‘Tis the season to be jolly … Sorry, is that too soon for you? I can’t help it. The winter holidays are my favourite time of the year. The crunch of snow under my feet, the decorations and lights everywhere and the carols all make me feel like a kid again.
So curl up with some warm apple cider and check out these five apps that will definitely get you in the holiday spirit.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas ($4.99)
Everyone’s favourite Christmas special comes to life in this fun, interactive app. If you can’t wait for A Charlie Brown Christmas to air on TV every year, you’ll love this app. (It’s great to share with your kids, too!) You can even decorate your own Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
2. Mint.com (free)
While a budgeting app might not seem completely in the spirit of the season, Mint is a great way to track your spending. Most of the tracking is automatic, so you won’t need to manually enter the details of every purchase (which makes it so easy to use). Sticking to a budget means no unpleasant surprises come billing season in January.
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($5.23)
Of course, the season’s other holiday classic is this Dr. Seuss tale. This interactive storybook app offers three modes: reading the book yourself, having the book read to you, or a mix of the two.
4. Any.do (free)
This is another app that’s not holiday specific, but definitely will save you from checking your list twice. Any.do is a to-do list app that syncs with your Gmail account and has a Chrome plugin so you can easily add tasks. Tasks can also be shared with others, so you can work together to get all the gifts from everyone’s lists this year.
5. The Nightmare before Christmas ($1.05)
Looking for a bit of a different spin on the holidays? This app allows you to give your device a fun Nightmare Before Christmas theme. You can customize icons, your wallpaper and dock faster than you can say Jack Skellington.
Rogers is the first Canadian provider to offer carrier billing for Google Play purchases. Instead of paying via credit card, Rogers customers can now sign up to have their Google Play purchases billed on their monthly Rogers statement. If you’ve already connected your credit card to your Google Play account, you’ll need to remove it in order to see the option for carrier billing.
Check out Google’s step-by-step instructions on paying for your Google Play purchases with carrier billing.
What apps help fuel your holiday spirit?
Cyber Monday began in the United States back in 2005, and just like Black Friday, has begun increasing in popularity north of the border with more Canadian brands hopping on board.
Of course, Cyber Monday has something Black Friday doesn’t: the ability to shop from home, in your PJs if you so desire! There’s no freezing in late-night lineups or worrying about crowds, as all the deals are all just a click away.
We got some tips from Rogers TechXpert Timothy Leslie on how you can get the most out of your Cyber Monday shopping:
- Draft a wish-list: Establish what your priority purchases will be so that you’re focused on the must-have items and not swayed by all the other tempting deals (this will help you stay within budget, too!);
- Shop securely: It’s easy to get swept up in an incredible deal. To avoid being scammed, make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate retailer. If you’re not sure, check online forums and read customers’ comments about their experiences;
- Shop from anywhere: You don’t need to sit in front of a computer all day to get the best deals. Earlier this year, Google released a report saying that 27 per cent of Canadians have purchased something on their smartphone. Rogers customers will never miss a deal, thanks to devices powered by the blazing-fast LTE network –up to two times faster than any other Canadian provider.
- Join the secret society of shoppers: You can uncover many deals through your social networks. Follow brands on Facebook and Twitter to discover hot deals that may not be advertised anywhere else.
What deals did you get this Cyber Monday?
While more than 70 per cent of Canadians are happy with the number and range of channels they get in their cable packages, more than 86 per cent want more flexibility and choice in the channels they receive, according to new poll by Harris/Decima, on behalf of Rogers.
The poll also found:
- 78 per cent of respondents subscribe to a cable or satellite service;
- 60 per cent would pay extra per channel, but 64 per cent say they like having access to TV packages that offer multiple channels and programs in one bundle.
We know our customers want more choice. In 2011, Rogers rolled out a flexible TV packaging trial in London, Ont. More than 1,000 customers were offered the trial’s basic cable package, with the option to add individual channels of their choice in increments of 15, 20 and 30 from more than 100 options. The majority subscribed to these incremental packages, while 8 per cent of customers chose not to subscribe to additional channels beyond their basic package.
Sounds good right? So why haven’t we rolled this out more broadly? Chief Marketing Officer John Boynton told us there are structural barriers preventing us from giving customers what they want.
“The results from our London trial clearly show our TV customers embrace more choice when it comes to their TV packaging and we want to offer it,” said Boynton. “We’ve been advocating change for several years and believe a thorough review of the entire broadcasting system is necessary so we can deliver for our customers.”
