Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

Good Stuff Cheap

In Kindle on August 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

Yes you can download my book on Amazon Kindle for free on the following days this month:




Amazon Prime Members can borrow the book for free always.   If you don’t know how, check your local library for access

I’ll send an update when I notice the giveaway is active each week.

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.  

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.

The Kindle Killer? The NOOKstudy…

In Business & Finance, College, Social Media, technology on August 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

So I am a happy kindle owner. I really enjoy reading it on a Sunny day on the beach or at lunch outside near where I work. I also go to school at night. When I attempted to buy books for classes on my kindle, few were available. And truly the small form factor is hard to use. There is the Kindle DX, but the price is steep…and when you get there, you really could go to the iPad (at least as the Kindle DX is rendered now).

I have the Nook software for my droid, and it is pretty much equivalent to the kindle for droid. OK for reading a book on a train or something.

Today I was invited to join NOOKstudy which is the PC/Mac based Nook software specifically designed for students. Works pretty well, of course…but there is a limitation. None of the e-textbooks available will be shareable with the other Nookish devices including the 6 in nook (or even the iPad from what I am reading) because of the textbook size.

This is a Kindle wounder though, if not a killer. Most kids buy their textbooks from B&N in the campus bookstores (used books often to save money). Now if I had a Kindle DX sized Nook that allowed me to take notes (or even just see them) on the portable device…that would be a useful thing. I probably would keep (or upgrade) my Kindle 2 for general reading, but I’d be using that NOOKstudyDX for school.

Just saying…

So I’m thinking about a kindle book promotion tying it to a donation to a charity…

In iPad, Kindle, Literature, Random, Science Fiction, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on July 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm

So I was sitting here.  I’ve done a bunch of shameless self promotion in trying to get book sales. Remember, at the moment you must have the amazon kindle or a device that has the amazon kindle software (iphone/ipad/ipodtouch, pc, mac or android phone)  I’ve had several, nothing that’ll help me buy that writing grotto on Martha’s Vineyard, but I am much appreciative of the support.   I was thinking of doing something different, and I am looking for some opinions before I embark on this.   Here’s the plan:

From August 1, 2010 to Aug, 31 2010 I would tie sales of my books to a donation to a charity.  So for every copy I sold, I’d donate 1 dollar to a charity.   I also to generate some traffic and ideas, I’d use a PollDaddy poll with a set of potential charities (3-5 let’s say) and see what the general consensus was to whom I should donate the money to.

Oh and just for the sake of full disclosure, I’m currently on the 35% plan for Amazon, and my book is $7.  So a dollar a book is about 40% of my take but a dollar is easy to tie to the number of books sold.  500 copies, $5oo for example.  I’d obviously publish the results on this blog.

So just out of curiousity I’m going to take a poll of all of you out there:

Features designed by geeks…

In iPad, Science Fiction on June 28, 2010 at 4:18 am

So I have a kindle (as you may know).  I love my kindle, but there are some days that this product reminds me of the latter days of the Palm handhelds (not the phones…think back before they bought handspring).

So Amazon comes out with a new set of features 2 of which I had waited for

  1. Pan and Zoom on PDF files
  2. Sharing (aka social media sharing)

So for Pan and Zoom, they did a good job given the hardware constraints.  you kind of use the same key to adjust the size that you do for the fonts, and then you pan with the joystick.  Works pretty well.  But this is a feature, while necessary, completely fails the easy to use test except for the people who design things like this.  You have to go to 2 different places on the keyboard and use the toggle to do several things.

I guess my main gripe is really the toggle. It’s such a goofy and inexact way of (probably) getting around violating someone’s patent on a touchpad for the product.  However, like I said, the feature allows you to do pan and zoom on pdf, so I figured it out and I’ll use it.

For the other feature, clip and share (or whatever they call it), from a kindle hw use model they nailed it correctly.  You use an existing known feature (highlighting) and then you give the user a choice (near the bottom of the screen) to share it.  The setup for facebook and twitter was easy but slightly slow because you have to do it on the awkward keyboard on the kindle.   Once you are done you go to the thing you are reading, and in this case it was the Atlantic Monthly Magazine which I subscribed to on the Kindle, and you highlight something.

Well, here’s where they goofed.  On Facebook (as you can see in the photo) , you get to see your personal comment, but there is no indication what article the clip was from (unless you type it in yourself).   You do see the Magazine.  However, the bulk of a text says Amazon Kindle twice in different ways, tells you that you’ve sent it to Facebook (well DUH!) and since you’ve got no indication what this is, I doubt anyone (but myself) has actually clicked on the link because they won’t know what this is.

