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Archived Posts for May 2002

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
30
May 02
Thu

21st Birthday

Well, this is it, the Big 21. Strange age to “move” into adulthood, really. Australians, at 18, have all the legal rights and responsibilities of an adult. I guess it takes three years for the maturation process to start occurring – you go silly with those newfound rights one has at 18. Then, you slowly get over the fact that you can now walk into a bar, club or porn store without getting kicked out. Life has sure changed a lot since I was in first-year uni. Back then, there really was not a lot to worry about. Uni subjects were easy (and ultimately unimportant), free time flowed like beer on St Patrick’s day. There were so many new people to meet, and uni itself was fresh, new and the sudden freedom after 13 years of school life was liberating. Now, at the tail end of a uni degree, the pressure is on to find a job, push out a quality thesis, and prepare to move on to the next stage of life. Free time now flows like beer after 1am in NSW country towns. But anyway, that’s probably because I’ve been working full time for a year now on top of a lot of other stuff. I will be making the most of the rest of uni and living it up.

My cousin, who rented a car and taught me how to drive a manual last year, is claiming that his present this year will top that idea. He claims the present will (1) potentially save my life and (2) make me shit my pants. I wait in anticipation.

Timezones deem that I won’t be able to (legally) drink in the US for another 16 hours.

Overheard

On the bus today, some girl in reference to a baby: “He’s so cute I could EAT him!”

I sure haven’t heard that expression before. Oh wait, I have. Mike Tyson said it, but the word “cute” didn’t enter into it.

Got a bit of spare cash?

Got a spare bit of cash? Pay a few thousand, and you can take a joyride in a Russian Mig. For a bit more you can experience weightlessness via a parabolic flight in an Ilyushin-76. A bit more, and you can journey to the “edge of space” in a Mig-25. For 100 G (that’s grand, not Gs as in multiples of gravity) you can book a flight on a one hour sub-orbital flight that goes over 100km high. And if your last name is Tito or Shuttleworth, and you don’t mind a price tag with 7 zeroes on the end of it, then a journey to the ISS is in order. See space adventures. One day in my lifetime, sub-orbital flight may become as affordable as taking a first-class airplane flight is today.

  8:57pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Travel  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
28
May 02
Tue

World Cup

Excel spreadsheet game trackers: 1, 2.

Umm…

I get this feeling a lot, too. What a shame, people actively trying so hard to make themselves way bigger than they actually are. Well at least they haven’t claimed that “Weblogs are more popular than Jesus” … yet.

B’day

My 21st is on Friday but I have been so damn busy that the party probably won’t be till July. Sucks. Oh well, 4 more weeks of work left.

Putting the finishing touches on a group uni assignment for IS Security where we have to do a privacy report on an e-business company. With lack of a suitable organisation, we eventually turned to the Australian branch of Internet.com and interviewed Niki Scevak (pays to have co-op connections sometimes heh). So that’s due Friday. The exam is on the 26th, and that, along with the literature review for my thesis, will be all that’s left this semester in terms of uni work. I need a break. I’m going skiing in Victoria these holidays.

20
May 02
Mon

Brrr

Today was way too fricking cold. The daytime was bad enough, but I had uni this evening, and in typical Kensington fashion, it was blustery. The wind seems to bypass all clothing and strips heat straight from the skin. Catching hypothermia on the walks home this Winter is a distinct possibility :). I always pass a few payphones on the way home from uni. They are in the middle of the street in residential zoning, and they always seem to have someone using them at all odd hours. Fair enough, people may use those phones to make a quick call, but the type of people that use them speak for ages – up to an hour long… surely a home phone would be better (and it would be out of the cold)? Or are people that desparate for a chat? I’ve never figured this one out.

If you check out Google, it looks like they are releasing a new logo this Friday and are selling mugs this week only, to commemorate the event. For some reason, I’d really dig a mug with the Google logo on it, but to order it to Australia would cost $40. I ain’t paying $40 for a cup.

  11:45pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
19
May 02
Sun

Storm

Here’s a photo of the storm that swept over Sydney last Thursday (that I got caught in, without an umbrella!) It’s pretty cool. The view is from a building somewhere in North Sydney. Thanks to Pro.

Yabbies!

Yabbies
They’re no longer all in the same tank, unfortunately. The big one kept dismembering the others.

Star Wars AOTC

I actually have a lot more to say on AOTC, but I thought I’d better wait until a few more people had seen it first. I, uh, went and saw it three times (but I only had to pay for it once :), partially because I wanted to see the film again, and partially because I wanted to observe the people seeing the film. If you want a glut of blogging reviews on AOTC, go here. But more will come later…

  11:30pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Movies  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

It’s a Conspiracy!

Messages in new US$20 bill? Some people have a lot of time on their hands (and money too, it seems).

15
May 02
Wed

Star Wars Episode 2

Simply awesome. Go see it. Go Yoda! :)

Mobile Phone Transmission

Star Wars in 30 minutes!

