Category: Facebook

Runaway Android apps

[UPDATE June 5, 2014] Multiple observations confirm: Instagram (which behaves (mostly) properly on Wi-Fi connections) becomes a CPU hog on carrier (cellular) connections. Not sure why, will report here if I find out more.


[UPDATE June 2, 2014] In an effort to gain a better understanding of what’s going on inside my Nexus 4, I installed two utility apps:  and . Lookout scans and monitors for malware, and offers a bunch of other security features; Watchdog alerts me when an app exceeds a certain CPU threshold.

First impressions are great. Phone runs cool. Interesting observation: When I kill Instagram — the worst offender — through Watchdog, it stays dead. By comparison, when I used to force-stop Instagram via the Android device (system) settings, it would often start up again right away by itself.


My phone (Google Nexus 4) has been getting really hot lately, draining the battery in the process. I started monitoring running Android processes and services, and found out that several apps sometimes don’t close when I tell them to, but keep running and consuming CPU cycles and battery juice. The biggest offender is Instagram, followed by Facebook (which starts on boot and keeps running (and restarts itself after a force-stop, the nerve!)), Google Play Music (which seems to randomly start itself on a whim, or possibly gets launched by Google Drive), and MailDroid (as ).

[UPDATE May 17, 2014] Adding Snapchat to the list of runaway apps that must be force-stopped after every use.

My response:

  • Remove the Facebook app, which I have been threatening to do for a while. I am not leaving Facebook, just removing the app from my phone.
  • Scale back the use of the Instagram app, and force-stop the app after each use.
  • Scale back the use of the Google Drive app, and force-stop Google Play Music after each use (confirm cause-and-effect).
    • [UPDATE from a ]: “Google support told me to uncheck the box Settings > Accounts > Google > Accounts > [myemail] > Sync Google Play Music. I had sync checked before the update as well, but it caused no problems. In any event, this didn’t do all that much good. The app is like the freakin’ Terminator — force stops won’t kill it.”
    • [UPDATE from A.T.]: Disabled Google Play Music. Problem solved.
    • [UPDATE from A.T.]: Also wiped a ton of other Google shit off my phone. It felt great.
  • Stay away from the MailDroid app.
  • Monitor Android system activity regularly for runaway apps and force-stop them as needed.
  • Reboot my phone daily.

The 2014 A.T. Rank of social media networks

[UPDATE May 31, 2014] Several readers commented that the table in my original post (bottom) was misleading, making it look like Google+ was my second most-preferred social media network, whereas its placement (second) in the table was due to the fact that G+ scored the most gains since my last ranking. Fair point.

To correct this misunderstanding I now also present the same data in a table (below) sorted by “2014 RANK”.

Instagram 10 9 1 11
Twitter 9 10 -1 8
Stellar 8 8 0 8
Google+ 7 4 3 10
LinkedIn 6 5 1 7
Facebook 3 7 -4 -1
Pinterest 2 4 -2 0



My annual ranking of social media networks comes out early this year. This time I only rank services I currently use, unlike the 2013 and 2012 rankings where I also ranked networks I had used in the past.

The table is self-explanatory, and the numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me. Google+ shows the biggest gains, whereas Facebook drops to the bottom.

Instagram 10 9 1 11
Google+ 7 4 3 10
Stellar 8 8 0 8
Twitter 9 10 -1 8
LinkedIn 6 5 1 7
Pinterest 2 4 -2 0
Facebook 3 7 -4 -1

Google+ shows content view counts on profile pages

In a move brilliant in its simplicity, yesterday Google+ began showing total content view counts on profile pages. This is significant for several reasons, but I’ll focus on the main one.

Some background: Back in December 2013 Facebook — Google+’s main competitor in the social media arena — changed their news feed algorithm. With that, Facebook in effect usurped editorial powers over users’ posts, which resulted in hiding (most of) users’ content from (most of) their friends. Now if you want more friends to see your posts, you have to pay Facebook to “promote” your posts. Many users cried foul. Some have called the practice and . .

Showing total content view counts on Google+ profile pages is designed to set Google+ apart from Facebook and attract more users and brands. Google basically says: “Hey, we not only let your message through to all who want to see it, we tell you how many users actually saw it.” Google+ is smartly riding the wave of discontent over Facebook’s authoritarian stance.

This works for me. After fuming for months over various objectionable Facebook policies and practices, today I am beginning to gradually phase out my Facebook presence in favor of Google+. .

Atanas Entchev Google+ profile

Marrialle Sellars may have just won American Idol Season 13

What do you get when you cross Miley Cyrus with Beyoncé? You get 17-year-old Marrialle Sellars, who dominated the Detroit auditions of American Idol Season XIII, and — according to this observer — already won the competition.

