Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last block of GMAT RC

My last block of GMAT Reading Comprehension (RC) dropped down again. It scored just a 65% over there. So it opens up a new question here:

What is the best way to take your time and prepare, when you're not about it? It just the wrong mood, the wrong everything, the head is full of shit (pardon for my French) and you can't concentrate. What are the best way to turn yourself into "class-time" when the importance is relatively low, and sometimes, also pretty routine?

Concentration for the exam is rather different than concentration for one typical day from your 3-4 months study plan.

So, I don't have an answer, yet. Do you?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Warming up with GMAT RC

Finally, after warming up a little bit (and staying away for different types of insect texts ;) I was able to score a tiny bit more then 82% of correct answers on my next block of Reading Comprehension texts.

So now it looks like it'd be the easiest part of manage, with some practice and just keeping up my English vocabulary.

I've already passed three types of questions (according to the first book of GMAT Review). They are Problem Solving (PS), Data Sufficiency (DS) and and Reading Comprehension (RC). To prioritize them, I'd write something like this:

RC < PS = DS

PS and DS are almost equal in hardness (for me), while RC is fairly easy one. Bear with me, and I'll compare more categories to those two.

Шоппинг центры вымирают

Как пишет THE WEEK, крупные американские шоппинг центры вымирают, причем очень активно. С 2006 года, более 400 из 2,000 крупнейших центров уже прекратили свою работу. Среди них многим известные Mervyn's, Linens 'n Things и KB Toys уже обанкротились. (Правда Linens 'n Things возобновили работу, но пока только онлайн, из под нового хозяина.)

Однако замечено, что народ покупать-то не перестал. Просто люди начали уделять больше внимания крупным "скидочным" центрам, типа Wal-Mart и Target. Также существенно выросли покупки онлайн.

Чем плохи банкротства центров? В первую очередь возрастающей безработицей. Которая и так бьет рекорды.

My PMP exam

I don't know why I didn't blog about it before, so here is the story:

I passed the exam with success about a year ago (March 2008). The preparation process took me about 2 to 3 months. I can't say that it was very intensive, but I had a pretty solid plan and schedule and invested not less then an hour every day (with some very rare exceptions).

The whole exam-time starting from entering testing facilities and finishing with printed and stamped results took me around 2.15 hrs. PMI doesn't disclose the scores now (at least they did not that time), but gives you rating (below proficient, moderate proficient and proficient) for each of knowledge areas (plus professional responsibility). I've screwed up on one, everything else was rated as proficient.

Speaking about the preparation process. I've used three books, Andy Crowe's one, PMP Head First, and Rita's. I also have used a bunch of notes and spent a lot of time on solving exams. I believe I've solved more then 1,000 questions, plus the ones which come with every book. I didn't like Rita's book at all. This is no way one can use it to learn something. She is bringing complexities to the things that should be easy and intuitive to any manager. I didn't like her practice questions as well. She make them extremely weird and they are far from what you'll get.

PMP Head First book is very nice to read and understand. I believe that this is a best starters book, but you'll need something to add to it for details. This one book might be not enough. The questions which are in the book are simple, the "last exam" questions which come as download are very good.

Crowe's book is the best one to use with PMP Head First. The questions are good. The material is good. The way of depicting information is good. Overall, this is the best book. The questions are good for concept, but not complex enough to rely for passing an exam.

As for the sample questions, the best are PM Studies and Oliver Lehmann's. The downloadable PMP Head First are also very good. Andy Crowe book questions are good as well.

No surprises, although I had a few questions with English words I wasn't aware of. They were tough even to guess. English is not my native language and I speak three languages actually (Russian, Ukrainian and English). I didn't placed a request for translation (they gave me this option during the exam scheduling) because the translations will use different terminology and they are more confusing then helpful.

As far as I remember I didn't have any network diagram question at all. But I had a bunch of EV calculations. A lot of people are receiving NPV v. EPV question nowadays. I did, too.

No surprises at the test site. I was passing in Glendale, CA (LA county). They have a lock box for you, but they are very strict and force to take off even watches. They gave a simple calculator, although the program has a Calculator button on screen and you can use it as well. The class is not that noisy, but it really interrupts you when somebody new is coming into the class to take a seat. They have a video and audio recording of that quality that they hear even when you start writing on the scratch paper.

Basically, that's all I can remember. ;) Feel free to ask me more questions, but I can't disclose the actual questions (and no PMP should).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GMAT Reading Comprehension (RC)

Starting with GMAT's Reading Comprehension (RC), I finished with 65% right of the first block. Such a low score doesn't make me happy either (and actually looks like a pretty sad tendency :).

