About John Plessel

John Plessel is Systems Editor for The Sun and has been blogging for the Los Angeles News Group since 2008.

Seeking Girl Scout Cookies? There’s an app for that!

It’s Girl Scout Cookie time again!

If none of your co-workers or family members have girls in the Girl Scouts, you might find it a little tricky to track down Girl Scout Cookies.

Not if you have a smartphone.

There are a pair of apps — each available for iOS and Android — that allow you to search and find Girl Scout Cookie sales in your area.

One, from Kellogg’s, does a reasonable job of letting you know where the sales are by date and location.

The other, from the Girl Scouts themselves, is a little more robust.

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$19 unlimited wireless phone plan is a reality

Looking to save a a bundle on your wireless phone service?

Republic Wireless, which offers its “members” a $19 unlimited talk, text and data plan, recently entered open beta.

That means anyone can join.

Of course, there’s gotta be a catch, and there is. The company wants you to connect to Wi-Fi for the majority of your calling, texting and Internet access.

That shouldn’t be a problem for those of us who have Wi-Fi access at work and at home, but for others, that could be a dealbreaker.

Of course, you still have service when you’re not connected to a hotspot. Calls, texts and Internet get routed through Sprint’s CDMA cell network when you’re out and about, and the company remains committed to unlimited access for everyone.

There are a few caveats, however.

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You might want to read this before Monday…

If you depend on the Internet, you might want to visit this site from your computer ASAP: www.dns-ok.us

What that site will tell you is if your computer is infected with DNS Changer malware, and how to fix the problem.

What that nasty bit of software does is change your computer’s domain name server (DNS) addresses — the Internet’s “address book,” to simplify — to ones that were once under the control of some Estonian scammers.

The servers are now under the control of the FBI, which plans to shut them down on Monday.

Hence the urgent warning.

Software checkers on Facebook and Google warned most people that their computers had been compromised, and the number of infected computers dwindled from about four million to about 277,000 worldwide, with an estimated 64,000 here in the U.S.

Is your computer one of those still infected? You might not know until you visit that website above.

Or until Monday comes and you realize you can’t get on the Internet.

To read more, click here.

Amazon debuts Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon has launched a cloud version of its Kindle software, designed to skirt Apple’s iTunes purchase fees.

The new cloud player launches in the iPad’s Safari browser, rather than as a standalone app.

Apple balked at Amazon’s inclusion of a button that directed users to Amazon’s website within the Kindle app, so Amazon removed that button from its app.

Apple’s aim is to direct all in-app purchases through iTunes, where the company receives a 30% cut.

The new Cloud Reader works on the iPad browser, Safari, and on Google’s Chrome browser. It does not yet work on either Internet Explorer or Firefox.

To access the Kindle Cloud Reader, visit read.amazon.com.

HP releases TouchPad tablet

Announced what seems like an eternity ago (but was in reality just back in February), HP finally released its TouchPad tablet today.

It’s the first tablet running the webOS operating system.

Reviews around the Web and elsewhere mostly put it behind the iPad 2 (it shares many of the same specs, although size-wise, it’s more akin to the original iPad), but on a par or slightly ahead of the myriad Android tablet devices.

Many of the reviewers praise the software (which in some areas still appears to be half-baked), but fault the TouchPad’s hardware, dinging it for being a scant 139 grams (not quite 5 ounces) heavier and a mere 4.9 mm (one-fifth of an inch) thicker than the iPad 2.

Reviewers are also knocking the fingerprint-magnet, piano-black plastic back, but how many iPads have you seen that are not in a case?
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Angry Birds Seasons: An Advent calendar of pig-pummeling

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The monstrously popular time-sucker known as Angry Birds has been given the holiday treatment as Angry Birds Seasons.

The twist here is that, instead of being able to advance through all the levels as you complete them, you’re treated to a new level each day.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, Angry Birds, developed by Finland-based Rovio, is a mobile game where the goal is to destroy green pigs by using a slingshot to fling birds (of varying destructive capabilities) at the pigs’ homes.

Yes, I’m aware of how insane that sounds.

The best-selling app has grown into a pop culture phenomenon, spawning plush toys and even being spoofed on Israeli TV (Parents note: Video contains four-letter words).

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In addition to the 25 “Seasons Greedings” Christmas-themed levels, Angry Birds Seasons also includes 45 previously-released Halloween-themed levels and two bonus levels.

Rovio has added small visual touches (falling snow, for instance) and seems to have ramped up the difficulty level. It took me several tries to get past even the initial Christmas level.

Angry Birds Seasons is available for iOS, Android and webOS. Just don’t blame me when the kids don’t get fed and the laundry goes undone.

Blame the green pigs.