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Today’s post is brought to you by the album Hybrid Theory [US Version] – by Linkin Park, currently (mystifyingly!) on sale for just $1.99 on Amazon. 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!

This week I’m doing something a little different. I found that several of the tracks I wanted to share today come from a single compilation album, and the whole album is currently free, and it’s pretty darned good! Especially if you’re a fan of 2000′s Alterna-pop from bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and Good Charlotte.

 

The Album: I Am Shark – Confessions Under Water, Vol. 1

This album contains 21 tracks. They can’t all be winners, but here are some of the more noteworthy tracks. Click through on the album link above to sample the individual tracks.

 

1. Running in Place (Nikki Am) – Hawthorne Heights – a little like Good Charlotte, a little like blink-182

2. The Door – The Casket Lottery – like Ben Folds Five meets Linkin Park

3. One to Ones – Hidden Hospitals – very Fall Out Boy -ish

4. A Framed Life in a Charming Light – Jamie WoolfordOne Republic -esque

5. New Bones – dead horse – reminiscent of Massive Attack

6. Tidal Wave – The Story Changes – I had to do some research to verify this is NOT a Fall Out Boy spin off band. It’s not, but if you love Fall Out Boy you’ll love this!

7. Giants Sleeping – Koji – similar to Paolo Nutini

8. You Leave Jack Burton Alone! – Tiger Tank – very Panic! at the Disco

9. The Bridge – Pentimento – has a Candlebox feel

10. They Speak With Knives – If These Trees Could TalkRogue Wave meets Radiohead circa OK Computer

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Hybrid Theory [US Version] – by Linkin Park is one of the band’s top-grossing albums of all time, and for some mysterious reason Amazon’s currently offering it for just $1.99! For the entire album! I grabbed it immediately, and since prices on Amazon are subject to change at any time, so should you.

 

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Free App Friday for 9/5/14

Posted September 5, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, a premium Disney app that’s rated 4/5 stars and currently ranked at #3 on Amazon’s App Store Bestsellers list. 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.

Fab Tattoo Artist – The ultimate tattoo studio just got better! Make your own never-seen-before masterpieces with an awesome freestyle mode that lets you be more creative than ever before!

White Noise Lite – Features ambient sounds of the environment that will help you relax during the day and sleep great at night.

Spider (Solitaire) – The #1 Spider Solitaire game on the iPhone is now available on Amazon!

Fairy Princess Fantasy – Help the fairies rebuild Fantasy Island to be the world’s biggest Magic Island! Discover magical Islands and meet lovely creatures!

Flixster – In today’s fast-paced world of movie entertainment, Flixster Movies is the perfect app to keep you up-to-date on the latest theater and DVD movie releases and reviews.

FreeCell – The #1 FreeCell Solitaire game on the iPhone is now available on Amazon!

Word Search Little Books – Word Search Little Books aims to be the best word search game on Kindle Fire. Word Search Little Books keeps track of your progress across numerous word search puzzles and puzzle books so that you can pick up right where you left off.

TipCalc – Tip Calc is a simple tip calculator app for your Android device. Just enter a bill total and instantly get a 15% tip and total amount. Also, the app allows you to enter a custom tip percent and number of people to split the bill.

Game of War – Fire Age – “I found Game of War – Fire Age more engaging than its closest analogue Clash of Clans” – NY Times review

Kids Doodle 2 – Color & Draw – Kids Doodle is particularly designed for kids with super easy-to-use painting on photo or canvas. It has endless bright colors and 18 beautiful brushes, such as glow, neon, rainbow, crayon and sketchy, etc.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a new, premium app from Disney in cooperation with SEGA. While the app is priced at $9.99, that hasn’t stopped it from rocketing up the bestseller charts and racking up great reviews. This app trailer gives a better idea of what the beautiful graphics and interesting levels in Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse are like:

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by the Zmodo PKD-DK0855-500GB 8-Channel DVR Security System with 8 CMOS IR Cameras, 500 GB Hard Drive and Remote Web/Mobile Access, a terrific home or office suveillance / recording system that’s currently on sale at 46% off its usual price. 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 Does Googling Get You?

You can “Google”, or do a web search, on anyone. It’s not illegal, and in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with it. After all, when we’re talking about ordinary people (as opposed to famous people, whose private stuff becomes unexpectedly public in hacks all the time) the only results you’ll get are for pages, photos, text and records that are already available to the public, and things the person him- or herself has chosen to make public.

