When buying a house, one of the many considerations that home owners have is the potential home’s mortgage rate. Calculating your mortgage rate is as simple as a few keystrokes and a click. Take advantage of a free mortgage calculator to help decide what your home buying price range may be. Simply enter your details into the Canada Mortgage Rate Calculator below:
Do you know what “phone phreaking” is? If not, then consider yourself lucky. Phone phreaking is a term ascribed to criminals who gain access to a company’s voice mail system by cracking the password and using the hijacked phone line for calls to countries such as Sierra Leone. This can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud against companies and there is no insurance against it. The problem appears to be that Bell’s infrastructure enables hackers to turn four lines into 200 lines that are billed for continuous phone calls.
This is quite different than credit card fraud whereby you are not responsible for the fraud perpetrated against you. Banks and credit card companies are insured against fraud and unless you were somehow negligent or responsible you will not have to pay the fraudulent charges on your credit card bill. However this is not the case with phone phreaking. The onus is not on the phone company to protect its customers from fraud, but rather the customers who are responsible for ensuring that their phone systems are protected from criminals. Unfortunately the phone company does not issue instructions on how to do that. The customer is responsible for paying for all calls originating from, and charged calls accepted at, their telephone, regardless of who made or accepted them. And that can spell bankruptcy for some companies who have been the victims of phone phreaking and are responsible for phone bills of over $200,000.
The customers feel that Bell should be responsible for improving their technology so that phone phreaking doesn’t occur, but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. In the meantime we are all potential victims.
The Toronto Golf & Travel Show will be on from February 27 - March 1 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre - North Building located at 255 Front Street West. Celebrating its 20th year, the Toronto Golf & Travel Show is a fabulous diversion during a cold and snowy winter for Toronto’s golfers who would much rather be swinging a golf club than wielding a snow shovel.
Show hours are:
Friday 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tickets are $15 at the door, $13.50 online, $11.00 for seniors and free for children under 12 years of age.
The Toronto Golf & Travel Show features the latest in golf equipment, golf accessories, clothing, eyewear, golf courses, golf destinations, an indoor driving range, and demonstrations by golf pros. Test out the newest equipment at the manufacturer’s showcase. Visit Nevada Bob’s 4,000 square foot retail pavilion. Get some great tips from Ontario PGA pros. There are free golf lessons for juniors at the Callaway golfing school. Over 5,000 free rounds of golf will be given away
Winter is not quite over but it is never too early to think about golf. If you just can’t wait until spring, West Jet will be on hand with some great golf vacations at beautiful, warm weather destinations. Book yourself a holiday, pack up the clubs and head south.
The Toronto Golf & Travel show is easily accessible by TTC. Take the subway to Union Station and walk west to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
It has long been suspected that there was widespread corruption at Toronto’s City Hall and now those suspicions have proven to be true. A report has revealed that over $500,000 in fraud has been perpetrated by city employees and a police investigation is now underway. The report from Toronto’s Fraud and Waste Hotline has revealed that $260,538 has been lost due to staff wrongdoings and another $297,115 in potential fraud still under investigation. So far only $15,903 has been recovered.
There are nine city staffers involved. They have been accused of having parking tickets cancelled for friends and family, claiming unwarranted overtime, making false claims to the employee benefits plan, using office computers to download porn, stealing city property and cash, using counterfeit passes to take advantage of recreational programming, and altering medical notes for sick leave benefits. The irregularities regarding the employee benefits plan were picked up by Manulife Financial, the city’s insurance administrator.
The nine staff members under investigation have not been identified. They are at home on paid leave awaiting the conclusion of the police investigation. What I find absolutely shocking is that the auditor’s report revealed that an undisclosed number of employees were disciplined last year for false overtime claims, fixing parking tickets, and other fraud. I would like to know what disciplined means exactly. If they were not fired and charged with their crimes, then the city of Toronto should be held responsible. In the meantime if you suspect corruption in City Hall call the Fraud and Waste Hotline at 416-392-STOP (7867).
