Free App Friday For 8/21/15: Utilities

Posted August 21, 2015 By Mom
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Free App Friday!
The special Free App Friday posts I ran for the past two Fridays, each one focusing in on a specific type of app, have proven so popular that I’m doing it again. Today, it’s all about free utility apps.

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.

Calculator Plus Free – for Fire tablet – I’m Calculator Plus – the perfect calculator for Kindle Fire. I remember everything you calculate, and let you review it anytime, making me perfect for adding up receipts, balancing checkbooks, or even calculating taxes.

Calculator Free – for all Android devices – Calculator Free combines the Normal and Scientific calculator for Free!

Final Countdown – Count down to events that you have been looking forward to: birthday, vacation, concert, sporting game, holiday, wedding, anniversary, graduation, to-do, New Year.

High Powered Flashlight – Bright. Fast. Simple. The most elegant and functional LED flashlight app, ever!

Clinometer – The best and most accurate level from iPhone now on Android.

Tip Calc – Simple tip calculator. Just enter a Bill Total and instantly get a 15% tip and total amount. Also allows you to enter a custom tip percent and number of people to split the bill between.

GSam Battery Monitor – GSam Battery Monitor lets you easily see the state of your battery and time-left estimates as well as view a detailed display of each item using your battery.

StopWatch – Own the cleanest looking, easiest to use stopwatch available. No fancy bells n’ whistles, just a great stopwatch that works!

Voice Recorder – Record your audio into space-saving mp3 format.

Lose It! – Set goals and establish a daily calorie budget that enables you to meet them. Stay on track each day by recording your food and exercise and staying within your budget.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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*SIGH*

I’ve been a happy Verizon Fios customer for many years and have recommended it to others repeatedly during those years, but things are about to change.

 

Meet The New Boss
Verizon has been slowly, quietly getting out of the broadband, video streaming and landline business bit by bit, and the states that are currently on the block are Texas, Florida and my own state of California. Verizon is selling all of its Fios and telephone landline businesses in these states to Frontier Communications. Prior to this, Verizon sold all of its landline business in 14 other states to Frontier.

From DSL Reports:

Verizon and Frontier Communications have formally announced that Frontier is buying another massive chunk of Verizon’s unwanted fixed-line network. According to a Frontier press release, the $10.5 billion deal will involve Frontier acquiring all of Verizon’s residential, commercial and wholesale customers in California, Florida and Texas. According to the companies, the acquired assets will include 3.7 million voice connections, 2.2 million broadband connections, and 1.2 million FiOS connections.

 

It’s All Very Hush-Hush
I only heard about this when I received a notice of a public hearing—to be held the day after I received the notice, during business hours—asking for consumer input on the deal. I’m convinced that kind of thing is just a regulatory hoop for Verizon and Frontier to jump through and consumers’ opinions don’t really matter, because Verizon’s gotten approval on every one of these selloff deals so far even though lots of consumers aren’t happy about it.

While Verizon and Frontier may not have technically been keeping the deals secret, they haven’t been making any effort to let Verizon customers know change is coming. At least, not until it’s a done deal. I’m still seeing Verizon Fios ads on TV, online and in my mailbox trying to recruit new customers in my area on a daily basis, and none of them carry any kind of disclaimer to let people who are signing up with Verizon know that their service will actually be provided by Frontier very soon.

If you don’t think that’s a little sneaky, then how about this: back in 2009 Verizon sold 4.5 million landlines and related assets to Frontier Communications in 14 states, and at the time said this about it:

“This transaction is part of our multiyear effort to transform our growth profile and asset base to focus on wireless, FiOS fiber-optic services and other broadband development, and global IP,” said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon. “All of Verizon’s remaining local landline operations have high concentrations of FiOS in more densely populated markets.”

That deal may have been drafted in 2009, but it took years for the transition to be complete. Now that it IS, Verizon suddenly doesn’t seem so interested in focusing on “wireless, FiOS fiber-optic services and other broadband development”.

I can’t prove it, but it seems pretty likely to me that Verizon had this mass sell-off plan in mind from the start.

 

What Should Verizon Customers Do?
For now, there’s nothing to do.

I have a contact at Verizon who says Verizon customers in Texas, California and Florida aren’t likely to see any changes to their service or the name on their bills for at least a few years, because it’s a huge deal, it takes time for the companies to jump through all those regulatory hoops, and transitioning all the administration/billing/back office stuff is a massive job.

As for me, I’ll wait it out until the final transition, at which point I’m sure Frontier will try to get me to renew my Fios services with them. Customers who’ve already been forced to make the move don’t seem very happy with Frontier, and at least three states are investigating consumer complaints against Frontier.

So when the dreaded day comes, I’ll have a look around to see what other services are available in my area. I was thinking AT&T Uverse maybe, but it seems AT&T has been quietly selling off pieces of its business too, and there have been numerous billing scam complaints against AT&T as well.

 

It took a long time, lots of hassle and plenty of money wasted to find a bundled home services provider I was happy with. I dread having to go through that process again.

