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Two years down the line - a verdict
It’s been two years since I left Cambridge and one question is yet unanswered: was it worth it?
In short: definitely yes.
However, to answer this question fully requires some differentiation.

Probably people will look at the “was it worth it” question from a different angle, e.g.
1. did it pay of financially?
2. Did I achieve my career  ambition?
3. Have my expectations been fulfilled otherwise?

On the financial aspect I can only say: yes and no.
My salary didn’t really increase much and the small increase which I did get could simply be attributed to the fact that I changed  jobs. Most people changing jobs achieve to get a salary increase.
On the other hand, my salary  before the MBA wasn’t that bad either.
Anyhow, I have always regarded the MBA as a life time investment and not one that pays off in  only a few years.
Thus, to fully answer this question I’ll probably need to wait another 15 to 20 years!
Besides that, my expectation wasn’t to get a huge salary increase. It was neither the objective nor the expectation to earn more money and therefore I  achieved what I wanted.
Finally, would I have  gone for a different job, e.g. Management Consulting or i-banking than I probably would have had a nice spike… but I opted  not to go for that kind of job.

Regarding the career ambition the answer is similar to the one above: not yet but that wasn’t the expectation.
To be honest, I wasn’t one of the guys who knew straight from the beginning of the MBA programme what I wanted to do after the MBA. I was rather open an undecided. Hence, my expectation on this matter was rather vague. From that perspective I can only say: I did manage to find a new job. I did get interviews in new fields and industries but decided not to go for them.
But the main objective was the long term development and have the Cambridge MBA on my CV will probably serve me well in the future and in my daily job I can see that the knowledge and skills I pick up during the MBA are helping me a lot and enable me to do things and see and understand things that some of my colleagues don’t. So, in a nutshell, I am pretty content with this aspect and I am certain that the MBA will be a real asset in the years to come.

Lastly, on my other (overall) expectations. Well, here I must say, all of my expectations have been exceeded by far. The MBA year was fabulous. The year was brilliant, besides being away from my family for a year I never felt alone and I enjoyed the year a lot. I still miss Cambridge, my fellow MBAs, the faculty and the overall feeling. If I could I would go back and do it all over again or maybe go back to get a PhD.
Overall, the year was one of the best on my life.
Most of all however, my personal development over the course of the year is what I am most pleased with. When I started the year I was 31 and I thought I was already mature but during the year I have made a big leap forward personally. Being surrounded by such brilliant  people from all over the world, being emerged in a high-paced environment within the best university of the world just has a huge impact. It’s a challenge and you grow with the challenge. In my case I am more than content with my personal development and the things that I learned.
And of course having such a high-profile global network of fellow MBAs is not only useful but fun, e.g. it gives you the change to attend a wedding in Hong Kong ;-)

So, all in all, yes, the year was absolutely worth every penny and every minute. It was absolutely the right decision for me. It is indeed an experience which last for a life time, just like it was promised.

Things that I am afraid of

I've been thinking a lot about politics recently. Terrorism (supposedly), sub prime crisis, declining dollar, oil price, scarce resource, climate change, U.S. pre-election, espionage, privacy rights, etc, etc...
I do travel by car a lot these days and listen to the radio most of the time which, to my surprise, can be an excellent source of information with a lot more depths than TV news or the average online news.
Anyhow, the point is that while driving my car I've had a lot of time to let my thought wander and recently I was going through the list of current hot topics and I was wondering which are the things that I am afraid of.

Here's my list.

Things that I am afraid of:

  • Getting seriously ill
  • climate change getting worse
  • not being able to afford my health insurance when I am 65
  • wasting 5 years of my life being stuck in traffic jams
  • my luggage being lost at Heathrow airport
  • my kids growing up in a polluted world, without enough clean water or food
  • being slowly poisened by genetically modified food
  • someone stealing my fingerprints
  • police snooping around my appartment, installing tiny microphones and video cameras to spy on me
  • my every steps being tracked
  • illegially (and mistakenly) being abducted by a secret government agency for supposedly being involved in terrorist activities
  • being refused entry into a country because my last name matches that of a known criminal
  • losing my rights
  • Germany (and the rest of Europe) becoming facist regimes
  • being sued by the music industry for having downloaded an MP3 file 5 years ago

Things that I am NOT afraid of:

  • terrorism

Looking at the above lists I ask you this:

do our governments have their priorities right?