However, I found a pretty interesting thing - I tend to make a lot of errors while reading text about animals and insects, but everything else, which is related to history, business or social is never less then 85-90% of correct answers.

While low scores are pretty depressing, I'm very sure that keeping up the good plan and working hard could give me the target 700+ score on the exam. It's sad that I don't really remember my feelings and thoughts when I just started to prepare for PMP exam, but I guess it wasn't that much fun either. It took me a fair amount of time to get on track, but I ended up with a pretty high scores on the exam (I guess I screwed up only one category getting moderate proficiency on it, while getting the tops on all others).

iPhone doesn't sync

Somehow iTunes stopped syncing by iPhone with no good reason for. No error, nothing. It just ignores any changes in the Address Book and iCal, until I'll click on Selected Calendars and back to All Calendars. Pretty often it works after that. However, sometimes you've to do this more then two times. I think resetting the Sync history in iSync could do the same thing, but it adds even more headache.

Actually, I'm getting more and more concerned about my iPhone (I actually have an old one 2G version, which is unlocked for T-Mobile). It's pretty dumb when I'm trying to use Maps & Safari & Mail, switching between them at the same time, and all goes over EDGE (actually, I found GPRS sometimes to be a little bit faster, which is ideologically wrong). I'm running 2.1 firmware though. I think that 1.x versions were way faster.

I don't know much about new 3Gs, but I didn't heard anything good about them either. ;) I'm leaning more towards the good old Nokia N95 (or maybe N96?), which ocassionally can be found new & unlocked for $299. My Nokia experience was very good, but I also heard nice things about Blackberries (never owned one, though).

Beeing an Apple bigot (and I acknowledge this) I wish I had a better experience with iPhone. While I have it since the first release, it's a long lasting one. But I find it to be too slow for active use (something, but the iPod or placing calls, but modern phones aren't about calls anymore, right?).

Friday, March 27, 2009

GMAT Data Sufficiency is not good

Within time, my success rate for Data Sufficiency (DS) is falling down.

However, this time it wasn't because of my stubborn brains. The most of errors were coming from "careless errors". Simply said, I just didn't take enough time and concentration on the most of them.

Having a constantly beeping laptop close-by adds a huge amount of distraction to the process. While I did my best to put it as far as it's possible away from my hands, I catch myself constantly dropping a sight at the screen whenever it changes, the message comes or whatever not. It's not like I'm checking it, it just disturbs me.

Sounds are pretty disturbing, too. While I'm tolerant to the noise (we're living in Millbrae, which is actually an appendix to SFO), CalTrain and airplane noises are pretty common during the day. However, something like music or talking can really add some mess to the right order of my thinking process.

Hopefully, pretty soon I'll get myself back into the order and raise up the score. I need to find the way how to tolerate the disturbance, because, according to my experience from PMP, the examination room is not guarranteed to be noise-free and stupid-knocking-mooing-cracking-neighboor free.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


GMAT Data Sufficiency (DS) part is something that definitely needs your time and pre-understanding. OG has a quick intro into these types of questions, however, it wasn't something that I was able to get right away.

My first block of tests brought me to 50% of correct rate, which is extremely low.

However, taking some time and going through the answers with explanations, I was able to run next two blocks with 80% of success. While it's still far from heaven, it's way better I expected to see from the first run.

Hint: it was very helpful for me to draw an algorithm of solving these questions. There is one in the book as well, but I preferred the one I made myself. It's all about the order.

Step 1. If 1 is sufficient ? (Yes) Answers could be AD, if (No) BCE.

Step 2. If 2 is sufficient ? (Yes) Answer is D, (No) is A.

Step 3. If 1 is not sufficient, is 2 ? (Yes) Answer is B, otherwise (No) answers could be CE.

Step 4. If 1 & 2 together sufficient ? (Yes) Answer is C, if (No) is E.

This could look awkward, but it's not. I was able to save a lot of time by memorizing such a simple scheme.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Startup-U Networking

I had a chance to attend today one of the events in Silicon Valley - the Startup-U SV: Networking for Gold. It was organized by SVASE and featured four speakers - Tim McAdam (General Partner, Trinity Ventures), Mareza Larizadeh (Founder, Doostang) and Chris Pareja (Founder, B2B Power Exchange / Lead Genaires) and Bob Karr (CEO, LinkSV).

Actually, Chris and Bob were running the show. Tim was pretty interesting, but didn't speak too much, and I almost don't remember Mareza. Anyway, Chris and Bob sounded like the most savvy persons in the topic and I think they were a good choice for speakers there.

