Are you a victim of wrong decisions?


Decision making
If you are passing through a difficult time at home or workplace, think how your decisions aggravated the situation.

Once Oprah Winfrey said, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that when you don’t know what to do, you should do nothing until you figure out what to do because a lot of times you feel like you are pressed against the wall, and you’ve got to make a decision. You never have to do anything. Don’t know what to do? Do nothing.”

Eight years ago, a friend who was well settled at a top TV channel in Karachi, decided to join a new TV channel for growth. Unfortunately, things went wrong there; she is still not settled.

Please do not ask me about some famous media personnel who decided to switch their employers recently. Only time will tell how wise they were.

Thirty-eight years ago, there was a poor student in Daro, district Thatta, who failed to appear in the Class X examinations, because he couldn’t pay fees. Although the boy was very disappointed, he decided to work as a labourer, collect the required money, and appear next year – and he did it. Later, he became the first local director of a reputable private educational institution in Pakistan. I am referring to Dr Muhammad Memon.

If a decision is a choice from two or more alternatives, then we make dozens or hundreds of decisions every day: tea or coffee; biscuits or omelette; burger or biryani; resolving an issue or handling a difficult client, a subordinate, a peer, a supervisor or a loved one, etc. Doing so, we deal with two kinds of issues:

  1. structured: straightforward, familiar and easy; and
  2. unstructured: new and unusual. The latter can make or ruin a person or an institution. Notice the positive and negative impacts of decisions made by people in the above examples.

In decision-making process, usually we confront with two situations:

  1. Taking a rational decision by choosing the best alternative, if we have a clear and specific goal, and know all possible alternatives and consequences.
  2. If we are experienced and understand a situation well, we also make a decision using our intuition, based on our experience, feelings and accumulated judgement.

In any situations, making timely and well-considered decisions is essential in business as well as personal life. Before taking any decision, a wise person always:

  1. defines and clarifies the issue
  2. gathers all facts and understands causes
  3. brainstorms possible options
  4. considers and compares pros and cons of each option
  5. selects the best option
  6. explains his/her decision to those involved and affected, and follows up to ensure proper and effective implementation.

Are you a victim of wrong decisions? What if you had kept in mind the above six points? What if you had compromised or did nothing?

I second Oprah that sometimes doing nothing is much better than making a wrong decision.

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Being a journalist


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Along with my old colleagues: (left to right) Yousif Sindhi, Mansoor Khokhar, Yaqoob Joyo, Urs Umrani, Syed Fida Hussain Shah, Rasool Bux Sarang (me) and Doongar Dothi. Photo credit: Syed Fida Hussain Shah

In March 1987, when I completed my Secondary School Certificate education, I decided to work part time and continue my education.

I started my career as a trainee calligrapher, initially at two Sindhi dailies Sindh News and Aftab in Hyderabad, and later switched to a leading media group.

While working there, I did the multitasking: from calligraphy, proofreading, translation and sub-editing to writing. Within four years, I was the editor of weekly magazine.

My boss was basically a newspaper hawker, who became a manager with his dedication. Since he was not a journalist, during all these years, I was a free man to write whatever I liked. When I recall some incidents, I realise that sometimes I was like a bull in a china shop.

Once I visited Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Hyderabad station, locally known as Radio Pakistan Hyderabad. When I entered a producer’s room without knocking, I noticed that his hand was rested on a female writer’s hand. They were speechless. After a few days, the incident was part of my radio roundup section.

I remember the day when the female writer, who happened to be one of our columnists, walked towards my desk with a horrible face.

“Do you understand what you have done? Do you realise what would happen if my relatives see this? Do you know in which circumstances women work? Mr, if I lodge a complaint, you can lose your job RIGHT NOW, but I am not doing so,” she almost screamed at me.

I was shaking and managed to say, “I… I… apologise…”

“Apologise?” she shouted. “After doing all this, you are just saying ‘apologise’?” she stared at me for a long time and then left.

Another incident. When I was in charge of a funny question-and-answer section, a girl asked, “I noticed you bowing down in the market a few days ago. What did you pick up?” I replied, “It was a hair-removing soap. Was it yours?”