 

Financial crisis

Now, I don't know if this is a coincidence (it very well may be), but my gut feeling tells me that the following is related to the global fiancial (banking) crisis connected to the sub-prime mortgage issues in the U.S.

Yesterday I received a phone call from American Express and today I got a call from Barcalys Card with both of which I have a credid card.

Both the cards I've had for 7 or 8 years and although I do receive regular mail advertising from both of them I've never had any phone calls. Now, within two days both of them have called and also my wife has received mail from her bank also about her credit card.

In both my cases Amex and Barclay Card tried to sell me extra services, both of which would lead to higher cost, or, from a bank perspective, to higher revenues. I may be wrong, but I am suspicious about the background as I believe that banks are under pressure to secure some revenue. Its though to lend money (which is what credit card companies do) if you don't have any and if you can't borrow any (which is becoming a problem at the moment). Hence, I am certain that credit card companies are under pressure to secure extra revenue to keep them in business.

Otherwise I can't explain how out of a sudden I've become so popular as a customer.

btw: Amex was trying to sell me their Platinum card (costing only € 500 per year) and Barclays Card wanted to sell some kind of insurance which would increase the interest rate by 0.8% - per month! Would have made the interest rate something like 28% per annum. Not that I intend to live on credit but that's horrendous!

The next generation

Since September 16 the new class of 2007 has started and among them are a few bloggers.

Since I wont continue to blog about the Cambridge MBA now that I've completed the programme (though I'll keep blogging about random stuff) I'd like to hereby refer to two active blogs from the current class of 2007:

http://mycambridgemba.blogspot.com/

http://alvin-abraham.blogspot.com/ 

I've added these to the blogroll on the right and if you happen to know any other blogs, please let me know and I'll list them here as well.

More blogs = more diverse views.

My MBA thesis

Now that I have submitted my MBA thesis I'd like to share it with the world. About half the class wrote their thesis in co-operation with a company and the output is confidential. In my case it's my own work and I don't see a reason not to share it.

The topic of my thesis is "The Influence of Hedge Funds on Share Prices", i.e. to what extend do hedge funds have a positive or negative influence on share prices.

You can download it here: Hedge Fund Thesis

While linking to my thesis I'd also like to share this little snippet from the Handelsblatt with everyone: MBA Diary

I've been writing a few entries for the Handelsblatt Blog and one of my entries actually got published in the print version... that's what that second link is about.

Happy reading!

Mission Complete

It's official (sort of): The MBA is over. As far as I know all of us have submitted their thesis on time and hence completed all the requirements for the programme. While officially we will only graduate in May, we've all mastered the Cambridge MBA successfully.

On Sunday I returned to Germany. It feels a little sad but at the same time it also feels good to be back home.

I already miss Cambridge and the many friends I've found there but at least I am certain that I will meet most of them again in May when most of us will return to Cambridge for graduation.

In the meanwhile.... job search!

"Cage Bush, not Sydney"

If these three quotes caught your interest...

"This is the kind of stuff you see in despotic regimes. This is fearmongering, right-wing, red neck stuff that's being [exported] out of America [and] I think we should distance ourselves from it as far as we can."

"We're forcing the citizens of Sydney, the businesses that operate in the city, to forego hundreds of millions of dollars in business to protect one bloke. I just think this is extraordinary."

"Cage Bush, not Sydney"

... then read the full article here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/27/2016890.htm

I think it's fabulous that some (local) politician is eventually speaking up against such bizarre security overkill.

p.s. the use of water canons in a country which suffers from drought is also a little weird.

