and starting at $2,000) or a "desktop replacement" at 7 pounds. I ruled out the 3 pound machines becaues of the size of the display (12" was just too small for what would be my main PC), but 7 pounds seemed a bit heavy. Nearly every MBA student I've talked to recommended I go with a lighter laptop ("how tired I am of carrying around a brick" is a popular refrain), and I trust their experience (I mean, let's face it, 7 pounds does not seem heavy when you are looking at PCs in CompUSA, but I'm sure day after day it starts to grow on you).

The T40 seemed a happy medium between the 3 pounders and the 7 pounders, weighing in at 5 pounds. It had the 14" screen that the smaller machines didn't. It didn't offer 2.0 GHz+ processor speeds--but I don't think that's a big deal. All-in-all, it just seemed the right fit for my needs--portable, powerful, and reliable. The only other machine that came close to matching these specs was the Toshiba Portege 4010--but it actually costed more than the IBM.

Other Notes:
* I didn't go with any of the super-discount models that IBM offered Michigan students (or employees of my company). None of them really fit what I was looking for, which was frustrating (but not surprising).
* All along, Dell kept luring me back. The whole online shopping experience for laptops was time-consuming and frustrating, and the flexibility that Dell offered was very inviting. I kept finding myself putting together a machine on IBM.com or Toshiba.com and having to choose between two options I didn't want, or having to pay extra for something, where at Dell I felt that I could build the machine from scratch. In the end, though, the stories I heard kept me from going with Dell.
* I'm glad this is done with. I hope that this IBM laptop lasts as long as the desktop I currently have.
* Since when did online retailers start adding on sales tax?!? BTW, IBM.com does something weird with the sales tax--when I was checking out the site said the tax would be $130-ish, but the final receipt put it at $96. I don't know what happened there.
* Yes, I do feel a bit guilty spending so much on myself (that's not a habit I'm used too). I could have gone with a heavier but faster Toshiba for about $700 less. I'll put that on my tab. ;-)
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