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08/26/2013

New invention sure to be a boon for lazy or absent dog owners

 

Do you miss your little Fido when you schlep off to work or go on vacation, yet you don't love him quite enough to bother putting him in a kennel or finding a sitter? Enter Petziconnect, a device that fuses smartphone and vending machine technology so you can continue to provide your pet with essential human services even if you're on the other side of the world. We're going to let slightly odd Petzila CEO David Clark talk you through it in this video, and you can decide for yourself whether the device creates "a mutual sense of wellbeing and general happiness" or whether it's just a fun new way to really freak out your dog. [Source]

05/16/2013

Online real estate shopping stifled over information sharing

Canada's Competition Bureau is going to appeal a ruling that says the Toronto Real Estate Board isn't unfairly holding back data that could let online real estate sites compete.

The bureau argues that TREB isn't sharing specific details on house sales, keeping the crucial data for real estate agents to share themselves with clients.

In theory, TREB is holding on to the data so web and app-based real estate services can't really compete with real estate agents, and their commissions won't get eroded, the Competition Bureau says.

But TREB, meanwhile, says it's holding onto the data to live up to privacy laws and keep the buyers and sellers' personal information protected, according to a report in the Globe.

Back in April, the Competition Tribunal reportedly dismissed the case. If the decision went the other way, sites like Zoocasa and RedPin could offer people in the housing market valuable information on the properties they're interested – beyond the asking price and photos of the homes.

"It is our view that TREB's anti-competitive behaviour continues to restrict potential homebuyers and sellers from taking advantage of a greater range of service and pricing options when making one of the most significant financial transactions of their lives,” said the competition bureau's John Pecman in a statement.

Until TREB – Canada's largest real estate board – opens up the data floodgates to competition, most people must go through a real estate agent to get valuable data about homes and condos they're interested in. And this means they have to pay more to get data that should be otherwise widely and freely available, some believe.

Remax, meanwhile, has launched a slick-looking site – well, slick-looking compared to the prehistorically-archaic seeming MLS.ca – to browse for properties.

Should the Toronto Real Estate Board make more data available to boost competition?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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07/30/2012

Hands-on with the smartest thermostat ever: Nest

20120529_C3432_PHOTO_EN_14291Your home’s thermostat: it’s a beige box tucked away on some wall.

If it’s a traditional, manual one, it probably doesn’t see much action unless you’re feeling particularly warm or cold. It’s quite an unsophisticated device for something that sucks up about 64 per cent of your energy bills.

If you’re sporting a programmable unit – it’s probably not even programmed. According to studies, about 90 per cent of programmable thermostats are installed and then left without even programming the thing.

This new thermostat, the Nest, changes that. It looks sleek, you can control it with your smartphone, it’s plugged in to the web and it saves energy. Oh yeah, it programs itself.

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10/26/2011

Website helps you see how much your home - and your neighbour’s - is worth

Our friends to the south in the U.S. have long been able to go online, pop in a street address and find out how much a property is worth.

Here in Canada, we’ve looked on with jealously while browsing real estate listings with the archaic and cumbersome MLS.ca.
Finally, things have changed now that the Competition Commissioner decided to ask the group behind Canadian realtors to get with the times.

A new site is now allowing Canadians the ability to enter in an address, specify the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and lot size - and find out the property’s estimated value.

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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