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Are You Looking Forward to Black Friday or Boxing Day More?

Are You Looking Forward to Black Friday or Boxing Day More?

By Kate Musgrove

RFD readers, there are a few things I'm curious about as we head into the holiday shopping season. I've set up three poll questions below, and if you respond to the polls and then leave a comment that you did, you'll be entered into a random draw for a $25 gift card.

I'll draw a random winner from the comments below on November 2, 2015 and notify them by email.

Getting Back in the Game: Microsoft Unveils New Surface Products and Lumia Smartphones

By Simon Hung

Microsoft held a media event this week to showcase their newest hardware and software innovations, and while the company may have taken a backseat to the likes of Apple and Google in recent years, they came out swinging with some major announcements.

Microsoft’s event was akin to many tech events in recent memory. The Steve Ballmer-style testosterone-laced presentations of the past are gone and they’ve been replaced with events with a more casual tone, aimed towards consumers instead of stockholders. Heck, one of Microsoft’s presenters even wore a fedora.

This man is a professional.

It’s difficult to find innovation with technology nowadays – most phones and computers have similar features with no real game-changing variation between different brands, even if enthusiast flamewars suggest otherwise. So it came as a welcomed surprise when Microsoft announced a flurry of interesting new technology we can all look forward to in the near and distant future.

Band 2

Microsoft introduced their first-generation Band in October 2014 to a rather lacklustre reception – the product wasn’t even available for sale in Canada until April 2015. They announced a new iteration of the device to compete with the growing market of fitness trackers. Part fitness tracker and part smartwatch, the Microsoft Band 2 features a new curved display along with heart, skin and barometer sensors to detect just about every type of exercise data possible. The device also connects with iOS, Android and Windows devices to display notifications. Fitness trackers have surged in popularity in recent years, and it’ll be interesting to see how this product competes with similar offerings from Apple and Fitbit.

The Microsoft Band 2 is available now for pre-order for $329.99 and ships in November.


Perhaps the coolest piece of tech displayed during the event, HoloLens is Microsoft’s augmented reality project used to display content onto your walls via set of goggles. As of now, this product doesn’t seem to have much meaningful value aside from the coolness factor you’ll have by owning one. With uses like virtual reality gaming or displaying 3D images within your home, this is Microsoft’s long-term project to bring augmented reality into everyday homes and you probably won’t see a retail version for a few years, though a developer kit is available in 2016 for $3000.00 USD.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL

iOS and Android rule the smartphone market, and Windows Phone has never had a game-changing feature that compelled anyone to switch platforms – until now. Microsoft unveiled two Lumia phones running Windows 10 that feature some pretty cool tech, including liquid cooling and an iris scanner. But it isn’t the hardware that has many people salivating, it’s a new feature called Continuum. Continuum is Microsoft’s name for a neat feature that aims to blend mobile and desktop platforms – you can connect the phones to a Continuum dock, allowing you to hook up a full-size display, keyboard, mouse and USB accessories, essentially turning your phone into a mini desktop computer. Don’t expect to play graphics-intensive games or edit 4K video, but the idea to make everyday tasks like e-mail, web browsing and video streaming seamless across mobile and desktop platforms, since you already have a lot of your data and credentials stored on your phone. It’s a really cool concept, and one of the main features that separate Windows Phone from their competition.

Both phones will be available in Canada in December, starting at $749.00 for the Lumia 950 and $849.00 for the Lumia 950 XL.

Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book

The next iteration in Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets, Surface Pro 4 delivers a larger screen and a thinner footprint than its predecessor, along with improved internals and a new Surface Pen and a redesigned Type Cover with better keys, larger touchpad and a fingerprint sensor.

The Surface Book will be an interesting product for Microsoft, as it aims to take on the likes of Apple’s MacBook line of thin-and-light laptops but with its own twist. A hybrid laptop, the Surface Book’s screen is capable of detaching from the keyboard, making it a standalone tablet. Machined from magnesium, the Surface Book features a 13.5” screen and includes their latest line of Skylake Core i5 and i7 processors.

Both products are available for pre-order now and ship in late-October, starting at $1179.00 for the Surface Pro 4 and $1949.00 for the Surface Book.

Microsoft's sleek new Surface Book computer/tablet.

Xbox One

The most notable announcement for the Xbox One is an upcoming Windows 10 update for all Xbox One owners, which will (finally) allow for backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Other than that, they announced new console bundles coming this Christmas along with more details on their amazing but egregiously-priced Elite Controller. While no price cut was announced, it’s worth keeping an eye on older console bundles in the upcoming months to see if they receive any discounts.

In addition to their physical hardware, Microsoft also introduced a feature called Windows Hello, which is compatible across all devices running Windows 10. Windows Hello uses biometrics such as facial recognition, fingerprint and iris scanning to sign you into a Windows session.

Microsoft is banking big on Windows 10 – they claim it’s already been installed on 110 million devices. While there are many of us out there still loyal to Windows 7 and 8, once these new hardware products come out and the operating system matures, it’ll be very interesting to see how new Windows 10 features are utilized in our lives and how they'll stack up against the competition.

With recent product introduction events from Apple and Google leaving consumers indifferent about new changes, Microsoft hit their event out of the park by introducing interesting new hardware along with innovative software features to go along with them. Time will tell if these products will be a hit with consumers, but for the time being, we think they’re pretty cool. Cool cool cool.

Recall Roundup: Kidde Smoke and Smoke/CO Alarms, Cheerios, Kenmore Elite Dishwashers + More

Recall Roundup: Kidde Smoke and Smoke/CO Alarms, Cheerios, Kenmore Elite Dishwashers + More

By Kate Musgrove

It's important to be informed of all the latest safety recalls -- here's a roundup of what's been recalled in Canada recently.

