Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Free sells…

In Random on December 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm

So after 3 days into the 5 day free promotion of my book Urtaru hundreds of copies did the digital equivalent of flying off the shelves in the US, UK and Germany.  

Obviously there’s always a catch…giving away something for free means that the only payback I get is goodwill and hope of a recommendation. Merry Christmas to all new readers. 

My master plan however is for Peter Jackson, George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg to be one of downloaders so the movie can be made.  Hey you gotta think BIG! 🙂

BTW if you want to read more about the book itself please stop by my website 

Kindle Fire 6.2.1 – Phew!

In Random on December 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

So with a month under my belt with the kindle fire I’m mostly happy.  Being a technologist I have to admit I was giving it a long leash to find its way.  There were some weirdnesses in the experience and some quirkiness it apps that were comparable to ones on my iPhone that started to get under my skin.  Then I saw that Amazon was rolling out an update.  

Amazon rolling out an update generally means that if I didn’t know about it I’d be pleasantly surprised when I got it, but knowing about it and waiting was not going to work.  So I downloaded the app myself to my Air and hooked the fire up to the USB and then it restarted twice as described in the faq.  

PHEW! was my reaction.  First off the most noticeable change was the responsiveness of the carousel on the landing page.  It is now useful.  Also double taps to open an app or a link work without me trying 3 times.  Like I said, I bought early and knew that this was going to happen, but I had almost given up hope.

The next thing was that the famous WSJ app no longer randomly hung or crashed.  Last night was the first night in a while, reading the days news where I never got stuck restarting the app after a few minutes of use.

Another thing that got much better was that on the carousel, I could remove things I didn’t want to see anymore.  

I’m still not happy with the way that certain fonts are rendered, the Facebook app looks all washed out.  However, I did notice that Silk started to get a little snappier.  Not sure why.  

I am starting to use it more and more at night while I’m watching TV as the device I look up stuff on rather than my Air (which I can leave attached to my Tbolt display in the other room).  

The point of this is that (as I pointed out when I bought the team iPad at my last job) was that the device is all about content consumption.  Sure sure you can use garageband on an iPad…but I’d rather use the full version on my Air and if I’m going to type a story or a blogpost, I still need a real keyboard until the virtual ones get a better tactile feel (or voice recognition or direct mind link replace them).

So thank you Amazon for fixing the fire early in its life. FREE for purchase fro

In Random on December 22, 2011 at 1:24 am FREE for purchase from Amazon till Xmas: Urtaru on Kindle – science fiction based on the armenian experience

A rubric to pick a president

In politics on December 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit the last few weeks as the Republican candidates jostle with each other over who’s the most appropriate candidate for the party.  I’ve come to some opinions on the matter which I will list here:

  • Religious affiliation is probably not going to make a better president.  I guess I care if the president is religious, but I don’t want his religion to be something he has to prove or try to convince me that we share beliefs.  Personally I’m very religious, but I don’t expect that out of everyone else.  In other words I don’t want a preacher- or priest-in-chief.
  • Having a business background of some sort is probably a good thing.  Being a corporate executive and never having any experience in government is a non-starter.  If you don’t know how the government works, you might run an effective campaign for a while (Herman Cain) because as an business executive you are trained at abstracting out the message and vision, but the skill set of a corporate executive is NOT the same as someone in government.  So for example,  while a corporation looks somewhat democratic in that shareholders vote, being a CEO of a company you don’t negotiate with the shareholders on a daily basis, like you do with congress.  And a Board of directors is NOT a representative legislature co-equal with your position.
  • Having only legislative experience on your resume will likely make you an ineffective president.  As I go through successful presidents from the the 1st Roosevelt on,  on average, presidents who were previously governors made more effective chief executives (from the perspective of getting their agenda through congress) than legislators who become presidents.  So I equate Obama to Lyndon Johnson.  Johnson was a very effective Senator.  He was a terrible president.  The similarities are striking of course:  Both had wars they inherited, both were previously senators (albeit Johnson more experienced) both started their time with a major legislative victory (civil rights vs healthcare) which forced the courts to deal with the constitutionality of those pieces of law.   And then they were basically ineffective.  There was no second act.  I think candidates who have experience as governors tend to have the patience to nurture their agenda and to stick with it for years.  I say “tend to” because there are notable exceptions to this like Jimmy Carter.
  • A great resume doesn’t make an effective president.   This is the case against only collateral experience.  Just because you did something (cabinet secretary, ambassador, head of an emergency effort, even a corporate turnaround) doesn’t mean you’ll be an effective president.  It’s nice to have those skills, but it is incomplete without other qualities.
  • Being a college professor or having a really good grasp of history won’t necessarily make you a better president.  It is a tool that can help, and being well read is a must, but it can’t replace other qualities.
  • Military experience like being a good historian is a good quality to have, but is NOT a pre-requisite.  That idea fell out of the 18th and 19th centuries when soldiers fought soldiers.  These days we send drones in.  I have yet to see a candidate who has effectively led drones into battle and made decisions based on that.  Wars now destroy cities and civilians from an AWACS in addition to sending in ground troops.  The civilian who was bombed has “war” experience and had to make decision about their and their family’s survival.    Having experience in battle doesn’t mean you have the fiscal, political or executive experience commensurate with being a president.   It always help to have some, but it isn’t a pre-requisite.

So if I had to sort of list presidents for effectiveness based on these qualities–

Mostly effective presidents (this doesn’t mean you have to agree with their policies…just that they got things on their agenda done over a sustained period — in reverse chronological order):

  • Bush II
  • Clinton
  • Reagan
  • Nixon (big caveat goes with this one)
  • Eisenhower
  • FDR
  • Coolidge
  • TR

Ineffective or less than successful presidents (it doesn’t mean they were bad people…they even could have each had a great leadership event/moment we can study, but it wasn’t sustained effectiveness – in reverse chronological order)

  • Obama
  • Bush I
  • Carter
  • Ford
  • Johnson
  • Kennedy (this one gets a star with notes)
  • Truman
  • Harding
  • Wilson
  • Taft

Given this sort of model, you can probably put together a table and rate each of the candidates (including the current office holder) against these and see where it takes you.   I did it and eliminated all of them at first 🙂   You have to go with you gut once you apply your own model.


In Random on December 8, 2011 at 2:06 am

So I was driving to work this morning.

The rain had just started as a few small drops on my windshield.

As I drove past the houses in my neighborhood, I noted that the trees were devoid of leaves.

Since we were in late fall, the natural expectation was that they’d be on the ground in people’s yards, in bags in front of their houses, in the gutters along the streets, or filling the rain gutters of the houses.

Maybe even on roofs, near the splits common on many new england homes.  A place for leaves to gather to mark the season and to annoy the residents.

But this morning, not many a leaf in sight.

Oh sure, in the brush between some houses there were some caught in the weeds and tall grass.

However because of the long warm fall this year the trees, lawns, gutters, rain gutters and roofs – all clean.

Just an observation that I needed to record.