Friday

Hacking For Good with Capital One Canada.

Photos by: Ryan Emberley

Think It. Code It. Gift It!

On October 21-23rd for a whole weekend, 140 developers, designers & UI/UX took part in the inaugural Capital One Canada "Gift The Code" hackathon. There were over 24 teams who coded over 40 hours with not much sleep to create open source apps, create new websites and designs to help six local charities in Toronto. These 6 local charities do not have the manpower nor the technology to solve and create solutions to help with challenges with their respected organizations.

40 straight hours of coding with not much sleep.

Bringing over 140 participants to volunteer their time & expertise to help these charities was amazing to watch as it unfolded. I could sense a buzz of excitement from the teams as they showcased their solutions. It was even more apparent when the charitable representatives get to see actual real-life solutions presented. It was actually quite emotional for some to see solutions come to fruition. Humanity at it's best.

Details UI/UX comping and layouts for digital. (Photo: Ryan Emberley)

It was nice to see collaborative groups of participants work together in their respective teams to reach a common goal. It's a great experience to learn more about yourself and working with teams and in some cases strangers. 

Participants enjoy a food break. (Photo: Ryan Emberley)
The best part about all of the solutions created for the charities is that they are open-sourced which means organizations and other charitable causes can utilize the code to help benefit their own respective charities. Here is the list of open sourced code Github 


Every participant received a cool hoodie from Capital One Canada. (Photo: Ryan Emberley)
Lounge area at Brainstation. (Photo: Ryan Emberley)

Charities supported at this Capital One Canada hackathon: Blake BoultbeeHolland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation HospitalProsper CanadaSecond HarvestToronto Pflag and Women's Habitat



The feedback from one of the charitable organizers helps explain the weekend success!

"Participating in Gift the Code had just been incredible on so many levels. In 40 short hours, we have gone from an organization without much of a digital presence to one who can now, with enthusiasm, point potential donors and those in need of our services in the direction of our brand new website. We are blown away." - Rod Cohen, Director & Operator, Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Services.

Thanks to BrainstationHackWorks Inc and Capital One Canada for a great weekend to help our local charities & communities. I hope Gift The Code comes back next year!

This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada, as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.


Thursday

Get Inspired, Get Connected!


Get Inspired. Get Connected. George Brown College has launched a series of 4 events featuring George Brown alumni detailing their career journey & lessons learned. This will be the 2nd event in a series of 4 which will be featuring Jennifer Cohen. Jennifer is a George Brown Alumna, celebrity trainer and fitness entrepreneur. She has had televised appearances as seen on NBC's Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, and Extra! Jennifer is also a contributor to forbes.com & health.com.

Manulife Financial is a proud partner of #GBConnect
If you are a George Brown graduate or just looking to build your personal brand, or make a career out of what you love to do, this event will surely invigorate & inspire you to reach your career or personal goals.  It's going to be a great evening to learn from Jennifer Cohen & also great to establish a network with fellow George Brown Alumni. In today's changing workplace & careers this is an important event to stay current & updated.

Event Details:

Get Inspired! Get Connected! #GBconnect

When: Thursday November 3, 6pm-9:30pm

Who: Jennifer Cohen - Celebrity Trainer & George Brown Alumna

What: Fireside Chat & networking before & after event.

Where: One King West

Cost: $15 - This event is open to anyone. Buy Tickets


Thanks to George Brown Alumni Relations & Manulife Financial I will give away a Fitbit Charge Fitness Tracker(Value: $169.99) to one lucky person! It's free to enter. Prize has been provided by Manulife Financial. Just tweet the following to share the #GBConnect event.

Tweet (Copy & Paste) : Love fitness? Come to #GBConnect Nov 3rd. Hear @therealjencohen talk about her career. http://bit.ly/2dOUxqU

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: This post is in partnership with George Brown Alumni & Manulife Financial. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday

Get moving with Fitbit Charge 2 & Flex 2


Fitbit is an activity tracker that is designed to help you track your physical activity, record your eating habits, track your sleep; igniting that need to become a healthier person. I have been a Fitbit enthusiast with the original Fitbit Charge since December 2015. I originally received it as a gift from my family for Christmas and it has definitely pushed my fitness or lack of to a different level. I'm am proud to say that Fitbit has definitely changed my outlook on health & enabled me to live a more active lifestyle & I'm a big fan of it! If you're new to Fitbit, they have recently released two NEW Fitbit trackers - Fitbit Charge 2 & Fitbit Flex 2.

