Strovek Writes


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

For Christians, Easter is the day when Jesus rose again, three days after he died on the cross. During mass today, our priest asked us a question, what do we do in the 50 days of Easter season.

Our priest mentioned that we Catholics are very good at celebrating suffering, during the 40 days of Lent season, many make sacrifices and our churches come up with many programs. However, nothing is done for the 50 days of the Easter season. In fact, I have never really thought of the Easter season except for the first day of Easter (known as Easter Sunday).

What we do for Lent is for us, helping us to join the suffering of Jesus. Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ triumphant return to God, our father. So how do we celebrate Easter, celebrate our resurrection with our Lord Jesus Christ? Our priest asked if any of us have ever experienced resurrection and also for examples, none of in the congregation could. He then shared with us, for the poor and homeless, when members of the church went and help bring joy to them, each of them experiences mini resurrection. He also shared with us an incident he observed the night before. An elderly woman was standing at the side, one of the usher found a place in the center aisle and signaled another usher to guide the elderly woman to the empty seat. When the woman finally reached the space, she gave a sigh of relief. If he had not seen the event, it would have been lost. He noticed it because he was looking for it.  Finally, our priest said that we are already at the end of time and mini resurrections is happening every day and we just have to look for it to see it.

I am grateful to have this priest ask questions to make me think and ponder on what I am doing with my faith. So how will you celebrate the 50 days of the Easter season?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Movie Review: Batman v Superman

I was looking forward to watching this movie since it was announced and finally watched it this afternoon.

The first part of the movie was used to help us understand the reason why Batman decided to go up against Superman. It was a nice to have Luther explain how he staged various events to push Batman and make him want to kill Superman.

It is surprising to see the Kryptonian technology lacks basic security and how easy it was for Luther to take over the ship and use it to create Doomsday. The system appears more secure in the Man of Steel movie. It could be that Luther more tech savvy compared to Lois Lane.

The subtle introduction of Diana Prince is effective, I thought she was working for Lex Luthor when I first saw her. She had not intended to join the fight, but changed her mind upon seeing the news on the plane about to leave the city.

The secret file stolen from Luther provides an opportunity to introduce characters for the future movies without them actually appearing in this movie - Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman. It is similar to the approached used by Marvel to prepare the audience for the Avengers movie. Looks like we have most of the members of Justice League (with the exception of Green Lantern). In Marvel, Avengers was formed by Fury in Shield but it looks like Batman will be the one to recruit and form Justice League.

We wanted to wait for the after credit scene, but was informed by the movie attendant that there is no after credit. I am disappointed with missing the post credit and mid credit scenes in many of the Marvel movies and am glad that DC has decided not to follow this approach, instead, they place many of the clues of upcoming movies within the show.

This movie met my expectation - enjoyable and fun to watch. Also it is not as loud as the Man of Steel.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Komik Asia

A new museum opened in Penang on Mar 6. I came across the museum in Komtar while I was around the area after watch Zootopia. It was interesting to see how comics evolved in various countries around Asia. There are similarities and yet certain uniqueness in style. The tickets are day passes permitting multiple entries.

Here are some of the pictures I took while I was there.

The tickets:

The entrance:

Weapons from the comics:

The museum ends with a small store where you could buy some of the comics and memorabilia. While I was there, Zunar was visiting the place hosting a talk and signing session.

This is another activity for my children for the holidays.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Quicken vs GnuCash vs KMyMoney

“We get what we measure”, that is why I want to measure my cash flow to make sure that I am spending within my means. Quicken has been helped me do that for a long time, but I wondered whether that is any open source solution able to replace Quicken. GnuCash and KMyMoney are close enough to fulfilling my requirements but there are gaps.

Encryption and password

Files created with Quicken can be protected with password. I am able to do that by encrypting KMyMoney file using Gpg4Win but not for GnuCash. KMyMoney recognizes the encryption will prompt for the password when I open the file. No such feature is available in GnuCash.

Accounts and category

Quicken and KMyMoney support both accounts and categories. However, GnuCash supports only accounts. In Quicken and KMyMoney, when a new category is entered, the software will prompt with an option to create it. Categories can be organized as subcategories of other categories. For KMyMoney new account or sub-account have to be created before it can be used.

Stock and share price updating

Both KMyMoney and GnuCash is able to update the share prices directly from yahoo finance. GnuCash will do this automatically upon launch. KMyMoney requires me to click the update button for the prices to be updated.

I have not tried automatically updating prices from internet directly with Quicken, but found it relatively easy to generate a csv file to update the prices. It is also easy to update the prices manually in the portfolio view.

Manual updates in KMyMoney and GnuCash is more cumbersome.

Entering purchases, sales and dividend are easy to do in Quicken.

Entering dividend was difficult in GnuCash. I entered the dividend into the cash account but was not able to assign the dividend directly to the investment counter.

In GnuCash, I had to right click on the account for the investment counter, view lot and perform a scrub in order for the account to register any realized gain or losses. I also had to create two separate sets of assets, income and expenses to cater for different currencies used.

It is not as easy (compared to Quicken) to view the profit and loss of my share investment with KMyMoney and GnuCash. I have decided to move track my records using the free online stock portfolio tracker spreadsheet found in Investment Moat.


Reporting cash flow is easily done with Quicken.
With GnuCash, it was necessary to only select Assets and Liabilities to generate the cash flow. If you also select the income and expenses, nothing will appear in the report. It will report to the subcategory level, but does not provide subtotal at the category level.

KMyMoney cash flow report shows every single transaction and provides total at each of the account and categories (and subcategories). This means that I need to scroll through a lengthy report to get the totals I want.


Quicken provides a year end file function to copy out cleared transaction and start a new file without the previous transactions. This will allow me to maintain a much smaller file. This feature is absent in both GnuCash and KMyMoney.

I have a problem with KMyMoney, the column sizes are fixed and are too small which makes it difficult to see some of the numbers on the ledger.

Both GnuCash and KMyMoney are also available in both Mac and Linux. This provides me the option to move to either platform if I wish to. I guess it is possible to run Quicken using wine in Linux or parallel in Mac (but not a preferred option).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Book Review: Fire Dance

I had this book for a couple of years but only started reading it a couple of weeks ago without any expectation. The story starts with a young maiden (Edyt) standing over her dying father as the Norman invaders entered the gates of their castle.

Edyt then hid in plain side as one of the maids to avoid marriage with the Norman Lord (Alain De Crency) - Rufus, the king of England had promised her as a bride to him. It was fascinating to see how she attempted to protect Alain while pretending to be one of the maids in the castle.

Even after her identity was revealed, new elements were introduced to keep me interested. It was obvious that the knights and servants of the castle loved her and would anything for her and that she in turn wanted to keep them save even though she expected to be killed at any moment. She believed that she was evil and was a daughter of Satan and if her secrets were discovered she would be burned as a witch.

The pace of the development of the characters in the story is just right followed with enough twist to sustain the interest of what would happen next. There were a few plots happening at the same time,

  • the love story between Alain and Edyt.
  • the relationship Edyt and her people.
  • the history between Edyt and her father.
  • the secrets of the castle.
  • the history between King Rufus and Edyt's mother.

The title of the book only made sense towards the end of the story. This book was long enough to be enjoyable and would make a great movie.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.