Thursday, March 31, 2005

Status: Accepted Offer

Just called the GSB and was told that my check has been received. Turns out (and this I had neglected to see) the online application has also been updated and it now says Accepted Offer with the congratulatory letter replaced by another one verifying that my enrollment deposit is in and welcoming me again to the Class of 2007. That is some quick response on the online app, I must say.

Next steps: My undergraduate transcript is still sitting on my desk and needs to be mailed. Both my graduate transcripts are already in. And I need to send them a picture for the face book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chicago it is.

so, the story ended with considerably less drama than i'd conjured up, with a ding from lbs. i got to say, even with an admit in hand, my good friend the ding still stings a bit. but, no worries anymore. very happy to see to it that my check for a thousand greenbacks is in the mail en route to Chicago. won't rule out any drama with that one :) but for now i am going to sit back, stretch my legs, and get ready for a long night of alternately writing code and Word documents.

Life is good.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A fitting end to the story?

So, here I was earlier this evening. Waiting for the roller-coaster admissions ride of almost two years to finally end, one way or the other. All I had to do was call London and find out what they had in store for me. If it was a Ding or a Waitlist, off I went to Chicago. If it was an admit, I was to spend the weekend mulling over it and make a decision. So, I called a few times and Nada. Voice-Mail. Then, I get the email from LBS.

Dear Yogi,

Thank you for your continuing interest in the London Business School MBA Programme.
We know that you are expecting your Admissions Committee result today, however, we are sorry to announce that your decsion has been delayed. We anticipate you will have an update by the middle of next week. Be assured. this is no reflection on the quality of your application or interview. Please note that the MBA Office is closed until Tuesday for the Easter vacation.

We apologise for this delay.

You've got to be kidding me ! Even better, they have a 4-day long weekend. You read it right - 4 with an f. So, the earliest they will get to sit and start to make a decision on my file is tuesday. Most likely I will hear from them wednesday or thursday. The issue really is that I have to send my deposit to Chicago by April 1. It almost seems like my decision has been made for me by LBS. It feels kinda sad, I must say. To put in all the effort in the app and know now that the result probably matters naught.

However, I think a likely more dramatic scenario will unfold next week. I wait until the last minute (as usual :) to send my deposit check to Chicago, and as I am walking into the Post Office, my cellphone beeps. Text message. Just received an email from LBS, it says. Uh-Oh. Run back to the office, check email. A trying-to-be-funny message informs me that Gmail is down for the moment. Precious moments pass as I try to will it back to life. I will it back to life. Now, I've got to make a decision.

But, all I get is 15 minutes before the post office closes for the day. 15 minutes ? that's not enough time to make a life-altering decision, is it ? well, that's all I get. So, i'm in my zone speed-thinking through my options on the way to the PO, and I've almost made my choice. Look at the time just as I'm about to turn into the street and I still have 3 minutes. Stop for 1 more to make sure I've dotted my i's and crossed my t's. Finally a free man, I walk around the corner and am outside the post office.


closed ? Si, Closed. I look around. The sidewalks are empty, the traffic sparse. I look at the time and there is still a minute to go. What could have happened ? In that moment of panic, a blinding clarity dawns on me. This is comeuppance time. Every single application I have submitted has been either at the very last minute, or just after the deadline, or in London's case last year 3 days after the deadline. I've asked my recommenders for overnight submissions. Fedex next-day was my only recourse when I had to send any materials to schools. If that is how close I cut the applications, I guess it's only apt that I get to make my final decision that way also, no ?

As I turn to walk away, I can't help but smile. I know now why the post office was closed; I was late. After all that I'd been through, I was late sending in my Chicago deposit ! But, wait, wasn't I there a minute before closing time? The smile gets wider as I look at my watch again.

It's set to Chicago time.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Phone Tag, Part Deux.

So, i stepped away from my cell phone for literally 10 minutes the first time today and come back and guess what ? A missed call from 'Unknown'. But, no indication of voice mail. Decided to check anyways. Now, I'm usually really lazy when it comes to checking voice mails and they pile up. Had to hear thru 20 of 'em today [byron, finally got the one you left me before admit weekend :-)] and there was indeed a voice mail from LBS asking me to call them back.

As thoughts of a repeat of the Chicago admit call came to mind, I checked on the boards and there was someone who just posted that s/he got a call from LBS to tell them that the application had not yet been reviewed due to a large volume of apps !!!

So I tried to call back. Turns out I can't ! I just moved to Cingular and haven't had the reason to make any international calls yet, and this service is not enabled on my phone. wtf !! I'm in Please-Hold-land even as I type.

