Monthly Archives: October 2011

Shortcut to iPhone notifications

If you swipe from top to bottom of your iPhone screen, this is what you will see. You may have more, if you have more notifications enabled.

A neat shortcut for stock and weather updates I would say!

[I didn’t discover this, my colleague did]



Taking the telcos out of your communication plan

This article inspired me to think whether is it possible to remove the telco entirely just by using iPhones or Android phones. It may not be entirely possible in Singapore, given that our telcos are also ISPs. But If you can make do with the free Wireless@SG, then it is achievable!

We will need an iPhone or Android phone, and a few apps: namely, Viber or Skype (for making VoIP calls) and WhatsApp (SMS & MMS replacement). These apps are available for both iOS and Android platforms and they can work over 3G or WiFi.

If we restrict ourselves to use the phone only at places with the free Wireless@SG, and we communicate only with like-minded folks, we can don’t subscribe to a mobile plan! If we have enough people doing this, the telcos may have to re-evaluate their expensive offerings to avoid losing customers.

Granted this may not be so feasible as not all of us can have Wireless@SG access easily, but in such scenarios, a land line may not be far from you to make that urgent phone call or you could have Internet access to use the IM.

How the mighty fall and why people don’t learn?

Jim Collins’ research on How The Mighty Fall tries to explain how did those too-big-to-fail companies such as Motorola and HP fail. The 5 stages of decline, could arguably, also be used on sportsmen. It’s an interesting read with lessons worth learning from. Unfortunately, why do we keep seeing the same history repeating itself? How did Motorola, the company who invented mobile phone end up having to spin off its mobile arm? Why did Nokia, not learning from Motorola’s mistakes, became the next mobile brand that became unpopular?

Why did HP board members feel that changing CEOs frequently would help to bring HP back to its original glory days? And Yahoo, it’s exclamation mark, is glaringly missing from its brand now. Does Yahoo still excites you? Frequent changing of CEOs doesn’t help in boosting staff morale. Furthermore, these new CEOs aren’t coming from within, to investors, aren’t this worrying since it may suggest that no one within the organization is capable enough to take control? For the staffs, isn’t it time to move on since no matter how long or how loyal or how capable you are, the board doesn’t look like they’re willing to give you a chance to perform?

Closer to home, Creative, the company that brought the world sound blaster, seems to be in decline ever since their MP3 player decision. Its latest dable into tablet, seems to me like it is positioning itself as the OEM for OEM. Interesting, but does the world need another Android player?

Every time each of these big & mighty companies make a blunder, don’t you wonder if they ever spend some time to read and learn? Or were they too busy in finding quick fixes?

How to differentiate between the good and not so good during an interview?

Were you ever in a situation whereby you wonder how did a co-worker managed to get pass the hiring manager’s interview? Or were you part of an interview that you weren’t quite sure how to access the candidate’s technical competency? Or were you the candidate, wondering why was the interviewer so focused on testing your ability to memorize the APIs or making you give a standard textbook-style answer, word-for-word?

Let’s take a step back and think, why is an interview required? One reasonable response would be it’s one of the easiest way to assess a candidate’s capability. It is usually the first time both the interviewers and candidate meet, so without any past collaboration experiences to draw from, an interview is usually the best way to find out more about a candidate. There’re a few kinds of interviews: a normal chit-chat to find out more about the candidate’s characters, expectations and past experience; or a technical interview, consisting of either written test or verbal Q&As to find that competent new team member; or likely a combination of both.

But does it work? I suppose it depends on a combination of factors: the experience of the interviewers and the right questions asked. It is important for both parties to assess if there’s a fit, be it culturally or technically. If there’s no good fit, logically, the deal should be off. But many times we’d seen compromise due to factors such as costs and time. A misfit hurts both parties. The hirer risks rocking the boat while the new hire suffer from agony in his job.

In a casual chit-chat, one can establish the culture of the organization and the candidate. Is the organization a sweat-shop, aim at squeezing every bit out of its staff? Is the candidate someone who sticks to a no overtime policy strictly? There’re traits that each organization or team cherishes and this should be the time, the interviewer tries to find out if the candidate has them. Likewise, the candidate should use this opportunity to find out if he’s getting into a career or a role of a fire-fighter.

For a technical interview, what kind of questions should the hirer ask? While it is tempting to have a organization-wide standard set of questions, I would believe that a tailored set meant for the team or the hiring department would be better. If my department engages in interfacing with other teams, it is naturally more important for me to find out if the candidate has such experiences and can answer questions on them. But where do I find such questions? Not the Internet for sure. I would propose two excellent sources: your bugs and your requirements. Ask not a lot of questions but sufficient to see if the candidate can identify bugs that your team made or better still offer solutions or processes to avoid them. See if he could offer ways to meet your developed requirements and see if his are similar or in fact better options.

An interview should be engaging and bi-directional. Having the right person and tool would help both parties in the interview.