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The first two Digital Media Mom Android apps, Where Did I Put It? and Willpower, have been very popular and well-received (unanimous 5-star reviews for both!) and now I’m happy to announce the release of the first in a whole suite of new Digital Media Mom apps: Yarnventory.

Like all Digital Media Mom apps to date this one was inspired by a hassle I regularly have to deal with in my own life, and like all Digital Media Mom apps it’s priced at just $1.99. Here’s the app’s description from Amazon:

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Don’t you just HATE how when you find a great pattern and want to start a new project, the first thing you have to do is open all your yarn stash bins and pull everything out to see if you have an appropriate yarn on hand?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could store photos of all your yarns and all their important details (e.g., dye lot, style, weight, quantity per skein, number of skeins on hand, etc.) plus notes of your own about each yarn in a database instead? YARNVENTORY IS THE ANSWER!

In addition to letting you store and edit yarn photos and details, on devices with an external SD card Yarnventory lets you back up, export, and re-import your Yarnventory database. This is useful for transfer to a spreadsheet, or for backup and restore of data if your device is lost or replaced — just install a fresh copy of Yarnventory and import your existing data!
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Like ALL Digital Media Mom apps, Yarnventory has minimal permissions and can run totally offline, it has no In-App Purchases or ads, it’s simple enough to be backward-compatible with earlier versions of Android, and it has a very small installation file size as well. Here’s the rundown on those permissions:

Read-only access to device state: (to tell if a call comes in and let the call come through)

Read/Write access to external storage: (for database backup/export and import functions)

 

First In A Suite Of Apps For Crafters

As I mentioned, Yarnventory is just the first in a suite of similar Digital Media Mom inventory database apps for crafters. Because I also work with beads, polymer clay, embroidery/needlepoint and more as a crafter, I know there’s a need for this same type of app for other crafts as well. Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know as each one becomes available.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that delivers a grab bag of great stuff, much of it limited-edition or exclusive to Loot Crate, for $13.37/mo + S&H (which, as of this writing, is $6 for anywhere in the continental U.S.). Each Crate is guaranteed to contain products valued at $40 or more, there’s no minimum subscription requirement, and you can easily cancel at any time. The image below shows everything that came in the January 2015 “Rewind” -themed Crate.

Click here to read my detailed review of the February ’15 Crate, including links that demonstrate the retail value of the items shown.

Click here to sign up for Loot Crate.

 

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Fire Tablet Tech Tip of the Week: Lifehack: Fire HD6 Makes A Great Camera For ‘Middle Aged Eyes’, or Kids!

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If You Bought A Lenovo Computer Between Last September And Now, It Probably Has Superfish

Since last September Lenovo has been shipping laptops with Superfish “adware” pre-installed. Once installed, Superfish can display its own ads in your browser. That’s pretty slimy, but it’s not the worst thing about Superfish: in order to get the necessary permissions required to do its adware dirty work, Superfish installs its own (bogus) security certificate on your computer to supersede and override ALL other website security certificates.

Security certificates are those things that tell your browser you’re on a legitimate site and not a fake. Every legitimate site must provide a security certificate to indicate who’s really running the site, and when the certificate presented by a given site doesn’t match the name of the company that runs the site, it’s a major red flag because it often means the site you’re looking at is a fake, intended to trick consumers into giving up personal and financial information.

By supplying its own security certificate and allowing its certificate to override ALL other sites’ security certificates, Superfish does two horribly horrible things: first, it doesn’t allow consumers to see if the sites they’re visiting have trustworthy and accurate security certificates of their own, and second, because the Superfish certificate’s own security credentials (these are like a digital key that opens digital security locks) are public knowledge, it’s virtually effortless for hackers to provide those credentials to any Superfish-ed Lenovo computer they can access and thereby gain TOTAL CONTROL of the computer, to steal or install whatever they want!

 

 

Tools To See If You’ve Got It

Only Lenovo computers have been affected by this debacle, because Lenovo itself pre-installed Superfish on computers that began shipping last September. If you bought one of them, here are some trusted sites you can visit that will quickly scan your machine to see if Superfish is installed:

Filippo Valsorda’s Superfish scan

LastPass scan for Superfish

Lenovo has also provided its own list of Lenovo models where Superfish was factory installed, here.

 

How To Get Rid of It

While Lenovo was initially—and shockingly—dismissive of the Superfish problem, Lenovo has now provided their own tools to remove Superfish.

Windows users who are feeling a little untrusting of Lenovo, which would be understandable, can let the latest Windows Defender update handle the task of removing Superfish. Click here to visit Microsoft’s site with details and instructions on Windows Defender.

 

 

Why Did Lenovo Do This?

While Lenovo has made no official statement in this regard, the most likely reason for any computer or software manufacturer to pre-install adware is that the company stands to receive a portion of the ad revenue generated by the adware.

