Blog Posts by Tori Floyd

  • Screengrab from Google Earth of Lac Megantic taken on June 23, 2014.Screengrab from Google Earth of Lac Megantic taken on June 23, 2014.

    It's been almost a year since the July 6 train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., but the reminders for the people who live there are near-constant. As the cleanup of the disaster enters its second phase, some of Lac-Megantic's residents have discovered yet another reminder: An aerial view of the scorched earth in their town where the disaster occurred, displayed on Google Maps.

    QMI Agency drew attention to the image this week, calling the image "disgusting," quoting a representative from Lac-Megantic's tourism community. Ghislain Bolduc, MNA for the Megantic riding, was also critical when talking to QMI, saying that the photo "reeked of sensationalism."

    "The scene only looked like this for the two weeks following the accident," Bolduc said.

    While it does serve as a painful reminder of what happened in the town, it's not unusual for Google to capture disaster-hit areas as a part of its Google Earth mapping program, documenting from satellites images of the Earth's surface.

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    Read More »from Lac-Megantic residents upset after finding disaster-marked images on Google Maps
  • Battle of the Bands: Picking our favourite fitness bands

    This is the final instalment in our mini-series 'Battle of the Bands,' comparing some of the most popular fitness bands available in Canada today. For an overview of the series, read Battle of the Bands: Finding the best fitness band for you.

    After weeks of testing out the fitness bands featured in this series, the three other reviewers and I got together to discuss our favourites and pick the ones that best suited our needs.


    Battle of the Bands:


    Best Appearance: TIE - Jawbone UP24 and FitBit Flex

    Because of how "inoffensive" both the Jawbone UP24 and FitBit Flex looked, both were highly valued by the reviewers for appearance. Both are thinner and more subtle than the other three bands, with less of an in-you-face fitness band look, compared to the rest.

    One reviewer gave an edge to the Jawbone UP24 because of how

    Read More »from Battle of the Bands: Picking our favourite fitness bands
  • There's no argument here that the FBI has a difficult job: As its methods improve, so do those of the criminals. That extends to knowing how people are staying in touch, particularly over text messages as that becomes a more frequently used form of communication.

    So it should come as no surprise that the FBI has its own glossary of netspeak and text messaging terms to which its employees can refer. What is a little more surprising is that it is 83 pages long, contains 3,000 words, and seems like it would be better suited to decoding AIM or ICQ messages than modern texts.

    The Washington Post discovered that as part of a recent Freedom of Information Information request, the FBI has released this document to MuckRock, a collaborative news site focused on transparency in politics, (PDF available here), titled Twitter Speak. The document covers more than just Twitter, however, as the intro to the document explains that it is to help agents and employees understand Internet shorthand used

    Read More »from FBI’s 2,800-word glossary of Internet slang is just a little sad
  • Image showing a One World Futbol Project soccer ball on the left, and a 'rag ball' on the right. (OWFP)Image showing a One World Futbol Project soccer ball on the left, and a 'rag ball' on the right. (OWFP)

    Just about everyone has gone a little soccer-crazy right now with the World Cup in full swing, but many kids around the world are psyched about soccer all year long, even when they don't have a ball to play with.

    Children who come from impoverished and poor families around the world want to play soccer just as much as any other kid, but often can't afford a soccer ball. They end up making "rag balls," using whatever material they can find to turn it into a roughly round object.

    Tim and Lisa Jahnigen realized how many kids worldwide were eager for the chance to play with a real soccer ball, and it inspired them to start the One World Futbol project, a charity that seeks to give a soccer ball to a child who can't afford one whenever a ball is purchased.

    Since the Jahnigens started the project four years ago, they've garnered worldwide attention, including support from musician and philanthropist Sting. But more importantly, they've managed to get their specially-designed soccer balls

    Read More »from One World Futbol Project supplying indestructible soccer balls to kids worldwide
  • Better make some room in that panda enclosure for one more!

    If the speculation is correct, Er Shun, the female panda at the Toronto Zoo, could be pregnant.

    In this video published Thursday, the Toronto Zoo teases that the female panda currently residing at the zoo is showing 'nesting' behaviour, which may be an indication she is pregnant:

    It's still too early for zoo officials to know for sure, as panda pregnancies can be quite complicated. The gestation period for pandas is about three to five months, and the zoo will only know for certain about 20 days before the cub is born.

    While this video was initially taken in May and used to demonstrate Er Shun playing with straw as "enrichment," the zoo is apparently using it again today to tease news that Er Shun may actually be with cub.

    Er Shun was artificially inseminated in April, and zookeepers have been eagerly waiting for signs it may have worked. While there is a male panda at the zoo, Da Mao, he is too young to reproduce, so semen

    Read More »from Baby on board? Toronto Zoo’s panda Er Shun showing signs she may be pregnant
  • This is the fifth review in our mini-series 'Battle of the Bands,' comparing some of the most popular fitness bands available in Canada today. For an overview of the series, read Battle of the Bands: Finding the best fitness band for you.

