Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Thinking about thinking about thinking

In College, Random on November 18, 2012 at 2:45 am

I’ve just written the penultimate draft of my paper that is due Tuesday. I saved it, and closed Word. I had to.  Final edits tomorrow, of which the ultimate goal is to take my 6.25 pages of 1.5 spaced text (not including abstract and citations) and distill it down to a readable 5 pages. This is the tough because there are so many points that I’m trying to make.  It literally comes down to whether I am wasting words or not.

This paper was about metacognition. Writing a paper on metacognition (loosely defined as thinking about thinking) is the act of thinking about thinking about thinking. This was, so far, the toughest of the papers as we have to avoid other topics that we have written about before, such as visual perception, the preattentive mechanism, and cognition, affordances and mental models. as well as avoiding the topic of the final paper for the semester, working memory.

My brain is fried.  I concentrated on two specific topics in the current paper: learning styles support in gaining facility with Evernote and information foraging support in Evernote once facility is achieved through notebooks and tagging features. After I saved the file and closed word, I grabbed a dram of Macallan because I figured I deserved it after getting through this topic…at least to the point that I have all the content I want to have generated in the flow that I wanted.  I can relax now.

The fact that I am writing this update is so that I’m writing something other than a scientific research treatise, a status update to execs or a motivation note to my employees. I just needed to express myself in a plain manner.  As with any blogger, the act of writing is auto-didactic since I’m figuring things out while I’m writing without a specific purpose at the moment except to write what I’m thinking.

Damn…that’s metacognition…All work and no play makes jack a dull boy

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy…

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy…


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.

Writing and Reading…

In College, Music, Random, Religion, Science Fiction on August 11, 2012 at 12:52 am

Lately, I’ve had trouble concentrating on my writing.  I’ve gotten a couple of blog posts out, a few pages in my  never-ending attempt to write book 2 in the Urtaru trilogy, some simming as Captain of my starship (the USS Washington B), and lots of research papers for my classes at Bentley.  I was particularly proud of my paper analyzing the intelligence in the Livescribe Pen and how it acts as an extension of cognitive functions humans use.

The dilemma I’m having is that I have a lot of things I want to say and share, but time to concentrate on any one of them is very limited.  Even writing this blog post is taking me away from other writing I could be doing.  Sigh.

In the particular case of school research papers, I’m still confused by the rules of publication.  If there’s an expert out there that can explain to me what the ramifications of this: if I write a paper for a class, can I self publish it here on my blog or will that run me afoul of school rules somehow (for example, if I share a research paper I’ve written, but someone copies it because I made it publicly available, am I out-of-bounds with the academic rules of the school)  So I avoid the whole thing because it’d just make things difficult while I’m still in school.

A while ago, I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he spends a good amount of time on the minutia of the writing process.  Have that special place with a door.  He listens to Rock Music loud while writing to block out other things.  He writes every day in the same spot, at the same time, output the same number of words.   Ultimately the dilemma for me is carving out that time for each of the media in which I write.  I think I have to pick one and just do it consistently for a while.

The other thing that takes time is reading.  I need to read more and more deeply.  I’m in the middle of several works and publications right now.  Here’s a sampling:

  • Every day I read the WSJ website,
  • I have a subscription to Reuters news for my Kindle DX that I probably get to 3-4 days a week
  • I’m in the middle of Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why
  • My sister lent me a book that I’m reading to see if there’s any good material for Sunday School.  Scott Hahn’s “A Father Who Keeps His Promises
  • I’m in the middle of a book that I’ve been trying to get through for a while “The Algebraist” which I can’t get on the Kindle which is a problem since I’ve forsook paper books a while ago.
  • I read the sample of Walter Isaacsons “Einstein” and want to start it (and you can see where this is in the list right now
  • Finally I keep looking at this copy of Umberto Eco’s “Baudolino” that is on my nightstand that I bought several years ago and has yet to have its cover cracked.

There’s just too much stuff to do.  I won’t mention my new guitar, as that has been a massive distraction for the last 2 days.  But a pleasant one nonetheless.  Three weeks till school starts again…5 research papers 20% each and no other grade component.

