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Yes, The FBI Moneypak / Ransomware Virus Is Starting To Show Up On Kindle Fire Tablets, But…

…that doesn’t mean ALL Kindle Fire owners EVERYWHERE need to worry about it. Be alert, sure. But as I explained in my original DMM post about this particular virus, so long as you only get your apps and other content from Amazon, don’t hack or “root” your Kindle Fire, and don’t open any suspicious email attachments from within the email app on the Fire, you can relax because your chances of getting this beast are very, very slim and even if by some miracle you DID get it, getting rid of it is as easy as doing a Reset To Factory Defaults.

Numerous Fire owners have written to me asking how to get rid of this virus now that their Kindle Fire tablets are infected, and every single one admitted to either sideloading apps they got from sources other than Amazon, or “rooting” their devices to bypass the factory-installed operating system.

 

 

If You’ve Rooted Your Fire & Got This Virus, Your Fire Is Most Likely Just An Expensive Paperweight Now

Rooting the device changes the way it behaves on start-up, and causes it to totally bypass the usual startup routine Amazon designed for it.

Part of Amazon’s startup routine was intended to make a reset to factory defaults both possible and easy immediately upon startup, but if you’ve nuked that routine by rooting your device or otherwise hacking it to bypass the usual operating system functions and constraints, you’ve more or less laid out the welcome mat for Moneypak.

Recall that Moneypak is designed to load its demand for money immediately upon device startup, and lock you out of your device unless or until you cough up the dough. On a rooted device, the virus has no problem doing its dirty work because the usual Fire startup routine (which would’ve allowed for a factory reset to defaults) never runs.

 

Let’s Review

Here’s how to avoid the FBI Moneypak/Ransomware virus on your Kindle Fire:

1. DON’T ROOT YOUR FIRE.

2. DON’T HACK YOUR FIRE.

3. DON’T SIDELOAD APPS OR OTHERWISE INSTALL APPS FROM SOURCES OTHER THAN AMAZON.

4. AS WITH ANY DIGITAL DEVICE, DON’T OPEN OR DOWNLOAD SUSPICIOUS EMAIL ATTACHMENTS.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Amazon’s 50% Off Sale On SD Memory Cards is only running for a limited time, so be sure to check out these bargains on SD cards of all brands and capacities.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by the All-New Kindle, the monochrome dedicated e-reader that’s perfect for kids and teens now that it’s the Official E-Reader of the PTA. Even where tablets and smart phones are banned, schools are allowing kids to bring this dedicated e-reader to school. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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DMM’s note: the link to this post was shared with an “Eliminate Facebook Newsfeed Advertising” tagline, and this post WILL show you how to eliminate the ads Facebook stuffs in there. However, it’s not possible to prevent your FB friends from sharing ads with you, so to be more technically accurate this post’s title uses the word “Reduce” instead of “Eliminate”.

 

Seeing More Ads Than Friend Updates In Your Facebook Newsfeed?

I’ve made myself a guinea pig for your benefit, and after four weeks of tweaking my Facebook activity based on some tips I read online I can say with absolute confidence that it IS possible to cut down on the advertising shown in your newsfeed. Doing so will increase the number of updates you see from friends.

Of course there will always be ads in your sidebar, this piece is about removing the bulk of ads from the newsfeed itself, in the center column of your Home page on Facebook.

 

 

Follow These Three Simple Steps

If you consistently follow the steps below every time you’re on Facebook, not only will your newsfeed stop being little more than a 24/7 advertising channel, when you change its setting from the ad-heavy “Top Stories” to the more filled-with-updates-from-friends “Most Recent”, it will actually STAY that way!

 

1. ALWAYS click “I Don’t Want To See This” on ads / promoted posts in your newsfeed.

I was pretty sick of seeing ads in my newsfeed from brands I hadn’t even “Liked”, especially when I know Facebook is deliberately limiting the exposure of Fan Pages in order to “encourage” Fan Page owners to “boost” their posts by paying to get them in front of a larger segment of the page’s fans.

The end result is that I WASN’T seeing updates from the brands I WANTED to see updates from (e.g., a band, TV show or videogame I like) but I WAS seeing paid/sponsored posts from likes of Tide detergent, Victoria’s Secret, Target and so on.

