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The holidays are prime time for house parties, and music is key for setting the right vibe for your festivities. My friends tend to love the limelight, so our shindigs often end with a little friendly competition over the microphone.
Forget getting up on stage in a crowded bar or booking a limited session in a private space – did you know you can sing karaoke in the comfort of your own home with Rogers on Demand? Find the karaoke channel by visiting Channel 100, navigating to Music, then choosing Karaoke on Demand. No microphone required – a hairbrush will do the trick!
You can choose from hundreds of songs to inspire your inner rock star, including everything from oldies to hip hop and country. You can also set up a playlist of all your choices, to keep the performances rolling.
Have trouble choosing just what to croon? The @RogersBuzz team was happy to share their favourite tunes:
@RogersJenW: My earliest music memories are from the boy band era, so I tend to default to the 90s when making my song choices. The Spice Girls’ Stop is a much-loved favourite – yes, I still remember all of the dance moves – as is anything early Weezer and Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe. Carrying a tune isn’t my strong suit, but I still have fun with it!
@RogersMary: Personally, I don’t sing karaoke publicly because I’m way to shy for that. But in my own living room, it’s an entirely different story ;-) My daughter and I plug in the karaoke machine and sing along to the ROD karaoke channel. I love anything classic Madonna while my daughter tends to lean towards popular top 40.
@RogersElise: For me, it’s: Stop! In the name of love by The Supremes. I was supposed to sing it with two friends at a karaoke once for my birthday. We were at a bar, singing in front of an audience. When we were called, they had disappeared so I started the song by myself thinking they would join me soon. They actually left me by myself for the whole song, and recorded my singing. Of course I was dreadful and I looked ridiculous frantically visually searching the room, but it is now one of my best karaoke memories.
Gina: My favourite karaoke song is “Ring of Fire”, in the style of Jonny Cash, because even if you can’t sing you can still have fun talk-singing.
@RogersSarahM: The first is Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison. From the ages of 10 to 13, I was in Navy Cadets. Once a month, we had a weekend camp, where every Saturday night we did karaoke. The commanding officer of our corps was a giant man in his 50s, who didn’t say much but still managed to intimidate the cadets (including me) in just the right way. His karaoke performance never failed. Every camp, he got up and sang Pretty Woman. It was one of my most endearing memories of him.
The second one is Hey Jude! by the Beatles. About 10 years ago, I sang it with a group of friends. My friend Michelle knocked it out of the park on lead vocals. It was definitely the best karaoke experience I’ve ever been a part of.
Caitlin: Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, Salt N’ Pepa’s Shoop and Brian Mcknight’s Back at One. They are older songs that everyone can get into (maybe not Brian Mcknight…) but they are fun to do and usually people will start singing along! I have a terrible voice (I’m not just saying that…my parents and my boyfriend have told me so) so it’s always nice when others join in on the song.
What’s your go-to karaoke hit?
The second Dec. 1 hits, it always feels like my calendar has been kicked into overdrive. Where previously I had listed carefully scheduled workout classes and date nights, I’ve suddenly got back-to-back shopping trips, holiday parties and dinners. Not to mention the all-important travel plans to visit my parents back East.
By Jan. 2, I always wonder if the holiday decorations were worth it – I haven’t been home in a month! In between, though, I worry about how safe my home is while I’m out of town.
So just in time for the holiday season, the Rogers Smart Home Monitoring team shares five simple ways to keep your home safe while you’re travelling.
- Lock it down. Double check that all windows, doors, gates and garage doors are locked. While you’re at it, remove any spare keys from obvious hiding spots such as under your doormat or flowerpots.
- Get a helping hand. Arrange for a friend or neighbour to check in every couple of days to verify all is well, bring in any mail and water your plants.
- Automate your security system. Advanced security systems can now do way more than a simple alarm. For example, In addition to sending real-time alerts via email or text message, Rogers Smart Home Monitoring can control heat levels, lights and small appliances through an app on your smartphone or tablet.
- Be energy efficient. Manage your holiday energy costs by automating your lights and thermostats and unplugging small appliances such as your toaster and coffeemaker. To help prevent your pipes from freezing, don’t turn your heat down any lower than 13°C.
- Make it look lived in: To keep your absence on the down-low, try to make your home look occupied. Put your newspaper subscription on hold and automate your lights with Smart Home Monitoring.
Download the Rogers Smart Home Monitoring Demo App to get a sneak peek of the Smart Home Monitoring system features.
Safe travels this holiday! Where will you be travelling this year?