While we continue to push for more flexible TV packages, we also want to hear from you. We’re continuing our dialogue with the public around the future of television on our Future of TV forum. To participate in the forum, log in with your My Rogers username and password. You don’t need to be a Rogers customer to get a My Rogers profile.
We asked people on the street what they would change about their cable TV experience. Watch the video to find out their answers:
What changes would you make to the current television landscape?
While Canadian retailers are starting to get in on the act with their own offers, many Canadians still travel south of the border to enjoy great deals and rock-bottom prices.
If you’re thinking of heading south this week, here are some tips to make the most out of your trip.
Canadian shoppers who stay in the U.S. for 48 hours are now allowed to bring back up to $800 worth of duty-free goods, so you might want to consider staying for a couple of nights.
You’ll also want to leave early in order to avoid delays at the border (you can also check on border crossing times via the Canadian Border Service Agency’s website).
Make a list and check it twice: Know which stores you want to hit. As well, prioritizing your list is important. The first store you visit should be the one that has your must-have item so you’re not disappointed by sold-out shelves.
Look for deals online
Do you ever watch Extreme Couponing in envy? Websites and Twitter accounts specific to Black Friday savings are a great resource for finding the best high-value coupons.
Be sure to check the fine print before you head to the store and stay on top of any early bird specials as these can offer the deepest discounts.
Your smartphone can be your Black Friday lifeline if you need directions, want to find exclusive online offers, or share the great deals you’ve found on Facebook or Twitter.
Rogers customers who are staying in the U.S. for a couple of days may want to consider getting one of our travel packs, which give a combination of talk, text and data when roaming in the U.S. We recently doubled the amount of data and minutes on select packs while cutting prices.
Just going for the day? Rogers customers can stay connected worry-free with the Rogers U.S. Roaming Internet Rate, which gives you 50 MB of data for up to 24 hours. You don’t need to add this to your account; just turn data roaming ON and it will automatically kick in once you cross the border. (Customers in Newfoundland and Quebec will need to opt-in one time only.)
Send a free text with the word “usage” to 3330 at any time to check how much data you have used. You’ll also get a text message to let you know if you’re approaching 50 MB. If you need more data, it’s only an additional $7.99 and you get another 50 MB to use during the 24 hour period.
To celebrate Black Friday, we’re giving away a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a Moto X and a Nexus 5. To be entered to win one of these prizes, you just need to take a picture of your Black Friday purchase or what you would have liked to purchase and tweet the picture to @RogersBuzz with the hashtag #RogersRoamTrip.
Enter the contest here.
Contest starts at 10 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2013 and continues until 4 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2013. No purchase necessary. Read the full contest rules here.
Are you heading to the U.S. in search of Black Friday deals?
Welcome to the Flick Picks Panel, where our community reviews new releases now available on Rogers on Demand. This week, it’s a special kids-themed edition in celebration of the recent launch of Rogers Kids Zone. The Rogers Kids Zone portal, available across multiple devices, allows Rogers customers to enjoy Canada’s most popular kids’ programming and movies in one secure and easy to use location.
The Croods (PG)
If you have kids and want to watch a movie as a family where you, as the young-at-heart adult, won’t be reaching for pain meds, then The Croods is for you.
I have a four-and-a-half-year-old son, and he couldn’t get enough of The Croods, a story about a family of cavemen who go on a trip to find a new home. Of course, danger awaits them on their journey, including a teenage caveman who has his eyes set on the eldest daughter.
Starring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds, The Croods is admittedly more enjoyable than I initially expected. Cage voices Grug, the father of the Crood clan and as a dad, I can totally relate to his … exhaustion. Reynolds is Guy, the “new-age” caveman who tries to court Grug’s daughter, Eep (Stone).
OK, so maybe the character names are odd and you’re thinking: “A caveman comedy?” Yes! After all, The Croods are the funniest cave-people since The Flintstones. The jokes in the movie will make kids laugh and adults chuckle.
Both my son and I had a great time watching The Croods and I think your family will enjoy it, too.
Rob is an avid movie watcher. Well, he used to be. Before falling prey to the blue-eyed lady that is his wife, he worked in a video store (back when they rented VHS!) and immersed himself in all things pop-culture.
Monsters University (G)
In this Pixar prequel, we join a young Mike Wazowski on a school trip to the Monsters, Inc. factory floor. Mike meets a Scarer who boasts about Monsters University being the best there is. Somehow, Mike manages to sneak past everyone into a live scare environment without being noticed. Inspired by his new hero, Mike begins studying hard and makes his way into Monsters University, where he pursues his ambition to become a Scarer.