Marrialle Sellars
Marrialle Sellars | Source: Facebook

See Marrialle’s audition, performing Grenade by Bruno Mars:

The A.T. Rank of social media networks

This is the annual update of the authoritative A.T. Rank of Social Media Networks. A notable change from last year’s list is the addition of Instagram, which  three months ago and instantly fell in love with.








Retains last year’s top spot. Still the most valuable network, by far.



Camera phone photographer’s playground.



Surfaces great content from other networks.



Love it or hate it, but don’t ignore it. This is where everybody hangs out.



Recruiter’s heaven, good for business intelligence and little else. Endorse me for “bikes”.



The fastest growing referral network.



Nerds and squares.



The faded dame of social media.



Acquired by Yahoo! — almost certainly the kiss of death.



Where indie bands’ dreams go to die.



The open-source Facebook. There ain’t nobody home.



The latest venture of Flickr founder Caterina Fake. Pin notes on a map. Formerly Pinwheel. Nicely done but deserted.



Users populate 4sq’s database for free.


Deleted for dunces.


Mass peaceful protests in Bulgaria

I have not seen since I left for the US in 1991. I stay in touch with Bulgarian family and friends via email, Facebook and telephone, but have been somewhat removed from the political process there.

Yet something significant is happening in Bulgaria these days, causing me to pay attention. Mass citizen protests have flooded the streets in major cities — Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas — for six days and counting. The protests are peaceful. But what do the protesters want? Bulgarian Georgi Marinov (“a very internet person”) offers an excellent analysis.


At first glance, beautiful Bulgaria has a lot of democracy going on — laws, elections, a parliament, a president, markets, EU membership, free will, the works, we have it. Look from the outside, and it’s clearly there. The inside of this strange hologram, though, feels very different, especially if you’re a Bulgarian.

Marinov’s on Medium.

Bulgaria citizen protests 2013. Sign says: "The citizens strike back!"
Bulgaria citizen protests 2013. Placard says: “The citizens strike back!”

PRISM and a Soviet-era joke

Generations of Eastern Europeans grew up with jokes like the one below. As a result, this Eastern European isn’t surprised in the slightest by the current PRISM “revelations” — just amused by the ensuing tempest in a teapot. Friends: Develop a sense of humor.

USSR, 1975: Arkady Ivanov travels on business. He must share a hotel room for the night with two strangers — Boris and Vadim. Arkady wants to sleep, but Boris and Vadim keep telling political jokes, laughing hysterically after each one, keeping Arkady awake. Arkady asks them to stop, Boris and Vadim won’t.

Arkady leaves the room to go to the bathroom (one on each floor), and asks the concierge: “Can you please bring some tea to room 307 in ten minutes?” Arkady returns to his room, and after a while leans into the ashtray and says: “This is Major Ivanov. Please bring tea to the room.” In a minute the concierge knocks on the door and brings in the tea.

Boris and Vadim look at each other, then at Arkady. Dead silence sets in. Arkady finally falls asleep.

Arkady wakes up next morning to see that Boris and Vadim are gone. “Where are the other two?” — he asks the concierge. “Oh, Major Ivanov took them. He was supposed to take you, too, but he liked your joke very much so he cut you a break this time.”

Two paths to online privacy

Eric Schmidt, the Google executive chairman, tells us . This is like warning us about the dangers of .

There are two paths to online privacy. Path One: Do not participate, in any way shape or form, ever. Good luck with that. I know exactly one person who has taken Path One.

I am here to tell you about Path Two

Path Two was discovered by . It involves populating the social networks’ databases with fake data. It took me a while to warm up to it.

At first I didn’t understand it. It felt childish and disingenuous. Why would anyone want to disguise their gender or home town? Don’t my friends already know my gender and where I live? Why would I post a fake phone number? Don’t my friends already know my real number?

Yes, yes, and yes! That’s exactly the point. My friends already know all they need to know about me. Why do I also have to give it to Facebook? I don’t. I can take Path Two.

If you go to , you will see that I like cycling, Coors Light, Diet Pepsi, and sailing. You will also see that I was recently at the Playboy Mansion, by the Great Beds Lighthouse, and at the Cannes Film Festival. My friends will know what’s real and what’s fake. I wonder if Eric Schmidt can figure it out.

What do all Google products have in common?

All Google products have one thing in common. They are too rational. There is no spice, no flavor. There is no fun. Which works great for some products (search, maps), and not so great for others (social networking, Google+).

Why is Facebook so popular, despite its silliness? It is precisely because of its silliness. Because who wants to be serious 24/7? Google thinks Google+ users do. Google is wrong.

The Google brain trust would do well to read ‘s
(“Playing Man”). Written in 1938 by a Dutch historian, the book discusses the importance of the play element of culture and society. Inside it is an explanation of why Google+ is the that it is today.

I wish Google would drop the magic glasses, the self-driving cars, the social networking efforts. I wish they would concentrate on search, which everyone loves. Keep Gmail, Maps, and Docs. Drop the rest. Everyone will be better off.