And, just as we published this, Cheerios announced that they are recalling 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios because they labelled gluten-free but actually contain gluten.

IKEA Opening a New Pick-Up Point Store in Whitby, Ontario!

IKEA Opening a New Pick-Up Point Store in Whitby, Ontario!

By Kate Musgrove

Right on the heels of the announcement that they are opening a new store in St. Catharines, Ontario, IKEA has announced another new location this one in Whitby!

The store will be at 1650 Victoria Street East in Whitby, Ontario. Like the other small-scale Pick-Up Point locations, it will employ about 30-35 people. The store will carry a selection of popular IKEA items and act as an ordering/pick-up depot for online orders. It will be interesting to see how much space in each of these new IKEA stores are dedicated to ready-to-purchase products versus kiosks for ordering. We'll definitely take a visit and report back once the first locations are open.

This is the third Pick-Up Point IKEA location announced for southern Ontario. While there are twelve full-sized IKEA locations in Canada, there's currently nothing further east than Montreal. Atlantic Canada would definitely be my pick for the next IKEA location -- what do you think?

VW Diesel Recall in Canada: What Would You Do?

VW Diesel Recall in Canada: What Would You Do?

By Kate Musgrove

After more than a week of radio silence following the revelation that some of their cars have been programmed to cheat emissions tests, VW has released a Canadian FAQ. Unfortunately, it doesn't contain any real, helpful information.

Of course, a complication to the the potential fixes that VW might offer is that it may not make financial sense to car owners to have the car repaired. Right now, the issue is that the emissions are way over the allowed limit. There are a couple of ways to fix that, the cheapest and easiest for VW being adjusting the software of the car to basically run in emission test mode all the time. Bringing the emissions into the legal allowable level by adjusting the software means the cars will be less fuel-efficient and have less powerful acceleration. Now, any reasonable car owner shouldn't want to drive a car putting forty times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides (NOx) -- it's particularly harmful to human respiratory health, among other things -- but I can see frustrated owners ignoring the environmental impact in favour of preserving the car the car with the speed/efficiency they purchased. I couldn't find stats for Canada specifically, but in the US, only about 65% of recalled cars are brought in by their owners for the fix. And that figure includes recalls that comprise the safety of the car, not just the environmental impact.

Alternatively, the affected cars could be retrofitted with a urea tank which would reduce the level of emissions considerably but cost between $5000-$8000 per vehicle.

In Canada, these cars are affected by this issue if they have a TDI/four-cylinder "Clean Diesel" engine:

  • Volkswagen Jetta model years 2009-2015
  • Volkswagen Golf model years 2010-2015
  • Volkswagen Beetle model years 2013-2015
  • Volkswagen Passat model years 2012-2015
  • Volkswagen Golf Wagon/Sportwagon model years 2009-15

In total, about 107,000 Volkswagen cars in Canada are affected. Worldwide, there are 11 million affected cars.

What would you do if your car had a similar issue? Sacrifice some speed and efficiency for better emissions, or ignore it as long as you can?

Having Fun Isn't Hard When You've Got a Library Card

Having Fun Isn't Hard When You've Got a Library Card

By Simon Hung

If you've ever watched the show Arthur, you may recognize this phrase as the chorus to a very catchy song from an episode of the show. Not only is it a great melody, but the statement also rings true in many Canadian cities, where you can take advantage of some great benefits if you own a library card.

We apologize in advance for getting this song stuck in your head.

Everybody knows about borrowing books, movies and even video games, but the library is also a fantastic resource for all kinds of information. There are a number of unique services for adults and kids inside your local library that can provide them with a wealth of knowledge and develop skills. But, there are also some unadvertised (and usually free) perks outside of the library that you can take advantage of. The library can indeed be a fun place – you just need to know where to look.

We’ve rounded up some of these perks from libraries across Canada and have them listed below:

Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Public Library offers its members access to the Sun Life Financial Arts and Culture Pass. This pass is available to all Calgary residents who own both a valid library card and a Fee Assistance Card from the City of Calgary. You can find out more about the Fee Assistance program here. To apply, visit the Municipal Building or the Village Square branch in-person or call 311 to speak with a city representative.

There are a total of 18 participating library branches that have access to the Arts and Culture Pass, with partners including the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Zoo and more. Having a pass allows for qualifying individuals and families tickets to a number of events and attractions across Calgary for free or at a significant discount. Their events listing page contains details on upcoming events with available passes.

Edmonton Public Library

While the Edmonton Public Library doesn’t have access to arts and attractions passes like other libraries, they do have some great programs that are unique and set them apart from other libraries in Canada.

With a valid library membership, you’re entitled to view courses on -- one of the world’s largest e-learning websites. has over 3,000 video tutorials and courses from experts, with topics on 3D game design, video editing, architecture, marketing and more. A basic membership for this service usually costs $19.99 per month, so having this included with your free library card is a great value.

Plus, the Stanley A. Milner branch contains an excellent makerspace for creative individuals, with access to items including 3D printers, green screens, sound booths, creative workstations and more.

Hamilton Public Library

The Hamilton Public Library offers free museum passes for families of up to two adults and two children. With the pass, you have access to a number of local museums to learn about the history of Hamilton and the surrounding area. Participating venues include the Battlefield House Museum, Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology and more. Passes work like books and you can hold and borrow them for up to two weeks, though they are limited in quantity.

