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Today’s post is brought to you by the Polk Audio N1 39-Inch Bluetooth Soundbar, which is being offered at 50% off TODAY ONLY as an Amazon Gold Box Deal of the Day. 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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Why Does Homer Simpson Keep Bugging Me?!

I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d be sitting in my living room reading or watching TV, and suddenly I’d hear Homer Simpson’s voice saying things like, “Better them than me!” and “[drooling noise]…crop!”

It took a few incidents like this for me to put it together, but I wasn’t going crazy and my kids weren’t watching The Simpsons in another room with the volume turned up too high. These were “Push Notifications”, and they were coming from my Kindle Fire. Specifically, they were coming from The Simpsons Tapped Out app on my Kindle Fire.

Push Notifications are audible alerts from apps that are intended to notify you of something happening in the app. In Tapped Out, they alert you when a task you previously assigned is completed. In alarm clock apps, they alert you that it’s time to get up, or to do whatever thing you set the alarm reminder for. In other apps, they may alert you to things like:

- a friend you sometimes play against has logged on to the app

- an app update is ready to be installed

- a download or upload you started is finished, or else has failed to complete

- you have a new instant message in the app

…and so on. In a nutshell, with the exception of alarm clock alerts, Push Notifications are designed to lure you back into the app.

 

Turning Off Push Notifications

Push Notifications are also designed to work even when your device is “asleep”. This makes sense, since the only time you’d need to hear a special alert about something happening on your device is when you’re not using it. But it can be annoying if you want your device to be asleep AND silent, such as when you’ve gone to bed for the night and your tablet is in the room with you. Some apps ‘Push Notifications’ can even override the volume settings / mute setting on your device, so there are really only two foolproof, works-every-time ways to turn them off:

1. Power your device down completely. Don’t just let it go to sleep, press and hold the power button until you’re given the Shutdown / power off option, and then use that option.

2. Go into the app that’s sending Push Notifications, open the Options or Settings menu, and turn the Notifications off there. If you have multiple apps that employ Push Notifications, you’ll need to do this for each of them.

 

Problem solved, and peace restored!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

The Polk Audio N1 39-Inch Bluetooth Soundbar is rated 4/5 stars and regularly sells for $299.95, but today only you can get it for $149.99 as an Amazon Gold Box Deal of the Day. Whether you’re a gamer, an audiophile, or a home theater buff, this is a great opportunity to get a very high-end piece of equipment at a deep discount. From Amazon:

In the first collaboration of its kind, Polk engineers working with Halo and Forza sound designers, created optimized custom gaming immersion modes that reveal more of any game than you’ve ever heard before – Tailor your audio experience with four Immersion Modes (Forza Motorsport Racer, Halo FPS, Music and Cinema) – Connect directly to your console and unleash an immersive gaming experience with onboard Dolby Digital and Polk’s patented SDA Surround Sound Technology – Feel the impact of deep bass with Polk’s exclusive built-in Full Complement Sub Bass Drive technology: no subwoofer required – but, for those who really love big bass, the N1 is equipped with a sub output jack for adding an optional subwoofer

 

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Will Digital Video Formats Change?

Posted July 23, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by HBO’s True Detective Season 1 in Amazon Instant Video format. 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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Yes, Digital Video Formats Probably WILL Change In The Future. But That Shouldn’t Stop You From Buying Digital Videos NOW.

The short answer on this is that so long as you’re buying digital videos from a major, well-established outlet like iTunes or Amazon, until 3D video becomes the standard (which won’t happen for many years—no-glasses 3D TV technology is still in the development stages and lots of technical and financial details still need to be worked out between digital video producers and the manufacturers of TVs and other audio-visual hardware ), when the next new format coming down the pike to consumers is delivered, your existing copies will simply be replaced by the new format at no cost. This is because the factors currently driving the next new format in digital video are very different than the main factor that drives new formats in videos on tape or disc (*cough*fleecing consumers*cough*), or that drive new formats that include totally new functionality (like 3D). Time for a little background.

