Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Well, it’s official. Have to move my we

In Apple iCloud, Business & Finance, career, Random, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on June 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Well, it’s official. Have to move my websites off of MobileMe. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4686…I want a refund not just instructions:-(

Father’s Day…

In Random on June 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

We called my father “Baba”.  This being amusing to the other kids we grew up with, some of them took to calling him “Baba” since that was easier than “Mr. Chakmakjian”.  I remember, he called his own father “Baba” also.

In some ways, my father was “Baba”  to all of whom he crossed paths.  He was always fixing something, trying to sort out the mechanical hindrances of the American lifestyle he adopted.  He spent a lot of time in flannel shirts.  But there was something else he talked about infrequently.  A lifestyle he gave up years before in order to pursue the American Dream.  Whenever I see that picture, I crack up.   He had this “David Niven” thing going.  He told me that the Arabs he worked with in Palestine and Jordan when he was growing up said he was like the British, cool as a cucumber.  It wasn’t that he was passive, he just smiled and tried not to lose his cool.  This was an obvious contrast to the in-your-face bravado of the desert/city culture he grew up in.  The juxtaposition of the steelworker in his shop uniform or his plaid flannel shirts and jeans and these, dare I say it, Hollywood promo photos was stark.  He lived two different lives in one life.

My father was the type of guy who did not intimidate.  He wasn’t huge, and he wasn’t loud.  He was serious and smiling at the same time.  He was extremely intelligent and could express himself in 6 languages, fluently and idiomatically.  He loved to teach people things.  He loved to fix things.  Whenever he was working on a project, he’d sit and think about it a bit (with the inevitable cigarette in his hand), and then try something.  He only did things in one or two shots and got it to work by the second.   He’d build his own scaffolding so that he could paint the house.  I’d be scared to get up on it, and I’m not afraid of heights…

One of the things he was most proud of was his mathematical ability.  He didn’t know calculus or differential equations. He never got that far in school given his situation.  But he used to show his calculations to figure out how much steel he passed through his grinding machine and he had this way of doing subtraction by doing addition.  Blank plus 3 yields 8, therefore 5 (as opposed to the way I was taught, 8 minus 3 gets you 5).  His way, he didn’t have to worry about borrowing from the next column.  He tried to teach me that way and said it was faster…which it was, but then calculators became ubiquitous.  He was proud of his math because he saw the guys in his shop round down by dropping the decimal places.  This drove him batty.  They’d get their math done, and he’d look at them and say, “you’re throwing away money on every bar of steel.”  They didn’t believe him, but it was tough being smarter than the average “Joe”.

When it came to kids, he’d get right down on the floor and start investigating what they were doing, and another teaching session would occur. Building things was something he could really get into.

He took every correspondence course that was available.  Build your own stereo, upholstery, start a business making rubber stamps, Charles Atlas (yes it wasn’t just an ad in comic books).  Nothing ever became of these attempts at the time, but years later, when I’d pick through these boxes in the attic I’d find things and start experimenting with them.  The stamp press was my favorite.  You took printsetting letters, built up a form and pressed it out in the rubber in a heating machine.  I was the only kid in grammar school with a stamp with my name on it.

The stereo and speakers eventually became my first tube amplifier for my electric guitar.  We took these pretty cool woofer with inline tweeter speakers, built them into a plywood box and I’d drag this around to events.  The cool thing was that it was stereo, so I could do interesting things like voice in one speaker and guitar in the other…or distortion in one speaker, flanger in the other.  You could get some cool effects.  The effects of uncovering these experiments in the attic probably led me to a career in engineering…but he never ever told me “you should do this or that.”   The funny thing about building that amplifier was that all day long he kept sipping at this coffee.  He was on his 3rd cup when my mother came down into the basement.   “What are you doing”

“We’re building an amplifier for my guitar.”

“Oh.”  She called him Hovsep, for Joseph in Armenian.  “Hovsep, where did you get this coffee?”

“From upstairs.”

“OOF, that’s not coffee, IT’S COFFEE CLEANER”

“Really? I was wondering why it seemed a bit weak.”

I burst out laughing. Cast iron stomach.

Anyway, another funny thing about my father is he always had to be fixing something.  On one visit to us one summer, oh about 5:30 in the morning, we get woken up to this loud metal clanging in our backyard.   My wife and I look out our bedroom window and can’t see anyone out there, but the clanging is getting intense.  Then I look down at the lower part of our yard which we call “the pit”  and I see the inevitable smoke from his cigarette through the bushes that obscure the dropoff into the pit.   I run downstairs, through the door into the backyard, across the patio, down the stone steps into the pit.  “Baba, what are you doing? it’s 5:30am!”

“I’m building a rock wall, your soil is going to run off.”

I shook my head.  “Well can you do it without banging  metal against the rocks?  You’ll wake up the neighbors.”

He snorted, smiled and nodded his head and continued to work less noisily.  Always fixing something with a smile.

Scott Adams must have a new found respect for PHB’s today…

In Random on June 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

I was shocked, SHOCKED that the boss was right and Dilbert was wrong 🙂

Dilbert.com

Don’t know why this appeared in my brain tonight: Lovesong Of J Alfred Prufrock- T.S. Eliot

In Random on June 11, 2011 at 3:36 am

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Apple iCloud – the dark lining in the Silver Cloud

In Apple iCloud, iPad, Literature, Science Fiction, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on June 7, 2011 at 2:55 am

So I just sat through the 2 hour presentation of Lion, iOS5 and iCloud.  I’m left with some mixed feelings about the whole thing.  Lion will be cool, and iOS5 is starting to catch up to the feature set I have on my android phone (like a drag down notification center).    iCloud feels like it is very cool, and is the next step to data ubiquity…except…

I am a self published author as well as a Sunday School teacher.  I maintain 2 sites using the current mobileme (going back as far as the .Mac version of apple’s cloud services) features and iWeb. One of them is my book web presence, and the other is the content I keep for my Sunday School students.

I also maintain a small public directory of documents and things on my iDisk that I share.

The fact that I’ve now got a brick for a 160GB AppleTV and now I might have to move my websites really makes my Net Promoter for apple’s cloud very low…possibly negative.   While I believe that sun-setting products is inevitable (hey I’m in the web and software industry), I feel that Apple doesn’t give their early adopters any sort of salve for their wounds.

I just entered a feedback message of “very dissatisfied” on the MobileMe site…Steve you are really killing me this evening.  After that presentation, as a shareholder I said Yay…as a customer I say BOO!