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A different kind of Easter egg hunt

Easter eggsI love chocolate as much as the next person. Especially if it’s wrapped around some peanut butter.

But it’s been many years since Easter morning saw me with a basket and bunny ears hunting down plastic eggs. That said, as an adult I’ve enjoyed seeking out a different kind of Easter egg: those Google hides within its products.

So, in honour of the holiday, here are my five favourite hidden tricks from Google.

  1. Screen surprise. If you have an Android device, navigate to your settings screen. Scroll down to  “About phone.” Tap on the “Android version” list item several times. A giant jelly bean will appear. Hold down on the giant jelly bean and it will spawn a bunch of small, moving beans – which you can flick away to your heart’s content. If you’re on a different version of Android than Jelly Bean, you may discover a different treat.
  2. Spun out search. On a desktop, search for “Do a barrel roll” in Google. Your screen will go spinning!
  3. Get shaking. Remember the Harlem Shake? YouTube hasn’t forgotten the meme, and, if you search for “Do the Harlem Shake” in YouTube you’ll see the site’s logo and your search results mimic the popular dance.
  4. Would you like to play a game? Then browse on over to Google’s image search and enter the search term “Atari breakout.” The related images are turned into an Atari-like game that Google calls Image Breakout – what’s your high score?
  5. Cool crops. Google Maps has had a few embedded tricks over the years, including a look inside the TARDIS and a warning that one does not simply walk into Mordor. For the tech-savvy, the Mozilla Firefox logo gets its own crop circle in Google Earth. Search coordinates 45° 7’25.87″N 123° 6’48.97″W, then zoom in.

What other Google Easter eggs have you found?

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How to check your Internet usage with My Rogers

Internet usageConnected Rogers share how you can easily track how much Internet you’re using each month.

People are downloading large attachments, surfing longer and streaming movies and TV from services such as Rogers Anyplace TV more than ever before. And don’t even get us started on online gaming. Point is, as usage goes up, so does the chance that you might start creeping closer to your monthly usage limit. And whether you decide to upgrade your service to accommodate your new ferocious appetite for entertainment, or manage your usage to stay the course on your current plan, it’s always a good idea to check your usage from time to time. And it’s super easy. Here’s how.

  1. Head to rogers.com and log in to your My Rogers account.
  2. Click Account Info and (from the dashboard) in your Hi-Speed Internet sub-menu box, you’ll see a Monthly Usage progress bar indicating your total available usage, your used data and your remaining usage details.
  3. For a more detailed rundown, click Usage Details located in the bottom-right corner of that progress box.

Ta-da. You’re up to date on your Internet usage. If you find you’re nearing – or passing – your limit regularly, it’s time to adjust your plan for your needs. For more details on Internet packages and pricing, visit Rogers.com.

I’m careful to keep a close eye on my own account because I rely pretty heavily on On Demand content to keep me up to date on my favourite TV series. What tasks dominate your Internet usage?

Check out more great tech tips at Connected Rogers.

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Weekend Reading: Gleaming gold, banishing bulky wallets and Twitter gets a makeover

Weekend ReadingThis week, we’ve got our eyes on some serious bling as we await the new Twitter profiles. Plus, we learn how to ditch our bulky wallets and start paying with our smartphones. Get the scoop in this week’s edition of the Weekend Reading.

The grandeur of gold

We’ve already started shipping the HTC One (M8) in gunmetal grey and glacier silver to people who reserved early. And this week, we had even more exciting news: we’ll be carrying the HTC One (M8) in stunning Amber Gold. Exclusive to Rogers, this stand-out shade will be available for purchase in mid-May. No matter what hue you choose, the phone boasts top speeds on Rogers LTE, an all-metal design with edge-free finishes, the HTC Duo Camera, and dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound.

What colour’s your favourite – gunmetal grey, glacier silver or amber gold?

Twitter transforms

Bigger profile photos are coming to Twitter, plus the service will now be showcasing your best tweets when you visit your profile page. The new design is just beginning to roll out – First Lady Michelle Obama was among the first to get the makeover. As the Next Web explains, the changes also include a customizable header, a new photo/video tab and the ability to pin a tweet to the top of your page.