JBS Prospective Students FAQ

I get so many queries from people interesting in the Cambridge MBA that I am thinking of compiling some sort of mini FAQ here with extracts from my email conversations. I'll hopefully amend that in the future (step by step) but obviously only if I get further queries which I can answer. I am in no way an official representative from JBS so please take all my answers with a grain of salt. I may be biased or simply giving a very, very personal oppinion. So, don't quote me on your applications!

Career goals
Q: Will an MBA from Judge help me in achieving my career goals (software development ->business development)? Are there any similar profiles offered by employers coming to the school?
A: Your question basically already includes the answer: The MBA will *help* you in achieving your career goals, but it won’t solve all your problems. The MBA certainly gives you a lot of credibility I terms of your intellect, your ambitions, your skills, you international exposure, etc, but switching careers isn’t easy. The MBA will put you at an advantage over other switchers without an MBA but you will still be competing for jobs with other candidates who already have the desired experience. You’ll need to find a way to position and sell yourself.
The MBA, the skills you learn and also the MBA careers team will all be valuable help but there’s still work involved.
When you switch careers, there are three dimensions on which you can switch. 1. Job function, 2. Industry, 3. Country.
Switching one of the three is kind of normal for MBAs, switching two is a challenge and switching all three is a major achievement. From what I understand you want to switch job function and location but stay within the industry. Sounds feasible to me.
There are various examples where people switched all three, e.g. going from IT consultant to investment banker in London. Everything is possible but it requires hard work, a lot of dedication and, most important: you need to know exactly what you want. Since you already know exactly what you want to do this will help you a lot in achieving your career goals. Overall I think that your ambitions are more than feasible.

Q: I have heard graduates from JBS are automatically granted HSMP visa...
A: Almost correct. You are not automatically granted HSMP visa but you are eligible. You still need to apply. The process is not automatic and you need to take care of it.
The only restriction is that while currently a JBS MBA degree will make you eligible, there’s no guarantee that rules for HSMP visa will stay as-is. Theoretically the government could change the rules, but that seems fairly unlikely.

Q: What do you think about the most competitive areas in Judge?
A: Tough question and “competitive” is a bad word here. I say that because the strength of JBS is its “collaborative” approach. Students by themselves are competitive but we don’t compete against each other. Therefore I don’t like the word.
Anyhow, I understand your question in the way: how does JBS compare to other schools and where is JBS better and worse.
To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve only studies at one school so for me it is hard to compare. And to be frank, JBS is not perfect. But neither are other schools. We do have some contact with students are other schools including Oxford, LBS, INSEAD and at each school there are things that students complain about so no place is perfect. You just want find the perfect place and the key point is to find the school that meets your needs the best.
JBS doesn’t have the most high profile lecturers, nor a super Alumni network but the spirit is great. I love the people and I think (also considering other students that I have met) that from a personality aspect I fit best into JBS. My ethos and the JBS ethos are a match. I couldn’t see myself studying at LBS. I’d be very frustrated there.
In terms of placements, JBS is VERY strong in the financial industry, mostly investment banks, but also retail banks, private equity, etc.
There are only few people who go into Marketing roles. I don’t necessarily this is due to the education but marketing jobs don’t pay very well. Especially marketing roles in FMCG like Johnson&Johnson, or P&G pay so little that nobody wants to work there. And here, please remember, MBAs at JBS have an average of 7 years experience. After 7 years and an MBA you don’t want to work as a junior brand manager or even brand assistant. Well, most people don’t. Hence, only few people end up in Marketing.

