2013 – Happy New Year!

How does another year fly by so quickly?  2012 was a great year; and with an effort to keep things light, instead of talking about the top newsmakers of the year, I thought I’d list a few things everyone can be thankful for.

  1. The average debt on a household is down. Since the recession of 2008, people all over the world have felt the pinch of debt, and the crushing weight that is the economy. Average households were feeling the crunch on their home mortgages, credits, loans, and student debts. In 2012, it was the first year that North America  saw a noticeable increase in minimizing and paying off the debts.
  2. Technology. How could I resist? Come on! 2012 was a crazy and busy year for most people. For me personally, my iPhone was 99 per cent of what kept me sane. Between telling where to be at all times, and dictating what work was due when, I am grateful for the technological advancements that happened in 2012. That includes you, Microsoft Surface.
  3. Businesses aren’t firing people. The job market has been underwhelming in the economic recovery that officially began more than three years ago, and unemployment remains high at 7.9 per cent. But there is some hidden good news in the jobs numbers. While businesses aren’t adding new workers at a pace that would put the hordes of unemployed back on the job very rapidly, they also aren’t slashing jobs at a very rapid clip. It is a sign that even though employers aren’t adding jobs in large numbers, they also are reasonably happy with the workers they have and are not dismissing workers in unusually large numbers. It’s a good time if you already have a job. (via Washington Post)
  4. Housing is dramatically more affordable. People often speak as if higher home prices are an unambiguously good thing, but that can be misleading. Sure, a retiree looking to sell off a large house and live in a small condo instead benefits from high home prices. But most everyone else is either better off when buying a home is more affordable rather than less. Add it all up, and in the spring of 2012 that median American house would require a mortgage payment of only $889 a month, which is 26 per cent of the average private sector employee’s pay. For workers just starting out, young families, or those looking to buy a bigger place, that is hard to beat. (via Washington Post)
  5. The world didn’t end. Despite the Mayan calendar and the phenomenon that the world was going to end on Dec. 21, 2012, I’m still able to write and publish this article. So take that, Mayan calendar!

2012 was a great year.  A large highlight of mine is your continued support in everything I do–be it viewing my work on television, reading my thoughts on Twitter, or dealing with my plethora of hashtags on Instagram.

Thanks for your continued support, and I look forward to sharing many more moments in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Winston Sih

Vintage holiday gift ideas – Cityline

Episode as seen on Cityline – Dec. 18, 2012.

As always, you can re-watch previous episodes of Cityline on, or via the Citytv Video iPad/iPhone app!  Cityline airs 9 a.m./3 p.m. ET on Citytv in Toronto.  Check for air times in your city.

Show notes:

Cabaret Vintage
(416) 504-7126
Vintage hats
Winston’s vintage outfit worn on-air

Cuisinart EasyPop Hot Air Popcorn Maker
KitchenAid Immersion Blender in Green Apple
Rat Pack Framed Photo Collage with Etched Signatures

DA-E750 Audio dock

The Bay
POP Phone

Future Shop
Fujifilm X10

Pier 1
Iron Airplane Sculpture
Antique Red Wall Clock
Time and Temperature Hanging Clock

Last-minute gifts for the tech lover – Toronto Star

Apple iPad mini, starting from $329.99, at Apple retailers or

Ideal for: Whiz kids who want the newest tech toy to working professionals who need to stay on top of emails. The small form-factor (it has a 7.9-inch [20-centimetre] screen) allows you to handily carry the device while the screen is large enough for easy readability.

What we love: It has optional cellular connectivity. You can reach up to lightning-LTE speeds, all without a contract or long-term commitment from the wireless carrier – just pay what you use.

Breakthrough features: This tablet is Apple’s smallest – measuring 23-per-cent thinner and 53-per-cent lighter than Apple’s iPad 3, and can fit in the palm of your hand.

What’s disappointing: With Apple focusing on keeping it affordable, the mini lacks a high-resolution retina display, a regular feature on other tablets like the recently announced Google Nexus 10.

Canon EOS M camera, starting at $829.99, at Canon-authorized sellers

Ideal for: Budding videographers and photographers in your life – novice to professional.

What we love: The mirrorless technology gives you the stunning image quality of a DSLR camera with the convenience of a point-and-shoot, minus the bulk. Plus, the APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor makes it a lightweight to tote.

