Sunday, November 18, 2012

I typed "y"... I am now suddenly, geekily and happily engaged :)

...or "How to propose to a geek girl".

The rumor spreads and everyone keeps asking - how was it? what did he say? Since it was very unexpected, geeky and with so many details, I thought it would be best to write down here and share my happiness with the world.

It was an ordinary Wednesday (November 7). The only 2 things that could be counted as "not ordinary" were the facts that a) I was sick and bedridden on Monday and Tuesday and b) my (now) fiancé was on a business trip in Stepanakert, Artsakh (or so I thought).

The card

On Tuesday evening, while tracking his journey on latitude, I asked him to call and wake me up on Wednesday morning and so he did. I promised I'd get up soon. But since my tummy was till aching, I decided to cuddle in bed a few more minutes and eventually fell asleep again. I woke up a couple hours later to find his messages like "Asleep again?". I started to slowly dress up and get ready to go to work. My friend Lia called to ask me if I was still at home and could take the pocket books I had promised to pass to her. It was around 1pm already. Then it turned out I had to buy my dad's newspapers. So I went out, bought the papers, brought them home and headed to work. (see the bullet points below the post to find out why I described these details)

On my way to work, next to the Charents monument pathway, a teenage boy handed me something. I asked "what's this?", in order to avoid the religious pictures that kids give on streets and ask for money. The boy eagerly replied - "vizitka!" (business card). I took it and saw a nicely designed business card (pictured below).
the QR code reads "Will"
I went on a few more steps and checked the QR code on a side of the card, which read "Will". "Hm.. Interesting", I thought and entered my office.
I told about the card to Azar, my boss. My guess was, that this is some promotion or maybe a puzzle, a quest..

The Facebook tag

In about half an hour I am being tagged on a picture on Facebook. It was in a closed group of AIESEC alumni. See below:
I was tagged together with a bunch of other people.. It had the same logo as on the business card.. and a QR code reading "You". The description was "Cool initiative, guys i am sure you will like this! Detail coming soon!". I started to suspect that it had something to do with AIESEC - some kind of a new project and I was lucky to get the card on the street! The comments on the post didn't shed any light to what it was.

The hack

At 6pm I had an appointment with Kristine, Gohar and Lia (TEDxYerevan organizing team) at The Green Bean Coffeeshop. Kristine had written us a week ago asking to get prepared for a dinner with the US Ambassador John Heffern (who attended TEDxYerevan 2012). We had to discuss our possible cooperation. Kristine asked us to dress nicely, no jeans or suits -- just a cute dress. She also asked me to bring my netbook, since we had to discuss things in Green Bean, before going for the dinner. I didn't suspect anything yet :D
I got there and we started to discuss our stuff. The waiter approached, and I ordered a bagel and no drink. Gohar ordered tea and Kristine insisted that they bring another cup for me to drink too, since i was recovering from cold. I got the Green Bean mug... and it had the "liveit" logo and again a QR code!
I got surprised and started telling them about the card and the picture from facebook... and then finally got to scan the code. Guess what? It read "Marry me?" ..... I blushed and smiled... and then immediately got a call from Azar (my boss), who told me that supposedly was hacked and I should check it quickly and call him back, since he was outside, far from a computer. I turned on my netbook and opened I got this console screen instead (click to view bigger):
I typed "y"...

The waiter, in a white elephant t-shirt, was looking at me and smiling. She led me to the other hall of the cafe to find my Areg. With white lilies and a ring. On his knees.

We were surrounded by friends - who were involved in all this - cheering, applauding ... By that time i was blushing with my full capacity :).. shocked to find Areg to be in Yerevan and to have a ring on my finger...