 

Placements
Q: What is the kind of help provided by the school's career services office for final placements and internships (GCP)?
A: The Cambridge MBA includes various projects. There’s the venture project (CVP), global consulting project (GCP), which is not an internship but a group project, and then there’s the individual project which fundamentally is a thesis and *can*, but doesn’t have to, include an internship.
The school will arrange for a list of CVP projects as well as GCP projects, i.e. you’ll get a list and pick projects from the list (more or less) so you don’t have to go and look for projects/companies yourself. However, for GCP you *may* look for your own project (with a group). So, if you have a particular company in mind you can try to arrange that for your team, but if you fail you can pick from the available list.
For you individual project (IP) you need to pick your own thesis topic. Not everyone does an internship, probably around half the class does. This is totally up to you. By the time you do your IP you should already know where and what you want to do and you should have built your network already. So, if you want to do an internship start working in that direction early on. The MBA careers team will assist you but they will not go and find you an internship. They may publish some internship offers if they come across any but primarily its an individual effort.
The same is true for your final job. MBA Careers team will help your plan, prepare (e.g. assist in writing cover letter, CV, do interview practice, etc) and they may even post job offers, but the real work needs to be done by yourself. Hence, be focused in your search!

Q:The placement statistics look encouraging but I have heard that some companies do not prefer international students during recruitment. What are the kind of advantages/disadvantages for International students while finding a job after the MBA? 
A: I doubt that international students are at a disadvantage. Less than 10% of the current class are British and yet most of the class is finding jobs in London (or the UK). Also various of our Indian students are finding good jobs in the UK, e.g. at Cap Gemini, Accenture, Barclays Bank, (and one almost got an offer from McKinsey). Hence, I don’t think that being an international student is a disadvantage.

Q: I have heard that the placements continue all year round at Said, Oxford... Is it similar at JBS?... Does this mean I need to be prepared early during my MBA with my resume and my list of target companies.
A: Good point. Placement is indeed ongoing and depends on the students as well as the industry. Many companies recruit MBAs only once a year. Especially investment banking and consulting have sharp deadlines, some of which are really early, some even before Christmas. It is therefore absolutely advisable that you start working on your CV and cover letter (including transferable skills) before starting the programme. This is especially important since at the beginning of the programme you will be extremely (and surprisingly) busy and wont have a lot of time to work on your CV. This is particularly relevant for roles in investment banking, and somewhat relevant for consulting (although most consulting recruit around the year some have a big take-in at some point of the year). For other industries there may not be such tight deadlines and recruiting is year-around as vacancies come up.
Bottom line to the question is: yes, you need to be prepared early on and the earlier you know what you want to do (including target companies) to make time you will have to work on your target list. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that by Christmas you will have a guaranteed job. Most people get jobs over the summer. Its just that the earlier you prepare, the better your changes are that you’ll get what you really want. Its about commitment and dedication to your goal, but for that first you need a goal.

Financial (Fees and expenditures)
Q: What are the chances of getting some scholarships or aid? The eligibility mentioned on the website is quite subjective and does not give a clear picture. What has been your experience? How many student's typically get some(?) aid?
A: There are various scholarships. Most are not offered by the school but by colleges or foundations, e.g. the Bill Gates foundation, etc.
It is very important to apply early as scholarship deadlines are very early. I personally don’t have experience with the process since I applied to JBS rather late and missed all scholarship deadline and therefore I can’t give you any details. There’s also the director’s scholarship from JBS (which I was lucky to get). How exactly that is allocated is a bit of a mystery.
Overall, there’s no guarantee you’ll get anything. Lots of students do get scholarships one way or another, but don’t rely on it. Apply early (even before applying for the MBA) and make sure you are aware of all available scholarships. Takes a while to find them all.

Q: I did visit the scholarships page available here ( http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/mba/finance/scholarships.html ). Are there some more scholarships available? Are you aware of their criterion?
A: Oh yes, there are various other scholarships, but not necessarily Cambridge specific ones. First, make sure you’ve gone through all scholarships listed on the above mentioned page. There are many, scholarships listed there. It will probably take you quite a while to go through all of them. Beyond these, many countries have foundations that sponsor students. I am from Germany and there are various German foundations offering scholarships based on merit regardless of where you study. There are also special scholarships to help students study abroad and there are scholarships from UK institutions like the British Council offering scholarships to foreign students to encourage them to come to the UK. I don’t have a complete list and it will require you several days of research to compile a list yourself but it should be worthwhile.


