• You’re young. You’re hopeful. You have dreams of becoming a star. Everyone sees potential in you, so you’re not entirely surprised when an agent walks up to you on the street and says you’re amazing. He sees greatness and can make you famous, all you have to do is a pay an expensive fee to sign a contract and have headshots taken.

    You don’t need to think about it, they urge. After all, how can you put a price on your dreams?

    If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Scam artists parading as talent agencies work across Canada to turn people’s dreams of success into cash to line their own pockets. They’ll promise their target a career as an actor or a model, but demand a hefty fee up front for their services, and then never deliver on the deal.

    Earlier this month, ModelandTalent.tv was profiled in a La Presse story detailing those very practices: Parents took their children to an audition in Dorval, Que., and all of them were told that their children would be stars, they

    Read More »from Legitimate talent agency or scam artist? How to tell you’re working with the real deal
  • Photo courtesy of Natrel Milk BarPhoto courtesy of Natrel Milk Bar

    The just-opened Natrel Milk Bar by java u aims to raise milk’s profile from a supporting role to star status. It’s flipping the focus for latte-loving Canadians from the coffee beans to the white stuff.

    With plans to expand, the flagship café features seven varieties of Natrel Milk to go in people’s java, whether it’s a barista-poured cappuccino or a self-serve drip. (Selections include skim, organic, lactose-free, and maple-flavoured milks.) Its menu focuses on dairy-driven items: salads, sandwiches and desserts with milk, yogurt, and cheese, plus milkshakes in the summer. Then there’s a line of clothing and accessories line made with milk.

    Will milk bars be the next big thing? Expert opinion is divided.

    Kristin Menas, associate editor, Canada and Adult Beverage, at Technomic, a food-industry research and consulting firm, notes that this isn’t the first milk bar in the country. Toronto’s Moo Milk Bar launched in 2012. Vancouver has the Miura Waffle Milk Bar, which specializes in

    Read More »from Got milk? A new “bar” in Montreal does.
  • A computer screen is pictured at TV5 Monde after the French television network was hacked.A computer screen is pictured at TV5 Monde after the French television network was hacked.

    It’s the modern nightmare: You try to log on to email one morning and find your password doesn’t work. It quickly becomes clear the account has been deleted.

    Meanwhile, your Twitter account begins spewing career-suicide vitriol, your bank account is being drained, and your computer is being remotely wiped, so say goodbye to the first five chapters of that Great Canadian Road novel you were working on. You’ve been hacked.

    And if you’re not being robbed blind, you still may have someone rooting through your online life.

    Last week, we learned that Canada is among several countries that tried to hack into mobile phones with the idea of making the world a safer place (though what that means is open to interpretation).

    With that in mind, here are five tips for keeping hackers (of all stripes) at bay:

    Be smart about passwords

    Having Google at our fingertips has trained us out of the habit of remembering anything, but that doesn’t excuse lazy password craft. It may be easier to remember your

    Read More »from Canada may have conspired to hack mobile phones, but you can protect yourself
  • When U.S. news gossip website Gawker wanted to raise $200,000 to buy a video of and release it to the world, donors stepped over each other to contribute, knowing they’d never see their money again and probably wouldn’t see the video. They still haven’t.

    And when Facebook post surfaced in 2012 showing U.S. school bus driver Karen Klein being bullied by kids to the point of tears, the outraged masses ponied up more than $700,000 to send her on a vacation. She took the trip and said she’d use the rest of the money to retire.

    This is crowdfunding, and stories like these are sure to grow in number as the Generation X and Yers who drive it build more disposable income.

    Originally the domain of artists and inventors looking to fund projects, crowdfunding has gone decidedly mainstream, totaling $16.2 billion in 2014, and is expected to top $34 billion this year.

    It’s easy to see why. Platforms like Indigogo and Kickstarter let you start a fundraising campaign with little more than an idea.

    Read More »from Crowdfunding has money to spare, but needs some rules
  • Because everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone these days, it's important to learn how to protect yourself from unsafe apps and, ultimately, the threat of being hacked.

    The topic got us buzzing when it was reported last week that spy agencies in Canada, United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand tried to find ways to extract data from servers used by Google and Samsung's mobile app stores using an easily hacked app.

    The compromised app, identified as UC Browser, is a very popular mobile browser in India, China and North America. Unsuspecting people who used the app could have had their phone number, SIM card number and details about the device leaked to servers in China.

