Friday, June 19, 2009

My watches fetish

Two more close-ups of my new Chotovelli timepiece.

They are really slick.

Full set is available at my Flickr page (just paid my account for two more years).

You can't feel the 52 mm size. They're big, no matter what, you have to love that, but they're beautifully big. :)

I didn't do any good wrist shots, the image is blurring. But I will do more, whenever I'll get some free time for that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chotovelli Torino watches

Mine just arrived.

Pretty rare model of Chotovelli Torino watches, TS 7000-2 (marked TS7000-G-07-7002) with Swiss movement 902.105 inside. Stainless steel case with sapphire glass. This model is actually sold out almost everywhere, so there is pretty much no chances to get it now. As far as I know, they don't do it anymore.

Chotovelli watches are made by Chotovelli e Figle company (translates to Chotovelli and Son), which is a third generation watchmakers from Torino. They're known for the bold and elegant design derived and inspired by gauges and speedometers done by the Fiat Group Di Torino, including Lancia Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

The story started in late 1920 with Simone Chotovelli, the first Chotovelli watchmaker (they call it "orologiato"). His was specialising in repairing and restoring old mechanical and automatic movements and was known all over Italy. In 1967 he passed the knowledge and secrets to his son, Yitchak Chotovelli, who continued the business of his father. In 2005, Ilan and Tamara Chotovelli were inspired to revive the family tradition and launched the new Chotovelli line.

Based in Belgium, Chotovelli is a family run business of three generations whose market is European whilst distribution is currently being finalized in the United States. (Some of distributors and reviewers claim Chotovelli stays in Italy.)

Chotovelli is not an expensive watches. However, they are still interesting timepieces, although being often called a "unique attempt to U-Boat homage". Well, this is something that makes sense, too. :) But lets go over it.

They are huge. Huge, means, they are big. I've got a 52 mm one and, man, you've got to have a big wrists and hands. (I don't, but I'm a big guy, so it doesn't look too stupid.) I really like them. The other big one from my collection is Moscow Classic "Vodolaz", which is actually 50 mm. But I don't see a big difference, maybe because the "height" also counts and changes an impression.

I have a leather Brietling band on mine. (Replaced the original.) Very nice, sturdy, but I'd prefer an extra pin for me. However, it might be looking stupid then. :)

I think people who love Welder might like Chotovelli, too. Because even if I have a Chotovelli, I'd love to have a Welder. :) Some people think that Welder have a better story told because of connection with Italo Fontana, but I don't agree. They are pretty much different, and sometimes you don't need to spot "big names" to find something nice.

See all photos here.

You can also find a pretty nice review of a different kind of Chotovelli watches here.

For those who're also interested, Chotovelli can be bought through very reliable person Ernie Romers, here, who's actually the founder and owner of Watchuseek forum — the best watches resource in the Web. (You can find me there, too.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Essays and warming up math for GMAT

The last theory part of Cracking the GMAT 2009 was about essays writing (AWA). Overall, it was very okay, I liked it, although it looks like to makes some points controversial to official guide.

Why business schools need AWA on GMAT? They want to protect themselves a little bit against those non-native speakers who actually paid to have their essays written. Well, it might be so.

One of the important points — write as much as you can. Length matters. There is a statistical research that says that the length of essay is related to better score. I believe official GMAT guide says a little bit different things.

While the people who scores the AWA are supposed to ignore minor errors in spelling and grammar, you should be ready them not to. Keep in mind that we're all people and having only 2 minutes for an essay your graders might use to nail down the obvious mistakes only and these are your errors in spelling and grammar.

Pages 326-328 give you a nice template to Analysis of an Issue (AI) part. Don't use it as is though. Make sure to develop your own style or you can be easily caught by an "E-rater" — computerized grader of your essay.

There is a good organizational structure for AI on page 331:
  1. First paragraph to illustrate your understanding of a topic, chosing a position. Restate, express your feeling, but stay limited to couple of sentences.
  2. Second, third and fourth are to develop your examples and ideas to support your thesis.
  3. The last paragraph should sum up your position, but make sure to use slightly different words from the first paragraph.
Make sure to demonstrate a good vocabulary as well as don't go too deeply into finding unsual ideas to support your position. There is a possibility to be graded lower because of missing some obvious points, even if you took a deeper and more educated look at the problem.

