Insight
  • [nuTonomy beat Uber and Google to the punch, launching the world’s first self-driving taxi in Singapore in August. (IB Times)]

    The weirdest taxi ride I’ve ever experience happened a few years ago on my birthday on one unusually warm winter night in Toronto.

    The driver passed around a tambourine so passengers could accompany his (bad) singing as he rambled on about the local tourist attractions.

    Unfortunately, the music distracted him from his primary responsibility and my companion, a visitor from a smaller city, nervously leaned over to whisper “Is this normal?” in my ear. “Absolutely not,” I replied, nervously watching the road as we lurched back and forth between the streetcar tracks and the other curb .

    I wish I had a photo of that bizarrely-decorated car to show you, but that night I was more concerned with seeing my next birthday.

    With that in mind, a self-driving taxi service pilot project in Singapore seems like an excellent idea.

    The company, nuTonomy, beat Uber’s planned

    Read More »from Cars are becoming autonomous — is Canada ready?
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    When I was getting cold feet after signing the purchase agreement for a home a few years ago, I confessed to my family that I was feeling sick about owing that much money.

    “That feeling will go away as soon as you put the ‘For Sale’ sign on the lawn” was their reply. Gulp.

    For most people, buying a first house or condo is exciting and a big leap into adulthood. But it doesn’t take long for the cold hard reality of mortgage payments, taxes and unexpected repairs to set in.

    Mortgage rates have been low for years now — long enough for young buyers to think that rates below 3 per cent are normal, but historically speaking, they’re not. It’s enough to tempt buyers who should probably save a little more and build their credit rating before buying their first home, but the rush to get into the market can leave some buyers at the mercy of unscrupulous or even criminal agents.

    There are a number of ways homeowners can become victims of real estate scams:

    Fraud for Rate (or Fraud for Shelter)

    To

    Read More »from Common real estate scams and how to avoid them
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    Trying to become a first-time homebuyer in the Greater Toronto Area’s red-hot real estate market has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. My fiancée and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we had no idea it would be quite this hard.

    We’ve lost bidding wars time after time in heart-wrenching fashion and went through the emotional roller coaster that goes with potentially making the largest investment of our lives. It’s become clear to us that getting a house in this market requires a lot of patience and a bit of luck.

    Before we started, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything responsibly. We paid off our debts and saved up for a down payment. We got pre-approved for a bank mortgage and set a budget based on what we could afford. We contacted a reputable realtor and decided on what would best suit our needs. We went in with open minds that were eager to learn and ready to act.

    We quickly realized that if we liked a place, we weren’t going to be alone. Agents

    Read More »from What it’s like to be a first-time homebuyer in Toronto’s scorching real estate market
  • [Renting is increasingly becoming the best option for many seeking out a new home.]

    Moshe Milevsky has noticed a change of attitude in the 20-somethings he teaches in his finance class at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

    “I have 90 students in the class and I was discussing home ownership. They view [it] as something unattainable. It’s almost as if they’ve sort of given up on that idea,” he says.

    With semi-detached houses in Toronto averaging close to $800,000 and detached going for $1.2 million, it’s not surprising that young Torontonians might have trouble envisioning getting into the market at any level.

    The sympathetic would include other wanna-be homeowners who have watched the affordable pockets of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) close up as the city’s home prices have risen more than 15 per cent over the past year alone, and roughly doubled over the past decade.

    Many opt for the commuter approach, buying in Pickering, Markham, Newmarket, or other ‘G’

    Read More »from Home prices making you sick? Renting is always an option
  • Legal fees, disbursements, discharging the current mortgage, capital gains taxes… selling a home often comes with an abundance of seemingly never-ending costs that can send your stress levels soaring, lighten up your wallet and often make you wonder why you thought selling was even a good idea in the first place. It’s no wonder more and more people are looking to save a few bucks when it comes to one of the most expensive costs—realtor fees.

    With the advent of so many DIY property-selling sites in Canada, listing your own home has never been easier or cheaper. Sites like PropertyGuys, ComFree and ForSaleByOwner offer all-inclusive, flat-fee packages priced anywhere from $400-$800, and can include exposure on popular property-searching sites like Realtor.ca. These companies promise to help inexperienced owners price, promote and negotiate the sale of their homes, all while potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in realtor fees.

    Given the skyrocketing housing market (the MLS

    Read More »from Going it alone? The pitfalls of selling your home without a real estate agent
  • There might not be any more concrete proof that Millennials are generation that grew up on the Internet – and its wide array of cute animal videos – than their preference for pets

    According to a survey released by research firm Mintel, which polled more than 2,000 adults, three-quarters of Americans in their 30s have dogs, and 51 per cent have cats.

    That’s significantly higher than the national average of 50 per cent and 35 per cent for dog and cat ownership respectively.