On Twitter, it’s even worse.  Here given the 140 character limit, you’d think they wouldn’t waste space.  Every website that allows sharing, puts a little “ -” and then the title of the article and then a shortened url ( or whatever).  Not Amazon.  Look at the clip below from tweetdeck.  It says nothing!  it has just my text and an amazon URL and no indication what work the clipping was from.  OH, and an #Kindle hashtag.  you have no idea that this is an article from Atlantic.  All you know is that this is a link and that I have made an editorial comment.  I mean you could have put a hashtag for #Atlantic or something…

I don’t know, this feature doesn’t seem correct to me.  It looks like amazon has spent time trying to make sure that someone can get to the clip, they haven’t figured out how to tell someone WHY they should go.  Usually the why is Work & ArticleTitle and my editorial comment.

Anyway.  That’s my brain dump for this evening.

A short example of really excellent writing…

In Business & Finance, Literature, politics, travel on April 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

So I have friends on all points on the political spectrum.  For a moment, I’m going to ask you to not grouse about the topic, the protagonist, the political or financial implications, or the class hierarchy issues.  Just focus on the writing below, an excerpt from this month’s Atlantic magazine’s lead article “Inside Man” by Joshua Green about Timothy Geithner, Sec’y of the Treasury:

“I’d arranged on short notice to join him in New York because I’d assumed, in a spectacular misjudgment, that an audience of financiers and the validation of Dow 10,000 would cast him in a different, more triumphant light.  The event took place in a moodily lit subterranean auditorium that pulsed with the kind of understated techno music that one associates with designer vodkas and business-class air travel.”

That description creates such a vivid picture…and I’ve never had a designer vodka and the best I’ve been able to do business-travel-wise is pay the extra 30 bucks for the 6 inches of leg room upgrade from coach 🙂  Ok so once I flew first class for personal travel and it was awesome.  Nevertheless, I love descriptions like this.  This makes a magazine worth reading, no matter on which side you come down of the issue presented.

That’s all for today, back to reading…on my Kindle…

iPad quick review…

In Business & Finance, iPad, Kindle, Music, Social Media, web 2.0 on April 6, 2010 at 2:06 am

So I’ve been playing with the one that arrived on saturday.  You can see the videos of me opening it.  Now that I’ve used it for a day I can say the following:

  • If you are not particularly technical, this is a device for you.  I’m not saying this in the pejorative sense.  I mean that computers and laptops have “baggage” that you need to assimilate in some fashion in order to get to the content that you wish to get to.  If you are not a content creator, computers are a complete waste of time, space AND knowledge.   This is not.
  • From a couch potato perspective, there are 2 features that it lacks.  It does need a camera for video conferencing. The other thing is something that may not make sense to a lot of people:  AirTunes.   The ultimate couch potato device does NOT allow me to make my music ambient while I read a book on the device or browse the web.  This has got to be an easy feature now that the apple tv and airport express are part of the home.
  • The WSJ app is awesome…BUT…it seems to want to load every previous issue of the paper each time I use it before I can look at the current issue.  This is problematic when trying to just get TODAY’s news.  This is a rap on ruppert murdoch more than steve jobs.
  • There does seem to be some notable lag on the browser…it isn’t faster than my macbook pro.
  • I installed pages. nice.  but without it seems a bit stunted.
  • The color is absolutely vivid. It made my kindle cry.
  • It is not readable in sunlight, I tried it today.  I do not mean grab a piece of information. I mean readable, like on a beach for 2 hours.
  • The map software is very good.
  • The new mail program is very nice.
  • ibooks page turning is very nice
  • The kindle app is beautiful, but doesn’t allow you to get to home once you are reading a book UNTIL you change the orientation of the screen by 90 degrees.  Then it lets the button appear.  seems kinda odd.

Anyway I have more playing to do.

    The iPad was delivered – Videos tell the story

    In Business & Finance, iPad, Kindle, Literature, Random, Social Media, web 2.0 on April 5, 2010 at 4:31 am

    As I promised, I have a video tour de force (maybe farce) of me opening the iPad package and doing a few things with it.  I haven’t had a chance to really use it (like download the wordpress app and blog directly from it — I’m writing this on my macbook)…but anyway it is a quite beautiful device and the WSJ and Kindle apps are very good.   Part 1 is mostly unpacking and setup, and part 2 I load some apps and do some things.

    On the iPad = Horus, Kindle = Osiris and my evaluation of Newspapers on these devices…

    In iPad, Kindle, Literature, technology, web 2.0 on April 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Good Friday and the messianic death and resurrection weren’t good metaphors for this event.  However, another tradition provides something more applicable: Osiris’s murder by Set and trip through the down the Nile in a the wooden sarcophagus and the scattering of his remains and then his supposed return in the form of Horus as a metaphor for my Kindle as the iPad makes its way from China to my home tomorrow.  How’s that?

    So every couple of hours, I’m checking the UPS site to see where the iPad is.  Last I checked it was in Anchorage.  I’ve purchased the iPad for work because I think it’s going to be a game changer for the product I work on, QuickBase.  However, that’s a different story.

