Tech review: Halloween apps
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Does the thought of being separated from your smartphone scare you? Well, there is nothing to fear when you download Halloween-inspired apps to your smartphone or tablet. Whether you want to revisit classic Halloween stories from the past in new interactive formats, take Hallow's Eve-themed pics of your family and pets, or just want to know the easiest and safest way to carve a pumpkin, we have some app recommendations for you.
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The classic "Peanuts" gang cartoon comes alive on your touch-screen device with this beautifully crafted application that should appeal to children and parents alike. Developed by Loud Crow Interactive, which released a similar app last year for "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the Great Pumpkin app includes digitally remastered illustrations and music from the 1966 classic TV special. Additionally, the app lets users create their own characters (with a bevy of costumes to choose from!) that will join Charlie Brown at his first Halloween party. This app is all good -- with no grief!
Are your kids already itching to carve a pumpkin? Hand them the free Carve-a-Pumpkin from Parents magazine app for iDevices, and let them go crazy. It's the safest way to let kids carve pumpkins with no knives or cleanup necessary. Your kids can even email their pumpkin carving creations to grandma and grandpa.
Upgrade your old Halloween pictures, or your future ones, with the Halloween Booth app. Add a witch's hat to your mother-in-law's photo, or a wicked skull frame to that picture of your son to share with family. Upload your finished photos to Facebook.
The Berenstain Bears Go
on a Ghost Walk
Looking for some Halloween fun with the little ones? Enjoy The Berenstain Bears Go on a Ghost Walk app together. Children can read the book themselves or have the book read to them. The app can play just like a movie and makes reading a lot of fun for youngsters who are still learning to read.
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: Free)
Want to get your pet in on the action? The adorable yet spooky Disney movie "Frankenweenie" has hit local theaters for the Halloween season. Use the free app for your iDevice to spookily alter a picture of your pet by adding crazy eyeballs, horns, wings and more. Then share your photo with friends and family as a funny Halloween greeting.
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: $0.99)
The Halloween app for iOS devices is stocked with all of the noises you need to scare trick-or-treaters or your family members this spooky season. There are also scary stories, Halloween-themed recipes and more in this eerie app.
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Hospital malware 'rampant'
Hospital-borne infections are a major health problem. Now, a new type of hospital infection is causing concerns -- medical equipment contaminated with computer viruses. An expert on medical-device security told Technology Review magazine that "malware is rampant in hospitals" because many computerized medical devices don't have even a basic anti-virus program installed. The magazine noted that malware can "clog patient-monitoring equipment" and make it temporarily inoperable.
It's finally gift-giving season at Facebook. The social network's still sketchy Facebook Gifts service, announced in September, is expected to be fully rolled out Nov. 1 at an event at Manhattan's FAO Schwarz toy store. The service, aimed at enhancing Facebook's profitability, allows members to send gifts to Facebook friends. Facebook handles the shipping details, including getting the friend's address.
Multiple choice keyboard
With the slew of powerful tablets and smartphones hitting the market, many people use their mobile devices as computers. For those with multiple devices who hate virtual screen keyboards, the Logitech 810 Bluetooth keyboard ($99) is compatible with Microsoft's Surface, Apple's iPad and Android-based tablets. It also pairs with iPhones and Android smartphones and, for desktop users, is compatible with Windows 7 and 8 and Macs.
-- Peter King