Twitter.com users will spot another change in the coming weeks too: real-time notifications. You’ll now be alerted if someone replies, favourites or RTs one of your posts. There will also be notifications for direct messages and new followers, which the company says will be “interactive” – meaning you can respond right from the popup window. Mashable notes this should make conversations via DM a lot easier. And, lest it all get to be a bit too much, users can customize which notifications they receive.

I haven’t been among the lucky few in the first wave of rollouts, but I look forward to testing the changes as soon as I can! Keep an eye out for the makeover coming to @RogersBuzz. What feature are you eager to try?

Tap it

My bright pink clutch has seen better days. Scuffs aside, it eats up a lot of real estate in my purse and tends to be a collector for receipts and change from the places I’ve travelled. So I can’t wait to download the suretap wallet and start paying with my smartphone. This mobile payment app, which launched yesterday in the Google Play store, works with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology at contactless payment terminals – so basically, just like tapping to pay with your credit card. All you need to get started is an NFC-enabled device, a compatible SIM-card and the suretap wallet app – you can learn more by watching this video.

Would you ditch your wallet for smartphone payments?

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Samsung Gear 2 Neo aces my fitness challenge

Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 NeoI’ve become obsessed with checking my heart rate. At rest, it’s normally about 65 beats per minute. On the subway, it spikes to the 80s, higher when we hit a delay. When boxing and running, it hits the 140s.

No, I haven’t become a quantified lifer. But I have been test-driving the new Samsung Gear 2 Neo and the GALAXY S5, Android devices which let you check your heart rate with the touch of a button.

I’ve been wearing fitness bands for about a year and a half, tracking my steps and activity and taking notes. I’m a runner with dreams of a sub-four marathon this spring, but the biggest value for me in a wearable has always been the sweat-proof clock and the ability to compete with myself.

The Gear 2 Neo takes it to the next level. For starters, it’s the first band I’ve tried that actually adjusted small enough to fit my teeny tiny wrists (though that’s more the fault of genetics than the manufacturers). Plus, I’ve never liked needing to pull out my smartphone on a run. Feeling the phone vibrating in my pocket without knowing who’s calling or messaging, and whether it’s urgent, always puts me on edge until I hit the next stoplight and can justify checking my notifications. With the Gear 2 Neo, I can just flick my wrist mid-activity and easily judge whether it’s actually important without interrupting my stride.

To test out its fitness moxie, I took the wearable – which integrates with Samsung’s S Health 3.0 app – to the gym for a cardio, strength and boxing session and then on an 11K run. While the heart rate function totally inspired me to work harder, I was really impressed by the step and distance data. My previous experience with wearables made me wary of estimated distances and paces, but the Gear 2 Neo came within .2KM of what I had mapped out to run, plus matched my data on duration and pace exactly! And all that data is stored in a log, and synced to my phone, so I can compare workouts and track my progress.

When I wasn’t wearing my runners, I still dug the wearable experience. In addition to tracking my steps, pedometer style, I could also sneakily screen my messages during meetings and use other apps to check the weather and my calendar.

Plus, the Gear 2 Neo has its own music player to pump your personal soundtrack when you’re on the go – whether that’s in transit or at the gym. You can get yours today, exclusively from Rogers for $219.99, or, if you’re also upgrading to the Samsung GALAXY S5 on select two-year plans, ask about the Gear 2 Neo for $49.99. It’s available only for a limited time.

What other wearables have you tried?

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Happy National Volunteer Week

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of giving back, and Rogers Communications is proud to join the National Volunteer Week celebrations. Did you know that volunteers typically contribute 156 hours every year?

Volunteer week

Last year, we were thrilled to be recognized as a leader in volunteering by LinkedIn. Rogers was ranked among the top five companies in the world for employees who listed “Volunteer & Causes” information to their profiles. The Rogers Employee Volunteer Program encourages employees to take paid time away from work to volunteer.

Where do you donate your time?

