Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page


In career, College, Random on October 26, 2011 at 4:32 am

So here’s the kind of evening I had.

Just before my class tonight I was doing homework at the Lower Cafe at Bentley.  I saw a flaw in my calculations of some statistics that I had done over the weekend and emailed my team members that I figured out what was wrong with our answer.  Then I went to class.

I got back the results of a Marketing Research quiz, that I took a week ago on the night of the tough day at work.  I screwed up one page of the quiz, by misinterpreting the question and leaving some things blank I thought from my misreading of the instructions. Grade will be fine, but ego was slightly bruised by “Good Grief just write in SOMETHING!” comment from the professor in red pen.

Came home shaking my head. “I was distracted,” I lamented.  Explained this situation to my younger son.  He was sympathetic. About an hour later he asks me (as I’m just about to go to bed) about Beta decay and radiation.  After looking at the problem for a couple of minutes, 30-year-old college physics begins rise like a ghost in my brain.  Explained the math, then used an analogy “Take the expression ‘knock the cover off a ball’ as what is happening in the Thorium nucleus…a neutron is a baseball…the beta particle is the cover, and what your left with is proton after the negatively charged “cover” is knocked off …the reason this happens is because this is an unstable atom with too many neutrons…now you have one more proton but the mass of the atom is the same…it just happens to be protactinium instead of thorium once the event is over.”

He seemed satisfied by my explanation and the rest of the problems made sense after that.  Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I screw up a simple “explain the problem with this statement” question in marketing class one week and then figure out how to explain nuclear decay to my son as I’m ready to fall asleep.

In the meantime, I just noticed my character in the star trek sim I’m a part of  has had a session with the ships counselor…


IOS5/OSX.7.2/iCloud reactions

In Apple iCloud, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on October 15, 2011 at 12:44 am

OK so I’ve spent the last day updating my devices and data to the new model.  My overall reaction is Apple once again (just like the .mac to MobileMe transition) is yet to really understand the cloud and the expectation of uptime that each of these transitions requires.  Don’t feel so bad.  Intuit, has gone through the same transition.  The basic fact is that Apple is a device and device software company trying to turn itself into a cloud entity.  It wants to be Amazon or Google by approaching that from its product base which is terminal products (am I dating myself with that terminology?).   Intuit similarly is going through that transition…they have been approaching it from the desktop financial products…adding cloud-ish features and capabilities and hoping the that customers will eventually transition to the cloud versions of their products.  Truly, Microsoft is going through that same transition with OfficeLive.

You have to start somewhere.

That being said, I’m still a bit sore with Apple about a couple of things.  The first being them abandoning the OSX version of the Apple TV.  I’ve got a brick now, that’s the dilemma of the early adopter…it’s the chance I take of course.  I’m also sore that my $99 a year MobileMe subscription will become free, while the thing I’ve paid for (web hosting and syncing of my device settings) will be going away next June for free syncing in the cloud of my secondary information (music and photos).

Anyway, since I’m a technologist and an early adopter, I complain briefly and then enthusiastically try the next thing, adjusting my world view to the new products.

So knowing that October 12 was going to be the day I would get iOS5 on my recently purchased iPhone 4, I spent most of the east coast morning in iTunes hitting “Update” waiting for it to tell me that I was ready to move from 4.2 to 5.0.   Then suddenly the machine told me that I needed to update to iTunes 10.5.  So I did that.

Once that was loaded and installed, about every 15-30 minutes I hit the same button in iTunes and nada, I was at the most recent rev of iOS available.  Then I read a blog post saying that the expected time was 1pm Eastern.  Crap, I had a meeting at 1.  Hit the button once at 1PM (no dice again) and then during a quick bio break at 1:20 came back and this time it began to download.

About 40 minutes later came back to my cube and the update had downloaded and was waiting for me to agree to terms.  Well of course.  Then while the device was updating I hit the “Software Update” on my MacBook Air and noticed that there were updates to Lion (10.7.2) and iPhoto (to support photo streaming)…so I began to load them onto the MBA.

When the iOS5 update loaded, I told it to go ahead.  5 times it crapped out just after the backup and just as it started the restore.  Someone else with an iPhone 4 across from me said he blew away his iPhone (hitting the restore to factory settings) and that seem to be the trick.  He warned me to save away my backups…but I am intrepid so I killed the iPhone4 and then when it restored, it brought in iOS5 automagically and yay! I was up.

Well sorta.  Now I needed to update to iCloud and I couldn’t do that until my MBA was updated.  Just about this time the download of 10.7.2 finished and I told it to start.  then another meeting (hey I work for a living).  I came back about an hour later and the machine was asking me whether I wished to reboot and I said yes.  several minutes later, 10.7.2 was running.  I brought up the new iPhoto and it pleaded with me that if I wanted to use PhotoStreaming I needed to move to iCloud.  my phone was complaining about a similar thing.  Both kept complaining that my MobileMe password was failing.  Now I was starting to get concerned.

