Free App Friday for 10/17/14

Posted October 17, 2014 By Mom
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Today’s post is brought to you by Apple EarPods with Remote & Mic, currently 40% off at $17.49 and eligible for Prime shipping. 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.

Haunted House Escape – It is a point and click adventure game with a scary experience that takes place inside a haunted house. Your goal is to destroy this wicked house and all the evil that is inside. The game has a lot of puzzles that will give you hours of gameplay until you beat it. 5/5 star avg rating.

How To Draw: Plants vs. Zombies – Welcome to step by step drawing instructions that will teach you how to draw Plants and Zombies from the popular game.

Wikipedia – Official Wikipedia App. Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia containing more than 32 million articles in 280 languages, and is the most comprehensive and widely used reference work humans have ever compiled. The app has been rewritten from scratch. Read, save, and edit articles faster than ever before.

Cat Story – One day you will wake up on soft sand of a shore of an unknown sea, under the shade of a tree that you’ve never seen before. You will feel that everything has changed, and so did you. Surprisingly, you will see that you have paws instead of hands, a furry tail in the back and on your face (rather on your snout), a pair of whiskers! So begins “Cat Story”!

Pewdiepug – This little pug dreams of becoming a big star on Youtube! Help him stay happy by stroking his belly and giving his fans a good show. Gain fame, pimp your pug!

Dungeons of Evilibrium – Dungeons of Evilibrium is a card battle RPG with tactical elements of TCG strategies and the dungeon crawling exploration of a board game. Collect and evolve character cards, build and enhance your army deck, beat other players and seize dungeons’ treasures! The whole world’s fate depends upon your choices and skills!

Beach Buggy Racing – Beach Buggy is back with an explosive sequel! Drive into an action-packed, surprise-filled world of off-road kart racing mayhem.

Lucky Wolf Casino – Lucky Wolf Casino Slots has the BIGGEST JACKPOTS and is the HIGHEST PAYING slot machine (pokie) experience in the app store! Experience the luxury and style of a Las Vegas Casino right in the palm of your hand.

Crazy Kitchen – Get cookin’ in this addictive, puzzle matching hit! Master 200+ challenging levels, with more coming soon! Connect food pieces to create tasty matches and score big points!

Western Story – Live a full life of a cowboy in a real town in the Old West. Build and decorate your own house. Help the town grow. Defend townspeople from bandits and work close with local sheriff to make the city safer. Challenge criminals to duel and catch them in dizzy chases just like in the best western movies.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Right now you can get the official Apple EarPods with Remote & Mic at 40% off, for just $17.49. Unlike traditional, circular earbuds, the design of the new Apple EarPods is defined by the geometry of the ear. Which makes them more comfortable for more people than any other earbud-style headphone. The speakers inside Apple EarPods have been engineered to minimize sound loss and maximize sound output. So you get high-quality audio that’s just as impressive as what you’d hear from more expensive headphones. The Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic also include a built-in remote that lets you adjust the volume, control the playback of music and video, and answer or end calls with a pinch of the cord.

AppleEarBuds

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by the Shakespeare Insults Mug, which I own and love! 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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Did You Know About Facebook Stickers?

Facebook stickers are little, ready-made icons you can insert in your private messages and in comments you make to others’ status updates and posts when you’re using the full Facebook site in a web browser—functionality will vary in the mobile app and mobile version of Facebook.

There are lots of sets, many of them featuring licensed characters like Snoopy, Om-Nom from Cut the Rope, Adventure Time and World of Gumball, and they’re FREE!

**UPDATE** It appears that stickers are not enabled on Fan Pages, only on individual Facebook users’ timelines/profiles and in private messages.

 

The How-To’s

First, you have to “buy” at least one sticker set from the Sticker Store on Facebook—but as of this writing, all available sets are free. Once you have one or more sets in your personal collection, you can start using them!

1) Mouse over the little smiley face at the far right of the comment box, or at the lower left of the private message box, then click the “Post A Sticker” link.