14
May 02
Tue

Star Wars

Watching the Star Wars premiere tonight, midnight session. Should be spectacular. I hope so… at least the vibes coming back from elsewhere has been good.

13
May 02
Mon

Go v Chess

A comparison of Go and Chess. Just as a matter of interest. I’ve never played Go before.

12
May 02
Sun

John Q

OK, so maybe Denzel Washington wasn’t the right choice for the Oscars, but there’s no denying he’s a talented actor. This movie is realistic (relatively speaking, compared to other Hollywood films), involving and intelligent. It’s a little derivative and formulaic, but I didn’t really care – I just let myself get sucked right into the thick of it. The only real thing I can criticise this movie for is for casting an overly negative light on doctors as being money hungry. Insurance companies, perhaps. However, doctors have one of the toughest jobs in society today, and they aren’t paid that well, in light of what they do (and add to this the cost of litigation and the insurance premiums they pay to prevent this). It is interesting that Australia is currently going through a medical insurance crisis, but on the other side of the fence.

Oh yeah, and John Q is guaranteed to make your girlfriend cry :). Recommended.

Collateral Damage

Disappointing. It’s got Arnie, but it’s still not good value for your ticket money.

We Were Soldiers

Very atmospheric, very poignant film which mixed up ground zero action with the slower, ponderous scenes quite effectively. The only thing is that the context of battles is jumbled – you see the titles flash up like “The River Bed” and “The Knoll”, without any idea of how the troops are moving and thus without a true appreciation of how the commanding officer strategises (a short overhead shot of the battlefield would’ve done the trick). A few cuts above Mel Gibson’s last big budget war flick, The Patriot. Recommended.

The Scorpion King

Mindless action flick with some surprisingly amusing one-liners thrown up by that horse thief guy. Hey, what do you expect from a film who’s protagonist’s name is The Rock?

The Time Machine

Pretty decent adaptation of the novel, up until Jeremy Irons appears on stage as the mind-reading force-using Morlock. The CGI time-lapse scenes were absolutely gorgeous. Once again, however, setting a date merely 30 years in the future as when mankind has the ability to fracture the moon is a little near by! Movie writers have a habit of casting future dates too close to the present.

Recruitment

This has been an incredibly tough season for finding a job. Industry in general is still in a slump, despite an upturn in business. As a result, the numbers of graduates companies are willing to take on is but a fraction of the levels they were during the dot com boom time of 98/99. I filled out job application forms or sent in my resume to about 15 companies in strategy consulting, IT consulting, IT positions in financial services and IT companies. As of today, I’ve spoken my way through 16 interviews.

The whole process is incredibly draining. Firstly, the masses of application forms are bad enough to fill in. Online forms are the worst, especially the ones with about a hundred open-ended “name a situation where you have displayed teamwork/leadership/initiative etc.” type questions. Then there’s the resume, cover letter and academic transcript (at $10 per transcript, the uni is virtually running a mint). For some online forms you have to retype your resume done in Word as text, which is a major pain. In the end, I got truly sick of filling out form after form and just stopped.

Secondly, there’s the interview phase. Getting called up for the first few are encouraging. But then you realise that your schedule is starting to pile up with them. I have been going to interviews more often than work in the past three weeks. The interviews are 30-60 minutes on average. They really tax the brain as you attempt to construct a coherent, insightful answer, all while trying to sound sincere. With experience, it starts to become second nature though, and again, eventually you get sick of answering the same (slightly reworded) questions and get lazy. At this stage, it’s also pretty clear to the interviewer whether you have any real interest in the job. It’s been a few weeks of hoping that the last missed mobile phone call wasn’t from graduate recruitment, or that you come home to an empty letterbox (snail mail correspondence is reserved for rejections), or that the public transport system doesn’t collapse because that would make you late to the interview.

Strategic Consulting
The majority of the population, when they hear “management consulting company”, immediately think “PwC”, “Deloitte” and the other big names of the big 5 (or is that big 4 and a half now?). Unfortunately, that would be a misconception, for there is a band of companies pitched above those that make up the select group of “pure” strategic consultancies. The largest three, collectively known as M/B/B, are incredible companies to work for.

Competition for these companies is murderous. They hire from literally any discipline – engineering, law, med, commerce, science – and applicants are generally the pick of the crop of their fields. If you apply for these companies and get turned down as many are, it is all too easy to become discouraged or disillusioned with the job search process – I have witnessed some extremely talented people getting turned down for these companies. Realise however, that this year McKinsey, Poynton and Booz each hired a mere two grads out of thousands of applicants (and the other firms also hiring in the single digits). The number of grad positions open across the entire strategic consulting industry is less than the intake of PwC Consulting. Three years ago, the positions available would have been around triple what they are today.

I applied to these companies not expecting anything out of it, apart from experience. I received outright application rejections for all but two firms. One of them I have already bowed out of the interview process. I made it through to the second round of interviews for the remaining firm (16 people going for 3 positions), but was again unsuccessful.