Also, like with the Edmonton Public Library, the Hamilton Public Library offers their members full access to and all of their great learning resources.

Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library offers passes to many of the great museums and art galleries throughout the nation’s capital. There is a limit of two passes per library card available for up to a seven day loan.

There are seven varieties of passes for different venues and family sizes, and participating venues include the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Canadian War Museum and more. Click here for a full list of available passes and venues.

A number of libraries in Ottawa's neighbouring suburbs, including Bonnechere, Clarence-Rockland, Gatineau, Hawkesbury, Pembroke, Petawawa and Smith Falls, also have access to passes to attractions in the Ottawa region.

Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library offers its members access to the Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass. This pass allows for a family of up to two adults and five children to explore a number of museums and attractions across the Greater Toronto Area for free, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, eight City of Toronto historic sites, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo and more.

Passes are limited and you are eligible to obtain one with a valid library card in good standing. Passes to different venues are available at different branches once per week on a first-come, first-serve basis (some branches conduct random draws). They are snatched up quickly, so call your local branch for more information and be prepared to go early once available to claim yours.

In addition to arts passes, the Toronto Public Library also offers pedometer lending to anybody who’s looking to track their walking or running exercises. They are available for hold and loan at all library branches – click here to see a full list of availability.

Vancouver Public Library

The Vancouver Public Library offers the Vancouver Inspiration Pass to library card holders. This pass is available to members over the age of 14 and offers free admission to a number of top attractions and recreation facilities in the Greater Vancouver Area, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Aquarium, Museum of Vancouver, Science World and more. Click here to view a list of all participating venues. One pass is valid for a family of two adults and up to four children, or a group of six people aged 14-18.

Passes are limited to one use per card holder per year. There are a total of 140 passes available for loan every two weeks, with 20 at Vancouver Public Library's central branch and six at all other branches. Reservations for passes must be made in advance via their online catalogue.

Winnipeg Public Library

Library card holders with the Winnipeg Public Library are entitled to the Theatre+ Arts Pass. This pass is available on the first of each month on a first-come, first-serve basis to all library card owners in good standing. Passes are available from January-June and July-December, and there is a limit of one pass per library card during each period. They are available to borrow from seven branches: Millennium Library, Munroe Library, Pembina Trail Library, St. Boniface Library, St. John's Library, Sir William Stephenson Library and West End Library.

The Theatre+ Arts Pass allows for admission to venues including the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and more. Each pass is valid for a limited number of tickets for one performance or event, depending on the venue.

With each city, the number of passes are limited and are usually available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call ahead to your local branch to find out about the exact number of passes and their availability.

Did we miss a city? Does your local library offer any unique perks? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share this article with anyone who'd be interested in these perks!

As a final send-off, here's another (arguably catchier) book-related song from the same episode of Arthur.

iOS 9 Tip: Save Your Data Bandwidth by Turning Off Wi-Fi Assist

iOS 9 Tip: Save Your Data Bandwidth by Turning Off Wi-Fi Assist

By Simon Hung

It’s a fact – Canadians pay the highest amount in the world for their cell phone bills. In 2013, a report found that we pay an average of $55.00 per month for our phones. With most Canadian providers, $55.00 per month will get you the bare minimum in terms of data – on Rogers, a $50.00 per month plan gives you an unimpressive 200MB of data while Bell’s offerings start at $70.00 per month for 500MB. Nowadays, these data caps will barely get most people through a week of selfie uploads and YouTube streaming.

Most Canadians don't have the luxury of unlimited data, so the practice of tracking data usage throughout a month has become commonplace for many of us with limited bandwidth, and we rejoice at the sight of free Wi-Fi hotspots. With the release of iOS 9, Apple has included a new feature called Wi-Fi Assist, which automatically uses your cellular signal for data (even if connected to a Wi-Fi network) if it detects that your Wi-Fi signal is weak. It’s enabled by default, and has already created a stir with many Canadian iPhone users, as you could be unknowingly eating through your cellular data bandwidth.

Chris Mills of Gizmodo claims that this feature has added an extra 950MB of data usage onto his monthly bill. While Mills uses his phone extensively (he typically uses 3GB of data per month), the amount of extra data usage is alarming nonetheless, especially when you consider how minimal Canadian data usage plans are and how a scenario like this can easily hurt our wallets if we weren’t aware (Rogers' overage charges are $15.00 per 300MB).

To err on the side of caution, we suggest turning Wi-Fi Assist off. Instead, if you find that your Wi-Fi signal is weak or inconsistent, manually turn off Wi-Fi if you intend to use your cellular signal. This way, the choice is yours and you can consciously track your data usage instead of having it drained in the background.

To turn off Wi-Fi Assist, head into Settings, Cellular, and tap the toggle for Wi-Fi Assist at the bottom.

Toggle Wi-Fi Assist off to save your data bandwidth.

If you want to get even more precise, you can even block certain apps from using cellular data by switching their toggle switch to off on the list above the Wi-Fi Assist selection.

If you know anybody who owns an iPhone with iOS 9, be sure to share this tip with them to give them a heads-up. Any parents with kids using an iPhone should also take note, as students and teenagers may be a bit more lackadaisical with their data usage.

IKEA Opening a New Pick-Up Point Store in St. Catharines, Ontario!

IKEA Opening a New Pick-Up Point Store in St. Catharines, Ontario!

By Kate Musgrove

IKEA announced yesterday that it was opening another new store in Canada! This one will be in St. Catharines, Ontario. The store will open in spring of 2016 and like the new IKEA locations under construction in London and Quebec City it will be a scaled-down "Pick-Up Point" store roughly one-tenth the size of a standard IKEA location. It will carry their 99 best-selling items as well as acting as a depot for internet orders.