The story didn't end here.
We sat at a big table with this company and everyone was telling details of the "QRաջարկություն" operation.. Something that was being planned around me for the past few weeks.
Areg's masterplan for THE day :)

It turned out that:
  • Areg had created a secret group in Facebook for communicating the stuff for organizing matters. Sharing mindmaps, coordinating everyone's actions for the day. 
  • Areg didn't have a business trip that week. It was just to enhance the "effect".. and also have a free Tuesday for arranging the stuff. 
  • Areg was near my building since early morning when he called me. He was waiting for me to go out for several hours! Standing! Tracking me on the latitude if I was still there... until his phone drained out... (yep, I feel very very bad about this :()
  • Speaking on the latitude.. he did arrange somebody to login with his account on latitude on the trip to Artsakh. That's why I was seeing him there...
  • Lia called me to ask if I was at home to take the books with Areg's desperate request. 
  • He asked his friend to follow me on my way to work. When i went to buy the papers, I could accidentally see them. They were hiding behind a car :D
  • They arranged someone to wait for me near Charents monument, to hand the card. She was available only till 1:30 pm. Afterwards, they were trying to find someone else and in the end approached a school boy having a lunch nearby. The idea was to suggest him some "bribe" for giving me the card. The boy politely refused the money, and after some convincing ("heeey, it's our friend's birthday, we need to give her this card, blabla") he agreed to stand there and wait, only until their teacher (who was almost near) could notice him.
  • Areg followed me on my way to work until he was ensured that I read the QR code on the card. 
  • Lia had been thinking that I saw her trying to hide near the cafe at Charents monument, but in fact, I didn't. 
  • Azar reported in the FB group, that I had told him about the card. He also called Areg when I went out of the office, saying "Объект вышел".
  • Kristine had made up the story about the Ambassador and asked us to dress up, because she knew that on that important day for me, I would feel upset if I wouldn't be dressed :)
  • Areg had prepared beautiful flower compositions for the Green Bean (partly seen on the picture with the QR code mug). They are still there, decorating the tables in the cafe.
  • The hack was created by our friend Tiko and was "enabled" on by Azar (CEO of PanARMENIAN.Net). It was targeted specifically for the IPs of Green Bean (Areg and Tiko have been tracking cafe's IP address for few days, to ensure it was a static one). While installing the hack on the website, Azar was testing it in our office's IPs, and as a result, the whole editorial was frustrated, unable to work while the testing and installing took place. 
  • When I just got to Green Bean, I didn't order any drink, which was a little out of the plan, but thankfully Kristine managed to convince me to ask for another cup for me to drink the tea. That's when I got the mug with the QR.
  • There were actually 2 t-shirts with a pixelated white elephant - one for the waitress and one for me.
  • Areg had prepared special "Thank you" cards signed by both of us (i did it right there) for all the participants of the "operation". 

So.. this is the story :) I want to thank all of my friends (and the Green Bean staff) who were involved in the organization of this beautiful day.. it's really something that me and Areg will remember forever :)

At the end, there are a few pics...
giving out the thank you card

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dalma Garden Mall: Opening of the first mall in Armenia

The first real mall opened today in Yerevan. I couldn't miss the event and since everyone is asking me how it went, I decided to make a post with my impressions and photos.
Dalma Grand Opening

It's a 2-story huge (for Yerevan) building with a nice interior. The parking lot can accommodate more than 700 cars). There are several escalators and 2 elevators. Apart from a hypermarket (Carrefour, to be opened in November) and 50+ shops, there is a Coffee House (on Level 1) and a food court with Tashir pizza (not surprisingly), Mr.Gyros, Wasabi, Spago Grill (on Level 2). To the disappointment of the opening's visitors -- only Tashir pizza was operating with the usual taste-less pizza and big queues. A "Cinema Star" complex is in the plans, so is a bowling alley and children's playground.

a fountain and a small glass bridge
The good:
  • Many new franchise stores have opened and many more were announced on the doors of the yet empty areas. A good part of our population has been waiting for the opening of brand stores of Zara, Bershka, Marks & Spencer, Gap, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Topshop, Accessorize, NewYorker in Armenia. The full list of the brands is available in the description of the event.
  • Many brands that already have their stores in Yerevan will have stores Dalma as well (like Mango, Promod, Clarks, Aldo, Baldi, Bata, Chocco, Yves Rocher, Sali and others)
  • There is a Zigzag megastore! yep, an electronics megastore in Yerevan :)
the electronics megastore in Dalma
  • The interior planning and design are generally good. The coffee house on the Level 1 looks really pretty :) There were a few fountains: the ones on the level 1 were with colourful lights, really cute:)
the Dalma Coffee House 
  • A huge Zara store was opened today, with a fashion show organized in the evening. The collection was big and for almost all tastes, as always. 
  • Charles & Keith -- a shoes and accessories store had a nice collection! 
  • The prices (in case someone still doubts) are the same as in all other franchise stores of the brands.
  • There was a really great mood around the mall, because of the many familiar faces, music, scents, balloons and a sunny weather visible from the big windows on the ceiling. 

