Free App Friday For 10/24/14

Posted October 24, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset – Black, a very high-end set of gamer headphones with mic that’s currently being offered at 47% off! 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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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.

Paperama – Introducing a new and unique puzzle adventure: Enter a beautiful Origami world and bring it to life!

Mage & Minions – Fight spectacular real-time battles against hordes of skeletons, robots, beasts, demons, aliens, dragons and many other minions.

Just Jumble – Play America’s favorite daily puzzle in a marvelous new app!

Blackjack: MyVegas – myVEGAS Blackjack is the only free-to-play blackjack app that offers players a chance to earn real world rewards from an exclusive collection of travel, leisure, and entertainment brands including BELLAGIO, ARIA, MGM GRAND, WOLFGANG PUCK, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL, and HOUSE OF BLUES.

Call Of Mini: Double Shot – The small town of Lakeside is suffering from something even scarier than economic crisis: Zombies. You are an unwitting truck driver stranded in the middle of it all, forced to kill for your survival.

3D Chess Game – Play Chess against the computer, in 3D! Human vs AI, AI vs AI, Human vs Human! Completely free: not a demo, no locked options!

Trials Frontier – Explore a vast world on your motorcycle. Compete against your friends on Global Leaderboards. Master physics-based tracks to challenge the world’s top riders for the best times.

Jedi Lightsaber Simulator – Lightsaber Multiplayer Duel. Fight against friends or strangers with your lightsaber (best for use on a smartphone)

ICE – Quick and addicting real-time strategy. Beautiful, not-so-simple, just awesome. Control your army of ant-like ships. Capture connected enemy bases (remember that you can’t simply capture a non-connected base – this would be too easy!) You win when you control everything, you lose when you lose everything. Good luck!

Guess The Song – How well do you know music? Guess The Song – 4 Pics 1 Song will put your music trivia knowledge to the test! This new app combines the best of both words – picture trivia and music trivia!


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I’m Not A Lawyer, But…

According to an April 11, 2014 piece on NPR:

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of employers now use social networking to recruit candidates, up from 34 percent six years ago. About a dozen states have banned employers from asking workers for their social media passwords, and Congress is considering several measures that would make that a national policy.

But as far as using information that a job seeker makes publicly available, the rules aren’t exactly clear. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has not issued specific rules governing social media.

Since so much of the searching is done unofficially, [University of Illinois Management professor Don] Kluemper says rules might not even help.



While The Legality Is Still Murky, Employers ARE Googling Job Applicants And Employees

As reported in that NPR piece, 77% of employers are now active in social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and it’s a safe bet they’re using their newfound social media savvy to vet employees and job candidates.

This post from last October on The Employer Handbook, a site intended for Human Resources professionals, reported that nearly half of employers routinely investigated job applicants online, and I’d wager that number has only gone up in the year since that piece ran.

That same Employer Handbook article goes so far as to provide helpful tips for its readers to use when researching job applicants and employees online.

Alarmingly, this Forbes piece from all the way back in 2009 reported that at that time:

What’s even more surprising is that a whopping 35% of managers admitted to not offering jobs based on what they found on those social pages, reported the New York Times. Most of the time, employers are put off by photos involving nudity, drink, and drugs, writes privacy expert Daniel Solove at Concurring Opinions.



If You Don’t Want Them To Find It, Don’t Post It In The First Place

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is no such thing as online privacy. NEVER post anything online, or send anything via email, instant message or app that could cause you embarrassment, legal or employment difficulties if it were to become public because it can happen at any time.

It doesn’t matter if you mark it “private”, limit its visibility to “Friends”, et cetera et cetera. There have been plenty of malicious and accidental data leaks that exposed supposedly private pictures, videos, emails, texts and other online material, and there will always be more.

Even Twitter and Facebook have had incidents where a software update to their sites unintentionally exposed users’ private content.



What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

Aside from not posting anything you don’t want found to begin with, here are some steps to take.

1. Google yourself.
You may not even be aware of all the stuff relating to you that’s available online and viewable to the general public. If you want to know what a current or potential employer can easily and (as of this writing) legally find out about you online, this is the fastest and easiest way to do it.

Do a search of your name on Google and every other major search engine you know of. Make sure you’re logged out of any and all websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, online dating sites, etc.) first, so that you will only be able to see what a stranger could see when following links to those sites.

If you find anything you believe an employer may find objectionable, clean it up and/or delete it.