Breakthrough features: With the new stepper motor built into the lenses (they’re included) the Spielberg in your family can capture HD movies in 1080p. The autofocus setting means you can simply hit a button and record up to 44 minutes of HD footage on a 16GB SD card. Now you’ll never miss another birthday or graduation.

What’s disappointing: Theabsence of traditional, standard digital camera features like a viewfinder and built-in flash; you have to carry a separate flash unit (included in the kit).

Sony VAIO T13 with Windows 8, $899, at most electronics retailers.

Ideal for: Those who thrive on processor power and need a machine that can take some abuse (it’s made out of durable aluminum and magnesium construction), all with an affordable price tag.

What we love: You can experience Windows 8 in all its speedy glory. Its elegant build, excellent battery and moderate price point makes this computer an overall mid-range laptop.

Breakthrough features: It comes equipped with all the bells and whistles like a full HDMI port, Windows 8 and a generously spaced keyboard. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures and allows you to scroll and pinch-and-zoom photos.

What’s disappointing: This computer measures heavier (1.5 kilograms) than rival computers in its category. The keyboard isn’t backlit and the fan can be intrusive.

Samsung GALAXY Note II, $599.99 no term, at major wireless carriers.

Ideal for: The consummate traveller who needs a mobile office. It’s only 5.5 inches [14 centimetres], eliminating the need for both a smartphone and a tablet computer.

What we love: It’s a smartphone/tablet hybrid with a large, vibrant HD Super AMOLED 5.5-inch screen giving you quality and quantity. The included S-Pen allows you to be creative: draw fun pictures and take notes on the large screen.

Breakthrough features: While other phones have similar motion-gesture features, Samsung has perfected it to integrate directly with the operating system making it easier to use: silence calls when the phone is flipped over, and just shake to connect to Bluetooth.

What’s disappointing: The larger screen may be a tight squeeze for your pocket or your clutch. LTE data is battery-intensive, so turn it off when not in use.

BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE, $549.99 no-term, at major wireless carriers.

Ideal for: The workaholic who can leave his or her laptop behind, but still have access to email, media and productivity tools like Microsoft Office via Documents To Go, or the teen who doesn’t like waiting for movies to load before watching them.

What we love: It’s the size of an e-reader, but offers more features such as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, a wide-selection of apps from Blackberry App World, two 1080p HD cameras and HDMI. It also brings the BBM service to a bigger, tablet-sized screen.

Breakthrough features: The BlackBerry Bridge app allows you to switch between your BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook – giving you access to a larger screen. wide-selection of apps from Blackberry App World, two 1080p HD cameras and HDMI. It also brings the BBM service to a bigger, tablet-sized screen.

What’s disappointing: It’s designed to work with a BlackBerry smartphone via the BlackBerry Bridge application. iPhone or Android users may not appreciate the unified BlackBerry experience.

Kobo Arc, $199.99, at Indigo.

Ideal for: The literary aficionado or student who doesn’t want to tote around a dozen books at a time.

What we love: Kobo has one of the largest e-bookstores (access to over three million e-books — one million of which are free!). Its dual-core processor allows you to turn pages without lag, smoothly surf the web and speedily check your emails.

Breakthrough features: It’s not just your personal library. It allows you access to movies, music, apps and games — all in colour, and lighter than a traditional computer.

What’s disappointing: While it hasadditional tablet capabilities (load apps, music and movies), this shortens the battery life.

Sharp 60-inch LE845 TV, $2,699.99, at most electronics retailers

Ideal for: Families making the big upgrade for the family den, or a new toy for Dad’s man cave.

What we love: This sleek LED TV features Sharp’s Quattron four-colour technology, including a full 3D-2D conversion experience. The 240Hz edge-lit LED panel means your TV will deliver a natural and vibrant picture.

Breakthrough features: SmartCentral, Sharp’s link between TV and the Internet. Through Wi-Fi, you can download and access some of your favourite social apps or surf the web – all from the comfort of your own remote control.

What’s disappointing: The steep $2,699.99 price tag.

The Solution to Waking Up Refreshed In the Morning – The Digital Life 4

Waking up early and feeling energized has always felt like polar opposites for me.  This is the situation for many people around the world.  Studies have shown that people feel more energetic and refreshed during those sunny, bright summer mornings when the sun is shining through.  Waking up early and feeling energized has always felt like polar opposites for me.  This is the situation for many people around the world.  Studies have shown that people feel more energetic and refreshed during those sunny, bright summer mornings when the sun is shining through.