Update: This is what I was told: Your payment history and the length of time you've been a customer with Cingular are factors which determine your eligibility for this service. Hold Again while they go check if I am eligible ...

Update 2: OK, I passed the 90-day requirement, but have an unpaid balance. Did that and then was read some rules about the service for a minute or so. It has supposedly been added. Phew. Now, I have to give it a fly.

Update 3: It works, woo hoo !!! But this time I get voice mail. :-)

Life sure is an adventure.

It's AM in London.

So, today's the big day for LBS results. Well, kinda big day. Admits calls seem to have gone out in trickles over the past couple of days, but the results are due for everyone today. I've been up all night (no, not hanging out at an all-night chat) working so i am in a sleep-deprived daze right now. Just want to wish good things for everyone waiting on LBS and Wharton. Off I go now for some more coffee.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogger Bug?

Don't worry, I didn't discover a new 'hack' into Blogger :) But I am curious if anyone else is having issues using the Blogger comments. I've tried to post on a couple of blogs today but I get this weird message that says 'The blog you were looking for was not found'. There are a few people I have a few things to say to :)

All Things Considered

Wow, another thread removed from BW ? I read a comment on my blog just now, go over to BW and there are posts there about the thread being gone. But I look around and don't see anything amiss. The common thing in both cases (comment/BW) though is a reference to the NPR interviews. What NPR interviews, you ask ?

Yesterday, NPR talked with Dean Schmalensee of MIT Sloan about the entire 'hacking' issue. He came out saying that the 'hackers' who did this were essentially 'breaking and entering' a locked room. I have to say, I was pretty enraged. Now, my interest in the issue is not so much around the ethical debate as it is on the 'hacking' part. I wrote a long hard letter to NPR protesting their passivity in accepting what he said without questioning him. 'Are the powerful to be so trusted with their word?', I wrote in the heat of that moment.

I got an email earlier today from them asking for my real name and city/state so they could read from my letter in a follow-up segment today. After some thought, I replied back that I did not wish for my real identity to be declared on-air(given that in my email I had also pointed to my blog and asked them to look at what really was done). This goes against their practices so my letter went unread. No issues, I was just glad that they noticed.

I tuned into the show and what was cool was that they did read from another listener who basically said the same thing. So, NPR being the reasonable entity they are, brought in their in-house networking guru and asked him to explain what was actually done. Then the question was asked if this could be characterized as a 'hack'. In his opinion - no way Jose. What happened was nothing but some very sloppy software on AY's part.

Zach was right on the money with his prediction on how this thing would play out. In the last day or so, more tech-savvy voices have emerged with almost universal condemnation of the characterization of this incident as a 'hack'. Mind you, they are divided about the ethics issue, but since the entirety of HBS/MIT's position lies on a criminal 'hack' being committed, any weakening of this argument could affect the sentence handed down.

For those who still have any interest left in the story:

* Philip Greenspun, a CS professor at MIT, wrote his now-famous post on Business Schools redefining hacking to "stuff a 7-year old could do".
*, an MIT project that tracks what it calls 'the most contagious information currently spreading in the weblog community', lists both Greenspun's commentary as well as the actual steps archived on this blog in the Top 20.
* Orin Kerr covered the issue on The Volokh Conspiracy. In that piece, he writes: I am fairly confident that no court would hold defendants criminally liable under them for visiting a public site in the way they did.
* Brian D Foy wrote a bang-on-target piece over at O'Reilly (the tech guys, not the fox guys) titled Not Linking is Not Security
* Tim Jarrett, an MIT Sloan alum, while defending the response of the schools, writes: ApplyYourself’s system doesn’t appear to meet even minimal standards for securing the sensitive information with which it is being entrusted.
* About 3hours and 3minutes ago, MSNBC got into the act with their own blogger. Writing on Prof. Greenspun's comments about the 7-year olds, he says: Literally. I mean, I could hack it.
* A few hours ago, Anurag Jain, a PhD student at IIM, Bangalore had an interesting observation on his blog covering the issue. Apparently the IIM's had an almost similar issue last year. In their response, the director said: "During this testing, conducted on Monday for about two hours, if anybody has access to the IIM (A) website link and the web address to get the results in specific,....they can see the results cannot be called breach." He continued: "However, what we did not do and should have done is change the web address. We retained last year's even during the testing period".
* Freedom to Tinker " ... is your freedom to understand, discuss, repair, and modify the technological devices you own".
* Rogers Cadenhead opines on the issue, saying: "Incidents like these make me wonder how anyone can argue that modifying a URL is inappropriate, much less compare it to breaking in to a computer system.If you make something available at a URL, you've invited the world to view it"
* Over at TechDirt, Mike writes: "It's a "cheap" way for them to appear tough on ethics -- when the lesson we're really learning is that publicity concerning how strong you are on ethics trumps an actual look at the ethics of the situation."
* The Harvard Crimson, which was the first on the scene labeling the applicants as 'hackers' has today published an opinion, leading with "HBS applicants are being sacrificed to fix the business world’s ethics problem."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The L word

Laugh, that is.

