Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Buzzword (beta) vs for Pages…

In Random on March 28, 2009 at 3:29 am

So on first case study for finance I had the team try out (beta).  On the second case study, we used buzzword to collaborate.  I think things went much better since we were all able to edit the same doc.  Apple has made a fundamental mistake in their approach.  I’m sure it has something to do with getting whatever features they could out there as quickly as possible…and being Apple, trying to make it a coherent experience within the Apple universe.  The problem was that as the nexus of the sharing (and the only one with a mac) none of the other guys could edit the doc…all they could do was annotate the current version.   Then I’d fix things and post an updated version.  This proved to be a time consuming process.  In its defense,’s visual experience was somewhat better than buzzword…it makes for a great reader and annotation tool for the iwork applications.

Buzzword (also beta) proved to be a better experience for us as a team with respect to productivity.  I posted an initial set of thoughts in the case study and then each of the team members were able to edit the doc.  Although we weren’t able to simultaneously edit the same doc, it was pretty obvious when someone was editting and you were stuck viewing.  That also extended to annotating.  That’s one place where the iwork suite seemed to work as expected: we could always all annotate at the same time.

Buzzword’s UI was not completely intuitive.  I had my screen at full 16×9.  I wanted to add bullets and I went to the menus not seeing any available symbols.  This confused me for a second, because there was nothing there.  Then I noticed that over way way on the right, there were a bunch of symbols in a bar.  As I clicked them, actions under a particular symbol slid across the screen to rest themselves above my doc.  As I am willing to click on everything eventually I figured this out.  If my wife’s mother, who is somewhat computer-literate, was shown this she wouldn’t remember it to find it the next time. You can only take “learned” behavior in the user experience to a certain extent.  And although the symbols bar look cool, most people wouldn’t know what they meant.  This is particularly true of the stats bar at the bottom.  After about the 4th time I used it, I figured out that there was a history mechanism down there.  the symbol is a clock…huh? I hit it and it says “History”.  I keep thinking about less curious people seeing a clock and thinking “Time?”

Pasting from excel and word was a bit curious too.  It didn’t do exactly what we expected.  we couldn’t paste in a picture, we had to export it to jpg and import it into buzzword.  Excel tables only got put in as html like tables.  but it worked.

The export feature was quite good and the word docx that it generated needed only 1 slight modification to add a page break.

All in all though, for a project like this,  it did the job and quite smoothly for the team.  We’ll probably continue to use it.

Following…How Many?

In Random on March 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Somebody asked me this last week about how many people I follow on twitter.  I said “about a thousand.”  He then told me that he was going to focus down the number of people he was following, because of all the noise (like the notables: scoble, kawasaki et cetera who are more personalities in the extreme) and focus in on people who really have deeper thoughts.

I come down on it in a different way.  Since I use tweetdeck, I keep the everyone I’m following column on the right.   To me that’s like the ticker on the stock market or having the radio on in the car when you aren’t particularly paying attention.  It’s noise, but it’s accessible and ignorable noise.  I follow all different kinds of people: authors, musicians, seo coaches, marketers, self-proclaimed experts, liberal activists, conservative pundits, Mom’s running home businesses.   I’m not doing a deep dive on any of them.  They are the ticker.  In aggregate they are a slice of “what’s going on”.   I then create groups in tweetdeck, that I specifically want to see.  For example my colleagues at Intuit, another column of notable web2.0 twits, and then a couple of search columns on specific topics.  I also have the 12 second TV column up, as even more noise.

Truly, in a 140 characters, the only payback that I’d get from focusing my follow list is article links.  And you can solve that by having a good blog reader, since a lot of the pointers are to other people’s blogs.  one could use alltop and create a my alltop page or use igoogle or something.

I think the point of socialization is not to focus, it is to aggregate.  that’s a bit different.  If I see a Mom-preneur tweeting a similar topic to, lets say, a comedian, and let’s say a musician and a software engineer, there something there…Not sure what, but it’s like the ticker on CNBC.  I don’t have any holdings in insurance companies or oil rig equipment.  But the news going by might cause me to go google something at that moment that I didn’t know.