Santa’s elves must surely be expert programmers by now, with high-tech toys topping wishlists for children and adults alike. My mom’s holiday gift last year was a tablet, and I know my gentleman friend is hoping this year brings a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S4 under the tree.
Picking the right high-tech gift can be tricky, so start by considering your loved ones’ hobbies, then check out our recommendations to make shopping a breeze.
The shutterbug: Selfie was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013. Even if the gadget-lover in your life isn’t busy snapping self-portraits for social media, they’re probably still part of the growing wave of people capturing memories with their smartphones. The new Nokia Lumia 1020, available in black and yellow, has a 41 megapixel camera that allows for precision zooming and cropping. The Moto X, meanwhile, is great for taking photos in a flash with its quick capture camera. You simply need to twist your wrist twice to open the camera app, then touch the screen anywhere to get the shot – fast.
The film fanatic: Buffering can ruin the power of an award-winning performance or a beautiful breakaway shot. Friends who love to watch on the go need a wireless device capable of fast network speeds to support downloading large files or streaming video. Check out the LG G2 (you can win your own on Howard Forums) and Samsung Note 3 smartphones, which are both capable of maximum theoretical download speeds of 150 mbps.
The gym rat: Both the serial marathoner and the newbie gym-goer (plus everyone in between) could enjoy a wearable fitness technology gadget. Devices like the Fitbit Flex bracelet or the Fitbit Zip track steps, distance travelled and calories burned to help you get a head start on those 2014 resolutions.
The music lover: The HTC One smartphone was an essential item for our music festival survival guide, and is sure to please the audiophile in your life. “HTC BoomSound” and dual front stereo speakers powered by Beats Audio amps mean your family members can listen to all their favourite top 100 tunes – and you can even throw in a set of headphones to make sure their soundtrack stays solo.
The outdoorsy type: Rock-climbing, hiking and mountain biking can take its toll on your tech. The Cat B15 smartphone was designed with a rugged user in mind – it can survive a fall from 1.8 metres, is dust resistant and can even be submerged under a metre of water for half an hour.
For the technophile: Coveting the latest gadget is no longer reserved just for the tech-obsessed, but for that special someone who likes to stay ahead of the curve, now’s the time to explore wearable tech. Worn on your wrist, the Samsung Galaxy Gear lets you preview messages from your device, save voice memos, make hands-free calls, take pictures, track your steps and more.
For you: After all that hard work shopping for everyone on your list, it’s about time you reward yourself. Check out more than 100 of the world’s top magazine titles on your tablet with Next Issue Canada . The all-you-can-read digital magazine service is available on iPad, Android tablets and Win8 devices, and starts at $9.99 for monthly titles plus digitized back issues. For $14.99, you can add weekly titles to your selection. Sign up now at www.nextissue.ca.
Visit Rogers.com or your local Rogers store to pick up any of the gifts on this list.
What technology has made your holiday wishlist this year?
Whether you’re travelling to score some sales or to visit family for the holidays, it’s hard not to worry about your home when you’re away.
For Rebecca Stanisic, also known as @BitofMomsense, Rogers Smart Home Monitoring reassured her that all was well at home while her family travelled this summer, visiting Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Windsor, Ont. Thanks to the app on her smartphone, she was able to check in on her home from the beach, see if a parcel was left on her stoop, and make sure the doors and windows were all secure.
“I love knowing a text, email and phone call will come if something happens, but we weren’t looking at the security of the house so much as the other utilities – the temperature, the camera and so on. It’s just that extra peace of mind that I love,” explains Rebecca, who is test-driving the system for a year. While she was in P.E.I. in July, Ottawa was hit by a heatwave, but Rebecca was able to adjust her air conditioning on the go.
The system has become part of their family routine, with the console in the kitchen letting them do everything from check the weather to arm their security system at night.
Rebecca says Smart Home Monitoring has also given her a sense of freedom. Impromptu weekend trips are easily planned “without worrying about anything. If there was an issue, we would have gotten notified.”
Do you protect your home when you go away on vacation or for a weekend?
We’ve been talking about mobile payments for quite a while, and about a year ago we facilitated the first SIM-based mobile payment on an NFC-enabled smartphone in Canada. Today, we’re taking it to the next level, announcing that in the coming weeks our new suretap wallet will be available to the public.
The suretap wallet from Rogers will let customers make payments using their smartphone – just like paying with a credit card, minus the bulky physical wallet. The suretap wallet will include a Rogers Prepaid MasterCard so it’s easier to make mobile payments using the money you already have. We’ve also added gift card functionality to the suretap wallet and can confirm that in the near future, additional cards will become available for download, including payment cards from multiple banks and payment networks and loyalty cards.
