Samsung 32 Inch 1080P LED Smart TD Review

September 17th, 2014 Posted in Internet & Technology, Reviews & Interviews | No Comments »

Samsung Full HD 32 Inch Smart TV

Samsung Full HD 32 Inch Smart TV

The reason I wanted to upgrade to a smart TV was not because of how smart it was or anything else, but its incredible low electricity consumption. For example, my old 23-inch LED 1080P HD TV consumed about 100 Watts of electricity. However, even with a bigger screen and much more features, the Samsung 32-Inch LED consumes only 40 watts. That’s a lot of savings if you look at in terms of years or its lifetime.

Some of the features:

- 32-Inch Full HD 1080P 1920×1080 resolution

- Samsung Smart Hub features apps that let you stream content including YouTube and Netflix.

- You can stream content from your smart phone or table. You can even cast your device’s screen on TV.

- Surf web on TV using Samsung web browser, or you can browse web on laptop and cast screen on TV using Chromecast.

What I Like

The price is very low in terms of what you are getting. Stunning crisp clear picture quality will grab your attention right away once you turn this on. You will be paying $100 to $200 more for similar smart TVs from other manufacturers. Also, I noticed that those from other manufacturers consume more electricity as well. Audio quality is also good with its Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby Pulse sound. There is no need to use a separate sound system.

What I Don’t Like

At times, the Samsung 32-Inch 1080P LED Smart TD can be a little slow, if you try to access its apps via the Internet, or if you try to load up its built-in TV guide. The reason model UN32H5203 is a little slow is because it uses a standard processor. However, there is another model UN32H5500 that uses quad-code processor and it’s a lot faster (and pricier as well).

Another thing to mention it’s not super slim as it has a 0.5 inch bezel. Same here with model UN32H5500 – which comes with a thinner 0.3 inch bezel and it is very thin.

Last Word

Even with some minor flaws, the Samsung 32-Inch 1080P LED Smart TD is definitely a smart buy and you can’t go wrong due to its reasonable price.

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How To Go Green With Bamboo

September 13th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

The Power of Bamboo

The Power of Bamboo

One of the greatest gifts the Earth has given us to go green is a plant that has been used in Asia for thousands of years; bamboo. In the west, bamboo is not used as much as it is in Asia, but that is beginning to change as more and more people discover just how amazing this plant is.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, usually growing about one foot every single day. This means that rather than reach maturity in 30 years like trees in North America, a bamboo stalk can reach maturity within three years. In addition, one bamboo stalk can be harvested many times as each time the stalk is cut; a new stalk will continue to grow.

However, the fast growing ability of bamboo is not the only thing that makes the plant so great. There are several facts about bamboo that most people do not realize which show how versatile the plant is.

  1. Bamboo stalks are used in Asia to reinforce concrete because it has the same tensile strength as steel.
  2. While bamboo stalks are as strong as steel, fabric made from bamboo is actually as soft as silk.
  3. Bamboo towels are much better than cotton towels because bamboo is better for the environment, it does not take as much space to grow and bamboo towels are 1.5 times as absorbent as cotton towels.
  4. Bamboo can grow nearly anywhere and where it does grow; it helps to protect the soil from erosion.
  5. Bamboo can be made into a variety of environmentally-friendly products including floors, countertops, furniture, clothes, towels, baby clothes, baby products, toys, scaffolding and construction materials.

One of the biggest concerns about bamboo is that people feel that it costs more. This is not true at all. In fact, bamboo is beginning to fall in cost because it is becoming so commonly used throughout the world now. Even Wal-Mart, is beginning to sell bamboo products for a very low price. Many studies have also been done and found that bamboo is going to be one of the biggest exports and imports throughout the world in the 21st century. Many countries are starting to jump on this and grow their own bamboo. Currently though, China accounts for about 80 percent of all the bamboo exports in the world, and China grows all the bamboo it uses. The United States, Canada, Europe and Australia account for some of the bamboo exports and their hold on the market is beginning to grow.

So, if you are thinking of going green in your home, you can do no wrong by implementing bamboo everywhere you can. The floors are strong, the countertops are beautiful and the fabrics are soft. In addition, if you are thinking of investing in something that will increase in value in the coming years, then you should look at bamboo.

What other plant on Earth is as strong as steel, as soft as silk, waterproof and more absorbent than cotton? Bamboo is the wonder plant of the 21st century.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Mar 7, 2010.

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China’s Yuan Keeps Rising

September 6th, 2014 Posted in Canadian & Global Economy | No Comments »

China's Economy Improves

China’s Economy Improves

China’s Yuan is on a roll. For the third straight month, it rallied against the U.S. dollar. Last year, the picture was different as the yuan tanked. As China’s economy continues to improve, the yuan has further room to climb up.