The store will be in the Fairview Mall at 285 Geneva Street in St. Catharines.

There are currently twelve IKEA locations in Canada, not including these three Pick-Up Point locations set to open later this year or early next year. Where do you think the next location should be?

The White and Gold/Blue and Black Dress is Now Available as a Halloween Costume

The White and Gold/Blue and Black Dress is Now Available as a Halloween Costume

By Kate Musgrove

I'm sure we all remember the calm, carefree days of February 2015 before Buzzfeed writer Cates Holderness reposted a Tumblr photo of a dress that some people saw as white and gold and some people saw as blue and black. The internet basically exploded for several days of debate, panic and scientific sleuthing. If you're looking to relive that hilarity (or you just love arguing) you'll be pleased to know something that looks like that dress is now available as a Halloween costume. Unfortunately, it's priced at $46.95 US which means after tax and shipping you'll be paying about $75 CAD -- that's a lot for any Halloween costume, but especially one that is so dumb silly, so simple and has such limited longevity.

PS: the dress has always only been white and gold for me and I'm not in the minority -- out of a total 3.4 million votes, 68% off Buzzfeed readers also saw the dress as white and gold. (Which it obviously is. I mean, I understand that the actual original dress was blue and black but that photo of it is white and gold.)

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay Coming to Canada in October

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay Coming to Canada in October

By Kate Musgrove

The Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay feature, first launched in the US on a small scale in late 2014 will be available at select locations in Canada sometime next month.

Basically, this part of the app allows you to order ahead, pay remotely and then just pick up your order once you get to the store -- no waiting in line. I don't go to Starbucks (I'm still devoted to hot, unsweetened Twinings Earl Grey Tea) but if I did, I would use this feature all the time. Many mornings the line at the Starbucks locations in my neighbourhood are literally out the door and I think it would be pretty great to skip the wait and just get my drink. All of the reviews from users in the US so far are pretty positive, although I wonder if the wait time to pick up your order will be longer more and more customers start to use the feature.

Are you interested in using Mobile Order & Pay at Starbucks? Although the feature is not rolling out until October, it will be available via their mobile app, which is available here for iPhone and here for Android.

Breaking the Bank – Things to Consider Before Making a Major Purchase

Breaking the Bank – Things to Consider Before Making a Major Purchase

By Simon Hung

I decided to pay a visit to one of the most toxic, disgusting and inhospitable places in the world recently. No, not Detroit, but the comments section in a YouTube video.

It was a fairly innocent trip – it started with watching video reviews for the iPhone 6s to get a gauge of how the phone stacks up against its predecessor, and then I made the regrettable decision of scrolling down to look at the comments.

I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew the experience was going to be awful. I knew it would be pure chaos. I knew I would leave angrier than when I started. But like a moth to a flame, curiosity got the better of me and I immediately regretted my decision. It was a cornucopia of name-calling, disparagement and saltiness, but one comment in particular caught my attention:

This probably won't end well. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

Judging by his subsequent responses, this user genuinely (albeit naïvely) wanted help to make a decision. There were replies that were on topic and helpful, but for every piece of advice, there were six ridiculing comments directed towards the user. Ultimately, when it comes to making a decision on purchasing a $1000.00+ device, YouTube comments are probably not the best place to seek advice.

This led to a voyage of thought with regards to how some people make their purchasing choices – we all know that person who seems to always have expensive gadgets and products but can’t seem to hold down a steady job. Making a purchase like a new phone, computer, car or appliance is a major decision.

What steps should you take in order to make an informed buying decision?

1. Evaluate

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether or not you need that item. It’s easy to mistake a want for a need – as consumers, we like to trick ourselves into thinking we need the latest and greatest products on the market, even if they cost a lot of money (Taylor Swift and other millionaires need not apply). You may want that new and sexy smartphone, but at the end of the day, do you do anything besides text and take selfies on your current phone? Evaluate your usage scenario to see if you really need to have that expensive product you’re eyeballing and if you’re comfortable with paying for it.

No matter how badly you want to buy something, you should always take time to evaluate whether you actually need it.

2. Budget

Another obvious step is to evaluate your budget. Simply put – if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. If you’ve tricked yourself into eating ramen and oatmeal for two months to offset a major purchase, consider evaluating your priorities before making a rash decision. You aren’t making an impulse buy on a stick of gum here – you’re potentially handing away thousands of your dollars to buy a product – make sure you can actually afford it in the short and long term.

3. Research

If you’ve made the commitment to buy whatever it is you desire, it’s time to do some research. Do not buy a product just because “everyone else has one” or because “I really wanted it.” Do your due diligence and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Read or watch reviews, and look into discussion forums (our Discussion Forums are pretty awesome) to find other people in your situation and to get a better understanding of what you’re buying. Ask questions (preferably not via YouTube comments) and see what options are available to purchase your product.

4. Utilize

Once you have it, use it! Utilize it in every possible way in every possible scenario to make sure you’re content with your purchase. Remember that return policies exist and if you aren’t happy with what you have, return it. It might be a hassle, but your wallet will be happier with the extra money than you’ll be with a product that you don’t use.

With that in mind, hopefully you’ll take some time and objectively evaluate your situation the next time you feel like making a major purchase.

As a final PSA, don’t expect any sort of logical discussion if you venture down the dark path of YouTube comments on videos about hot-button topics (e.g., smartphones, gaming, politics, etc.) – you’ll be disappointed. Plus, don’t become one of those people who write nasty comments to other users – it says a lot more about you than it does about them.