Next day, I had a hearing and my boss delivered a long lecture on ethics.

In the same section, once I created a funny name. Unfortunately, it was a mix of a religious figure’s name and an animal. Next day, a delegation of religious scholars visited our head office, broke some office furniture, threatened the staff and left with a warning “do not do it again!”

In the very same radio roundup, I also criticised a lisping presenter. After listening to a long lecture again, I came to know that actually he was a relative of our media house owner.

When I look back, I realise that although I was not on the wrong side every time, I could have avoided many incidents if I had been trained properly or worked under the mentorship of a senior journalist.

Today, sometimes when I watch TV and listen to radio while driving, I also realise that some of them are accidental journalists. They sound like me, when I was an amateur journalist in 90s. They can ridicule anybody they like. Many times, they break a news first and then verify the facts.

Based on my personal experiences, I firmly believe that all this can be improved with proper education, training and mentorship of senior journalists. Today’s journalists are very lucky that they can find free training resources, and easily get in touch with media icons online.

Five tips to write better English on social media


Many people in my village use internet on their mobile phones. Sometimes they ask how they can improve their English. I thought I should come up with a few tips that can be beneficial for others as well.

Please feel free to share your feedback to make the tips more effective.

  1. Know the basic grammar: Especially, the use of parts of speech. Wren and Martin’s ‘High School English Grammar and Composition’ could be the best resource to start with. However, if you search, you can also find several online resources.
  2. Read: Try to read a newspaper or a book daily. You can find several free resources online.
  3. Use Google: If you are not sure about the usage of a term or phrase, search it in Google. For example, if you search “Me standing with my friend” [use double quotes “”], you will hardly find 10 results. If you try “Along with my friend”, you will get more than 21,000,000 results. That means the latter is widely used. You can also find similar other phrases using this technique.
  4. Proofread before posting: Never post without proofreading. If you are on the desktop, use MS Word for checking typo and grammatical mistakes. Many educated people hate posts without proper punctuation.
  5. Learn from others: Follow people with excellent English writing skills and learn from their posts.

MS Access Media Clipping Database Template


Direct Download Link

Get it from CNET Download.com!

Visit the application page on download.com

I have developed this media clipping database template in Microsoft Access after so many experiments, and sharing it as a gift with those who are interested in databases and would like to manage their print, electronic and broadcast media clippings efficiently.

Important Features

  1. Rather than embedded attachments, the application uses paths to store clipping files in a directory, resulting a very light-size database file.
  2. Auto-generated reports and analytical graphs
  3. Web and desktop versions

MCD

System requirements

Microsoft Access 2010/2013

How to use the template

Download the zip file, extract the folder ‘Media Clipping Database’ and save it on C partition on your hard disk. Go to the folder and open the web or desktop file. The latter offers more features, like, analytical graphs, detailed reports, etc. Replace the filled in fields with your data and see the results.

You can publish your clippings or reports as pdf or export as html files.

Structure

Here is the structure of the database elements:

Tables

Media

ID: An auto number generated automatically with each record
Media: Name of media outlet
Medium: Like, newspaper, TV, radio, etc.
Language: Like, English, Urdu, Sindhi
City Head Office: City in which the head office is located
Comments: Any extra information you would like to add
Logo: Path to the image of the media logo

Contacts

First name, last name, job title, company (media), contact details, etc.

Topics

List of coverage topics

Employees

ID: An auto number generated automatically with each record
Full Name: Full name of employee updating the database