Although the yuan has gained 1.5 percent since last year’s low, the yuan is still down 1.9 percent for 2014. As recent economic data shows better growth, especially in manufacturing and real estate, the Chinese government may be lenient and let the yuan go even further.

Chinese stock markets seem to be doing just as well. The Shanghai Composite Index reached its highest level in seven months, making investors grab more blue chip stocks recently. Also, in the offshore currency market, global investors – especially hedge funds – are betting on more positive currency runs.

China, the world’s second largest economy, averaged 10 percent growth yearly for 30 years in the past. However, recently China is struggling to achieve its target of 7.4 percent growth per year. The IMF recently predicted that China’s economic growth will be 7.1 percent in 2015 and will slow down further in the future.

In the past, especially in early 2014, there were many reports and predictions pointing out the collapse of the Chinese economy. None of them proved to be correct, however, as several recent economic data show that the Chinese economy is not going downhill, but rather climbing upward.

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Why Choose Bamboo For Your Home?

September 3rd, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Choosing Bamboo in Your Home

Choosing Bamboo in Your Home

The earth provides us with absolutely everything that we need in order to survive without damaging the planet. The problem is that we usually choose alternatives that hurt the planet. Two of the most common resources we use are cotton and timber. These two items are important to our civilization because they clothe us and provide us with housing. However, they also hurt the planet in that large areas must be cleared for cotton, and the pesticide use on cotton damages the environment. As well, cutting down timber takes away important animal habitats, and hurts the earth’s ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

In Asia, there is no cotton and timber is not used as extensively as it is here, so what do they use? They use bamboo and bamboo is something that the Earth provides for us that we can use without damaging the environment. Here are just some of the amazing facts about this wonder-plant.

  1. Bamboo grows at one foot per day, making it the fastest growing plant on Earth. While many think of bamboo as a tree, it is actually the world’s largest grass species.
  2. Bamboo can be harvested in only three years, versus ten years for many tree species.
  3. When bamboo is harvested, the bamboo stalk will keep growing, allowing one stalk to be harvested multiple times. Timber is a one-shot deal, once harvested, that is it for that tree.
  4. Bamboo is used to reinforce concrete in Asia, as well as the primary element of scaffolding in many Asian countries.
  5. Bamboo has the same tensile strength as steel when it is in stalk form.
  6. When converted into fabric, bamboo is as soft as silk. However, it is also hypoallergenic, which makes it perfect for baby clothes.
  7. No pesticides need to be used to grow bamboo because of its amazing growth rate.
  8. Bamboo towels are 1/3 as thick as cotton towels, but it can absorb 1.5 times as much water.
  9. Bamboo can also be used in your home to make:
    1. Counters
    2. Floors
    3. Furniture
    4. Cupboards
    5. Walls

This just shows what an amazing plant bamboo is. For thousands of years, it has been used in Asia for everything from homes to food, and it is a distinctive part of their culture these days. The Western World is beginning to catch on to the power of this plant, and many countries are not only beginning to import bamboo, but they are also growing it themselves. While China supplies about 80 percent of the bamboo in the world, places like Europe, the United States, Australia and even Canada are beginning to start growing their own bamboo. Given everything listed here, it is really no surprise that many experts feel that bamboo is going to be the most important plant resource of the 21st century. Where timber was important for the 19th and 20th centuries, bamboo is the plant of the new millennium.

Bamboo is highly environmentally-friendly, and the perfect alternative to using timber and cotton in our changing world.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Mar 13, 2010.

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Mortgage Free by 58

August 28th, 2014 Posted in Real Estate & Mortgage | No Comments »

Canadian Mortgages Stretching Further

Canadian Mortgages Stretching Further

A recent CIBC survey that was conducted by Angus Reid finds out that Canadians are stretching their mortgages one year further than previously thought a year ago. 58 is the new mortgage-free freedom age on an average. However, based on where you look at, the picture can be very different.

Here are some of the highlights from this survey:

- 55 percent of Canadians making extra efforts are paying their mortgage faster. It was 68 percent last year.

- Homeowners in British Columbia have the highest expected age to pay off mortgages at 66.

- In Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec the expected age to pay off mortgages is 55, 57, and 56.

- Alberta and Ontario have the highest percentage of homeowners taking extra steps to pay off their mortgages faster at 65 and 61 percent.

- British Columbia (47 percent), Quebec (48), and Atlantic Canada (48) have the lowest percentage of homeowners taking extra steps to pay off their mortgage faster.

- Small efforts can go a long way to save big time.

- For example, someone with a $250,000 mortgage (25 year at 4.99 percent interest) can save about $35,000 if they add $147 to their monthly payments.

- Nearly $30,000 on interest can be saved if the above owner makes $726 payments every two weeks, instead of one monthly payment.

- If the average Canadian tax refund ($1,600) is applied towards a mortgage every year, it would save 4 years amortization and save about $33,103 in interest.