We quickly find out that Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) weren’t always inseparable. Sulley spends most of his time cruising along on the strength of his family name at the university while Mike spends every waking moment studying to be the best Scarer he can be. Scaring comes naturally to Sulley while Mike needs to work twice as hard.
After being dropped from the program, Mike and Sulley are forced to work together in a fraternity of misfits (Oozma Kappa) in order to compete in the Scare Games to get their second chance at becoming Scarers. The plot had me immediately thinking of the classic Revenge of the Nerds series. The group makes many mistakes along the way but eventually learn that they must work together if they want a fighting chance.
Monsters University deals with the reality of disappointment and the idea that sometimes you need to fail in order to find out what you were truly meant to do with your life. This is a great lesson that shows things don’t always go as planned — and it can work out for the better.
Immediately after watching this, my little one wanted to watch the original Monsters, Inc. and even though it was past her bedtime, I couldn’t resist as I wanted to watch it too!
Nelia Camara loves all things movie, technology and music related. She’s a contest lover, who enjoys meeting fascinating people (famous or not).
Welcome to the Flick Picks Panel. Each week, our community reviews new releases now available on Rogers on Demand. This week, Brandon Accettura reviews White House Down (18A).
Cale (Channing Tatum) is a divorced father who never sees things through, and thus he has lost the respect of his daughter.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is working on a new global treaty for world leaders.
Cale, a former army man, is now working as security for the Speaker of the House. He tries to build a better relationship with his daughter by taking her on a tour of the White House, but their group starts just as the President’s office is taken over.
The movie starts out slow, introducing you to the heroes and villains. But after the first bang, it delivers non-stop action through to the final credits.
While the comic relief scenes were mostly welcome, some of the characters were given too much attention and it really made the film drag at parts. I won’t name names, but you’ll know who they are once you watch the movie.
Tatum and Foxx make a great team throughout the movie, and it is very enjoyable to watch. As the deadline for negotiations gets closer near the end of the movie, there are a lot of game-changers which make it even more exciting.
At one point during the movie, I started to guess who the villain was and then had to reassess after that person had been eliminated.
I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who is looking to sit back, relax with some popcorn and soda and watch a great action-packed movie. Although it started off slow, it picked up quickly to make the movie very entertaining.
Brandon Accettura is married with two fur-kids (dogs), and lives in Brampton. He’s a self-proclaimed “Movie Buff” whose favourite movies are comedy, action, and suspense thrillers, but he has gotten stuck watching some romantic movies every so often with his wife.
In last month’s Speech from the Throne, the federal government came out in favour of more flexibility for Canadians when it comes to choosing their cable package. Just after that, the CRTC launched a consultation into the future of television in Canada.
Rogers agrees that there should be more flexibility in packages for Canadian consumers. It is something we have supported because we know it’s important to our customers.
We’re interested in hearing from you about what you want as a cable customer. To that end, we’re launching a number of different ways you can reach us, beginning with a CRTC Consultation Board.
Here’s a bit more information about each topic:
- Flash Conference: This will be a virtual flash conference, which is a current initiative from the CRTC’s consultation. All of the posts here will be collected and sent to the CRTC as part of the consultation process;
- Let’s Talk TV: This will be a place where you can ask us your questions about the cable TV system. As your community manager in the CRTC Consultation community, I’ll be sure to get you an answer;
- More Information on Cable TV: This is where you can post links to related reading around cable TV in Canada and have discussions around what you’re learning.
The community is open to all Canadians to help them read and understand the choices ahead. To join the CRTC Consultation Board, you’ll need a My Rogers username and password. You don’t need to be a Rogers customer to sign up for a My Rogers account.
Additionally, we’ll be holding a special Google+ Hangout flash conference for anyone who is interested in taking part. Please leave a comment on this post if you’re interested in joining, and we’ll be in touch in the near future.
Are you interested in more flexible TV packages?
Pew Research released a report this week that said nearly one-in-10 Americans get their news through Twitter. Of those who get their news on Twitter, the report notes that “the vast majority, 85%, get news (of any kind) at least sometimes on mobile devices.”
This week’s report found Twitter users who get their news via the microblogging site tend to be younger and more educated than those who get their news via Facebook. Last week, Pew issued a report on how many Americans get their news via Facebook.