Sometimes it’s not only reasonable to Google someone, but necessary. Any situation where a background check would be reasonable is a reasonable candidate for a Google search. Maybe you’re thinking about going into business with someone, hiring a new caregiver for your kids, renting your home to a boarder while you’re out of town, et cetera. Or maybe you’re involved in a bitter legal battle and know the other person is hiding assets or misrepresenting other important facts in order to hurt your case. Googling can put your mind at ease, or provide you with some additional questions that need asking.

 

 

“Is It Secret, Is It Safe?”

For the most part, for most people, yes. While it’s true that even the most basic website statistics program will list the number of people who came to a given web page or site from a Google search results link, and that most of them will also list each visitor’s IP (Internet Protocol) address, the IP address does not identify you by name, physical street address, nor even necessarily by your city or even state.

See, the IP address only identifies a specific server, the last server in the chain that carried your internet request to the final destination page. Since the world wide web is like, well, a web, your internet requests don’t typically go anywhere in a straight line. They travel from server to server based on which servers are up and available to process the request, sort of like how relay races work.

So even though I can check my web statistics to get the IP addresses of people who have read this post on the DMM site today, those IP addresses do not provide me with any personally-identifying information about the people who visited. I can know with some certainty what country the people came from, but that’s about it in terms of location.

The exception to this kind of ‘IP anonymity’ is highly-secured, private computer networks, like those used by the government, military and financial institutions, where everyone using the network knows their every keystroke is being recorded for security purposes.

 

But There Are Some Other Special Cases…

Note that the information that follows is accurate as of this writing, but technology is always subject to change so in the future, there may be more special cases than those listed below.

1. Both you and the person you’re Googling are members of a web site/service that offers users a “search alert” tool that notifies them when anyone views their profile, AND the person you’re Googling has the ‘search alert’ option enabled, AND after Googling you click on a link to the other person’s profile on the site that has the search alert tool.

The sites I’m talking about are online address book services / contact list managers, professional networking sites, and social networking sites, and not ALL such sites have this option. If you belong to one or more such sites, just search the help pages there for “search alert” to see if this is an available option. Twitter and Facebook do not have any search alert option for their users as of this writing, and both of those sites have always fought against letting users know who’s browsing their profiles so it doesn’t seem likely to happen in the future, either.

Remember, even if there are sites with search alert tools involved, the only way that other person would know you Googled them is if you clicked a link to a site with a search alert tool on it AND you are both members of that site. If you’re not a member of the site the most that other person could get from a search alert is the IP address, and I already explained how totally impersonal that is. Even if you are a member of the site with the search alert, if you just scanned the Google search results, or only clicked on links to sites other than the site(s) with search alert enabled, the other person would still have no way of knowing you Googled.

 

2. In your search results, you followed a link to site that secretly uses illegal spyware to “trace” site visitors, AND the person you Googled has access to the spyware statistics on the site (or knows someone who does), AND the person you Googled is actively watching those statistics.

This possibility is pretty remote for the vast majority of law abiding people. Since all three conditions I’ve listed above must be met, even if you know a few shady types who would use illegal spyware, you’re not likely to be found out. Traffic logs are just huge text files filled with alpha-numeric strings, error messages and time and date stamps; they’re not fun or easy to read, so unless the person you’re Googling already has reason to be watching those logs very closely during the time period when you clicked the link to the site with spyware, he or she is not going to be motivated to crack open the log files and take a gander.

 

3. You Googled someone on a computer or device owned by that person, and the person knows how to view the device’s browser history.

But it would be pretty foolish to do that, wouldn’t it?

 

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On any given day, my original post about HD vs. SD digital video is among the most popular on the site. So even though my views on the subject and the technology haven’t really changed since I first wrote it, I figured it’s time to repost this one.

 

High Definition (HD) vs. Standard Definition (SD)

In a nutshell, the difference between high definition and standard definition images is the number of pixels contained in the image on display. HD images have more pixels per square inch than standard definition videos. Okay fine, but what does that really mean?

It means that HD images can show much finer detail than SD images. Here’s a simple analogy that should explain why.