Nobody likes sassy YouTube comments.
IKEA Family: Sign up For a Free IKEA Membership For Exclusive Sale Items Every Month!

IKEA Family: Sign up For a Free IKEA Membership For Exclusive Sale Items Every Month!

By Kate Musgrove

I took a quick trip to IKEA this weekend and was intrigued to see special Member Prices on various items in the store. While I knew about the IKEA Family program -- we covered it when it started launching in select stores in 2012 -- the focus on special offers is new to me. But as it turns out, each IKEA location offers IKEA Family sale prices on select items each month. Signing up for IKEA Family is free, and most of the stores have between 24-36 items on sale for IKEA Family cardholders each month. You can see the offers for your nearest IKEA location here:

Although the IKEA Family offers and benefits are store-specific, if you have an IKEA Family card you're eligible to take part in the offers and perks at every location. You can sign up in-store (they have kiosks around the store) or online, although if you sign up online, you'll have to visit the store to complete your sign-up and get your membership card anyway. Some of the other perks include extra time in Smaland for your kids and an extended 90-day return policy, although I think the monthly offers are truly the most valuable part of the program.

RFD Top 10: Browser Extensions to Enhance Your Online Shopping Prowess

By Simon Hung

Browser extensions are pretty remarkable. Like adding aftermarket parts to a car, adding an extension to your browser can improve your productivity and tweak its functions to perfectly suit your needs. There are extensions for just about everything – from useful tools like the Reddit Enhancement Suite to zany themes that change your browser’s appearance.

In this top 10, we’re showing you ten useful extensions that you can add to your Firefox or Chrome browser (sorry Internet Explorer users) to help you become a more productive online shopper.

10. Currency Converter (Firefox, Chrome)

With the Canadian dollar at an 11-year low, sometimes it’s nice to see how many dollars you’ll actually be spending when shopping on American or international stores. While the functionality is built into Google search, this lightweight extension lets you quickly compare currencies without having to leave your page.

9. Pocket (Built into Firefox, Chrome)

There’s probably been more than a few times when you’ve shopped online or perused RFD while at work or school. There’s no need to feel bad – we do it too. Pocket is a handy extension that saves any webpage, photo or video link to the cloud, allowing you to easily pick up your procrastination right where you left off, at home or on the go. There’s also apps available for iOS and Android for easy access to anything you save on mobile platforms.

8. Adblock Plus (Firefox, Chrome)

Adblock is great. Among other things, it allows you to skip annoying YouTube ads and block pesky pop-ups – when was the last time you were the millionth visitor to a site? But, disabling it on your favourite retailers might be a smart choice. In some cases, Adblock can actually block content that you want to see. In our research, we found that the extension blocked a promo code banner on The Bay and even blocked the entire flyer on Toys R Us. So while it is a must-have for any browser, play around with it on some of your favourite shopping sites to see what you may be missing.

Our browser with Adblock disabled (left) and enabled (right). Notice the missing promotional banner.

7. Panic Button (Firefox, Chrome)

Let’s say you’re doing some gift shopping for a relative and they suddenly walk into the room. You could awkwardly fumble around trying to close your browser windows, or you could download this extension. Panic Button allows you to quickly hide your browser tabs, keeping your shopping a secret to whoever your unexpected visitor may be – whether it’s a relative, loved one, or nosy boss.

6. LastPass (Firefox, Chrome)

Passwords are a pain. Even if your password for everything is omgilovetaylorswift, it’s annoying having to type it out every time you need to log into a site. LastPass helps to streamline your shopping process by securely managing your passwords, addresses and credit card information, then automatically filling it whenever you reach the checkout stage, allowing you to save precious seconds buying your stuff – a very handy feature once limited-stock deals become plentiful during the holiday season.

5. "Add to Wish List" Button (Firefox, Chrome)

Amazon is like a lot like Red from The Shawshank Redemption – you know, ‘that guy’ who happens to know how to get anything. In fact, that’s why we love it so much. This extension is perfect for coming up with gift lists – it allows you to add just about anything from any site into an Amazon wish list. From there, you have access to that list on your Amazon account and can view its listing at any time, even if it’s not available on Amazon.

4. Tab Scope (Firefox) and TooManyTabs (Chrome)

We’ve all been there – those awkward times when you have too many tabs open and have no idea which tab is what and what tab is which. Tab Scope allows you to see a preview of your tab’s content by hovering over a tab on your tab bar – super handy when you’re shopping and have a lot of product pages open. TooManyTabs for Chrome is similar, although instead of a hover preview, you get an overlay pane with a preview of all of your tabs in one view.

Tab Scope helps you navigate out of a self-induced tab overdose.

3. Enhanced Steam (Firefox, Chrome)

A useful tool for Steam users (especially during Steam sales), Enhanced Steam allows you to quickly view a wide range of nifty information when browsing the Steam store on Firefox or Chrome. This includes highlighting games and DLC you own or have on a wish list, pointing out third-party DRM on games, viewing a price history for games, and perhaps most demoralizing – viewing how much money you’ve spent on Steam.

2. Honey (Firefox, Chrome)

Here’s a dilemma many of you have probably endured: you’re ready to complete your order, but like a true RFDer, you want to save even more. So you meticulously search for coupon codes, only to frustratingly realize that none of them work. Honey eliminates that frustration by automatically searching and entering any available coupons for whatever site you’re on.