Dalma Coffee House again
Charles & Keith in Dalma
Accessorize in Dalma
Zara in Dalma
Oysho in Dalma
The bad:
  • Unfortunately, only few stores were open today. Some opened hours after the mall's official opening. You could see the store (like Accessorize), ready, with assistants inside, but there was a security guard at the door, not letting anyone in. Marks & Spencer, occupying one of the biggest areas, has invited everyone to the mall opening, but was actually closed :) with all the items set up and balloons at the door. They just replied to me saying "WE ARE EXCLUSIVE BRAND..and we need EXCLUSIVE OPENING!! YOU ALL WILL BE INFORMED !!!!!!". Well, ok :))
  • I couldn't find a list of stores which are actually open already, either a timeline for those that will open soon. 
  • There was a limited -- almost no food choice today. After walking around we got quite hungry, but resisted to stand in a queue for a Tashir pizza. The Coffee House didn't yet have any menu, or food whatsoever. We just took a good Molinari cappuccino, after waiting for a table to become vacant for quite a long time. Yeah, there were too many people for too few tables. But i guess it was because of the opening.
the food court
  • Some areas in the mall (especially Level 2) were yet dusty, not yet constructed. I had a glance through the slightly opened door of the Cinema complex. It was yet just nothing but a cement :D
  • The concert outside of the mall featuring Armenian pop stars (and then a group of some 'ancient' Russian pop chicks) was totally useless. I don't think anyone visited the opening because of the concert. It just created some unnecessary noise and problems for the parking and traffic.
The concert outside Dalma
  • The website has been down for days because of an exceeded bandwidth.
  • The small brochure of the mall with the floor plan is poorly designed. The text (in English) is awful :) or maybe it's just literally translated from Russian.
the Dalma floor plan scanned from the brochure
Dalma brochure
Dalma Garden Mall is open from 10:00 to 22:00

A little background:
Dalma Garden Mall was build by the Dalma Invest company, affiliated with Tashir Group, with a $50 million investment.
The territory on which the mall was built was part of the Dalma gardens.
.. it used to be a historical monument in the form of gardens which stretched from Erebuni Museum to Yerevan Lake, then farther to Tsitsernakaberd, Hrazdan Gorge and much farther, up to Zvartnots Airport and to Echmiadzin through Argavand. It used to be a forest planted with fruit tress and vineyards, unique in their species. (Ecolur)
The land owners of the gardens have been protesting the illegal decision of the municipality for already 9 years, when they were seized their land areas and sold to new owners thus violating their rights. (here is more info on this in Armenian).

Dalma Garden Mall has been scheduled to open last year, or even earlier, if I'm not mistaken. It was being postponed without approximate dates for several times. Later it was connected with the fact that they want to open many franchise boutiques and months are needed to do the interior design and furnishing.

me caught by Anna from the escalator
me in Zara
with my friend Emma and her bump :)
Here's a professional photo report from the opening by PanARMENIAN Photo.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Boost your brain this summer: Coursera, edX, TED-Ed and other online learning resources

I declared my summer 2012 as a summer of learning. I love learning new things by myself and I have already reflected on the topic of self education here a two and a half year ago. There I listed several resources that are generally still actual, however some new great opportunities have emerged for self-learners. MIT OCW, for example, seemed to be one of the greatest things, however, when digging into it, you might get just partial information (just lecture notes, just assignments, etc). I was more looking forward to a real online class, with video lectures, assignments, deadlines etc. 

