Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Surviving the Schulich MBA

1. At your graduation ceremony take a safety pin along. They will not provide you one as "officially" the pin can tear up the rented robe (you get to the cap)
2. Account for a lot of extra expenses - trips, dinners, graduation ceremony - $20 for the grad photo, $54 for the graduation ceremony, $108 for the formals, an insane amount for the deerhurst
3. Wireless routers are needed in the residential houses. Its better if you carry one as stuff is generally expensive in Canada
4. As soon as you land, (Schulich India) - apply for an OCWP - you are eligible for it as you have spent 6 months as a York university student already.
5. Study really well in the first year so that you get good grades and are eligible for a host of scholarships from the school.
6. If you are attending a cocktail networking event, be prepared not to eat / drink anything. (There is hardly stuff anyway) Focus on meeting people. We know that they know that its all hogwash but you gotta do it.
7. Staying in the Assiniboine Residences has benefits and perils
I. Benefits
a. We have a Santa delivering presents all the year round in the way of people moving out and leaving stuff that they no longer need in the ground floor. Be patient and soon you will chance upon - printers, lamps, chairs, microwaves and other surprises. Remember, it would be your turn to play Santa when you move out!
b. You get to see a lot of people, which is otherwise a rarity in that part of town
II. Perils
a. Frequent disturbances from people pulling the fire alarm - trust me you cannot sleep through the alarm (its an offence as well)
b. You do not get much credit in the way of tax rebate as the university housing is supposed to be subsidized ( in reality however its not so compared to the options available around it)
8. Even if the meeting rooms are booked, try some of the smaller class rooms on the second and third floors. they are usually unoccupied and open. If someone comes in, be assertive!
9. There is a combination of TTC transport that can take you from Pearson airport to York University - make sure you either have a token or 3 dollars in change for the TTC fare. The public transport stop is at the lower levels of the pearson airport. You can either take the 58A to Lawrence west and from there take the North Bound to Downsview or take the 196 to Kipling station, travel east bound to st george, change trains and then take the north bound to Downsview
10. Restaurants are way overpriced at York Lanes but you cant help and treat yourself occasionally. I dont have much idea about non veg but there are decent options for vegetarians - try the paneer wrap at Indian Flavours, the 2 veggie combo as Pagoda, Subway and the 5$ basket at KFC. There is a vegetarian plate at Jimmy the Greek which I think is the best value for money. While I personally like Mangia Mangia there have been a lot of raised eyebrows about its health standards. If you do not mind spending $5, then you may want to check out the Indian buffet options at Islington Steet. For an all inclusive cost of about $15 you can have really good food.
11. Beverages at Timothys in the college is Overpriced and I would rush to the Tim Hortons in the Seneca building for a quick sip. While the muffins and the cookies at Timothy's also are expensive, I would highly recommend it as they are fresh and delightful
12. Before the actual winter sets in, there is a decent sale on winter wear. Make use of this - you will need the extra layers of clothes.
13. If you are someone who looks forward to buy electronics on the cheap, wait for the boxing day sale. Otherwise I dont find the prices very attractive round the year.
14. There are a couple of options for groceries near the university - Food Cents (which is at a 10 minute walking distance) and No Frills (which is about 20 minutes away walking or about 8 minutes by TTC). If you do go to Islington, then you can also plan to shop at the Indian Bazaar where you will get more indian things than an actual store in India.
15. For haircut again there are a couple of options - at the University Mall (near Food cents) where the hair cut ranges from $14 to $20 and at Islington where it costs about $10 (do not forget to add $5 if you are going solely for a haircut to Islington which i think is a waste of time then)
16. Dont think twice while spending the $300 worth of print credit. Most of the students end up with a credit balance that expires just at the end of the final term (before you realize it)
17. The library is a great place for reading magazines and journals, utilize this facility well as I believe this is one of the best plus points of the school
18. There are a couple of clubs at York University which organize screening of Indian films and "significant" cricket matches - keep an eye out for it
19. Join the Schulich Connect Yahoo Groups. This is the unofficial site for selling and buying household stuff and books at schulich
20. Internet speeds are great at the residences however do not go overbound and download too much stuff. Your connection is monitored even if you believe it aint and illegal downloads attract special attention.
21. Make sure you have a nice portfolio bag and a good suit with you as you would need them for attending interviews
22. As soon as you land, apply for a credit card and try and get your driving license. You will need to deposit money for the credit card - $750 for a $600 limit credit card - and then maintain good credit as this credit history will result in a good credit score when you apply for a loan. Similarly when you apply for a driving license early on and let time pass, when you actually go ahead to get insurance, this cost will be lesser. Carry a letter from your RTO (Regional transport authority, the people who issue your driving license in India) that you have been driving with a valid passport for "X" number of years and have not been involved in any accidents . This letter will help you skip a step in between when applying for your driving license in Canada.
23. Canada's Wonderland is a great place to visit. Plan to go there in the summers as it is closed during the winters and its hours of operations are also shorter for the short duration it is open in the winters. Look out for offers here as well as they do come by.
24. When buying electronics there is no point doing price comparison between Future Shop and Best Buy as Best Buy bought over Future Shop quite a while back. The other significant brick and mortar shop is "the Source" which is quite useless when it comes to competitive pricing. You may want to explore this site called tiger direct or ITxchange where you can generally get good deals on computers
25. During the winters, due to the heaters, the air inside the rooms tends to become very dry. You may want to consider purchasing a humidifier.
26. A trip to Walmart requires you to take the VIVA Orange transportation service which costs $3.5 one way (or 2.6 if you take a 10 pass ticket). However if you can finish your work at walmart quickly, then you can use the same ticket to head back within 2 hours.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Attack of the Font Monster