The topic was mostly nailing down the common sense things, but I really liked to hear some practical advices, but not a theory-buzz. In example, the advice for any intro pitch was pretty reasonable and an easy one - be specific about what are you here and networking for: it could be either new clients, partners, job or anyone who finds your business interesting. But you've got to specify that and better know this before starting to talk.

The other point of networking is that it's only about what you are good at and what is your need. That's it and very easy. This can open you a door to starting new conversations at almost any type of event. Specify your pros, and verbalize your needs.

And at last, but not least you've got to make sure things you're doing are relevant to what you need. Just a good feeling about something could be wrong and can make you broke.

From the questions to speakers, I liked the only one: if something works - do more. Otherwise, just stop and re-think.

Overall, it was nice event to attend during the lunch time, but I don't see myself attending too often. And it was a bit on a pricy side: non-member price of $16.50 even including a sandwhich and coke is a little bit too much for a half an hour talk.

Nonetheless, I'd like to thank you all speakers and organizer for making up this event. If I'm blogging about it, at least I remembered something. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009


I just received a set of watches batteries to replace them in my Tissot watches. Unfortunately, after trying 3 of them (of 5), I think my good old watches are dead now. Another option is that I was royally f#cked up by getting 5 dead, but sealed batteries. I might double check this by ordering few more, it's a question of a few bucks only. The problem is that I don't know what was the original battery, but I find Energizer 371 (SR69) there, when opened it. However, some sites quoted the movement type to have R377 (SR66) type of battery, or SR626SW, as alternative.

(that's not mine, but pretty much the same)

I had this watches for about 11 or 12 years. This is Tissot 1853 Seastar, two tone (white and gold) with the bracelet and date. Internally, they are running quartz ETA 955.114 (955114) movement. I like them so much. They've been with me for very long period of time, and I replaced the battery there only once. And a mineral glass, replacing it with another mineral one. However, it was two times high of the original one, so it can be polished when the scratches appear.

This is not a decent watches, but very nice looking. So now I about to challenge the close-by watch repair shops to find out what can be done to get them back alive. I know that the movement itself is pretty cheap - one can get it online for less then 25 bucks. Everything else is okay. So just in case if I'll be quoted too much, I might get the new movement and replace it myself (a piece of cake, especially, keeping in mind that they are already dead :).

P.S. Actually, the problem is not with the battery, as I tried a few. None of them worked. So I think it's pretty much something else. As for now, the best thing for me could be to play with movement replacement.

As far as I remember, the ESA/ETA 955.114 is about 20-25 bucks, or can be replaced with the more high end one - ETA F06.111 (replacement for both 955.114 and 955.112).

Otto Frei has it for $16.95 + s&h + taxes, so it's around $25 as well. I might save some money by visiting their store, if it could be an option (however, they're based in Oakland, so toll rate of $4 makes me think twice about visiting the store :).

To replace the movement, I'll also need a hands removing tool and few other things, like a screwdrivers set and potentially something more. By the way, there is a pretty nice manual on replacing the movement yourself. (After reading it, I'm more concerned about the process though. The super-micro-process with hands replacement sounds not that easy.)

I'll think more about this idea. Anyway, looking for a local watch store is not an option anymore. I think it'd be cheaper to buy a new one instead. (Not that much fun, though.)

GMAT PS progress

It's pretty hard to keep up with 50+ questions a day. Sometimes, I found myself spending more then 2 hours for that, what is definitely unacceptable (for the real shot). I'm trying to take my time though to be able to remember all the staff I've already forgot.

While most of the GMAT questions don't go beyond reasonable basic math skills, sometimes some geometric questions are really killing me. Having my last geometries class (I remember about :) more then 12 years ago, it's really a torture to make myself remember all this rules.

What is also rather sad is my correct percentage rate. I'm making a tiny bit more 65% in PS, and I really don't like it. I think this equals to ~42Q, so staying with such numbers, I have to score at least 91% (~40V?) on verbal part to be able to step over 700 score (that's my goal). Scoring 91% on verbal piece sounds pretty tough for me.

Basically, my plan is I have to make at least 90% on quantitative test, so this means I need to get back to the books (which is also pretty tough, because now I need to learn math in English). However, the most of my errors are careless ones, when I'm trying to catch a fast number and don't pay attention to coefficients and signs and whatever not. (But keeping in mind that I'm spending occasionally too much time on these questions that's a pretty poor excuse).