Application process
Q: The applications open only on 1st October. Does the application format change every year or it remains the same.. I am keen on the essay part as I feel I can start preparing with the essays in advance.
A: I don’t know if the format change and it may very well change. However, any preparation will still be worthwhile. I am sure that at least one of the two essay questions will change but the idea of the essay is not to write the perfect essay but to make you think hard. Therefore, even if the topic changes, your effort will not be in vain.

 

 

MBA Highlights - Video

and here comes number 5. Probably I achieves a new world record in number of posts per hour today....

I created a final piece of memory for me and all fellow MBAs. A video with the nicest pictures of the year. 10 minutes long. Here it is:

If you really want to watch the video than I suggest you don't watch it on youtube but on stage6. Its much, much, better in size and in quality.

Here's the link: http://stage6.divx.com/user/benkedav/video/1331061/Cambridge-MBA-2006-Highli

p.s. by now I know that it should say "lives" and not "lifes" at the beginning of the video... one year in Cambridge and still I make such mistakes. Maybe that's why I have't found a job yet!?

PJ

what's going on today!? This is now my fourth post in a row... looks like I am in a blogging mood. I suppose that's not how blogging should be done, e.g. a braindump once per month, but anyhow. Who are you to complain!

For people wondering about my Pearl Jam vs. May Ball problem (e.g. http://www.benkelberg.net/blog/default.aspx?id=60&t=Pearl-Jam-Venue-Change-frustration ) the solution was:

Go to both. Indeed, I went to see Pearl Jam and went to the Wolfson Ball. Well, you only life once...

and two more things...

just two side notes:

1. I've stopped putting pictures on Flickr. First because I got annoyed buy it. Its not really quick and easy. Secondly because nobody was looking at my pics anyhow and thirdly because of their silly content filtering initiative. What the hell are they thinking???

Instead I now post pictures on Picasa Web and/or Facebook. Anyway Facebook is sort of the compulsory community for Cambridge students. So, if you want to spy on me, just look on Facebook.

2. My recent SPAM filter on this site seems to work really, really well. What a great filter it is. Hardly any spam - maybe one per week.Really cool.
If anyone wants to know more, feel free to ask.

May Balls

There are some oddities to Cambridge, such as funny names. I posted about this a while ago. Lots of things here have funny names. Parties are called "bops" and people "bump" each other in boats while others go punting.

All very odd. Even odder is the fact that all the famous May Balls are in June. I suppose they do that for the same reason why the Queens birthday is officially in May, while in fact its not, namely because of the weather. Maybe weather in May was too unpredictable so that all the May Balls have been moved to June... who knows. I suppose some people do, but I don't and I don't intend to find out. There are some things about Cambridge that you really don't want to know... it would sort of spoil the misterious flair (e.g. why our toaster was gone for a month).

Anyhow, Wolfson College at least named their ball the "June Event" while most other Colleges still call it May Ball.

Now, what is a May Ball? Essentially its binge drinking for academics wearing smart cloth. It's called a "Ball" but basically its a big garden party - well, at least in most colleges. So, people dress up nicely - mostly dress code is black tie, i.e. tux for the guys, and have a posh party with champagne, chocolate fountains, bumper cars, life music, etc. Range of activities ranges from jugglers, magicians, and casinos to life music, Michael Jackson look-alikes, bumper cars and bull riding. Lots of funny stuff.

While the whole event sounds very posh, in fact they aren't. They only posh thing is the dress code. And anyway, the whole dresscode thing is Cambridge is quite funny. You obey the dresscode but beyond that there are no rules, e.g. you still drink straight out of the bottle or from plastic mugs. So you don't dress up to make things posh but just because it looks nice and because its tradition. Not to show of.