 

2) Click on the plus sign to open the Sticker Store. Note that in the screenshot below, I’ve already added some stickers to my collection. The tab that’s open by default (indicated by the little clock icon) shows recently used stickers. The other tabs are for accessing each sticker set that’s part of your collection.

 

3. “Buy” the sticker sets you want by clicking the applicable green button (the screenshot below only shows a few sets, you can scroll up and down to view many more), and repeat steps 1 and 2 above to access your sticker sets in the future.

To insert a sticker in a comment box or private message box, just find the one you want to use in your collection and click on it! Note that the sticker you click on will be inserted and the comment/instant message containing the sticker will be posted immediately, there is no “undo” other than to delete the comment or message after it’s been created.

 

Note that while all currently-available sticker sets are free, the whole system seems to be set up to support a payment system. At some point I expect new sticker sets that will cost real money to be added, so just be alert to that possible change going forward.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

I own several of these squat, sturdy literary quotes mugs from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild, and the Shakespeare Insults Mug is the first one I ever bought. It quickly became such a daily fixture in my workspace that when it came time to add my caricature to the Digital Media Mom masthead, I decided to include it. If you’re reading this on the DMM site, check it out! The mug is microwave and dishwasher safe, and will bring a smile to the face of any Shakespeare fan.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by my book, The Digital Media Mom’s Guide To Tech Security And App Permissions In Plain English, with a unanimous 5/5 review rating and priced at just $2.99. Advertisers, and my book royalties, 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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Another Day, Another Leak. Or Two. So What’s New?

If you’ve heard the recent reports of a Dropbox hack that leaked thousands of username/password combinations, the main takeaway for you as a consumer is this:

DON’T USE THE SAME USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS ON MULTIPLE SITES.

While Dropbox is denying it was hacked at all, some reddit users are claiming that when hackers posted their list of user credentials, the reddit users were able to use those credentials to successfully login to the associated Dropbox user accounts. So what gives?

Dropbox doesn’t have to be hacked in order for hackers to get their grubby mitts on Dropbox usernames and passwords in cases where Dropbox account holders are using the same usernames and passwords on Dropbox that they use to access other, less secure sites.

It doesn’t matter how good a job Dropbox, Apple, Facebook, Amazon or any other major website does of protecting your data and login credentials if you’re using the same credentials on other sites where security is lax. And as a consumer, you can’t really know how tight or lax security is on a given site.

 

 

Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can use mostly the same username and password, and maybe just tack an extra character at the end or increase the numeral at the end by 1. Hackers have special programs that “guess” login credentials, and these kinds of tricks for re-using existing credentials while still technically making them “unique” are as old as the internet.

If you’re having trouble generating or managing your passwords, I recommend the following two DMM posts for simple solutions:

Hacker Defense: Password Creation & Management

Use This One Weird Trick And Never Memorize An Online Password Again

 

The Snapchat Leak IS Real, But Snapchat Wasn’t Hacked, Either

For those who don’t know, Snapchat is a special photo sharing app that is specifically designed to delete every photo sent automatically after it’s received and opened, both from the sender account and recipient account. The idea behind this is to protect users from having their adult or embarrassing selfies leaked to the general public.

However, for some reason, some Snapchat users also use an app called “SnapSave” or a similar app called “SnapSaved”, which totally defeats the purpose of Snapchat’s photo deletion tech by purposely storing copies of Snapchat photos to the SnapSave/SnapSaved user’s account on a Cloud server.

 

 

SnapSaved’s developer admitted that a server that wasn’t set up properly opened up a security vulnerability, and confirmed a massive leak of files from that server.

SnapSave isn’t making any such statement, but I include the SnapSave here for two reasons.

First, it’s really foolish to use a ‘helper’ app in order to bypass the security measures of another app you’re already using. The whole point of Snapchat is making the pictures disappear after they’re sent, so why use the app at all if you’re then going to use another app to save those pictures? The most likely use is a slimy one: people on the receiving end of Snapchat photos purposely keeping copies without the sender’s knowledge.

