Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

In and out of phones…

In Apple iCloud, Business & Finance, iPad, Literature, Random, Science Fiction, technology on February 1, 2014 at 8:59 am

It’s fairly interesting to watch google go in and out of the handset part of the business. First the g1, then the nexus, then buying Motorola. I’m sure by holding a bunch of the patents while selling off the design and manufacturing they end up as a handset patent troll. Or, there might be something more basic going on. While android has dominated the handset market for a couple of years as a software platform, this could mean that, yes, apple did win the phone wars with their integrated solution from a brand POV. And the other thing is that palpable is that google wants to be seen as a leader in wearable computing (google glass for example) locking up more patents before there is even a market.

That transition from handset to wearable technology may be where google sees the future. But from a user experience and branding POV, the 800lb gorilla, with the closed ecosystem, with throngs of acolytes and believers, Apple, has yet to enter the fray. Whatever apple does, it will not be clunky but cool technology (Like glass), it will not be open and have 73 version (like android), it will not be “and us too” like chrome books.

The sand in the ointment here is AppleTV. There seem to be a lot of them out there now but of all of apple’s products, it is the most like a google product. It never made the transition to ubiquitous use. Many people use it for getting to Netflix or mirroring their iPad or laptop screens. They use it as a technology rather than central hub. So I had an idea…a while ago…

In my scifi novel (which I wrote in 2007 and published in 2008) I speculated on a technology called a comm pad. It was a large wrist display somewhat like a handset or even a QBs Velcro wrist play book. When entering a room on a ship or in a building there was always a large display on the wall. The characters would often be talking to or tapping on their wrist display and looking up stuff in the field, but in a room their wrist display interacted with the large display on the wall. You could control the large display from your wrist as well as mirror what you saw on your wrist on the the wall. When you interacted with the large display directly, some relevant things would be sent to the wrist device. In some ways my idea was more like a microsoft’s windows 8 ui on the wall and on the wrist. Both devices knew about each other and the users use model and would work together

I think that’s ultimately how all these devices should work together. They act as an integrated experience, like one device that knows about you and puts the relevant information you’ve requested on the display most appropriate for you to consume it on. Look something up on your wrist, it’s a large map, the wall display shows it. Interact with your calendar on the wall, the wrist device reflects the change. For example…

Anyway, just musing over my Saturday morning coffee…

Thinking in Systems: A Primer Donella Meadows

In Business & Finance, career, College, history, Kindle, technology on March 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

During my marketing course last year, while studying conscious capitalism and other topics related to a changes in the perception of corporate responsibility and stakeholder interests, the professor recommended that we read Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows.  The editor writes at the beginning of the book about how this book was in draft form and circulated informally until the writer died unexpectedly in 2001.  Donella Meadows also was a lead author The Limits to Growth, published in 1972.  I’ve been reading this over a few weeks on my kindle.  Here are my reactions:

I am fascinated by how obvious (to an engineer) what she was writing is.  The kinds of decisions about hardware, software, cost and people that I’ve had to make over the years are not generally simple decisions and you have to pick which ones you worry about at any point and which risks you are willing to take on.  To some extent it falls into the butterfly flapping its wings in the amazon concept (e.g. the movement in the wind there causes a snowflake in Alaska)

Anyway, we’ve been on this scrum kick at work, and have seen some benefit to it in our ability to iterate over a problem quickly and change course if new data appears.  Meadows addressed this issue and the justification for going to scrum about 1/3 of the way through the book:

“Self-organization is such a common property, particularly of living systems that we take it for granted.  If we didn’t we’d be dazzled by the unfolding systems of our world.  And if we weren’t blind to the property of self-organization, we would do better at encouraging, rather than destroying the self-organizing capacities of the systems of which we are a part….

…Self-organization produces heterogeneity and unpredictability.  It is likely to come up with whole new structures, whole new ways of doing things.  It requires freedom and experimentation, and a certain amount of disorder.  These conditions that encourage self-organization often can be scary for individuals and threatening to power structures.”

