• Robotics researcher Edgar Simo-Serra before and after working on the algorithmRobotics researcher Edgar Simo-Serra before and after working on the algorithm
    Two computer science professors at University of Toronto may have caused mild panic among stylists last month when they announced the results of their latest research: an algorithm that analyses fashion choices in a photograph and makes suggestions to up a person’s chic factor.

    Sanja Fidler and Raquel Urtasun created the system using two main technologies, graphical modelling and something called deep learning, a subcategory of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, pioneered by University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton. Deep learning allows a computer to “think” for itself using complicated artificial neural networks, or “neural nets”, that function in a similar way to the human brain’s neural connections.

    To school itself in the ways of sharp style, the professors’ prototype algorithm—a kind of “thinking” robot—collected data from more than 100,000 photos posted to the website Chictopia, an Instagram-like digital billboard where users around the world upload images of

    Read More »from The algorithm that judges your fashion sense will soon be an app
  • A Confederate flag is held up by a man at a rally outside the State House to get the Confederate flag removed from the grounds in Columbia, South Carolina June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brian SnyderA Confederate flag is held up by a man at a rally outside the State House to get the Confederate flag removed from the grounds in Columbia, South Carolina June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

    Canadian news coverage of the debate over the Confederate flag in the United States constitutes discrimination, a Saskatchewan man says.

    Dale Pippin says he’s filed a complaint with the provincial human rights commission over media coverage.

    “While the U.S. media seems able to routinely trash the Confederate flag, I thought I’d see if we are able to get away with it here in Canada,” Pippin wrote on his blog, SouthSaskSoutherner.

    He says he filed the complaint on July 1. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission does not comment on complaints and cannot confirm if Pippin’s complaint has been received.

    Citing CTV News specifically and other media in general, Pippin says coverage has been degrading and discriminatory toward today’s southerners, which he counts himself among.

    Pippin says his family moved to Saskatchewan 110 years ago from Tarboro, N.C. His ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

    “I was under the impression that we are in a free country. In this free

    Read More »from Criticism of Confederate flag spurs human rights complaint in Canada
  • Chasing fish the size of monsters on camera is second nature for Josh Jorgensen, a Windsor, Ont., native and star of the No. 1 fishing channel on YouTube.

    The 25-year-old, who’s now based in West Palm Beach, Fla., is the creator of BlacktipH, a popular channel on the video-sharing website. To date, it has 122,763 subscribers and nearly 61.5 million views.

    While it’s technically a fishing show, BlacktipH is a far cry from the docile, local pond fishing programs that air on cable, early Sunday morning. Instead, Jorgensen, fueled with adrenaline and backed by a crew, chases after giant creatures like blacktips and monster bull sharks, which can sometimes rival the size of a car. 

    “They’re strong and exciting,” he tells Yahoo News Canada. “It’s a shark! They eat everything else. They’re the ultimate predator.”

    His obsession for the terrifying fish started in childhood, where he’d draw them in kindergarten class. Jorgensen started fishing on lakes throughout Ontario — Lake Huron, Lake

    Read More »from Windsor native stars in YouTube’s No. 1 fishing channel
  • A provincial elections map of dry and wet communities in Nova Scotia.A provincial elections map of dry and wet communities in Nova Scotia.

    By Glenn Johnson

    The Nova Scotia government wants to open the taps to the 100-plus communities that are still dry, providing additional liquor revenues for the province.

    Although Prohibition was lifted in Nova Scotia back in 1929, there are many places that can’t have liquor stores unless they hold expensive plebiscites to measure local thirst.

    A handful of other rural Canadian places remain dry mostly in Alberta, where the communities of Arrowwood, Cardston, Magrath, Del Bonita and Linden don’t allow alcohol. There are also some northern reserves that remain dry. Nova Scotia was the only province with a wide prohibition that requires plebiscites. 

    Despite the dry designation in Nova Scotia, many residents might not even be aware because restaurants can serve alcohol and residents can drink alcohol that is purchased at a business outside the community.

    Government spokesperson Darcy MacRae said that’s why the government has proposed “amendments to the Liquor Control Act that would make

    Read More »from N.S. wants to end 100-plus ‘dry’ communities
  • The rebranding of Environment Canada's Facebook page has been met with much criticism by users.The rebranding of Environment Canada's Facebook page has been met with much criticism by users.

    The government of Canada is getting the gears online over its decision to rebrand the Facebook pages of several key ministries.

    Most egregious, it seems, the Environment Canada Facebook page was renamed last week “Conserve, Restore, Connect with Nature.”

    The page now incorporates Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

    Reaction on the social media site has not been good.

    “This is so ridiculous!” Facebook user Jackie Chow wrote on the page.

    “Perhaps we should rename Environment Canada, and call it e.g. ‘Ministry for the Exploitation and Destruction of the Environment.’”