Second, this incident points up yet again how difficult it is for a regular consumer to know how tight security is (or isn’t) on any given site or in any given app.

Of course, in this case the ‘helper’ apps are a little fishy to begin with since using them violates Snapchat’s Terms of Use. In this Business Insider piece, a Snapchat rep confirms:

Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.

 

Tech Security Experts Warn: Hackers Have Shifted Their Focus To “Backdoor” Points Of Entry

As reported in Slate:

Hackers don’t need to try and target the tech giants anymore. Why bother trying to hack into Google, Apple or Facebook’s servers when you can simply take advantage of a poorly built website to get the same information?

 

DON’T USE THIRD-PARTY APPS AND SITES THAT VIOLATE THE TERMS OF USE FOR SOME OTHER APP OR SITE YOU’RE ALREADY USING.

DON’T USE THIRD-PARTY APPS AND SITES THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO WORK AROUND THE SECURITY PRECAUTIONS IN SOME OTHER APP OR SITE YOU’RE ALREADY USING.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Want to learn more about how to stay secure online and when using your various tech devices? Get my book, The Digital Media Mom’s Guide To Tech Security And App Permissions In Plain English (5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99). One Amazon reviewer says: “Unlike most security and privacy books I have read, this book doesn’t require you to be a tech guru to read it- no fancy words you have no idea what mean, just “plain english”. This book would be a great read for anyone living in the digital age thanks to the simple and easy verbiage.One of my favorite parts of the book was Hamilton’s analogy of explaining privacy as it being a lot like home security; “lock the door, don’t leave your valuables out in the open, don’t give your keys to strangers, keep your locks and keys separate, and don’t let fishy people into your home.” Her analogy gave me a new perspective on privacy online and helped reassure me that I can do something about protecting myself online.”

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by the SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit, currently on sale at $69 and eligible for Prime Shipping! 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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Apparently, This Is Still A Thing

Way back in August of 2013, I posted Why Can’t I Play Flash Games Or Videos On My Thingie?, in which I explained that Flash is a dangerous and dying technology that’s no longer even supported by its owner, Adobe.

But just yesterday, I saw a complaint from someone about the new (pretty awesome, IMO) Fire HD6: “It doesn’t support Flash!”

 

To Recap:

Flash is a technology that’s used to run animations and video. It used to be the most popular format for YouTube videos and most mobile and web-based games and cartoons, but no longer.

Dating back to its invention, Flash is a technology that’s been plagued by security problems. Because it has to have access to your computer’s or mobile device’s system files when it installs, updates or runs, it’s a hacker’s dream. For many years its original developer tried to close and patch the holes as best they could, but time and again scary Flash hacks would happen. It became a game of hacker whack-a-mole for the developer.

 

 

When the developer and all its software products were purchased by industry giant Adobe (of Photoshop fame), many expected the Flash security holes to be closed at last, once and for all. But it didn’t happen, and in 2012 Adobe threw up its hands and abandoned Flash. Since then, Adobe has made no effort to keep patching or updating it, and has been very clear that any user or developer still using Flash does so at his or her own risk.

This is why hardware and browser makers have also pulled their support for Flash. iPads and the Amazon Fire line of tablets have never supported it, and since 2012 most new-release tablets and smart phones from other makers are also opting out of Flash support. About the only place it’s still commonly in use is among developers of old Facebook game apps who can’t be bothered to migrate their games to a newer, safer platform.

Still not convinced? While researching this article I found a site that tracks software security vulnerabilities, and it lists over 350 vulnerabilities for Flash.

Yet I’m still hearing and seeing reports of users who are actually hacking or rooting their own devices to try and force Adobe Flash to run when the device manufacturer doesn’t support it. What they’re really doing is laying out the welcome mat for hackers, and all for the sake of some virtual crops, match-3 games or virtual casino chips.