Make sure to be specific and stay away from over-generalization.

Next thoughts are about Analysis of an Argument part (AA). Page 335 has a good intro and template for it, as well.

The organizational notes are the following:
  1. First paragraph should sum up the argument's conclusion.
  2. Second, third and fourth are used to attack the argument and supporting evidence.
  3. In the last paragraph you should summarize what you've said and show how the argument could be strengthened.
Starting from page 340 I found a very good ideas on preconstructions. VEry easy things that can be easily used.

On more thing is this is good to use some book to reference your ideas to. While this is not a panacea and not always possible, you might have a recent book or favorite one which you could use.

At the end I went through the warm-up math test which consisted of 20 questions. Unfortunetly, I made 4 mistakes (I was aware about 2 of them and other 2 were careless), but still went into the top one third section and supposed to start from math bins 3 and 4.

Technically, it looks like I'm switching to the hands-on practice again and it'll be less to blog about, except the hard questions.


New week, new class at Founder Institute. Next week it'll be devoted to the company's roadmap.

Personally, I think that it's a rather wide topic for a session. And a little bit general, although still reasonable.

So what is roadmap? I am sure you can come up with different definitions for it. However, every business needs a framework that will allow business leaders and stakeholders to pursue the strategic plan. So the roadmap enables business people to clearly understand each element and step required to roll out the strategy. And in easy words this is the plan. Functional. Sometimes informal. Precisely clear and acknowledged by every decision maker in the company.

I have to acknowledge that even if I usually have some meaning of a formal roadmap in my companies, I rarely had them cover anything, but the near future. The roadmap for my companies was an iterative process, which we adjusted within the run. And while someone may find this approach acceptable and agile, I still think that the strategy was one of our weak points.

Our next speakers are mostly known to the students. They are:
  1. Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd. Smart and young. Hopefully that he'll be able to make it this time, as he dropped the second session though.
  2. James Hong, Troublemaker from HotOrNot. Very inspiring, knowledgable and interesting person. I'd love to hear his approach to the "roadmapping" of the company.
  3. Peter Pham, CEO of BillShrink. I don't know much about Peter and never heard him before, but his portfolio of companies and being advisor to many respectful ones like Doctstoc and Ustream, talks for himself.
Once again, I can't agree more with Adeo choice of speakers for the next session and looking forward to it.

Everyday brings me something new and this is what we're living for. We leave only once, so nobody of us has a luxury of wasting time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What I learned

Yesterday we had a "quick-pitch" meeting with our Purple Star team (from Founder Institute). We're lucky to be the smallest team in the class, so it will give us extra advantages whenever our group will meet investors. The course will have three public meetings for investors over the period of four months.

So we decided to gather together and try the 3 and 5-minutes pitches of our ventures and get some real life feedback from it. I should say it was very productive, even if we had to leave Starbucks and move to Borders at 9pm. (I had no freaking idea that Starbucks in downtown San Mateo is closing at 9 pm! That's absolutely ridiculous. Are we supposed to move to City next time? :)

So, few thoughts on the pitch:
  1. Clearly state the purpose, but not the process. Purpose comes first, process next.
  2. Make sure to have very clear about the process, have a use-case if it's easier for you to explain.
  3. (Consumer will ask) What does it give to me? What do I get back? (We were talking about B2C idea)
  4. Make sure not to scary people by thinking that you're building a new social network. Be clear about overhead which you add and how it balances with benefits gained.
Overall, we had a great time together. Everybody has got very nice ideas and in our team of 5 people all of us are working in a very different industries and directions. That's why we always learn something new from our peers. Personally, as a beer fan, I think our discussion could be better over the pint of some nice german lager, but whatever, Starbucks' double-shot Mocha was good, too. However, I was wearing only the t-shirt and got cold shortly after starting our meeting. Next time need to think ahead and grab something warm. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morning hour for GMAT

I was able to find some time in the morning to move forward with my GMAT preps.

Finishing with the Sentence Correction section of Cracking the GMAT I found minor errors paragraph also interesting (p.251). It also has a comparison quantity matrix, which was pretty much something new to me — I don't remember anything of that.

The next part of the book was devoted to Reading Comprehension. It's a good intro to the exam, but not much new ideas, though.