Anyway those are my thoughts.  Not deep thoughts, just a reaction to the question…


In Random on March 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm

So I joined  It seems like a great tool for both readers and writers.  You get to put in all the books you’ve ever read, rate them, and write reviews.  You can organize them into shelves. That’s nice and there are several services like that on the web that happen to attach to facebook.

The neat thing about this one though is that there is a forum for writers.  Basically if you have published something (like I have), you get to register as an author and you get an author page in which you can have a discussion, create events, have interviews list your profile et cetera.  You can even write little ditties and post them for review right there.

I have to admit, I was wondering what Amazon was going to do about supporting authors because on the kindle service you really get not much except the right to post.   So instead of Amazon doing anything now you have Goodreads.  It does have some competitors in this space which I have not investigated yet.

The nice thing is that it ties into Facebook which means free exposure.

Actually the goodreads author page is not dissimilar to a fan page on facebook, but they layout and look-n-feel is more geared toward the literary rather than the purely social billboard.

So if you get a chance go over there.  Also, friend me there as I’m always looking for suggestions about what to read next.  Maybe you’ll see a book in my list that you might want to take a look at.   I read a pretty wide range of stuff (and not too deep in any particular topic).   Also visit my author page, and if you have a kindle or an iphone, maybe you’ll consider buying my book (shameless plug…hey, I keep getting told that this is fair game in social networking 🙂  )


Social Media Jungle Wrapup

In Random on March 10, 2009 at 9:08 pm

So I spent the day at the Social Media Jungle event today in Waltham. We had a great set of mostly non powerpoint discussions about the magic that is going on by companies and people leveraging social media for personal as well as business reasons. We started by having @jeffpulver and @cc_chapman about the power of the various types of content that could be used.

We then had @rdale engage the crowd in a lively discussion about how the twitter stream could be used to essentially be the data store for all kinds of information that could be sliced and diced for various reasons. @philbog and @robertpila had some good questions for @rdale

We then had a discussion about aggregation and the compuserve generation run by @joecascio This got people discussing ping, sweetcron, friendfeed and of course facebook and twitter.

After that we had a panel discussion led by Doug Levin by two small businesses who started based on solving a problem through social media. The interesting thing was @runmyerrand where people basically post errands they’d like other people to run for them and then created a whole commerce engine based on credits that allows people to barter errands and other things.

Following that interesting discussion, @Pistachio got up and talked about social media and social good through non-profits. Her basic message, using twestival as a core of the discussion, is that the content you provide is what is important and how you put the idea out there. She also talked about pinkslipparty…it was a pretty interesting story about how a simple idea turned into a 45 person event complete with all kinds of services that the people who got pink slips could use.

One interesting discussion that was inspired @suzicraig was how people should be using twitter to start discussions and not just broadcast information. A flurry of tweets followed this one point, not just the discussion in the room.

@jeffpulver talked about pursuing passion and firing yourself.

@SteveGarfield then got up and talked about social media and its effect on journalism. did a great example of video streaming and at one point had us all take a picture of all his gadgets and simultaneously twitter our pictures.

@acce then got up and talked about how Intuit has been growing on social media.

@justinlevy talked about how he promotes his restaurant via a variety of social media including video podcasts related to foodie stuff but not directly related to his restaurant.

Then I had to leave to go back.

It was a inspiring talk not just for me as an Intuit Employee, but me as a person trying to market my book using these media.

BTW my twitpic stream should have a bunch of pictures of the event on it.



A new venue for my book…

In Random on March 7, 2009 at 5:48 am

Got an iphone? now’s the time…
Now people aren’t limited to having a kindle device to read my book…you have to be a kindle service customer but you can read it on your iphone…

BTW please visit my new website for my book

There’s only one other thing I’m thinking of doing.  I have a podcast page on my website and I think I’m going to start serially reading my book chapter by chapter for those who want to download.   Maybe one a week or so.  For free.  This ought to be interesting.  We’ll see.   For those who don’t have a device, this might be a different way of enjoying it.  I can’t have David McCollough read my book, so I’ll have to figure out how to do it…