Once I started consistently clicking on “I don’t want to see this” (it’s a menu option when you click the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of each update in the newsfeed—in the screenshot below, the downward-pointing arrow is indicated by a green block arrow), the ads disappeared very quickly. Within three days, they had completely vanished.

After you select “I don’t want to see this” there may be a follow-up question about why you don’t want to “see this”. On that panel, I’d always select “it’s spam/unsolicited advertising”, or whatever the closest option to that was. Facebook changes things very often, so by the time you try this for yourself the wording may have changed.

 

2. ALWAYS click “Hide All From” on ads / promoted posts in your newsfeed when that option is available.

Facebook has gotten wise to the ways of “I don’t want to see this,” and has started sneaking ads into users’ newsfeeds based on the users’ friends’ Likes. So if one of my FB friends “Likes” Tide detergent, I will get a notification that so-and-so “Liked” Tide detergent along with an ad for Tide detergent.

However, these types of ads always include a “Hide All From” option on the drop-down menu (indicated by red arrow below):

 

Get in the habit of ALWAYS opening that drop-down menu and ALWAYS selecting “Hide All From”, and poof! There goes another metric ton of advertising.

 

3. Stop “Liking”, start commenting.

Did you notice that the ad above showed up in my newsfeed because one of my FB friends shared it? Or that you’ll also see ads whenever one of your friends “Likes” a brand (e.g., Tide detergent, Victoria’s Secret, Target, etc.). That’s a big piece of how FB’s advertising engine works: it runs on Shares and Likes. While my FB friends rarely “Share” ads—it usually only happens when there’s a really great deal or freebie one of them thinks their friends would genuinely be interested in—they “Like” stuff constantly.

Your friends’ Likes route ads to your newsfeed, and your Likes route ads to your friends’ newsfeeds. This is all based on an assumption that you and your Facebook friends have similar tastes and opinions. So if my FB friend “Likes” Frontier Airlines, then maybe I’ll want to “Like” it too. And if I do, my “Like” will be broadcast (along with a Frontier Airlines ad) to the rest of my FB friends, and maybe some of them will “Like” Frontier Airlines. And so on, and so on.

Similarly, if I “Like” a friend’s status update containing a comment about a TV show, concert, celebrity, etc., it’s like telling FB I’m receptive to ads for those things and people.

Starve the beast of Likes and it will leave you alone to start seeking them elsewhere. “Liking” can be a hard habit to break, but swapping out “Likes” with comments makes it a lot easier. I haven’t “Liked” anything on Facebook for a month now; where I’d have “Liked” in the past, now I comment. Not only has the quality of content in my newsfeed improved, the quality of my interactions with FB friends has improved dramatically as well. After all, who wouldn’t prefer a positive, personal comment to a “Like”?

 

And there you have it! Comment instead of Liking, ALWAYS click “Hide All From” and ALWAYS click “I don’t want to see this,” and Facebook will go back to being what it used to be for you: an online cocktail party filled with interesting people and discussions.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

The All-New Kindle is on my soon-to-be 13 year old daughter’s birthday wish list because even though she’s already got a Kindle Fire HD and a smart phone, she’s not allowed to use those devices for her required ‘free reading’ time at school each day. Teachers and staff can’t be sure kids are really reading instead of playing games, texting or surfing the net when it’s a smart phone or tablet, but the all-new monochrome Kindle is ONLY for reading ebooks. Because of that, the monochrome Kindle’s bright, crisp, glare-free display that makes reading easy in any lighting conditions, and its built-in, student-friendly features like Notes, Highlights, a learning dictionary and flashcard vocabulary function, the United States PTA has adopted the all-new Kindle as its official e-reader.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Amazon’s MP3 Store 7th Anniversary $5 Sale. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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Welcome To Free Music Monday!

I’ve noticed that site visitors seem to be loving it when I share a full album of great, free music on Free Music Monday, so I’m going to keep doing it.

Today, I’m going Indie / Lo-Fi, much of which is instrumental, with Postrockology (4/5 stars, currently FREE). This is an album filled with lovely, haunting, sometimes lushly melodic songs from a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of before.