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.

Catching up…

In career, Random, Religion, Science Fiction, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on May 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I’ve been pretty busy and 2 things that I used to do I kinda pushed aside to get to this point.  One of them was writing more of Book 2 in the Urtaru series.  The other thing was blogging.

In truth I’ve been micro-blogging all along, and you can see a trail of bits in twitter and fb (and ff and plaxo and where ever else I have connected up).

My last major blog post was my retro on 2010.  In there I hinted that my work situation was probably going to change, but I tried to stay away from the topic as best as possible.  To catch up, on Jan 21, 2011, I left my job at Intuit QuickBase and on January 24, 2011 I started my new job at Constant Contact.  As if that wasn’t enough I started another semester at Bentley on Jan 27th, taking a class on Usability and a class on User Research to get through the first of my two concentration.  In the process of taking those two classes, I learn how to create and run a usability test on a website (from requirements gathering, project plans, expert reviews task lists, scripts, execution and the report out).  On the user research side, I did a similar set of stuff that culminated in a focus group on electricity usage and monitoring software…and then the subsequent report out to the client replete with graphs, results, quotes and recommendations.

Both classes were fun and although there was some turbulence wrt team dynamics on one of the classes I did learn a lot that is directly applicable to my day-to-day work.  Ultimately that is the point of taking these classes, not the degree.  I still have 7 classes to go (out of a total of 18 that I need to take).  I’m actually looking forward to my starting my other concentration in marketing in the next two semesters…that one will really mesh with what I am doing now at work since we’re small business email marketing company (and going into social media marketing sometime…actually we’ve already started with things like our new feature Simple Share).

The funny thing about the kinds of jobs I’ve been getting lately is that the software being developed I can use myself.  So in the case of email marketing, I can use it for my book.   At my previous job, I could use QuickBase to keep track of stuff, and the free copy of TurboTax was a plus.  How I could use Semiconductor ATE equipment for my own purposes was always a stretch. 🙂

Anyway, I also got into a new hobby which was simming.  I wrote about it in another entry.  I have a character on a Federation starship and we write one chapter after another taking the story where we know no where it will go.  It’s kind of fun and kept me writing creatively in small bits and pieces.

I also did another open mic night, and posted the videos on my YouTube channel.  That was fun.  I’ve never played in a band before, so getting up in front of people alone and imitating a rock star was kinda interesting.  I’ve played in other venues over the years of course (middle school orchestral band, church and high school folk groups, campfires, playing guitar at church for the kids in Sunday school in the last few years).  Most of those activities though were either simple (kids) or I’d blend in with a bigger crowd (folk groups).  Standing alone on stage singing a song I taught myself on the guitar and only played in my house most of the time was a bit intense.

A few weeks ago my Apple Time Capsule died.  When I took it to apple they basically said that out of warranty it was cheaper to buy a new one than fix the old one.  So instead for the moment, I’ve removed the drive and put it in a tin usb can.  It turns out that the drive had crashed and I lost all my backups.  That’s not so bad I suppose, I don’t think I lost any singular data.

I also continue to teach Sunday School (high school grades).  Once in a while I can see that all the stories click in the mind of a teenager and they blurt out something I taught them.  Hopefully they’ll remember that feeling and do something similar themselves and get that kind of feedback (from teaching I mean, not necessarily Sunday School teaching, although that would be a happy results for me)

A week ago was our 21st anniversary and yesterday was our 23 anniversary of our first date…which was also a friday the 13th in May.  I also walk under ladders. 🙂

Finally that other thing I do, promoting my book, has been going pretty well.  Although I’m not selling in the several hundreds of copies yet, and I haven’t made back the amount of money I’ve spent on advertising, it has been a learning experience.  I’ve done several book giveaways on, and I’ve gotten back some good reviews and a couple of kind criticisms.  All in all I’m getting enough good feedback that I haven’t been discouraged that there’s no market.  Now if I could only get the movie made 🙂

I’m not going to take any classes this summer and I’m going to try diligently to write more chapters of my next book….that’s the plan anyway 😉

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…