Tagged: 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.

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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.

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

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…

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.

SERVICE

A.T. RANK

A.T. ACCT STATUS

WHAT’S GOING ON

Twitter

10

Active

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

9

Active

Camera phone photographer’s playground.

8

Active

Surfaces great content from other networks.
Facebook

7

Active

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

5

Active

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

4

Active

The fastest growing referral network.
Google+

4

Active

Nerds and squares.
Flickr

3

Dormant

The faded dame of social media.
Tumblr

3

Deleted

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

2

Deleted

Where indie bands’ dreams go to die.
Diaspora*

1

Dormant

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

1

Dormant

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

0

Deleted

Users populate 4sq’s database for free.
Klout

-1

Deleted

FreeCreditReport.com for dunces.

 

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.

Can Twitter predict the American Idol winner?

Or why American Idol is NOT rigged for Angie Miller

[UPDATE May 10, 2013] This is the final update to this article. See my latest post “American Idol: What went wrong?”. Alternately, scroll down to review a weekly log of the contestants’ Twitter following, dating back to March 22, 2013.

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This article is being updated continuously, with recent updates showing on top. Scroll down for earlier entries and charts from previous weeks. New chart every Thursday morning.

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Let the record show that back on March 22 (scroll all the way to the bottom), when there were still nine contestants left on the show, I predicted two things:

  1. Angie Miller is the viewers’ favorite, and will likely be the American Idol 2013 (Season 12) winner
  2. This clear indication of who the winner will be would take the suspense out of the show, resulting in decreased viewership (confirmed by the show’s )

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[UPDATE May 9, 2013] Below is a chart of the contestants’ Twitter followers as of this morning, Thursday, May 9, 2013.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers May-9-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers May-9-2013

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[UPDATE May 2, 2013] Below is a chart of the contestants’ Twitter followers as of this morning, Thursday, May 2, 2013. Need I say anything? I do, actually. Possibly seeking to even the score somewhat, last night the judges came down on Angie, hard. As a result, Angie added the most Twitter followers ever, both as an absolute number, and as a percentage of total. Talk about unintended consequences.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers May-2-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers May-2-2013

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[UPDATE April 25, 2013] Below is a chart of the contestants’ Twitter followers as of this morning, Thursday, April 25, 2013. The chart leaves little doubt that Angie Miller will be the 2013 (Season 12) American Idol winner, as I predicted back in March. Scroll down for earlier posts and charts.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-25-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-25-2013

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[UPDATE April 24, 2013] . So much so, that the producers are reportedly mid-season to bring back Jennifer Lopez. While many factors are likely contributing to this state of affairs, I submit to you that the phenomenon described in this blog post surely has hurt the show. Having gone out of their way to publicize the contestants’ large Twitter following, the producers unwittingly eliminated the element of suspense.

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[UPDATE April 18, 2013] Below is a chart of the contestants’ Twitter followers as of this morning, Thursday, April 18, 2013. As Hercule Poirot would say: “The prediction it is obvious, mon ami.”

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-18-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-18-2013

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[UPDATE April 12, 2013] Last night’s results showed that the answer is “no”. Twitter following can’t predict American Idol contestants’ fate on the show. It could be that my model is wrong. Or just that my assumptions are wrong. Maybe I’ll try to find an explanation, but I’ll probably put the whole thing to rest. This is just a TV show, after all, and the producers can do whatever they want. I am sure they will do whatever they think is best for the show, “viewer voting” being part of the overall script.

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[UPDATE April 11, 2013] As an American Idol fan I want Lazaro Arbos to go home tonight. As a data analyst and modeler I predict that he will hang around for a few more weeks, and Janelle Arthur will be voted off the show.

Candice and Amber are on fire. Angie is so far ahead, she is untouchable. But what about Lazaro?

According to my prediction model Lazaro has the numbers to make it to the finale. He also sucks. It will be interesting to see whether the producers will intervene and eliminate Lazaro earlier despite the viewer support he apparently enjoys.

Let me again state clearly that my prediction model is based on two important assumptions: 1) There is strong correlation between American Idol contestants’ Twitter following and their TV popularity. 2) The show is not rigged — i.e., the show’s outcome is indeed determined by viewers’ vote alone.

Below is a chart of the contestants’ Twitter followers as of this morning, Thursday, April 11, 2013.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-11-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-11-2013

[UPDATE April 10, 2013] No change since yesterday. Angie and Lazaro are in a category of their own, having surely solidified their place in the finale. Of the remaining four contestants Amber has the fewest followers, but the strongest momentum. I stand by my earlier prediction that Janelle will go home this week.

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[UPDATE April 9, 2013] No change in pattern since yesterday. Amber continues to add Twitter followers at double the rate of everyone else. Janelle will go home this week.

There is little doubt as to how this show will unfold: Angie Miller is the runaway winner, Lazaro Arbos is the runner-up. Third is Kree Harrison, fourth — Candice Glover, fifth — Amber Holcomb, sixth — Janelle Arthur.

Keith Urban, no doubt following producers’ instructions, tries to maintain the suspense by only predicting that ““ But he knows as well as we do who that girl is going to be.

A YouTube comment from user explains why Lazaro will continue to do well:

GODDAMNIT AMERICA!!! You fucking vote for Lazaro??? REALLY?!? THAT’S FUCKING BULLSHIT!!!! Lazaro SUCKS!!!!! Lazaro took Devins spot. Now he takes Burnells spot. ITS FUCKING BULLSHIT!! HE SUCKS!!! THIS IS A SINGING COMPETITION!!!! The only reason he’s in the top 3 is because of his stutter, and his life story how he had no friends growing up, and every gay man and straight woman thinks hes hot.

