Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

A week at home – technical analysis

In Random on September 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm

So I had an operation earlier this week and under doctor’s orders I stayed home. In this case the doctor gave me worst case scenarios about what the recovery from a simple day surgery would be. It sounded like one of those drug commercials where they tell you everything that could go wrong. Well for the most part he was right, I felt like crap for a couple of days and still feel it when I try acting out my normal quick start and stop pace.

During that week, I did a bunch of sedentary things. For example, I continued to explore OSX lion user features on my Air, played angry birds on my iPhone, downloaded a couple of apps to both. I did homework for the classes that I had to skip assiduously taking notes with my new echo pen. I monitored our Friday release using our corp IM tool. I continued my love affair with reading on my Kindle DX. Most days it was my subscriptions to Reuters and Atlantic magazine. However, this week I also started to play with a thing called Instapaper, where I create my own set of reading gets loaded directly to the kindle from web pages that I tell it to copy down.

Oh yeah I also watch Zuckerberg try to be Jobs and I was underwhelmed by Timeline. Oooo you have every transaction I’ve done in a database and you’re going to allow me to go back based on time and see things rather than scrolling! Awesome, I might go give up my horse and drive a car too! The open graph stuff was somewhat interesting, but I yawn. And Serendipity is when you don’t expect something and it was lucky and pleasant, not stalk people looking for their music and play it. That’s just stalking.

I also read a book, yes a real book. A colleague gave me a book on my departure from Intuit called “The Art of Choosing”. The coincidence of taking my 2 marketing classes this semester (Strategic Marketing and Marketing Research) and a book about how humans make choices was interesting. By the way, thank you for the book, Depankar, it was excellent.

The one area that disappointed me this week was that I was supposed to get my new 27″ Thunderbolt display yesterday, but UPS informed me that there was “an exception”. My reaction was to want them to employ an exception handler and deliver my new display immediately, but they didn’t and now I have to wait for them to bring it at some time next week. Sigh. I was really looking forward to it. I bought a new desk and set up in a new place in the house that’s perfect for me to do work and hide the work in between study sessions. Of course the display would be showing, but I’d put up pictures on it so that it appeared to be a giant montage of my life (or something).

Anyway, in the process of sitting there, I wrote another episode in our ongoing story of the USS Washington. There’s time travel involved. And then this morning I suddenly figured out what had been eluding me for several weeks on book 2 of the Urtaru series. I had been taking the tack of a terrorist/freedom fighter route for the main character’s dilemma. But technology, the discovery this week of neutrinos that move faster than c (meaning possibly moving back and forth in time) and my own fascination with the possibilities of time travel all coalesced into “the secret” the that second of 3 would be telling the 3rd of three. It all suddenly made sense. How could the child know something about his father that he was bound to keep secret. I’m going to avoid the machine as enemy terminator stuff, and focus on the human psychology of getting a message from the past (or sending one to the future) that might change the course of events.

Anyway, that’s my week.

Instapaper and my Kindle

In Random on September 21, 2011 at 4:12 am

So there are things you learn on Google+ that I don’t see the equivalent of on my Facebook feed.   There are times where there’s a public article or some content on the web that I want to read, but I don’t have the time.  I could save a bookmark, and read it later.  Then you get a cluttered list of bookmarks and then you have to manage your bookmarks blah blah blah.  And some of those long articles or blog posts might be better rendered on a kindle.

There’s this new toy out there called that might come to the rescue.   Basically its a web page clipper.  Now you can do this with evernote (which I have started using in combination with a Google+ circle with my evernote email address as the only member).  The one difference here is that this allows you to send a subscription to your Kindle wirelessly (you still have to pay amazon for this part)…You could do put it on the kindle via USB but it is typically awkward drag and drop.