This thing's reached that point in the discourse where we need to sit back and chill a bit. For your reading pleasure, here is a selection of quotes from Slashdot.

James T Kirk cheated on his test and they made him a captain, so can't we let these guys slide? ;) - anonymous coward

Ethics in business. What next: truthfulness in politics? Fairness in the legal profession? Forgiveness in religion? - Usquebaugh

yeah, i can't believe these students would have the audacity to do such a thing. they got what they deserved indeed. [meanwhile, downloading another gig of mp3s...] - FatAlb3rt

I always thought a lack of ethics was required in business. Perhaps these 119 weren't turned away because they broke the rules - perhaps they were turned away because they had nothing more to learn. - anonymous coward

Yes. I'm sure that along with Harvard; Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Duke all blacklisted the crackers. As for MIT...they got extra credit. - ramblin billy

You Peek, You Lose? Who needs Harvard then? I mean, seriously, in the voyeur community which I am sort of into, our motto is: You Peek, You Win! - anonymous coward

And of course, they can't access their own personal response before... oh wait, they can.
Last week, Metheny would have told you that his companies site was totally secure. This week, he's telling you that yeah, it got hacked, but individuals could only access their own stuff. And of course, he's totally sure about this.
Check back next week, though. - anon*

Good, my plan worked, I've removed the competition and now I will get into Harvard Business School myself!

* evil laugh *

oh wait, business school. shit. - anonymous coward

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Jim H. Caviezel !

I just realized that my blog entry was linked on a discussion at slashdot on the HBS issue. The stats for my tiny little home on the web show 793 visitors within the past hour ! I would highly recommend going over to slashdot to read what them folks make of this 'hack'. Very interesting read.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Chicago Admit Weekend: Of meaningful Mascots.

I am back in Beantown after a fun weekend in Chitown. It was a packed schedule with everything from Dean's address to alumni panel, dinner with students/admits to laser tag with students/admits, sessions on career services to drinks at LPF, getting lost on the bus getting to Whirlyball to me getting lost on the train getting to the airport, afterparty to afterparty. Needless to say, I had a blast.

So, where do I begin?

How about the serious stuff. The evening before I left for Admit Weekend, I had my London interview. It was outstanding and by far the best interview I've had, probably ever. I get a very good feeling about London this time around - I may yet get to decide between the two schools - so this added an extra sense of purpose to my visit to Chicago.

There were several things I was looking for, and will outline them in subsequent posts, but this one is about what the school stands for. Now, every school has a particular 'image', if you will. Chicago's, to a casual observer, is probably quant-jock-y. It was definitely mine before I looked closer. I can attest that there is some truth to this, though. Most people I met were either already doing, or wanted to do, finance. And they were unequivocal in their enthusiasm for the education and opportunities afforded to them by the school in this field. I, on the other hand, don't want to be a banker. My goals are entrepreneurial in nature and yet, the nutjob that I am, applied to the school.

So, why Chicago of all places?

My answer to this, posed indirectly as the Mascot question, was a vision of what *I* think the school stands for. It was a mix of my understanding of the program and an idealistic vision of an environment where I want to spend the next two years. I was accepted, so I guess this made sense to those who read it. But, I was looking for some sense of validation of this image this weekend. And, I am happy to report, I found it. There were things said and observed - in the Dean's talk, in the faculty's approach to their work, in the vision laid out for the school, in conversations with professors and students - that lead me to this conclusion.

So, what DO i think of Chicago?

I will let a mascot answer this one for me. Presented below is the question asked, and my response.

Chicago GSB is seeking a mascot to represent our new facility, The Hyde Park Center. What would be your choice and how will it represent the attributes of Chicago GSB.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce the unveiling of The Hyde Park Center’s new mascot, the ‘questideon’. Yes, it does look funny. It is, in fact, a modified question mark, “?”, with the dot replaced by a light bulb.