    Of all the bands we take a look at in this series, the Polar Loop is probably the most under-the-radar of them all. Without the kind of hype machine and flash that you see with companies like Nike or Jawbone, Polar is a name that you're only likely to think of if you're seriously into fitness.

    Polar Electro is a Finnish company that has been around since 1977, and has long made heart rate monitors and GPS watches for serious fitness enthusiasts. The Loop is Polar's foray into the fitness band market, a deviation from the traditional watch face-style trackers it usually makes.

    Compared to its typical products, the Loop is decidedly more of a fitness and lifestyle band than anything else. But how does it stack up against other fitness bands we looked

    Read More »from Battle of the Bands: Polar Loop an option for serious fitness buffs, others need not apply
  • This is the fourth review in our mini-series 'Battle of the Bands,' comparing some of the most popular fitness bands available in Canada today. For an overview of the series, read Battle of the Bands: Finding the best fitness band for you.

    For Jawbone, the fitness market isn’t a strange land. This is somewhere they have ventured before – only to have their efforts largely ridiculed, as their first attempt at a fitness band in 2011, the UP by Jawbone, was rife with damage issues. To Jawbone’s both fortune and folly, it came before the fitness band craze really caught on; the product didn’t catch on because it wasn’t something people were looking for yet, as mobile phones really needed to catch up to partner with wearable technology first. But it also meant they could test the waters, see what worked, and have a product ready for when suddenly, everyone was clamouring for a band.

    Back when Jawbone’s first jump back into the ring launched, the Jawbone UP (which is still supported and

    Read More »from Battle of the Bands: Jawbone UP24 is a near-perfect lifestyle band, with one thing missing
  • Passenger helps land 737 after pilot suffers heart attack

    Capt. Mark Gongol, 13th Air Support Operations Squadron assistant director.Capt. Mark Gongol, 13th Air Support Operations Squadron assistant director.

    "Does anyone know how to fly a plane?"

    It's the last thing you want to hear your flight attendant announce over the plane's loudspeaker, but that's exactly what happened on United Flight 1637 on Dec. 30.

    Luckily for the 155 passengers and six crew members aboard that flight, the answer was yes.

    Capt. Mark Gongol, a member of the U.S. Air Force operating out of Fort Carson, was on board the plane with his wife and daughters, returning from holidays after visiting family in Des Moines, Iowa. Gongol told Air Force Space Command in his first interview since the incident that about half an hour into the flight, Gongol said he became aware of the plane's engines powering down, and the aircraft began to descend and veer to the right.

    "Over the public address system, a flight attendant asked if there was a doctor on board the plane," Gongol told AFSC. "A few more calls went out for medical professionals and the flight attendants were all hurrying to first class with their beverage carts and a

    Read More »from Passenger helps land 737 after pilot suffers heart attack
  • Hunter Samworth, 7, is a fan of his local minor league baseball team the Dayton Dragons, and is a particularly big fan of their mascot, Heater.

    He also happens to be deaf, and relies on sign language and cochlear hearing aids to communicate.

    Last week, Hunter attended a Dayton Dragons baseball game with his parents, and even got the opportunity to meet Heater before the game. What was most surprising though, was what Hunter's father, Matt Samworth, caught on camera:

    [ Good News: Learning a second language keeps your brain young: study ]

    Matt explains the sweet scene on his Facebook page:

    Cheri [Hunter's mother] told Hunter, verbally and in sign, to tell Heater "nice to meet you!" All of the sudden all three of us were taken by surprise when Heater started signing to Hunter!! Not his escort (who also is an ASL interpreter) but Heater the Dragons mascot!! Hats off to Paul and Heater for lifting us up on Saturday night. You both gave us all a moment we will never forget!!

    In an

    Read More »from Young hearing-impaired fan gets sweet surprise from baseball team’s mascot
  • At some point, we’ve all thought how handy it would be to know another language, either to make travel easier or to better communicate with people at home. Now, you can add keeping your brain young to the list of good reasons for learning another language.

    A study from the University of Edinburgh shows that learning a new language can actually help your brain keep its youthful figure, supporting claims from an earlier study suggesting that learning a second language can help delay dementia.

    Unlike the dementia study, however, this latest research sought to discover if learning a second language could help to improve cognitive function, or if people who already had high cognitive function were the ones more likely to become bilingual, the BBC reports.

    Based on the results of the test, the language learners – both those who learned languages before the age of 18 and after – showed improved cognitive function from their baseline test after having learned another language.

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    Read More »from Learning a second language keeps your brain young, study finds

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