Of course the style and size of the balls differs quite widely and so does the cost. Cheapest one this year was 35 GBP, most expensive one around 150 GBP per ticket (not 100% sure).

I was expecting a really stiff formal event but, thanks god, it wasn't. Especially the Wolfson event was great fun. Lots of entertainment, very relaxed, and overall a great and enjoyable experience.

I can certainly recommend to everyone to go to two or three balls next year. You are definitely missing out if you are in Cambridge and haven't been to a May Ball.

The only downside was that someone stole my mobile phone. I am not very happy about this since now I am phoneless. Can you imagine a phoneless student? Unimaginable... at least t-mobile promised to send me a new SIM card within a week with the same number. Now I only need to arrange for a new phone...

Real life business skills in action

First of all, appologies for not posting anything recently. As usual, there's lots of stuff to blog about but either I have no time, or, I do have time but no motivation to blog. But here's a little entry.

MBA programmes are supposed to teach you all about real life business skills. No academic bla bla, but useful, hands-on stuff. I had my personal experience with that recently.

Now, I tend to travel quite a lot to Germany - on average twice per month. Either to see my wife or to go for job interviews. Now, that frequent travelling as such is already very handy real life experience to future business life. Getting the routine of travelling, such as packing your bag, getting up early to catch 6am flights, arriving 5 minutes before check-in closes, etc are all very usefull already.

However, recently I could top that experience with something more exciting. Fire alarm at the airport. Great stuff!

I arrived at Stansted in the morning, just in time to see that my train to Cambridge was cancelled. Ok, no reason to panic. There's no urgent meeting waiting for me, just lectures... don't panic. Hanging around at the airport 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes and then... drrrrrrr fire alarm. Everybody to be evacuated - no kidding.

So, the whole airport is being evacuated and that includes that rail staff as well. About one hour of waiting outside. That's what I call real-life travel experience.

So, if, at any point in the future, on a business trip the airport gets evacuated, I know what to expect and I know there's nothing I can do about it. Just wait...

They don't teach you that at business school, but maybe they should... some lectures on travelling...

More MBAT

First of all, in my previous post I forgot to mention what MBAT is. Haha, very funny, isn't it? Well, here's the thing: MBAT is an MBA sports tournament, so MBAT stands for MBA Tournament - easy.

A fairly well known school in France (near Paris) called HEC is hosting MBAT for 17 years now and this year there were around 15 schools including LBS, Oxford, Manchaster, CASS, IESE, ENSADE, IE, Bocconi, IMD, INSEAD, Amsterdam and of course Cambridge. Total count is around 2000 students and guests (some students brought spouses and kids). So, quite a big event. It started thursday evening and finished sunday afternoon.

We left Cambridge around 1:30pm, took a bus to Waterloo station, took the Eurostar to Paris, etc. Got to the HEC Campus around 11pm, just in time for some free drinks and some music. Friday was full of sports with BBQ in the evening. Saturday more sports and afternoon most people went to Paris. In the evening there was a big party in Paris. On Sunday there were the sports finals where our glorious volleyball team unfortunately lost to LBS who won quite a lot events.

In total our Cambridge team wasn't really successful BUT we had one first place in track and field. The volleyball team was really, really good and we are all very proud of them. And even the football team (including me) made it into the quarterfinal were we only lost in the penalty shooting against manchaster who in the end made it to the final. Losing to the finalist in penalty shooting is not really bad.

Anyhow, much more important is that we had LOTS of fun and everyone loved it. The whole trip, being in the bus, the train, on the field, at the party, always together, that was a very nice experience.

Cambridge is one of the places were we all know each other anyhow, but MBAT give it yet another boost.

The only downside was the poor transportation on site, i.e. the "shuttle" buses going between the hotels and the HEC campus. I probably spend a total of around 5 hours waiting for buses...