Earlier this month I learned about an online course of power searching offered by Google. I signed up for it partly because of I was interested to learn the methods and media used in the course, then surely also to learn new things on search. They were 6 classes, each comprised of lessons (video lectures) and activities (quizzes). There was a mid-term assignment with a deadline and a final assignment. One could attempt to take them as many times as needed and just the highest score was being counted. The certificates were being sent out to those who got at least 75% score. I got 100% :) Now the classes are online for everyone, without the assessments, however.
Hopefully, more courses like this will be offered by Google!
I had heard of Coursera since months ago, however signed up for it just recently, after I watched its co-founder Daphne Koller talk at TEDGlobal 2012 (the talk is not yet up on, I watched the webstream, upd. 03.08.2012 - the talk is now live!). There were several interesting courses starting in September, January 2013 and even later. The first course I signed up to, started on July 23 - "Internet History, Technology, Security".
It features video lectures every week, quiz assignments and peer-graded assignments. The platform has a basic wiki for additional resources and also a discussion board, where students discuss various topics (except for the quiz answers :) and even form study groups (there is one for Armenians as well).
I really love the coursera platform and look forward to completing several courses there!

Interesting read: Is Coursera the Beginning of the End for Traditional Higher Education?, Forbes
upd. TED blog featured 12 great free online courses. (03.08.2012)

This is TED's educational initiative, was presented at TEDxSummit in Doha, and launched in spring. It features animated videos on various topic that can be used in classes.
Here is one of the most recent lessons: "How do pain relievers work?"

Here is one of my favorites: The cockroach beatbox

First it was MITx, now it's edX - ambitiously announced as the future of online education. It's MIT and Harvard that teamed up to create online courses for interactive studies on the web, free for everyone.
EdX's goals combine the desire to reach out to students of all ages, means, and nations, and to deliver these teachings from a faculty who reflect the diversity of its audience. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is governed by MIT and Harvard.
Few days ago edX announced its 7 courses for Fall 2012 on Computer science and Chemistry from MIT, Harvard and Berkeley. Currently I'm looking forward to new courses that would be of my interest.

Interesting read: Universities Reshaping Education on the Web, The New York Times.

p.s. Some reflections on current educational system in Russian:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adios to my *Desire* and welcome *Simply Stunning*!

The time has come for my old Android phone to retire ... numerous scratches are reminders of the passionate kisses my phone had with the streets of Rome, Amsterdam, Doha, Warsaw, Cologne, Prague, Paris and others. The saved wi-fi networks could make a separate page in my memoirs :) - TOUR_EIFFEL, Den Haag Nieuw Centraal, Starbucks, TEDx2012, The_Bulldog, ViennArt, UEFAEURO2012, MosaicHouseHotel, ictQATAR_iParks, Hilton Gdansk, ING Internet Gate .... scrolling through that list always makes me travel back in memory and smile :)

My HTC Desire served me for whole 2 years.. I flashed it once with a new rom a year ago and it had a little more better battery life then. The worst thing about HTC Desires is the awfully small internal memory.. I couldn't install new apps for months.. had to constantly clear the browser cache and choose between the apps - which ones to keep. It was too annoying and I finally found the substitute :)

My A. bought himself a cool white HTC One X - the latest and one of the most powerful smartphones... I was hesitating between the X and S and eventually chose the latter, for difference. And my geeky self is HAPPY!!!

I installed some 30 apps the first day and of course - started instagraming :D I now enjoy the ICS Android and the dual-core processor performance..The camera is just amazing.. I can take quality pictures while videoing! and it has the Beats Audio™! 

I bought it from VivaCell-MTS, as it added me a "smart-bonus" worth half the price of the phone. I basically now have unlimited viva calls, texts and 3G internet!!!!!!! which is just awesome :) Listening to online radios on the go? no problem! :P
and here are the specs:

Monday, July 2, 2012


.at, .cz, .nl, .de, .fr, .ae, .qa, .ru, .pl .. :)) 
My check-ins from the last 6 months include this many countries :) [in reality, I didn't travel in all of them, .ae and .ru were transit points] .. traveling is my drug, my motivation, the trigger for my accomplishments, inspiration and for mental "restart".
I have estimated that I need at least 2 trips abroad a year, in order not to feel travel-sick. 
I know that I need to work hard to achieve this and I have found out which direction to work on :)

It's twice as awesome to travel with someone dear ;) [recent discovery, haha]

So here is a thank you shout-out for you, my dearest, for making this all awesomeness happen to me!

Poland. June, 2012

over the clouds...

p.s. my previous post on traveling.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

great'n'tough week...

I'm having a TOUGH week…. And it's in a very positive sense :)

Just thought I should take time to write a couple lines for my dear blog.