This is North America’s largest home show with over 700 retailers exhibiting at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place located at 100 Princes’ Boulevard. Are you interested in renovating or decorating, indoors or outdoors? Are you looking for a little advice or inspiration for that pet project of yours? Are you looking to update your home without spending an arm and a leg? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then Toronto’s National Home Show is the place for you.
Bring the whole family along. Children under 12 years of age admitted free of charge and there is free childcare during show hours for children between the ages of 2 and 10. And, the Direct Energy centre is wheelchair accessible.
Visit with celebrity guests, take in one of the special theme days, enjoy the live on stage demonstrations, and get advice on trends, décor, eco tips and recipes. Take plenty of time to see all of the exhibitors who have the latest and greatest in home and garden products on display.
Toronto’s National Home Show is not just a place for looking. It is also a great place for shopping. And if you love a bargain check out the new warehouse sale area for the best deals in town.
Tickets are available at the box office onsite or online. If you buy tickets online you will save $3.00 off the ticket prices - $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students 12 to 17 and children under 12 are free of charge.
Leave the car at home and take the TTC or GO Transit. If you do decide to drive there is parking at the Direct Energy Centre - $12 per day or $9 after 6:00 PM.
There is no denying that we can do more to make Toronto’s subway system safer. More police are being deployed to patrol the subways in the hope of stemming an increase in crime in our subway system. However that won’t necessarily stop people from being pushed onto the tracks. Although those incidents are rare, other cities have addressed the issue by installing safety barriers. Tokyo, Paris, London, and Copenhagen already have safety barriers. Could Toronto benefit from safety barriers? YES! Will they be installed any time soon? NO!
The major problem with installing safety barriers in Toronto’s subway system is that safety barriers require an automated system, and right now Toronto’s trains are manually controlled. An automated system is in the works for Toronto, but it won’t be installed for another seven years. Even if we already had an automated system in place, Toronto doesn’t have the money to implement safety barriers which are estimated to cost anywhere between $5 million and $8 million.
Here are some safety tips for riding Toronto’s subway system:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Move away from anyone who looks suspicious.
- Stay away from the tracks, well behind the yellow line.
- If you drop something on the tracks, leave it there. It’s not worth your life. Instead let the person in the collector’s booth know and if possible they will have it retrieved for you by trained personnel.
- If you see someone fall onto the tracks, don’t go in after them. Instead shut off the power. There are power-off switches at either end of the platform. Inform the person in the collector’s booth and emergency personnel will be dispatched.
March 6th is the official anniversary of the City of Toronto, celebrating 175 years since its incorporation in 1834. When the Town of York was incorporated as Toronto in 1834, the booming metropolis had a population of 9,250. William Lyon Mackenzie, a politician and journalist was Toronto’s first mayor. Today the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) boasts a population of 5.5 million people. It is Canada’s largest urban centre and its financial heart. The fourth largest economic centre in North America, only New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are larger economic centres. One of the world’s greatest multicultural cities, over 140 languages and dialects are spoken here. Toronto is the centre of everything - financial, commercial, industrial, high tech, cultural, and entertainment. We have our own “Silicon Valley”, we are known as “Hollywood North”, and our theatre district is second in size only to New York City.
Let’s all celebrate our wonderful city. City Hall will be opening its doors to the public from March 6 - March 8 and hosting many events in honour of Toronto’s 175 anniversary. City Hall will be featuring special programming about Toronto’s history in addition to art installations, spoken word, dance and music. Museums and historical centres are celebrating Toronto’s 175 anniversary by offering free admission from March 6 - March 8.
This is a time for all Torontonians to unite and celebrate what we have in common, and that is this great city that we live in. Come out to Nathan Phillips Square and enjoy some of the great live entertainment and fantastic exhibits, visit City Hall, and take in a museum. Celebrate Toronto’s 175th anniversary.