New Fitbit Charge 2 & Fitbit Flex 2.
The NEW Fitbit Charge 2 & Fitbit Flex 2 offers additional options to optimize one's performance. I recently had the opportunity to see these products firsthand and love the new added functionality & features.

Swim-Proof Fitbit Flex 2 - Track your swimming.

Fitbit Flex 2 new features include:

Minimalistic design

Swim proof wristband

Removable tracker that fits in bands, bangles and pendants.

Learn more about:  Fitbit Flex 2


NEW Fitbit Charge 2

Fitbit Charge 2 new features include:

Heart Rate

Workout mode features

Guided Breathing Sessions.

Learn more about:  Fitbit Charge 2


The main edge that Fitbit has compared to other wearable trackers  is the option of different goal challenges. You can connect with your friends & family through the Fitbit app and have different step challenges. You can create week long, weekend long or just a one day step challenge with your friends and family. It inspires competition and a great way to encourage and get the family active, alongside. There will be days were you just feel lazy to do anything but when you see the challenges or the leaderboard, it motivates you to get active and get in those steps whether it be taking the stairs or parking the car a little further. My family and friends are competitive so it's always fun! Even if you're not into the challenges it's fun to hit your daily step goal and mind changing when you see the lack of steps taken in one's 'busy' day. 

It's a great reminder to take a break once in awhile and get moving! If you ask any current Fitbit user about the 'fireworks' display and buzzing you get when you reach your goals, they'll tell you it's quite an awesome feeling. An accomplishment if you may. You will also earn badges that are great reminders of goals or successes you have achieved using the fitbit.


Achievement Badges from Fitbit.
It's a great motivator to get you up and about. For example, I will purposely park my car farther away from a shopping mall entrance just to get extra step counts for my daily step totals... The online community on fitbit.com is also another amazing resource to help fuel your active lifestyle which include many resources and tips. I highly recommend purchasing one of the Fitbit trackers to get you moving in the right direction. Your mind, body, and soul will thank me later! Stay tune for my next blog post of the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. I'm excited to give you feedback soon!

Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Fitbit. All opinions expressed are my own.








Tuesday

Think It. Code It. Gift It.


Are you a coder, designer or someone that loves to solve problems and find solutions?

Capital One Canada is kicking of a Hackathon on Friday, October 21, 2016 until Sunday, October 23rd, 2016. Join fellow coders, developers & designers as they problem solve & create solutions for six Toronto-based charities. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in a fun way! Participants will be put into teams of four to six people(or can sign up as a team) & challenged to create a technology solution for one of the charities involved. So come on out & make a difference.

It's going to be hosted by Marc Saltzman at Brainstation in downtown Toronto. This is going to be a great opportunity to meet the developer community & partners of the hackathon. Charities being supported are Blake Boultbee, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Prosper Canada, Second Harvest, Toronto Pflag and Women's Habitat.

Here is all the info you need to know for the Gift The Code Hackathon

WHEN: October 21st - October 23rd

WHERE: Brainstation, 460 King St. West (at Spadina), Toronto ON

WHY: Support accessibility for technology & innovation for the six charities!

WHAT: Hackathon - developers, designers & anyone with ideas come together to solve a problem through technology.

WHO: Capital One Canada with support from Hackworks & Brainstation.


So come out & support a great & unique hackathon experience while helping 6 charities make a difference & make an impact in your community! See you there.

Think It! Code It! Gift It!

For more information on the hackathon, or to sign up, visit http://giftthecode.ca




This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada, as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday

The Ontario Oyster Festival 2016


Do you love oysters? This coming Sunday July 17th, Rodney's Oyster House & Ecology Action Centre present the 29th year of the Ontario Oyster Festival. It's going to be a big party in the heart of Toronto. Live music, beer and variety of food options, with the main star being oysters! It's going to be fun in the sun! Here's a glimpse of last year's shucking competition. Don't miss out this year.




Oyster Festival 2015

There will be more than just oysters at this event. You can feast on mussels, burgers, porchetta sandwiches, shrimp rolls and much more! Additional tickets for food and drinks will be $5 each.


Oysters in the half shell.