The difficulty is that self-organization in the office, where centralized hierarchical control is exercised because of the financial, organizational and legal constraints, will cause conflict.  The two systems can not comfortably co-exist.  The whole organism has to be reactive to self-organization or highly organized system will snuff out the self-organizing entity or itself.  That’s reality.  Just because I could have a bunch of people work on something cool doesn’t mean there is a the greater organization understands or can support the market to sell it into or a capital structure to support it.  This is why Google works.  To some extent, the had been self organizing from the beginning and the incentive structure for their employees were based on the idea that a good idea needs to work its way through to live or die.   That’s not to say that a highly structured organization like Microsoft or IBM doesn’t works (or the companies that I worked for in the past)…its just that those entities force (and to some extent expect) after hours creativity that isn’t sanctioned.  I think of the fact that Lotus Notes was built on the work on the Plato system that guys at Digital and Data general tried to introduce into those companies and neither company saw fit to fund it…even when THE collaborative tool used within DEC for people to work on was VMS Notes.  A tool like Notes created in an environment like Google would have had a very different history (AKA the Lotus moniker may have never been attached to it and maybe DEC or DG would have become quite different companies than they both ended up…absorbed into HP and EMC).   The self-organizing reaction to things like Notes was people willing to leave a company and start their own because the system within which they were working didn’t allow it during business hours.

So I guess I’m bought in to the agile thing from a systems analysis point of view because it is real.    Self-organization can occur within an organization and will either be intrinsic to that organization (like Google) or be spawned off by an organization (as the self-organizing entity will be inconsistent with that greater organization’s ability to exert control)

Random thoughts over my Panera bread breakfast.

Google Chrome Beta for the Mac

In technology, web 2.0 on December 18, 2009 at 4:10 am

So I spent some time tonight using Google Chrome Beta for the Mac.  I use Chrome (as well as every other browser except opera) on a daily basis on my windows machine at work.  On my personal mac, I had Safari and FF3 on the mac side, and IE8 and Chrome on the XP partition.

For those who read my comments on Chromium…this is different than that.  Chromium is a whole operating system with a UI that is a browser.   This is just a browser running on Snow Leopard (AKA MacOSX 10.6.2).

I use Safari most of the time on my mac, but use IE when I need to do stuff on the xp partition for school.  I also notice that when I use the outlook web version for work, it just works nicer on IE8 than on safari.

So, as I said, tonight I loaded Chrome on OSX.  I have to say its pretty fast.  I’d even venture to say that blew safari’s doors off on javascript intensive sites.  Just to see what would happen, I went to mobileme and the beta site.  Mobileme rendered flawlessly, while came up and complained that chrome wasn’t supported.  nevertheless it allowed me to continue and worked ok…although it got hung up a couple of times.

I’m going to use it for a few days and see what happens.  I like safari (although there aren’t the multitude of plug-ins like on firefox) and it tends to work fine and fast. definitely faster that FF.  But this chrome beta screams in comparison to Safari on some sites…

I tried FB, twitter, mobileme,, linkedin, my yahoo, yahoo mail, yahoo finance, digg, authonomy,, googlewave, igoogle, wsjonline, and wordpress.  All seemed to work just fine.

Anyway, if you have a mac, and you see the invitation when on a google site (gmail or whatever) download it and see what happens.


In technology, web 2.0 on December 15, 2009 at 4:52 am

So I upgraded my old t-mobile htc g1 to a verizon motorola drrrroiddddd this past weekend.  It’s an awesome upgrade.  the G1 was dying under the weight of the software upgrades on 1.6 and the newer apps.  And t-mobile’s phone coverage was adequate but spotty.  Verizon’s phone coverage is much better.

Anyway the first thing i noticed was that battery life was way way way better than the year old G1.  This is expected from a year old phone battery, but the change was dramatic.  In fact i have yet to turn off 3g service, so they’ve figured out how to keep it up without me charging the battery once a day (that was the case with the G1 even in the early days).

All the other wireless settings (bluetooth, GPS and wifi) were setup the same, but seem for some reason to be more sensitive.  I can’t tell if that is true, but the setup for my wifi never misses…as soon as i enter the house, switch to wifi from 3g.  The G1 would do it intermittently.

