Friday, July 31, 2009


I just received two more books EZ Solutions Basic Math for GMAT and Advanced one.

I'm hunting down the high scores on exam. Achieving this from the first try saves me $250 (x times :), so an extra book is never too much. Of course, if it's not dumb and stupid and useless. However, I don't have much people around me to advise.

I had a quick sneak preview of them and it looks like the super practical, however, rather thin ones. Like 3 or 4 times thinner then Kaplan's on Cracking the GMAT books. And, as it often happens, I expect them to be at least 3 times more useful then others. :)

But okay, lets go over the Kaplan's book.

I run through the chapter 4 for a verbal quiz. There were 50 questions which I made 41 correct, giving me 82%. While I don't think that I scored well, as the questions were relatively easy, the most of my mistakes were driven my careless and too much distraction from the side of my email, IM and all other things.

As you can see, I still struggle to put myself into noise-free environment, so I should better learn how to deal with distraction. :)

I didn't really like the explanation part, which is a little bit too messy for me, with no clear points and the answer stated right away, missing the logical path of reaching to it. (Do I ask for too much?)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Few insights of new Kaplan's GMAT

Well, I just started it, but already can give you some insights on it.

First of all, the first yellow pages' instructions, which ask you to register your online companion -- they don't work. I mean, it looks like they have recently released the new 2010 edition of the book (huh, few words about that a little bit later on), so serial numbers of 2009 edition doesn't work. Nice.

I went ahead and contacted their Customer Support for the issue. The response came within 3-4 hours, I should say it was rather quick for such type of an issue. ;) However, they have asked me to:
  1. manually create an account at their system with all fields mandatory in their profile (yep, to trash me with their deals and ads)
  2. an ISBN of the book I'm referring to (huh, don't you know the ISBNs of your own books?)
  3. give them an exact spelling of the name of the book (doh, can't you lookup the ISBN?!)
I should say it's pretty mixed experience. No explanation was given, as well as it looks like they're pretty lazy -- my original request had all information (full book name, ISBN and even a serial number of the book!), but the username on their system; they replied to that message asking for this information again. Feels a lot like "yeah, we know we have to support it, but we hate that so much".

In about an hour or so they have activated my account with service available for 6 months, until Jan 28, 2010. I will have to take a look on what is actually it, so it makes such a hassle to get it on. :)

The next thing, is how the material is presented in the book. I like it. It reads better and covers more interesting points (keep in mind that I'm talking just about the intro piece of it). However, they provide a percentile for GMAT scores, which mean that as much people as ..% have scored this score or less on exam. Well, less then that makes sense, but as much as does not (for me). Whatever.

I found one confusing piece of it here. I remember reading one of the books that says that GMAT takers are limited with scratch paper so you need to learn to use it wisely. Kaplan's book says that we can ask for a new set of scratch paper and it's a good idea to do this over the break. What is more correct?

I liked the part of using the part of your scratch paper for drawing a grid and using it when you eliminate answers. Sounds pretty useful. For many people, like myself, it's easy to scratch out something while you thinking, and actually get the rid of consider some answers.

Well, getting closer to GMAT checklist actually confused me a little bit. All the links in there are having 2006 in them, like, 2006CountryCodeList, 2006AppointmentScheduleForm, etc. Is the book really so outdated even that it dated 2009 (huh, guess so!) ?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Done with verbal!

I'm just done with the last verbal bin from Cracking GMAT. Actually, with two last ones,#2 Medium and #3 Hard.

Well, frankly speaking, I'm still struggling in fixing my verbal part. I was able to score about 65% on the hardest part while scoring about 61% on the medium one. While I feel myself a little bit more confident on the type of the questions, I know the good approaches to solve some of the problems, I still much more intuitive on them, rather then knowledgeable.

I don't really have a theoretical points to support my answer. Well, sometimes I do, about half of the times. In all other cases, it's more like what feels good.

Also, I don't know if it's me or the book (Cracking the GMAT), but hardest ones were rather easy. Easy, I mean, I've got wrong 2 or 3 in total 16 or 17.