Flying with your tablet just got better
Last week, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), announced the electronic devices, such as tablets, e-readers and phones no longer need to be turned off, or switched into flight modeduring takeoff and landing. Canadian airlines are not subject to the new rules, as they are governed by Transport Canada, not the FAA.
“It is our opinion that a change in regulation will be welcomed by travellers and airlines alike,” WestJet spokeswoman Brie Ogle told the Toronto Star earlier this week.
An important question comes from the change in regulations. Does this mean Airplane Mode on electronics (that turns off all cellular signals) will have to be renamed?
A year ago, we launched the first SIM-based mobile payment system in Canada. This week, we announced the next step to that: The suretap wallet.
The suretap wallet allows Rogers customers to make payments using their smartphone. The wallet will include a Rogers Prepaid MasterCard, and also has gift card functionality.
Additional cards will become available for download soon, including payment cards from various banks and payment networks and loyalty cards.
Twitter chat with Kathy Buckworth
Every kid has their favourite show. For me growing up it was My Pet Monster. I loved that show, and even had a doll from the show that I cuddled with for years after it ended. I can’t wait to share some of my favourite kids’ shows from when I was growing up with my kids.
We want to hear about your favourite kids shows, and how you and your kids watch TV. Have you shared with them your favourite show from when you were young? Join us for a Twitter chat with parenting expert Kathy Buckworth where she’ll share family TV viewing tips. Follow @RogersBuzz on Nov. 14 from 1-2 p.m. EST to share your tips with us and have a chance to win a new iPad Air.
Email goes mobile
Forty-eight per cent of emails are now opened on smartphones and tablets, according to new research from Litmus. This is a one percentage point gain from September, 2013, and an increase of 10 percentage points since last September.
When it comes to devices, the majority of mobile email opens comes from the iPhone and iPad (nearly 8-%), followed by Android (20%), with BlackBerry and Windows making up less than 1% of mobile opens.
Where do you open your email?
Welcome to the Flick Picks Panel. Each week, our community reviews new releases now available on Rogers on Demand. This week, Deborah Coombs reviews Pacific Rim (14A).
In the not so distant future, giant monsters (Kaiju) emerge from a rift deep in the Pacific Ocean and begin an onslaught on coastal cities all along the Pacific Rim.
In a war spanning years , bringing massive death and destruction, mankind fights back by means of giant robots (Jaegers), each piloted by two individuals joined together by a neural link.
Pacific Rim is an action-packed movie, with touches of Godzilla, Might Morphin Power Rangers, Transformers, and more. If you are looking for a great story or character development, this is not the movie for you. But if you are a sci-fi action fan in the mood for some mindless fun, check this one out!
Pacific Rim is shot in a very dim atmosphere, and I would have appreciated having a bit more light in some scenes so I could get a better appreciation for the construction of the Jaegers and the features of the Kaiju. However, I appreciate that the darkness gives a distinctly steam punk feel to the movie’s design.
The acting is generally nothing to get excited about, and there are some very cheesy lines in the script, but that is fine for this genre. The one exception to this is Idris Elba, who I think gives a very strong performance as the commander, Stacker Pentecost. Ron Perlman is always entertaining and his is character, Hannibal Chau, has a small, though important role.
Tip: Be sure to watch the credits for a short extra scene!
Deborah is a busy mom, step-mom, wife and friend just trying to keep it all together. Sadly, the only movies she sees in theatres these days are at media previews, but Saturday brings the sacred family movie night in front of the big-screen TV. Popcorn is a must. Deborah has been blogging about her life’s challenges and joys at Raising My Boys since 2009.
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Welcome to the Flick Picks Panel. Each week, our community reviews new releases now available on Rogers on Demand. This week, Rolland Chidiac reviews The Internship (PG).
The Internship (PG)
The Internship stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, who play newly unemployed watch salesmen named Billy and Nick. Their misfortune leads them to become interns at Google, where they are competing for a job with people both younger and smarter than them.
The contrast between the young Google interns and Vaughn and Wilson’s characters is the movie’s strongest asset. The film’s humour is relatable to both younger audiences and older ones, as Billy and Nick navigate their way around tech-savvy young adults in their early 20s.
As with Wedding Crashers before it, the chemistry between Vaughn and Wilson was great. At around two hours in length, the movie seemed to fly by.
I missed this movie when it was in the theatre so I was happy to see that it was on Rogers on Demand. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday evening.
Rolland Chidiac is an elementary school teacher by day and a husband and father by night. He loves watching movies because it is a great way to relax and be entertained at the same time.
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