How does it work?
You pay with a tap of your smartphone using a contactless payment terminal, or in the case of gift cards, by presenting a serial number or QR code. Whether you’re using a payment card or gift card, all the payment information you need will be available in your suretap wallet.
For payment card transactions, the suretap wallet leverages the secure SIM card inside an NFC-enabled smartphone, allowing customers to make mobile payments at tens of thousands of retailers across Canada. It’s as easy and secure as using a regular contactless credit card where you simply tap and go to make a purchase.
When will it launch?
The suretap wallet is set to launch in the coming weeks. If you’re as excited about the launch as we are, make sure you visit the “what do I need?” section of our Rogers suretap page to order your suretap SIM card, or you can visit a Rogers retail store. Get in quick so you can be among the first try to the suretap wallet.
Our vision for the suretap wallet is to allow you to store all your favourite cards – credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, transit passes – securely on your smartphone. With the launch of our suretap wallet, we’re one step closer to a truly seamless payment system.
For more information on Rogers suretap, visit: www.rogers.com/suretap. Also check-in closer to launch date to read more about our suretap wallet.
Earlier this month, Samsung released its Galaxy Gear wearable. In addition to telling the time, it can also take photos and video, send texts, and even be used as a hands-free device to make a phone call.
The Galaxy Gear is one of the latest offerings in the wearable tech industry, which exploded recently with fitness bands.
As wearable tech continues to evolve, it presents both a challenge and an opportunity: Will the fashion world embrace it?
Stylist Leslie Fremar sees tons of possibility for fashion and technology to come together. Pointing to the Galaxy Gear on her wrist, she says she can see fashion brands down the line designing brand-name digital faces for customers.
“It can be a portable way to own a piece of a brand that not all people can afford to be a part of,” Framer says. “This could become the perfume of fashion. You know, people are buying perfume because it’s only $100 to be a part of something they see as a brand, and that could be an incredible way to be like, ‘Oh, well my watch face is Michael Kors,’ it’s kind of an endless opportunity. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.”
Fashion blogger Anita Clarke agrees that the fashion industry might begin designing clothes with wearable tech in mind.
“Fashion is a huge business and the industry value predictions wearable tech is getting make it impossible to ignore. Also wearable tech will need the fashion industry to get the product out there.”
Fremar says she can see fashion lines co-branding with tech companies on wearable tech as opposed to creating their own products.
“I don’t think (fashion brands) are set up to go into development. Maybe they’ll come up with original ideas and approach a company like Samsung and say, ‘I have an idea, can you produce this exclusively for me?’ ”
Fremar admits talking into her Galaxy Gear sometimes makes her feel like a secret agent, but that’s starting to fade.
“When you’re not used to it, it feels odd and then when you get used to it, it becomes second nature.”
As for advice on how to make your wearable tech work with an outfit? Clarke is blunt.
“Just wear it and expect questions would be my motto.”
Want to try out the new Galaxy Gear for yourself? A lucky RedBoard reader will win a prize pack including the Galaxy Gear and the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3. (Full rules here). To be entered leave a comment below, before Nov. 4, sharing what Galaxy Gear feature excites you. We’ll randomly select one winner after the contest closes on Nov. 4.
Update Nov.6: Thanks to everyone for entering our contest. We have picked the winner and contacted them via email.
Guidebooks – once a necessity – are quickly being rendered obsolete by the wealth of information that can be accessed online and by the multitudes of travel apps available on our smartphones.
As a professional travel blogger, I travel a lot and have come to rely heavily on my Samsung Galaxy SII Android smartphone for information. Here are a few of the apps and tricks I use on the road.
Find great restaurants
The days of taking a chance on an unfamiliar restaurant are over. Yelp (free) has become far and away the most-used app for user-generated bar and restaurant reviews. Yelp is hooked in to your smartphone’s GPS, so it will find restaurants near you and recommend the best based on other people’s reviews. When you choose your restaurant, just push the ‘get directions’ button and Yelp will open up Google Maps and auto-load driving directions. You can also try Alfred (free), which is similar to Yelp but is programmed to learn your taste and make suggestions based on the restaurants that you enjoyed in the past.
Checking your email and Facebook from your phone on the go is convenient, but if you spend a significant amount of time online like I do, you need to find Wi-Fi. WiFi Finder (free) finds both free and paid hotspots near you so you can plop down and crack open the laptop to really get some work done.
Save Your Battery
Using maps to navigate can drain your battery and power sources aren’t always readily available on the road. Getting the most out of my battery is a top priority, and Juice Defender (free) is an exceptional power saver. When I installed it, my battery life appeared to last 20 to 40 per cent longer. You can also purchase second batteries fairly inexpensively.
When you find yourself lost on a back road in Minnesota, you won’t need to worry about the potential costs of opening up Google Maps for a couple of hours, thanks to the Rogers U.S. roaming rate. Rogers offers a $7.99/day roaming rate for Canadians travelling in the United States, which allows for up to 50 MB of data download per day (way more than most people use). For more information visit Rogers.com/roaming.
On some trips, everything seems to go wrong. It’s as though Murphy’s Law applies tenfold while travelling — so it’s important to be prepared for the worst. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. You can also protect your smartphone from loss or theft using Lookout Security (free), which enables you to remotely lock your lost or stolen phone, locate it using GPS, or wipe all the data.
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Heading back to school means juggling lectures, assignments, group projects and your part-time job. It may sound overwhelming, but it’s all manageable with the right tools and an organized schedule. The right gadgets can help you finish your projects faster, better collaborate with group members and keep you on deadline. If you’re classroom-bound this fall, we’ve come up with five ways to help you get the most out of your gadgets this school year:
- Set up a connected study space at home with a fast and far-reaching Wi-Fi connection and schedule time to review notes and complete assignments free from distractions. If you’re sharing home internet with roommates, it might be best to get an unlimited internet package so you can download course materials, upload assignments and stream lectures from home without ever worrying about going over your data limit.
- To stay organized and on time, load your class schedule and your assignment deadlines into a calendar application on your smartphone. Many of these apps, such as Jorte (Android, free), include task lists, reminders and colour coding to distinguish between classes and assignments.
- Take good notes and keep them organized. Type them on a laptop or tablet or use a digital pen to capture both handwritten and digital copies of your notes — like with the Samsung Note 8.0 LTE tablet‘s S Pen. Capture an audio or video recording of the lecture with your smartphone or tablet and review it later to catch anything you might have missed.
- Instead of making flashcards all night, try some of the great applications that turn your digital study materials into a quiz to help you prepare for exams. We like Evernote Peek (iPad, free). You can even study with your Moto X by using its Touchless Controls to quiz you on test questions by asking the device questions, such as “OK Google Now, what year did Newfoundland join Confederation?”
- Stay away from campus junk food, energy drinks and all-night study sessions. Eight hours of sleep and a good diet will keep your mind focused – and the “freshman 15” at bay. Gadgets like the Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband track how many steps you take, the number of calories you burn and your sleep quality to help you stay healthy and avoid burning out.
What are your back to school survival tips?
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Welcome to a new feature on RedBoard: The Flick Picks Panel. Each week, someone from our community will review a new release now available on Rogers on Demand. This week, panelist Deborah Coombs watches Epic (G).
You’d think I would have picked a grown-up movie for my first Rogers on Demand review, but I’ve been anxiously waiting to see Epic!
Knowing this movie was from the same creators as the Ice Age franchise, I was looking forward to a great story, excellent animation and some laughs. I wasn’t disappointed.
Epic is the story of a teenage girl who is shrunk to the size of a leaf and transported into a woodland world where the valiant Leaf Men battle the dastardly Boggans for the survival of the forest. It is a classic tale of good versus evil, with tons of action, some suspense and a healthy dose of humour. It is also a tale of opening your mind to new possibilities, and of the growing relationship and understanding between an estranged father and daughter.
Comic relief is provided by the goofy pair of Grub the Snail and Mub the Slug. Grub dreams of joining the Leaf Men and fancies himself quite the warrior. Mub, however, fancies himself quite the ladies’ man. The physical comedy of this duo kept my 7-year-old laughing throughout.
While the plot may be a bit predictable, and it’s not entirely original, the execution makes up for that. The animation is very well done and the forest world is rendered in gorgeous detail. The details, the colours and the character movements are all excellent and make for a visually stunning movie, with an entertaining story that appeals to children and adults alike.
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.
All new movie releases, including Epic (Rated G) are available now on Rogers on Demand starting at $4.99. If you’re interested in becoming a Flick Picks panelist, fill out this form.
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This spring and summer, we’ve been busy rolling out our LTE network to new markets in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba. While every launch has been really exciting for us, we wondered what LTE means to you – so we hit the streets to find out how Canadians define LTE.
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. And Rogers LTE is Canada’s fastest wireless internet – which means you get blazing fast wireless internet on your devices, allowing you to seamlessly stream music and video and download large files quickly. For more on our LTE offerings and the latest lineup of LTE-enabled devices, visit www.rogers.com/LTE.
How will you take advantage of LTE’s top speeds?