Source: CIBC

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Green Car Technology

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August 23rd, 2014 Posted in Internet & Technology | No Comments »

GREEN CAR TECHNOLOGY THE CURRENT WAVES

GREEN CAR TECHNOLOGY: THE CURRENT WAVES

Green car technology is a method that is adapted in an attempt to save our precious environment by avoiding the usage of fossil fuels that makes the environment polluted. Over the years researchers have been experimenting with the technology that facilitates the use of electrically maintained cars and are also trying to find a substitute to the existing vehicles that use fossil fuels. Earlier this century, it was quite shocking to know that our planet was on its threshold with respect to greenhouse effect.  The main reason behind this was known to be the usage of fossil fuels which in turn contributed to the depletion of ozone layer thereby increasing greenhouse effect. With an attempt to reduce this menace, car manufacturers across the globe began manufacturing greener ecologically aware cars.

Presently in this century, the vehicles have been manufactured with a hybrid engine which is nothing but a conservative motor engine, which is combined with the usual electric engine. These are capable of toggling between power of an electric motor and the ignition engine.  With normal speeds, the car is powered by electric motor and at high speeds; the ignition engine powers the vehicle. Here are a few green technology cars presently available:

Electrically powered vehicles have gained a lot of popularity in the recent past as they possess an electric motor, which is powered with battery packs and these packs are a combination of Nickel metal-hydride or Lithium-ion, which are charged with a connection to main power supply typically charged for an entire night.  Also, these electric cars have iterative braking system due to which the batteries are charged when brakes are applied

Currently, hybrid cars use both the electric motors and petrol engines.  The electric motor is powered by the batteries, which are charged and useful at lower speeds, while the petrol engine possesses a small unit which powers it during high speeds thereby allowing this engine to function only at optimum speed.  Also, the renewable energy sources like rapeseed; sunflower or soybean oil is used to produce biodiesel, wherein the carbon dioxide gas emitted is neutralized as it is absorbed by the fuel crop, which facilitates its growth.

Ethanol, which is a sugarcane product, contains high octane content, which increases engine performance and is broadly used in Europe wherein flexi-fuel vehicles are developed on Ford, Saab etc. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) contains propane and butane, which produces less CO2 than petrol and diesel. The internal engine can be modified because of which the vehicle can use petrol or LPG.

Fuel cells are conversion devices which provide energy from electrochemical reaction and electricity can be continually produced with the flow of reactance.  However, this technology is proven to be expensive.  Another fossil fuel is the compressed natural gas found underneath the earth surface, which also produces less CO2 gas and this gas is compressed in the cylinder and mixes well with the air before combustion, thereby making it an efficient fuel.

However with the advent of the green technology, environment awareness is being fast spread to various industries and manufacturers thereby creating efficient business opportunities to the investors. This awareness has led to the creation of vital engines with most advantageous performance and is also eco friendly. Green car technology has revolutionized the vehicle manufacturing process thereby saving our planet Earth to a certain extent.

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The World’s Top Strongest Banks

August 12th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

4 out of 5 North American Strongest Banks are Canadian

4 out of 5 North American Strongest Banks are Canadian

Business and financial news website Bloomberg recently published a report featuring the world’s strongest bank. In order to find the strongest banks, Bloomberg looked at banks with at least $100 billion in assets and five categories such as Tier 1 capital compared with risk-weighted assets, efficiency, nonperforming assets against total assets, and more.

Private banks are also included for consideration. The results? Canadian banks scored well and 3 banks are included in the list, such as Desjardins Group (3rd), CIBC (15th), and RBC (18th).

Let’s look at the top 10 banks from the report:

  1. Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong)
  2. Desjardins Group (Canada)
  3. Norinchukin Bank (Japan)
  4. Oversea-Chinese Banking (Singapore)
  5. Qatar National Bank (Qatar)
  6. Bayerische Landesbank (Germany)
  7. DBS Group Holdings (Singapore)
  8. Pohjola Bank (Finland)
  9. Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (Sweden)
  10. Boc Hong kong Holdings (Hong Kong)

Source: Bloomberg

An important twist is that only one American bank (U.S. Bancorp) made it to the list, at the 19th position. If you look at the tops North American banks, 4 out of 5 are Canadian banks. To view the full report, visit here.