The Canadian International Auto Show is on now until February 22nd at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, located at 255 Front Street. The AutoShow is open daily from 10:30 AM - 10:00 PM except for Sunday, February 22nd when the hours will be 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM. It is North America’s only officially endorsed international auto show after Detroit. Drop in and see the new generation of cars - hybrids, advanced fuel cells, and electric plug-ins. There are over 1,000 new cars and trucks on display featuring several North American and Canadian premieres.
There is something for everyone. Anyone interested in buying a car or just wanting to kick a few tires should absolutely attend. Some of the highlights of the show are:
- The Corvette exhibit beginning with the C1 (1953) and featuring 25 Corvettes, including the Mako Shark I, the 1969 Manta Ray, Corvette pace cars from the 1978, 1986, 1998, and 2007 Indianapolis 500, and special anniversary models commemorating the 40th and 50th years of production.
- The NASCAR Pavilion celebrating NASCAR racing.
- GTA in Motion features new vehicles from low-speed pure electric to plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The AutoShow has made it as convenient as possible for everyone to attend. Free Parking is available at one of the designated and brightly marked parking lots at Harbourfront Centre on Queen’s Quay and Lower Simcoe. Or take the TTC and exit at Union Station. Then take the Skywalk West.
Cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions can literally trap someone in their body with a perfectly functioning mind and no way to communicate. If afflicted with one of these conditions you would not be able to respond to the simplest request such as would you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Hopefully this will change in the future and free children from the purgatory that their bodies create for them.
Scientists at Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto have developed a prototype of a device that will be able to read minds. It uses near-infrared light to decipher the brain’s response when a person is offered a choice of two objects. In the most simplistic terms the device reads the intensity of the light that has been absorbed by the brain tissue and a computer is used to recognize the unique pattern of brain activity associated with preference.
Nine healthy adults participated in a study to test the accuracy of the device. They were shown two drinks on a computer screen. The device accurately identified their preference 80% of the time. The results of this ground breaking research have been published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
The next step is to test adults over multiple days to ensure that brain patterns associated with preference are reliable over time. After that, sometime in the fall, testing will begin on teenagers with disabilities. Researchers will continue to refine the device in the hopes of allowing children who can’t speak or move the ability to communicate and eventually use wireless technology to make it portable. At long last there is hope for those facing a lifetime of imprisonment in a useless body.
Toronto’s new budget seems to hit the ones that can least afford the additional burden - families. Although the residential property taxes are going up by 4%, well known critics of Mayor Miller like Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong say that the tax increase is actually 10% because of the hidden taxes. In addition, the new budget does not mention that water bills will be going up by 9% this year, and that the new vehicle registration and garbage collection fees will also be in force.
Here is a list of new fees in the budget:
- Residential property tax - increased by 4%
- On-street parking permit with no access to driveway - increased from $127 to 132 for your first car (12.5%) and for each additional car the fees will increase from $318 to $330 (12.5%)
- Adult one-year pool pass - increased from $161 to $167 (3.7%)
- Children’s Learn-to-Swim program - increased from $143 to $148 (3.7%)
- Seniors’ Aquafit classes - increased from $94 to $98 (3.7%)
- Adult arts-and-craft classes - increased from $61 to $64 (3.7%)
- Youth tap-dance lessons - increased from $168 to $175 (3.7%)
- Children’s Learn-to-Skate lessons - increased from $50 to $52 (3.7%)
- Adult full-season ski membership - increased from $303 to $314 (3.7%)
- Children’s house league hockey ice rentals in nicer arenas - increased from $104 to $108 (3.7%)
- More competitive junior leagues’ ice rentals in city’s nicer arenas - increased from $187 to $193 (3.7%)
It seems like Mayor Miller is bound and determined to shift the tax burden from business to residential. While residents will have their property tax hiked by 4%, businesses will only pay one-third of that. The budget is currently under consideration with a final vote by city council to take place on March 31 and April 1. Contact your local councillors and let them know how you feel.