1. The Camelizer (Firefox, Chrome)

Not only does this extension win for having the coolest name, but it’s extremely valuable when shopping on Amazon. CamelCamelCamel is one of our favourite sites – it analyzes and graphs the pricing history of almost any Amazon product. Without leaving your webpage, this extension allows you view a price history with a single click, letting you become the ultimate Amazon power-shopper.

The Camelizer lets you view product pricing histories on Amazon – helping you to make wise shopping decisions.

That's it! Now that you know about these extensions, you can be an even more efficient online shopper! Be sure to let us know if you installed any of our suggestions. Better yet, tell us in the comments if you use any other extensions that we may have missed. And as always, be sure to share this with anyone you think would benefit!

You, after becoming an efficient and well-oiled online shopping machine.

Make a Sandwich Completely From Scratch -- It Only Takes Six Months and About $1500

By Kate Musgrove

I appreciated this video from Andy George of the How to Make Everything YouTube channel. Basically, he goes about making a chicken sandwich completely from scratch. And I mean completely from scratch -- he does everything from pulling salt out of ocean water to grinding his own wheat. In the end, it took him about six months and cost $1500 US. According to his follow-up video "How Did the Sandwich Taste?" it was "...not bad". There's a short video detailing the steps (be warned, there are a few scenes of mildly graphic chicken-killing) but if you're not the video-watching type, here are the steps he listed out:

1. Grow a garden (for lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and more)
2. Get ocean water and make salt
3. Get through Airport Security with a suspicious-looking bag of fresh salt
4. Make pickles
5. Milk a cow
6. Ride a cow (does not seem to be necessary for sandwich-making)
7. Pick Itch Weed
8. Make cheese
9. Harvest wheat
10. Make a huge mess separating wheat from chaff; grind wheat
11. Collect honey (he uses it to make bread)
12. Make butter
13. Make bread
14. Commit murder (of a chicken)
15. Assemble the sandwich!
16. Enjoy.

I'm honestly not surprised the sandwich was just "not bad" -- George isn't a chef and for the most part, everything he's doing in making the sandwich he's doing for the first time. But it's a really interesting perspective on how much effort truly goes into simple things -- like sandwiches!

Phoning It In - Tips For Selling Your Old Smartphone

Phoning It In - Tips For Selling Your Old Smartphone

By Simon Hung

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have officially been announced. Shipping in late September, its release puts smartphone owners in a familiar position whenever a new flagship phone is announced – whether or not to dump your current phone and upgrade to that sexy new model. Apple’s newest iteration will be improved with a force-sensitive display, stronger chassis, and improved camera, which will likely make the phone a big ‘6S’.

This conundrum isn’t exclusive to Apple devices. Many flagship Android phones have recently hit the market, and with Google’s next Nexus device slated to be announced later this year, the smartphone market is saturated with salivating high end options and the practice of regularly upgrading phones is becoming common practice, with Apple even announcing a crazy yet brilliant subscription plan in the US aimed at frequent upgraders.

But what should you do with your old phone? You could abandon it in a drawer, but you would be doing it an injustice. Instead, you should sell it. Not only will you be making some money, but your venerable old phone will get to enjoy an extended life in the hands of another happy user. Here’s our guide with different methods you can use to do just that.

Selling your old phone is an easy way to make some money - unless you own a Totorola.

Apple devices have a history of retaining value very well over time. They have tremendous resale value and are very popular on the second-hand market. Although our guide is aimed at iPhone owners, most tips are also applicable with selling Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices.

Pros: Free, high return, immediate payment
Cons: Lots of bargaining, can be tedious, moderate risk, restricted locally

Classified sites like Craigslist, Kijiji or forums like our Buy, Sell, and Trade Post are easy ways to attract prospective buyers, since classifieds are one of the most popular methods for buying and selling used electronics. Classifieds will generally garner the highest return for your device, since all sales are facilitated through you. The most you’ll have to spend is any transportation costs to meet with your buyer. Be honest, detailed, and include pictures with your listing to ensure that buyers won’t be in for any surprises once they see and test your device. The major downside of classifieds is their tedious nature – you will likely have to weed through many lowball offers, make arrangements for a meeting, and may have to relist your offer if there is no serious interest.

Never accept wire-transfers or any form of electronic funds for payment, and be cautious of where you meet potential buyers. Due to the value of smartphones, scams and theft are a concern. Bring a friend if you can, meet in a public area during the day and always plan around your schedule, not your buyer’s. If a large amount of cash will be exchanged, meet near your bank so you can deposit your money immediately instead of carrying it conspicuously.

A little detail goes a long way. Which listing would you have more confidence buying from?

Pros: Simple, global audience, big payout potential
Cons: Risk of low visibility and small return, shipping costs, commission, PayPal

While it’s straightforward to list items on eBay, if you don’t have much seller feedback, your post may be buried amongst hundreds of other listings. The popularity of iPhones may help avoid this, but the low-to-high bidding structure of the site may work against you. Typically, you’ll list your phone with a low starting amount to gain interest and help create a bidding war (you can also add a fixed ‘Buy It Now’ price to sell immediately). More bidding activity will drive up the final sale price, but if your item doesn’t receive many bids, you may end up having to sell your phone for less than you wanted, plus pay for shipping costs and the cut that eBay takes from every sale. You’re forced to take payment via PayPal, which is eBay’s digital wallet platform. While the service is reputable and accepted at many retailers, it adds an extra layer between you and your money.