     A case like this, where the countries knew about the vulnerabilities in UC Browser but didn't inform the public, raises questions about whether or not it should be their responsibility to do so. Instead of waiting around for something to happen, we've listed some ways you can better protect yourself

    Read More »from Smartphone safety: How to avoid being hacked through your apps
  • Team Canada's Christine Sinclair.Team Canada's Christine Sinclair.
    The Women’s World Cup will begin in Canada next week under a cloud cast by the indictments and arrests of officials from the sport’s international governing body and its affiliates.

    The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday it has indicted 14 officials from FIFA, associated organizations and sports marketing executives, alleging a sweeping bribery and kickback scheme linked to broadcast rights for the World Cup and other tournaments dating back more than two decades.

    Swiss authorities arrested seven of those people at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice and announced its own investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

    Canada Soccer, organizer of the Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup, says they are “extremely disappointed” by these developments but support all efforts to eliminate this type of behaviour in the sport.

    “As the host nation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, the Canadian Soccer Association is

    Read More »from Does FIFA corruption scandal mean Women’s World Cup woes for Canada?
  • With protests at two Ontario schools this week making the news, attention has turned once again to the topic of dress codes. As Andrea Stokes, the mother of a student who drew national attention for a dress code violation in 2014, said, it’s “getting to be that time of year again.”

    Most of the conversation around dress codes has focused on the unnecessary sexualization of teen girls, and the issue of whether dress codes promote rape culture. But as the protests have gotten louder, more administrators are speaking up to say no, dress codes aren’t just about distraction. While the rules vary from school to school, Yahoo Canada found five reasons why institutions say their dress codes are necessary.

    To uphold school principles
    Nicholson Catholic College is a public high school in Belleville, Ont. The school’s motto is “Enlightened by Knowledge. Enriched by Faith.” Originally founded as a private school in 1960, the school is part of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School

    Read More »from Five reasons schools have dress codes
  • There’s been much controversy surrounding Eugene Melnyck’s public plea for a liver and his ensuing successful transplant. Some say the owner of the Ottawa Senators used his wealth and public profile to his advantage, jumping the queue ahead of other Canadians on a wait list. Regardless of diverging opinions on that subject, there’s no denying his case has raised awareness of life-saving live donations tremendously.

    “Canadians die every day waiting for an organ,” says Aubrey Goldstein, president of the Canadian Transplant Association and a liver transplant recipient himself. “Many people don’t realize how much impact they can have with a donation.”

    While people often associate organ donation with a dying person’s wishes, live donation is becoming more common, with people getting used to the idea of sharing a piece of themselves while they’re alive and well.

    The most urgently needed organs from living donors are kidneys and livers. Of the approximate 4,600 Canadians waiting for an organ
    Read More »from The Melynck effect: NHL owner's plea raises awareness on organ donations
  • Round Island, British Columbia. (Courtesy of BCOceanfront.com)Round Island, British Columbia. (Courtesy of BCOceanfront.com)

    Soaring real estate prices are an obsession for people living in Vancouver.

    Mortgaged homeowners worry how they’ll make their payments if interest rates go up. Younger people wonder how they’ll ever scrap up the down payment for even a shoebox-sized condo in one of the city’s many glass towers, never mind an average modest family home that gives not much change from a million dollars.

    So the idea of buying an entire island off the B.C. coast for the price of condo or even less within an easy boat trip to Vancouver or Victoria might be very enticing.

    It sounds romantic. Leave the hustle of the big city behind and telecommute, working to the sound of waves lapping on your private beach while you contemplate the maritime vista from your home overlooking the shore.

    A CTV News report this week noted three-hectare Round Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, is on the market for just $380,000 or the undeveloped property.

    But before you go see your bank manager, it’s worth

    Read More »from B.C. island may be on sale for just $380,000, but the reality of living there isn’t idyllic
  • With warmer, dryer weather here, that means more people will be getting out on their bikes. Whether it’s commuting to work, cycling for fitness, or going for easy-going evening rides with your kids, biking is one of those feel-good, fresh-air physical activities that burns calories, improves health, and contributes to a greener planet.

    And depending on where you live, it’s safer in some places than others. While comprehensive, uniform data comparing cycling safety in cities across the country is lacking, a few studies have looked at some of Canada’s best biking spots. Perhaps not surprisingly, West Coast cities consistently come out on top.

    The country’s least bike-friendly cities appear to be St. John’s, Moncton, Charlottetown, Montreal, Ottawa, and Edmonton.

    St. John’s ranked lowest on the Bike Score, which was created by UBC’s Cycling in Cities Research Program in partnership with the Seattle-based company that developed Walk Score. It’s calculated by taking into account factors

    Read More »from The most dangerous cities to cycle in Canada

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