 

A Brief History of Home Video

Back in the early days of home video, first there were Betamax tapes, followed soon by VHS. VHS tapes were smaller and had superior image and sound quality*, so it didn’t take long for Betamax to go away. Then came Laserdiscs, which were really only for cinephiles and videophiles because of the huge expense of players and the discs themselves. There’s no doubt that Laserdisc image and sound quality FAR exceed VHS, but the format never enjoyed wide adoption among consumers due to the expense factor.

*in fairness, there’s some debate on the quality issue – many enthusiasts feel Betamax had superior image quality

DVDs were the next major step forward. They provided near-Laserdisc quality at a much lower pricetag, and consumers were led to believe the DVD discs themselves were virtually indestructible and not subject to degradation over time the way VHS tapes are. We now know that’s not exactly true, but movies purchased on DVD will definitely outlive those on VHS. Consumers quickly moved to adopt the DVD format, believing it would be the last format they’d ever need to buy.

Then came Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray discs edge out DVD in the quality department, but for the average consumer, not by a wide enough margin to justify the expense or hassle of replacing a large, existing DVD library with more expensive Blu-ray discs. Especially since most Blu-ray disc players also play DVDs, and can “upsample” DVDs to closely approximate the image improvements in the native Blu-ray format.

Granted, the same kind of people who were all over Laserdiscs in the past feel very strongly that Blu-ray is VERY much superior in quality to DVD and TOTALLY worth the hassle and expense of upgrading an entire video library. But again, I’m talking about the average consumer here, someone for whom cost is typically just as big a consideration as image and sound quality, not the videophiles and cinephiles.

Given that the majority of average consumers are NOT videophiles or cinephiles, the main reason why movie studios and retailers quickly moved to start positioning DVD as a ‘dying’ format and Blu-ray as the superior successor was to get consumers to buy the same movies they’d already bought in DVD (and perhaps VHS as well, back in the day) in Blu-ray format. There are only so many “special editions” a studio can release in DVD format, after all, and consumers were starting to get fed up with this obvious cash-grab strategy.

So, just about the time consumers were on the horns of the DVD vs. Blu-ray dilemma, along came digital video to muddy the home video library waters even further. People who felt they’d been burned before by DVD usurping their VHS copies, ‘special edition’ DVDs usurping their ‘regular edition’ DVDs, and then Blu-ray usurping their entire DVD libraries, are understandably dubious about making the switch to yet ANOTHER format. But they shouldn’t be.

 

What’s Currently Driving New Digital Formats, and Why It Won’t Force Consumers To Buy Replacement Copies

The main obstacle to widespread adoption of digital video as of this writing is the file size. The higher the quality, the bigger the file size.

In order to stream or download a quality digital video, you need a high-speed internet connection. If you’re streaming or downloading that video on a mobile device with a limited data usage plan, streaming or downloading just a couple digital video movies in HD can very quickly burn through an entire month’s data usage allowance.

Companies that are in the business of supplying digital videos know that the only way they’re going to get most consumers on board is to make the files smaller, thereby eliminating data usage overage concerns and concerns about digital video hogging all the bandwidth at home on a consumer-grade internet connection.

Already, companies like Netflix are looking into special compression technologies that could make HD video files much smaller, and I’m pretty confident these new compressed files will be coming to a computer, mobile device or TV screen near you within a few years. However, that doesn’t mean videos you’ve previously bought won’t work anymore. Anything you’ve bought from iTunes or Amazon will simply be replaced in the ‘cloud’ with the new, compressed file, and it won’t look any different to you on the viewing end.

It HAS to be this way because all of our hardware has been optimized for existing video formats, and while it may be in Netflix’s, Amazon’s and Apple’s best interest to create this new file compression system to win more customers, they know it won’t work if consumers must replace all their existing electronic gadgets to take advantage of the new format. If that were the case, the cost savings on data plan usage would be blown out of the water by the hardware expense. There wouldn’t be a good enough reason to make the switch.