Few of main points follows:
  1. You should always read the first sentence of paragraph, as it's always a key to entire one.
  2. A very nice list of trigger words on page 265. And another nice list of ying-yang words on page 266. That's what I can a trick. They structurized the approach of solving a problem and giving you tools for that. I don't know if I can remember this, though. But I'll try to use the book as reference while practice, and hopefully, I will learn them.
  3. Process of Elimination (they often call it POE and I always forget about it) — I found it to be the weirdest thing for Reading Comprehension. It doesn't make any sense for me. I mean, you can always eliminate wrong questions, but I was supposed to see some theory behind that. None found.
  4. Reading Comprehension section really requires some silence around. I'm not the most noise-sensitive person, but even a working TV in the other room adds a huge pile of distraction.
  5. I really got stuck on page 278 in the sample question with answers like scornful and denunciatory, dispirited and morose, critical but respectful, admiring and deferntial and uncertain but interested. While I can logically eliminate some of them (2), I have problems choosing between the rest (3). I need some more practice here.
  6. It's recommended to take 3-5 notes while reading the passage. It's something that you need to develop by practicing, from the other side, I'm a little bit concerned about how will it be on the real exam, when you're kinda limited in paper size.
The next part of the book is Critical Reasoning. Actually, as the book authors say, we'll see the most questions on SC, the less or RC and even less on CR. So it looks like the priority of CR is the lowest one.

TEchnically, the whole section on Critical Reasoning was great (pp.283-315). I mean, a lot of interesting and nice tips and tricks. (Fortunetly, as I wasn't very happy about the book at all.) They did a great job on structurizing the problem.

I also liked that they described three main parts to an argument:
  1. Conclusion. Something that author wants us to accept. Look for it in the beging and end of the passage. Normally, you'll be able to nail it down very quickly.
  2. Premises. Evidence to support conclusion.
  3. Assumptions. Unstated ideas or evidence without which the conclusion might be invalid.
On the other note, the real life is different from class room and as you can see on my example (which is not the best one for sure :) it's pretty hard to keep the stable schedule, especially when you cannot invest significant time into it and you're being "attacked" from other sides of your life. However, I am sure that I can make over it. Bear with me. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sentence Correction

Finally, thanks God, I can face some interesting topics in Cracking GMAT. The Sentence Correct section it is.

While I had no chance to invest a fair amount of time into it, yet, I've already noted some interesting moments.
  1. They do not say that you can't use your ear. Just don't do this first. The first step is visual spotting for errors.
  2. They structurized errors spotting a lot. There is nice list of major errors featured on GMAT exam on pp.233-250. Very well organized.
For non-native speakers (as I am) I found a pretty nice pronouns matrix on p.234. Native speakers might find it too basic though.

Also, I found the most of sample questions described so far to be fairly easy. Of course, they give you an idea what type of error is there, but once you know that, I found it very easy to find the right answer. I did very well on this.

More to go, stay online. Hopefully I'll find an extra hour or two tonight to work some more on this.

What I hate

It's when I click on unsubscribe link at the bottom of some email message and opens up a Web page asking me to type my email address there. What the fuck? Didn't you just send me this email? Don't you know my email address?

Well, I'm talking about legal email advertisements here. They are not supposed to be delivered to you whatever it takes, crashing everything on the way. I had willfully opt-in for them and now I want to opt-out. So please, tell me, why are you trashing my experience working with you by giving me a feeling of a nasty SPAM-machine? It is wrong.

Guys, whenever you build something, keep in mind that the truth in simplicity. Nobody wants to do your job. Make the user experience one-click. And when it happens, trust me, he'll want to click once more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The best unusual watches

Here is my list of the most interesting, but unusual and non-mainstream wrist watches.
  1. Tokyoflash. Very Asian-ish in good meaning, in the ~$100-150 range. Not much of them can be worn by someone who likes Omega or Rado and it looks like they're a little bit more about design, than functionality.
  2. Mr Jones. Funny design for ~$150. Nice thing to give as a present, but I don't see myself buying them.
  3. Diesel. I'm not so about Diesel timepieces, but I am very excited about their Frankenwatch. It averages about ~$220, and the design is really nice. I don't think that you're buying anything else, but the creative work, but it worths it (well, maybe a little less :).
  4. Haffstreuner. Little known german brand that idiolizes a nice industrial design. Some nice models can be found for as less as ~$200-260.
  5. Nooka. Averaged ~$250, pretty known nowadays, however, to my mind are mostly styled for women.
  6. Retrowerk. Priced about ~$450 is a little bit high, but they are extremely nice designed.
Need to do some homework and choose a right one for myself.