Get your tickets today to avoid disappointment. To purchase tickets: Oyster Festival

Ticket purchase gets you: 2 drink tickets, 1 food ticket(excluding lobster)


The Ontario Oyster Festival will be held at 469 King Street West - Rodney's Oyster House. Doors open at 1pm (Event ends at 10pm) Come out for a great time!


Disclosure: I receive complimentary passes for this post and all opinions are my own.

Monday

Exciting times at the 2016 Queen's Plate

Track side at Woodbine Racetrack

The 2016 Queen's Plate was a summer event to remember. If you didn't attend this year, you'll want to make sure you mark the calendar for 2017. The Queen's Plate is held every summer at Woodbine Racetrack. This is my second time attending the Queen's Plate & 2016 was bigger than the previous. Over 40,000 guests attended with record wager totals.



Upon arrival to Woodbine Racetrack there is already a buzz of anticipation, everyone dressed in fancy dresses and suits added a touch of grandeur to the event. The majority of the women looked like royalty with their array of unique looking hats & fascinators. It's a great day for people watching. Here's a link to the great looks that evening provided by Toronto Life.

Racehorse in paddock area. 






















I even had the chance to get close and personal with the horses and jockeys in the "walk about" paddock area. Great spot to soak in the excitement and if you're a handicapper a great way to get a read on your horses to give you any wagering advantage. Did you know that horses sweat? That will be a blog topic for another time but I'll digress for now.




If there is one thing to do at the racetrack on any given day, it's to make a bet on a horse and watch your horse race by track side level. The exhilaration and crowds cheering make up the excitement and fun, and overall atmosphere! Now imagine doing this with a few wobbly pops and friends or family and you're in for a really good time.

Hedley Concert at Woodbine Racetrack.
If it's your first time to a racetrack the Queen's Plate is filled with food trucks, drink stations and various party zones for you to enjoy. It's more than just the horse races. It's a full day of entertainment to take advantage of while there. The 2016 Queen's Plate featured Canadian headliner Hedley, Matthew Good and The Strumbellas.



Make sure to make it out to the Queen's Plate next year or just head down a given night to Woodbine Racetrack for some good times! You'll be delighted that you tried out something new and gained a whole new respect for horse racing.


Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Woodbine Racetrack and all opinions are my own.

Thursday

The Pepsi North American Cup gets bigger every year!

Mohawk Racetrack
I recently attended the Pepsi North American Cup at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ontario. The Pepsi North American Cup is one of the biggest draws for harness racing fans. The Pepsi North American Cup is in it's 33rd year & it's my 2nd year enjoying this event. 




Have you ever been to a racetrack before? If you've never been, you'll be in for a surprise.
On this annual Pepsi North American Cup there is so much entertainment to enjoy. From the live music entertainment to the selection of food and drink; there is so much fun to be had! If it's your first time, it's great to know that they have ambassadors and staff to help you with your first complimentary bet!

Ambassadors will help you make your first complimentary bet.
This year I made it a point to get the BBQ ribs again. The BBQ ribs are so juicy and mouthwatering. You really need to get messy to enjoy these ribs.

Ribs platter to share with the group.
There were several food trucks on site for this event. I really enjoyed the Mac N Cheese with bacon. The weather was great, the food was amazing and it was generally a nice night out that was refreshing from the usual hustle and bustle of the city. It was an opportunity to relax, make a few wagers and enjoy the company in a relaxed atmosphere.

Mac N Cheese from the Food Trucks at Mohawk Racetrack.
If you're new to horse racing or just looking to have a great experience you need to visit a racetrack. If you're in the Ontario area, check out Mohawk Racetrack and Woodbine Racetrack. If you missed the Pepsi North American Cup don't worry because this weekend on July 3rd is the Queen's Plate. This is the biggest horse racing event of the year! If the description here for the NA Cup got your attention, you can only imagine how much bigger the Queen's Plate will be.
Official Queen's Plate Poster.

The Queen's Plate is full of entertainment with musical guests such as Hedley and The Strombellas. There will also be a Hats & Horseshoes Party that should bring the most fashionable looking group of people out to the track. Here's an opportunity to experience all the excitement this coming weekend. Don't miss out on all the fun!

Purchase Tickets for Queen's Plate: Queen's Plate Tickets

Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Woodbine Racetrack and all opinions are my own.