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Welcome to DMM’s 2/13/17 Movie Monday, where I’ll help you tackle movie night with brief reviews of movies you may have missed that are worth the rental or purchase. This week’s theme is geared to those who aren’t feeling the hearts and flowers this Valentine’s Day.

 

Love Is In The Air

 

Funny, scary or thought-provoking: hopefully there’s something for everyone here.

 

Man Seeking Woman (TV-MA)
A sweet and surreal look at the life-and-death stakes of dating, Man Seeking Woman follows naïve Josh Greenberg on his unrelenting quest for love.

This one’s a TV series, not a movie, but it’s SO funny! The show is built on a central conceit of making the figurative literal. When Josh needs to figure out when and how to respond to a text with a young woman he’s just met and hopes to date, he enters a literal War Room, with military and political advisors who counsel him with the same gravity as if this were a matter of national security. The sequence is hilarious and drives home the point that when you’re the one in Josh’s position, a simple text messaging conversation with someone new who you’re excited about can take on dimensions of high drama. A relatable comedy for anyone who’s single and looking—or ever was single and looking.

 

Constantine (R)
Based on the ground-breaking DC/Vertigo comic book “Hellblazer,” Keanu Reeves plays John Constantine, a modern-day mystic on a personal quest to send demons hiding on Earth back to Hell.

Constantine is the hero and Angela Dodson (played by Rachel Weisz) is the heroine, and they spend plenty of time together battling underworld foes, but the occasional flirtation between them never goes any further. Constantine’s got more important things on his mind and his plate than romance. Excellent supporting cast includes Djimon Hounsou, Shia LaBeouf and Gavin Rossdale.

 

Just Not That Into You


He’s Just Not That Into You
(PG-13)
An all-star cast looks for love and finds laughs in this savvy, sexy, right-now romcom. Sparkling with zingy aha moments any survivor of the dating wars will recognize.

A very clear-eyed look at the realities of love, marriage and dating. A series of related stories focus on the challenges of dating in the digital age, the temptations of infidelity, the pain and humiliation of loving someone who doesn’t love you back, and why commitment does or doesn’t matter. Surprisingly, it’s all handled with a light touch and there’s lots of heart and humor, even in the most poignant outcomes.

 

      
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Welcome to DMM’s 2/10/17 Freebie Friday! I’m going with some very highly rated yet totally free word puzzle apps today. I can personally endorse all three of these apps, as I’ve played (and greatly enjoyed!) all of them myself.

 

Cat Word Puzzle

 

Links in this post are for the Android versions, but both of the first two apps are also available for iOS on iTunes.
First up, it’s Bonza Word Puzzles.

Bonza Word Puzzle (UK readers click here).

 

Bonza word puzzles are like a mashup of crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word search and trivia. This app trailer demonstrates how they work:

 

The sequel, Bonza National Geographic (UK readers click here), offers the same type of gameplay experience but with a National Geographic bent: topics include current events, animals, science and geography.

 

Today’s last pick is the very fun and funny Chicktionary (UK readers click here)—currently available for Android only.

 

In this game you’re given a set of letters and must use them to form the required number of words of the required length. There’s a journey mode that allows you to work your way through hundreds of levels in order (with no time limit per level), a quick play mode where you race the clock, and a classic mode that’s sort of in between.

Fair warning: this is one of those free apps that only lets you play a limited number of levels before you must either put the game away for a while or use in-game currency to continue playing. You earn in-game currency at a decent clip if you’re good at the game though, so this doesn’t have to be as annoying as it sounds. Also, if you adopt this game as your go-to for lunch hours, you’ll have enough time to burn through the day’s levels while you eat and the game will be all charged up and ready to go by the time your next lunch hour rolls around.

 

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With the TP-Link Smart Plug, No Hub Required, Wi-Fi, Control your Devices from Anywhere, Works with Amazon Alexa (UK visitors click here), you can control virtually any “dumb” electric device with Alexa commands. Just set the plug up with a unique name in the Alexa app, then when you want to power whatever’s plugged into it, ask Alexa to turn it on! Currently (as of 2/9/17) rated 4/5 stars and priced at $29.95. The TP-Link Mini, a version that only occupies one socket, is now available in the US only

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FTC disclosure: The apps featured in this post are currently offered by their developers and sales outlets free of charge, and I do not receive any compensation from the app developers as a result of my personal endorsement of their products.

      
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I’ve been warning my readers away from Google Play for years, and at the end of January ZDNet reported on yet another reason to follow that advice: ransomware disguised as an Android battery monitor app was recently found on (and removed from) the Google Play app store.

 

Ransomware

 

From ZDNet:


Dubbed ‘Charger’ by cybersecurity researchers at Check Point, the zero-day mobile ransomware was found embedded in EnergyRescue, an app supposedly designed to enhance battery-life of phones and tablets. Charger was detected on the device of an employee at a CheckPoint customer, who had downloaded the malicious app from Google Play.

Once downloaded from the store, the app initially steals contact data and text messages from the device before asking the user for admin permissions, which if granted will run the ransomware, locking the device and displaying a note demanding payment.