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Green Cleaning Tips

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August 5th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Green Home Cleaning Tips

Green Home Cleaning Tips

Did you know that homes today have more chemicals in them than chemical labs did 100 years ago? Did you know that homes have 70 times the chemical levels inside than are found outside? These are alarming statistics. Another alarming statistic is that housewives/husbands have a 55 percent greater risk of contracting cancer than others, and this is most likely due to the high levels of chemicals in our home. Another scary statistic is that our homes usually contain 150 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Where do these chemicals come from? They come from the cleaning products we use to keep our homes clean. Well, you do not need to have any harmful cleaning products in your home because of the big three of green cleaning; vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best cleaning products you can have. Some of the things that you can use vinegar for include:

  • Vinegar can be used as paint thinner.
  • Vinegar can be used to clean your oven without using harmful oven cleaners.
  • Vinegar can be used to clean off counters.
  • If you take half vinegar and half water and put it into a spray bottle, you create a great all purpose spray.
  • You can boil vinegar and then pour it down a drain to remove any clogs. Make sure you don’t breathe in the fumes, they are not harmful but they will smell pretty bad.

Baking Soda

One of the best cleaning products available for you is baking soda. Baking soda can clean nearly anything. Some ideas include:

  • Baking soda can be used to clean soap scum and mildew.
  • You can clean most stains off the counters and bathtubs with just a bit of baking soda.
  • If you combine baking soda and vinegar in a drain, the combination will clear out your drain without harmful chemicals.
  • You can use baking soda to deodorize your entire home.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is very popular because it smells good and it’s acidic, which is very important in cleaning.

  • Put some lemon juice in a bowl and leave it in a room. This will deodorize the room completely.
  • Mix lemon juice and water together to create a good all-purpose spray that also smells good.
  • You can put lemon juice on your counters and other places to help sanitize the areas to remove germs.

Cleaning your home is important but many people have gone way overboard with cleaning. We need germs in our home to help keep our immune systems strong, but we surround ourselves with products that remove all germs. Then, these products cause us to become sick because of the harsh chemicals in them. This is why it is important to remove these harsh chemicals from your home. You can easily clean your home in an excellent way by using just vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. These are the big three of green cleaning.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Feb 21, 2010.

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July 29th, 2014 Posted in Credit Cards & Debt Management, Reviews & Interviews | 1 Comment »

e CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card
Photo Credit: Timhortons.com

The CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card

Canadian Coffee chain Tim Hortons launched a new credit card in partnership with CIBC to lure customers into buying more coffee through accumulating loyalty points for everyday purchases. This card comes with two physical buttons or switches on it to press to pay using credit card or loyalty points.

This is the first of this type of credit card in Canada. Upon pressing, the buttons will illuminate to let customers know that it’s working.

With this no-fee Visa card, each purchase earns a cent on every dollar through reward points that can be used as cash at Tim Hortons. A $20 welcome bonus is also offered when you use the card to spend $200 for the first time.

The CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card comes with Purchase Security & Extended Protection Insurance, but you will have to pay extra if you want to add travel insurance.

Link: Tim Hortons

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July 24th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

How-to-Go-Green-With-Your-Vehicle-Gas.jpgHow to Go Green With Your Vehicle Gas 

Everyone knows that gas emissions are carbon dioxide emissions and the more emissions we have in the atmosphere, the worse global warming will be. While buying a hybrid is a great option, it is not an option for everyone. Some people have to juggle their own finances and are looking for ways to cut down on the gas that their conventional vehicle uses. Not only does cutting down on gas help the environment, it also helps all of us save money. Try these tips to make your wallet breathe a sigh of relief, and to help the environment  as well.

  1. Most vehicles these days can handle ethanol-gas mixtures, usually at a rate of about 20/80, where the gas is made up of 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent gas. Using an ethanol mixture cuts back on your CO2 emissions, but it does not help your wallet.
  2. Instead of doing errands on several days of the week, try and consolidate your errands into just one day, if possible. By doing this, you save yourself trips into town, which keeps you from spending too much money. Many drivers will make short trips into town each day to run their errands when a weekly trip will do just as fine.
  3. When you are in town running errands, park in a central area and walk to all your errands. That way you are not starting and stopping your vehicle over and over, nor are you driving it everywhere. You also get some great exercise when you walk where you need to go, rather than drive there.
  4. Idling your vehicle is bad news for the environment and it is just wasted money. When it is cold, you can let your vehicle run for a minute or so when you start it up, but that is all it needs. As well, you do not need to leave your vehicle running while you are in the store. Instead of going through the drive-thru, you can easily just go inside and get your food. It is usually less busy in there anyways.
  5. Instead of driving, just walk to the store. If it is a beautiful day out, why not walk to the store and get some great exercise and fresh air? You can get most places pretty quick depending on where you live and you do not have to waste any gas.
  6. Public transit is a great alternative because it allows you to catch a ride on a bus or subway for a fraction of what you would pay for fuel. In addition, you no longer have to worry about a commute or driving; you can just sit back and read.
  7. Car pooling is another popular option that many people choose. When you car pool, you share a vehicle with others and you drive only ¼th of the time to work. This is a good option that saves you money and lets you get to know your co-workers.

It is easy to save money, gas and the environment when you use these tips to going green with your vehicle’s gas

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