Useful apps/types of apps and tricks for smartphone users:

Types of Apps (in no particular order); many or most are available for free on Android:

  1. Postal service
  2. Your favourite food places that have them
  3. Grocery stores
  4. Department stores that have them
  5. Book stores that have them
  6. Pet stores that have them
  7. Any loyalty programs you belong to (eg: Air Miles)
  8. Business directory (like Yellowpages)
  9. Address Books (so you can type in mailing addresses of clients, friends and family)
  10. Phone book directory (like Canada411)
  11. Social media sites you’re a part of
  12. Travelling by bus, train, or plane schedules and fares
  13. Ebook applications, at least Google and Kindle, but if you can get it, Kobo as well.
  14. Scientific calculator
  15. Dictonaries and Thesaurus
  16. Language Learning programs for languages you’d like to learn, plus their respective dictonaries with your native language translations.
  17. Hotel booking apps.
  18. Your favourite classic (eg: chess, Scrabble) and modern games
  19. Apps related to yours or your child’s school or work
  20. Online classified ads sites you use regularly
  21. Weather
  22. Currency converter
  23. Photo editors
  24. Adobe apps, ESPECIALLY the reader!
  25. A mini word processor
  26. A reader for MS Office documents


  1. Get a stylus (some or most of the tips won’t work below without one or not as well)
  2. Put apps of similar type in a folder, eg: all the email apps, school apps, your reading of e-books and e-newspapers, e-book applications, by using touch, drag, and move with the stylus
  3. Put apps in the order you probably use them most frequently (you’ll probably need to tweak it frequently for a few to several days at first, and then occasionally)
  4. Put your scheduler app on the first page, as well as your email apps (with a stylus, touch, hold, and drag until the main page)
  5. If you don’t have unlimited data, always download apps over wifi
  6. If another company is offering more or unlimited data for the same or less money than you’re paying, try to negotiate.
  7. Test apps immediately, and delete apps that don’t work properly right away
  8. Make sure you fully quit out of apps (by using the button on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy phones and holding it for a few seconds until the list of recent apps shows up) to control your data use and save on the RAM usage in your phone
  9. Delete duplicate icons of apps using touch, hold, and move to the trash can
  10. Get at least a 16 GB, and ideally 32 GB mini SD card to record video, store apps, e-books, and pictures.
  11. Learn to embrace ebooks, many order books that are public domain are free (especially on Google Books) and many titles are available for under $5
  12. Few apps are worth paying for the full version, but the books you can’t put down, and anti-virus software are among them. Advanced tools in your field (eg: real estate dictionary, an ear training program which you need the advanced ear exercises if you’re a music teacher or upper intermediate student or higher) are worth paying the nominal fee. Games you can’t get enough of with the free version is sometimes worth paying for an ad free version is sometimes worth it too. (for me, that’s Plants vs. Zombies, mobile edition, which has quite a few differences compared to the PC version which I’ve completed)

Grocery shopping on a tight budget: how to save money

Nancee, I know you may disagree with a lot of the food items. To others, feel free to adjust the list to your dietary needs, because of personal preferences or for religious or health reasons

Basics, which are useful for lots of other things, and usually worth it even when not on sale:

  1. Milk (but NEVER soy milk as it interferes with horomones, especially in females)
  2. Butter, about 1/2 a brick per person per month
  3. Cooking oil (one 1 L bottle usually lasts me and my husband 3 months)
  4. Salad dressing
  5. Mayonnaise
  6. Eggs
  7. 1 kg sugar bags
  8. Sliced bread
  9. Soda crackers (cheap for a 4 pack and they last a long time; often on sale)
  10. Large cereal boxes (when on sale)
  11. Pancake mix
  12. Oatmeal (if you can buy in large buckets or in bulk, all the better, but even the individual packets are okay when on sale)
  13. Boxes of Tea bags
  14. Large coffee cans, if on sale (large cans last 2-3 weeks, small ones 3-4 days), and someone drinks it
  15. Dried beans
  16. Hamburger buns
  17. Hot dog buns
  18. Pasta sauces
  19. Peanut butter, if you’re not allergic
  20. Parmesan cheese
  21. Sliced cheese (more often than not on sale)
  22. Multipacks of fruit yogurt (12-16 or more per pack, but only on sale, usually is somewhere)
  23. Pasta noodles, especially spaghetti/spaghettini
  24. Sour cream (stick to store brand, which is usually half the price of the name brand, with little difference in quality)
  25. Bread crumbs (extremely inexpensive, and used in lots of types of recipes)
  26. Small bottle of olive oil (buy on sale, and the largest quality you need (usually the smallest or second smallest bottle size) as it goes rancid somewhat faster than other oils.

