My Phone The Hacker

On Saturday, we realized that Where’s My Water 2 was released for Android.  The boys had been looking forward to this for awhile, so we download it for them.  While I was at it, I got it for my phone also.  I played a couple of levels, but bed time was fast approaching so I put it aside for the evening.

The next morning, I decided to play another level or two.  Except, when I started the game, I wasn’t where I left off.  I was at the end of the game.  All the levels were not only unlocked, but completed with all of the hidden items found as well.  NHL got upset with me for not unlocking all of his levels, so I explained to him (many times) that I didn’t know how this happened.  The best I can tell, my phone is secretly a hacker and hacked the game as I slept.  (B was up during the night and said I wasn’t sleep-gaming so that explanation’s out.)

Here’s some screenshot proof.  I only played the first few levels, the rest of this was phone-hacked:

Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-42-39 Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-42-50Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-43-03 Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-43-07Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-43-18 Screenshot_2013-10-13-11-43-50

FollowerHQ Launch and Mobile App

FollowerHQ Icon Large_250x250Back in November of 2011, after many months of development, I launched FollowerHQ.  This was my first major Twitter application.  For those who haven’t used FollowerHQ, it’s goal is to help you manage your Twitter followers.  Other tools will let you automatically follow everyone who follows you, but I didn’t want to do that.  If I did, companies that I’m not interested in might follow me only for the automatic follow back.  They could then pollute my Twitter stream with tweets that I don’t care about.

FollowerHQ shows you who is following you that you aren’t following back.  It lists detailed information such as how many followers they have and when their last tweet was.  You can use this information to determine whether or not you want to follow them back.  Perhaps you might ignore some followers because they haven’t tweeted in a long time.  Maybe you might pass over some others because they don’t have any followers or seem like spammers.  Or, perhaps, you will choose to follow some users who tweet about subjects that you find intriguing.

In addition, FollowerHQ will show you who isn’t following you back.  As with people you aren’t following back, you can decide to ignore this situation, or you can decide to unfollow the accounts.  Finally, FollowerHQ will track your followers and will show you who you have unfollowed.  This is useful for the seemingly all-too-frequent times when Twitter decides to automatically make you unfollow someone when you didn’t want to.

Major Upgrade

The previous version of FollowerHQ was good, but it had one major flaw.  It needed to work while the user was waiting.  The user would open the page and FollowerHQ would start pulling information from Twitter’s API.  Since Twitter limits how much data you can pull at once, this meant that the application could be slow at times.  If the person running FollowerHQ only had a thousand followers, it might not be too bad.  If they had a hundred thousand, however, it was unusable.  Even worse, if the browser crashed, you would lose all of your progress and would need to start from scratch.  Needless to say, this limited FollowerHQ’s usefulness.

For the new version of FollowerHQ, I ditched the "real time load" and went with a report request.  Once you request a FollowerHQ report, it will queue up in the system.  FollowerHQ will then process these report requests behind the scenes, completely separate from the users’ browsers.  You can close your browser and even shut down your computer because FollowerHQ is running on my server.

When FollowerHQ is done, it will e-mail the user to notify them.  They can then log in to view the report.  Since the report information is pulled from my database and not from Twitter, the report comes up nearly instantly.  (I also used Google’s PageSpeed analysis to speed up the site.)

Now Available as an Android App

I’m also testing out ways of packaging FollowerHQ as a mobile application.  The first of these attempts utilized AppsGeyser.  I’m very happy with this approach so far.  AppsGeyser: 1) packages a special web browser that has no controls of its own and points to my site by default, 2) bundles said browser into an Android app, and 3) gives it all of the usual app characteristics such as being able to put an icon on the device’s home screen.  As a bonus, there are no ads (unless I want to include some which would give me some revenue) and I can submit my app to the Google Play store.

I’ve wanted to get into app development for awhile so this is highly intriguing.  I might make a "" version of my Twitter application for the app to launch, however.  I also want to find similar tools to utilize to create an iOS app.

With all of the changes I’ve made to FollowerHQ, I’ve love to hear what you think.  Head on over to and give it a try.  Post what you think about it here.

The Ringtone Hunt

SmartphoneWay back in the day, the sound that a cellphone made when it rang was set by the manufacturer.  You had the option of listening to it or turning it off.  Then, someone got the bright idea that cellphones should play bits of music when they rang. 

Fast forward to the present day and your average smart phone can play any MP3 file you throw at it as a ringtone.  This means your favorite song can announce that your spouse is calling you or Darth Vader’s theme song can declare that your in-laws are on the line.  (Not that I’d do that, of course!)

I’ve bounced from ringtone to ringtone over the years.  From Star Wars to the Muppets, each of them reflected some aspect of my geekiness.  My latest declared my love of Doctor Who.  In fact, it was the Doctor Who theme song.

Unfortunately, while the Doctor Who theme makes for a great song, it can be a bit grating as a ringtone.  Especially to B’s ears.  So I’m on the hunt for a new ringtone.  One that will express my geekiness but without causing B auditory discomfort.

I’ve already gone through the TARDIS sound (also annoying), a Dalek (B said that she’d EXTERMINATE me if I used it), and the sonic screwdriver (worse than the theme song).  For now, I’ve settled on "I Am The Doctor" which is the song that plays in some Doctor Who episodes as the peril comes to a head and The Doctor heads into the fray.  We’ll see if I keep this one or if it winds up replaced with something else.

What do you have set as your ringtone?  What geeky ringtone would you recommend?

