published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The Strip

THINGS I WISH MY KIDS WOULD ASK ME

Editor's note: Barry Courter has a 22-year-old son who recently graduated from college and an 18-year-old daughter who is a senior in high school.

Q: Dad, I've heard some of the my friends over the years say things like, "I'll get serious in high school," or "I'll get serious in college." Have you ever actually known anybody who eventually did get serious?

A: Yes, but usually only after a major, traumatic event, like marriage, or the birth of a child, or a stint in prison. In general, people who say they will put off getting serious about life until some major milestone occurs usually get their wish, but not in the way they think. It's better to handle your business all the time.

-- By Barry Courter

FACEBOOK'S HIDDEN MESSAGES

Many Facebook users are missing out on some personal messages, thanks to a separate inbox that has gone largely unnoticed. When Facebook users click on "Messages" on the left side of the home page, they can then select "Otherlesser inbox designed to capture some of the more uninvited or spammy messages. Here, users will find updates from fan pages and from events they never RSVP'd to. But they'll also find messages from people they aren't friends with, which isn't necessarily a great barometer for unwanted contact. Tips revealing the separate inbox have circulated the Web a couple of times in the last several months, but enough people continue to be surprised by it that it warrants a write-up here, too. When I shared this tip on Facebook, I heard from at least a couple of teachers who had messages in the Other inbox from students, whom they had not friended, that they never saw. So check out your Other messages. There might be something good in there.

TOP 10 GAMES

Game Informer Magazine ranks the top PlayStation 3 games for December.

1. "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim"

2. "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception"

3. "Battlefield 3"

4. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3"

5. "Saints Row: The Third"

6. "Assassin's Creed: Revelationsan Origins"

7. "Rayman Origins"

8. "Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One"

9. "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure"

10. "Metal Gear Solid HD Collection"

INTERACT WITH A HOLIDAY CLASSIC

Having trouble keeping the kids sated during holiday travel? The family classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is now in app form. It's the first in a series of Peanut digital book apps that will be coming to an iPad near you. The book features original animations, voices and musical scores from the 1965 television special. The narrator is Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown. Other digital books such as "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will follow in 2012 and beyond.

Unlike traditional e-books, the Peanuts interactive book apps will immerse users in an interactive multimedia environment. Characters and objects respond to touch and tilt gestures. The digital book also features an innovative dialogue system that allows users to move through the story at their own pace and hear actual character voices as each scene unfolds. The app oth "read to me" and "read it myself" modes.

In addition to the classic tale, readers will have the ability to customize their own Christmas tree and have it integrated into the story itself. Certain tree decorations also can be unlocked by solving a number of clues within the app.

The interactive books from Loud Crow will be available for Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android smart phones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Color. Currently, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is available for download for $6.99 from the iTunes App Store and Android Market.

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