Who-the? What-the? Why-the?

I know, I know. Many questions probably come to mind, but allow me to recount a little tale first. I was at lunch during my visit to campus to attend Fall Preview. Being in an academic environment, sitting in mock classes, and interacting with the students brought back memories of high school. Not the good ones, mind you, but of being reprimanded for asking too many questions in class. I turned to the students at the table and said, “Do you guys ask a lot of questions at the GSB?” The response was smiles all around. “The reason we find the answers,” said one of the students, “is because we ask the questions.”

There is a purpose to this story, and the mascot I have chosen. I have come to realize that one of the core values of the Chicago GSB is the spirit of questioning. This is fundamental to the way knowledge is generated and imparted at the school. At the risk of overstatement, I will claim that if you do not question everything, you do not belong at the GSB.

So, you ask, where does all this questioning lead to? The answer is evident as soon as one walks though the doors of this breathtaking facility – Ideas. These ideas have shaped the world of business for over a century. These ideas have won Nobel prizes for their thinkers. These ideas have created entire industries, like passive fund management.

The mascot represents both these interconnected attributes of the school. Questioning leading to ideas, as represented by the universally recognized symbol for those “a-ha” moments, the light bulb.

Mascots, traditionally, are merely representative. The questideon, on the other hand, is intended to not just be a passive mascot. The Chicago GSB is a unique institution, and must necessarily mean different things to different people. It is my hope that this mascot inspires the observer to ask his or her own questions about the building, school, and program, and discover the ideas that makes the Chicago GSB so interesting to them.

I will be remiss if I do not talk about what excites me about the GSB. It should come as no surprise that there is a question involved.

Given an empty parcel of land to create the greatest business school facility in the world, why did the school and its architects design the building the way they did?

In the exterior of the building, I see the homage paid to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. In the Rothman Winter Garden, I see a connection with the gothic architecture of the greater University campus. In the classrooms, I see the cutting edge of technology. The bigger message transcends the architecture of the building.

The Chicago GSB is leading the charge to the future, and at the same time, grounded in the fundamental values that have made the GSB the great institution it is today.

Can one even begin to imagine what ideas are yet to come?

Friday, March 04, 2005

BusinessWeak: The Power Issue.

Wow, seems like this HBS issue is really blowing up. It's now made the national media and HBS seems to have publicly stated that it will punish those who attempted to access their records. I hope some sanity prevails before some innocents are sacrified at the altar of keeping-up-appearances.

I was thinking about it on my plane ride today and what struck me is that this is a case study on the powers people hold, and how they employ them. This is how I see it.

The 'hacker':
This is where the saga starts. A computer-literate applicant decided to play around with the online application system using HIS OWN ACCOUNT INFORMATION and discovered that the system had no semblance of security. All he had to do was use a different format of sending a request to the webserver, which by the way is what one does as the first exercise in a Web 101 class, and lo and behold, he got a response.

I think people need to take a pause here before judging his next steps. If he was really a 'hacker' who realized that the backend system was so childishly designed, don't you think he would have tried to muck with it. Maybe change the posted results. For starters. I was talking about this with a friend who deals with webservers and he said that every day they get many hits from users who try to make their well-protected systems run rogue scripts etc. If it was a 'hacker' with any sort of malicious intent, he could have tried to wreck havoc on the systems.

So, there was no real malicious intent. What were his options? either publicize this vulnerability, or quietly go to the authorities concerned. Why not the latter, is a very valid question to ask, since it seems that it could have been the ideal way to fix the issue without the ensuing brouhaha. Obviously, I cannot speak for him. But, I see a parallel to how corporate managements behave. If they do not create an environment where employees feel no fear of retribution for bringing up bad news, they will only hear about it when things get worse. I suspect this is the case here too. From observing the reaction of people on the boards, HBS seems to inspire fear rather than trust. Maybe the 'hacker' was scared that the consequence of letting them know would be that he would be shot down for 'hacking' in the first place. Which is what has ultimately been HBS' reaction.

Fellow 'hackers
': Now, this is an interesting camp. Two, actually. By and large, those that didn't access the record, post HBS' warning, have suddenly become the upholders of all values ethical, and those that did check are being cast as sinners who will get their now-determined verdicts on March 30. This is my observation, so blame me for it.

Again, step back for a second. Jane Doe applied to HBS, and in the process provided them with initimate details of her life experiences, contact information, credit card number, resume etcetera trusting that the systems used to store these are secure. All of a sudden, she finds out that there seems to be a way to get to information about results that one should NOT have been able to. Can she really be faulted for trying to see if this was indeed true ? Is she not allowed to check for herself if the system is indeed broken ? Is it not valid for her to worry that something else may be up for grabs ?