Like with classifieds, avoid alternate methods of payment, as these are typically scams. Restrict where you’re willing to ship the item (Canada and US only will help reduce shipping costs), and never ship your item until you’ve received verification of payment from PayPal. It’s also a good idea to keep records of any shipping receipts or manifests, in case your buyer claims that they never received your item. PayPal typically sides with buyers in fraud claims, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Carrier or Retailer Trade-in
Pros: Many physical locations
Cons: Low return, usually store credit

Many major retailers and telecom carriers have trade-in programs where you can exchange your old phone for credit towards new hardware or services. While there is convenience with many physical locations, any return you receive will usually be a small (relative to its true market value) store credit. Plus, quotes tend to vary from retailer-to-retailer as each have their own terms and nuances towards evaluating hardware. Some retailers who offer this service include Rogers, Fido, Bell, Telus, Apple, Best Buy, and even EB Games.

Third-Party Buyers
Pros: Convenient, little work required
Cons: Up to 30 day wait, commission, large variation with quotes

Most third party electronics buyers operate with the same premise – you sell them your phone, and they’ll handle everything else. The convenience factor is a major upside, though it comes at a cost, as these buyers typically take a percentage of your phone’s value as commission. There are a number of companies that operate in Canada, and in our research using a carrier-locked 64GB iPhone 5s as a reference device, the company that quoted the highest payout was Orchard.

An iPhone-only service, Orchard streamlines the selling process. You download their app via the App Store, then go through a set of diagnostics. Once complete, you receive a maximum value quote, with their commission already deducted. If accepted, Orchard sends you a box to ship your iPhone to their headquarters in Toronto, and once a final evaluation is made, your funds are delivered via Interac e-transfer. There is little grunt work involved besides a trip to a post office, and a customer service rep stays in contact throughout the process to inform you of the availability of your money. But, their initial quote is the amount you receive 30 days after your phone arrives at their headquarters. You can choose to receive your money sooner, but this significantly reduces the payout.

While Orchard is iPhone-only, other Canadian companies who offer similar services and accept Android and non-iPhone devices include GizmoGrind, GoRecell, and Sphere. If you choose this route, do some research with each company to find out which one will offer the most money before committing to one.

In our research, quotes from third-party buyers for our carrier-locked iPhone 5s varied considerably.

Other Options

Keep it
If your phone is unlikely to garner much interest on the used market, keep it as a backup device. There are a plethora of other uses that will extend the life of an old phone, including using it as a Netflix or media streamer, a gaming device, a GPS, a security camera, a fitness tracker, a Nicolas Cage face-swapper, a whoopee cushion, or a goat simulator. There are thousands of useful apps that add value to an old phone.

Donate It
Just because your phone is old, doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. If you have a loved one or friend who doesn’t care about specs, consider giving your old phone to them. Not only will they get a shiny new (old) toy to play with, but you’ll be extending the life of your old device. As a bonus, you could bank a favour from them as reparation of your generous donation.

Recycle It
Major chains including Best Buy, Staples, London Drugs, and independent companies like offer electronics recycling services where you can drop off your electronics and have components safely recycled. While you won’t make any money, you can take solace in knowing that you are helping the environment by keeping phone batteries out of landfills.

General Tips

Assessing Value
While classifieds can be hit-or-miss for selling, they are a useful tool for assessing the value of your device. Look up recent listings of your phone in similar condition to determine a ballpark resale value.

Time is Money
You should think about selling your old phone once you've made the commitment of buying a new one. Remember that phones devalue over time (especially after a new flagship is announced), so sell quickly to maximize your return.

Be specific in your listings, and include any cosmetic scratches, performance issues, carrier restrictions, or other irregularities about your phone. Also include any accessories that you’re including (cables, original packaging, cases, screen guards, etc.) to increase resale value. A detailed listing will attract more interest and makes you appear to be a confident seller.

Protect Your Data
Make sure to backup and wipe your device before selling it. Not only will this streamline the restoration process on your new phone, but the last thing you want is for a complete stranger to have access to your personal photos and data. Also remember to keep your SIM card to transfer to your new phone, as it contains your personal carrier information.

Unlink From iCloud
By default, your iPhone is linked to your iCloud account, giving you access to features such as Find My iPhone and remote wipe. Remember to unlink your account with the phone you’re selling, otherwise your buyer will be unable to activate the device.

Will you be getting the new iPhone 6s or 6s Plus? Are you planning to sell your phone to recoup some money? Which sales method do you prefer? Did we miss something in our guide? Let us know in the comments, and don't be shy to share this guide with anyone who may need it.

Apple Keynote Roundup: Apple Introduces Microsoft Surface, Frogger and the Nintendo Wii

By Kate Musgrove

I got an email from Apple this afternoon.

That seems a little grand to me. I preferred Matt Haughey's take on it.

(He's referring to the iPad Pro, Crossy Road and the new Apple TV remote.)

In all seriousness, they introduced some new Apple Watch bands, introduced the gigantic iPad Pro which is very, very similar to the Microsoft Surface and then invited Microsoft on stage to introduce Office for iPad. Then they showed off the revamped Apple TV, along with a new remote that has an accelerometer and gyroscope sensors for playing games plus a microphone for voice search and a glass touch surface.

Canadian pricing for the new iPad Pro hasn't been released, although it will start $799 US in America (with the Smart Keyboard running another $169 US and the Apple Pencil running $99 US). Unlocked and bought directly from Apple, the new iPhone 6s Plus will start at $1029 and the iPhone 6s will start at $899. (Both those prices are for the 16GB model.) If you're getting it with a contract from a telecom provider like Rogers or Telus, you'll pay much less upfront, but as far as we can tell the exact pricing hasn't been released yet.