But don’t let the lack of name recognition stop you from grabbing this excellent collection. If you’ve been a fan of bands like Keane, The Temper Trap, Rogue Wave or even the early ballads of Morrissey, you’re sure to find a lot to like in this album.

Here are some track highlights:

Home: gorgeous, delicate piano arcing up to a symphonic sweep of emotion that’s reminiscent of Angels and Airwaves. Instrumental.

Why Aren’t I Home?: lovely guitar instrumentals building to a full rock crescendo. It reminds me of The Used.

Fog Is Drowning Us: another instrumental, this time more along the lines of Coldplay.

Drifters: moody, atmospheric synth and guitars with spare drums and eerie, disembodied-sounding vocals. If you loved Cocteau Twins back in the day, this track’s for you.

Inglend Part 3: very Rogue-Wavish, intricate and lush, also instrumental.

 

This is a terrific soundtrack for road tripping, relaxing at home, or studying. Postrockology: get it!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Amazon’s MP3 Store 7th Anniversary $5 Sale features hundreds of MP3 albums priced at just $5 each. It’s a great chance to backfill your digital music library with such classics as:

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Amazon Coins, a great way to stretch your app and in-app purchase dollar. Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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BONUS: 28 PREMIUM APPS, FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Amazon’s currently running a “limited time” promotion, offering 28 premium apps for FREE! They’re not saying how long this offer will last, so be sure to check it out TODAY and grab any of the listed apps you want. Three in particular deserve a special mention, because they normally sell for $12.95 – $59 each:

OfficeSuite Pro 7 – (normally $14.99) OfficeSuite Pro is a complete feature-rich mobile office, with support for MS Office 97-2010 Word and Excel files, plus Google Docs integration.

Printer Share Mobile Print – (normally $12.95) Nearby direct printing via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB without PC, Google Cloud printing.

Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Pro Dictionary – (normally $59) Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged – America’s most comprehensive dictionary. With Search, Input and Learning features.

Click here to browse all 28 apps included in this limited time, free offer, which also includes games, other utilities, and a couple of fitness apps.

 

Free App Friday!

Here are the top ten most downloaded AND highest-rated apps (4/5 stars or better) from Amazon’s Android App Store as of this writing. Note that where a given app has already been included in a Free App Friday post, a different one (still with a minimum 4/5 star rating) will be subbed in. Remember that free apps may include in-app purchase (IAP) options or be ad-supported, but given that these apps have been given very high ratings by MANY consumers, where IAP links or ads are present they must be pretty unobtrusive. Descriptions below are from the apps’ product pages.

Angry Birds Stella – Join Stella and her super adventurous friends in a quest to protect Golden Island from the greedy Bad Princess and her clueless piggies! Meet this fierce new bunch, master their amazing superpowers and play over 120 action-packed levels!

Star Wars Assault Team – Assemble a powerful team of your favorite Star Wars™ heroes, and battle enemies and other players across the galaxy in STAR WARS™: ASSAULT TEAM! Strategize to give your team the winning edge in this unique, turn-based combat game from Disney Mobile in partnership with LucasArts!

Colony Attack – Create your planet, build your fleet, explore the universe and FIGHT!

UNO & Friends – Join one of the largest free online mobile gaming communities and enjoy an all-new free multiplayer experience, competitive leaderboards and fun customization options that let you shout “UNO!” on a whole new level!

8 Ball Pool – COMPETE 1-ON-1 OR IN 8 PLAYER TOURNAMENTS! Refine your skills in the practice arena, take on the world in 1-vs-1 matches, or enter tournaments to win trophies and exclusive cues!

Coin Dozer – With over 65 million downloads worldwide (and counting!), COIN DOZER is the ORIGINAL and BEST coin pushing game! Coin Dozer comes straight from your favorite arcade or carnival, and onto your Android device!

Prize Claw – At every arcade and carnival, you can’t help but try your luck at the claw crane vending machines for your chance to grab toys, candy, and other prizes. It’s a tense moment as you drop the claw and hope it hangs on to the prize, followed by the feeling of triumph when you succeed! In PRIZE CLAW, that experience is recreated for you on your Android device while also adding many exciting new features!

Paplinko – In PAPLINKO the goal is to bounce balls into cups, collecting coins and prizes as you do. Watch out for the pegs, though! The balls bounce off multiple pegs, each boing racking up points and changing the ball’s path to the bottom.

