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Today’s post is brought to you by the BookGorilla Free & Bargain Kindle Book Email Alert, a totally free service that delivers a once-daily listing of bargain-priced and free Kindle books from the genres you specify direct to your email inbox. 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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Don’t you just HATE it when you finally fork over the money for a new Kindle book, only to find a few chapters in that not only is it NOT worth the price you paid for it, it’s not even worth your TIME? That doesn’t ever have to happen again.

Four Tools To Improve Your Odds Of Getting A Great Kindle Book

Here are three ways to find out before you buy whether or not you’re likely to enjoy a given book, plus one tip to help you deal with those books you’re pretty sure aren’t very good, but which everyone is raving about to the point where you just want to know what the big deal is. The books scattered throughout this post were all bestsellers and have very high average review ratings, yet I found them all disappointing at best, infuriatingly bad at worst. It just goes to show you: sometimes, bestseller status and a high average Amazon review rating are no guarantee you’ll like the book.

 

1. Where To Find Better, Longer Book Descriptions

Did you know that the where a print edition is available for a book from a major publisher, the book description on the hard copy book’s Amazon product page doesn’t always match the Kindle book description? Descriptions for hardcover editions are almost always MUCH longer, probably because the hardcover edition is usually released first and the publisher puts a lot of effort into getting as many people to buy the book in hardcover as possible.

So if the Kindle edition’s brief description is TOO brief, try clicking the link for a print edition—ideally, the hardcover edition—where one is available. Just don’t forget to click back over to the Kindle edition if you’ve decided to buy it.

 

2. When You’re On The Fence, Look The Book Up On Goodreads

If you’re concerned about the possibility of fake reviews on Amazon, or you’ve simply got doubts about the trustworthiness of Amazon book reviews due to things like the Top Reviewer system or people using the Amazon reviews platform just to get attention, Goodreads is where you need to start going for honest book reviews.

Goodreads is an online community for book lovers that was around LONG before Amazon bought it a couple years back, and Amazon hasn’t done anything to interfere with its existing community or reviews system. This reader-centric site has tens of thousands of reviews from thousands of readers, the great majority of whom are just regular consumers like you and me, not professional reviewers or publishing wonks. The site’s terms of use keep a tight reign on any fakery or other shenanigans, and while you must be a registered user to get the full use of the site, membership is totally free.

Once you’re a member, you can search by book title, author, genre, keyword or username. Once you’ve found your book, just as on Amazon you can view overall star ratings and read individual reader reviews. If you’re not sure whether a given reviewer’s tastes align with your own, you can click on the username to see how that person felt about other books, some of which you may own and have your own opinions about. If you find a reviewer whose tastes align very well with your own, you can ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ that reviewer, to be alerted to any new reviews that user posts.

 

3. Don’t Forget To Sample

I’ve written about this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again: don’t just rely on the Look Inside feature when browsing for books on Amazon. The “Try it free” sampling option that’s available for most Kindle books (in the right-hand sidebar of the book’s product page, right beneath the buy options) will provide a much lengthier excerpt than what you could see using the Look Inside option.

Use “Try it free” to get a substantial excerpt, usually from the beginning of the book, sent to your chosen device. If, after reading the excerpt, you decide you want to buy the full book, you’ll often find a handy link for that right at the end of the excerpt. Where no link is provided just “turn” the last “page” of the excerpt and you’ll be taken to the book’s product page on Amazon from your device (so long as you have internet access).

 

4. Visit The Book Spoiler When You Want To Cut Through The Hype

Just as with movies and TV shows that have super-hyped, “You won’t BELIEVE the SHOCKING conclusion!” -type ad campaigns, it’s now pretty commonplace to find those same tactics being used to market books. Very often you’ll know right off the bat that the book being splashed all over social media isn’t worth your time or money, but you still want to know what the big twist, or “SHOCKING conclusion” is.

That’s when you should visit The Book Spoiler. It’s a public, totally free to use site where volunteers post full synopses of books. While the site doesn’t have an entry for every popular book ever written, it’s a safe bet that you’ll find entries for recent bestsellers there.