    Previous findings have suggested that Millennials are also far more likely to be living with their parents rather than a spouse or partner, in comparison to the youth of 50 years ago. 

    Millennials are also postponing marriage, or eschewing it all together, and facing declining wages and weak job opportunities.

    All of these factors may be leading them to choose pets over parenthood.

    “Pets are becoming a replacement for children,” Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University told the Washington

    Read More »from Millennials opting for pets instead of kids
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    [NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the closing bell, September 13, 2016 in New York City. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 258 points on Tuesday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)]

    It’s like that unexpectedly chilly day in mid-September when you really know summer’s over.

    For investors, what had been a good summer on the stock markets came crashing to a halt on Sept. 9 when stocks dove after comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve raised worries that U.S. interest rates might rise sooner than previously expected. The following Monday, Asian markets did the same.

    Of course, with the U.S. election just weeks away, markets are as prone to overreaction as ever. But the coming U.S. rate hikes are just part of what some say is a turning point for several central banks, as Japan may be trying to push its long-term rates higher and there is uncertainty about how long the European Central Bank

    Read More »from Autumn market volatility means it’s time to take stock of investments
  • Some people keep their model car collections on display in their homes, but if you’re an ultra-wealthy gearhead living in Miami, you buy a separate house specifically designed to show off your vehicles – at least, that's what one new company is hoping.

    AutoHouse, which bills itself as the “ultimate private showcase and members-only club,” is planning on constructing a condo building in the city’s downtown whose only tenants are luxury cars and motorcycles.

    The seven-storey project will house 45 units, or "AutoSuites," with prices starting at $350,000 – or roughly the average cost of a four-bedroom home in Miami – for a display space designed for two cars, and reaching as high as $1.5 million for 2,200 square feet, according to CNN Money.

    Units can also be combined, or buyers can take over entire floors, which would accommodate up to 55 cars.

    These glorified parking garages will also offer around-the-clock security with a web-based surveillance system allowing owners to check on their

    Read More »from This company wants to build a $1.5M luxury condo for your car
  • Even the snobbiest of shutterbugs can’t deny smartphones are getting much better at taking photos and shooting video.

    Over the years we’ve seen larger sensors to let more light in, more megapixels for greater detail, better image stabilization for sharper pics, faster processors to handle the task at hand and better all-around battery performance.

    But even with these advancements, there’s still one obvious shortcoming to smartphone photography: the lens. There’s no optical zoom to get closer to a subject, nor is there good support for macro shots (extreme close-ups), fisheye support, or wide-angle photos on most phones.

    In response to these shortcomings, there’s a growing market for lenses as an accessory, which clamp onto the phone’s existing lens.

    They sound like a great idea, but are they just a gimmick?

    We set out to see for ourselves, and also enlisted some help from a professional photographer.

    Snap on, snap off

    “Quite simply, the lenses work like eyeglasses,” explains Jason

    Read More »from Camera lenses for your smartphone: are they worth the money?
  • While businesses may be able to cut down on lines and make shopping easier by using self-service checkouts, they may also give thieves “ready-made excuses” for stealing products, according to a recent study.

    The report, authored by professors Adrian Beck and Matt Hopkins of Leicester University, collected data through interviews with staff, security experts, app developers and visits to stores from four major retailers (two from the U.S., one from Belgium and one from Holland).

    It also examined statistics on nearly 12 million shopping trips from the four retailers between December 2012 and February 2015.

    The study indicated that the use of these self-service technologies and other apps used to make purchases lead to a loss rate of nearly four per cent, more than double the average.

    Losing revenue is never good news for a business, but it seems even worse in light of the fact that a typical profit margin among European grocers is three per cent.

    This means that many businesses that are

    Read More »from Self-serve checkouts could tempt shoppers into theft
  • Canadians often have to deal with the stereotypes about the Great White North when speaking with foreigners: ‘No. We don’t live in igloos. Yes. It is cold but not that cold.”

    But sometimes these assumptions work out in our favour. Take for example Dani Reiss, the CEO of Canada Goose, who was at a tradeshow in Germany during his early days at the company, when he realized that Europeans trusted Canadian-made outwear to withstand the rigors of a frigid environment.

    “For them, the connection between outwear designed for the coldest places on Earth and the Canadian climate was obvious,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada in an email.

    The company, originally called Metro Sportswear Ltd., was founded in a small warehouse in Toronto by Reiss’ grandfather, Sam Tick, nearly 60 years ago, and its goose-down parkas, jackets and other accessories are still made in Canada. 

    But for Reiss, the benefits of manufacturing its products in Canada go beyond their air of authenticity.

    He said he takes pride in

    Read More »from The difficulties of getting products made in Canada
  • Canadians consume marijuana. They smoke it. They eat it. They use its extracts and derivatives.

