Verizon Cuts Unlimited Data Plan Customers

Posted January 17, 2017 By Mom
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Last week the news broke that like AT&T, Verizon is taking aim at its Unlimited plan users who are heavy consumers of data.


Data Plan


As reported by Ars Technica:

Verizon Wireless customers with unlimited data plans who use more than 200GB a month will have to switch to limited plans next month or be disconnected, a company spokesperson confirmed today.

Since Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers in 2011, this change affects only longtime customers who were allowed to hang on to the old plans. Verizon could simply force all customers who aren’t under contract to switch to new plans, but instead it has periodically made moves that reduce the numbers of unlimited data subscribers.

“Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a small group of customers on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month that they must move to a Verizon Plan by February 16, 2017,” Verizon spokesperson Kelly Crummey told Ars today.


Click here to read the full article on Ars Technica, which includes more historical background and information about pricing on Verizon’s current 100-GB/month plan.


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With the Try Amazon Music Unlimited: 30-Day Free Trial offer (Amazon UK customers click here), it’s easy to try Amazon Music Unlimited and see how it stacks up against competitors like Pandora and Spotify before you commit to an ongoing subscription. At $9.99/mo for a single membership, $14.99 for a household membership, $79/yr or $7.99/mo for Prime members and $3.99/mo for a single-device Alexa subscription, and with tens of millions of tracks available, AMU may be exactly the music streaming service you’re looking for.

Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

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New Feature: Movie Monday!

Posted January 15, 2017 By Mom
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Since Music Monday has been getting pretty repetitive, with lots of Classical music and not much else, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature: Movie Monday. On Movie Monday I’ll help you tackle movie night with brief reviews of movies, TV shows and other digital videos you may have missed that are worth the rental or purchase.


Theater Robbery


This week, it’s all about the action movies.


Escape Plan (R)
One of the world’s foremost authorities on structural security agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called “The Tomb.”

Sylvester Stallone stars as Ray Breslin, the world’s top expert in structural security. When he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit, his skills are put to the ultimate test in an attempt to break out of one of his own prisons. Co-stars some pretty big names: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio and 50 Cent.

The acting is strong across the board and the script is very good. If you enjoy the types of movies where the hero must solve puzzles or come up with a daring plan, like Ocean’s 11 or Aeon Flux, you’ll probably like this one a lot. Plus, it’s a pleasure to see these two top action stars playing against one another at last.


The Adjustment Bureau (PG-13)
An action thriller about a man (Matt Damon) who decides to fight the powerful Adjustment Bureau, risking his political future to be with the only woman he’s ever loved (Emily Blunt).

This one is kind of like Dark City meets The Island. A shadowy, secret cabal exerts absolute control over major world events to ensure their own, profitable ends. They have the power to change not only people’s lives, but their memories as well, to more easily bend everyone and everything to their own will without anyone even knowing it’s happening.

When Senate hopeful David Norris (Damon) accidentally gets a glimpse behind the curtain of The Adjustment Bureau’s existence, activities and plans for him, he fights to regain control over his own destiny and desire to be with a ballet dancer (Blunt) he’s begun to fall for.

Interesting, twisty script and an intriguing premise, with two top-notch actors in the lead roles.


Source Code (PG-13)
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the mind-bending action thriller about an experimental government program used to try and stop a deadly terrorist attack in downtown Chicago.

Speaking of twisty…this one’s got a humdinger of a twist ending, and I won’t spoil it for you.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a soldier who wakes to find himself in unfamiliar surroundings, guided only by remote voices and video images. He’s told he’s part of an experimental government project to stop terrorist attacks through virtual reality, and that he’ll be sent into a virtual reality scenario in which he must find a bomb that’s been planted on a commuter train and discover who planted it before it explodes. He can make multiple attempts but time is limited, and with each foray into the scenario he becomes more attached to a woman he meets on the train.

He begins to suspect the scenario isn’t virtual at all, that the woman and everyone else on the train are real people, and that his remote contacts aren’t telling him everything.

Co-stars the excellent Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.


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Free App Friday!
Don’t let the negative implications of Friday the 13th get you down: mellow out with these stress-relief puzzle apps.

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.



FlipPix Art – Zoo – Use logic to determine which tiles should be filled to reveal a hidden picture.

HexLogic: Zoo – Players will enjoy using their deduction and reasoning skills to paint tiles and reveal a hidden picture.

Doodle Numbers – addictive puzzle game – Improves your math skills by asking you to solve series of simple and fun pattern-matching puzzles.

Mahjong Venice Mystery Puzzle – Pair up and match colorful tiles to clear over 400 Mahjong levels and solve an ancient mystery.



Swipe The Words – You need to find a word and swipe it to beat the puzzle. After you find and swipe a word, the grid is reorganized to form a new one. With all the letters on board crushed, the puzzle is solved.

Unblock Me FREE – Slide blocks to free the trapped piece.

Flow Free – Connect matching colors with pipe to create a Flow®. Pair all colors, and cover the entire board to solve each puzzle.



Blendoku – Blendoku is a puzzle game that will challenge your ability to distinguish and arrange colors.

Two Dots – CONNECT one dot to another, connect four dots to make a square, sink anchors, make a line, create bombs, fight fire, break ice, and much more in this fun free puzzle game

Definitionado – Use your sharp intellect and knowledge of word meanings, idioms, riddles, and trivia to solve these fun puzzles!