    This morning I was reading today’s issue of my 2 week complimentary subscription to the New York Times on the Kindle and I did feel something wasn’t right…and it wasn’t going to be solved by the iPad.  It has to do with newspapers.  I was a long-time reader of the Wall Street Journal in paper form.  I’d buy it in the train station.  Back then, it was 6 columns.  Fold the broadsheet in half and 3 columns were available to you.  It was much more manageable than a tabloid since the took advantage of the length of the page to make the paper thinner overall.

    I read relatively fast.  Probably between 600-1000 words per minute when I’m not skimming.  In paperback book terms that’s about 1-2 pages a minute.  On the 6″ kindle 2, using the smallest available font, that’s about the same.  When reading a book, keeping at that pace, a 200 page book takes me about 2-3 hours if I have that long uninterrupted by people or nature.  That kind of reading though is different than how I read newspapers.

    The reading methodology I used on the WSJ, for example, was scan and drill.  Scan the whole article, title and text, and if it caught me, start from the top and really read it.  That meant that on the red line train from Alewife station to Downtown Crossing (to switch to the orange line) I’d have scanned the whole newspaper and read a several articles in-depth.  I could do something similar with the Boston Globe or the NYT on those days that I ended up with a copy, but their column layout was 1 3 5 6 depending on section and which part of the page you were on (more trouble some if sections were combined on a page) meaning that I had to do jiu-jitsu with the folding to have it do the same as the WSJ.

    So back to the iPad and the Kindle.  I’ve tried the FT, the Economist and now the NYT on my Kindle II.  I really enjoyed the FT but even though I like reading it, I finally figured out what I don’t like about reading a newspaper on my Kindle.   I can’t do the scan and drill.  Sorry WSJ and NYT’s websites, browsing a homepage of a newspaper is not the same a newspaper scan and drill. Browsing assumes the action of clicking to uncover the information. and the 16×9 screen doesn’t allow me to scan a long article before deciding to read it easily.   This is why I’ve never liked reading news on the web.   The depth of the material and the format were all wrong.

    On the kindle, I have a different problem with the newspapers.  The “section list” that all the publications use tells me what the organization of the newspaper is and how many articles are in each section but it affords me neither the preview/mouseover of a webpage (giving me the first few sentences of an article or an abstract) nor does it allow me to scan and drill like a broadsheet newspaper.  Rather than the annoying click and uncover of a web page, I must use the toggle to travel to the first page (kindle page…like a book chapter) and move on but if I want to scan the article I have to hit next page next page next page…its just isn’t the same.

    People who did not read newspapers or even glossy magazines like Time and Newsweek in their heyday do not understand this. This is the primordial hunting thing.  Scanning the horizon to see the layout, then focusing on a topic.  Hunters did not browse, they scanned.  And I do not think that the iPad will solve this.  It will solve many other couch potato things that a laptop cannot, but knowing that an iPad is a glorified iPod Touch married with the form factor of a big Kindle, it still is not 23 inches from top to bottom like a broadsheet.  It will be a new metaphor, but it will not be a 1 for 1 replacement for newspapers.    I’ll gush over it immediately but then when the reality distortion zone wears off I’ll be left with 2 devices which allow me to browse my news but not scan and drill.

    Just checked…its still says Alaska 🙂

    Kindle subscription updates…

    In Business & Finance, Kindle, technology on February 18, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Well I still get the Atlantic.  At 1.25 a month I do get at least that much enjoyment reading it on the Kindle.

    I just cancelled my free trial subscription to the Financial Times.  I did that with much regret and I might consider getting it again after trying out a couple of other subscription offers.  I really enjoyed the writing and the depth of the main articles and the breadth of topics overall.  My only limitation was time.  I just don’t have the time to read it every day in full and feel bad that I can’t make the time.

    I’m now doing a trial subscription to The Economist.  I’ve read the economist here and there, on airplanes and in B&N over a cup of coffee.  I know the quality, lets see the presentation on the Kindle.  The Economist, unlike FT, got really panned by reviewers because of the cost.  You get less for more and no website access if you get the kindle edition.  You also get no ads.   In the end the review histrionics on the amazon site provided me with much entertainment.   We’ll see.

    I already have a subscription to the online version of the WSJ, and in truth there are days that I feel like that THAT is overpriced.  I don’t know if I’ll try the trial of the WSJ on the kindle.  Reiterating what I tweeted a couple of weeks ago, the FT reads like what I remember the WSJ read like back in the 90s and early part of the new century.  Except for Mossberg and his pals, the rest of the material/writing has gotten worse.

    Oo, the economist just finished loading…I will let you know what i think…

    Kindle vs iPad: My take after the media blitz

    In Kindle, Random, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on January 31, 2010 at 1:59 am

    So being that I have to eventually salivate over an iPad, but already have a Kindle 2, I’m going to venture this review based on browsing the web, watching Steve Jobs’s introduction of the product and just my general sense.

    1) The iPad will be a big hit.