 

Flash is bad. Flash is dangerous. It’s a good thing that Flash is going away, and the sooner users start boycotting games and apps that use it, the sooner it wil disappear entirely.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

If your household goes through a LOT of soda, seltzer, or flavored fizzy mineral water (like Perrier), the SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit is a must-have item. Currently marked down from its usual price of $100 to just $69, it’s a great buy! I have personally owned one—the same one I originally bought!—for over two years, and I absolutely LOVE it! This non-electric, pump-operated appliance does one thing: infuses plain, cold water with CO2 to carbonate it. You can make it as fizzy as you like by pumping more or less (I go with 7 pumps, because I like it extra-fizzy!), then add a twist or lemon or lime and drink up, or flavor it as you wish. I can make my own custom Italian sodas with Torani flavored syrups bought from Smart & Final, Cost+ or anywhere else that sells them.

You can get the usual soda flavors (Cola, Root Beer, Orange, etc.), but you can also get really creative. Try using Ginger + Vanilla for an excellent Ginger Ale, or up the Vanilla and tone down the Ginger for Cream Soda. I even experimented with Ginger, Cinnamon and Vanilla syrups to make my own version of the Starbuck’s Fizzio Spiced Root Beer. I can duplicate the flavored Perrier experience with just a few drops of Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit or Orange extract added to the fizzy water, too!

See? No electrical cord!

Don’t worry that the replacement CO2 bottles (called “carbonators”) will be hard to find: I trade my empties in at my local Target store and pay just $15 each (as of this writing) for a refilled one. Kohls has them, also. I keep two on hand at all times: one in the Sodastream + one for backup. Refill swaps are the way to go, because a brand new, filled CO2 bottle will run you anywhere from $32-$35. How long each refill lasts will depend on how frequently you use it; my 60L carbonators usually last about a month with daily use. It’s costing me a LOT less to use this machine than to keep buying soda pop and fizzy waters at the store, there’s no more packaging waste or lugging the empties to the recycle bin, and maybe best of all, no more lugging those heavy cases and bottles of the store-bought fizzy stuff.

 

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Today’s post is brought to you by Amazon’s MP3 Store 7th Anniversary $5 Sale. 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!

It’s that party-hosting time of year again. One of the biggest challenges for any host or hostess is finding the right mix of music to get your guests moving and hopefully, asking you, “What’s this SONG?” so they can immediately go out and buy it, thanks to your cutting-edge taste. That’s where the Wtii Records Spring 2012 Sampler (4/5 stars, currently FREE) comes in.

With lots of very danceable, edgy tracks and a couple of slower pieces to provide a little rest and rehydration time, this album is classified as Goth/Industrial but to me, it’s got “rave” written all over it! Here are some noteworthy tracks:

Skies Gone Dark is like Kraftwerk meets Depeche Mode. Very interesting, and just the track to prick up your guests’ ears as they enter, hang up their coats and grab a drink.

With its electronic drum n’ bass pounding along, Scissors will get them out on the dancefloor.

Mirage keeps the dance party going with a track that would do The Chemical Brothers proud.

Guess I Lied is like Human League meets New Order, and is also very danceable.

Intuit slows things down a bit and brings Bush to mind, but with a more industrial/electronica feel.

If you love Pop Will Eat Iself, Cryonica is the jam for you. Very dark and industrial, with sound bytes in the mix and overlaid rap.

Nine Inch Nails fans, give a listen to Reasons by am.psych.

Save Dat Mermaid brings Was Not Was’ Dad, I’m In Jail to mind: screaming, darkly humorous vocals over a hard-driving electronica soundtrack.

 

This album has 12 tracks in all.

 

Wtii Records Spring 2012 Sampler: grab it and add it to your dance party mixes today!

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Amazon’s MP3 Store 7th Anniversary $5 Sale features hundreds of MP3 albums priced at just $5 each. It’s a great chance to backfill your digital library with such albums as:

 

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