Either Lenovo was unware of the Grand Canyon -sized security hole Superfish opened on its Lenovo computers, or was aware but felt the risk of anyone discovering and taking advantage of the hole was small.

They were wrong. Way back in September, almost immediately after the Superfish-carrying machines started shipping, online discussion/support boards for Lenovo computers started buzzing with consumer complaints and concerns.

As to why it took Lenovo so long to DO something about it…well, you’d have to ask Lenovo.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Amazon’s ONE DAY ONLY 15% Off Sale on Fire Tablets provides a great opportunity to grab an excellent tablet that’s already a great value at its full price at a discount. Just be sure to take advantage of this deal TODAY (2/24/15), because prices go back up tomorrow.

 

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Fire Tablet Tech Tip of the Week: Lifehack: Fire HD6 Makes A Great Camera For ‘Middle Aged Eyes’, or Kids!

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Free Music Monday for 2/23/15

Posted February 23, 2015 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by the Anker full-speed portable chargers, USB hubs and backup power supplies for all your portable USB devices. 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!

In today’s Free Music Monday, it’s Tunecore’s 2-album artist compilation “All About Love”.

Tunecore has been a mainstay here on Free Music Monday, offering lots of quality alternative rock, pop, folk, and even some bluegrass and country from artists deserving of the exposure these sampler albums can provide.

This time, it’s All About Love, in the form of two albums with 14 tracks each:

All About Love 2015: A TuneCore Artist Compilation, Vol. 1

 

All About Love 2015: A TuneCore Artist Compilation, Vol. 2

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Anker full-speed portable chargers and backup power supplies are consistently very highly-rated by consumers, and they’re also very reasonably priced. Anker products are designed to provide maximum functionality with minimal hassle, and range from an individual backup power supply (currently priced at $25.99) to a 9-port USB hub (currently priced at $45.99) that includes one charging port: you can plug the hub into your computer’s USB port to enable connection of up to nine other USB devices, and even provide charging capability for one of those devices. Anker also offers a foldable solar charger that’s currently got an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars and is priced at $60. Whatever your USB hub or portable power needs, Anker’s got you covered!

 

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Fire Tablet Tech Tip of the Week: Lifehack: Fire HD6 Makes A Great Camera For ‘Middle Aged Eyes’, or Kids!

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Free App Friday for 2/20/15

Posted February 20, 2015 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by a terrific Amazon outlet bargain: the Beats Solo 2.0 Wired On-Ear Headphones in red, currently on sale for $160 (20% off the regular price of $200—other colors available, prices vary). 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 some of the top 100 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.

USA Today – The nation’s news from USA TODAY is accessible 24/7 on your Amazon Kindle Fire or Fire Phone [or other Android device – check device compatability list].

Slots Favorites – Play Las Vegas Casino slot machines for free every day!

Goat Evolution – They yell like humans, climb trees and even mountains. Yes, goats are crazy creatures for sure. What would happen if mutations started happening to them? Combine goats to evolve them and discover their most curious, exotic and bizarre forms!

Ancient Egypt: Age of Pyramids – Create your own version of Ancient Egypt by building different habitats, breeding your own creatures and controlling the mighty Egyptian Gods such as Amun Ra, Sekhmet, Anubis and many more.

DogHotel – My boarding kennel for dogs – As a fresh, young boarding kennel manager, you take control of your very own dog hotel.

Escape Winter Villa – Can you escape before dawn?

Solitaire Mystery: 4 Seasons HD – Fun combination of clever hidden object and challenging card game play. Dozens of mini-games!

Jigsaw Puzzles Epic – Jigsaw Puzzles Epic is a jigsaw game with over 2000 beautiful pictures in a wide variety of categories. You can also create puzzles from your own photos.

Moxie Classic – Moxie is the original word transformation game…EASY to learn, but CHALLENGING to master. “Can’t. Stop. Playing.” – Mashable.com

Chrismas Cookie: Fun Match 3 – Need to satisfy your sweet tooth while getting a dose of puzzle matching goodness? Look no further than Christmas Cookie, an amazing match 3 game that’s all about swapping tasty cookies to make big, cookie-crumbling matches!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

At last, there’s a rare opportunity to get a set of those Dr. Dre Beats Solo 2.0 Wired On-Ear Headphones in red (other colors available, prices vary by color) that are all the rage among kids, teens and adults alike at a discount price! These are the same Beats Solo HD headphones that cost $200 or more in stores, with the color-matched RemoteTalk cable that has a built-in microphone for taking cell calls, the unique tri-fold design, average review rating of 4.5/5 stars and eligibility for Prime Shipping too, but at a savings of $40 off the original retail price.

 

 

 

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Fire Tablet Tech Tip of the Week: The Mystery of the Re-Appearing Fire Content, Solved!