Clippings

The Clippings table stores the information about clippings; field-wise details are given below:
ID: An auto number generated automatically with each record
Date: Publication/on air date
Region: Area/country
Entity: Company entity
Department: Company department
Nature: Nature or tone of the clip, like, negative, neutral, and positive
Coverage Type: Like, brief news, features, etc.
Source: Like, arranged, not arranged or released by your company
Media: Name of media outlet
Media Contact: Like, name of the reporter
Heading/Hyperlink: Heading, hyperlinked with an online link to the coverage, if any
Summary: A brief summary of the news (maximum 255 characters)
Body Text: Contents of the news
Topic Category: Select a topic from the list if you would like to divide your coverage topic-wise, like, eHealth, AIDS, pregnancy, etc.
Current Story Topic: Main topic of a coverage, like, National Symposium, Teachers’ Day, etc. Headings could be different under that main topic.
Event Title: Like, World Diabetes Day
Release Title: Title of press release or photo caption. If the release is related to an event, keep the event and release title same.
Image Path: Browse to a directory to save the path to display a clip image in the database
Position: Like, page number
Duration: For video and audio coverage, in minutes.
Edition: Like, Karachi edition
Employee: Employee signed in
Update Date: Date on which the record updated

Tips

By clicking on a field in the table, you can change the properties as per your requirement, like:
Field size: Maximum characters allowed
Default value: Auto filled, like, current date in the date field that can be modified by the user
Required: If checked, the record could not be saved without filling in this field, etc.

In lookup fields, that display a list to select an item, you can right-click on the arrow on a form and edit the list items.

Browse to File Function in MS Access


If you are using images frequently and saving them as attachments in MS Access database, you might end up with a heavy file. The software has also a limit of 2GB file size. To avoid that situation, you may like to save your images in a separate folder and display them in the database by a text path. Through the following example, I will show you how to do it.

BrowseTo

The example has a table and a form with the fields: ID (auto number) and Path (text). There are two more elements on the form: BrowseTo button and Image frame. When a user clicks on BrowseTo button, it will browse to a file and save its path in the field Path. If the file is an image, it will be displayed in the frame Image.

After creating all the required elements, right-click on BrowseTo button, go to Properties > Event > On Click, select [Event Procedure] and click on ellipses (three dots) to open VB application. Select the code area and paste the following code:

Private Sub cmdBrowseTo_Click()
Dim fdg As FileDialog, vrtSelectedItem As Variant
Dim strSelectedFile As String
Set fdg = Application.FileDialog(msoFileDialogFilePicker)
With fdg
.AllowMultiSelect = False
.InitialView = msoFileDialogViewDetails
If .Show = -1 Then
For Each vrtSelectedItem In .SelectedItems
strSelectedFile = vrtSelectedItem
Next vrtSelectedItem
Me![Path] = strSelectedFile
Else
End If
End With
Set fdg = Nothing
End Sub

Stay in the VB application, go to the menu Tools > References and check Microsoft Office xx.x Object Library.

Before testing the button, right-click on the frame Image, go to Properties > Data > Control Source and select Path, so that it can display the image through the path.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SAMPLE DATABASE

MS Access Before Change or Before Update Function: How to Make Another Field Required?


In MS Access 2010, if you want to make a field ‘required’ or compulsory based on a data inserted in another field, you can do it in different ways. Through the following example, I will show you how to do it using data macros and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

The example has two tables with the following fields:

ID (autonumber)
Source (lookup: “Arranged by My Org”, “Released by My Org”, “Not Arranged by My Org”)
MainMessage (text)

We want users to insert main message(s) in the field MainMessage if they select either “Arranged by My Org” or “Released by My Org” in the field Source.

Data Macro

Open your table. Go to the menu Table, click on Before Change and follow the following steps:

  1. Select If and paste the following code: [Source]=”Arranged by My Org” Or [Source]=”Released by My Org” And IsNull([MainMessage])
  2. Select RaiseError, type 1 in Error Number, Please insert main message(s) in the field Main Message in Error Description, and save.

Open FormDataMacro and try the code.

VBA

Open FormVBA in design view, select form properties, click on event, under Before Update select Event Procedure, click on the ellipsis (…) to open the VBA code area, and paste the following code:

Private Sub Form_BeforeUpdate(Cancel As Integer)
Dim strMsg As String
strMsg = “Please insert main message(s) in the field Main Message”
If (Me![Source] = “Arranged by My Org”) Or (Me![Source] = “Released by My Org”) Then
If IsNull(Me![MainMessage]) Then
MsgBox strMsg
Cancel = True
End If
End If
End Sub

Save and try the code by inserting data in the form.

Click here to download the sample database