And a few final words: I'm pretty unsatisfied with the book. I believe it's pretty worthless. They've got a pretty solid part on permutations and combination theory, but, dude, it's only ten pages or so. Yes, they provided readers with some good use cases, but that's it. Everything else is like the image on the right -- too much about nothing (or the same).

My next one is Kaplan's Comprehensive Guide to GMAT 2009. My best hopes that it'd be a better book.

Other than that, I'm going full throttle into practice questions.

I can get no satisfaction

This is bad when something that is supposed to be your satisfying helper brings you only the dissatisfaction. It might sound weird, and well, it is weird, but it is what it is.

While working with the great Twitterfeed service -- really, can't see anything bad about it despite on some slowness on responses and not really trackable errors from time to time, but it's still great service -- so, I got into some minor problems. On the page with feed stats I couldn't see the title of posts, just statistics of clicks, with no good idea which post are they referring to. Well, keeping in mind how valuable feedback could be for delivering the best UX, I decided to let them know.

And this is when the story begins. I was sent to Get Satisfaction site, which was pretty straightforwarded with an advise to ask a question. I did, went through the set of two or three screens, put all tags in place, title, uploaded an image, set my mood, whatever -- and clicked on the submit button.

Wow, I forgot to sign in, so I was given a several choice here. To register (nah), to use OpenID or to use Windows Live. I do have my Gmail account, so went through OpenID option. Well, never worked. It was asking me for my OpenID account, I was typing my Gmail one and was getting an error, like -- use a valid OpenID account or something like that.

Well, while I do not use my Windows Live account, I still have that. So I tried that and to the greatest extent of surpriseness it worked flawlessly! Except the minor disstraction again that I was asked for nickname, email and one more image to verify that I'm a human (not something I would suspect when using one-button-sign-in thing). One more thing was an email verification by email.

However, what was really frustrating is that I was sent back to the page with my original question asked and nothing else. It looks like it forgot about all titles, tags, images uploaded, mood, and everything-everything else. Come on, you should work on you flow, I said, and started from the very beginning. Then I clicked on submit button and...

Yes, it is what it is. An error. Unrecoverable and fatal. Untraceable and unexpected.

The link of "report this problem to us..." sends me to the Get Satisfaction page on itself. Well, it's good that your try to eat your own dog food, but not when it's broken. Otherwise, it leaves a user in speechless state, which is pretty unpleasant I should say. When I have a problem, the last thing I want to know, that there is one more problem to deliver my problem report.

So now you are not only adding some distraction working with product of Get Satisfaction, you actually do the same for your client, Twitterfeed. And this is really-really bad.

P.S. Shit happens, no doubts, but by no means, shit should be deliver to a user. Even when you've totally fucked up (read, unable to accept a problem report), provide an alternative way (read, good-old email would work!).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Design for startups

I'm working with the wonderful team of designers and Web programmers. Most of them are my friends whom I know for a very long time.

Together we've built UIs for such projects like Shotscreen — online screencasting, Atomkeep — a social profile synchronization tool, Everytalks — dating & friendship across social networks, Strawlink — online candidate screening, Budgetler — personal finance management, and many more are in production and to be seen by public shortly. Most of them were already exposed to public and received a lot of positive feedback. UI & UX were important factors and our consumers were very happy of our products.

We have a great passion in building things and startups. So we decided to give an opportunity to startups to ask us for design for their startups. Even that our prices are very moderate, we are ready to consider deferring up to 50% of our fees until the startup raises some money. We would also consider an exchange for equity. (While we might not be able to defer more then 50% of our costs, we're open to different business opportunities.)

So feel free to ping me back if you have an interest in Web design for your company, we can also meet in person in San Francisco Bay area, I'm sure we can make it the right way and as painless as it can only be possible to get to the live site.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Well, let me make it straight. Now I know for sure -- I don't like the verbal section of GMAT.

It doesn't make me happy.

While I scored into middle third according to warm-up section of Cracking the GMAT, I decided to start with the first bin, instead of the second one. (Better more then less.)

You know what? I didn't mention any difference. The first bin felt pretty hard for me. Sometimes even really weird.