Imagine you have a 3×5″ card, and you’ve been asked to draw a picture of a flower on it. You’re given your choice of two drawing tools: either a preschooler-type crayon (the really big ones) or a finely sharpened pencil. If you choose the crayon, your picture can’t possibly include as much detail as you could provide with the pencil drawing, because the crayon draws a much thicker line and you’re limited to the size of a 3×5″ card. And that’s just like the difference between SD and HD: the HD image shows finer detail because it “draws” the image with smaller, and more, pixels than an SD image can.

But not so fast! This is a very simplified example, intended to clarify the concept of HD vs. SD. In real life, the differences can be much more subtle. In real life, the upgrade to HD quality won’t be noticeable to most of us most of the time.

 

Have you seen these people in HD? Are you sure you really want to?

 

Videophiles: Move Along, There’s Nothing For You To See Here

Let me say right up front that video fanatics, the type of people who were all over Laserdiscs back in the day and have a home theater setup with equipment that looks like it belongs in a lab at NASA, are yelling at me through their screens right now that not only is the higher quality of an HD image noticeable, it’s critical to one’s enjoyment of any film.

To people like them, sure. The difference is noticeable. There are some people who would never go back to “consumer-grade” speakers after using super-expensive audio professional grade speakers, either. But I’m not one of them, and neither are most of you. This post is for the rest of us, the ordinary joes and janes who just want to watch our TV shows and movies in peace, with images that look clear to us.

And let’s face it, for anyone over the age of 40 who’s already had to start using reading glasses as it is, there’s an upper limit to how much clarity we can expect, even when viewing the real world around us!

So with that said, onward.

 

HD vs. SD: HD Is Wasted On An SD Screen

This pixels-per-square-inch thing comes into play on the device side, too. Even if you have an image that’s super high-def, 1080p, a device that can only display 720 pixels per square inch isn’t capable of displaying all that extra fine detail.

So if the device you plan to use for watching digital videos doesn’t have an HD display (you can check this in the device’s product details either in the user guide that came with it or on the manufacturer’s website), there’s no point in paying extra to watch HD videos on it.

 

How much fine detail are you getting on a 3.5″ screen, anyway?

 

HD vs. SD: HD Is Wasted On A Small Screen

You probably already know that when you’re shopping for digital cameras, the higher the “megapixel” setting, the better the quality of your digital photos will be. That’s because the higher the pixel count, the more pixels there are per square inch. The more pixels there are per square inch, the higher the resolution. The higher the resolution, the finer the detail on your pictures will be. But the extra pixels in a high-def image aren’t distinguishable by the human eye when the image is small.

You know how sometimes when you’re online, you’ll see a small (or “thumbnail”) version of an image that looks pretty clear, and when you click on it to load the full-size image, the enlarged image looks fuzzy? That usually happens when the image was saved at a low resolution setting. The image looks fine to your eyes when it’s small but the bigger it gets, the worse it looks.

So if you’re intending to view digital video on a small screen, not only will you NOT notice the loss of finer details in a standard definition video, you also won’t notice the increase in finer details in an HD video.

 

But How Small Is The “Small” When I Say “Small Screen”?

I’ve watched both the SD and HD versions of The Matrix and Constantine, two movies with a lot of digital special effects, on my Kindle Fire HD’s 7″ screen, and didn’t notice any difference whatsoever for either movie.

I repeated the experiment on my 37″ diagonal HD television set, and again, did not notice any significant difference. I think this is because even though the image is a lot larger on my TV, I’m still sitting at least 12 feet away from the screen when I’m watching it. I don’t have a huge living room, this distance is mostly because the TV is mounted on the wall. The further I get from any image, whether on TV, my computer, my phone, my Kindle Fire or even in real life, the less I’m going to notice fine detail.

In my opinion, the difference between SD and HD is most noticeable on broadcast, network TV. But when I’m watching the news, a sitcom or a panel discussion show, I’m focused much more on what the people are saying than whether or not I can count the freckles on their noses.

 

Admit it: if we’d never heard of Blu-ray or HD, we’d have been perfectly content to keep watching DVDs and we would still be impressed by their image quality.

 

Don’t Forget How Amazing We All Thought DVD Resolution Was When DVDs First Became A Thing

If you’re old enough to have owned a movie on VHS (or even—GASP!—Betamax) and then replaced it with a new copy on DVD, surely you remember being awe-struck by the tremendous increase in image clarity. At the time you might even have said something like, “It’s like I’m right there, IN the movie! It’s like I’m actually IN The Field of Dreams!” Well guess what? That image was in standard def.