2. If possible, establish your own web presence.

Being able to provide a web address right on your resume is a good pre-emptive move. It won’t prevent employers from doing their own online research as well, but it will help to avoid confusion in situations where someone else with the same name as yours, or a very similar name to yours, is splashed all over the internet with content that shows they’re engaged in illegal or controversial activity. If the employer sees YOUR web page first, they’ll be less likely to jump to wrong conclusions.



If you have zero web skills, this will be easiest to do on a pre-existing site like LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides a basic, free membership option.

If you DO have some basic HTML knowledge, it’s very easy to set up and customize a free blog and use it to display your current resume and contact information. A good one for beginners to try is Google’s Blogger.

I say that you should have at least a little HTML knowledge before attempting this because you will need those skills to properly format your resume so that it looks attractive on a blog page. Having a sloppy-looking online resume is actually worse than having no online resume at all, so if you’re at all unsure about your ability to handle this I suggest you go back to the LinkedIn option.


3. Get your friends to delete or clean up anything they’ve posted about you online.

You may have done a great job of cleaning up and/or deleting any potentially problematic content you’ve posted online, but what about pictures, videos, comments, Tweets and so on that friends have posted about you? If your pal uploaded all those drunken bachelor party pics to Instagram and you’re clearly visible in any of them, it’s safest to assume they can be found.

Also ask friends to “un-tag” you in any content where they’ve specifically listed you by name.



4. Know that the cleanup results won’t be instant.

Even after you and your friends have spiffed up your online image, saved or “cached” versions of the offending content stored on various servers will still be accessible online for a period of weeks to months. Not everyone knows how to view cached versions of web pages, but you can bet anyone in the employer’s IT department knows how. It’s also safest to assume that HR professionals are savvy to such tricks of the online trade.

For this reason, it’s best to undertake your cleanup mission as early as possible in your job hunting schedule.


5. Don’t count on legal action to save you.

While some states have made it illegal for employers to conduct certain types of online research, such as asking applicants or employees to hand over their login credentials for social media and other sites, many states don’t have such laws on the books yet and even in those that do, it’s very easy for employers to skirt the limits of the law.

After all, there’s no way for you to prove an employer Googled you or conducted some other online research about you, assuming they haven’t actually asked for your usernames and passwords. Also, remember that anything they can find via a simple Google search is considered public, and not subject to any presumption of privacy.


See this Career Attraction piece, How To Survive Being Googled By Potential Employers, for more tips.


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Fixing Your TV Picture Size

Posted October 22, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the Click ‘N Dig! Key Finder set, a handy kit containing 6 receivers to attach to your keys and other frequently-lost items, plus extra batteries! 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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What’s Wrong With Your TV?

So you got one of those widescreen-format, HD television sets. But when you watch it, it doesn’t look quite so HD as it did in the store. Or maybe the resolution is good, but the broadcast picture doesn’t fill the screen. Maybe it’s not wide enough. Maybe it’s not tall enough. Whatever the case, there’s probably a pretty simple fix and it probably comes down to incorrect settings on one of the devices that’s attached to the TV.



1. Check the Video Settings menu on the TV itself.

Obviously, the specifics here will vary for each different make and model of TV. But if you’re in the habit of watching TV shows that are piped through a cable or satellite box, you may never have even bothered checking out the Video Settings menu on the TV itself.

Confession: I myself didn’t bother going into that menu on my 2 year old widescreen HDTV until this past weekend, and when I did I discovered that the TV was set to 720p for HD viewing when it should’ve been set to 1080p. You’ll have to check with your cable or satellite provider to be sure, but in general 1080p is the standard broadcast resolution setting for HD. The resolution you actually SEE comes down to the setting on the TV. If yours is set to 720p or SD on a TV that’s rated for 1080p HD resolution, you’re not getting the highest possible picture quality.

The Video Settings menu is also where you’ll find options to set the display “aspect ratio”, meaning how tall and how wide the picture should be. If you’ve invested in a widescreen TV, where the screen is wider than it is tall to give the same ‘letterbox’ effect you’d have in a movie theater, you’ll need to set the correct aspect ratio in Video Settings.

Check your TV user guide or manual for the correct setting. If you’ve lost the manual, go to the manufacturer’s website and visit the Support area. Most manufacturers make the manuals for their products available online free of charge.