Today, I've reached an important milestone. I have presented a paper at an international conference about media ethics. All the participants were YSU/YSLU professors, and the audience included some students and academic staff.
My small report will be published in a guidebook for journalists, disseminated among universities that have journalism faculties and media organizations.

Later I'm going to deliver 2 sessions at a training on the effective use of the social networks for museum workers.

I have submitted an application for a very ambitious program, gathering all the required documents, writing all the statements, etc.
I am preparing my documents for an even more ambitious competition :) lots of papers to gather.. and things to write.. i can make it...

Yesterday I was on a TV talking about the cases of companies asking for employee passwords.

Starting from today my face can be seen on HSBC ads - billboards, web banners, and in a commercial on a TV, my voice can be heard in a radio ad :) … never thought I'd be offered to feature in a commercial and moreover, never thought I'd need to sign a document stating that I'm not a parliament elections candidate (TVs required it).

These days we are actively working on the organization of the TEDxKids@Yerevan event and another smaller TEDx event.

In my workplace, I'm managing a new big project (while finalizing the previous one) and also working on the proposals of some new interesting projects.

I am organizing Foursquare Day 2012 and received a cute swag from Foursquare itself and hope we'll have a great meetup!

In two days I'm leaving for an amazing new country I never thought I’d have a chance to visit. I will participate in a huge and exciting event with more than 700 participants from different countries. I will participate in some interesting and useful workshops and even make a small presentation myself. There will be opportunities to experience some amazing activities I could only see in movies before.

Besides, I'm very energetic and full of love because I have some GREAT people around me and I got convinced that the reality can feel even better than in the sweetest and cutest romantic situation seen in a music video.

I will be posting updates about my exciting activities in my FB and twitter pages and hopefully also eventually post a detailed post in my blog...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Equinox

Oh my... so many things happen to me daily. I'm engaged in so many activities, that I can't attempt to count all the roles I'm acting as on daily basis.
Sometimes, when I'm hell tired like this, I start to look for the guilty party and eventually I blame myself for constantly challenging my own abilities and being unable to say no to new opportunities. I don't know where the limit is, but I'm nowhere near to reaching it at all.

You never know what opportunity is going to land in your inbox at any moment... --couldn't be truer!

“You are a mashup of what you let into your life.” - Austin Kleon

I hope I'll be able to share here some part of the awesomeness I'm experiencing currently, all the amazing events, discoveries and experiences.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five I walk down another street.

by Portia Nelson

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thank you, 2011

The January is almost over and I've finally got to finalize the post about my 2011.

Here are the top events that made my year so awesome.
  1. Was a trainer on Personal branding and online reputation management, on effective use of social networks and twitter in particular, did a session for a training of trainers.
  2. Tuned my public speaking skills with several presentations at various events.
  3. Visited some interesting locations in Armenia and met some great people.
  4. Became part of the geeks community with some very cool people :)
  5. Helped with organization of some interesting and geeky events like Foursquare Day, BarCamp EVN 2011, TEDxYerevan 2011.
  6. Did a presentation on "How to date a geek girl" at BarCamp Yerevan 2011, which later became viral on the web, and Slideshare's presentation of the day, of the week :)
  7. Was a speaker at TEDxYerevan 2011, a huge milestone reached. Met some wonderful people thanks to the event. (Side effect: made my shoe collection famous :D)
  8. Had a ride on a helicopter and applied for a parachute jumping (pending).
  9. Was on TV live several times... as an expert on ebooks (haha), email communication (interesting), blogger (when did i last update my blog? :D) and stuff like that)))
  10. Was a maid of honor for the first time in life and enjoyed my title a lot :)))) 
  11. Applied for a license and became an official TEDx organizer and organized my first TEDx (out of 4 to be organized within a year) end of November.
  12. Attended a live show of one of my favorite bands - COLDPLAY!
  13. Went to Eurotrip - 5 countries and 8 cities in just 12 days. Saw the Paris, climbed the Eiffel, crossed the whole Germany from West to East on a car, and all of this - with my best friend :)
  14. On my 4th visit to Amsterdam, I finally tried a advice: whatever it is... be sure you have someone to take you home afterwards :)
  15. Reconnected with a special friend, who later became an even more special one to me :)

Watch my 2011 in photos that matter :) 180 photos that showcase moments that mattered during my 2011. The music is: Coldplay - We Found Love.