    Statistics Canada found that 43 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 have tried the drug and 33.5 per cent have used it more than once.

    Furthermore, in a 2015 poll by Forum Research just under one-fifth of participants, or 18 per cent, admitted to having consumed the drug in the past year, with an added 13 per cent saying they would be more likely to do so if it were legal.

    And with Canada lurching towards legalization, many businesses are looking to get into the market, including Canada Post.

    A task force studying the floundering Crown Corporation released a 94-page discussion paper earlier this week that found “fundamental and transformational changes” are need to save it from having to be propped up by taxpayers.

    One of the changes suggested was the distribution of marijuana across the country by Canada's postal service, with its more than 6,200 post offices and pickup locations also

    Read More »from Marijuana delivery proposed as a way to save Canada Post
  • It seems like just yesterday we were all being promised amazing new technology and the best phone yet with the release of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. But like youth, technology is fleeting. And so here we are again, this time on the verge of complete iPhone 7 pandemonium. Anxious Mac-lovers are already plotting lineup survival at their local Apple stores so they can be among the first to get their hands on the new devices when it goes on sale September 16, effectively stashing away their old ones to gather techno-dust.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    If you’re among those who are looking to upgrade your phone, here are just a few things you can do with your old device.

    Transform it into an alarm clock

    Naw, we’re not talking about just setting the “Clock” function every night. Download one of the many alarm clock apps out there, and personalize it depending on what kind of a sleeper you are. Need to know that the apocalypse is coming in order to wake up in the morning?

    Read More »from 11 things to do with that ‘outdated’ iPhone
  • Dairy producers in Australia, the European Union, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States are pushing for their respective governments to take Canada to task over a new deal between farmers and the dairy industry that they say violates their international trade obligations. 

    In a letter released publicly on Monday, the dairy associations said the new deal places Canada in contravention of its World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) obligations and called for their respective governments to initiate a dispute settlement proceeding through the WTO. 

    The groups said the new deal -- which was agreed upon by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Dairy Processors Association of Canada in July -- favours Canadian dairy ingredients over imports and subsidizes the export of local products to “unfairly compete” with those abroad.

    “Canada’s increasingly protectionist policies violate their international trade obligations, hold out the prospect of trade

    Read More »from Global dairy producers protest new deal for Canadian milk products
  • After a difficult summer that saw the newspaper lay off more than 50 employees and reveal that it posted a $24.3 million loss in the second quarter of 2016, the Toronto Star is hoping to capitalize on a traditional morning routine to change its fortunes.

    On Monday, the country’s second-most read daily newspaper announced that it is launching a new service called Headline Coffee, which brings its readers in the Greater Toronto Area “high-quality, ethically-sourced ground or whole-bean coffee,” each month at the cost of $20.

    “Toronto residents love their coffee and they love reading the news,” states the press release.

    “Now, the Toronto Star is matching coffee lovers and one of their favourite pastimes with the launch of Headline Coffee."

    The newspapers said 75 per cent of its readers enjoy a cup of a coffee while enjoying the Star's content. 

    The service promises to bring its users a new coffee from a different part of the world each month.

    The Star is likely looking to capitalize on

    Read More »from Toronto Star offers new coffee delivery service
  • Picking the right line at the grocery store can make a world of difference.

    It is a split-second decision that could end, ideally, with the patrons in front of you breezing through the checkout and you getting out of the grocery store stress-free, or it could be a nightmarish experience that leaves you frustrated by the impossibly slow pace of the people in front of you and with an intense grumbling in your stomach as you long to get home and whip together the array of delectable ingredients in your cart.

    The line that will lead you to a quick escape, however, may surprise you.

    Dan Meyer, a former high school math teacher and chief academic officer at Desmos, told the New York Times that the key to getting out of the store faster is getting behind a shopper with a full cart rather than a line with numerous people with fewer items.

    In his research he has found that on average it requires 41 seconds per shopper to say hi, pay, say goodbye, gather their things and leave the area, while

    Read More »from How to spend less time in grocery store lines
  • Far from the distant din of electronic slot machines, Rahul Sood sat in a Las Vegas hotel conference room, listening to experts mull over the future of gambling.

    But what left an impression on the former Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett Packard’s gaming division is that one of the speakers failed to see the how the empire built in Nevada’s desert has been built on sand.

    The speaker was questioning the sector’s increased focus on attracting younger generations to their supposed palaces of glitz, glamour and gambling, and argued that casinos shouldn’t bother with them since they don’t have money and they don’t like to gamble. 

    “I was thinking to myself when watching him, ‘Who employs this guy? And which one of these casinos employs him? Because if you do, you should probably fire him,” Sood recalled in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada.

    “That’s the kind of thinking that has put [casinos] in the position that they’re in right now, [because] I think you create really inviting

    Read More »from How video games could be the salvation of the modern casino

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