Side dishes that are a bargain when you work out the cost per meal:

  1. Frozen vegetables (especially peas, beans, and corn) Each bag usually lasts 3-5 months depending on how much we use, even the smaller bags, for two people
  2. Fries (they’re usually on sale somewhere)
  3. Perogies, usually 1 regular size pack is 4-6 meals, and the large ones 8-10 meals. Best to buy on sale, but if you buy store brand can be very inexpensive.
  4. Bacon (but only on sale, fortunately there is frequently a sale somewhere most weeks on it)
  5. Blocks of cheese (but only if on sale, which it is in at least one place most weeks)
  6. Rice boxes (for the price (and it’s often on sale!), you can make it a side dish for a LOT of meals before you run out; one box usually lasts 2-3 months for myself and my husband)
  7. Condensed soup (cheap, especially if you stick to store brands, and you can usually stretch one can for 2-3 meals)
  8. Turkey stuffing (extremely cheap when on sale, with added bulk walnut pieces and dried cranberries, makes 5-7 decent servings)
  9. Cranberry sauce (with the berries, since both are the same price)


  1. Leaf Letttuce (much cheaper than Romaine or Iceberg, and you can often use it for several things, and generally don’t need much)
  2. Tomatoes, usually on sale somewhere, and you can use them for several things
  3. Mushrooms (but only if on sale)
  4. Bell Peppers (generally buy only when on sale, some dishes only require 1/3 of a pepper)
  5. Bananas
  6. Apples (especially when on sale, they tend to keep a long time too)
  7. Oranges (when on sale; for the same reason as apples)
  8. Potatoes (you can use them for lots of things, and there’s lots of ways to prepare them)
  9. Onions (useful in many dishes, often quite inexpensive)
  10. Cucumbers (extremely inexpensive!)


  1. Turkey breast (when chicken is too expensive; it’s also generally healthier than chicken)
  2. Pork (when it’s on sale for the multipacks, just divide them into the portions you need)
  3. Chicken (when it’s on sale, either regular packs or multipacks)
  4. Ground Beef (but don’t buy the large packs, especially if you are single or as part of a couple)
  5. Breakfast sausages (when on sale only)
  6. Boxes of chicken strips (when on sale only; most weeks they are in at least one place)
  7. Boxes of fish sticks (if someone in your household eats them)
  8. Tuna
  9. Hot dogs (never buy at full price, often on sale)

Condiments (except for ketchup, generally stick to store brands to save):

  1. Ketchup
  2. Mustard
  3. Relish
  4. Barbecue sauce
  5. Worchestire sauce
  6. Soy Sauce
  7. Pancake syrup
  8. Salsa
  9. Hot Sauces (if you or someone in your house likes them)
  10. Plum Sauce


  1. Frozen juice cans (especially when name brands are on sale or if not, buying store brand)
  2. Powdered juice mixes in cans (for when you’re out on everything else)
  3. Water bottles (frequently on sale, and I reuse each bottle several times)
  4. Pop (stick to store brands unless name brands are cheaper, which occasionally happens)


  1. Gelatin mixes (you can make four 1/4 cup servings per pack), and they are regularly on sale, plus it tastes way better than the pre made stuff and is usually much cheaper!
  2. Pudding mixes, for the same reason as above. Some flavours require a hand mixer, especially chocolate.
  3. Cake mixes (usually very inexpensive when on sale; you can usually make 2-3 cakes per mix)
  4. Cookies with a sufficient number to last about a week on 2 a day per person. But only buy on sale, which fortunately, some brand or another often is. Or even cheaper, buy cookie mix and make them yourself.