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Today’s post is brought to you by the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which I own and absolutely LOVE! Click here to read my full write-up. 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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It’s Been Less Than A Year Since I Shared Target Ticket

…and that video streaming service is already withering on the vine. Not that it’s easy to tell; as of this writing, if you go to the Target Ticket site you’ll see this at the top of the webpage (tap or click on images to view a larger version in a new tab or window):

 

TargetTicketLanding

 

Based on that you’d think everything is just fine and dandy with Target Ticket, and that Target Ticket is still signing up new customers. But if you scroll down a bit, you’ll find this message lower down on the same page:

 

TargetTicketWarning

 

Customers Must Switch To CinemaNow, and May Lose Some Videos

If you read that warning above closely, you’ll notice that it says “CinemaNow is available at NO COST to you and you’ll be able to access your movies purchased from Target Ticket that are also available through the CinemaNow service.” You might also notice that Target Ticket does not address availability of “your movies purchased from Target Ticket” that are NOT also available through the CinemaNow service. Which means you’ve simply lost any movies you bought from Target Ticket that are NOT also available through CinemaNow.

In fairness, all of the movies I got for free when signing up for Target Ticket (I’ve never bought or rented anything from the service) were available on CinemaNow, and it appears to me that any Target Ticket titles that are available in UltraViolet digital format will be available on CinemaNow.

I can’t speak to other digital formats though, and the very fact that Target Ticket must specify that the only TT purchases that will remain available to the buyer are those that are also available through CinemaNow tells me TT anticipates at least some of their customers’ purchases will be lost.

 

 

This Is Why I ONLY Buy Digital Videos From Amazon

Many streaming video services that promised to provide safe, reliable, convenient access to rented and purchased digital videos have come and gone over the years, Target Ticket is just the most recent casualty. I have little doubt that some of the video streaming services out there today—maybe even CinemaNow—will eventually go the way of Target Ticket, and when they do consumers will probably lose at least a few of the videos they’ve bought due to licensing problems or technical incompatibilities.

While there’s no guarantee that ANY company will remain in business forever, and there’s ALWAYS a risk of losing digital content if the company you bought it from fails, choosing to hitch your digital video wagon to an established, trusted, entrenched vendor is just about the only safeguard you have against these kinds of future losses. As of this writing, only two digital video vendors fit that bill: Amazon and iTunes.

 

 

I used to buy my digital videos from iTunes but eventually I got sick and tired of their high prices and the fact that I could ONLY watch my iTunes digital videos in the iTunes program or on an Apple device. The whole point of replacing my discs with digital was to maximize convenience and availability of my videos: I wanted to be able to watch them wherever I was (assuming electricity and WiFi availability), whenever I wanted to, on whatever device I liked. iTunes wasn’t meeting my needs, but there weren’t any great alternatives. Until Amazon Instant Video came along.

Amazon Instant Videos are generally less expensive than the same content on iTunes, and they are definitely available to watch through a much wider variety of devices, both in the home and on the road. Click here to view Amazon’s page that lists all of the MANY compatible devices. There has yet to be a circumstance where I wanted to access and watch one of my Amazon Instant Videos and couldn’t; it used to happen all the time when my digital video library was in iTunes.

 

 

Yes, when I transitioned to Amazon Instant Video I more or less lost all my iTunes digital videos, and had to re-purchase the videos I still wanted in Amazon Instant Video format. But I blame Apple for that, not Amazon, because it’s Apple’s digital rights management (DRM) policies that locked all my iTunes purchases into Apple devices in the first place.

No other service has yet come along that can compete with Amazon Instant Video in terms of pricing, video availability or support for such a wide variety of viewing options and devices. But frankly, even if one did, at this point I’ve bought far too many Amazon Instant Videos to walk away and start over with a new service. This is the crux of why most digital video startups are doomed to fail.

 

 

But Couldn’t Amazon Go Out Of Business?

Sure, someday. But I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. Amazon is so huge, and has invested so heavily in its digital content ecosystem, that something truly catastrophic would have to happen for Amazon to shut down its digital video division. The more likely scenario is that some future competitor comes along and slowly chips away at Amazon’s market share until the once-great e-tailing dynamo finds itself struggling to remain relevant and competitive. But again, even in that scenario I’d be pushing up the daisies long before Amazon follows me to the grave.

Until then, as technologies change and advance Amazon will be keeping pace to ensure its customers retain full ownership of, and access to, the digital content they’ve purchased from Amazon—not to be nice, but to protect its own investment in digital technology and to retain and grow its market share among digital content vendors.

 

So go ahead and sign up for CinemaNow, Target Ticket customers. Just don’t count on all of your videos surviving the transition, and don’t assume those that do will remain accessible to you forever.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

If you’re heavily invested in Amazon’s digital ecosystem, meaning that you own or use Amazon Instant Videos and Amazon Digital Music regularly, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a must-have—especially if you also own a 2013 or later Fire tablet or Fire phone. Click here to read my complete write-up and review, where I detail all the pros, cons and features of this amazing little device.

 

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Fire Tablet Tech Tip of the Week: The Mystery of the Re-Appearing Fire Content, Solved!

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