Nothing is worse than waking up in a dark bedroom, turning on your bedside lamp, and having your eyes feel disrupted from shock of the bright light.  I discovered thePhilips Wake-up Light Plus – got hold of it – and tested it first-hand for The Digital Life on  I will admit I was really skeptical initially; doubting the product’s success and whether it would work at all.  I am one who wakes up in the dark, and the Wake-up Light allowed me to have that simulated sunlight, waking up more naturally and well-rested.

So, how does it work?  FromPhilips’ website, “Starting half an hour before your set wake up time, the Wake-up Light gradually fills your room with bright light like a rising sun emitting natural light.  The light gently prepares your body for waking up while you are still asleep.”

To put it into context, if your alarm clock wake-up is set to 7AM, the light will gradually get stronger starting at 6:30AM.  At the set wake up time, your body is ready to wake up and natural sounds will gradually accompany the light.

As I previously mentioned, I have been using the unit for approximately one month now.  Within the first week, I noticed an immediate difference.  My eyes didn’t feel as disrupted; the alarm wasn’t as piercing; and get this – I often woke up before the alarm went off.

The fact that I was able to adjust the brightness myself was great; essentially giving me the power to choose how bright the “sun” was in my room, accordingly.  Working with scientists and experts in the field, Philips developed a range of energy light products to help you restore and retain energy, in addition to fighting the winter blues.

The unit is easy to maintain, with a user-replaceable halogen lamp, smart snooze, and option to add your own sounds and music via its USB port.

The National Sleep Foundation has chosen to make Philips Wake-up Light Plus its Official Light Therapy Product, in recognition of the benefits they provide in helping you wake-up better, brighter, and more energetic throughout your day.

If you are struggling to wake up in the morning, definitely give it a shot!  It retails for $179.99 at most electronics stores. Test it out, and let us know what you think in the comments below or via my Twitter,@WinstonSih.

To learn more about the device, how it works, and to find out where to buy it – be sure to visit their website here.

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The Digital (Foodie) Life – (Part 3 of 5) – The Digital Life

The truth is, I’ve always had a secret passion for food.  I’m often cruising through cook books, trying new restaurants, and discovering new cooking shows!  This CityLine blog has often been very technology-oriented, but living “The Digital Life” doesn’t always have to be “geeky.”

We live in a world of blogs, apps, smartphones, and there’s literally something for everyone!  In my online travels, I stumbled upon Andrew Dobson, a self-proclaimed “Professional Foodie,” based out of Toronto.  In the last installment of the five-part series I call “The Digital (Foodie) Life,”  I got the opportunity to chat with the founder of the dobbernationLOVES blog, and speak about his favourite iPhone app when traveling abroad.

Dobson claims that is an excellent example of a great video restaurant guide. “As a lover of good food and discovering new cuisines, Nicki Laborie is passionate about exploring the city, and all the culinary delights that it has to offer. With a marketing and foodie background, she knows that video engages our senses and tells us a story, was conceptualized.”

Essentially, View the Vibe is a 90 second experience that encapsulates the vibe of a restaurant; giving a potential guest the knowledge of exactly what to expect when they arrive at the venue.

The food blogger compares this concept to a movie trailer.  “A movie trailer entices the viewer to pay the money to see the movie – so why not do this for restaurants? A delicious preview of the “main course” experience of a restaurant is served to wet the appetite of a potential diner.”

View the Vibe also features a video blog released weekly that includes restaurant reviews, event coverage, and restaurant openings.  Dobson boasts that the video blogs are entertaining without making the “foodie” experience too serious.

Most importantly, the creator of the blog also emphasizes that food is fun and should never be taken too seriously.  The video blog gives the viewer a “real life” experience that they might not find through web site pictures – or text-only information.

Dobson’s involvement with View the Vibe has included two great opportunities with restaurant reviews in Toronto at La Societe, and Briscola Trattoria.

In the next installment of “The Digital (Foodie) Life,” we’ll take a look at what “food styling” is all about!

Have a question for the blog?  Send me an email,, or send me a Tweet,@WinstonSih is the place to go!

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