Occasional Treats, only buy if seriously on sale and you like them

  1. Chips/cheese sticks/tortilla chips (stick to mainly store brand, and you’ll save a lot)
  2. Pre-made baked goods in the bakery section
  3. Frozen dinners (sometimes on sale)
  4. Frozen burritos (often on sale though)
  5. Pre-packed dried noodle soups that you just add water (often on sale though)

11 Reasons why applying online for jobs SUCKS

  1. Sometimes the web stops working in the middle of your application.
  2. Sometimes their program screws up your resume and you have to do major fixes.
  3. Machines can’t reason. Humans can.
  4. There’s a very poor chance the person or people hired applied online.
  5. The programs are designed to screen you out whenever possible, and that happens to most people.
  6. Sometimes computers lose the links to complete your online application.
  7. Sometimes computers don’t send you a temporary password for your online application.
  8. Long, slow, hard to read tests that are designed to screen people out.
  9. They’re usually poorly paying jobs!
  10. The humans that are in charge of hiring almost never get back to you.
  11. The right person or people for a job can be screened out for tiny mistakes machines perceive, and an unsuitable candidate can be hired because they know how to get through the system!

25 Human(e) Qualities that degrees, certifications, and licences DON’T, and CAN’T measure

  1. Punctuality
  2. Resourcefulness
  3. Creativity
  4. Lifelong learning
  5. Reliability
  6. Caring & Compassion for others
  7. Being a good listener to someone in need of help
  8. Bonding with fellow humans and other animals
  9. Empathy
  10. Persistence
  11. Forgiveness
  12. Keeping one’s word
  13. Paying money owed to someone as soon as possible
  14. Financial responsibility
  15. Self-discipline
  16. Using efficient and effective technique in learning or using one’s body
  17. Strong communication skills, oral and/or written
  18. Quick mental calculations
  19. Honesty
  20. Speaking with a clear voice with suitable enunciation with a non overly foreign accent
  21. Precision and Accuracy
  22. Total lack of Abusive or Criminal Behaviours
  23. Fairness
  24. Good judgement in social situations
  25. Teaching ability

8 Must-have accessories for your smartphone

  1. A stylus, which a decent one can be had for as little as 2 bucks plus tax, makes touching small links and playing games a lot easier
  2. Cellphone wallet or case, ideally one that can also hold at least a stylus and is big enough to fit one with a rugged case and screen protector
  3. A rugged cellphone case
  4. Screen protectors
  5. A speaker dock compatible with your phone
  6. Backup battery/remote charger
  7. Car charger, if you drive or are in a private vehicle regularly
  8. GPS device holder that fits your phone (to use as a GPS while driving or the various uses in other fields, like clipping one on a music stand)

12 Smart Things to do with smartphones

  1. Using your bank’s mobile app to track and monitor spending and clearing of payments, and watch for potential fraud.
  2. Skype and similar applications
  3. Your favourite places to eat out, for both digital coupons and paying with your phone if you cannot find your cards, money, or wallet. (but set a pretty low limit)
  4. Using your online classified ads to track, edit, and delete ads.
  1. Email!
  2. Keeping track of your rewards on various loyalty programs.
  3. Listening to radio or music (if you have an unlimited data plan)
  4. Watching youtube or TV (if you have an unlimited data plan)
  5. Getting coupons from your favourite retailers
  6. Managing your library accounts, holds, due dates, and renewals
  7. Downloading attachments, pictures and other things from the internet when you are not near a computer or don’t have or have forgotten your USB data stick.
  8. Mapping out a location to where you are travelling to if you’ve never been there before.

The 12 Worst Things about public transit in Toronto, Canada

  1. Packed buses at most times of the day on certain routes (like two of the three near where I live)
  2. Frequent short turns on buses, especially when heading quite far east or north.
  3. Waiting 20 minutes or longer for a bus that is supposed to be frequent service, 10 min or less.
  4. Partial subway closures almost every weekend.
  5. The increasingly unreliable and slow Scarborough LRT, which should have been replaced or upgraded at least 10 years ago.
  6. People clipping their nails on transit
  7. People turning up their earbuds or speakers way too loud
  8. People who eat stinky food on the bus
  9. People who don’t cover their cough or sneeze.
  10. Misbehaving children, and parents or guardians doing nothing about it.
  11. Rowdy people, especially at the end of the school day at bus stops and on the vehicles
  12. Big, massive strollers!