All consulting firms hold case interviews, which are different from the ordinary behavioural based ones. Case interviews consist of a business case you work through with the interviewer – the aim of which is to see how well you can analyse a problem and structure a response. Questions I got ranged from things like, “How many tires are there in the world?” and “What is the market size for staple guns in the US?” to longer problems such as exploring market growth for a timber manufacturer and doing a market assessment and comparison between quarries and concrete suppliers. I actually prefer cases to behaviourals, but they are tougher to do, and it is all too easy to be unlucky and receive a tough case you just aren’t in the right mindset to solve.

It also seems that these firms are quite wary of IT grads. A friend who made it to the Bain interviews commented that he was the sole IT person there amongst a sea of combined Law degrees. Again, 3 years ago, things would have been quite different. (McKinsey actually used to be a sponsor for BIT!)

IT Consulting
Strategic consulting companies held their recruitment period a month before all the other industries. Application deadlines for IT Consultancies were set roughly at the time most strategy consultancies were handing out offers. Only three consultancies were recruiting this year: PwC Consulting (25 grads), Deloitte Consulting (up to 60 grads) and Accenture (about 20 grads). All the consulting companies have now splintered off their parent accounting ones after Andersen disintegrated, so they are effectively all separate entities.

PwCC: These guys will be undergoing a rebranding some time later this year, once they figure out what their new name is going to be. My degree (BIT) is part of a co-operative program with PwC as a sponsor, so we all got “special treatment” in terms of fast tracking the interview process. For us, they hold everything on one day – aptitude tests and interviews with a buffet lunch thrown in. I was asked, “What do you think of the situation in Zimbabwe?” which has to be one of the more unusual questions I’ve recevied. Offers will be extended in about 3-4 weeks. Their training course in Tampa, Florida sounds quite appealing.

Accenture: No special treatment with them, although they too are a program sponsor. Three rounds of interviews. Got rejected after the first round, which is highly perplexing, to say the least.

A few friends have been receiving interview offers by KPMG via SMS. That’s just cheap.

The Rest
I also applied for IBM, Aspect, Macquarie Bank, and UBS Warburg (IT divisions). Waiting to hear from Aspect. Currently in the pipeline for IBM and Macquarie. Was unsuccessful for UBS.

I have an interview on Wednesday, but the recruitment season is starting to wind down. Things should all be over by the month’s end.

Yabbies!

That was a longer time away from posting than I originally thought I would take. Everything’s just been so incredibly busy! I’ve had the ever increasing urge to post, but haven’t found a lull in activity (and corresponding burst of energy needed) up until now. The great majority of my time has been spent with recruitment related activities, interspersed with spurts of uni and thesis research on top of work. I’m going to over my recruiting experiences, but first, something else.

We got an aquarium in the apartment. It’s got no fish, only a crab and two yabbies. The first remark most people make about this is, “Crustaceans and no fish? How boring!” … only to spend the next half hour staring fascinated into the glass tank.

Why this is so relies on the nature of the beasts. Of the two yabbies, one is an absolute bully. He’ll attack others without provocation. As a result of constantly muscling away food from the others, he moulted first (shed his shell to grow bigger) and is practically doubled in size overnight. He looks like a tank compared to the others. He’s also ripped off one of the other yabby’s pincers. The crab keeps mainly to herself, only striking out in self-defence when any of the other two get too close. The little yabby is copping a beating, and more often than not, the big one will chase the him around. The little one will retreat backwards, only to back into the crab who will give him a nip in the butt. A yabby’s quick retreat mechanism is its tail flick. By using this, it can catapult itself halfway across the tank in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, when the little one flicks its tail after getting pinched by the crab, it normally ends up catapulting forward, straight into the arms of the big yabby, who lashes out with its own pincers. Tail flick again, but this time, backwards. Into the crab. The result is something like a game of tennis.

The big fights, however, are between the crab and the big yabby. The resemblance to a boxing match is uncanny – they’ll take swipes at each other, getting closer and closer, until their claws are entangled. Without a referee to yell out “break!” however, both critters are free to try and bite off each other’s ears. Well, that’s if they had visible ears – they don’t, but eyes work just as well. Incidentally, the scientific name for yabbies is cheerax destructor. They’ve lasted over three weeks now without killing each other. You can call it sadistic, but we call it natural selection. And it’s a lot more interesting than watching goldfish with 30 second memories swim around bumping into the glass.

Update: Big bully has ripped off the second pincer of the second yabby, so Dave moved him out into his gf’s aquarium. The carnage continued unabated, however, and the crab lost two of its legs in the battles that ensued. She too has been moved into a second aquarium Dave bought today.

9
May 02
Thu

Hi

I’m alive. Stay tuned for a Big-Ass post in the upcoming days… I’ve just gone through 16 interviews in the last 3 weeks. I’ve also moved workplace to Parramatta, which actually has shops within walking distance (gasp!)



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