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

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Fire Tip of the Week: Did You Know About Fire’s Pop-Up Carousel Icons?

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You may have been hearing about Facebook’s ambition to become your one-stop web destination, for everything from socializing to shopping. News is one subject people have not traditionally looked for on Facebook, but the recent expansion of the Trending News feature is intended to change that.

 

Trending: It’s No Longer Just About Gossip & Viral Videos
You may have noticed that Facebook recently redesigned that little Trending box in the upper right-hand sidebar of your News Feed, and this is a sign of Facebook’s attempt to become its users’ main news source.

As shown in the screenshot below, the Trending box now has little icons (red outline box) to let you select the type of headlines you’d like to see, and when you tap the See More link (red arrow) you will now see more headlines than in the past.

 

Where Do The Trending Topics Come From?
All of the headlines/links shown here are only reflective of what’s currently most popular on the Facebook site: the stories people are discussing and sharing the most. For that reason, it’s not safe to assume the list is going to reflect the news of the day in general. If you want a more thorough and varied list of the day’s news in various categories, I recommend Google News.

Having said that, much of what’s in Facebook’s trending lists will be the stuff people are talking about the most both on and off of Facebook, so if you just want to be up to speed for the water cooler or to participate in a discussion on a friend’s page, Facebook’s Trending topics will work for you.

 

What Are The Trending Topics?
The default, “Trending” list is the same as it’s always been: a mix of entertainment, sports, politics, crime and social media stories that are currently being most actively discussed and shared on Facebook (aka, “going viral”). Tap the other icons to get news in specific areas:

1. The second icon from the left is meant to represent a government building. That list is focused on political and government news.

2. The center icon is an atom (though it kind of looks like a flower), and that list contains science and tech news.

3. Second from the right is a soccer ball, and that list is all about sports news.

4. Finally, the film projector icon stands for Entertainment news.

You can also mouse over any of the icons to see its category.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

Ever since Amazon began selling it unlocked, the Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (Unlocked GSM) has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It’s rated 4/5 stars across over 9,000 reviews, and since it supports most of the same functions as the newest Fire tablets, many people are buying one to use as a mini-Fire tablet. It’s currently (as of 8/19/15) on sale for $159, and since it comes bundled with a free year of Amazon Prime (free one year extension for current Prime members), it’s like getting the device for just $60. That’s a bargain, whether you’re buying this to use as a smartphone or mini-tablet.

 

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Fire Tip of the Week: Did You Know About Fire’s Pop-Up Carousel Icons?

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Many news outlets are reporting a new email phishing scam that specifically targets toll road users, though it seems a lot like the same scam I reported on last summer.

Toll road users across the country are getting bogus email notices of unpaid tolls (tap or click on image below to view an enlarged version in a new tab or window).

The Toll Roads site, which is the official online site of the California Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), has this alert posted:

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Phishing Scam Alert: There is a phishing email* being sent to drivers across the nation claiming they owe money for unpaid E-ZPass tolls.  This is not an email from The Toll Roads, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, E-ZPass or E-ZPass tolling agencies. E-ZPass is used to collect tolls electronically on the East Coast; FasTrak is used to collect tolls electronically on the West Coast.

Please do not open or respond to the email if you receive it. To see an example of the email, please click here.

*Phishing emails, websites and phone calls are designed to steal money.  Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer.  To report a phishing email, forward it to: phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

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Also see:

ABC News coverage: E-ZPass Toll Road Users Targeted in Email Scam

Consumerist coverage: AAA: E-ZPass Users Targeted By Phishing Scam Demanding Money For Unpaid Tolls

 

Take a look at the example of the scam email shared by The Toll Roads site, be on the lookout for it, and don’t fall for this latest phishing scam.

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

The HP Envy 4500 Wireless Color Photo Printer with Scanner and Copier is rated 4/5 stars across over 2,400 reviews and is currently (as of 8/18/15) on sale for $69.72—that’s a 43% savings compared to its regular price of $123.00. Print from your smartphone, tablet, and Internet-connected PC.

 

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Fire Tip of the Week: Did You Know About Fire’s Pop-Up Carousel Icons?

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FreeMusicMonday for 8/17/15

Posted August 17, 2015 By Mom
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Welcome To Free Music Monday!

I’ve got two albums to share today.

First up, it’s Brushfire Records Fall 2009 Sampler (4.5/5 stars), an eclectic indie and alternative rock compilation that includes at least a few names music fans will recognize: Rogue Wave, Jack Johnson, G. Love & Special Sauce. 9 tracks in all.

 

 

The second album is filled with upbeat electronica from Vyking: Strange Arcade (4.5/5 stars). 12 tracks.

 

 

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And now, a word from our sponsor…

The Belkin 12 Outlet Surge Protector with Cable / Satellite / Telephone Protection and 8 ft Power Cord has an average rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 120 reviews, and as of this writing (8/17/15) it’s on sale for $34.80—that’s a 23% savings off its regular price of $44.99.

 

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Fire Tip of the Week: Did You Know About Fire’s Pop-Up Carousel Icons?

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