Saturday, 5 May 2018

Toronto has some strange weather

This month we've had it all, snow, sun, rain, freezing rain, hail, -10 degrees and 25 degrees.
Now we have wind.

Look at the consequences! This is at our local Macdonalds.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Five best apps for a "fresh off the boat" Canadian Immigrant

I think apps are quite useful in our day to day lives so putting together a list of what I think will be useful from an Immigrants perspective will be valuable to any newcomer. These are things that are often only passed on by word of mouth after you arrive, knowledge that would have been so valuable from day one.  I hope you find my list useful, it is in no particular order.
Example of Transit app on an iphone from the transit webpage

1. The first priority is getting around, so the first recommendation I'm making is the Transit app.
This is a great app for understanding how to get from a to b and, the best part is, it even works offline. As a new arrival it is expensive to have data plans and free wifi is useless just when you need it the most!
Together with this app I recommend you download an area on Google maps so that it is available offline. Again, if you don't have data there is nothing more frustrating than walking out of the subway and trying to work out which way you need to go, never mind which way is North and which is South!
Once you have a route you take every day you can make use of other Public Transport apps such as Rocket Man or the actual TTC app, but for ease of use when figuring out how to use the TTC I found Transit easiest to use in the beginning.  It even has a Go function which will use your phone's GPS and tell you when to get off the bus and subway.

2. Flipp is a shopping app that benefits from the trend here in Canada of Price Matching.  Price Matching means you can go to one shop in Canada and show them the cheaper price of the product you want to buy at another shop and they will match it.  It makes it so much easier while shopping, you don't have to go to so many different stores to buy things at the lower price.  You can just get everything in one place and make use of Price Match.
Of course, you need to make sure that they participate in the Price Matching agreement, if you're shopping at a major retailer then they will be participating. 
When Flipp first came out retailers didn't accept Flipp as evidence of another retailers price, it was a major problem, but now that Flipp is more popular this is rarely the case.

3. If you want to buy second-hand stuff in Canada Kijiji is the app you will use every day.  You can get anything on it, from furniture to tech items to cars.
It seems far more "well used" than any of the usual
second-hand sites.  For example, eBay, I have not had reason to use it here in Canada yet.  There seems to be less choice on eBay, it's mainly resellers selling their wares, not people selling their unused goods.  Of course Amazon is also huge here, but I will leave that up to you to research.

4. I'm including Linked In on this list because is essential for finding a job in Canada.  There are so many recruiters here that just use Linked In to find candidates, so having a network in Canada with an updated profile is essential.  Of course, there is the usual problem of Canadian Experience, but if you have specific skills this will not be a problem.
It is also something you can start while you are still overseas, start fine tuning your profile so that you appear in more search results.
Here are 13 tips to improve your Linked In profile so that you appear in more search results.  Try to find other ways to make your profile interesting while keeping it professional.

5. Yelp is used quite widely here in Canada.  You have to take every review with a grain of salt, but it certainly helps you find those essential services that you have no idea is around the corner.  I found that Hairdressers were listed, Laundromats were listed and even parks are listed.  I love the emails I get from Yelp suggesting new and interesting things to try.  You'll soon be acting like a Toronto local, checking out all the hip locations in town and visiting all the interesting festivals.  It's a great way to start exploring.  You'll be able to test out all the shops, restaurants and other amenities in your immediate vicinity and figure out what are the best ones that are worth traveling some distance for!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

A Movie Moment

These things only happen in movies, right? Again, I've been surprised by North American people, sometimes these things happen in real life.

When you have kids, things get lost. My daughter's school is teaching the kids to read through a plush toy called Rocket which got lost while it was in our care.  So, we did what we could to replace it.  First, there was shopping online, Rocket is popular, but everyone is out of stock. Then there was trying to look on eBay and other second-hand options.  There are very very few plush toy Rockets available.  Those that are available seem to know its a rare item and want to charge up to $80 for a well looked after Rocket.

My wife decided to try the publisher, what better way to find out who might have then to ask the source.  it turned out she was actually emailing the Author, Tad Hills.  His response surprised us, we actually got an email back, directly from him.  He was immediately helpful and suggested that the manufacturer had a single Rocket left for us and that they would give it to us as a gift! Then they shipped it to us at their cost all the way from California, that is 3500kms away from us.  (The thing that made me chuckle was that it took almost two weeks to get here, the joys of the classic postal system.  If you buy something online from a US retailer the courier will get it to you within a week.  It was great because we appreciated the sense of how far it had to travel.)

No-one could believe how generous the writer, Tad Hills, was, I've never known a writer to actually respond let alone help with one of the plush toys.  If for some reason Tad Hills reads this, thank you. It was unexpected, that is always the nicest. You don't expect to be given something by a total stranger, I can't remember it happening before.