Thanks to The Book Spoiler, you can satisfy your curiosity without having to buy or borrow the book.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

The once-daily, fully customizable BookGorilla Free & Bargain Kindle Book Email Alert is a terrific way for voracious readers to keep getting their ebook fix without breaking the bank. When you sign up for this free service you’re prompted to specify your preferred book genres, as well as how many books you want to have included in the daily listings. Save your preferences and you’re done! From the next day forward, you’ll receive a BookGorilla bargain and freebie Kindle book email each day. The listings include bestsellers past and present offered at deep discounts, not just a bunch of stuff you’re not interested in and have never heard of. For example, here are just a few examples of what turned up in this morning’s listings:

$1.99 as of this writing:

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$2.99 as of this writing:

If you love books AND saving money, sign up for the BookGorilla Free & Bargain Kindle Book Email Alert today!

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Today’s post is brought to you by Noah, the hit film starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson. 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!

For this week’s Free Music Monday, I’m sharing Faith Comes By Hearing’s audio Bibles: King James Version.

These readings of the Bible are availble in “dramatized” editions, with music and sound effects, or in the case of the New Testament, a “non-dramatized”, straight reading as well. Either way, they’re perfect for use in a Bible study or Sunday school setting, for personal worship time, or simply for listening enjoyment in the same situations where any audiobook would be appropriate.

This week I’m not going to warn that prices are subject to change, because Faith Comes By Hearing has dedicated itself to making dramatized audio versions of the Bible available free of charge to anyone who wants them. This Bible will remain free for as long as it’s listed.

The three albums, the King James Old Testament Dramatized, and King James New Testament Dramatized / Non-Dramatized, can be downloaded in their entirety or one chapter at a time, as you prefer. Please note: if you choose to download an entire ‘album’, the file will be very large and may take a while to download. It’s probably best to tackle that job at home, rather than on a mobile device. Note that you can also “buy” an entire album, then download or stream the individual chapters of interest from the Cloud as you need them, too.

Here are the relevant links:

Faith Comes By Hearing – KJV Old Testament (Dramatized): entire ‘album’

Faith Comes By Hearing – KJV Old Testament (Dramatized): individual chapter listings

 

Faith Comes By Hearing – KJV New Testament (Dramatized): entire ‘album’

Faith Comes By Hearing – KJV New Testament (Non-Dramatized): entire ‘album’

Faith Comes By Hearing – KJV New Testament: individual chapter listings for BOTH Dramatized and Non-Dramatized

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Noah is now available for purchase in Amazon Instant Video format. Russell Crowe stars as Noah in the timeless story of courage, sacrifice and hope. This visually stunning, action-adventure is hailed as “one of the most unforgettable Biblical epics ever put on film.” *Richard Roeper, Chicago-Sun-Times.

 

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Free App Friday for 7/25/14

Posted July 25, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by Brooklyn Bean Roastery Oh Fudge K-Cups 40-count. 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.

Farm Heroes Saga – Switch and match the collectable Cropsies in this farmtastic adventure!

Burger Shop – Make burgers, shakes and more in the Android™ version of this exciting food-making game that has been enjoyed by millions of fans on the PC/Mac and online.

Jewels Star 3 – Classic Match-3 game.

How To Draw: Band Logos – More than 28 Rock Bands Logos drawing lessons are grouped in this app!

Sudoku Free – Love Sudoku? This app gives you Sudoku with an intuitive interface, four difficulty levels, and easy touch-screen functions.

Be Funky Photo Editor – BeFunky is the app that leaves all creative control with YOU while keeping everything super easy to use. It has TONS of effects you won’t find anywhere else, and now you can even add text to your pictures!

Draw Something Free – You don’t have to be an artist to tap into your creative, doodle-loving side. Art is for everyone, so just Draw Something! The Draw Something app for your Android device and Kindle Fire is a social drawing and guessing game.

Shadow Fight 2 – Shadow Fight 2 combines classical Fighting and RPG to create the ultimate gaming experience.

Waterfall Jigsaw Puzzles – 88 different scenes, user-selected puzzle piece sizes, stats, ability to save finished puzzles as image files, and 4 different puzzle type selections: classic jigsaw, swap pieces to unscramble, slide pieces to unscramble and rotate pieces to unscramble.

Fish Out of Water! – Launch a daredevil group of fishy friends to the sky in Fish Out Of Water, an adventure across the sun, sand and surf!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Brooklyn Bean Roastery Oh Fudge K-Cups 40-count is obviously NOT a digital media product. But it’s one I’ve been ordering, loving, and enjoying while USING my various digital media for months. I highly recommend these K-cups to anyone who loves chocolate or mocha flavored coffee and has a Keurig brewer, and at just $26 for the 40-pack (as of this writing) with Prime Shipping eligibility, they’re a great buy: about 65 cents per delicious cup!

 

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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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