    “Wow. Talk about deception,” wrote Jim Ross. “A government agency that does little to conserve or restore the environment changes their Facebook page to gloss over their record on the environment.”

    One user asked if the Environment Canada page had been hacked.

    “Not hacked, hijacked by

    Read More »from Environment Canada Facebook rebrand gets fail from users
  • (Reuters photo)(Reuters photo)

     

    Thrill seekers may be getting more than they bargained for when they sign up for adventure races like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race.

    Every summer thousands of people gather in cities across North America to test their toughness with a series of obstacle-based races that have you diving into ice pools, jumping through fire and enduring electric shock. Seriously.

    The goal? To prove you’re not only fit but—more importantly—badass.

    Dustin W. Ballard, an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California explains, “The Tough Mudder participant who conquers his or her fears along with the event also may garner confidence and optimism to face challenges elsewhere in life.”

    While most people cross the finish line with little more than a mouthful of mud, others aren’t so lucky.

    The Spartan rash

    In the summer of 2013, reports of the “Spartan Rash” began circulating when a number of participants from the Spartan Race in Marseilles, Illinois took to social media

    Read More »from Are adventure races like Tough Mudder and Spartan worth the risk?
  • Metal detector locates lost jewelry at Fredericton's Killarney Lake.Metal detector locates lost jewelry at Fredericton's Killarney Lake.

    Edmonton resident Norm Peters is fluent in the language of metal detection. The 63-year-old is part of an international network of people who help retrieve lost valuables from tricky places – anywhere from lakes to beaches to roadways.

    “The machine talks to you,” he told Yahoo Canada News. “You distinguish between a bottle cap or a can. Every one of them has got a different tone and as you learn, you get to know the signals.”

    Peters got into metal detecting five years ago when his son lost his wedding ring in the ocean in Mexico after getting married. Though Peters wasn’t able to retrieve his son’s jewelry, it inspired him to take up the hobby.

    Since then, he gets about six calls a month, mostly through the Ring Finders, a listing of metal detectors from 22 different countries around the world, which was started by a Vancouver man named Chris Turner. In Canada, there are a total of 36 finders in 51 cities.

    Most of the people listed on the website are hobbyists who offer their services

    Read More »from Ring Finders ‘detectives’ crack cases of lost jewelry and other treasures
  • By Aviva West

    As the threat of wildfire recedes in northern Saskatchewan, residents from across the province are banding together to help reunite owners with pets left behind when they were forced to flee.

    Wildfires began raging at the beginning of the summer and since then, more than 13,000 people from 50 communities have been living elsewhere and vast swathes of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan scorched.

    On Monday, with the worst of the fires under control, troops began to depart fire-plagued areas of northern Saskatchewan and residents of La Ronge, Air Ronge and Lac La Ronge Indian Band began returning home.

    When residents fled their homes and communities, workers from rescues agencies and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) collected as many animals as they could, and have been fostering them all over Saskatchewan. The SPCA says they’ve taken in more than 150 dogs from northern fire-affected communities.

    At the height of the Alberta floods in June

    Read More »from With wildfires under control, work turns to reuniting displaced with their pets
  • (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    After Carolyn McGroarty’s beloved bike was stolen in April, she decided to take her efforts to find it in cyberspace.

    The Torontonian figured she’d take advantage of social media’s wide reach and started an Instagram, Twitter and Facebook account devoted to finding lost bikes.

    Her efforts led to a police investigation of her condo building, where an in-house bike theft operation was allegedly taking place. As a result, one bike and three bike frames were retrieved.

    From there, McGroarty started finding listings for lost bikes on Craigslist and Kijiji, which she’d then post to her social media pages.

    “A lot of people thought it was amazing and needed in the city,” she tells Yahoo Canada News, adding that city councillors and the Toronto police have started following the accounts as well.

    Each post lists the bike’s description, as well as the owner’s social media information and a photo. Similar FindMyBike accounts have since been started in Calgary and the United Kingdom.

    Read More »from Cyclists use social media to #findmybike
  • When Marymay Downing moved into her Ottawa townhouse two decades ago, there wasn’t much but a patch of weeds when it came to neighbourhood landscaping.

    Over the years, the 64-year-old guerrilla gardener has cultivated six community gardens in the neighbourhood, with eclectic mixes of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

    “When you’re out there working people stop and talk to you and tell you how much they like the garden and thank you for doing it,” she tells Yahoo Canada News.

    But Downing is devastated that Canada Post plans to erect a suite of community mailboxes, including one just outside her backyard. The mailbox will not displace the community garden she’s built there but it will block the view of it from the street.

    “As one of my neighbours says, it will be ugly,” she says.

    It will also bring dozens of people to the edge of her backyard on a daily basis, she says.

    “My privacy will be destroyed and this is the only thing I do now,” says Downing, a former University of Ottawa professor

    Read More »from Ottawa gardener wants to return community mailboxes to sender

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