Keeping notes about our weak areas is a good thing. After all, I'm going to prepare some flash cards, and I'll need to know what should they include. Preparing cards during the questions solving time is too much hassle for me, besides, results in duplicates, repeating myself again and again. I'm going to do this some time later, and I'll use the notes posted.

Friday, March 20, 2009

(Re)starting the GMAT preparation

I hope I can finally restart my GMAT preparation after settling up at the new place. I plan to complete at least 50 questions every single day, to be able to get some value from what I'm actually doing and keep preparation time reasonable.

While it doesn't seem hard for the most of math staff, I'm a little bit more concerned about the verbal piece. Anyway, the official GMAT books are about 1,400 questions, so it might take me about a month to get over them. I still have more on the table, but I want to nail them down first.

I tried it today, and completed a little bit more then 50 questions in about 30-40 minutes. Well, that was definitely too fast for the beginner, like me. I made about 20% of errors, mostly because of being pretty careless. Only few of them were really worth looking through the answer and thinking about what did I do wrong.

I already know that my behavior during the real test is really different, but still I want to be able to see the good results on preparation before I'll say I'm ready for the real shot. I should definitely arrange about 2-3 hours every day for keeping things done right.

Hopefully, I can complete the official guides by the end of April. We'll see. ;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Часы и батарейки

Почти одновременно сели батарейки на двух моих часах - Hugo Boss и Tissot.

Азиат, притаившийся в окошке ремонта часов, назвал мне цену 15 баксов за Hugo Boss, и от 25 ("вскрытие покажет") за Tissot. Отдавать 40 баксов за пару долларовых батареек меня не обрадовало. В итоге решил приобрести необходимые инструменты и поменять батарейки самому.

Хуже всего было то, что я не имел представления какие батарейки нужны. Поэтому изначально заказал только две штуковины - это ключ (jaxa wrench) для Hugo Boss и нож для Tissot.

Зная о стоимости моих часов и своем, исключительно любительском, интересе, я исключил из поиска все дорогие предметы, в итоге приобрел два инструмента меньше чем за 10 баксов с доставкой прямо из Китая.

Оба пришли одновременно (хотя от разных торгашей). Jaxa wrench оказался довольно гадкой поделкой, однако открыл корпус достаточно быстро, практически без царапин. С ножом я потрахался значительно больше (и оставил достаточно следов этого на корпусе). В итоге выбросил, нашел подручный инструмент на кухне, и открыл часы без единой (новой) царапины за минуту или полторы.

В Tissot'е оказался Energizer 371, в Hugo Boss - VARTA V394. За 6 баксов заказал две батарейки в Hugo Boss (на будущее), и пять (5!!!) в Tissot. К сожалению, шли именно такими комплектами, однако сильно переживать не стал. Конечно и однозначно мне их девать столько некуда, поэтому могу подарить пару-тройку 371'ых. :)

Сейчас жду батареек, пока пара часов лежат в разобранном виде на столе - собирать бессмысленно, а положить некуда. Жду с нетерпением чтобы отпраздновать победу своего любительского интереса над капитализмом (16 все таки меньше 40). Даже если посчитать потраченное время, 24 бакса за полчаса времени - довольно приличный рейт.

P.S. Что еще не помешало бы - станок, куда закреплять часы, при работе с ними и пластиковый пинцет, чтобы вынимать батарейку и не делать короткое.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Каждый вечер...

Каждый вечер начинает лажать Интернет. Вернее, не Интернет, а Комкаст. И не лажает, а тупит. То-есть, секунду назад он показывает 12M, через секунду через него не пролазит ни один байт, а потом опять прорывает.

Ну ладно, я согласен с тем что, так уж сложилось, во всех квартирах которые я снимаю какие-то проблемы с трубопроводом.

В Южной Калифорнии страдал мой унитаз и раковина в ванной. В Северной Калифорнии страдают раковины в ванной и в кухне.

Но черт с ним, с трубопроводами. Но при чем же здесь Интернет?

Monday, March 2, 2009


Вспомнили и про Украину.

Несмотря на то что курс доллара к национальной валюте поднялся больше чем в два раза, по сравнению с концом лета 2008 года; несмотря на то, что банки удачно зажимают баблос и не отдают его населению, прикрываясь "советами" НБУ; несмотря на полную жопу в экономике, у Украины все равно держался кредитный рейтинг B (что, в принципе, тоже дерьмово).

И вот, свершилось. "Посовещавшись", решили - так тому и быть - понизить рейтинг до CCC+. (Следущая буква после C — буква D. А D — кроме того, что это четвертая буква английского алфавита, еще и первая буква в слове default).

Ну ладно, почему CCC и так понятно. Но за что же плюсик?