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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September 02, 2021

The gospel according to Apple

Ask marketers why Mac and iPhone users are so loyal, and they all cite the same reason: Apple's brand.

Apple, of course, is the classic emotional marketer. It’s not just intimate with its customers, it's loved, and there is a real sense of community among users of its ubiquitous products.

In fact, Apple users constitute a ‘church’ of sorts, writes Andy Jordan in the New York Times. But, as with any religion, not everybody is a true believer. Apple’s pricing tricks, for instance, rankle some observers. 

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August 23, 2021

The search for Canada's worst cell phone bill

If you've ever opened your 40-page cell-phone statement only to stare, stunned, at an outrageously high charge, you aren't alone. One Alberta man recently got hit for close to $8,000 in unexpected roaming charges following a trip to Europe.

Earlier this summer, CBC’s Marketplace talked to several weary Canadians who had really been put through the wringer by their mobile phone company. Their conclusion: It happens all the time.

And things aren’t much better across the border. Although the U.S. market offers many more mature vendors to choose from, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that one in six cell-phone users regularly experience "bill shock" after unwittingly exceeding the preset minutes in their mobile plan.

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May 17, 2021

Looking for a job? Clean up your online profile

Many of us have come to love Facebook. It's made socializing in college and in life beyond effortless. It's made wasting time during a boring lecture a cinch. (Will you please fertilize my Farmville eggplant patch?) And most importantly, it's enabled us to stalk ... friends.
Unfortunately, however, in the same way Facebook enables us to check out the profiles, pictures, etc. of the people we know, or at the very best loosely know, it also enables potential and future employers to take a peek into our own personal lives. Trust us, they do. And if they can't access you themselves, they'll find a friend or a friend of a friend who can.

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July 24, 2021

Are the iPod's days numbered?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

There’s a certain level of arrogance we’ve come to accept with Apple.

Their prices are insane, their ads are snarky and their products are often exasperating. (Seriously, why shouldn’t I be able to copy songs from an iPod to my computer?)

Remember David Chase, The Sopranos’  creator, who got so sure of himself he kept shoving those awful Tony dream sequences down our throats no matter how unwatchable they were? That’s Apple right now.

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July 20, 2021

The reason for all that spam and junk mail

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Some things in this world are beyond me.

Like, how did no one watch The Wire? Why hasn’t XM radio developed one of those Pardon the Interruption-esque ‘What’s on next’ playlist line-up things yet? And how did Tom Watson’s bladder not explode in about 500 pieces on the back nine during any round of this weekend’s British Open?

But no matter what’s floating around in my rudimentary mind, everyone – and I mean, everyone – wonders how exactly there can be so much spam and junk mail on this earth.

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June 16, 2021

Rumours of IT demise have been greatly exaggerated

By David Ticoll (guest blogger), Executive Director of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT)

The IT industry will need to hire another 150,000 new professionals by 2015, but enrollments in university and college IT programs are down dramatically — 33 to 40 per cent, in fact. Given the growing demand for professionals in this field, students are missing the prosperity boat by turning away from IT. Parents should reinforce that IT is where students should focus their energy.

IT jobs play a critical and integral role in how well business organizations function, and those who know how to design, manage, implement and lead the use of modern technology are high in demand in the upper echelons of the business world.

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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...