After the initial shock of the news wore off I was more fascinated by the affect it had on the websites of reputed news agencies and I was not disappointed !

CNN and The Wall Street Journal had shot their website design to pieces by increasing the font size of their headline to huge proportions. Their graphic designers would have had a tough time for sure. On the other hand The Globe and Mail and The Times of India did not compromise their designs to accommodate a piece of news and I respect that. The others were somewhere in the middle.

What is the message that websites are giving when they do this ? In case you wear glasses and you cant find them, we do not want you to miss this piece of action, so allow us to blow it up for you. Maintain some dignity guys!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Killing the iPad 3g softly, from Inside

What is the most likely thing you will carry in your pocket if you are a tablet owner. I am guessing you will have a killer smart phone that can do almost everything except the dishes. No wait, it could possibly do that as well - there must be an app for it.

The leader in tablets, Apple has two flavours of the Ipad - Wifi and 3g+Wifi. You pay a cool $130 extra to get the 3G capability on your pad. But step back and think, is it worth it ? You may say yes, it is. I need to be connected to the internet when I am travelling and there may be no wifi around.

Think again and reach for your pocket and look to the skies (there would be a cell tower around somewhere). I am willing to bet your Apple iPhone has atleast 2-3 bars of signal strength (provided you are not covering up the antenna area!) and that is all you will need to connect your iPad to the Internet - the magic of wireless tethering.

Very powerful concept, that allows your phone to effectively become a router to other devices including laptops and tablets. It does not really make sense any more to pay extra for that 3G capability. I would love to see, how Apple responds!

The game now hinges on your service provider, to provide you with a plan that encourages you to use reams of data on your smartphone. This means a couple of things for service providers

1. All devices are made equal - No disparity in charges per mb depending on the device that consumes the data
2. Exponential growth of data traffic on the wireless network - Time to redo calibration of network capacity

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Business of News

Here's an interesting piece of original research by me! Sitting in Toronto during the final months of my MBA, while glancing through Indian Newspaper sites, a thought crossed my mind - Where does all the news come from ?

So I decided to do a little research on 7 newspapers from India who have an online presence. The idea was to try and determine the source of the news - for instance PTI (Press Trust of India) , AP (Associated Press), Reuters etc. For the purpose of this research I purposefully did not include Television based news sites (as I really discount the quality of reporting on non business Indian News Channels)and I focussed this study on non financial newspapers only. This research was conducted on 1st Mar 2011 at about 1.30 pm IST.