Like many cybercriminals behind ransomware schemes, the malicious actors behind Charger demand a ransom in Bitcoin, asking for 0.2 Bitcoin — worth around $180 — in return for unlocking the device.


Click here to read the full article on ZDNet.

 

Why Blame Google Play?
While of course the maker of this malicious app carries the most responsibility for it, I also hold Google Play accountable because Google Play has never done a very good job of keeping malware out of its store. This ZDNet article from October of last year runs down 400 instances of malware-laden Google Play content. Their developer vetting process is virtually nonexistent, as is their customer support.

It says a lot for Amazon’s App Store that in all the years of its existence, there has never ONCE been a verified report of malware in an Amazon App Store app. There have been reports of adware, but that’s not the same thing. Adware means an app or program of limited value that seems to exist primarily to serve ads. Annoying, yes. But not malware. Malware is the stuff that puts your data and money at risk.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: never get your apps from Google Play.

 

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Ready to dress up your second generation Dot? Check out the Fintie Protective Case for Amazon Echo Dot (Fits All-New Echo Dot 2nd Generation Only) (UK visitors click here). Currently rated 4.5/5 stars and priced at $7.99 – $14.99, depending on color/pattern. Available in 12 color/pattern options in the US, 6 in the UK.

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2/6/17 Movie Monday: Three Takes On Snow White

Posted February 5, 2017 By Mom
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Welcome to DMM’s 2/6/17 Movie Monday, where I’ll help you tackle movie night with brief reviews of movies you may have missed that are worth the rental or purchase. This week’s theme is three takes on that fairy tale classic, Snow White.

 

True Fairy Tale

 

Whether you’re looking for bright family fun, action and adventure or something a little darker, one of these is sure to suit the bill.

 

Mirror Mirror (PG)
One of the most beloved tales of all time comes to life in the spectacular Mirror Mirror, starring Lily Collins as Snow White and Julia Roberts as the evil Queen. A fresh and funny retelling of the classic fairy tale, the film also stars Armie Hammer Sean Bean, and Nathan Lane.

This candy-colored version is directed by Tarsem Singh, the visionary auteur behind the painterly indie masterpiece The Fall, bold Immortals and spine-tingling The Cell. Like all of Singh’s films, this one is a beauty to behold. Filled with elaborate sets, gorgeous costumes and plenty of comic relief, this one is meant for the whole family to enjoy together.

 

Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13)
The legendary tale is now an action-adventure epic filled with intense battles and spectacular visual effects. Starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.

This is more along the lines of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in terms of look and feel. It follows the loose outlines of the original story, but dispenses with the dwarves, inserts some court intrigue, and turns Snow White into the brave hero of the tale.

 


Snow White: A Tale of Terror
(R)
If you thought Snow White was only a fairy tale, you’re about to discover the truth, but lock up your children first. The real tale of Snow White, starring Sigourney Waver and Sam Neill, is a tale of relentless terror and unimaginable horror. When young Lillian’s mother dies during childbirth, the father soon re-marries the well-intentioned Lady Claudia.

This is a gothic horror take on Snow White, and as such it aims to be grittier and darker, much more in line with the original fairy tale. Here, it’s not just an evil stepmother Snow White has to fear. The special effects in this 1997 production may seem a bit dated by today’s standards, but the first-rate stars definitely elevate the material, as does a script that aims for less fantasy and more realism.

 

      
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Welcome to DMM’s 2/3/17 Freebie Friday! Today I’ve got two Audible suspense titles that are free for both Amazon’s US and UK customers, plus a bonus freebie for Amazon’s US customers only (sorry, Amazon UK customers – I throw extra freebies your way when I can find them, too!).

 

Hipster Gaston

 

Today’s first freebie is To Die For (UK readers click here).

 

The publisher doesn’t provide a summary, but one Audible reviewer describes it like this:

Anthony feels he is one upped by his brother Ryan in everything. Anthony teases Ryan for confiding to him a deep secret. Ryan also shares his deep secrets with “a friend” who pushes him to do something unthinkable…

Runtime: 1 hour, 9 minutes.

 

Next is a story from Audible’s Killer Women anthology, FREE: The Window Man (UK readers click here).

 

A short suspense tale with a twist ending.

Runtime: 25 minutes.

 

Finally, there’s a bonus freebie for Amazon US customers only: Excerpts From Agatha Christie: An Autobiography, narrated by the great author herself!

 

Back in print in an all-new edition is the engaging and illuminating chronicle of the life of the “Queen of Mystery”. Fans of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and readers of John Curran’s fascinating biographies Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks and Murder in the Making will be spellbound by the compelling, authoritative account of one of the world’s most influential and fascinating novelists, told in her own words and inimitable style – and here in her own voice. These audio excerpts were dictated by Agatha Christie herself.

The New York Times Book Review called Christie’s autobiography a “joyful adventure,” saying, “she brings the sense of wonder… to her extraordinary career.”

Runtime: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

 

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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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