Also, one can hardly argue with the price and value combination of Seik0 5, which can be bought for less then $80, but still is very nice timepiece.

On the other note, I'm currently looking for a nice bakery in the Bay area. I've tried Dianda's Italian Bakery today, which is in San Mateo. Well, it's so expensive and really nothing interesting comparing to either Karina's Cake House or Flor De Cafe in Glendale. I'll keep looking though.

Naming and more

After our third session at Founder Institute I decided to try the new techniques for choosing the name for the my new project.

Well, I failed. First of all, I am very bad at giving quantitative scores to the names (and that was one of methods). I just can't say how distinctive or how much energy is in the name, especially, given range from 1 to 10. That's not the way my brain works. :)

For the second, I found useful to have more name characteristics, but I'm still pretty stick to just a few of them, constantly trying to understand what other ones should mean. I can understand:
  1. The ease to say and spell.
  2. Brevity and energy.
  3. Is the name is attributed to the business? (not always important)
  4. Dot com availability. I can also consider awkward names like, but I'm still much to the old school of dotcoms.
So basically that's it.

And, yes, normally I start from searching the domain name, considering it's going to be the name. I don't really find it useful to come up with the names, and then look for the availability. Dot com is pretty much tight now, so likely you'll not have your name available. And I hate paying big bucks to get the domain name from resellers especially when your business even does not exist. I'm not a big believer into the fact that only the different domain name can make you a fortune (unless you got a really gold one and going to resell it for big times :).

I definitely learned a lot from the process of naming, but it looks like I'm going still do what I used to do before, maybe altering the process a little bit and add some more tricks and attributes to it.

On the other note, our next (fourth) session is going to be about IP. For those who thinks about IP as Internet Protocol only, in this case it's Intellectual Property. :)

I would be happy to write more on this subject, however, I never had any experience with protecting my IP rights before. I know how important is this, however, I don't really have a good idea of when should I do this and what actually should I protect. I saw so many weird "patents", that sometimes they feel to be more stupid, then crazy. I'm definitely going to learn a lot this time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Keeping cracking the GMAT

Well, so far so good. I've just finished with almost half of the book (Cracking the GMAT 2009), completed the quantitative part of it and still pretty intrigued about when will we start to crack.

No, don't get me wrong. The book is really nice and good for people who was very bad with math. (I can judge the verbal section, yet.) I wasn't the most brilliant math guy, and I have more then 12 years past my school days so far (I graduated when I was 17, I now I'm almost 29). However, the book is very, very basic. 225 pages out of total 347 (not including practice questions, answers, drills and blah-blah-blah) and almost nothing new for me. No tricks, no hints, no secret combos that I'd be able to apply on my own on the real test. (Well, sorry, The Princeton Review, I might be dumb to get yours, too.)

Anyway, I still want to mention pages 147 to 158. These ones have a pretty nice intro with practice questions on probability, permutations and combinations. I marked it down and going to use it as a table reference. Very clear and nice.

There are also few nice intros on pages 183-184. This is something I normally don't use in my daily life and tend to forget. The books has all these formulas for me there. Thank you.

So, lessons learned.
  1. There are a lot of books on GMAT and there is no the best one. I might need to purchase some more to cover those parts which are needed to get me to 700+ score. However, I still believe I should better practice more. It looks like those hints and tricks aren't for my type.
  2. Flexible hours of studying time just don't work. You need to be have a specific timing every single day (well, you can give yourself a break 2-3 days in a week). But you should have specific hours within specific time frame. If you break it — you should know that you fucked up. I tried many different ways of managing my study time, and everything sucks but specific and set hours. You can feel some pressure because of that, but it's good for you, trust me on this.
  3. GMAT questions are tough. At least, they should be. If you feel that they're piece of cake for you — you either extremely brilliant and well prepared or you're doing them wrong. I try myself not to turn the page and breath with a relief because of seeing an easier question. This won't happen on a real exam, if I'm doing well. Better manage to enjoy tough ones.
  4. Make sure you can get some peace when you're studying. Every single minute you're being disturbed requires up to 5 minutes extra to get back on track.
Bear with me, I'm moving forward. :)