So what happens.  You have a button/bookmark on your browser that saves the article to   As long as the article is one web page, it gets put in a feed on the instapaper site.  You then set up instapaper to send the article to your kindle using your kindle’s unique email address.  You set up the frequency to 1 day or 1 week, and then if and only if there are new articles, they get sent to your kindle.  Now the neat thing here is that similar to the Reader function on Safari, it strips away all the ads    and you get to read them as if you had gotten a subscription to a magazine or newspaper on your kindle.   You get to read the web in E-Ink at your leisure.  One drawback: unlike safari reader it doesn’t yet understand multipage articles…a future feature according to their FAQ.

It’s kinda kool…

You can also have it direct stuff to evernote or Facebook or twitter too.  check it out. (or if you don’t believe me you could also read this article which may have a better explanation).

Anger still fresh 10 years later…

In Random on September 11, 2011 at 5:33 am

I knew someone on flight 11.  I won’t go into the story how I saw them the day before on sept 10th and how I found out the day after.

I will tell you that when I saw the United flight crash into tower 2 my reaction was to say out loud, “this is beyond Sumter, beyond Pearl Harbor.  These guys are nuts…they really don’t know what they’ve just done.”  I hadn’t yet heard about flight 77 and 93…they only confirmed it…

I was very angry.  I was crying for the people on the planes (still not knowing my colleague was on it) and in the buildings as I was driving home early.  Imagine, that day was planned layoffs and an announcement of a pay cut that was in progress when we got word that something was happening.  Of course the company stopped both things temporarily.

I was pissed.  I wanted us to blow up a country, maybe a religious site in a tit-for-tat.

I also knew that the backlash would come.  I remembered the 444 day hostage crisis in 1979.  I knew that I looked middle eastern and would get some trouble, stupid comments, harassment.  At that time I protested that I was born here, I was American.  No I wasn’t Iranian.  No I wasn’t a muslim. I was Catholic.  I was Armenian.   These explanations were to no avail at that time 21 years before.   And it did happen again.

That night I barely slept.  The next day I went into work.  I was told my colleague was on the plane.  I went back to my cube and fell in my chair…shock overwhelmed me.  I called my wife.

This time people pulled out flags.  We put one up on our house.  I put one on my wife’s car to protect her..  I wore my 1700 year old design cross on the outside of my shirt at times.  But I was getting worried about the almost mindless flag waving.  The flag waving was a poor substitute for vigilance against our sworn enemies.

10 years later, I’m watching the 9/11 commission report on CNBC as I write this.  I’m watching the bumbling and bungling of the FAA, the CIA, TWO administrations leading up to that day.   I think about taking off my shoes at the airport last week when I went to Chicago.  I watched my 16-year-old son get his bag swiped on his first flight since he was 1.5 years old.  He never knew a day where you just got on a plane easily.

Life has changed.  Bin-Laden is dead, but the mindless hatred of the United States and the western world still exists.  The Arab spring is NOT a movement leading toward a more egalitarian and democratic set of governments.  It will be 1848 in Europe all over again which led to a deeper darker nationalism that would eventually result in WWI.  This time it will be a massive fall back into the Muslim 15th century of theocracies.  and this time with a suddenly hairy chested China provoking things, oddly in the face of  that same problem on and inside their borders.

On TV now, they just got to Tower 2 going down.  And now Tower 1.  Anger.  A debrief of a police officer who was in tower 1 evacuating people when it came down.

Anger.  And deep sadness.  Anger at our enemies, and the bunglers in the government and our own complacency.  Sadness when I hear the stories of families that talked to loved ones on cell phones minutes before they lost them.  Sadness that we let this happen.

Two blown up countries later, several downed regimes and a world economy stagnated we finally killed the mastermind 15 years too late.  Yes 15 years.

Anger and Sadness…I think of the firefighters over and over, running into the burning towers as people were descending.   Proud of them because they represent what we are all supposed to be as Americans.   We go in when no one else can or will.

We have survived pure hatred.  But it persists.

Eventually we will fix the buildings, the economy, and our restore our way of life…or maybe transcend into a better one.   But in the meantime, we have to be vigilant.    God Bless (and protect) America.