HBS is making the case that she should not. But then, the system WAS broken. So, isn't HBS complicit for assuring applicants of running a secure shop when in reality they weren't ?

These guys I feel for. There must be engineers and management spending sleepless nights trying to fix their systems as well as smooth relationships with schools. But, if anyone is to blame for the entire fiasco, it has to be them. As a software designer, I see two big issues with their application. One, intermediate results (i believe HBS on this one) were being uploaded to a production database ? And two, there is no protection on accessing these results before the due date ? Heck, there seems not to be even a simple check like (if date < march 30; don't give them out). I hope the powers-that-be are asking these guys for accountability.

Now, according to media reports, HBS' and other schools are poring thru logs trying to find out. The hits were to AY's systems. The logs will be in their systems. So, I can only infer that they are doing everything in their power to give whatever they are asked of.

I hoped to see better decision making from the school that claims to write the book on these kind of things. HBS is fully aware of the awesome power it commands. Why not come out the minute they found out about this and release a statement on the lines of: We think someone did XYZ to find out results that he was not supposed to and we view this as a serious breach and will not take it lightly if someone else tries to do it. End of matter. Do you think any HBS applicant would have dared to check this out after such a pre-emptive message from the school? If someone did, the school can justify any further actions on a we-warned-you-so argument. Instead, they went into reactive mode and the ominous message sent AFTER things got out of control sounds almost vendetta-ish.

I stand accused by some of being a 'hacker' myself for posting the steps. I think that is a very misinformed accusation. I am a believer in free speech, or whatever is left of it these days. I also design software for a living. On linux. So, I come from the philosophy that problems are best solved when everyone knows what the problem is. Knowledge shared is real power. I believe these steps need to preserved so that people know what exactly was done.

Man, what can I say. The Harvard Crimson was the first one with the story that said that 'hackers' had broken into impregnable Harvard systems. Related to my previous point, I invite them to send a computer literate correspondent to read the post and assess for themselves how much of a 'hack' it really was.

And, now MSNBC. These guys wield power given their enormous audience, but they are just mouthing the same PR spin that was handed out to them by the schools and ApplyYourself. If they did take a minute to make their OWN judgements, maybe relate this incident to comparable events that involved real hacking ...

Disappointing. Killing every thread that even says the words HBS was just plain lame. I, along with others, think they were doing it at the behest of the school. If not, were they trying to use this opportunity to suck up to them so that they might get back on the ratings bandwagon ? Did they have to get this i-own-your-ass on the posters? The way I read it, the message really is quite simple. They care two hoots for the applicants who use their message boards. Sad.

I'm running out of battery, so got to end this rant.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

HBS/ApplyYourself Admit Status snafu ?

Someone on the BW-boards figured out a way to get status of HBS applications before the admit date - and every single thread on that matter is being actively deleted. I am led to believe it is an ApplyYourself bug and is valid also for other schools that use it.

Here is the procedure, as sent to me by a poster.

. Login to your application
2. Click on the application for admission (may be called something else for non HBS applications)
3. At this point the URL you see in your browser will have, among other things
Of course you will have your own value for AYID
4. Copy this value in the notepad
5. View source by going to your browser's View menu and clicking on Source (for IE users)
6. In the source look for id=1234567 (or it's PackageAnswerID=1234567, I don't exactly remember, most likely id-1234567). The value must be a 7 digit number
7. Once you have AYID number and the id number, copy and paste the following URL IN THE SAME BROWSER WINDOW
8. Replace the AYID and id values by your own AYID and id values, which you copied in a notepad

It's important to paste the above URL in the same browser window otherwise the application will complain that you are not logged on. If you login to the new window, the app will complain you are logged in using multiple session and will force you to close ALL the browser windows (delaying the viewing of your status).

I can't seem to access HaloScan comments from work, so if you have any comments you want me to know, send me an email to

Edit One: Seems like all decisions previously available using said procedure have been pulled out, including dings.

Edit Two: Is it right or wrong to check status this way? Basically, we are talking about some sloppily protected software here. If you don't want someone to see it, hide it well. Welcome to the internet.

Edit Three: I had made a reference to's chat which i got off a posting on the boards (but wasn't on myself). I was subsequently told that I had mis-represented the facts and there was no censorship in that room. Since I wasn't there, and hence am going on hearsay, edited the post to remove the reference.