When I walked through the online iCloud migration it would get to the final screen and then crap out.  Both me and the other guy were seeing the same thing.  We rightly attributed it to the fact that once again, apple the device mfg had failed to have enough capacity to handle the millions of us doing the same thing at the same time.  By about this time, I was ready to go to school.  I went to class that night and went through the iCloud wizard a couple of more times and concluded that until the west coast went to sleep I wasn’t going to get satisfaction.  I did notice that the new reminder app on my phone wasn’t getting any of my MobileMe reminders from iCal.  I tried a couple of more times at midnight.  Still nothing (hey that’s 9:00PM on the west coast).  Went to bed.

Wednesday morning I couldn’t play but I did notice that my phone was still complaining about my MobileMe password failing.  I was using those credentials to log into MobileMe so I attributed this to the aforementioned “not ready for prime time” bugs.   I went to work.  By about 10:30 AM I had tried 3 times to do the iCloud transition and still got errors.  Then suddenly about 11AM voi la! it converted.  Suddenly my mac and my phone were in sync in calendars, reminders and music.  Very nice.  Now the difficult part.  I still had 2 mac’s to go.  My work desktop and my old MacBook Pro.  I figured I do my personal machine first so that evening I updated that to 10.7.2 and I was up.  Then I noticed that some reminders and appointments were duplicated in iCal (Arrgh).  killed a couple and then things seemed to make sense again.

The following day I updated my desktop at work.  This was a bit fraught with peril since I was updating something w/o support.    I was told that I might have active directory problems.  Didn’t happen and the update happened.  Since I had only recently migrated from windows to the mac at work, I had little info on the new machine so the mac osx apps got what I wanted and caused no duplication.

At this point everything is up, things are working and I’m here typing on my MBA and my iPhone 4 is on the desk.   I’m afraid of one thing though…my old AppleTV is downstairs.  I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get to it.  is it going to barf on its iTunes connections?  We’ll see.

So here’s my thumbs ups after the transition

Thumbs up:

  • reminder app and sync across all devices
  • recently purchased on iTunes (music on my machine without syncing with a wire)
  • Photostream (kinda, for new pictures, see thumbs down)
  • iOS5 iWork apps and icloud backups (bought them last night, but see thumbs down)
  • New iOS5 reminders.  This is really nice…except (see td)
  • the drawdown reminder gesture on the regular display on the phone.  Very Nice.
Thumbs down:
  • iWork Desktop apps don’t speak to iCloud (updated thinking they would, my bad)
  • Photostream doesn’t automagically (or even ask) to move MobileMe galleries to photo stream
  • The whole software update process overwhelmed apple backbone
  • reminders on the lock screen don’t drill down automatically (why did I think they would)
  • Since I don’t have an iPhone 4S (and Siri)  the rest of the features were cool but not earth shattering.
Overall I’m happy to move forward. I still have to deal with the iWeb mess and my Apple TV and I wish the desktop iWork would talk to the content created on the phone…I just updated and they’ll charge me 20 bucks more when that comes up no doubt.
Anyway there it is… RIP Steve Jobs

In Random on October 6, 2011 at 12:27 am RIP Steve Jobs


In Random on October 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm

So I’ve been contemplating the drone war, and in particular this recent killing of an American citizen in the midst of war. He was a Tim McVeigh …but the difference was whether he had had his rights abused in his killing.

I remember a op-ed piece in the WSJ back in 2004 when John Kerry was running for President. The opinion of the writer at the time was that Al Gore, being a Democrat and not a hawk, would have actually attacked Afghanistan in a week rather than in a month like the Bush Administration did. Why? The writer pointed out the Nixonian analogy. Only Nixon, the ardent anti-communist, could have the standing to go to China. In the case of Bush and October 2001 the writer meant that a Democrat would not have been criticized for acting too soon, since they weren’t associated with being “war-like”.

I thought about it at the time and sort of agreed. And I see the analogy now with the drone war. The Bush Administration was already accused of escalating conflict (with Iraq) beyond the reasonable. If they had called on an all out drone war (which they seem to have avoided in the waning days of the administration), they’d have been accused of all the crimes that they already had been. Obama has the cover of saying, “We’re leaving Iraq, We’re going to leave Afghanistan by December Nth” and then launching operations that were even more questionable in their propriety.

Anyway, I think that in this particular case, the Obama administration is doing the right thing. If we are truly at war (meaning congress has given the president the right to conduct operations), then killing Al Qaida operatives, especially high ranking ones, is no different than targeting Admiral Yamamoto as he flew in a plane in the Solomon Islands during WWII. However, if congress does NOT think we are at war, then the president is working outside his authority.

Really, this isn’t the administration’s call. The republican House and the Democratic Senate would have to say “No Terror War”, so that the President would have to stop. The likelihood of this is small, for a multitude of political reasons.

So killing Al-Alwaki (or whatever his name is), is justified in the context of war, unless and until the Congress (house and senate) tell the president to stop.