March 23, 2021

New apps alert tipsy drivers to DUI checkpoints

Whether unspoken or not, there’s a certain level of cat-and-mouse gamesmanship between cops and drivers.

Istockphoto_12258853-police For instance, we admonish speeding and publicly consider it reckless behaviour. But, then again, maybe we’re not above flashing our high beams at oncoming cars to let them know a speed trap’s ahead. It’s all part of the game of roadside patrol.

Though DUIs, unless you’re Miguel Cabrera, are never acceptable. So, why is it there’s a flurry of smartphone apps designed to re-route tipsy drivers away from police checkpoints?

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March 21, 2022

Can complaint sites really help you resolve your problems?

Many companies treat customers with disdain and contempt. Let's face it, do you know anybody who hasn’t dialled a customer hotline begging for help only to eventually hang up feeling, well, helpless.

Com Determined to at least break through to a live person next time? A good place to start might be Gethuman, which offers tips on bypassing the voicemail systems of thousands of companies.

But even then you may hit a dead end – which is why there are so many complaint sites that focus on one type of product or even one seller, such as (name of favourite wireless provider) sucks.

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March 03, 2022

12 frugal apps that can save you money

From where I sit, the words frugal and smartphone don’t really fit in the same sentence.

As anyone who has bought one can tell you, the cost of a smartphone is more than just the initial price of the device. You also have hefty monthly payments to deal with, for voice minutes, text messages, and of course, lots and lots of data.  

So, the frugal choice is probably to simply do without. But, once you’ve got one, you might as well as use it the hilt.

And that means tapping into a few of the zillion apps available – many of which are designed to help thrifty consumers save money, says blogger Laurel Gray on Jason White’s Frugaldad blog, which chronicles his attempts to reduce debt and get more bang for his dollars.

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February 18, 2022

Are you mooching off your neighbour’s Wi-Fi

According to a recent survey, 32 percent of Americans admit to surfing on their neighbour’s open Wi-Fi networks.

That’s up from 18 percent in 2008, reports USA Today, and there's no reason to think that the Canadian numbers are that much different.

Wifi According to experts, that's a practice that puts you and your sensitive information at risk.

"The reality is that many consumers have not taken the steps to protect themselves," says Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director at the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit trade group that commissioned the survey.

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January 13, 2022

Operators getting really serious about bandwidth caps

The bandwidth wars are starting to pick up again. Major cable operators are really cracking down on heavy users, either by throttling speed or adding surcharges.

Band Usage-based pricing forces power users to track their monthly activity more closely, often resulting in their upping their level of service, and subsequently their bill.

What’s worse, a recent ruling by the CRTC now means that smaller, independent ISPs —who provide service atop Bell’s and Rogers’ networks — will soon by expected to enforce the same bandwidth caps on their services.

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December 22, 2021

The downside of smartphone holiday shopping

If you find the holiday season hectic, have a thought for all those cyber-criminals out there. All this retail activity is keeping them up nights looking for ways to steal your money before Holt Renfrew gets it all.

Today’s fraudsters are no longer simply targeting desktop or laptop devices, however. Like everybody else they’ve gone wireless.

Realizing this, the FBI is urging consumers to use extra caution when making both online and smartphone purchases.

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November 11, 2021

RIM sets its PlayBook price (sort of) -- you gonna get one?

As each new tablet PC hits the market – the HP Slate, the Samsung Galaxy and, sometime soon, the RIM PlayBook – the same question can't be avoided: will it challenge the iPad?

Almost without refute, everyone agrees the only real shot to knock Apple’s dominant tablet off its pedestal will come in the form of the PlayBook – yet, with RIM’s reluctance in recent months to name a retail price, how much can we really forecast?

Finally, however, the Waterloo, Ont.-based maker of the BlackBerry has named its price for the PlayBook, which will debut in the first quarter of next year: under $500.

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November 08, 2021

Pee into your smart phone, diagnose STDs

Tell someone on the street to pee into their smart phone, and they’re sure to tell you ‘no.’ Or, to screw off. Or, that they’d rather move to Russia and become a journalist.

1080174_stethoscope_1 Yet, remarkably, soon such a ludicrous proposal could become commonplace. That suggestion again: whizzing into your BlackBerry.

According to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, doctors and tech experts are developing a device application that will allow users to insert urine or saliva into their smart phones to diagnose various STDs.

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September 24, 2021

New app lets Phillies fans order food right to their seat

This year, the Philadelphia Phillies have enjoyed some pretty good fortune.

1068822_wind_up___and_the_pitch The team stole Canada’s beloved ace Roy Halladay, who won his 20th game of the season Tuesday, and – despite a host of injuries to sluggers like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard – currently sit in first place in the NL East, primed for its fourth-straight turn in the playoffs next month.

But as if Phils fans haven’t had enough, their home diamond is now on the forefront of the newest movement in digital media. Starting with the team’s last three home games against the Mets, patrons at Citizens Bank Park will now be able to use their cell phones to order concession grub right to their seat, without missing a pitch.

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September 08, 2021

Pictures the key in online shopping: study

What if the things that get online shoppers to buy a product are also what makes them dissatisfied with the product when it eventually arrives?

That’s the question Jacqueline Conard, a professor at Nashville-based Belmont University, posed recently in the Harvard Business Review.

Images are the crux of online shopping, Conard says, they’re what get us to buy. But, after the purchase comes the long wait, the period during which many purchases go sour.

When consumers purchase items online, often they'll print a receipt and pin the picture on their bulletin board. It turns out that these types of pictures actually set the bar long before the Fed-Ex truck rolls up: The better the image on your wall, the more likely you are to be pleased with your purchase.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...