I made a few "educated" guesses, completed it rather quick, despite on the noise and overall distraction of TV and constantly beeping email coming in (yes, I receive a lot of emails on the weekend, too).

So well, what made me even more surprised is my result, which was about 90% of correct answers.

If you'd ask me about that -- I would say I made at least 30% of mistakes. However, I didn't.

So what could be my options to improve myself in the verbal part of GMAT? Still don't have a good answer for that.

Reading helps, however, to what extent? The texts posted in the GMAT are pretty weird and unlikely to belong to my list of readings. Other then that, I didn't mention any improve in my results.

From what I heard, Manhattans' Sentence Correction is very good. I have plans to acquire this book as soon as I'll finish with my official guides and one more (I guess Kaplan's one). I'm also thinking about Kaplan 800, however, I'm little bit concerned on some reviews saying that the questions in it not that good like even the free ones from

I also have a set of printed material from my friends, with some sample questions and tests to go through. However, I'm not very fond of solving problems, that I can't get an explanation for. It will take more time, which I'm pretty limited for anyway.

P.S. Found a nice image to accompany this post. ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Almost done with math...

I'm completing the 4th math bin of Cracking the GMAT book. (Yes, I had a pretty big gap in my preparations. Don't ask why. :)

While the book advised me to work on 3rd and 4th bins (according to my warm up test), I decided to go over all of them. The 1st and 2nd ones took me a little of time and I scored a little bit more then 90% on the 1st one (very easy, only careless errors, I need to force myself to read question but not run over it), and about 80% on the 2nd one. I don't think I really got too much of it, more like a practice side. (Didn't took much time, so it's okay.)

The 3rd bin was a little bit harder and took me a little bit more time. I had a lot of distraction while doing it, had a lunch, took about three phone calls, so, it was kind of less well done, but I still scored about 70% on it. Not that much of careless errors now, though.

The 4th bin felt really hardcore for me. It's more like something you need to go over each question and learn the way how to solve it. I didn't complete it yet but I am scoring about 50% so far (pretty bad). If I can get my scores up 20% for this bin, I should say that would be good enough. The bad thing is that explanations didn't seem good enough for me. Some of them are too brief or like "this is a good example how to apply blah-blah-blah technique and with it you get blah-blah-blah". Well, you better show me how.

I still have to complete 3 verbal bins, hopefully, I'll have it done over this weekend or early next week. I'm not satisfied with the book, and while it costs $25+ I feel like I'm getting value only for a few bucks of it.

I have my official guides verbal and quantitative waiting for me, they're cheap and seems to be more useful. (Actually, I have even more books and practice tests to go through. However, I need to do this as quickly as possible, as I'm starting to put myself into much more strict time frame now.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Some watches photos...

I had no chance to blog for a while, my bad, sorry about that... The things are pretty hectic around, and whenever I'm finally have time for a short post, I have no inspiration for that. Blogging is still a little bit like a responsible thing, and I can't just blog about my life, not considering those people who will end up reading this.

Whatever, to feed up some interest in the blog, some more photos of my early Breitling Automatic Colt watches.

The first thing which is wrong about this watch is an impression of a size.

They are small. No matter what it seems to you.

Well, an actually everything else is good about them. They look terrific, keep a great time and just an excellent timepiece to own. They have a Breitling 17 movement, which is modified ETA 2824-2, as far as I remember.

More photos are available on my Flickr page.

A lot of people have a false impression that I do own a lot of watches. I wish to, but no. My collection is extremely modest and I have only 6 watches in it. All of them can fit into one trivial watch box and I will still need a new one to wear. ;)

So far, they are:
  1. Breitling Aeromarine "Colt" Automatic A17035
  2. Chotovelli Torino TS7000-2
  3. Tissot T-Sport PRS-200 T17.1.486.44
  4. Moscow Classic "Vodolaz" 3133/01461051
  5. Hugo Boss Chronograph #HB.11201303.63510A
  6. Tissot 1853 Seastar
I'm planning to make photos of all of them. Some day. I hope. ;)