I’ve already experienced a lot of this type of automatic replacement of my Amazon Instant Videos in cases where the original I purchased didn’t have closed captions and a newer version was produced with captions. The next time I went to watch an affected video, presto! Captions! This is one of the advantages of buying digital versus disc: you don’t have to buy a new copy every time the technology improves.

 

So yes, video formats are changing. Just not in ways that will force you to buy your digital videos all over again in the new format. Someday a totally new digital video format that adds actual functionality, like 3D, will probably come along, and in that case consumers who want the new functionality will have to buy new hardware AND new digital video copies. Apart from that, I’m not worried about it.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

HBO’s True Detective Season 1 is a must-see show for fans of crime thrillers, Southern Gothic literature, or anyone who simply enjoys an incredibly well-written and acted drama in a creepy vein. If you love American Horror Story, you’ve GOT to see True Detective. This show has garnered 5 Emmy nominations, including nominations for both lead actors (Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey), nominations for writing, direction and a nomination for Best Drama Series. The nominations are well-deserved. This very dark crime drama is excellently written, excellently acted, and the period details are immaculate. Now add the Southern Gothic, literary underpinnings and what you’ve got is a sheet cake of cinematic win. I own this series (currently $23 in SD and $31 in HD for the entire first season) and feel I could watch it over and over and learn something new not only about the show, but myself, with every viewing.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Amazon’s one day only Gold Box Deal: $100 off on the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet, normally priced at $329 but available for $229 TODAY ONLY. 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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Freebies & Bargains Everywhere: Too Many Books To Read, Too Many Apps To Try!

If you’re like me, anytime you see a free or deeply-discounted ebook or app that looks remotely interesting, you grab it. A couple years down the road, you find you’ve got far more ebooks and apps than you could possibly read or use, given your job, family and social obligations, and the typical human lifespan. But you can’t resist continuing your digital media bargain-hunting spree, because you don’t want to miss out on the great stuff you’re sure is sprinkled among the duds in your collection.

Here’s a tip for getting that bulging library of digital media under control, to make it easier to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes time to choose your next read or app: put your bargain-basement content to Ten Test.

I could get this box set of thrillers for just 99 cents today, but is it even worth my time?
The Ten Test will tell me.

 

The Ten Test: Read Ten Pages or Spend Ten Minutes

Set aside an hour or so each week to run some Ten Tests. Set a timer to keep track of the time if you tend to get lost in a book or app, and then spend no more than 10 minutes (each) trying out however many apps you can, or reading no more than the first 10pp of as many ebooks as you can, in that time period. The real losers will quickly stand out, and you can delete them from your cloud library with zero doubt or guilt.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you can accurately judge the overall quality of ANY book within ten pages. What I’m saying is that anything that’s horribly written or so badly edited that it’s a chore to read will give itself away within ten pages. As an added benefit, those that hook a reader quickly will rise above the crowd and can go right into your “Next Reads” category.

As for apps, there are a LOT of really terrific apps out there. But there are also a lot of copycats and a major surplus of just plain bad ones. It’s never taken me longer than 10 minutes to suss out a good or bad app, and in fact it usually takes even less time than that. The ones that demand you ‘connect using Facebook’ in order to play are weeded out pretty much instantly for me, as are the ones I can tell are simply ripoffs of other hugely popular apps.

In a matter of months you’ll have reduced your digital bargain basement collection to a more manageable size, and you can continue to maintain it at a manageable level as new stuff is added.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

TODAY ONLY, you can get $100 off on the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet

(WiFi model, with special offers)! It’s normally priced at $329 but if you get it today for $229, you’re saving over 30%. The HDX 8.9″ is my tablet of choice and the 7″ runs the same operating system and packs the same sturdy construction and ease of use. Grab it at this price while you can!

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Sound City, the excellent, Dave Grohl -produced and -directed documentary about the famous, groundbreaking recording studio of the same name. 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!

Here are this week’s noteworthy tracks, provided in MP3 format with NO DRM, all for FREE!

Note that the albums listed below are free as of this writing but prices are subject to change on Amazon at any time, so if you see anything you like be sure to get it right away!