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The ARMOR MiNE Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker currently (as of 1/13/17) has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 1,100 reviews and is currently priced at $29.95, making it a great pick for portable audio that won’t break the bank.


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1/13/16 Freebie Friday: Audible Sessions

Posted January 12, 2017 By Mom
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Audible Sessions exclusive interviews feature many bestselling authors, like Archer, McDermid, Connolly and Hill to name just a few, plus a sprinkling of celebrity memoirists. There are more than 300 interviews to choose from, and they’re all FREE!



Here are just a few of the many noteworthy Audible Sessions interviews, which generally run between 15 minutes to a half hour.


Bryan Cranston: Audible Sessions (Amazon UK customers click here) – Bryan Cranston joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios for an exclusive interview on the release of his autobiography, A Life in Parts (Amazon UK customers click here). Bryan discusses the writing process, the experience of recording the audiobook, and of course his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad. 17 minutes.


Audible Sessions with Johnny Marr (Amazon UK customers click here) – Legendary musician Johnny Marr, co-founder of The Smiths, joins David Darlington in the Audible Studios to discuss his autobiography, Set the Boy Free (Amazon UK customers click here). 24 minutes.


Miriam Margolyes: Audible Sessions (Amazon UK customers click here) – The legendary Miriam Margolyes joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios to discuss her career, Maggie Smith, and her involvement in a new audiobook project with a series of letters unearthed by the National Archives. 28 minutes.


Amazon US customers, click here to browse the full catalog of Audible Sessions exclusive interviews.

(Amazon UK customers click here).


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The Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Alexa (UK visitors click here) is currently (as of 1/12/16) rated 4.5/5 stars across over 9,000 reviews and priced at $247. Climate control with your voice: if you’ve got an Alexa-enabled device, it’s a thing!

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My Amazon Video Disappeared!

Posted January 10, 2017 By Mom
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Yup, it finally happened. One of my purchased Amazon Videos disappeared from my Amazon Video Library without any advance warning. Here’s what happened, and why I’m still going to keep buying Amazon Videos.


Lets Get Digital


I own a LOT of Amazon Videos because I’ve been in the process of converting to an all-digital household for years. I haven’t bought anything new on disc since early 2012. I prefer the convenience (no discs to store or move around) and mobile accessibility of digital video, and have no regrets about making the transition.

Even so, today I’m here to tell you three things. First, there’s a glitch that can prevent Amazon Videos you own from showing up in video search results on Fire TV and the Amazon site. Second, for the very first time since I started buying Amazon Videos, one of them actually did disappear from my Amazon Video Library last month. Third, Amazon resolved the problem to my satisfaction and I’m not going to stop buying Amazon Videos.



You Know The Video’s In Your Library, But It’s Not Showing Up In Search
A few months back I discovered this glitch: I knew the Amazon Video I wanted to watch was definitely in my library, but the Fire stick couldn’t find it via search: I had to scroll through all my video library manually to find it and play it. This happened because the video was not available for rental or purchase on the Amazon site at the time—which shouldn’t affect access for people who already own the video, but like I said, it’s a glitch. The same problem sometimes happens on the Amazon site.

Any given TV show or movie can become unavailable for rental or purchase in Amazon Video format due to an expired or revised contract with the studios. This is usually a temporary situation, and I wrote about it previously here. Apparently there’s a bug in the Amazon Video search function where if a given video is not available to rent or buy currently, that title will not show up in search results. Even if you already own the video. I’ve reported it to Amazon tech support every time it’s happened to me; I think it’s been three times so far.

So if Search on your Fire TV or the Amazon site doesn’t find a video you’re sure you own, try scrolling through your video library manually. The bigger your library the longer it’ll take, but the video should still be there. And don’t forget to report the bug to Amazon because the more people complain about it, the sooner they’ll fix it.




What If The Video Really IS Gone?
This happened to me last month, and it was the first time any of my purchased Amazon Videos have ever become unavailable to me at the time they became unavailable for rent or purchase on the Amazon site. My copy of Louis CK’s stand up comedy show Hilarious didn’t show up in search and I couldn’t find it by scrolling through my library either.

I searched my past orders to confirm I’d purchased it and then called Amazon customer support. Amazon confirmed the video had been pulled from their catalog entirely and immediately offered to refund my purchase price. They also said this was exceedingly rare, and given that it’s the first time it’s happened to me in five years and after purchasing over 600 Amazon Videos, I know it’s true. A few days later the video came up for sale on Louis CK’s personal site, so I suspect there was some kind of rights issue, like that time some years back when a pirated version of George Orwell’s 1984 was removed from all the Kindles and Kindle book libraries.


Why I’m Still Buying Amazon Videos
You might think the incident above would’ve soured me to Amazon Videos, but it hasn’t.

First, there’s many a DVD in my old, physical movie collection that will no longer play, or no longer play smoothly (e.g., without skips or any pixelated scenes, without audio drop-outs, etc.), so it’s not like buying a physical copy guarantees you will always be able to watch that video. But I can’t get a refund for any of my old DVDs that are no longer watchable, so Amazon Video still has them beat.

Second, this has only happened once across over 600 Amazon Video purchases; that’s a failure rate of less than one in six hundred. The rate of failure for my videos on disc is more like one in ten.


Amazon Video isn’t perfect, but for me, the pros still outweigh the cons of buying movies on disc.


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