Anyhow: MBAT - great fun. MUST DO event for everyone who has a chance. And don't let LBS spoil your fun ;-) Cambridge rules all the parties anyhow! All we need is some Cambridge MBAs, some music and a little space to dance and the show will start instantly - yeah!

CIMG6517
CIMG1495
CIMG1509
CIMG1454

As usual, click on the pictures to see the rest of the photo stream on Flickr.

MBAT

Got back from MBAT last night. Details and pictures will follow shortly, but here's a quick summary:

  • one first place (1500m run) - Thanks Diana!
  • one second place (Volleyball)
  • two third places
  • one food poisoning
  • 6 injured football players (raning from sprained ankles to bruises and sore muscles)
  • best football played ever (lost to finalist at penalty shooting)
  • about 110 sore feet
  • about 200 hours total waiting time for busses (equivalent to economic value of Euro 10,000)
  • Cambridge beating everyone else at dancing
  • another confirmation that JBS is the coolest school in Europe - yeah!

It was great fun! I'll try to post some more details over the next couple of days

P.S. I suggest to next years class to take some TNT along to blow up that pathetic LBS bus... alternatively, take some rats and let them loose...

Toaster

Several weeks ago the toaster in our communal kitchen disappeared. At first I thought it got removed because it had caused a few fire alarms by burning toast. When after a week the toaster hadn't re-appeared, I filed a maintanence request. No luck.

Two days ago the toaster was back. And no: it is NOT a new toaster, it is a used one. So, 16 people on our floor were without a toaster for several weeks and now we get a used one!

Welcome to college life...

Oxford vs Cambridge Varsity Match

Last month (April 7) was the 153rd Oxford and Cambridge boat race which Cambridge won, making it 79 wins for Cambridge and 73 for Oxford (which is 152 in total, not sure why *g*). Overall, Cambridge is slightly ahead but in the past years Oxford was better. Anyhow, the reason why I am mentioning this is the long lasting rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge. Where I come from in Germany there's a similar rivalry between Cologne and Düsseldorf. Personally I've never quite understood what the rivalry is about, but my recent observations here are that it's mostly about pride and fun, and only few people take it really seriously.

Whatsoever, there's not only the boat race but there is a whole range of Varsity games between the two universities in all kinds of sports. Last weekend the yearly Oxford vs Cambridge MBA varsity match day - in Oxford. I should mention that Oxford is twice the size on the MBA programme AND last year Oxford bet Cambridge at EVERY sport. I can't say that I was particulary fond, but we all went to Oxford ambitious to win a few of the battles, including Football, the boat race and cricket (other sports included touch rugby, dodgeball, squash, badminton, volleyball).

At the end of the day we lost big time. It's probably fair to say we got our asses kicked, especially in cricket, which was a disaster. The good news is that I've eventually understood cricket!

Football was a pain, loosing 1:0 and some people took it VERY seriously. But here the good news was that just a few days before we received our new jerseys.

JBSFootballTeam

The best result of the day was the boat race which our glorious boat team won big time. We did have a very strong team and I would have been racer surprise if we had lost this as well. Since the boat race is one of the main events, winning this was quite a resonable success. Again, remember, last year we lost everything!

We also won to other events, one was the drinking boat race - 12 vs 12 sequential beer drinking and boy, our japanese guys were strong! I didn't know they could drink like brits.
In my view the Oxford guys are notorious binge drinkers and apparently proud of being thrown out of pubs so I wasn't really expecting us having any chance of beating them at drinking - but we did. Thumbs up.

Finally, in terms of party fun, we very clearly better. While there were clearly more Oxford MBAs and Cambridge MBAs at the party, we ruled the dancefloor - sorry guys ;-) I would even go as far as saying that we took over the party - until 11pm when we had to leave, catching our bus back to Cambridge.

Overall, it was a very nice day. Oxford is nice, the Oxford people are nice (although we have the prettier girls *g*), and the weather was splendid. And the Oxford guys aren't as bad as their image ;-)

Thanks to Oxford! And Revenge in Paris!!!