I did consider three more papers - The Statesman, The Telegraph and The Tribune but I decided not to include them in this research. The main reason why I chose not to include them was because of the fact that they either do not do justice to the online format by trying to replicate the print news as is on the web (no, I am not referring to the ePaper versions) or they simply have a horrific site design.

For once, I am not going to include my viewpoints on the outcome of the research and I would like to invite you to comment on it. I am expecting that this post would generate different viewpoints and thats the reason why I do not want to channelize those thoughts by providing mine upfront.

A request - if you do quote this anywhere, please mention the author's name!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enabling credit card payments

I am fascinated to see the adoption of technology. Square Inc is now offering any one with an iPhone / iPad (with an Internet connection) in the US the ability to accept credit card payments. This means cab drivers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, flea traders and sunday market farmers can accept small transactions through credit cards. (oh, i am not sure if they would have an iPhone). I would be tempted to use one for the heck of it but the transaction fee is set at - 2.75% + 15 cents per transaction.

I think the transaction fees are slightly high but that is possibly because it is still trying to figure out proper risk management techniques. I think the image says a lot. and this is the example of only one of the companies doing it (the coolest one by far) there are other Payment Processors engaging in this niche area as well - Sage Payment solutions (looking at mid to small sized merchants), PayWare Mobile processing. Cool stuff overall...

Monday, January 31, 2011

I am so angry with ICICI Bank...Money Manager account

I am so angry at ICICI Bank for trying to force its customers to use the Money Manager software on its Internet Banking offering.

Ok, so a little background first....around New Year's time (or atleast thats when I noticed it) ICICI Bank introduced a service called Money Manager on their Online Banking system. The way I see it, it is a personal finance software which aims to help with your day to day expenses. I think its quite neat as a concept and its bound to catch on with other banks having a substantial retail base.

This is fine but there is a catch to it. The Bank has decided to charge for the software (25 rupees per month) after an initial trial period of 90 days. So far so good, the Bank can do what ever it pleases as long as it makes the rules clear upfront. Obviously, I am not interested in the software as I dont want ICICI Bank to charge me Rs. 300 a year for a software that I personally will not use.

So, whats the way out? Thankfully there is a way out! Customers can unsubscribe from the service. Hey but, whats this. I cannot unsubscribe before 31st Jan 2011 ? Really !? Weird. So I put a reminder on my phone to unsubscribe from the software on 1st Feb 2011. When I visit Money Manager on 1st Feb 2011, surprise - surprise. The unsubscribe date has been postponed to "on or before 28th Feb 2011". What a cheap, underhand trick.

They think, by forcing people to remain subscribed to the service they can induce customers to use their software. No it does not... It makes people mad. And it makes them write a blog about the horrible experience and let their friends know about it.

And oh yes, I have updated my calendar and shifted the date to 28th Feb 2011.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Lets have another round on personal Integrity!

Its legal! So what do you think when you hear this. It means that the laws of the land have said it is ok to do so or the laws dont have any explicit opinion about it, hence its legal.

Think about it. Where do the laws come from? They definitely do not originate from human nature, otherwise we would not go about breaking so many of them on a regular basis. These are created by people based on their judgement about right or wrong at the time of framing the law.

Now this does not mean that the law is all encompassing. In fact laws are created when people find ways to do things which are not right but the law at that time did not object to it. Think about hoarding. Inherently it means that you are utilizing your resources to stimulate market demand without exerting direct compulsion. This would have been perfectly fine if you were not dealing with food.

My point is that even if the basic values of a person are in the right place, he cannot always depend on the legality of a situation and decide accordingly. He may end up violating his values without even knowing about it, unless some one explicitly points out to him. So it is necessary that you question your own move and be comfortable with it personally, cause if you seek solace or justification externally, you probably will twist the message to suit your frame.

These thoughts are not mine. They are credited to my professor, Dr. Mark Kamstra from the Financial management class at Schulich. I am really glad that they have shaped my thoughts in this manner and the experience has compelled me to pen my thoughts down...