Note: The "smartphone" image above is by zorro and is available from

Instagram Addiction

instagramSoon after we got our smart phones, Instagram came out for Androids.  I downloaded it immediately and tried it out.  I’ll admit that my first impression was poor.  I didn’t see the draw in taking small photos of things and putting filters on them.  After a few posted photos, I moved on.

Sometimes later, I decided to give Instagram another shot.  This time, I found I loved using it.  I still steer clear of the filters, preferring instead to show the photos as they are taken.  Still, it is a quick and easy way to share out photos.  I could have Instagram tweet out the photo and still keep a gallery of my photos for people to look at.

Granted, Instagram isn’t perfect.  For one thing, there’s no spell check within the app.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost sent out an update with a mistyped a word because there was no red squiggly line alerting me to the incorrectly spelled word(s).  Secondly, Instagram itself doesn’t have a gallery.  I can’t just tell people to go to to view all of my photos.  Even if you load up one of my Instagram photos, there’s no way, in a non-mobile browser, to click to see more photos by me.  This is the exact opposite problem that many websites have.  (Ignoring mobile browsers and crafting their site only for non-mobile visitors.)

Thankfully, there are a few sites that can load your Instagram photos in a gallery-like format.  I’m partial to Instagrid.  You can view my Instagram photos on Instagrid here:

Now that I’ve added that link to my header, I can easily direct people to my Instagram feed whether they have a smartphone or not.  So if you aren’t on Instagram, take a look at my photos from time to time.  If you are on Instagram, why not follow me?  Let me know your Instagram names in the comments and I might follow you as well.

The #DisneySMMoms Report: Speakers and Lessons

Note: To see all of my posts on DisneySMMoms 2012, go here.

After we ate breakfast on Friday morning, it was time to learn a few lessons in social media.  First, we moved to another room.  This wasn’t your standard conference room.  After all, it’s not every room that has a castle for a stage and inspirational stained glass scattered along the walls.


There were also these great centerpieces.


Power strips.  Just the thing for the on-the-go blogger with limited battery life.

Once we got settled, the speakers started coming out.

Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort let us know that Disney World isn’t in the "vacation" business or the "theme park" business.  They are in the experience business.  They want every moment from the minute you get on the Magical Express to the minute you leave Disney World for the last time to be filled with magic.  (And they succeed many times over.)

Maryellen Hooper came on stage at various times both to introduce the next speaker and to induce fits of laughter in the crowd.  Yes, though her jokes were mom-based, this dad laughed just as much as the moms in the audience.

Kelly Ripa and Katie Couric were there as well.  Ok, they had pre-recorded messages for us, but that was good enough for us.

Amy Jo Martin talked to us about balancing work and family time.  She was told to choose two out of Work, Family, and Self.  She chose all three and, though she failed many times, she never gave up.

Ramon DeLeon came onstage with incredible energy.  If he ever gives up the pizza gig, he could probably sell DeLeon Energy Drinks!  He gave us example after example of how social media can be used to positively impact people’s lives.  He also reminded us that a problem that is solved offline isn’t solved if it was described online.  Others will see the "unsolved" problem and assume nothing’s been done.  It’s not so much the bad experiences that will turn people away, he told us, but bad reactions (or no reaction) top bad experiences.

Gary Buchanan came onstage dressed as a Jedi to tell us about Star Wars weekends at Disney World.  One year, I really want to head to Disney World during this wonderfully geeky time.  Unfortunately, Gary also insulted a certain Sith.


He was ok, but I don’t think he’ll be insulting Darth again.

After lunch (photos coming Wednesday), we came back to mice on our table.  The good kind, of course.


As we settled in, the speakers just kept on coming.  First up was Peter Shankman.  He told us not to wait for others’ approvals, to face our fears, leave our comfort zone, and to be like a weed.  The first is a lesson that I learned long ago when I dealt with bullying.  The second and third I took to heart and led to my Face My Fears Disney Challenge.  (More on that in a later post.)  The last item pointed out that weeds are masters of survival.  They’ve learned how to do everything except grow a rose (aka "be like everyone else").

Lisa Druxman quoted Henry Ford and said "whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right."  She told us to break big projects up into smaller pieces.  Most importantly, she told us that there will often be a gremlin sitting on our shoulder telling us that we can’t do something.  When that happens, we need to knock it off our shoulder and continue on.

I realized that my gremlin is High School Me.  No matter what I do, I maintain a mental self-image of myself as a shy high-school kid who is terrified of how people will negatively react to me.  High School Me couldn’t do half of the things that I do today and so, mentally, I’ll keep telling myself that I really can’t do these things either.  I’m going to start knocking High School Me off my shoulder.  He may have been me once, but he isn’t anymore and hasn’t been for awhile.

Finally, Chris Brogan reminded us of how important it is to have your site be mobile friendly.  As a new owner of a smartphone, I’m finding a lot of sites that aren’t mobile friendly.  Nothing’s more frustrating than loading up a site on your phone and being presenting with itty bitty text that can’t be resized to be readable or obscured text because the developers assumed that everyone only uses huge monitors.  (He also asked who isn’t on Pinterest and I was the only one to raise my hand.  I think that’s another post right there.)

As the sessions ended, it was time to head out to Animal Kingdom.  DInosaurs awaited us there.

Disclaimer: We paid for our own trip to Disney World to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Though we were given an incredible deal from Disney, they never asked us to blog about this event. All opinions expressed above are my own.

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