    2) The kindle is already a hit and will not be supplanted by the iPad once people reach the heart of summer and go down to the beach and have the shiny reflective surface blind them mercilessly when then are trying to show it off.

    3)Kindle app store…wtf.  With that slow display and limited input capability?  Do you really expect a user to use the toggle switch to traverse practice tests in a textbook and supply answers?

    4) The kindle is a dedicated reading device that has and will change how we read books.

    5) The iPad is a huge highly capable iPod Touch and will eat into mac computer sales.  I probably will get one after the 3G version comes out so that I always have a backup network to get to in a pinch, but what I probably will do is walk around with my Kindle and my iPad in my backpack and leave my macbook home for doing intensive stuff (like editing video, concentrated writing, et cetera).

    6) If the kindle app for the ipod touch works as described (as the other 140,000 app store apps are expected to), why do I care if I’m holding my iPad or my Kindle if they sync the same purchase between the two from Amazon?

    7) I now can line up my lightscribe pen, my droid, my kindle 2, an iPad, my apple TV and my MacBook in a row and take a picture just because each one is slightly bigger than the next.

    8 ) The reason I think that the iPad will eat into laptop sales rather than Kindle sales is because if iWork on the iPad is for real, you now have a productivity suite in your hands that is desktop quality and capable in a useful form factor.  If you keep docs on or even on your iDisk on you can get to any piece of work, download it and then show or edit it.

    9) I was walking around the mall behind my wife today while she went up and down aisles in Filene’s basement in Watertown.  my Kindle 2 was paperback book sized.  An iPad would be TOO BIG to stand around and and act semi-attentive.  Heck my kindle 2 gets looks from people and a kindle dx would be too big also.

    10) What I didn’t see (which may be there) is if the Music App on the iPad can broadcast/stream to my apple TV like itunes on my macbook (not the streaming on the appleTV, the reverse where you can tell the macbook to use the appleTV as its speakers).  If it can, I could see how useful (sitting on the couch like Steve Jobs) browsing/reading while my selection of music goes to my Apple TV and my surround system.

    That’s my take on it.  Kind of disjoint.  I might get one in 90 days or so when the 3G version comes out…or wait till my birthday in the summer…or wait till Christmas.  Although if I wait till Christmas, I’ll wait until January to see if they do an update at MacWorld or some other venue.

    A Marketing Experiment via tweets…

    In Kindle, Literature, Random, Science Fiction, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on January 18, 2010 at 2:34 am

    With all the SEO experts, social media experts, marketing gurus and whatnot, I thought I’d try something.  I’ve scheduled 4 tweets on peoplebrowser to appear every 5040 minutes, each one about 20 minutes apart about my book, Urtaru.  These will repeat 9 times each.  Given my social network map which I talked about in another blog post (which now has yahoomeme attached to it) I should be able to hit the 4 corners of the earth twice a week.

    So as to have a good sense of my clicks, I have to see what people are clicking on, and google analytics on my book website.  If the clicker ends up in my blog on wordpress, that has some level of analytics too, and can send people to my google/ links.

    We’ll see how it goes.

    Pulse Smartpen and Livescribe Software

    In Kindle, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on January 8, 2010 at 3:02 am

    So I got one of these for Christmas, Thanks Honey!

    Of course the technology is neat, and on that alone I’d at least play with it.  For me it’s not just the technology itself, its how to use it with other stuff.

    So for the not-so-technical, the pulse pen is a pen with a bunch of electronics in it.  It is used in conjunction with the livescribe notebooks, journals and pads.

    The pen functions by writing just like you would in a normal notebook except that these pages in the special notebook have tiny little dots on them, almost too small to see with the naked eye, that help the pen copy everything you are writing.  When you dock the pen with your computer, the livescribe software reads everything that the pen stored and renders a page that has your penmanship there to share.  It’s as if the pen took a picture of what you were writing.

    But that’s not all.  Since the pen knows where you are on the page based on those dots and the tiny little camera in the end of it near the pen-tip, you can do other things.  The pen as an audio recorder built in which means you can record your voice or whatever is happening at the time you are writing.   You activate the recorder by hitting controls at the bottom of every page that say record, pause and stop.  What you can do is hit record, start writing and it records whatever is being said or the ambient noise while you are writing until you hit stop.  If you tap on the paper near the beginning of the place you wrote at after you hit record, it replays what was recorded at the time you were writing.

    There are also the necessary cool little apps like the movies in the led display on the pen and a way of telling the pen that you are a piano, draw a piano keyboard, then change instruments and record music and a rhythm accompaniment.

    The pages that are uploaded into the livescribe software can be replayed and you can hear the audio associated with your writing.  The whole thing is pretty cool although it seems like a lot of work for just a cool hodgepodge of features.