The 7 Best Things about public transit in Toronto, Canada

Meeting potential clients that may be interested in your business (I picked up a couple clarinet students this way, and three real estate clients for 2 realtors I worked for)

On certain routes, really nice drivers who do such things as let you get off closer to your destination even outside of “request stop” hours, because they know where you are really going!

Frequent trains on the subway, usually less than 5 minutes between trains, sometimes 2-3 minutes

The relatively new trains on the Yonge-University-Spadina line means you can easily get away from offensive passengers, and are much quieter except for the way too loud speakers calling out the stops.

Meeting new friends and even potential life partners.

Not having to search for a parking spot during the holidays at shopping centres or during busy times at attractions

No parking fees or fines (if you use it exclusively)

The 10 Worst things about Toronto, Canada

Way too many low paying jobs compared to the cost of living. Even working full time at Ontario’s minimum wage, you’d be spending 40% or more on an average cost of a rental apartment in Toronto!

Ridiculous real estate prices, even on the outer edges of of the city proper suburbs, what 20 years ago you’d get for just over 200K for a mid-range home with 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms with a large yard would only get you a tiny 300-400 square foot apartment in select areas now as a starter home. That mid range home would be at least 600K to over 1 million dollars, depending on location.

All those condos, and yet a lack of affordable housing.

People expecting expensive services that take a lot of time and money for education at the cost of a babysitter’s or house cleaner’s wages!

Urban sprawl, the eastern and western most points of Toronto proper are about 60 km apart. In smaller cities and towns it’s a fraction of that.

Insane competition for clients in many types of businesses. (real estate, music teaching (especially piano, violin, and guitar), academic tutoring)

That most high paying jobs you must have a car, which if you have vision issues, limits your opportunities.

Expensive parking, especially downtown

Lots of one-way streets downtown.

Construction almost throughout the entire year as long as there’s little to no snow on the ground and the temperature is manageable (anything above 7 celsius or so)

The 10 Best things about Toronto, Canada

  1. Lots of decent cheap eats, and not just street meat. (hot dogs), which are one of the cheapest options for food downtown, and many places have chicken and vegetarian hot dogs. One grocery store chain has a pizza slice and canned drink or water for $2.50 plus tax weekdays from 11 am to 2 pm, and there’s a few places that have really good souvlaki on a pita for about $4 per person including a drink, and a couple shwarma places that a drink and a substantial size shwarma or falafel is about $4.50 per person. Then there’s the Jamacian patties sold at many subway stations, the best ones are at Warden station, they’re about $1.50 for the patty itself and come in several varieties, including beef, chicken, and vegetarian. A few stations (especially Kennedy and Eglinton) also have pizza, bagels, samosas and sausage rolls at comparable prices.
  2. The significant expansion of new subway lines and express routes on transit that should have been in place at least 20 years ago!
  3. All the US chains coming into Canada, many having locations in Toronto
  4. The largest public library system in the world! (yes, even bigger than NYC!)
  5. The fact that you can borrow DVDs for free with a library card, which are free if you reside or work in the city, $25 for 6 months if you don’t work or reside there (aside from late fees, which are much lower than video rental places) and not just older movies, many recent hits available too plus many types of videos you won’t find in video rental places and possibly Netflix.
  6. That if a new book or movie has been released for at least 3-6 months, chances are you can find it in the library system, even more academic-type stuff.
  7. The myriad of big and small chains or individual dollar/discount stores, the biggest one being Dollarama, which has quite a few quality items for much less than other places, often name brands, particularly on food and cleaning supplies!
  8. WIFI in many larger chains and some individual smaller restaurants and cafes. Even the public library branches have it, for anyone to use, you don’t even need a library card to use the WIFI there!
  9. Lots of competition in cellphone carriers compared to a lot of places.
  10. An amazing but little known farm except by some locals called Riverdale farm near the centre of the city, about 6 minutes from Castle Frank station, 5 mins or so on the 65 Parliament bus (get off at Winchester, then walk east quite a bit until you see the Riverdale park there), that is one of the few attractions that is still free for anyone. I don’t suggest driving to there, as there are a lot of one way streets around there.

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