IMGP3690 P1010109 P1010117 Ricardo & Wall
Pearl Jam - Venue Change, frustration

Check this out: Pearl Jam is my favorite band. They come to tour Europe every five year on average (according to their own stats). On June 21 they play in Düsseldorf!!! Whooo. I bought tickets already a while ago.

Now, check this out: The Wolfson May Ball (June event) is on the 22nd of June. Ha. Since term is over, the bottom line is: I will fly to Düsseldorf on the 20th or so and will NOT return to Cambridge any time soon. I will miss the Wolfson May Ball. I will miss the May Ball of my own College for Pearl Jam!

Crazy, isn't it? Well, it's all about priorities.

Anyhow, here's the bad part. Pearl Jam was supposed to play in the LTU Arena. That arena is brand new and its really cool. The two really, really cool points are:

1. it is VERY close to my flat in Düsseldorf - 5 minutes by Tube which stops right in front of my flat and then, three stops later, stops right along the LTU Arena. Couldn't be more convenient.

2. The LTU Arena has a movable roof which can be opened. Yeahhh!!! Summer, sunshine, open air! Potentially at least.

Sounds, cool, doesn't it? Open Air concert, have some beer and sausages, hop onto the tube and home I am.

BUT: just learned that there is a venue change....argh****

The "Other" place, the ISS Dome is CRAP!!! It's hard to get to with public transport (Shuttle bus!!!) and its closed :-(

I am sooo frustrated, especially since I let the Wolfson May Ball pass. This has gone from suuuper cool to "oh my fucking god". (sorry for the language).

I am so frustrated, I have just emailed Pearl Jam and begged them to change the venue back - not that I expect them to really do so. Anyhow, I just had to tell them and everyone else how disappointed I am.

Wolfson BBQ

A little bit of fun... last sunday our South American friends have organized a "South American BBQ" at Wolfson College. The idea was great and the execution even better. I was quite sceptical when I saw them light the BBQ with some of Ricardo's socks, but that Chilien improvisation.

Overall, it was fantastic.

Together with Bakur (from Gerogia) I made some russian style Shashlik.

Anyhow, check out the pictures and the video.

DSC00960

Click on the picture to enlarge and to also see some other pictures.

Spam: reverse DOS

A while ago my comments function on the blog started to be abused by spammers. I switched it off. A few weeks later I turned it back on and within minutes had dozens of spams. Switched it off again.

The feedback form (separate contact page) was still running and so far was fine but a few days back spam started to appear here as well. That was quite interesting as this was a handmade page. I can understand that spammers are writing scripts to spam the most popular blogs (they can use the same script on hundreds of blogs) but my contact page was unique, I made it myself and I doubt that its being scripted.

Anyhow, I am quite annoyed by this and was just about to add a CAPTCHA. I had planned this for months but never got to it as it takes a little time. Then, while looking for an CAPTCHA ASP.NET control I came across AngryPets reverse DOS.

http://www.angrypets.com/tools/rdos/

ReverseDOS is a very simple HttpModule that checks various parts of incoming requests against a list of crap that you don't want pushed on to your site. If ReverseDOS detects a match, it attempts to stall the requesting client for a number of seconds (specified in a .config file). During this loop, which uses virtually no server resources - and only a tiny smidgen of bandwidth, ReverseDOS checks every .3 seconds to see if the client is still connected. If the spammer disconnects, good riddance. If the spammer sticks around, they're finally rewarded with the Response Headers - containing an HTTP 403 - Access Denied Response Code. (Awwwhh tooo bad...)

I just implemented it. The good news is:

Comments are back to "enabled" !!! And there's no CAPTCHA which makes it userfriendly.
However, if you do happen to use any form on my website (contact, comments, or whatever else) and you use suspicious words or hyperlinks you may get blocked (actually you will get an 403 access denied error).

I'll keep this running for some days and will report back if it is successful or not.