    The better part was how I discovered the sharing aspect of it.  First of all the pen knows which pages have been written on and in which notebook.  So you can have many notebooks stored on your computer.   You can (at least on the mac) pick a group of pages to print to printer or print to pdf.  This means that you can give somebody notes if they’ve missed a meeting or a class…but if you print to pdf, you can even do more things…

    For example I was able to print to pdf, and then take the saved document and load it in my kindle.  That’s kinda cool.  But then I was taking a class at work which had a blog for us to share the info and I posted my notes after each half day to and it renders the pdfs through the scribd reader which means that just like embedding a movie or a picture, you end up with a scrollable or page turnable electronic doc embedded on the posterous post.  OF course you can email the pdf to someone else too.  Here’s an example on my posterous

    One thing I haven’t figured out is if there was a way to annotate the stored pages so that you can turn the pages (which are essentially pictures) into searchable documents.   That would be cool…maybe its there and I just didn’t get to it yet.  It seems like something that the geeks who invented this would have on the product backlog

    The other thing you lose when you convert to PDF is any audio recordings that were associated with that page.  Oh well not a deal killer.  but if the audio was still available and the bookmarks were transferable through the pdf, it’d be cool to read the docs on my kindle and then have it render the sound…that’d be awesome (ok ok, when the ipad/islate/newton2.0 comes out I won’t need to worry about this right?)

    Oh I forgot to tell you.  On the inside of the cover page you’ll see all kinds of things you can tap that are commands to the pen to present something.  battery life, memory available in the pen…and also a calculator.  Now this is actually kind of cool.  you have the picture of a calculator, and you tap the buttons with the pen and the result is presented in the led display of the pen.  not bad.


    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


    Now I’ve entered the Digital Reading age…

    In Kindle, Literature, Religion, Science Fiction, technology, web 2.0 on July 30, 2009 at 1:17 am

    OK so up to this point I’ve blogged and tweeted, updated my Facebook feed and hooked all my various digital incarnations together so

    that I can update them all at the same time…Digital ubiquity has been achieved.  I’ve published a book, so Digital publishing was achieved.

    Tonight, as Darth Vader would say, “the circle is now complete”

    My birthday present was a Kindle II from my family.   And of course the first thing I loaded was…an excerpt of my book, Urtaru, available on Amazon’s Kindle service.   Being the geek,  I tried a whole mess of things first…reading the users manual on the Kindle, using the rudimentary web browser to look at my blog, but I finally got around to seeing my book on a real Kindle.   I suppose the event was equivalent to that which a writer who gets a first copy of a paper published book has when they get that first copy.  The feel that tactile feedback of hanging on to that first copy of their work wasn’t the same, but I’m a geek.   I was just psyched to download the excerpt.  And it looked beautiful.

    Up to this point I always saw my book on the MacBook screen rendered by a PDF reader.   Now I saw it on the medium that it was intended to be delivered on.  I come from an emotional people so, I admit, having my own kindle, with my own book overwhelmed me emotionally.  I was on the verge of tears.  

    This was a significant effort on my part.  Its 350 pages of Sci-Fi Fantasy.  It took me 20 months to write and about another year to really clean up.   I want to thank the other writers on, several of my friends, and my elder son who all gave me honest feedback which I have used to get the book to the (at least) digital publishable state.

    My review on the kindle itself?  Well there’s something almost Newton about it.  It’s a cool and a bit awkward. It doesn’t have a mouse or a stylus or a touchscreen.  The keyboard is a little weird but functional…

    But the text is BEAUTIFUL.  Even reading websites that aren’t rendered specifically for the kindle, the text was AWESOME.

    Of course this wasn’t the DX…but the size is manageable.  It fit in my hand.

    As you can tell I’m very excited.  As I use it more I’ll provide more feedback but WOO HOO!

    PS if you have an iPhone or a Kindle, consider at least downloading an excerpt of my book, you might be surprised.  I don’t consider myself a flunky, this was the real thing.

    I couldn’t resist…here is what I’ve written of Book 2 so far…

    In Literature, Science Fiction on July 8, 2009 at 2:17 am

    I present the part of book 2 that I have written so far.  about 3000 words.   I have to get to 10000 words to put it up on Authonomy to start getting reviewed there.

    Remember, book 1 is published on the Amazon Kindle and the Kindle for iPhone and available for purchase today..see the link over on the right…you can read more on my website…

    Urtaru II: The Judge

    A Science Fiction Novel

    By Armen Chakmakjian


    Dearest Adam, Crown Prince, my only and very dear son,

    You are named Adam Willem.  I’ve presented to you before that that all oldest sons in our family that bear the Urtaru surname are named Adam first, and then given the name of a central figure in the father’s life as their middle name.   Your grandfather was named Pascal Adam Scintilla and he was the second son.  This was the one deviation in a long line of eponymous descendants of the great Adam Urtaru.  Your grandfather was originally named Adam Scintilla and took on the moniker “Pascal” when the Escisian monks referred to him in that manner during his youth in exile on Barabrum.

