Category: google

Modular bike routes

[UPDATE June 14, 2014] I created a composite map of all five modules (loops). All loops are displayed with the same line symbol (red semi-transparent). Since some route segments are part of more than one loop, some segments appear darker than others. I hope this makes sense.

All routes begin and end at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park (blue point marker). Click on the map below for a higher-resolution image. I will add route descriptions soon.

All five loops bike route module map Start-Finish point
All five loops bike route module map Start-Finish point

Some tech info for the geonerds: I collected the route data using my Google Nexus 4 phone and the Google My Tracks app (thanks to for the app recommendation). The app’s KMZ files proved to be somewhat unyielding to work with (thanks to for helping with that), so I ended up exporting the data as GPX (another Terry Stigers suggestion).

Next I used QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera (64-bit) with the OpenLayers plugin to display the “tracks” segments of my GPX files over a Google Physical layer base map.

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[UPDATE June 08, 2014] Another bike route module has been mapped. Johnson Park (Loop 5) is 4.88 miles long, and begins and ends at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park. Map below, .

In the next few days I will publish a composite map of all five modules along with general description of each.

Johnson Park (Loop 5) bike route module map
Johnson Park (Loop 5) bike route module map

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[UPDATE June 01, 2014] Another bike route module has been mapped. Rutgers Busch – Golf Course (Loop 4) is 5.84 miles long, and begins and ends at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park. Map below, . More modules, detailed route descriptions, and a composite map to follow in the next few days.

Rutgers Busch - Golf Course (Loop 4) bike route module map
Rutgers Busch – Golf Course (Loop 4) bike route module map

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[UPDATE May 31, 2014] Another bike route module has been mapped. Rutgers Busch (Loop 3) is 3.86 miles long, and begins and ends at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park. Map below, . More modules, detailed route descriptions, and a composite map to follow in the next few days.

Rutgers Busch (Loop 3) bike route module map
Rutgers Busch (Loop 3) bike route module map

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[UPDATE May 26, 2014] Another bike route module has been mapped. Rutgers Golf Course (Loop 2) is 4.11 miles long, and begins and ends at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park. Map below, . More modules, detailed route descriptions, and a composite map to follow in the next few days.

Rutgers Golf Course (Loop 2) bike route module map
Rutgers Golf Course (Loop 2) bike route module map

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Inspired by , who designs modular software and cooks modular meals, I decided to design a modular bike route and share it with my fellow cyclists in the New Brunswick/Highland Park area. The idea is to compile a number of short bike routes that begin and end at the same point, which will allow cyclists to combine different modules into a composite ride of their choice.

I just completed the first module — Rutgers Livingston (Loop 1). The route is 6.02 miles long, and begins and ends at “The Base” — the three flagpoles in Johnson Park. Map below, . More modules, detailed route descriptions, and a composite map to follow in the next few days.

Rutgers Livingston (Loop 1) bike route module map
Rutgers Livingston (Loop 1) bike route module map

 

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.

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[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.

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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]@gmail.com > 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.

New Google Camera with “Lens Blur”

Today (April 16, 2014) Google released a new version of the application for Android 4.4+ (KitKat). The app comes with many new features, but my favorite is the “Lens Blur” mode, which allows the user to focus and refocus the photo after it was taken, similar to the stand-alone .

Below is a selfie illustrating the new functionality.

Google Camera Lens Blur collage
Google Camera Lens Blur collage

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”.

SERVICE 2014 RANK 2013 RANK CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR DYNAMIC INDEX
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

 

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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.

SERVICE 2014 RANK 2013 RANK CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR DYNAMIC INDEX
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

Poll: Who is at fault in the Snapchat – Google standoff?

A mobile app I had been using for a while (Snapchat) began crashing after an operating system upgrade (Android 4.2 to 4.3). Not only does the app crash, but it takes down and reboots the device. To me this clearly points to an operating system vulnerability, and the app maker went on the record to say so.

Nothing unusual so far. What happens next is unusual. Firstly, the OS maker (Google) keeps mum for 227 days and counting. Secondly, Google does nothing to fix the problem for 227 days and counting. And thirdly, people on social media blame the app for the crashes.

That last one is the reason for this poll. Do you think an app maker should be responsible for the OS’s stability?

[UPDATE April 30, 2014] I was just made aware that WhatsApp and Skype also crash an Android device identical to mine after the OS update. So this is CLEARLY not Snapchat’s fault.

Walter White’s house on Google Maps (Breaking Bad)

I give you two Google Maps views of Walter White’s house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as seen on the hit TV show Breaking Bad.

Google Maps (aerial view):


Google Street View:


Google Maps user has put together a full map tour of Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque, complete with “Los Pollos Hermanos”, Walt and Skyler’s car wash, and Gus Fring’s House:


View in a larger map

On the Google+/Gmail integration

[UPDATE January 26, 2014] Not to toot my own horn (actually, yes), I must note that I published this post three days before Google announced the . By acquiring Nest Google totally validated this post’s main point.

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Google’s biggest problem in the consumer space is the perception among a growing number of users that Google knows way too much about them. A growing number of users feel uneasy about the way Google connects various facets of users’ online activities. Users are concerned about the unknowable ways Google may escalate this in the future. I know of many users who have been, or have recently begun to for that reason.

So what does Google do? As if in total oblivion, they launch a that gives legitimacy to those exact concerns. ()

What are you thinking, Google? What are you thinking? I know users can opt out, but they can also opt out of Gmail and Google+. Is this what you want?

I am available to consult on new product ideas. My first consultation is free. Here it is: Revert.

What if Snapchat crashes Android on purpose?

Lemma: When observed reality doesn’t yield to conventional explanation, there exists a conspiracy theory that can tie it all together nicely.

My Snapchat started crashing and taking my device down with it on August 5, 2013 — the day my Google Nexus 4 phone updated itself to the Android 4.3 operating system (OS). Multiple OS and Snapchat application updates (and nearly five months) later, the phenomenon continues. Occasionally — seemingly randomly — Snapchat causes the device to crash and reboot.

I have written several blog posts about this. What boggles the mind isn’t the inconvenience of the situation. It is the totally inexplicable indifference towards the issue by Google — the maker of Android and of my Google Nexus 4 phone. Why doesn’t Google seem to care that a legit application can take down its operating system at will? Or is there more to the story?

Keanu Snapchat Android conspiracy

What if Snapchat has found a security hole in the Android operating system that Google can’t patch? What if Snapchat (which ) knows that it’s sitting on a gold mine? What if Snapchat is trying to extort from Google a lot more? What if there are other players involved? What if Snapchat is talking to other “buyers”? I can think of a few who would pay billions for the ability to crash any mobile device at will.

Just some food for thought during the holidays. I am tagging this with “humor” because, you know…