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[UPDATE April 8, 2013] Little change since yesterday. Amber has the momentum, followed by Candice and Lazaro. Janelle is a goner.

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[UPDATE April 7, 2013] Amber‘s momentum continues, which will likely keep her safe for another week.

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[UPDATE April 6, 2013] Amber, while still at the bottom, has picked up momentum, adding Twitter followers at more than twice the rate of Janelle. If Amber’s momentum continues, Janelle will likely go home next week.

Bookmark this page and come back for daily updates.

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[UPDATE April 5, 2013] Predictions recap: Minor upset, major win. The upset: I predicted that Burnell would go home next week; he was voted off this week. Barely significant, and paling in comparison to my major score, the Lazaro call. While everyone — including uber producer Jimmy Iovine — thought Lazaro ought to go home this week, I predicted that he would face Angie in the finale. Lazaro was in the top three last night, solidifying my confidence in my model. Come back next week for more American Idol predictions.

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[UPDATE April 4, 2013] Prediction: Amber, facing elimination, will get saved by the judges tonight.

I know, this doesn’t make sense. Amber had a great performance last night, and she shouldn’t be facing elimination. Lazaro — who had an abysmal performance last night — should go home. But Lazaro continues to rank high in my model, and the model has been accurate so far, so I’ll stick with it.

It is important to know that my prediction model is based on two important and (hopefully) safe assumptions: 1) There is strong correlation between American Idol contestants’ Twitter popularity and their TV popularity. 2) The show is not rigged — i.e., the show’s outcome is indeed determined by viewers’ vote alone.

If either of the above assumptions is false, my predictions would be baseless. On the other hand, if both 1 and 2 above hold true, then the chart below paints a clear and self-explanatory picture of what to expect.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-4-2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers April-4-2013

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[UPDATE April 2, 2013] This is getting so easy to predict, it’s not even a challenge any more. It looks like Amber has thrown in the towel already. It is a near certainty that she will go home on Thursday. It is also a near certainty that Angie will win the whole thing, in a face-off finale with Lazaro. So let’s raise the challenge and try to predict who will go home NEXT week. Janelle is a strong candidate, being second from the bottom. However, she keeps adding Twitter followers at the highest rate of all contestants. She seems to have kicked her campaign in high gear. So my prediction is that Burnell will go home on April 11.

Next chart on Thursday morning — April 4, 2013.

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[UPDATE March 28, 2013] Who will go home tonight? Based on Twitter following alone, it has to be Devin Velez. He added the fewest followers since last week (2,231), which does not bode well for his current position near the bottom. Angie Miller is still the runaway favorite, although her rate of adding new followers (8.74%) is the lowest.

American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers March 28, 2013
American Idol 2013 contestants Twitter followers March 28, 2013

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This year (AI Season 12), the TV show contestants have serious social media presence. Each of the top ten contestants have dedicated (and verified) and . Which begs the question: If the American Idol winner is indeed determined by viewers’ votes alone, can the contestants’ social media following be an indicator of how the competition will unfold and whom the voters will favor to be the winner?

Below is a chart of the top nine contestants’ Twitter followers as of today, March 22, 2013. If this chart is any indicator, there is little doubt that Angie Miller is the viewers’ favorite. I’ll keep weekly tabs on the numbers, and will post my findings here. I also wonder whether social media will take the suspense (and surprise) out of the show.

There is strong indication that it may. For example, Paul Jolley, Devin Velez, and Amber Holcomb were in the bottom three as per the “nation-wide vote” announced during the March 21 show. This corresponds perfectly with the Twitter chart below.

American Idol Season 12 Twitter followers
American Idol Season 12 Twitter followers

Google Reader as a surveillance tool

If I were a giant corporation aiming at collecting as much data about my customers as I possibly could, I would cherish a tool like , giving me daily insight into what stories millions of users are interested in (and what stories they choose to ignore).

If I were a government aiming at collecting as much data about my citizens as I possibly could, I would cherish a tool like Google Reader, giving me daily insight into what stories millions of citizens are interested in (and what stories they choose to ignore).

Google Reader usage stats are so much more meaningful than , which are often fake. Still, unbelievably, Google Reader is .

Could it be that its owners are blindly unaware of its enormous surveillance potential (hard to believe), or that they are not interested in collecting data on users/citizens (even harder to believe). Or could it be that there is no giant scheme, no secret master plan, but rather that events and consequences are occurring happenstance, similar to the way ?

Today I am more confused than ever.

PS This is not a cry over the loss of Google Reader, which I stopped using over a year ago. Users’ reaction to the end of Google Reader reminds me of my anguish over the end of iGoogle last year.

The Cyclenox

If you are unfamiliar with (new website coming soon is ), it is because I just invented it an hour ago.

Cyclenox is a New Brunswick/Highland Park cycling meetup event happening twice a year, loosely coinciding with the vernal and the autumnal  (hence Cyclenox, get it?). The idea is to meet fellow cycling enthusiasts from our area and perhaps go for a ride together.

The Vernal Cyclenox 2013 will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday, March 23, 2013, in Highland Park, New Jersey. Ideas and suggestions for the event are welcome, either in the comments below (preferable), or by email to atanas@entchev.com.

I look forward to the event — seeing old friends, and making new ones. I have created a — please add yourself if you are planing to attend.

Vernal Cyclenox 2013 Highland Park New Jersey
Vernal Cyclenox 2013 Highland Park New Jersey