 

This Week’s List: Free Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Samplers

This week I found that most of the tracks I wanted to share were from two specific music label sampler albums, both of which are free and both of which are rated 4/5 stars or higher, so I’m just sharing the albums. If you love headbanging, hard-charging rock and metal, you may just find some new favorite songs and bands on these compilation albums. Note that both albums carry “explicit content” warnings for strong language.

 

1. Revelation Records Crash Course

This one’s a real treasure trove: 21 tracks, several from bands you may already know and love like Farside, Sick of It All and Quicksand.

 

2. Bullet Tooth 2011 Sampler

This one has eight tracks and consists of about equal parts hard alternative rock and death metal.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Sound City is Dave Grohl’s valentine to rock n’ roll. This award-winning documentary that’s a must-see for music fans is rated 5/5 stars across over 1,400 reviews, and it’s currently included in the Amazon Prime Instant Video catalog (meaning Prime members can view it for free). For those who want to own it outright, it’s available in either SD or HD for $9.99. The documentary includes never before seen footage of studio sessions from some of the greats, as well as commentary and archival footage featuring everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Nirvana, and plenty of acts in between. There’s even a sort of all-star jam session! Definitely worth seeing, and for many, owning.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Moshi Moonrock In-Ear Headphones. 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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Kindle Unlimited Kindle/Audible Book Subscription Service Launches Today

As promised just yesterday, I’m letting you all know that Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited subscription service launched today. Kindle Unlimited gives users unlimited reading access* to all the Kindle ebooks and Audible audiobooks in the Kindle Unlimited catalog for $9.99 a month, and there’s an option to try it for free for 30 days with no obligation, too.

*While “reading” access is unlimited and there are no due dates for return of the Kindle ebooks or Audible audiobooks you get under this program, there is a 10-book limit for downloads. This means that Kindle Unlimited members can have up to 10 books (Kindle and Audible combined) downloaded to their various devices at any given time. Once the limit is reached, the member must return a book before he or she can download a new one.

Click here to get all the details on Kindle Unlimited on Amazon’s own Kindle Unlimited page.

 

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.

The Bible for Kids – The Bible App for Kids is the newest member of the YouVersion family of apps. Available now for Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, the Bible App for Kids is always completely free!

Charm King – Capture and collect colorful Charms as you work your way through the most charming NEW puzzle adventure! Conquer tons of fun Match-3 challenges in your quest to earn the crown and become the ultimate Charm King!

Dr. Driving – Burn up the street with the fastest and most visually stunning edition of driving games.

Fraction Calculator – I’m Fraction Calculator Plus and I’m the best and easiest way to deal with everyday fraction problems.

Bingo Sky – Bingo Sky mixes the classic game of bingo with exciting gameplay like power-ups, XP,bonus and coins more to create a unique and fun Bingo experience.

Empire Z – After the infected apocalypse humanity lies in ruins. Remnants of humanity band together and desperately try to rebuild civilization. Form powerful alliances! Rebuild your city, train your troops, and engage in combat with thousands of players online!

Rummy Plus – Play FREE “Rummy tile” game with your friends!

Slots: Gods of Olympus – More then 40 brand new solt machines, great HD graphic and cool music transport you to a amazing Vegas atmosphere.

Daily Horoscopes – Check your horoscope each day on your Android device.

Buttons and Scissors – Cut off the sewing buttons in the logic game Buttons and Scissors!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Moshi Moonrock In-Ear Headphones are labeled as being specifically for the Kindle Fire, but in fact they have a standard-sized plug that makes them compatible with any device that accepts standard earbuds. What makes these noise-cancelling earbuds extra cool is the terrific little storage “pod” they come in, which also includes a concealed reel for cable management. Its flat design makes these earbuds easy to tuck into a pocket or purse. They come in some pretty cool colors too, with three different size earbuds for each. They’re currently rated 4/5 stars and are priced between $26.99 and $39 as of this writing, depending on your color choice. The Lime set below is currently $26.99

 

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