Google maps with voice. awesome.  Used it already.

facebook app, (seems to have more features than on the G1), came up within a few clicks.

BAD Very BAD….yahoo email service is gone.   I’ve been all over the net and tried all the remedies, but it will not connect to yahoo.  I can go through the browser of course, but that means I can’t see email notifications.  I can pay yahoo $20 a year for pop service.  but why?   I also noticed that the yahoo browser program no longer is downloadable on the droid market.  C’mon guys, get along…

gmail works great and every time I get a message DRRROIDDDD…it is kinda funny.

I use Moxier mail to get my work email.  I can’t figure out Verizon.  They are SO NICKEL and DIME.  If I use their email program, I get charged for activesync like $30 a month or something.  But if I use my own program free…watch, they’ll cut me off now that I’ve talked about it.  I pay for unlimited internet so don’t touch it.  Don’t mess with me, I have followers of my blog, facebook, twitter and on YouTube you know.   And I play the guitar, so I’ll write a verizon nickel and dime ballad and sing it for the masses!

The phone has a 5mp camera.  I can’t imagine what the photos and videos are going to be like, but i can see doing more stuff.

One massive advantage for those of us luddites who like bluetooth, but still have wired full headgear with a boom mic, there’s an actual jack.  And not the usb appendage on the G1 that prevented you from charging and using a wired headset at the same time.

Oh did I say that QuickBase works great on the mini-chrome browser?  reports look pretty good and most forms come up in looking good.  On the G1 version of the browser (with the slightly smaller screen size) QuickBase forms seemed to go over the right edge of the screen a little bit if they were complicated.

On the suggestion of a friend, I loaded google sky maps.   it is awesome.  Now all I need is a clear sky app 🙂

With the deal/plan I got, I have visual voicemail.  Waiting for someone to leave me a voicemail 🙂

OK so the one thing that this cannot do is play my relatively vast iTunes library.    Oh well.   I’ll probably load imeem again or something to get the doobie brothers channel or something so that I can get some of my music.  I can put some on a card, or buy songs from amazon, but I just can’t see it.  not worth it.

One extremely awkward thing.  You can’t get to the dialer directly from the main screen like you could from the G1 button panel.  This proves to be rather annoying.  You have to (unless you have the bluetooth earpiece on) hit the home button and then select phone.   This is rather annoying.  C’mon google/motorola, some of us still call people from a phone…

All in all I’m pretty excited.  I need to get a mount to use it as my gps now and hand the nuvi to my wife for her car.  in the meantime its pretty cool.

As you know I love my mac, I’m intrigued by my AppleTV and thing the iPod Touch is an awesome thing and watch my iPhone friends browse effortlessly. I don’t get locked into anyone technology offering (heck I still use yahoo email)…..but this is a pretty damn nice smartphone.  Now if they could only get a kindle program for it 🙂  I mean, they have one for iPhone/Touch, they have a PC version and they have a Mac version now…

Physical stuff?  Screen is large and has great resolution.  keyboard is kinda strange.  It has a funny feel to it.  I didn’t care for the G1 keyboard (especially the fact that the button bar forced you to reach your right thumb over it to get to the right side of the keyboard.  But this keyboad is thinner and smaller in some ways.  It forces you to click less hard.  I’m still getting used to it, although after 3 days, it has trained me.

I’ll leave you with this final thought


Google Wave…WHY?

In Random, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on October 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm

OK so I got my precious invitation to Google Wave and I went in, and started experimenting.  There’s some cool stuff in there.  It seems like a mashup of Friendfeed, Utterli and IM, with a sort of email feel to it.

My best description of what it feels like to use it is, if you ever watched that show “The Woodwright’s Shop” on PBS with Roy Underhill, with no power tools and all those chisels and planes and saws and the big workbench…all tools sitting there in one shop looking for a job to do.    Roy would appear with his little toolbox and build a barrel using the oddest plane to shape the boards into a curve…or a hand cut dovetails.   But without him, those tools are just sitting there looking for a purpose.

I just don’t get it.  I can use it.  I could see whipping up some widget for fun for it.   But I don’t know the answer to the following question: