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Review: iPhone 7 feels very different from previous versions

Mike Yawney | posted Tuesday, Sep 13th, 2016

Secrets are getting harder and harder to keep, especially when it comes to Apple announcements.

We knew the new iPhones would have pressure-sensitive home buttons, we were given glimpses of what turned out to be the twin cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus, and we even heard rumblings about the removal of the headphone jack. So many of the features within Apple’s latest iPhone didn’t come as a big surprise when the announcement finally hit.

But even the leaks couldn’t spoil just how different the iPhone 7 feels from any previous iPhone release.

Design

With a quick glance, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Apple’s iPhone 7 and last year’s model, the iPhone 6s. The phones have the exact same dimensions, the same button layout, and the same beautifully rounded edges that feel so nice in your hand. It’s not until you take a closer look that you’ll start to see the subtle changes Apple has made.

Apple has redesigned the outer shell to hide the antennas. The iPhone 6s had them running along the back side of the phone. On the iPhone 7, you’ll find them running along the upper and lower edges. In fact, if you splurge for the newer Jet Black model, you will be hard pressed to even see them. They blend right in.

Along the bottom of the phone you’ll find speaker holes on both sides of the Lightning port. Yes, the headphone jack has been removed. We’ll discuss that in greatest detail a bit further in the review.

So if the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have the same dimensions as last year’s model you would think you would be able to use your old case. Not so fast. We can thank the newly updated camera for that. The rear camera is slightly larger and is repositioned slightly lower (to make room for the image stabilization motor inside). This means the camera will not align itself with the camera hole in last year’s cases. Sorry, but a new case will be needed if you want extra protection.

The cameras on the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus

The cameras on the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus

 

New Colours

Apple has introduced a couple of new colours for the iPhone 7. Apple’s new Black has a beautiful matte metallic finish, and has quickly become a favourite of mine. If you like Space Grey, you’ll love Black.

Jet Black appears to be this year’s Rose Gold. This black model has a high gloss finish, similar to what you would find on piano. Stunning yes, but also a magnet for fingerprints and a bit slippery.

If you want to preserve that high gloss finish on the Jet Black model you will need to invest in a case. Apple has posted a note on its website that the Jet Black models can show micro-abrasions over time. Within two days I put a big ol’ scratch on the back of my Jet Black review unit, and yet I have no idea as to how it got there. Take it from me, it doesn’t take much to ruin this stunning finish.

The Screen

The Retina HD display still looks amazing with it 326 ppi resolution. It’s impossible to pick out individual pixels which makes reading email, and browsing the web easy on the eyes. For me, this is an important quality as I spend so much time on my smartphones throughout the day.

Apple claims the screen on the iPhone 7 is 25 per cent brighter than the iPhone 6. It’s bright, there’s no denying that. Will you see a big difference here? I thought the iPhone 6s was bright to begin with so the difference may not be as apparent as you may think.

The biggest change in the screen comes with the introduction of wide colour display. This is the first iPhone to utilize the same colour space as the digital cinema industry. So what does that mean? You now get a more true representation of real world colours on the screen.

You can see the difference while surfing the web. Certain images and tones will appear much more vibrant on the iPhone 7’s screen than on previous models. In fact, some colour tones didn’t even register on my iPhone 6s. It’s important to note, you probably wouldn’t notice this upgrade unless you held your new iPhone next to an older model, or a smartphone that did not support wide colour.

Instagram has announced it will be one of the first apps to take advantage of the iPhone 7’s wide colour display. It will be updating its filters to allow for brighter more vivid colours within the next few weeks.

The iPhone 7 home button

The iPhone 7 home button

 

The Home Button

This is without a doubt the one design change many will have the most trouble getting used to!

Previous iPhones had a physical home button which could be pressed to exit apps and return to the home screen. While the “button” is still there, it doesn’t physically move any more. It has been replaced with a solid-state button, which simply needs a bit of force to activate.

When you press down on the new home button you feel a tiny vibration, known as haptic feedback. This simply lets you know the iPhone has received the command. You can set the strength of the vibration when you initially set up your iPhone. You choose between three intensities. This can be adjusted in the settings afterwards.

It’s so strange to hit a button and not feel any physical give. If you’ve ever played game on your iPhone which places game controls on the screen you’ll know what I’m talking about. Pressing the picture of a button on the screen doesn’t give you the same satisfaction of pressing a physical button on a controller.

The vibration you feel when you push down on the home button certainly helps give you the sensation that it is actually “clicking” but it feels different. It’s a simulated click. The change is most noticeable when you have to double tap the button. The quick movement feels a bit awkward.

It took me a long time to get used to the change. A week in and I’m still wrestling with the sensation, although I’m sure it will become second nature over time.

Apple says the home button is pressure sensitive, meaning the button can detect how hard you press it. Right now it’s only being used in its simplest form, but future iOS updates could take advantage of it’s pressure sensitivity where different things can happen depending on how hard you press.

On a positive note the new home button is lightning quick when it comes to unlocking our iPhone. It recognizes your fingerprint instantaneously! Over the past week I have yet for it to ask me to try and unlock twice. It always worked the first time.

Performance

Both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus feature Apple’s latest chip, the A10 Fusion. Apple calls it the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone. Specs alone put the processor up to 40 per cent faster than the iPhone 6s, and up to two times faster than the iPhone 6. Graphic-wise you’re looking at 50 per cent faster than the iPhone 6s’ A9 chip with up to three times faster graphics performance than the Phone 6.

Without getting too technical, the A10 fusion contains four cores. Two cores focus on high performance and two focus on high efficiency. A performance controller is able to determine in real time which processors should be running for the right blend of performance and power consumption.

Geek speak aside, you simply need to know the new iPhone 7 is quick! There is certainly no delay or lag on any of the apps found the App store, not that I was expecting there to be as I didn’t really experience any issues with my iPhone 6s either. The true test will come when apps are released that truly make use of the new processor.

One thing I can point it is my iPhone 7 runs cooler than my older iPhone 6s. My previous iPhone would heat up after streaming video through Facebook Live or Periscope. The iPhone 7 was able to maintain its cool, which shows the processor is not working nearly as hard.

The iPhone 7 is water resistant

The iPhone 7 is water resistant

 

Water Resistant

It baffles to me as why Apple waited this long to introduce a feature that has been on other smartphones for some time. Yet here it is. Finally, an iPhone that can stand up to water!

Both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus are rated IP67, which means both are dust and water resistant. The phones can withstand depths of one meter for up to 30 minutes.

I cringed as I brought my iPhone7 near a sink full of water. My brain screamed “no” as the edges started to submerge into the cool depths. And yet a part of me felt satisfied. Finally, I can take my iPhone near a pool and snap photos without fear of getting splashed. I can jog outside and not worry that I might get caught in the rain. I can leave my iPhone out on the table at a restaurant and not worry about the waiter spilling water on it. This is the feature I have been waiting for!

My phone survived the dip test, but there is something I need to point out. The iPhone 7 is water-resistant…not waterproof. Apple doesn’t intend for you to go swimming with it. In fact, careful inspection of Apple’s footnotes on its website states liquid damage is not covered on the warranty. You’ve been warned!

Shomi playing on an iPhone 7

Shomi playing on an iPhone 7

 

Dual Speakers

I am a headphone kind of guy. If I’m watching a movie or video on my iPhone I will also use headphones. It just sounds better! The iPhone 7 may change that for me as it now features true stereo sound.

The tiny earpiece at the top of the phone that you use to listen to phone conversations on now doubles as a speaker when you play videos and games on your iPhone 7. What a difference it makes! YouTube videos, games, even songs sounds deeper and richer, with a surprising level of bass. The additional speakers also means twice the volume.

If you own an iPad Pro you will know exactly what I’m talking about. The experience is very similar, although the iPad Pro sports four distinct speakers rather than three.

The Missing Headphone Jack

Here is where the controversy lies in Apple’s latest smartphone…the headphone jack. Or more accurately the removal of the headphone jack.

Why did Apple remove it? Most people seem to be stuck on what Apple’s Phil Schiller said during the iPhone 7 unveiling, stating that it comes down to “courage” to move on and try something new. There’s more to this decision.

Headphone jacks take up space. Instead of making the iPhone 7 larger to include new hardware features, Apple chose to simply remove a technology that has been around for more than 50 years.

The removal of the headphone jack made room for a couple of new things. Apple introduced an improved Taptic motor, which sends out tiny vibrations or pulses while using the new home button, or 3D Touch. It also made way to include image stabilization to the cameras, which uses a tiny motor around the lens to counteract against both vibration and shaky hand movement in photos and videos. Up until this point the feature was only included in the larger iPhone Plus models.

Another reason is to increase water resistance. Headphones jacks are an obvious entry point for water once submerged. By removing the jack, Apple can better protect the phone from potential water damage.

Is the removal of the headphone jack a big deal? For some it may be. But after using the device for nearly a week I can tell you it’s being blown a bit out of proportion.

The iPhone 7 headphone adapter

The iPhone 7 headphone adapter

 

You have a number of options when it comes to listening to audio on your iPhone 7. You can purchase newer headphones which connect via Apple’s Lightning connector (Apple includes a set 0f Lightning earbuds in the box), use bluetooth headphones, or use the special Lightning adaptor Apple has included in the box to use your existing wired headphones.

I know what you’re thinking … another adaptor that’s small and easy to lose. True, it is small, and you could lose it, but considering it will retail for around $10, you could, in theory, buy a couple, stick them on your headphones and leave them there. An adapter for each set of headphones.

During my time with the iPhone 7 I mostly used the Lightning adapter. However I also had the chance to try out Apple’s new AirPods. I was quite surprised at how good they sounded! More on that in the near future.

Apple's new AirPod headphones

Apple’s new AirPod headphones

 

One issue you may run into is when you want to charge your iPhone while listening to music. Since the adapter takes up the one and only Lightning port on the iPhone, you are not able to charge it while listening to music. Companies like Belkin have already announced adapters with two Lightning ports that will allow for headphones and charging at the same time, but Apple has yet to offer an out-of-the-box solution.

Cameras

Each and every generation of iPhone has come with an improvement in the cameras and this round is no different. The camera system has undergone a complete overhaul.

The front FaceTime HD camera has been upgraded to a 7MP, giving not only better image quality, but built-in image stabilization for sharper selfies and a better FaceTime experience. Meanwhile the rear camera remains at 12MP. Don’t let that fool you. It too sees an overall improvement.

The rear camera now utilizes a larger f/1.8 aperture with updated lens. This allows for 50 per cent more light to hit the new high-speed sensor inside. The result is brighter, more vivid photos and videos.

I took a number of photos on the iPhone 6s and compared them to photos I snapped on the iPhone 7. You can see for yourself the difference. Reds appeared to take on almost purple tone on the older iPhone 6s, while they remained true to life on the iPhone 7.

 

iPhone Compare Pic tomato 1

Photo of tomatoes taken with an iPhone 6s, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

iPhone Compare Pic tomato 2

Photo of tomatoes taken with an iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

Orange is another colour which really shows the strength of the new camera system. Brighter oranges tend to wash out on the iPhone 6s, while they remained bold and vibrant on the iPhone 7.

 

iPhone Compare Pic Orange Bucket 1

Photo of an orange bucket taken with an iPhone 6s, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

iPhone Compare Pic Orange Bucket 2

Photo of an orange bucket taken with an iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

Even in low light conditions the iPhone 7 outperformed the iPhone 6s when it came to colour reproduction. These photos not only show a more accurate green, but the lighting is more distinct on the iPhone 7, and not blown out as much as the iPhone 6s.

iPhone Compare Pic low light 1

A photo taken in low light with the iPhone 6, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

iPhone Compare Pic low light 2

A photo taken in low light with the iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

Even flesh tones come out more natural on the iPhone 7. The pictures below were taken in direct sunlight. The iPhone 7 photos shows a bit more rosy colour on the face, which is accurate. The wind was howling cold (snow falling not too far away in the mountains on this day).

 

iPhone Compare Pic Face 1

A photo of a child in bright light taken with the iPhone 6s, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

iPhone Compare Pic Face 2

A photo of a child in bright light taken with the iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

The iPhone 7 has another trick up its sleeve. It’s the first iPhone to utilize two rear cameras. One is a wide angle camera while the other is telephoto.

iPhone Photo 8

The two cameras on the iPhone 7

 

The biggest benefit of having two cameras is improved zoom. The lens on the iPhone doesn’t move, so in order to zoom, the phone uses digital zoom, or software, to enlarge photos. This often results in grainy photos.

When you zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus, it uses data from both cameras to create an image. You can use optical zoom up to 2X, and digital zoom up to 10X, twice the range of any other iPhone. The end result is better image quality.

Below you can see examples of the zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus. The first photo shows trees in the distance while the second photo shows one of those trees using 10X zoom.

 

A photo of a home with trees, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

A photo of a home with trees taken in the iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

A zoom in on the trees using the iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

A zoom in on the trees using the iPhone 7, CITYNEWS/Mike Yawney

 

Battery Life

This is always a tough one to measure. I use my phone all day. I begin at 3 a.m. (the joys of working on a morning television show) and continue to use my iPhone until I head to bed around 9 p.m. I check email, post pictures and video to social media, stream live video and surf the web. I would be referred to as a power-user, and I go through batteries like you wouldn’t believe.

Apple claims the iPhone 7 will give you two additional hours of usage compared to previous models. Like any previous iPhone, the battery never lasted a full day for me. My continuous use would eat it down to around 10 per cent within eight or nine hours. Keep in mind…I use it A LOT. I also like to keep the screen brightness fairly high, which adds to the problem.

For me, a smart battery case is still the best way to use the new iPhones, but it really does depend on just how much you use them. For most people the battery will last long enough but, if you’re a power user like me, be prepared to plug them in at least once during the day to sneak some extra juice.

Conclusion

With change comes controversy, and there is no doubt Apple’s latest iPhone will bring plenty of that. Some will complain about needing a new case, others will dislike the new home button, and of course you know people will gripe about the lack of a headphone jack.

There is an adjustment period with the iPhone 7, there is no denying that. It feels very different from previous versions. It’s also screaming fast, water-resistant, and has one of the best cameras on any smartphone currently available. Add in the new features from iOS 10 and you’ll be surprised at just how different this iPhone really feels.

Is the iPhone 7 for you? If you resist change, then it may not be. But for those who are willing to try something new, and adapt to new technology without looking back, you’ll be more than pleased with the iPhone 7.

Labour Day long weekend: Air show, what’s open and closed, TTC closure

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND AMBER LEBLANC | posted Friday, Sep 2nd, 2016

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It’s the last long weekend of the summer, and with that in mind, it’s time to make the most of every moment of it.

The Labour Day long weekend is a busy one for many families as children head back to school on Tuesday, but there are plenty of ways to mix errands with fun. The CNE air show is among the top events as the annual exhibition winds down for another season.

If you are taking the TTC into Toronto, a portion of Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) is closed for TTC work.

For those planning to do any last-minute back-to-school shopping, several malls will be open on the holiday Monday. Scroll below to scan a list of what’s open and closed.


Events

CNE air show
There will be some amazing sights in the sky this weekend over Lake Ontario as the 67th annualCanadian International Air Show is set to fly high.

Performing this year will be the Breitling Jet Team, CF-18 Hornets and of course, the world famous Snowbirds. The air show takes place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Reminder: The CNE closes on Monday, marking the unofficial end of summer. Click here for tickets.

Canada’s Wonderland fireworks
As summer winds down, don’t miss your chance to catch the last fireworks of the season. On Sunday, Canada’s Wonderland will be putting on a light show set to music, set to start at 10 p.m. weather permitting.

Fireworks display in the sky. GETTY IMAGES/Eye Em/Syilvana Grabski-Wawer
Fireworks display in the sky. GETTY IMAGES/Eye Em/Syilvana Grabski-Wawer

 

Downsview Park Ribfest
One of the last rib fests of the summer will be taking over Downsview Park this long weekend, and it has something for everyone – even those who aren’t meat lovers.

Organizers say there will be non-stop music including U2 and AC/DC cover bands, a beer tent, a wrestling display, and a midway with lots of events for kids. Admission is $2, but $5 after 7 p.m. Children 12 and under are free.

Buskerfest
Organizers of Buskerfest say this year’s show is full of surprises that will make your jaw hit the floor.

The festival moves from downtown to Woodbine Park from Friday through Labour Day. Along with some of the most talented performers from around the world, it also features a brand new car show event on Saturday, and a beer garden.

Money donated at the gates goes towards Epilepsy Toronto.

Philippines Festival
Mabuhay Philippines Festival, one of the biggest celebrations of the year in the Filipino community, is taking place at Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday and Sunday.

This year’s theme is “Sining” or “Art,” which means artists will be out in full force, showcasing dance, spoken word, painters and chefs showing off their skills.

Organizers say the highlight of this year’s event is a fashion show on Saturday night featuring two new designers: Jaki Peñalosa from Iloilo, Philippines and Kenneth Barlis from San Diego. There will also be parade downtown on Saturday.

Fan Expo
Don’t be surprised if you see people dressed up as their favourite superhero or sci-fi character downtown this weekend. It’s all part of the annual Fan Expo, which runs through Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Three cosplayers at Fan Expo on Sept. 4, 2015. CITYNEWS/Christine Chubb
Three cosplayers at Fan Expo on Sept. 4, 2015. CITYNEWS/Christine Chubb

 

Some of the celebrities you can see include Mark Hamill of Star Wars, William Shatner, Kevin Smith, Adam West and Burt Ward (the original Batman and Robin), Anne Heche, and Linda Blair. You can get tickets here.

Soundbites Festival
A huge party in Mississauga’s Celebration Square will be held on Saturday.

The third annual Soundbites Festival features food trucks galore and a free concert by DJ Jazzy Jeff, followed by a big fireworks display. Admission is free.

What’s open and closed on Labour Day

A closed sign on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/Steve Goodwin
A closed sign on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/Steve Goodwin

 

Open

  • TTC will run on holiday service
  • GO will run on a Sunday schedule
  • Tourist attractions: Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada’s Wonderland, Casa Loma, CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre, Canada’s Wonderland, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo
  • Several malls: Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Eaton Centre (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Pacific Mall (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), The Promenade (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Toronto Premium Outlets (9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills Mall (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Hillcrest Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Yorkville Village (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

 

Closed

  • All LCBO and Beer stores will be closed
  • Most grocery stores (select ones are open but call ahead)
  • Some malls: Dufferin Mall, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Government offices, municipal buildings, and banks
  • All Toronto Public Library branches are closed on Sunday and Monday
  • Garbage collection: Curbside collection is not provided on any Monday
  • No mail delivery

TTC and road closures

Subway closure
As you make your long weekend plans, keep in mind that Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) will be closed between St. George to Pape stations on all three days due to bridge work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will be running.

Next weekend, Line 1 (Yonge-University) will be closed from Wilson to Downsview stations because of track work. Shuttle buses will be running.

Road closures for events

Fan Expo Canada: Front Street West’s south curb lane between John Street and Simcoe Street, Bremner Boulevard’s north curb lane between Simcoe Street and the Metro Convention Centre, and Simcoe Street’s west curb lane from the InterContinental Hotel to Bremner Boulevard will be closed at the following times: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Buskerfest: Coxwell Avenue’s northbound curb lane between Eastern Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevard will be closed from 6 p.m. on Saturday to 11:59 p.m. on Monday.

Labour Day Parade: University Avenue between Queen Street West and Armoury Street, and Queen Street West between Dufferin Street and the Exhibition Place, will be closed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.

Road work

Ongoing work

Shuter Street, from Yonge to Sherbourne streets, will be reduced to one lane in both directions until Oct. 28 for watermain replacement and road work.

Drivers will encounter lane reductions on Bayview Avenue from Rosedale Valley Road to Pottery Road to build a multi-use trail and for other road work. The closure is expected to last until Nov. 30.

Gerrard Street, from University Avenue to Elizabeth Street, is reduced to one lane until Oct. 15 for watermain and other road work.

Richmond Street West is reduced to one lane of traffic between Church and York streets until Nov. 30 for TTC track work, watermain replacement, and road and sidewalk repairs.

One lane of Queen Street West between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street is closed in both directions for watermain replacement and reconstruction work until around Oct. 8.

Baseball tournament in Leaside girl’s memory among weekend events

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND AMBER LEBLANC | posted Friday, Aug 26th, 2016

0823-torontociderfestival

As summer winds down, many of the events this weekend are being held outdoors to soak up every moment of what the season has to offer. From a special baseball tournament to an arts and crafts fair to a cider festival, there’s plenty to do for those who wish the warmth would never end.

But keep in mind, there is a partial subway closure due to ongoing track work this weekend.


Events

Remembering Georgia Walsh

It’s going to be an emotional weekend in Leaside. The family of six-year-old Georgia Walsh – who was struck and killed by a van on July 16, 2014 – is holding its second annual ‘Georgia Walsh Memorial All-Star Games‘ to raise money to revitalize Trace Manes Park, which was one of her favourite spots.

“Cheer on young baseball all-stars playing the game that Georgia loved,” a poster for the event reads.

The poster for the Georgia Walsh Memorial Games, which take place on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo via rememberinggeorgiawalsh.com.

The poster for the Georgia Walsh Memorial Games, which take place on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo via rememberinggeorgiawalsh.com.

 

Saturday’s event is a family day of baseball and activities including face painting, inflatable slides, games and a BBQ. All proceeds go to the Playground Project, in honour of Georgia.

Muslimfest
A huge festival takes over Mississauga’s Celebration Square on Saturday and Sunday.

Muslimfest, which showcases the best in Muslim art and entertainment, will feature non-stop concerts with over 50 artists from around the world, a multicultural bazaar and a carnival for children.

The 12th annual festival aims to share Muslim culture with the broader community through through art, humour and entertainment.

Admission is free all weekend. You’re encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item, which are being collected for Syrians who have just come to Canada.

Bloorcourt Arts and Crafts Fair
Bloor Street West, between Dufferin Street and the Christie Pits, will turn into an arts and crafts hub on Saturday, turning it into one of the city’s largest gathering of artists, artisans and musicians.

One of the vendors at the Bloorcourt Arts and Crafts Fair in 2015. Photo via Facebook/BloorcourtBIA.

One of the vendors at the Bloorcourt Arts and Crafts Fair in 2015. Photo via Facebook/BloorcourtBIA.

 

Vendors will showcase ceramics, woven fabrics, jewelry and vintage products, while local businesses will host sidewalk sales. There will also be plenty of patio space at restaurants on the stretch to grab lunch and listen to live music.

The event, which is free, runs from noon to 10 p.m. The section of Bloor will be closed during the event.

Cityfest
Some may argue that large-scale condo developments take the spirit out of the neighbourhood, but this outdoor party brings the community back to the people.

Residents who will live near CityPlace, a condo complex bordered by Lake Shore Boulevard West, Bathurst Street, Front Street and Spadina Avenue, will celebrate their neighbourhood at the third-annual event at Canoe Landing Park on Saturday.

Toronto Cider Festival
There have been a lot of beer festivals in the city this year, but now it’s time for a day completely dedicated to an underrated but delicious beverage.

The Toronto Cider Festival is taking over Yonge-Dundas Square for two sessions on Saturday. People can sample 40 different ciders from around the world and then kick back in Muskoka chairs with a snack from a food truck. All the while, there will be live entertainment. Tickets are available here.

Remember, please don’t drink and drive.

Coconut Festival
It’s a product that’s all the rage and it will be celebrated Saturday at David Pecaut Square. The third annual Coconut Festival, highlights what organizers call “one of the greatest fruits in the world.”

It will feature all things coconut, live cultural performances, local food vendors, artists, a fashion show and stations where people can learn more about coconut health and wellness. Admission is free.

The event is sponsored by CocoVie Coconut Spread, and GayLea Coconut Whipped Cream.

TTC and road closures

Line 1 closure
You’ve come to expect this almost every weekend, so by now you are well-prepared. Subway service will be off-limits on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) between Lawrence and Bloor-Yonge stations due to track work. Shuttle buses will be running.

For those with plans over the Labour Day long weekend, you will have to contend with a subway closure on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) between St. George and Pape stations as TTC crews conduct work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will be operating.

Road closures for events

Toronto Tamil Festival: Markham Road between McNicoll and Passmore avenues will be closed from 10 a.m. on Friday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Bloorcourt Arts and Crafts Fair: Bloor Street West, from Dufferin Street to Montrose Avenue, will be closed from 7 a.m. on Saturday to 11:59 p.m.

Leslieville Beerfest: Dundas Street East will be closed from Logan to Carlaw avenue from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

Road work

Ongoing work

Shuter Street, from Yonge to Sherbourne streets, will be reduced to one lane in both directions until Oct. 28 for watermain replacement and road work.

Drivers will encounter lane reductions on Bayview Avenue from Rosedale Valley Road to Pottery Road to build a multi-use trail and for other road work. The closure is expected to last until Nov. 30.

Gerrard Street, from University Avenue to Elizabeth Street, is reduced to one lane until Oct. 15 for watermain and other road work.

Richmond Street West is reduced to one lane of traffic between Church and York streets until Nov. 30 for TTC track work, watermain replacement, and road and sidewalk repairs.

One lane of Queen Street West between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street is closed in both directions for watermain replacement and reconstruction work until around Oct. 8.

Budget-friendly essentials for a university dorm room

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 25th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.21.07 AM

It’s back-to school season! As September rolls around, many young adults across Canada are heading to university. This time of year is not only the start of classes, but for many students the start of ‘dorm living’.

Many students want to spice up their ‘drabby and small’ dorm room, and turn it into something cozy and comfortable. However, a lack of design ideas and a small budget might get in the way. Luckily, designer Shai DeLuca-Tamasi assures many ways that students can jazz up their dorm room with a small budget and helpful designer tips.

Below are a staple items to turn a dorm room from ‘drab’ to ‘fab’.. all while not breaking the bank!

Storage & organization

With more students being crammed in student housing each year, students tend to have little space in their dorm rooms. Additional space is needed if a student wants to feel comfortable – remember, students will spend a majority of their university years inside their dorm. Shai recommends looking at different style boxes in different shapes and colours that can be placed around the room – whether under the bed, on a table top, or on a shelf. These boxes (depending on the size) can be used to store everything from clothing, jewelry, books, and snack items.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.21.54 AM

Table top items

Many students will be using their limited amount of ‘table space’ or desk space to read, study, and eat their meals. Shai recommends a few key pieces for this area of the dorm room. First, a bright table lamp is essential. Find a lamp that will won’t cause strain on the eyes during those late night homework sessions. Secondly, a digital or analog clock. This can help students keep track of time better – especially when a distracting phone is not close by. Lastly, invest in some decor pieces like small plants, rocks, and paperweights that will add charm and identity to the table area.

Kitchen items

Small appliances for cooking can make a student’s dorm experience much better, especially when craving late night food. Shai recommends student invest in a small grinder – they can be used for anything from chopping chickpeas for hummus, or blending fruit for delicious smoothies. This might offset the infamous ‘Freshman 15’ weight gain as a bonus.

Keep in mind: Most students living in a dorm are sharing a common kitchen with other students. Make sure items remain small and compact, and omit very little noise.

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Decor items

Many dorms have a ‘no painting’ policy, which makes it hard to give a dorm room a pop of colour. Luckily, a student can brighten up their dorm room with many removable decor pieces. 70’s decor is coming back as the latest trend, so the use of wood, coppers and golds, and novelty pieces are all trendy choices.

Shai also recommends a diffuser that will keep the dorm room air fresh and odour free. Diffusers can be refilled with various scents such as lavender and peppermint, good for sleep and the other being good for awaking the senses. Versatility of scents makes a diffuser a great investment.

Check out Shai DeLuca-Tamasi’s ‘Dorm Finds for Less’ segment on Breakfast Television below.

Strong quake rocks central Italy, at least 37 reported dead

PAOLO SANTALUCIA AND NICOLE WINFIELD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 24th, 2016

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A devastating earthquake rocked central Italy early Wednesday, collapsing homes on top of residents as they slept. At least 37 people were killed in hard-hit towns where rescue crews raced to dig survivors out of the rubble, but the toll was likely to rise as crews reached homes in more remote hamlets.

“The town isn’t here anymore,” said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice.

The magnitude 6-quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome, where residents felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. The temblor was felt from the Lazio region into Umbria and Le Marche on the Adriatic coast.

The hardest-hit towns were Amatrice, Accumoli near near Rieti, some 100 kilometres northeast of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto further east. Italy’s civil protection agency said the preliminary toll was 37 dead, several hundred injured and thousands in need of temporary housing, though it stressed the numbers were fluid.

The centre of Amatrice was devastated, with entire buildings razed and the air thick with dust and smelling strongly of gas.

Rocks and metal tumbled onto the streets and dazed residents huddled in piazzas as some 39 aftershocks jolted the region into the early morning hours, some as strong as 5.1.

“The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me,” marveled resident Maria Gianni. “I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn’t hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg.”

Another woman, sitting in front of her destroyed home with a blanket over her shoulders, said she didn’t know what had become of her loved ones.

“It was one of the most beautiful towns of Italy and now there’s nothing left,” she said, too distraught to give her name. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”

As daylight dawned, residents, civil protection workers and even priests began digging out with shovels, bulldozers and their bare hands, trying to reach survivors. There was relief as a woman was pulled out alive from one building, followed by a dog.

“We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams: everything, we need everything,” civil protection worker Andrea Gentili told The Associated Press. Italy’s national blood drive association appealed for donations to Rieti’s hospital.

The devastation harked back to the 2009 quake that killed more than 300 people in and around L’Aquila, about 90 kilometres south of the latest quake. The town sent emergency teams Wednesday to help with the rescue.

“I don’t know what to say. We are living this immense tragedy,” said the Rev. Savino D’Amelio, a parish priest in Amatrice. “We are only hoping there will be the least number of victims possible and that we all have the courage to move on.”

Another hard-hit town was Pescara del Tronto, in the Le Marche region, where the main road was covered in debris. The ANSA news agency reported 10 dead there without citing the source, but there was no confirmation.

Residents were digging their neighbours out by hand since emergency crews hadn’t yet arrived in force. Photos taken from the air by regional firefighters showed the town essentially flattened.

“There are broken liquor bottles all over the place,” lamented Gino Petrucci, owner of a bar in nearby Arquata Del Tronto where he was beginning the long cleanup.

The Italian geological service put the magnitude at 6.0; the U.S. Geological Survey reported 6.2 with the epicenter at Norcia, about 170 kilometres northeast of Rome, and with a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres.

“Quakes with this magnitude at this depth in our territory in general create building collapses, which can result in deaths,” said the head of Italy’s civil protection service, Fabrizio Curcio. He added that the region is popular with tourists escaping the heat of Rome, with more residents than at other times of the year, and that a single building collapse could raise the toll significantly.

The mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, said six people had died there, including a family of four, and two others. He wept as he noted that the tiny hamlet of 700 swells to 2,000 in the summer months, and that he feared for the future of the town.

“I hope they don’t forget us,” he told Sky TG24.

In Amatrice, the Rev. Fabio Gammarota, priest of a nearby parish, said he had blessed seven bodies extracted so far. “One was a friend of mine,” he said.

Pirozzi estimated dozens of residents were buried under collapsed buildings and that heavy equipment was needed to clear streets clogged with debris.

Premier Matteo Renzi’s office tweeted that heavy equipment was arriving.

A 1997 quake killed a dozen people in the area and severely damaged one of the jewels of Umbria, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, filled with Giotto frescoes. The Franciscan friars who are the custodians of the basilica reported no immediate damage from Wednesday’s temblor.

Pope Francis skipped his traditional catechism for his Wednesday general audience and instead invited pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to recite the rosary with him.

Back to school week: Tech gadgets

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 11th, 2016

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With the fall quickly approaching, many students are headed back to school. Students are looking for the latest gadgets, and Winston Sih has the newest technology for any age group.

With the fall quickly approaching, many students are headed back to school. Students are looking for the latest gadgets, and Winston Sih has the newest technology for any age group.

Getting work done – High school and university:

  • HP Spectre Notebook – $1,699.99, HP.ca
  • iPad Pro – Starting at $799, Apple.ca
  • Microsoft Surface Arc Touch Mouse – $79.99, MicrosoftStore.ca

Stay connected to life on the go – High school:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 – $1,050, Rogers.com
  • Beyond Ink – $70, BeyondInkPen.com
  • Jackery battery pack – $59.99, Amazon.ca
  • Nest Cam – $249.99, Nest.com

Study and work wherever you are – Elementary school:

  • Kindle Paperwhite e-reader – $139.99, Amazon.ca
  • Seagate Hard Drive – $74.99, Amazon.ca

‘Must have’ items for back to school season

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Aug 10th, 2016

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The countdown is underway for back to school time. Lifestyle expert Karen Firsel gives us a glimpse into her “must haves” to get everyone (including parents) ready for a new school year. Below are some of the season’s hottest items to look out for.

Backpacks

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Parents dread going from store to store to try to find cool accessories for their kids. This includes backpacks, where different styles, sizes, and prices can easily overwhelm even the most prepared parent. Well.ca is one stop shop for the newest products and trendiest brands of bags like Fluf and Parkland. The design are fun and funky, and also include many selections that are eco friendly too.

Customized footwear

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Traditional “kicks” are so 2015. This upcoming school year is going to be the year of personalized sneakers! Lo + Co is run by a Mom in Chicago who paints and personalizes various styles of shoes to meet your child’s personality, and gives them the “foot up” on being cool. Orders require filling out a style profile online. In a matter of days, your shoes arrive directly to your door. Each pair is 100% unique.

Handbags

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Mothers, put away the beach bag! A more functional and stylish bag is out there! Mezzi creates luxury handbags that are also functional. These stylish bags have an internal battery so that you can plug in your phone, so a cell phone never runs out of a charge. The bag also “rings” when a call comes in or a text message, which also allows the bag to serve as a speaker to play your favourite tunes.

Karen Firsel shares more of the hottest items for back to school on Breakfast Television.

4 money saving tips for university students

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Aug 9th, 2016

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University or college is a great time for one to to expand their mind and to meet new people. However, this might be the first time that young adults are responsible for keeping their finances in check. Many students struggle with staying financially responsible during their first few years of independence, however financial expert Bruce Sellery says students can take several tips to avoid heading into debt.

Make a budget. Many students are not aware of how much money they have coming in, and how much money they are spending. A budget creates much needed financial awareness for students.

Students need to pull out a piece of paper and budget their incoming revenue and outgoing expenses. A budget should include incoming revenue such as RESP money, personal savings, mom and dad, scholarships. Budgets should also include monthly expenses such as school costs  such as tuition & books, transportation, rent, phone bills, food, and entertainment. Bruce Sellery stresses that students should be conservative with their spending during the first few years of school, and to place extra money directly into savings.

Address the gap. Most likely, a student budget won’t balance the first time. Never panic! Students have many resources to address the financial gap so they can stay financially stable.

Students can do small things to address a budget gap. Instead of buying brand new textbooks, buying used textbooks will save students up to 50% on course costs. Instead of eating out, students can cook more meals at home. Bruce also recommends looking into financial aid that low-income students can qualify for through their university’s financial aid department.

Don’t be rash with your cash. Keep spending accounts and savings accounts separate. Many students blow through their entire savings when spending is within reach. By having a separate savings account or a tax-free savings account, a student’s entire income is not readily available for spending.

Bruce also says students should not keep a credit card in their wallet. Students can have a credit card, but should pay it off in full, and not carry it with them.

Be wary of marketers. Students are experiencing independence for the first time while attending college or university. Marketers know this! Many credit card companies are directly marketing young students who are financially inexperienced.

Bruce advises students to watch out for offers that seem too good to be true. Understand the risk that credit cards and monthly expenses can have on a student’s budget.

 

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