    He and your grandmother named me Adam Philip-Augustus, after Philip Augustus, Emperor, known as the Righteous.   Although I never met Philip, his historical presence was palpable in our royal daily family life.  My father, the Prince Consort, revered Philip like a father, a replacement for the father he lost on Naerius.

    Philip was an amazing man, as you know from your studies of the history of that time.   His ability to plan, counter-plan, predict and react to uncertainty was singular in our history.   His abilities to read a man were incredible (so I am told).  Your grandfather attempted all his life to live up to the legacy that Philip left him.   Philip’s abilities were singular, however, and although your grandfather may have emulated him, it was an inexact copy.

    That being said, the Prince Consort, was a notable man in his own right.  He was utterly fearless for his own safety, but simultaneously had a protective streak for all those around him.  He had a way of gaining people’s trust immediately upon their first meeting.  Of course this was not a universal ability to gain trust.  There were legendary people to whom your grandfather was anathema.   From your studies of the history of that time, those people could be allied with him as well as his enemies.  To these few but important people, Pascal, Lord Urtaru, was inscrutable – an enigma – whose easy ways with people and whose ability to gain the immediate trust were in themselves a threat.   Two people who were of this ilk were of course Edward the Usurper, as well as your Uncle Owen’s namesake, Lt. Owen Tagget, E.B.

    Edward II, from the historical material that I have been able to gather (and from the little that your grandfather was willing to share with me), was a completely unstable person, much like his own father.  He could be brilliant at military tasks, a great person to have at your side during a fight, but completely out of his element in any responsibility that had to deal with the subtlety of human behavior.   As you may also have read, Edward and your grandmother, Veronica, Empress, were married, but the marriage was annulled by Veronica in the ancient rite (by suing her family).

    One other person about whom I must tell you about.  I consider him the most important person in my life, beside my parents and your mother (and you and your siblings of course).  This was the gray monk, Captain Willem Proctor, E.B., who we honored by giving you his name as your middle name.  Just as your Uncle Owen was named after the other gray monk, Owen, who saved your grandfather’s life, you received this name.

    Willem was the mentor of both your father and me, and knew our similarities, differences, abilities and limitations.   He was my confidant and my teacher.  That is not to take away from your grandfather, who was a great man in his own right.  However, your grandfather was a flawed man, in my judgement.

    Of course, historians will opine on whether we are the men of destiny or not.  Nevertheless, your grandfather was bigger than life given his beginnings.  I’m writing these memories of him now as my end is approaching because I want to you understand a time that is quite different than the environment you were raised in and what you may become.

    Adam, I have entrusted in you the secret of my demise.  I could not explain to anyone, not even your mother the true extent of my difficulties.  If anyone had known, it would have put the whole empire in peril.   As the great Dolist father wrote in his lament:

    The wicked oppress me and surround me

    They have now followed me to my doorstep

    They have set their eyes low to hide their intent

    As a hunter seeing his prey, they lie in wait

    Looking for the moment of rest or weakness

    And they will pounce on me and drag me from my home

    As you know, son, if the Barsifi King Maarumorti had known my secret, he would have set upon us a great set of difficulties.  The Albion King, Henry, while joined with us in the great Dolist league, and not a perfidious ally, can be considered somewhat unreliable.  His mother was an iron-willed woman who the empire could do business with.  I always felt that, as opposed to the Barsifi King who was a hardened foe waiting for an opportunity to pounce, King Henry was an ally looking for other opportunities should things go badly.

    This relationship with the Albion was the special work of your grandfather and did for a time bring much stability to areas where our common interest was palpable.  To some extent, the relationship thrived only because of the Prince Consort, and not because of the others involved ever articulated their particular interests.

    I’d like to recount the period from when I was about 10 years old when I joined my father on one of his missions…

    Chapter 1

    “Fight me Adam! Do not let up!  You must build up your strength! I will teach you later how to goad a warrior into the attack but you must first understand how they fight!” Pascal was yelling over the din in the training room.  Soldiers of all ages were training to fight hand to hand combat with swords and other simple weapons.

    Adam Philip-Augustus Urtaru, Prince of Raslavon, heir to the throne was 10 years old.   He was a very smart child, appearing to be a miniature version of Pascal, Prince Consort.    The main physical distinction were the eyes.  Whereas Pascal’s eyes were hazel-gray, Apa’s (the familiar name, short for Adam Philip-Augustus) were hazel – almost green.  The physical appearance aside, temperamentally they were quite different.  Whereas Pascal was a jokester, playing with people’s words, Apa would respond plainly and earnestly to any conversation.

    “Again, I can parry your every blow, don’t worry about it now.  When you are older I will worry when we do this.  Now you must fight!”

    Adam swung his short sword with every ounce of his energy, he was trying to beat his father.  Off to the side, his 9 year old brother Owen watched intently.

    “Apa, hit him hard.”

    Adam stopped. “Can you do better?”