DVD image quality is nothing to sneeze at, and until people who sell HD devices and videos starting publicizing this notion that DVD image quality doesn’t cut the mustard, we were all just fine with it.

 

HD Isn’t Doing The Actors Or The Audience Any Favors

Until the advent of HD TV, I was happy to believe that Johnny Depp’s face was as smooth and flawless as a piece of Limoges porcelain. I was not happy when that bubble was burst wide open the first time I saw him in an interview segment on my HD TV.

**9/3/14 – Updated to reply to those snarky types who wrote me to say, “Ah-HA! PROOF that even YOU admit there IS a noticeable difference between HD and SD!” Um, yeah. But I guess you missed my point, which is this: HD isn’t showing me anything new that I actually want to see.**

Every celebrity and public figure, no matter how beautiful or handsome, is imperfect. And HD is great at literally bringing all those tiny imperfections into sharp focus. It’s not for nothing that some TV shows are being shot in slightly soft focus now, or that more celebrities seem to be getting facelifts and collagen injections than ever before.

 

In Conclusion…

Since HD digital movies run anywhere from $2 – $5 higher than their SD counterparts, and HD digital TV shows can be as much as $20 higher per season than the SD versions, the choice between HD and SD really can have a significant impact on your budget.

For all the reasons above, for most of us, it’s not worth the extra spend.

 

 

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Where IS The Prime Kindle Lending Library, Anyway?!

While the Prime Kindle Lending Library IS a thing, and one free borrow per month from it IS a benefit of Amazon Prime membership, Amazon doesn’t provide any handy links to pages that gather all available Lending Library books in one place so you can easily browse them by genre, the way they do for other Kindle books.

Amazon’s Help topics on the subject aren’t too helpful either, since they just tell you to browse books on your Kindle or Fire, click through to the product pages of any you like, and if the book’s part of the Lending Library and you’re a Prime member, there will be a “Borrow this Book” button in the purchase options box. It’s pretty labor-intensive and random.

But luckily for you, I’m here to share the secret to browsing the ENTIRE Prime Kindle Lending Library on the Amazon site, just the same as you’d do for any other Kindle books. Once you find a book you want to borrow you still have to look it up on your Kindle or Fire, but this trick makes it a LOT easier to find Lending Library books in the first place.

 

For Those Who Just Want A Direct Link…

Some folks just want to cut to the chase, they don’t need to see how the sausage is made. If you’re one of them, here you go. Click the link below, which will open the entire, current Prime Kindle Lending Library in a new tab or window. Once you’ve got it open, set a bookmark in your browser so you can easily bring it up again any time you want. Every time you do, the listings will automatically update with current Lending Library results.

Current Prime Kindle Lending Library Link

I’ve also added this link to the D-Media Bargains & Freebies page of the site.

 

The 4-Step How To

Here’s how I created that link above. Click or tap on the images below to view enlarged versions in a new tab or window.

1. Go to the main Amazon home page and select “Books” from the Search box drop-down list:

 

2. On the Books page that has loaded, scroll WAAAYYY down until you find the “Prime Eligible” checkbox in the left-hand sidebar and click on it to select it:

 

3. Finally, click on the Kindle Edition button:

 

Now you can browse the Lending Library by category/genre, just the same as with regular Kindle book listings! Look: right now, there are over 674,000 eligible books to borrow!

 

Note that as you start clicking around you may get sort of lost in the listings, and find you’re looking at more than just Lending Library books. If that happens, just click your handy bookmark to re-load the Lending Library from scratch.

 

A Kindle Unlimited Connection?

The more observant among you may have noticed that every book in the Lending Library also appears to be a Kindle Unlimited book. I can’t say for certain if this is so, because I’ve got better things to do than page through the listings for nearly 700,000 books to try and verify it. But it certainly looks that way to me, and if so, then for folks who expect they’d only read one Kindle Unlimted book per month it’s smarter to buy a $99 annual Prime membership than to pay $9.99/mo ($119.88/yr) for Kindle Unlimited because with Prime, you get to borrow one Kindle book per month from the Lending Library AND get all the other great Prime benefits, like free 2-day shipping on all orders ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ and unlimited streaming access to the Prime Instant Video and Prime Music Libraries.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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