Strovek Writes


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Feel Good Movies

The following are some feel good movies I recently watched on Youtube

Undercover Angel is a touching story of a man who had to baby sit a cute girl who turned out to be his daughter. The daughter in turn helped him become successful.

Christmas Angel. A romantic story - telling about a man who do good deeds without any expectation of return to atone for his past and how he identified someone to continue his work.

It's a Wonderful Life. One of my all time favorite Christmas movie

Though None go With me. Sad and touching story

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interviewer's Note

Careers Books

In my many years as a manager, I have interview hundreds of candidates and hired some. Interviews and identifying candidates who are suitable for the position you try to fill takes time.

Some positions are more challenging than others. The few things that I look for in identifying the right candidate are as follows:

  1. Can the person do the job?
  2. Does the person have the right attitude?
  3. Can I retain the person within my organizations?

I remember hiring a woman many years back. She was a top scorer from her university and very capable. Unfortunately for me, the job I had her for was not challenging at all. After a few months, she found that she was wasting her time with us and left for another company. Based on her drive and capability, I am sure that she is very successful now.

In another case, I had an impressive interview with a candidate. He brought his notebook and gave a presentation of a web page he created. After hiring him, we found that he had difficulty gathering requirements from the users and delivering results. Later I found two issues with my selection.

  1. His university major did not match what we do.
  2. I failed to test his technical skills.

Interviewing skills consist of both art and science. Parts of it can be learned but others will come through experience. My success rate has been pretty good so far but I find that there is still a lot to be learned. The most challenging part of the interviewer is to identify hidden signs during the interview.

An excellent series on interviews can be found here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Copy and Paste Character Set

secondaryeffectofteachingEnglish.jpg By puravida
One of the labs for Google Calendar known as flair has stopped working. Flair is great to add pictures and symbols on your calendar entries to make it easy for you to differentiate the events or highlight specific events.

One alternative proposed in Google Group question on this problem is to paste image characters directly in the calendar event.

This can be easily done using characters from this site. All characters are found in this page.

Here are a few examples of image characters found on the site:


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Makes Us Bad Investors - a good reminder

I recently came across the following presentation in It is a good reminder of how to approach investment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Google Maps Navigation Is Now Available in Malaysia

I just found out that Google Maps Navigation has been enabled in Malaysia even though it is not listed as the list of countries with this feature enabled. The version of the application I have on my phone is 6.14.4 but I am running it on Android 2.3.5.

Personally though, I prefer Waze. This is why I prefer Waze over Google Maps Navigation:
  1. Waze uses less data compared to Google Maps.
  2. Waze provide more information - other Waze users lets you know of traffic jam, obstacles etc.
  3. The voice on Waze sounds better.
  4. You have more options and configuration in Waze.
I read in another article the features of Waze is already incorporated in the application in some countries. I just have not seen in here in Malaysia.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Google Platform for Management Part 3

In Part 1, I covered how you can make Gmail, calendar and Tasks to help you manage your emails and reminders and in Part 2, I covered how the Google Apps can leveraged for collaboration and communication. There is still another component of the Google set of tools which I find extremely useful. The final component is called Google Sites.

DSC00723_p.JPG By mantasmagorical


I use it to bookmark the sites I usually use in the course of my work. It is true that you can add bookmarks to your browser and in some cases also set your browser to synchronize the bookmarks across different machines. However, you may come across situations where some applications will only work with certain browsers or cases where you might have to use someone else’s computer. Have a page will all the bookmarks will be more handy. Since it is a web page, it can work across different devices and OS.

The same page can also be shared with others in your company.

Blogger or Google Site

Google Ste pages are more suited for static pages. It is much easier to create a maintain a page of bookmarks on Google Site. It is also a good tool for creating department or functional site.

Blogger is more suitable for blogging each page is automatically categorized by month and topic. Not as useful if you have a project site or a department site. In order to create the bookmark page on blogger, I had to resort to using html while the same thing can be performed on the rich text editor on Google Site.