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Weekend reading: The boys of summer, a return to Winterfell and mobile matters

Weekend readingAfter my recent gadget obsession, I was glued to the tube this week. In addition to some notable finales, it was batter up for the Toronto Blue Jays and the final countdown to the Game of Thrones season four premiere. Plus, we learned Canadians are crazy for mobile. Check it out!

Let’s go Blue Jays!

As playoff hopes rise, and fall, across sports stadiums, the Toronto Blue Jays are just getting into the swing of it all with the home opener tonight. Of course, even when the team is at home, I can’t make it out for every ball game. Luckily, all 162 of this year’s games are available with Rogers Anyplace TV. Rogers digital television customers can live stream the games on their computer and tablet with Rogers Anyplace TV and their Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE or Sportsnet 360 subscriptions, while Rogers wireless customers can tune in on their smartphone via the Rogers Anyplace TV mobile app.

Earlier this week, Sarah shared her story of catching a game while commuting. When have you watched a game on the go?

Game on

Going from the diamond to a different kind of game entirely: Game of Thrones returns this weekend! The Rogers Your World This Week team sat down with Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor) to find out what season four has in store – watch the full video. In case you’ve forgotten some of the finer plot points from last year, Mashable is offering fans a little refresher on life in Winterfell, translated into emoji.

Catch the premiere on April 6 on HBO Canada, or watch it later with Rogers Anyplace TV and Rogers On Demand.

How will you celebrate the season premiere?

Making it mobile

The average Canadian spent more than 34 hours per month online in 2013, with more of those hours being logged on mobile devices than ever before, says new research from ComScore. The Globe and Mail notes that in the U.S., more than half of people’s time spent online in 2013 was mobile – a whopping 566 billion minutes! Canadians are spending that time on mobile checking the weather, social networking and searching.

Finally, getting back to that tube obsession, roughly a third of us are using a smartphone or tablet while watching TV (I was hunting Pokemon while watching TV on Monday night).

I’m definitely reading way more websites and watching more videos on my smartphone every year – how about you?

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Game Of Thrones returns April 6: Get a sneak peek

The calendar may say spring, but really, we all know that winter is coming!

We’re all anxiously awaiting the return to Winterfell when Game of Thrones premieres on April 6. To celebrate the hotly anticipated season premiere, the Rogers Your World This Week team sat down with Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran Stark, and Kristian Nairn, the man behind Hodor, to find out what season four has in store.

Catch the premiere on April 6 on HBO Canada. Forgot to block Sunday night off in your calendar? No worries – you can watch it on demand with Rogers Anyplace TV and Rogers On Demand.

What would your Game of Thrones name be?

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Weekend reading: Smartphones, smartphones and more smartphones

Weekend readingWhether it’s sequins or an unscuffed screen, I can’t help but be drawn to shiny new things. And this week, between announcing the launch date for the LG G Flex and revealing the new HTC One (M8) can you really blame me for being a little gadget obsessed? Plus, we look at the latest stats on just how many Canadians are sporting smartphones.

Hot handset

Speed, sleek lines and a killer camera were on display Tuesday when HTC lifted the curtain on the new HTC One (M8). My favourite thing about this new Android device, available in glacier silver and gunmetal grey, is the HTC Duo Camera – which lets you take a shot with two cameras. As someone with a slew of awkwardly framed vacation photos, the ability to choose which parts of the scene to emphasize, even after the fact, is oh-so-tempting. It’s also got scads of memory (and the ability to add more) for all those sweet shots.

Rogers customers can currently purchase the gunmetal grey device online using the Rogers Reservation System, even before it’s available in-store! Rogers will also offer the glacier silver model starting April 10.

What’s your favourite feature of the new HTC One (M8)?

Get Flexed

We’re excited to announce the launch date for the world’s first curved smartphone: the LG G Flex will be available to Canadians starting on April 3, exclusively from Rogers! This curvy handset has a self-healing back and a bunch of other cool features – we shared our top five here.

And we’re not the only ones in awe of the LG G Flex’s unique and user-friendly design. This week the device received the title of ‘Best of the Best’ at the Red Dot product design awards. Congrats to the LG team!

Want to try it for yourself? New and existing Rogers customers can reserve the device online using the Rogers Reservation System. 