2. Check the Video Settings menu on EVERY device attached to the TV.

Having the correct settings on the TV itself will not solve your problem if you have the wrong Video settings on your cable/satellite box, streaming box, Blu-ray player or DVR. Believe it or not, there’s a Video Settings menu on your console gaming unit (e.g., XBOX, PS4, etc.) too. And guess what? If you’re in the habit of connecting a laptop or tablet to your TV for viewing digital content, you may need to adjust the Video settings on that laptop or tablet as well.

After all, the makers of those devices can’t know ahead of time the specific make and model of TV the device will be used with, so the default settings tend to be pretty basic and not necessarily geared to a high-end HDTV.

Again, if you find you’re unsure which settings to choose, go to the website of the manufacturer for the specific device and look up the user guide. If that’s no help, look for Help and Support links that will allow you to call or email the device manufacturer for further guidance. Be prepared to provide the make and model of your TV.



3. Look for a “size” button on your TV, cable/satellite, or other device remote control.

Even when you have all the settings on the TV and other devices set properly, you can run into distortion problems when watching programs that aren’t being broadcast in a format that matches those settings. For example, very old TV shows like I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone weren’t shot or broadcast in a widescreen format, so they may appear distorted when viewed on a TV that’s been optimized for widescreen viewing.

TV manufacturers and cable/satellite providers are aware of the problem, and have begun including a handy “size” button (may be labeled “display”, “AR” for ‘Aspect Ratio’, or something else – check your user guide) on the remote control that allows you to easily, temporarily change the screen size. On my Verizon Fios remote, there are four different size settings and I can cycle through them to find the one that looks best. When I’m done watching the oldies, I can use the size button to go back to my original settings.


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Bad News For DISH Satellite Service Subscribers

Engadget is reporting, and DISH is confirming, that yesterday’s deadline for Turner Broadcasting to renew its contract with DISH has passed, and as of today DISH will not be carrying such Turner channels as:

- Cartoon Network (and that means Adult Swim, too)

- CNN (and all of its associated CNN network channels)

- Turner Classic Movies

- Boomerang


- TruTV



Note that TBS and TNT are covered by a separate contract, so those two channels will still be available to DISH subscribers.

DISH isn’t saying if or when the Turner channels that were dropped today will again be available to DISH subscribers; from the DISH press release (linked above):

“DISH has had a productive relationship with Turner Networks for many years,” said Schlichting. “We regret the service disruption to our customers, and remain committed to reaching an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup.”


Other Sources For These Channels

There are apps for some of the affected channels, but I’m not going to bother sharing them here because none of them have stellar ratings and some require a subscriber log in for full access to all available content. Since DISH dropped the channels, DISH customers will no longer be able to log in as subscribers.

While it’s certainly not ideal, you can access at least some of the same content as you’d get on live TV via the channels’ websites. You’ll have to sit through some ads, but that’s the same as on TV.



Cartoon Network Site – partial and full episodes of select programs available (selection changes month to month), plus games and online community features. Some content requires subscriber log in.

Adult Swim Site – partial and full episodes of select programs available (selection changes month to month), plus games and online community features. Some content requires subscriber log in.

CNN Site – live streaming, community features, archives of past reporting,

Boomerang Site – unfortunately, you have to log in as a subscriber to access most of the video content here. Non-subscribers can view clips and play games.

Turner Classic Movies Site – more bad news: this is a pretty useless site for non-subscribers. About all you can do here without logging in is research classic movies and actors, and buy Turner Classic Movies merch.



Can I Use This As Justification To Quit My DISH Contract?

In all likelihood, no. Because all TV and cable service providers must periodically renew their contracts with studios, production companies and channel networks, it’s a safe bet there’s some verbiage in the fine print of the contract you signed that covers this exact situation and warned you that availability of channels is not guaranteed and the channel line up is subject to change at any time.

If you signed up for DISH very recently, complaining long and loudly enough to the vendor where you signed up for DISH may get you out of the contract. The only other reasonably possible out is if you signed up under some kind of free trial.


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Welcome To Free Music Monday!

I’ve got something very special for you today: the Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler 2014 has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 470 Amazon reviews.

In addition, it’s got 15 tracks of Celtic music, including such classics as My Wild Irish Rose and Danny Boy.

There’s not much more I can say about this one, either you like Celtic music or you don’t. But I can say it’s a wonderful backing soundtrack for relaxing, dinner parties, holiday crafting, yoga, or a nice soak in the tub.

If you’re not familiar with Celtic music, this sampler album is a great place to start.


Green Hill Celtic Music Sampler 2014: get it now, while it’s FREE!


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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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