Gold Fish Casino – Slots HD – Gold Fish Casino Slots bring the excitement of REAL WMS Gaming casino slot machines to your mobile devices for free!

Call of Mini: Zombies – Kindle Tablet Edition – A SMALL TOWN INFECTED… UNDEAD ROAM the STREETS…LOCK ‘n’ LOAD and come out GUNS BLAZING in HD GLORY!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

When you buy Amazon Coins, you get an extra 4 – 10% in coins over and above what you actually paid, depending on the quantity of coins you’re buying. For example, you can get $25 worth of coins for $23, or $50 worth of coins for $45. Most Amazon App Store apps can be purchased with Amazon Coins, and most in-app purchases in those apps can be made with coins, as well. I’ve been using them for a couple of years now, and I’ve yet to find an app I couldn’t buy with them or an in-app purchase that didn’t accept Amazon Coins. But since Amazon’s own help pages about Coins use the term “most” instead of all, there must be a few out there.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by the Canon PIXMA MX922 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax, currently on sale for $98.95 (normal price is $200). Advertisers make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content each day for free, so thanks for your support.

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WAIT! Don’t Give Up On Your Printer Until You’ve Tried These Simple Fixes!

I bought a new Epson WorkForce multifunction machine a couple of months ago, and the kids were soon complaining that we’d gotten a lemon and should toss it. Fortunately, their mother is a professional geek and knew better.

If you’re frustrated with poor print quality, here are some simple things to try that will often solve the problem.

 

1. Check your Paper Type setting.

This one is possibly the most overlooked easy fix, because a lot of people don’t seem to believe that modern inkjet and laserjet printers really DO have different internal settings for optimizing print quality on different types of paper. If you’re using photo paper, a printer that’s set to “plain paper” will spit out a pretty crummy print job because it’s “assuming” you want it to print in a way that looks best on plain paper.

Different types of paper have different surface ‘feel’ and finish, and will take up ink differently.

 

PrinterOptions2

 

2. Check your Document Quality setting.

Another simple, but often overlooked fix. You might normally keep your printer set to “Standard” or even “Draft” quality to save ink and speed up printing times, and then forget to change the setting to “Highest” or “Best” quality when you need a really spiffy print job.

 

3. Make sure Paper Type and Document Quality settings match between your computer and the printer’s control panel.

It’s all well and good to select the right paper type and quality level from within your word processing program, but those selections may not override the settings that have been selected on the control panel or menu on the printer itself.

 

PrinterOptions3

 

4. Do a nozzle check.

This function may be accessible within the Print Options control panel on your computer, or on the Maintenance menu of the printer itself. Some printers also come with special software you’re supposed to install on your computer for carrying out maintenance tasks. Whatever the case, if you haven’t done a nozzle check recently, try it.

 

5. Clean the print head.

This is another of those Maintenance menu items, you don’t actually have to pull the print head out of the printer and clean it yourself. The printer has its own internal mechanisms for taking care of this task, but only when you give the command via the Maintenance menu.

 

 

6. Check print head alignment.

Yup, this one’s on the Maintenance menu, too. Not all printers have this option, but if you’re experiencing print quality problems it’s worth checking your printer’s Maintenance options to see if this is one of them.

 

7. Swap out the ink.

Okay, I’ll admit this is pretty much the last resort, because nobody wants to throw out expensive ink cartridges before they’re used up. But manufacturing defects can happen with ink cartridges just the same as with any other consumer product, so if all else fails and you’ve got replacement tanks on hand, it’s worth a try.

However, it’s not so unusual for generic replacement ink tanks (as opposed to those you get from the printer manufacturer) to cause printing problems and even damage the printer itself. So if you’ve been using generic, switch to the brand name.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

If you’ve tried everything on this list to no avail, get the Canon PIXMA MX922 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax is a more recent model of the PIXMA MX850, which I owned and loved for over four years. It’s an affordable workhorse with all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a multifunction machine. Currently priced at just $98.95 (51% off its usual pricetag of $199.99) and eligible for Prime shipping, this current #1 bestseller has an average review rating of 4/5 stars.

 

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