Do you think curved is the new flat?

Smart stats

More than half of Canadians – 55 per cent – now have a smartphone, according to the latest adoption research shared by iPhone in Canada. The study of 1,100 smartphone owners by Catalyst Canada and GroupM Next found most Canadians are toting Android phones, with a 45 per cent market share, while 34 per cent are using an Apple device. Blackberry and Windows round out the list. Surveying both Anglophones and Francophones, the research found that only one-third are using their phones to check emails – which I find surprising, as I almost exclusively email on the go. The most popular use for a smartphone was to get directions, while finding a restaurant, checking the weather and using Twitter were also popular.

The other neat stat here is that half of the smartphone owners let go of their feature phones at least two years ago. I gave up my “slider” phone in 2010 – when did you make the leap to smartphones?

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How to sync your email to your iPhone

iPhone emailConnected Rogers helps you get your email up and running on your iPhone in no time with this simple, four-step tutorial.

You’ve got an iPhone. You’ve got an email account that you want to sync to the device, so you can send, receive and read your messages wherever you are. No problem. Linking an existing “POP” email account – such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook – is a simple process. Here’s how:

1. Tap Settings.

2. Scroll down and then tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

3. Tap Add Account and select the email provider you’d like to add from the provided list. (Don’t see your provider? Tap Other and then Add Mail Account.).

4. Simply follow the onscreen prompts. You’ll need your username/email address and password handy to finish the task and to configure your settings. Repeat this process to add any additional email providers.

Easy! I’ve got four email accounts currently pushing to my device – how many inboxes are you managing?

Check out more great tech tips at Connected Rogers.

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Weekend Reading: Gear-ing up, finding faves and welcoming spring

Weekend readingThis week, we said adios to winter (at least according to the calendar), tested out a new Twitter feature and got all the details on Samsung’s new GALAXY S5 and wearables. Want in on our newfound knowledge? Here’s some Weekend Reading.

Get the Gear

The Samsung GALAXY S5 is coming to Rogers on April 11! The Canadian specs and launch date were revealed this week, and we’re really excited about the S. Health 3.0 app, which records steps and heart rate information and lets you record diet and exercise information. You can reserve yours now on the Rogers Reservation System.

The icing on the cake: the Samsung Gear 2 Neo will be available exclusively for Rogers customers, also on April 11. All Gear accessories display your phone’s calls, texts and emails on your wrist. The Gear 2 Neo even includes a standalone music player to power your playlists on the go. Rogers will also be carrying the Gear Fit and the Gear 2. Check out what CBC had to say about the new devices here.

Which of the new Gear wearables has caught your eye? Why?

Top tweeps

Twitter marked its eighth birthday by rolling out a tool that shows your very first tweet. Unfortunately for many, that first tweet was pretty dull but this CBC roundup did uncover some gems! Our first tweet from @RogersBuzz welcomed all our new followers. My personal account’s first tweet was a somewhat embarrassing third-person account of my morning at work. Hopefully, I’ve gotten wittier since then!

What was your first tweet?

Twitter’s testing a new timeline feature that lets you track every tweet from a selected group of people. The micro-blogging site’s “Fave People” lets you group your preferred accounts into a special timeline. You can also choose to receive notifications when they tweet.

I’ve been playing with the feature, which is currently being tested on Android, and I must admit, it’s kind of nice to have a special list of my preferred folks. Rather than my usual list functions – media, runners, sports, etc. – I’ve been using the feature to keep track of my real-life friends whose updates sometimes get lost in my main feed. One caveat – friends with locked profiles cannot be favourites.

How would you use the “Fave People” function?

Sweet springtime

OK, some parts of the country may still be seeing the odd flurry and sub-zero temperature. But the calendar assures us that spring is coming, and we spent yesterday looking for proof! @RogersBuzz followers shared a few promising signs of new growth and sunshine!

Even if we’re still waiting on the thaw, it’s a great time to start thinking about digging in the garden, or, in my case, potting a few herbs on the balcony. To help you get a head start on the growing season, we rounded up a few awesome apps to help gardening veterans and newbies alike.

What tools help your green thumb? 

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