Part 1 Gmail, Calendar and Tasks
Part 2 Collaboration, Forms and Instant Messaging

Friday, July 5, 2013

Google Platform for Management Part 2

Google platform provides a rich set of tools for management. In Part 1, I focused on Gmail, Task and Calendar. I shall continue with other tools and how it complements my activities as a manager.


Google documents strength is in collaboration. It is very easy to create either a Document (Word), Spreadsheet (Excel) or Presentation (Powerpoint) and collaborate with either your team members or people in remote locations. I indicated the MS Office equivalent in parenthesis for those who are more familiar with the Microsoft suite of tools.

Grouqp.jpg By mohusni

When you share the documents, you can either give others the right to edit the document, comment on the document or just view the document.  In a meeting, the attendees can edit the document and everybody else in the meeting can view it. Comments can also be used to raise questions and highlight items for others to respond to.

Each collaborator can activate a setting to trigger to inform them of any changes in the documents. That way, they do not have to keep checking for changes in the document.


Forms can be created to collect feedback or perform surveys. These forms can then be sent or embedded into websites. The information submitted through these forms are automatically collected in a spreadsheet and the information automatically compiled for you.

This is an excellent way to get feedback from your customers or group members. Examples of the uses include:

  1. Service level from your business partners.
  2. Feedback on training courses attended.
  3. Feedback on events carried out for the team.


You could easily create group calendars for your team members to update their holiday plans, or other activities. This is a great way to inform everyone in the team and to coordinate leave. Companies usually create resource calendar for booking rooms and equipments.

You could also write a simple script to collect information from these calendars and populate into a Spreadsheet for analysis.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is useful to get quick updates from others. By default all instant messages will be recorded and filled in the chat label. This in turn can be turned into task or used to send follow up emails.

Part 1 Gmail, Calendar and Tasks
Part 3 Google Site/Blogger

Monday, July 1, 2013

Google Platform for Management Part 1

The following are some of the ways I use Google platform to manage my time, team and projects.


For simple reminders to perform something on a given day, a calendar entry works best. Set it either to occur once or repeat daily, weekly or monthly. Examples for such reminders are: writing weekly reports, paying subscriptions, having a regular 1-on-1.


Task Follow ups

To follow up on tasks, the task option is best. There are two ways of creating tasks.

  1. Click on add to task while you are reading a mail. When you do that the tasks will have a link to that mail. Only one mail can be linked to a task.
  2. Create a task directly.

The task option is great when you need to take notes and keep track of progress, you can place notes in the task and change the due date of the task as you proceed. However, there are limitations to the task feature.

  1. The entries in the task is personal and cannot be assigned to others.
  2. If you are using the browser interface, you cannot set a reminder for it to pop up like the calendar entries. However, you can allow it to show on your calendar.

You can overcome these options by using a third party application in Android called GTasks.

Sending Reminders to your Team

This requires a two step process. First create a repeating entry in your calendar to send you an email. Next create a filter to detect the calendar mail and auto forward the mail to your team. It is best to use a distribution list. There is a restriction of 20 filters that forward to other addresses. By using this approach, you do not have to worry about having to recreate the entries when new members join your group (as long as your distribution list is updated). I am using a corporate account and am able to use one of the existing distribution list. I believe you can use Google Groups to achieve the same thing but have not confirmed that.

Filters and Labels to highlight your mail

Use filters to automatically label your incoming mails and change the color of the labels. That way, you can easily identify important mails (mails from your main customer, your bosses or even your team members). This is more effective than important category provided.

Filters can also be used to move mails straight into a specific label and skipping the inbox altogether. This is useful when you subscribe to mailing list which you only want to read when you have the time. It could also be used to filter mails that might have value but in most cases are junk.

Part 2 Collaboration, Forms and Instant Messaging
Part 3 Google Site/Blogger