December 22, 2004

Cult of the Mac

Amazing Story: The Graphing Calculator

Excerpts from the story:

I asked my friend Greg Robbins to help me. His contract in another division at Apple had just ended, so he told his manager that he would start reporting to me. She didn't ask who I was and let him keep his office and badge. In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive. We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Greg had unlimited energy and a perfectionist's attention to detail. He usually stayed behind closed doors programming all day, while I spent much of my time talking with other engineers. Since I had asked him to help as a personal favor, I had to keep pace with him. Thanks to an uncurtained east-facing window in my bedroom, I woke with the dawn and usually arrived ten minutes before Greg did. He would think I had been working for hours and feel obliged to work late to stay on par. I in turn felt obliged to stay as late as he did. This feedback loop created an ever-increasing spiral of productivity.

Apple at that time had a strong tradition of skunkworks projects, in which engineers continued to work on canceled projects in hopes of producing demos that would inspire management to revive them. On occasion, they succeeded. One project, appropriately code-named Spectre, was canceled and restarted no fewer than five times. Engineers worked after hours on their skunkworks, in addition to working full time on their assigned projects. Greg and I, as nonemployees who had no daytime responsibilities, were merely extending this tradition to the next level.

In October, when we thought we were almost finished, engineers who had been helping us had me demonstrate our software to their managers. A dozen people packed into my office. I didn't expect their support, but I felt obliged to make a good-faith effort to go through their official channels. I gave a twenty-minute demonstration, eliciting "oohs" and "ahhs." Afterward, they asked, "Who do you report to? What group are you in? Why haven't we seen this earlier?" I explained that I had been sneaking into the building and that the project didn't exist. They laughed, until they realized I was serious. Then they told me, "Don't repeat this story."

We wanted to release a Windows version as part of Windows 98, but sadly, Microsoft has effective building security.

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December 21, 2004

ISB Admissions Interview

I was checking the blogs of a few prospective ISB students and found them all populated with posts about interview preparation and stuff. Well, here is a framework that will help the prospective students answer all work related questions in a very structured manner. The framework is called START.

Every work related question and quite a few behavioral questions can be answered using the START framework. What exactly is the START framework?

S: Situation
Start by giving some information about the situation you were facing. This could be background information that will help the AdCom understand your position better or information that is vital to understanding why you did something.

T: Tasks
Given the situation, what tasks needed to be done?

A: Actions
What actions did you take? Tasks is the universal set of things that needed to be done while Actions is the subset that you performed.

R: Results
Based on the actions you took, what happened? What were the improvements? Usually improvements are in terms of cost, efficiency, greater customer satisfaction etc.

T: Takeaways
What were your key takeaways from this experience?

Practice using the START framework. Your answers will be crisp, structured and to the point.

All the best to you guys!

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December 17, 2004

Misc. Post

Things at ISB have been keeping me busy and its been a long time since I blogged about anything. Placement season has started. These days are filled with pre-placement talks, focus group meetings and things of that nature.

On the technology front, Yahoo beat Google to video search. The Net has been rife with rumors of Google launching a video search, but it looks Yahoo has beaten them to the punch.

On the books front, I recently picked up a good book on Negotiations that I am currently reading. Do check out Bargaining for Advantage by Richard Shell. Hopefully should be able to complete this one before the end of the month.

On the movies front, some of the movies I watched since I last blogged: Bill and Ted's Excellent Journey, The Chronicles of Riddick, Plan 9 from Outer Space and The Incredibles. Am looking forward to watching RevolutionOS.

On the personal front, my team won the Business Plan competition organized by ISB. Will be going to Bangkok sometime in March for the next round -- The Asia Moot 2005 B-Plan competition.

I also got to meet some blogger friend's during ISB Alumni meet: Solstice. Met Arun, Rajappa, Vikki and Ramki.

And I will probably not be blogging for around 20-30 days. You will find posts more frequently once the placement season is over.

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December 01, 2004

Luck of the Draw

Non ISB junta will find this hard to follow. So ignore!

PPT Allotted to PG040277: Microsoft

Is this some kinda cosmic joke? ;-)

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