Back to School

How to Get Best Buy's Student Pricing

How to Get Best Buy's Student Pricing

By Kevin Ngai

Being a student is expensive, but it could also score you some exclusive deals on computers and other electronics. Some of these educational discount programs are not easy to find or well promoted, including Best Buy's student savings!

Here's how you can sign up to get Best Buy Canada Student Pricing on some deals you won't want to pass up.

Follow this link to register by filling out the student verification form. To verify your status, all that's required is a valid university or college email address and the name of your of institution. Once you do so, you'll soon get an email from Best Buy containing a promotional coupon code. To receive your student pricing, add an eligible product to your shopping cart, and apply your unique promotional code during the checkout process. The discount will apply automatically!

The deals may vary from week to week. For Apple products, you can expect to receive a coupon code for student pricing that's essentially the same as Apple's Education Store. Normally, students had to purchase directly from Apple to get education pricing. Now, if you are looking for a Mac you can get education pricing at Best Buy. Click here for FAQs on Best Buy's Apple Student Discount Program, including a complete list of eligible Apple products.

Some of the best back to school deals we've seen include stacking student pricing coupons on top of Best Buy sales. This week, Best Buy has the base configuration 13.3" Macbook Air on sale for $999.99 (Reg. $1199.99), however with the student coupon code it'll knock an additional $50 off to $949.99. This effectively produces the lowest prices we've ever seen on Apple products!

Back to School

Student Credit Cards 101

Student Credit Cards 101

By Kate Musgrove

If you are just entering university, this is probably the first time you can get your own credit card. Having a credit card in university is a good opportunity to establish a credit history, but be sure to proceed cautiously. Think of your credit score like a GPA for your finances – having a good one will open doors! And if you don’t start building a credit history when you’re an undergraduate, you may find yourself freshly graduated, employed and unable to rent an apartment or finance a car without a co-signer.

RFD has a credit card comparison tool to help figure out which card is best for you. Or you just browse all of the Student Credit Card options here. Some basic features to look at are low annual fees, good interest rates, and reasonable overdraft policies. Beyond that, you might look for perks – there are options out there for cash back, reward miles, extended warranties on purchases, and more.

When I was in university, I had a no-frills credit card with a $1000 spending limit and it was perfect for me because it meant I finished school with exactly $1000 in credit card debt. I would have loved to have gotten out with no debt, of course, but I'm just glad it wasn't more. I'm positive that if I had a credit card with a $2500 limit I would have accumulated $2500 in debt instead. I was young, and although I worked the whole time I was in school, I didn't make a ton of money and I truly was not that savvy or forward-thinking financially. So one last lesson for you new college and university students: be smarter than I was! Be proactive about making a budget and don't rely on credit cards to fill the gaps.

Back to School

How Much Did You Spend on Back to School Shopping?

How Much Did You Spend on Back to School Shopping?

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a quick question for parents and students -- how much did you spend on Back to School shopping this year? A study from BMO says that the average Back to School spending, nationwide, was $369 per pupil. This average includes both children and post-secondary students -- I imagine the average university student spends more than a typical primary school child.

If you're a student (or the parent of a student), how much did you spend this year?

The Internet of Things, Connecting Everything with Everything‏

The Internet of Things, Connecting Everything with Everything‏

By Kevin Ngai

A lot of people are talking about the Internet of Things, or IoT. It was highlighted across the 2015 CES show floor among more than 900 exhibitors within various marketplaces, including Fitness & Technology, Health & Wellness, Smart Home and Wearables. It may be the hottest topic in tech right now but chances are, you may not understand it or have even heard the phase!

A study from ORC International’s Caravan Omnibus Surveys, indicates that only 51% of the US population are aware of the term IoT and even those respondents who felt they knew the term struggled to define it. Just 8% of US consumers regards themselves as being very familiar with the IoT.

What is the Internet of Things?

It's the concept where ordinary things will be able to seamlessly communicate with each other using sensors and controllers, as they stay connected to all of us via the internet.

A thing can be an everyday object or person. When you put a sensor on any of these things, they can receive information, send information, or trigger commands to any other thing. These "smart" things can communicate with each other and automatically perform actions based on what you want them to do or on what's happening around them. The idea is for an interconnected world of online devices that will automate our daily lives, making living easier and better.

This means someday, sensors inside your fridge will notice when you eat ice cream, automatically replenish the ice cream by placing an order to Loblaws and have Purolator deliver it to your door!

Yup, smart fridges that will always be full of ice cream could be a reality!

The IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place. Could you imagine the positive impact it could have to health and wellbeing, having devices proactively track and monitor health issues on a regular basis? The IoT concept lends itself to fantastic ideas. In theory, the idea of a future smart city has been tossed around which could help reduce waste, improve energy efficiency and transportation networks.

This might seem far-off right now, but it's not. As broadband Internet is becoming more widely available with costs going down, more devices are being created with wireless connectivity and sensors built into them. It's real, and it's happening now with appliances, cars, home automation systems, wearable tech, smartphones to networked PCs. We're already in a generation that expects every screen we come across can be tapped and swiped!

The principle behind the IoT will be a game-changer for the next decade. The analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be over 25 billion connected devices! With billions of devices potentially being connect, it's not hard to see why the IoT is such a hot topic today which also poses a major challenge. Companies will need to address the privacy and security of the massive amount of data that theses devices will produce. From my earlier example, you do not want someone hacking into your smart fridge and gaining access to your entire network!

It's still very early and we haven't touched the full potential of what the IoT can do, but figuring it out and watching it all unfold will make for some exciting times to come. The IoT represents the next wave of technological innovation that will change how we live. The only certainly I have is that ice cream will still remain delicious.