    Owen got up.  Pascal smiled.  Owen was always ready for a test of strength, even in his diminutive stature.  Owen sized up Pascal who was at least a foot taller than him.

    “I can try anyway!” and suddenly took a stroke at his father.  Pascal easily parried the blow but noted Owen’s strength. Built to fight.  Amazing.

    Adam was now the age that Pascal had lost his own father.  Something clicked in Pascal on the date of his son’s 10th birthday.  Always reminiscing and brooding over his mother, he rarely thought about his father, except when told to explain his lineage.   Now his father’s memory loomed large in his passing thoughts. What would my father think?  What would my father do in this situation?

    Much of this was lost on Adam, even though he was his father’s most ardent observer.   Pascal also ruminated over his son’s observant behavior because he did not remember watching his own father with such deep interest.   His father was an episodic figure in his life, almost like a book. With a book, you might read a bit, then put it down and take on other activities.  Pascal likened Adam’s reaction to him as a judge in a court rather than the reader of a book.

    Owen thrust at this father again hard.  “Good move, Owen, but protect…always protect.”

    “Baba you are playing with me.” Owen was getting frustrated and swinging his sword even harder.

    “One day it will not be play, and you will have to hurt someone.”

    “You are not getting any farther than I was.” Adam said triumphantly to taunt Owen.

    “Well maybe you can lend a hand then?”

    At that invitation, Adam jumped up and joined the fight against his father.  Pascal deftly parried blows from both of his children.  “Fight hard, both of you.  There will come a day where you will not be allowed to hold back!”

    A crowd of training soldiers started to gather around watching the Prince Consort and the heirs fighting away.  Cheers went up at each blow the children struck that was parried.

    Suddenly a blow from Owen came a bit too close to Pascal and his instinct took over.  Tangling Owen’s sword for a moment, Pascal kicked Apa aside and heaved Owen back.  Owen landed on his back and the shock gave way to crying.   Pascal was breathing heavily as the fight gave way to shock.  “Owen are you alright?”

    A couple of soldiers went up to him and looked him over.

    Adam looked at him from his seated position on the ground.  He had that judgmental stare on his face.  Pascal looked back at him and sighed.

    “Baba, you shouldn’t have done that.”

    Pascal walked over to Owen.  He checked him over and saw that he was more shocked than hurt.  “You’ll be fine.  You can’t cry your way out of a fight.”

    “That’s not the point, Baba,” Adam said sternly from across the room.

    “You will both need to learn.  Better now while you are safe.  Anyway, that is enough for today.”

    Pascal, having been raised by the Escisian monks, did not really understand the role of a father in a pre-teenager’s education.  What he relied on was his experiences with Willem and the Escisians at the orphanage.  As this was his only frame of reference and knowing all the valuable skills that he was taught by the priest-warriors, he made a petition to the Escisian order’s central authority to have Willem assigned to the court of Empress Veronica as a teacher for the young Princes of the Empire.

    The reply he received was curious:

    The Escisian order is honored that the Royal family has chosen to employ one of our brothers in the education of the Princes.   It is unfortunate at this time that Captain Proctor is not available for this opportunity.   We will be sending someone in his place who is as qualified.

    Pascal was taken aback by this. How do you turn down the Royal House?  Why not Willem? Pascal went to Veronica with this news.

    “I can’t believe it.  They know that Willem was my tutor and is who I think is the best man for the job.  Why would they send someone else?” Pascal wondered out loud to her.

    Veronica as always had feel for these situations.  “It is quite possible that Willem is busy with some other monkish duty.”

    Pascal was irritated.  Over the years, his resolute patience had shown signs of breaking down.   It usually came in situations that were personal affronts rather than imperial affronts.  He could handle a whole empire sticking its thumb in his eye, but if an individual did, he’d take them to task.  “I think I will press my case with them.  Adam’s training requires the best teacher and that is Willem, I will not abide with any substitute.”

    Chapter 2

    “Adam, I will be going to visit the Albion on their home planet Alba.  You will accompany me,” Pascal said while running his hand through Adam’s hair with fatherly pride.

    Adam looked at him in his judgmental way.  “Baba, what will I do there while you speak to the adults?”

    “You will sit at my side and learn.  You have stared at me for ten years, now we will use your powers of observation as your classroom.  This is how the business of the galaxy is done, and you as heir-apparent must understand these things.”

    “Of course.”  Adam replied, smiling slightly.  “But can Owen come?  I think he’d could learn too.  I’ll need his advice when I am Emperor.”

    Pascal tipped his head slightly to one side. Amazing child…far beyond his age in understanding.

    “Owen cannot come.  He is too young and your mother would not allow more than one heir to the throne on a trip should something occur.  This is the dilemma of our position.”

    Adam understood, but he didn’t like it.  Owen was his best friend and confidant.  He knew he’d be lonely with only his father.  Pascal was always busy talking and negotiating.  To say that Adam felt neglected was a bit strong.  He knew that his father could be distracted by completing tasks.

    “When will we be leaving, Baba?”

    “Our departure will be in 2 weeks.  The trip will take 3 months and during that time you will be in training.  We have arranged for an Escisian monk to be with us, and I’m hoping that I can convince the order to provide Willem, my mentor, whom I trust implicitly.  He will teach you how to fight, to communicate and to pray.”

    “Baba, why praying?  I already have had my religious training and I serve as an acolyte now.”

    “The three topics go together.  You have learned the religious without understanding your physical self.  Knowing your limits and how to communicate correctly within the bounds of religion can make you a powerful figure.  Your namesake Philip Augustus, the Righteous, understood this.”

    “You are still trying to convince me, but you haven’t told me why.”

    He’s so intelligent.  I forget that my ability to win people over stops with him. Pascal grinned a little bit to one side.  “OK my small tadavor, I will tell you why.  Because in life you will be presented with situations where the choice between good and evil is not so easy to discern.  You’ll have to make a choice between supporting someone who you feel is right but you will also have responsibility.  You’ll have to fight someone or something that in any other case you might support.  And you’ll have to explain yourself to the Empire, and when you have to articulate that choice, I hope that you prayed beforehand looking for guidance.  We go nowhere without God and his righteous messenger Dol, our sacrifice.”

    Adam pondered this for a second staring through his father.  “Tell me about a situation where you had to make a choice like that, Baba.”

    Pascal hesitated.  His choices were not always so difficult.  The child had once again tripped him up.  He himself had not had to make that choice.  The closest choice he made that approached this was choosing to join his Barabreen comrades drilling beneath the Darjiki in the Battle of Micah.  He could have stayed above ground and fought with the monks.  Truly there was little gained in the overall battle by his joining them, except as emotional support to them.

    “I have yet to have to make choose between equally distasteful options where praying would have made sense.  I predict thought that you as Emperor will have to make a choice like that.”

    A week before the trip would begin, an Escisian transport arrived in Micah.  Pascal went out to greet the visitor at the spaceport.  Pascal was hoping that the Escisians would have relented but the final word had come that another monk would be assigned for the trip.  This brother was a portly fellow with a broad smile and a wisp of hair on his head.  Pascal immediately recognized him from the battle of Micah, Bre’  Sebastien.  He came off the transport, kissed the ground, said a prayer, and got up and greeted Pascal with “Tuto De Dola Nika Cor ig Des Domo!”  the motto of the Escisian order, “With the sign of Dol, conquer hearts and see God”.

    Pascal responded with Eo-bun, roughly “So be it”.

    The jolly monk immediately got to business.  “Your highness, the Escisian order would like to inform you that although I have been given the privilege of accompanying you on your journey and performing some initial training of the heir-apparent, I will be replaced on your arrival on Alba.”

    “Really! By whom?” Pascal responded with a stern look.

    The jolliness suddenly left Sebastien.  “The Escisian order is happy to inform you that Captain Proctor will be meeting you on Alba.”

    Pascal was a taken aback by this.  “Why have they relented?”

    “I do not have an answer to that question directly from our superiors, however I do know that Captain Proctor was either on a mission or on a sabbatical, both of which are held in secrecy in our order.”

    Pascal’s demeanor changed abruptly.  “Well then Bre’, let me take you to the palace and introduce you to the royal family.  The Empress is

    Reviews of my book…

    In Literature on June 15, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    kindle software on the ipod touch

    In Literature, Random, Science Fiction, Social Media, technology on May 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    can i give myself a big


    I just loaded the kindle software on my wife’s ipod touch.   And then loaded the kindle excerpt of my book Urtaru.

    You know sometimes I have so much technology around I forget that I can do the simplest things.

    Not having a kindle just yet (I’m holding out for the DX) this is the next best thing.  And seeing what my book looks like (not in a pdf, not rendered on the simulator…and in color!) is just awesome.

    Now all I need is enough sales to move to Martha’s Vineyard and live the rest of my life of a yeoman writer…watching the atlantic ocean waves lap the rocks at the seawall in front of my mansion…ok, I’m waking up now…I’m sitting here in Panera bread a yeoman blogger. 🙂

    By the way if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about please visit my book website

    WordPress 2.7…Wow!

    In career, Literature, technology on December 6, 2008 at 3:02 am

    I’m really impressed by the new wordpress release. The new dashboard is quite good. The snap to grid features to move around modules and having the links all nicely organized on the left side are real improvements. Although none of this is visible to the reader, the improvement to the blogger experience was worth the months of notification that it was coming.

    The upgrade was so nice that it enticed me to use an older feature just for the sake of trying, so I’ve added it here to try it out.  We should consider this concept for QuickBase, that is:  when you make significant improvements to navigation and look and feel, people start trying to use the product in other ways that they would not have in the past.

    Anyway, here’s the info I’m interested in: