10th March 2011

March 10th Noon News Round-up

Register Now: The Great Canadian Appathon happens this weekend, don’t miss out on this opportunity for some collaborative learning and great prizes.

Congratulations to our friends over at Greedy Productions – the studio announced this morning that Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run now have an additional slot on CityTV Vancouver and will begin airing from 6-7pm nightly in addition to the 12-1pm & 11pm-12am time slots.

footloose gamesFootloose Games has launched Munchies Lunch, a game that the Cavechild took a look at back Munchies Lunchin December. Munchies Lunch is a puzzle game that involves some quick and clever maneuvering of your characters in order to avoid becoming a monstrous lunch entree for the Hungries, the story’s bad guys. The game’s premise is that you must lead your family away from the dangerous Hungries who are invading your forest dwelling. Travel the world to find safety in the far-away jungles, gathering food and power-ups for your family while eluding those nasty Hungries. Available now for Windows XP,  Vista and Windows 7, you can try the family-friendly Munchies Lunch before you buy it. With the low price tag of only $5.99 and a high replayability factor, Munchies Lunch offers good value for its price.

Additional System Requirements for Munchies Lunch:

CPU: 1 Ghz
Ram: 512 MB
Hard-Drive Space: 150 MB
Video Card: Must support Pixel/Vertex Shader 1.1

Siggraph 2011Most of you already know this, but I’m going to share it anyway. Science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist Cory Doctorow has been selected to present one of the keynote presentations at SIGGRAPH 2011, the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques taking place this August 7th-11th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

diomaticDi-o-matic is offering a free 85+ minutes masterclass, where viewers will learn many key techniques from modeling to rigging as well as animation using Autodesk 3ds max, MotionBuilder, FBX, Mudbox and Softimage FaceRobot as well as Di-O-Matic Facial Studio, Morph-O-Matic and Maskarad. As an Autodesk Authorized Developer, Di-O-Matic earlier announced that new versions of all Di-O-Matic plugins will be made available shortly after the release of Autodesk’s 3ds max 2012, Maya 2012 and Softimage 2012.

comscorecomScore is pleased to announce the release of the 2010 Canada Digital Year in Review, its annual report on the prevailing digital trends of the past year and their implications for navigating the uncertainties in the year ahead. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the digital landscape in Canada including overall Internet usage, high-growth categories, online advertising, video and search.

* How are Canadians consuming digital media, and how does this compare to other countries?
* Which trends dominated the digital landscape in 2010?
* How does media consumption differ across age and gender segments?
* What trends are we seeing in the social networking space, and what impact does that have on email activity?
* How has digital advertising shifted in the last year, and how has social media played a part?
* Which content categories are serving up the most videos? Who’s watching online video in Canada?
* What is the current state of the search market?
* How will mobile media consumption in Canada stack up against other markets?

pwcNot surprisingly, the key motivator for consumers to pirate films and television programs is the reward of free content. But aside from the traditional reason of price, leading factors also include consumers’ desire for earlier access, a perception that “everyone is doing it” and the explosion of free content available online. This is according to PwC’s new piracy study from its US consumer research program measuring consumer attitudes towards piracy and related behaviours.

At the same time, consumers in Canada are being faced with escalating access fees and the usage based billing debate is ongoing. “Usage based billing if a reality will push consumers back to traditional and payment based methods of consuming content,” says Michael Paterson, a partner in PwC’s Canadian Entertainment & Media group.

Among key findings in the PwC study:

* 81% of the consumers who admit to pirating TV, movie and video content say they will likely continue to do so.
* 40% of those who report “pirating” content via traditional methods said they will probably also pirate on mobile devices within the next six months.
* US$3 for a movie and US$1 for a television show is the maximum amount consumers who admit to pirating are willing to pay to access content.

Combating piracy remains a struggle and a prime concern for entertainment companies – especially with the growing ease at which consumers can now access a variety of content on multiple platforms at their fingertips. Given the proliferation of smart phones, consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the Internet—on average, 35 times per week.

“Mobile piracy is poised to escalate with the proliferation of smartphones, says Paterson. “This will need to be addressed in anti-piracy efforts. There is some good news in sight as consumers expressed concern about potential piracy pitfalls, including poor quality of some content and the possibility of downloading a virus or facing legal trouble.”

funcomFuncom has unveiled a new site design for The Secret World, along with a brand new trailer that offers gamers a unique glimpse into the world, the monsters, the myths, and the gameplay of the much anticipated online game. In ‘The Secret World’ players get to play the character they want to play without being limited to classes or levels, as they adventure through modern-day, real-world locations. No release date has been announced. The game is being co-published together with EA Partners, a division of Electronic Arts Inc.

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“It is truly exciting for us to show gamers just how much freedom they will be able to enjoy in ‘The Secret World’,” says Director and Producer Ragnar Tørnquist. “The video perfectly encompasses the four important pillars of ‘The Secret World’: the modern-day setting, the freeform character progression, the dramatic storyline, and the unique secret society conflict. It feels great to reveal new details on the ‘The Secret World’ as we continue to make strides in the development of the game.”

scoremediaScore Media Inc. and WWE have expanded their partnership with a multi-year agreement that will bring more high-energy WWE entertainment than ever before to fans across Canada. The unprecedented deal builds on Score Media and WWE’s already successful, exclusive television relationship to include online, mobile and VOD rights. In addition, theScore and WWE will work together to bring new original WWE content to Canadians across all platforms.

Canadian Telecom SummitMore than 60 leaders who shape Canada’s ICT industry will speak at the 2011 Canadian Telecom Summit, being held this May 31st – June 2nd in Toronto. The event will include over 15 keynote addresses offering insights into the future of Canadian ICT, examining the services, technologies, consumer & business trends and regulatory & policy initiatives that drive the information economy. This year, in addition to its always popular Regulatory Blockbuster panel, the conference is featuring sessions devoted to:

* LTE: The future of mobile
* Connecting Canadians: Delivering broadband to all
* Wireless Broadband: Our insatiable thirst for spectrum
* Privacy & Security: Guarding information in a transparent world
* Unified Communications: The evolving future of business
* Evolution of Consumer Communications: Compete or collaborate
* Tablets, TVs and Smartphones, Oh My!: The explosion of the multiscreen universe
* Cloud Computing

fairplayFair-Play has launched its new website. An essential reference tool, the site allows both industry people and the public at large to find out more about Fair-Play’s many television products among which are Quebec’s current mega hits Les enfants de la télé and Peut contenir des Rachid. Headlining the company’s latest news and featuring an exhaustive production catalogue, video excerpts, and a Who’s Who of the Fair-Play team, the new site profiles a company founded in 1998 now firmly established in prime time and on the Web.

Television series, variety shows, documentaries, comedy, drama, live performance recordings, public affairs – their catalogue has grown over the years and will continue to expand. As the organization looks forward to producing more entertaining and provocative content, it remains proud of the creative environment it strives to foster for its writers, creators, performers and other colleagues.

canonCanon Canada Inc. has announced the availability of its Cloud Portal software for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software enabling a broad range of Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems to access Google Docs and Microsoft SharePoint Online cloud-based services directly from the MFP panel. Using its MEAP technology, Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is available as a free application that allows users to scan and store paper-based documents directly to the cloud, as well as to print documents stored in the cloud to imageRUNNER ADVANCE office systems.

The Cloud Portal for imageRUNNER ADVANCE software is a server-less, driver-less application that requires no additional hardware to enable direct connection to the cloud via the MEAP application. By facilitating direct integration with leading cloud services, the new application increases end-user flexibility and helps to increase productivity by allowing users to access cloud-stored data from a PC, tablet device or smart phone, and print or share the data with multiple users across locations. To print from the cloud, the Canon Direct Print Kit or the PS Printer Kit needs to be installed on the imageRUNNER office system. Please see the Canon site for full information not covered here.

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4th March 2011

Great Opportunities For Digital Developers

Submit: This is the last week for Award Nomination Submissions for the BC Technology Awards. The deadline is March 11th.
Enter: The PayPal X Developer Challenge for Android. Cash and publishing up for grabs, see the Challenge Rules for complete details.
Enter: The Great Canadian Appathon, a 48-hour hackathon where students across the country will compete for some incredible cash prizes and publishing opportunities this March 11th – 13th. Register now. Great Canadian Appathon 2011The Great Canadian Appathon is primarily an online event, but there are 6 schools across the country who will be hosting in-house events with free food, representatives from the sponsoring companies and more! There will be expert developers from XMG Studio at each of these locations to help provide insight into the mobile game development process as well as free SWAG bags for the first 100 people to show up at a hub location. The six hosted locations are: triOS College, UBC, Carleton University, Nova Scotia Community College, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo, open mediaConcordia University and TELUS House Toronto.
Participate: OpenMedia will be talking with the Honourable Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, on March 8th and they would like to know if there are any questions you would them to ask regarding User Based Billing and Canada’s Digital Economy. Visit the OpenMedia site to find out how you can get involved.

TVOTVO has launched two free apps for BlackBerry® smartphones for early learners and school aged- kids. Both games support learning objectives from the Ontario school curriculum, have been teacher and classroom tested and are designed for BlackBerry® smartphone devices with OS 5.0 and higher.

Polka Dot Shorts is a sequence matching game for kids aged 2-5 that supports the early-learning and kindergarten math curriculum. The app features TVO’s beloved children’s character Polkaroo and challenges players to find a sequence of dots and rewards them for the correct answer.
flower frenzy
Flower Frenzy is an entertaining and educational game with three levels of progressive difficulty that uses pictures of flowers to help kids ages 6-11 learn to create sequences. Both Polka Dot Shorts and Flower Frenzy teach kids pre-cursors to patterning skills which help build the foundational knowledge required for mathematics in later years.

TVO is also a proud member of the BlackBerry® Alliance Program which gives TVO access to a wide array of benefits to help support, market and distribute their applications for BlackBerry smartphones. Both games were developed with the expert advice of TVO’s in-house educator, and BlackBerry Alliance Program partner Sweet Caesar.

Loud Crow InteractiveSpeaking of interactive entertainment for kids, Loud Crow Interactive has just released its latest eBook to the iTunes App Store. Sandra Boynton’s The Going To Bed Book is available now for the iPhone and iPod Touch ($1.99 USD) and the iPad ($2.99 USD).

The Going to Bed Book app has all the magic and appeal of a traditional pop-up book, offering lively interactivity and thoroughly mesmerizing discovery. Imagine! An ark that rocks. Characters that respond to touch with sound and movement. Tap water that turns on and off, and steam that fogs the screen. Can you write your name in the steam? Of course! There are teeth to brush, and a group exercise session with ten pajama-clad animals (big and small) each with its own unique exercise. Help the little piggy turn off the lights, then rock to sleep to the music box sound of twinkling stars. There’s something wonderful to discover on every page.

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The Going To Bed Book allows young readers to touch, pull, and turn animals and objects to make them move, or they can tilt the device to watch things slide and cascade. The ebook is narrated by Billy J. Kramer and features the same original text and illustrations as that found in the actual board book. Enable the “Big Guy Reads It” option with word highlighting to help improve reading skills, or use “I want to read it myself” and hear individual words pronounced with the tap of a finger.

kerberos productionsVancouver developer Kerberos Studios has unravelled more mysteries of the universe in a new video interview with Martin Cirulis, the lead designer of Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter, sequel to Kerberos’ hit 4X science fiction strategy game.

Cirulis gives an introduction to the dangerous Lords of Winter and underlines how the Sword of the Stars II universe has evolved since the first game. Learn how Kerberos uses mechanics to enhance narrative and get an introduction to what the new Mars 2 engine brings to the table. Cirulis also talks about the different ways to kill your enemies and how diplomacy has evolved to take into account the needs of an established empire.

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A Bigger, better, stronger, faster Sword of the Stars II will be coming to your corner of the galaxy this autumn.

battlegoat studiosAnother Canadian-made game in the Paradox Interactive stable is Supreme Ruler: Cold War, and BattleGoat Studios has released a new developer interview for this upcoming historical grand strategy title. In this latest video, BattleGoat Studios Lead Designer David Thompson gives players a bit of insight to what they can look forward to in the latest addition to the Supreme Ruler series.

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Supreme Ruler: Cold War is the next installment in the Supreme Ruler series and gives players control over a 1950’s United States or Soviet Union as they try to lead their country to glory. Players make economic, diplomatic, domestic, and military decisions to grow and modernize their nation to ensure its place atop the rest of the world.

scotiabankScotiabank, in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), have launched the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, which shines a spotlight on small business owners who are positively impacting their communities in the areas of employment, innovative products and services, as well as leadership.

“At Scotiabank, we recognize that small businesses play a vital role in building strong communities. Much more than just a place to purchase food or to get a car serviced, they contribute in ways which make our communities better places to live, for each one of us,” said Islay McGlynn, Managing Director and Head, Scotiabank Small Business. “With the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, we want to recognize and reward small business owners who have made an impact on their community by going above and beyond to meet not only the needs of their customers and employees, but the community at large.”

“Small businesses are small in name only,” commented Aron Gampel, Deputy Chief Economist, Scotiabank. “Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, providing big support to the nation’s G7-leading performance. Small businesses are not only big generators of jobs in goods and services throughout the country, but they are also big contributors to the investments and exports that are important drivers of growth.”

To qualify for the Small Business Big Impact Challenge, entrants must demonstrate how their business has made a difference in the community where they live and work in one of the following three categories:

  • Providing Employment: Implementing employment practices that reflect and support community needs as well as employment opportunities.
  • Offering Products or Services: Creating new industries or ways of doing business, or offering unique products or services that benefit their community.
  • Demonstrating Leadership: Taking a leadership role in initiatives for their community that ultimately makes it a better place to live and work.

Beyond their indispensable role as job creators and innovators all across Canada, small businesses start as the heart and soul of their neighbourhoods and have a hugely positive impact on community prosperity and identity,” enthused CFIB president, Catherine Swift. “In conjunction with CFIB’s 40th anniversary and during 2011, the federally designated Year of the Entrepreneur, we are delighted to be partnering with Scotiabank in support of those small business owners who stand out amongst an already outstanding group of peers.”

The challenge ends on April 30, 2011. All Canadians are encouraged to visit the website as everyone can vote for their favourite small business. The top 15 entries, five in each category, will be presented and evaluated by the Expert Small Business Judging Panel, which will then select the three finalists to be awarded $10,000 each.

The Expert Small Business Judging Panel consists of:

  • Islay McGlynn, Director and Head Small Business, Scotiabank;
  • Kaz Flinn, Vice-President Corporate Social Responsibility, Scotiabank;
  • Catherine Swift, CEO, CFIB;
  • Tom Sloan, Vice President Small Business and Commercial Markets, Export Development Canada; and
  • Greig Clark, PROFIT Magazine columnist, and founder of College Pro Painters.

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, welcomes the passage by Parliament of Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. The legislation will help protect children from online sexual exploitation.

“The creation and distribution of child pornography is an unspeakable crime which will not be tolerated in Canada,” said Minister Nicholson. “Our legislation will assist police in tracking down Internet sexual predators, The Honourable Robert Nicholson Minister of Justiceand rescuing children from sexual exploitation.”

In September 2008, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial ministers responsible for Justice agreed that Canada’s response to child pornography could be enhanced by federal legislation establishing mandatory reporting of online child pornography by providers of Internet services.

Bill C-22 applies to suppliers of Internet services to the public, including those who provide electronic mail services, Internet content hosting services, and social networking sites. It requires them to:

  • Report, to a designated agency, tips they receive regarding Web sites where child pornography may be available to the public; and
  • Notify police and safeguard evidence if they believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using an Internet service that they provide.

Failure to comply with the duties under the legislation will constitute an offence punishable by graduated fines. For individuals (sole proprietorships), the maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 for a first offence; $5,000 for a second offence; and for third and subsequent offences $10,000 or six months imprisonment, or both. For corporations and other entities, the maximum fines are $10,000 for a first offence; $50,000 for a second offence; and $100,000 for third and subsequent offences.

“We all have a role to play in the protection of children from sexual predators,” said Minister Nicholson. “This legislation will improve the collaboration between internet service providers and police to better protect children from online sexual exploitation.”

The Canadian Council of Learning (CCL) has launched a new online tool that allows users to measure the state of Canadian Council on Learningtwo crucial components of financial literacy—numeracy and document literacy—in more than 52,000 neighbourhoods and communities across the country.

The two new interactive maps produced by CCL, in partnership with DataAngel Policy Research Inc., provide literacy profiles for neighbourhoods across Canada, highlighting at-risk communities where residents lack the basic literacy skills needed in today’s knowledge-based society. The maps were produced using estimates generated by DataAngel Policy Research Inc. using data from the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS) conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the 2006 Canadian Census. These new literacy domains add to earlier maps CCL released on health literacy and prose literacy.

The results show that 55 percent of adult Canadians (aged 16 and over) had low levels of numeracy and 49 percent had low levels of document literacy. (This is based on the number of people who scored below Level 3 on the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS), a survey conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.)

Numeracy and document literacy are essential parts of what many consider “basic literacy” and provide a key foundation in developing a more sophisticated set of financial literacy skills.

“Canadians are increasingly faced with a complex array of financial decisions in their everyday lives—from choosing a mortgage and retirement planning to managing consumer debt and funding post-secondary education,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. “Yet, many Canadians do not have the financial literacy skills needed to make informed decisions related to money and investment.”

Numeracy is the ability to use basic math skills in everyday life. It includes such skills as calculating a tip at a restaurant, balancing a bank account or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement. Document literacy is the ability to find and use information in forms, charts, graphs and other tables. Financial literacy involves the use of multiple literacies—prose, document, numeracy—often simultaneously.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines five levels of literacy with level 1 being the lowest and level 5 being the highest. Level 3 is internationally accepted as the level of literacy considered necessary for meeting the demands of everyday life and work in an information-based society.

“The first step in any process of improvement is to be able to accurately measure change over time. CCL’s innovative maps help Canadian communities, and the country as a whole, determine current literacy levels,” says Cappon. “I hope that decision-makers and individuals throughout Canada will use these maps for the purpose of continuous improvement.”

 

Canadians should remember that they are not alone when they surf the Web, and that others may be using the Internet for malicious purposes. As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) reminds Canadians of the importance of protecting themselves from Internet and email fraud.“Fraud can take many forms. Nobody is safe from it, not even the most knowledgeable consumer,” says FCAC Commissioner Ursula Menke. One common form of fraud is called “phishing”, where a victim receives a fraudulent email that appears to come from a legitimate organization, such as a Government of Canada department or the victim’s own financial institution. The email instructs the consumer to visit a false website, download fraudulent content or provide confidential personal information.

With your personal information, such as your date of birth, passwords, Social Insurance Number, credit card or bank account information, fraudsters can use your credit card accounts or get new credit cards, and make purchases that you might be held responsible for. If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, you could even become a victim of identity theft.

How can you avoid falling victim to Internet or email fraud?

  • Never give out personal information over the Internet unless you trust the site you are on. Check that there is a padlock icon in the Web browser window and that the electronic address begins with “https://”.
  • Open a single browser window at a time when using online banking, and don’t forget to clear your computer’s memory cache when done.
  • Never allow your computer to remember your passwords; change passwords regularly and do not share them with anyone. You can be held responsible for unauthorized transactions on your bank account if you are found to have divulged information about your account, such as your password or personal identification number (PIN).
  • Make sure your computer’s antivirus protection is up to date and use the latest version of your Web browser.
  • Check to make sure that the Internet address provided in the emails you receive is related to the subject of the emails.
  • Access websites using the address bar. Never click on links provided in emails.

FCAC also publishes tip sheets to help Canadian consumers protect themselves against and prevent identity theft, credit card fraud, and fraudulent e-mails and telephone calls. In a video success story, Ken MacDonald, Crime Prevention Coordinator with the New Glasgow Police Service in Nova Scotia, offers some advice about preventing telephone fraud and identity theft. FCAC’s publications and tip sheets are available on the Agency’s website at moneytools.ca.

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2nd March 2011

IBM Survey Confirms Shoppers Are Getting Tech Savvy

IBMAn annual IBM global survey of 30,000 consumers in 13 countries, including more than 2,000 Canadians, reveals shoppers here are adopting new shopping technologies faster than most. In fact, the number of Canadians willing to use mobile technologies to shop increased by 160 per cent year-to-year, second only to the US in uptake.

The survey also shows the number of Canadian “instrumented” consumers — who use two or more technologies such as a website, mobile device or in-store kiosk — increased by 65 per cent over last year’s results, almost double the global result, which reported a 36 per cent increase year-to-year.

“It would appear Canadians’ conservative attitude toward adopting new consumer technologies is changing rapidly to the point that consumers are ahead of retailers,” says John Dawkins, IBM’s Canadian retail sector lead. “Wider access to bandwidth at lower rates, an increase in the number of Canadian wireless service providers, adoption of social media and a comparatively faster economic recovery are driving the emergence of a more complex, competitive and sophisticated shopper.”

The study reveals a portrait of the quintessential Canadian shopper: female; frugal but optimistic about her income; influenced more by family and friends’ opinions than retailers; and who regularly shops for more than people in her household such as parents or grandchildren.

The survey polled consumers from a dozen other countries, including both mature and emerging markets and show globally, shoppers have adopted attitudes during the recession that continue to dictate their behavior: they buy what they need, search for items on sale and wait longer to purchase; and they have embraced the use of technology throughout the process to save time and enhance the experience.

Other findings include:

* Shoppers are leveraging social media from Facebook to Twitter, to blogs, YouTube and reviews, more than ever before to discuss retailers, products and brands with friends, family members and strangers.
* Consumers are checking prices in store, where 70 per cent of final product selection happens, using smart phones and UPC tags to check competitive offerings.
* Consumers want a personalized shopping experience and will spend more and be more loyal to retailers who offer them quality, service and promotions on items they regularly buy and remember things such as their preferred payment methods.
* Consumers want to shop seamlessly across channels, check product prices wherever they are, get promotions based on the items they scan, and use a personal mobile device to avoid the checkout lane.

“A new approach to customer intimacy is critical in the new economic environment and this necessitates a stronger commitment than ever before. Organizations that are best at extracting previously undiscovered insights from vast amounts of customer information have a huge advantage in deepening existing connections and creating new relationships,” said Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada.

The IBM survey of 30,624 consumers was conducted in October 2010 in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States.

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15th February 2011

New Business Etiquette Guide From Robert Half

Robert HalfIn the days when “tweets” were bird sounds and a “text” was a book, workplace blunders had a limited audience. Now, however, these missteps can receive broad exposure — with unhappy consequences: Three out of four (76 percent) human resources (HR) managers polled for a survey created by Robert Half and conducted via telephone by an independent research firm said technology etiquette breaches can affect a person’s career prospects.

To prevent professionals from falling victim to online gaffes, Robert Half has released a new guide, Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age. The comprehensive guide offers tips for successfully minding your manners when using professional networking sites, social media, e-mail, instant messaging, mobile devices and more. The company has also identified five common types of tech etiquette offenders and how to ensure you aren’t one of them.

More than 650 HR managers in the United States and Canada at companies with 20 or more employees were asked, “To what extent, if any, can technology etiquette breaches — for example, sending e-mail messages to unintended recipients, checking e-mail on a BlackBerry during meetings, etc., adversely affect a person’s career prospects?” New Rules In A Digital Age

HR responded with:

Greatly – 15%
Somewhat – 61%
Not at all – 23%
Don’t know – 1%

“Etiquette breaches, such as paying more attention to your smartphone than the people you’re meeting with, can make others feel less important and cause you to miss information,” said Brett Good, senior district president of Robert Half International. “Other mistakes, such as sending a confidential e-mail to the wrong person or impulsively posting an offensive comment on Facebook or Twitter, can have more serious, career-impacting consequences.”

Robert Half identified the top five technology etiquette breachers and gives advice to help workers avoid these labels:

1. The Venter. This indiscreet individual never misses an opportunity to document a bad work situation. Job-related gripes and groans get splashed across Facebook, Twitter and her personal blog. E-mail, too, takes a decidedly negative tone.

Advice: Look on the bright side. To avoid this label, keep the information that you post positive. Sticky or unpleasant situations are best discussed offline and in private.

2. The Noise Polluter. This person’s phone seems to lack a silent mode or an off button. Whether in a meeting or at a colleague’s desk, he freely takes and makes calls, oblivious to his surroundings. Between noisy ring tones and loud public broadcasts of personal conversations, it’s impossible to concentrate when he’s nearby.

Advice: To keep office noise at a minimum, set your phone to silent mode at the office, and hold personal conversations behind closed doors.

3. The Cryptic Communicator. This person relies on texting shorthand for every type of correspondence. Odd or informal abbreviations, poor punctuation, and spelling and grammatical goofs leave people shaking their heads — and pleading for clarification.

Advice: Slow down, and take it easy on the abbreviations. Spending a little more time on your communications can make them easier to decipher.

4. The Pop-Up Artist. While you’re trying to complete assignments, this chat fanatic insists on sending you a flurry of instant messages. Throughout the day, you’re subjected to the pings and pops of incoming IMs: RUTHERE? CYE [check your e-mail]!

Advice: IMs are fine for quick volleys of conversations, but don’t go overboard. And don’t expect that everyone will want to “chat” with you. For many, e-mail is immediate enough.

5. The Conference Call Con. This multi-tasker pretends to pay attention during teleconferences but is so busy checking e-mail he has no clue what’s being discussed. It’s not an unusual problem: 45 percent of executives confessed to frequently doing other things while in these meetings, according to another Robert Half survey.

Advice: Although we all multitask from time to time, pay attention to relevant conversations when on conference calls. It can help to turn away from your monitor so you’re not distracted by e-mail.

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10th February 2011

Di-O-Matic Reveals Voice-O-Matic Update

diomaticMontreal-based Di-O-Matic has revealed details about Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya. Created to meet the needs of 3D character animators all over the world who require an easy-to-use, lip synchronization plug-in for their Autodesk Maya software, Voice-O-Matic is used by top 3D animation studios to achieve highly accurate voice-to-character matching. Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya is available now for US $349.

Di-O-Matic heard your call animators. Spending hours to create lip sync animations for CG characters is tiring, and manually generating every lip movement is a long and tedious task. That’s why Voice-O-Matic was designed! Combining a user friendly interface with a highly efficient and time saving system. Some of the most admired CG characters including Batman, Spider-man and Superman carry Voice-O-Matic at the heart of their facial animations.voice-o-matic

Designed for animators by animators, Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya only requires an audio file to automatically produce an accurate lip sync animation. Afterwards, the results can be easily tweaked to perfectly match any style of animation. Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya works with any type of character setup and with every language. Voice-O-Matic has also already earned its stripes with its use in leading feature films, popular television shows, commercials and award winning video games.

Oscar Marquez, coordinator of the 3D department at Cromosoma reveals “Not only did we manage to increase our productivity with Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya, but it allowed us to focus on other aspects of our animated series. What we liked most about Voice-O-Matic is that it can be set up easily, the lip sync of several characters can be done at the same time and we barely need to modify the animation curves. If you make a good setup and integrate it properly you can have very good results. Thanks to Voice-O-Matic, we could do all the lip sync we needed in the series with just 10 mouth shapes and only one control for the most extreme poses.”

No matter which type of character setup you wish to use: from blend shapes to complex bone-based rigs, and no matter the language for which you wish to create lip synchronization, Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya delivers, and can save up to 80% of the time it takes to manually animate lip synchronization. 3D animation artists can benefit by using both the automatic phoneme matching features and the manual tools to fine-tune the animated character to achieve highly customized results.

LudiaInteractive entertainment company Ludia today announced its ‘The Bachelor: The Videogame’ App is available on the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch for $2.99 USD and iPad for $4.99 USD. Based on the hit franchise created by Mike Fleiss, hosted by Chris Harrison and airing Mondays 8:00–10:00 ET/PT on ABC, the app features characters inspired by the actual Bachelors and Bachelorettes from the top rated series’ “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” including current Bachelor Brad Womack and the most recent Bachelorette, Ali Fedotowsky.

Fans of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” can now live their own show experience anywhere, anytime, as they compete in a collection of exciting mini-games and challenges to win the attention and, ultimately, the heart of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Players vie for the final rose, playing as either a the bachelorfemale or male contestant.

“The Bachelor is one of the most successful dating competitions in the reality genre, and we are pleased to bring the romance and heated competition that are the hallmarks of the TV show to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This release reinforces Ludia’s strategy of delivering highly entertaining games, based on the most popular television brands.”

Features of The Bachelor: The Videogame App include:

* Play to earn the love of the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, guided by Chris Harrison.
* Characters based on favorite Bachelors and Bachelorettes, including Brad Womack, Jake Pavelka, Jason Mesnick and more!
* 23 mini-game challenges to play in one-on-one or group date scenarios.
* 3 levels of difficulty to chose from.
* Humorous “Fantasy Suite” videos where your performance in the game determines the outcome; will you share an embrace in the hot tub or be hung out to dry?

For those looking for employment, Ludia currently has several positions that need to be filled.

S3DGAThe S-3D Gaming Alliance has just released the 2011 edition of the U-Decide Initiative. U-Decide is credited as the only S-3D gaming report shaped by consumer opinion, industry analysis, and hands-on experience. The initiative gives readers a candid outlook of what needs to happen to make stereoscopic 3D gaming successful in the long term.

“DDD is a leading provider of 3D game conversion software for the PC market, and our success is dependent on delivering what gamers want. The U-Decide report provides this helpful insight and more, and we recommend it to anyone that also markets to the growing S-3D gaming community,” said Chris Yewdall, CEO of Dynamic Digital Depth. Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd February 2011

Coke Wants Happiness While CERIC Study Says We Are

cokeWhether you’re heading to the rink for the first hockey game of the season, or grabbing an ice-cold Coca-Cola on the local patio with friends, the moments that make Canadians happy vary from coast to coast. Coca-Cola, one of the original purveyors of happiness, is celebrating its 125th anniversary by finding out what makes Canadians smile.

To mark the occasion, Coca-Cola Canada is sponsoring a comprehensive study that will examine the idea of happiness across the country. The study will explore what generates the feeling and where best to find it, whether it’s spending time with family, working out, volunteering or enjoying a moment of peace and quiet.

“We have been bringing people together and sharing happiness for 125 years,” said Bobby Brittain, Vice President, Marketing with Coca-Cola Canada. “As we look forward we want to capture through this research those hopeful and optimistic moments, be they random or planned, and share them with Canadians.”

In addition to the study, Coca-Cola Canada is expanding the dialogue on happiness by encouraging Canadians to visit iCoke.ca to voice their support for a Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicator. GNH, the concept of monitoring social well-being and happiness as a supplement to pure economic indicators, has been gaining ground in countries like the United Kingdom and France.

The premise behind GNH suggests that leading a happy life has a direct impact on all kinds of critically important individual and collective standard of living issues — from health and wellness to productivity. GNH has become a frequent topic in the Canadian media following the release of Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey, which gathers data on social trends related to the living conditions and well-being of Canadians.

“We are inviting Canadians to share their opinion on happiness and whether as a country we should monitor just how happy we are,” said Brittain. “In the year ahead and beyond, we are committed to shaping a better future for the customers and communities we serve and the consumers we refresh.”

Later this year, Coca-Cola Canada will release the results of its national study on happiness. The report will delve into specifics about what makes Canadians happy; where and when they are the happiest; the role of demographics, lifestyle and geography on happiness; and, the simple day-to-day things that put smiles on their faces — everything from sports and popular culture to family milestones to food and beverages. The main purpose of the study, which will be released in phases over the course of 2011, is to help Canadians individually and collectively celebrate and share the things that make us happy and positive – ultimately helping to advance Canada’s social and economic well-being.

cericIt seems Coke won’t have too much of a task ahead of it, because in spite of having just come through a tough economic year, the majority of Canadians are generally happy with their jobs and like the people they work with. Despite job satisfaction, nearly half of Canadians doubt they are being sufficiently rewarded for their work efforts according to a new survey released today by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC). The on-line survey of just over 1200 Canadians, recently conducted by Environics Research, provides insight into Canadians’ perceptions of their workplaces and approaches to their career development.

“As Canadians, we value our connection to our work and to each other. The majority of working Canadians is satisfied with their jobs, like their colleagues and believe their workplace is inclusive. Our findings suggest that, while important, money isn’t always the determining factor in job satisfaction,” said Nancy Schaefer, CERIC Board President and President of Youth Employment Services (YES), a centre of excellence for youth employment and empowerment.

CERIC’s Key Survey Findings

* In spite of having just come through a tough economic year, the majority of Canadians are generally happy and satisfied with their jobs (81%) and like the people they work with (88%).

* Satisfied workplaces are inclusive workplaces. Overall, the Canadian workplace is seen as inclusive and free from discrimination, although visible minority Canadians are less convinced than their non-visible minority colleagues –only 28% describe their workplace as very inclusive compared to 41% of non-visible minority workers.

* Despite high job satisfaction numbers, nearly half of Canadians doubt they are being sufficiently rewarded for a job well done.

* In today’s active “hidden” or unadvertised job market, Canadians are most likely to turn to their colleagues and co-workers (68%) as well as friends and neighbours (65%) for career advice. When looking for a job, Canadians are most likely to turn to on-line services and company websites for job opportunities (48%), though few use social media or social networking sites to advance their career goals (12% use social networking sites like Facebook; 9% use professional networking sites such as LinkedIn). In general, regardless of the tools chosen to look for a new job, Canadians are fairly optimistic about their ability to meet their future career goals.

* On the career front, younger Canadians appreciate the help and support of their boomer parents. Canadians with and without children agree that parents can help their children’s career development most by encouraging experiences where kids succeed and fail.

What Canadians Said:

In spite of having just come through a tough economic year, Canadians overall are generally happy with their jobs and like the people they work with. From executives to front-line service workers, and across occupations;

* 86% like the work they do
* 88% like the people they work with
* 62% are generally content with their job, with no plans to move on.
* For the 33% who hope to land a new position, it is for one of two reasons—either they are not happy with their compensation or are under 30 and looking for a new job with more responsibility or closer to their field of interest

Even with high job satisfaction numbers, nearly half of Canadians doubt they are being sufficiently rewarded for their work efforts.

* Four in ten (39%) do not feel they are paid a fair amount for the work they do, and
* Visible minority workers are not convinced about the financial recognition they receive when they do a good job — 47% agree they receive the recognition they should vs. 59% of non-visible minority Canadians.

Overall, the Canadian work place is seen as inclusive and free from discrimination. And if a workplace is viewed as inclusive, workers tend to be more satisfied with their jobs overall.

* A majority of Canadians (82%) describe their workplace as either very (39%) or somewhat (43%) inclusive.
* But, visible minority workers are less convinced. Only 28% of visible minority Canadians describe their workplace as very inclusive compared to 41% of non-visible minority Canadians.

The unadvertised or hidden job market is very active. Canadians turn first to their co-workers and friends. Newer internet tools are surprisingly lower on the list of how we find new opportunities.
We first turn to colleagues (68%), friends and neighbours (65%) for guidance and information, followed by:

* Newspapers 62%
* Parents 61%
* Internet 58%
* Mentors 58%
* Government and community employment centres 53%
* Community-based employment agencies 43%
* Teachers or professors 40%
* Career specialists or counsellors 37%

Regardless of the tools chosen to look for a new job, three-quarters of Canadians are optimistic about their career goals in spite of recent tough economic times.

On the career front, younger Canadians appreciate the help and support of their boomer parents. Canadians with and without children agree that parents can help their children’s career development by offering a wide range of opportunities and experience.

* More than half of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 typically characterized their boomer parents as wonderfully supportive (54%); relatively few (5%) characterize their parents as overbearing.

Many Canadians say parents can help their children’s career development by providing them with a range of opportunities and experiences including

* Encouraging them to learn from their experiences (by succeeding or failing) 56%
* Exposure to a range of character-building experiences such as sports and hobbies 51%
* Helping them develop career-related skills 39%
* Encouraging children to volunteer in a variety of places 32%
* Talking to children about career choices 31%
* Exposing them to a wide variety of careers 28%

The Survey was also co-sponsored by TD Bank. The complete report is available on line as a PDF.

The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting career counselling related research and professional development opportunities across Canada.

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27th January 2011

OCRI Study Shows More Companies Fewer Employees

OCRIOCRI’s annual Knowledge-based Industry Survey shows that as of December 31, 2010, the number of companies in Ottawa’s knowledge-based sectors has increased by 4.7 per cent while the number of employees has decreased by 4.4 per cent.

OCRI collects and verifies information provided by the companies to present the most complete picture of Ottawa’s technology industry across 12 unique industry sectors. The most current data indicates an increase of 4.7 per cent in the total number of companies to 1,944 up from 1,857 last year. The largest growth was seen in small companies with one to nine employees (up 11.4 per cent) and those with 100 to 499 employees (up 10.1 per cent). Overall, the number of employees has decreased from 78,067 to 74,611 or down 4.4 per cent. The most significant changes in employment can be seen in large companies with more than 500 employees (down 14.3 per cent).

Knowledge Study Image Credit: OCRI

“It is encouraging to see growth in the number of small companies. While 2010 was a successful year in many regards it wasn’t without significant challenges. Anchor companies in the knowledge-based sector look very different than they did a few short years ago,” says Claude Haw, President and CEO, OCRI. “As we begin 2011, it is critically important that we continue to focus on these key areas – developing and supporting Ottawa’s entrepreneurial culture, attracting investment, supporting the commercialization efforts of our emerging companies and aggressive promotion of Ottawa as a destination of choice for investors, entrepreneurs and multinationals.”

The biggest winner in the region is the Digital Media sector posting a 54 per cent increase in the number of companies and 50.9 per cent increase in the number of employees. Well accepted as a trend to watch in 2011, digital media, which includes mobile apps, gaming and animation, is likely to see even more activity in 2011.

For the fourth year in a row, the cleantech sector demonstrated growth. The number of companies has grown from 114 companies to 138, an increase of 21.1 per cent while the number of employees grew 22.1 per cent, up from 2,567 to 3,135. Please see the Study’s information page for more graphs.

According to the survey, IBM (including IBM Software Lab and IBM Canada) is the region’s largest knowledge-based industry employer with 4,000 employees followed closely by Bell Canada with 3,258 employees. The loss of Nortel, which posted 3,000 employees in last year’s survey, did factor into the overall loss even though Ciena, Avaya, Ericsson and GenBand did acquire most of this staff.

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27th January 2011

Strong Correlation Between Creative Strategy and Performance

comscoreVirginia research company comScore, Inc. has released findings from comScore ARS indicating the importance of a strong upfront strategy and creative execution in driving campaign effectiveness for TV and digital advertising campaigns in Canada. Extensive research conducted by comScore ARS also shows that creative quality drives more than half of the sales changes for brands analyzed, four times higher than the impact of the specific media plan involved, highlighting the importance of optimizing creative in ad campaigns.

Marketing Variables Influencing Changes in Brand Sales

* Numbers represent the percent change in market share shifts explained by the corresponding factors.
**Ad Quality represents the quality of creative based on the ARS Consumer Choice Score, which measures changes in consumer preference through a simulated purchase exercise with and without exposure to the creative.
***Media Plan includes variables such as GRPs, wearout and continuity/flighting of airing.

“In the digital media industry in Canada, we tend to spend a great deal of effort on optimizing the media plan – and rightfully so, because it is extremely important,” said Brent Bernie, president of comScore Canada. “When one considers, however, the fact that the quality of the creative used in the ad can have such a significant impact on sales outcomes, we can begin to see why it is also essential to optimize creative strategy and messaging on the front end of the planning process. While front-end testing may not be second nature to digital advertisers just yet, we ignore its importance at our own peril.”

Additional comScore ARS research demonstrates the importance of getting the creative strategy (i.e. value proposition, sales message, etc.) right at the outset of a campaign. For a series of 26 campaigns conducted in Canada, comScore ARS scored the campaign’s creative strategy, using the ARS Consumer Choice Score (See definition of ARS Consumer Choice Score at bottom). The research categorized the results for each campaign into below-average, average and above-average relative to the comScore ARS Fair Share Benchmark, which provides the expected score for an average campaign taking into account marketplace factors associated with the advertised brand and category. (See definition of comScore ARS Fair Share Benchmark at bottom.) The actual creative execution was then scored, using the ARS Consumer Choice Score, again categorizing each campaign into below-average, average and above-average relative rankings.

The relationship between the creative strategy’s score and the resulting execution’s score helps to shed light on the value of a strong, upfront creative strategy. Study findings showed that of the six campaigns with an above-average creative strategy, five resulted in an above-average execution (83 percent). Similarly, among the three campaigns with a below-average creative strategy, each of them resulted in a below average execution. Additionally, none of the campaigns with a below-average creative strategy score performed above-average on creative execution.

Performance of Creative Execution by Creative Strategy

“While it is easy to overlook, getting the creative strategy correct at the outset of a campaign is fundamental to creating campaigns that actually work,” added Mr. Bernie. “There are several phases to a campaign that must go right, while getting any one of those phases wrong significantly increases the likelihood that the campaign will not perform well in market.”

D-BoxD-Box Technologies has announced its second deal in two days with the Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres set to feature D-BOX motion-enhanced seats at its Ogden, Utah location. The Megaplex 13 at the Junction will boast 30 D-BOX MFX Seats that move in perfect sync with the onscreen movie action. Each seat creates subtle, refined motion effects that pitch, roll and heave resulting in an incredibly immersive movie-watching experience.

“Larry Miller Megaplex Theatres are often among the top-grossing movie theatres in the United States,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “The success of D-BOX at the South Jordan location has been tremendous and we are honored to partner again, further increasing our depth in the western U.S.”

“D-BOX continues to prove its worth and exceed our expectations at our Megaplex 20 in South Jordan with moviegoers wildly excited about their experience,” said Blake Andersen, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Megaplex Theatres. “It makes sense for us to build on the momentum and introduce it at another theatre. We’ve always been held in the highest regard when it comes to theatre technologies and incorporating D-BOX at additional theatres is a natural progression.”

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26th January 2011

Awards Contests and International Recognition For Canadian Productions

moderation townCongratulations to the team behind Moderation Town. The web series, along with the show’s producers Stitch Media picked up the nextMEDIA Digital Launch Pad Award at this year’s NATPE conference which just wrapped in Miami.

One of my favourite new shows on HGTV Canada, Design DNA, which is produced by  Toronto’s Castlewood Productions has been picked up by Australia’s Beyond Distribution for international television distribution. If you haven’t yet seen the show, here is it’s official synopsis: Design DNA combines the castlewoodsimplicity of “How It’s Made”, the popular manufacturing show, with high style design. This show focuses on the amazing stories of the world’s most extraordinary and ordinary pieces of home design. From the first spark of conception throughout the trial and error of design, to the factory floor, and finally to a stunning reveal in a magnificent home, each episode features the life story of three iconic and sometimes not so iconic pieces of home design. Who knew that one of the garbage cans in our house was inspired by classic art design – certainly not us when we bought it – but we do now. 😉

Quebec Technology AssociationThe Quebec Technology Association (AQT) has launched a broad survey of CEOs and executives of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies across Quebec. Christened “AQT Barometer”, this survey will provide a picture of business practices and key issues, while also highlighting the growth requirements of this sector which is of strategic importance to the Quebec economy. Data collection will continue through the following weeks and the results will be unveiled in May 2011.

“The ICT industry is a powerful lever for the entire economy, explained Nicole Martel, Chief Executive Officer of AQT. The AQT Barometer will enhance our understanding of the sector’s evolution, making it possible to develop strategies to effectively support the growth of some 2000 Quebec ICT companies. In addition, the study will allow the AQT to better tailor its programs and tools to the needs of its members.”

The AQT Barometer will provide a detailed profile of ICT companies operating in Quebec and identify indicators to form a basis for comparison to track the sector’s progression. These indicators will also serve to develop the AQT Index which will be used to measure the annual growth of the ICT sector based on data relating to human resources, innovation, income, and ICT exports. The survey will be conducted by the SOM survey firm. Participants in this survey will get a customized report comparing their own business to similar ones in Quebec. ICT companies willing to take part in the survey may obtain their password to the online survey by communicating with AQT.

go explore canadaGo Explore Canada is a multimedia app available as a free download from both the Apple App Store and Android Market. The app resulted from a joint effort of brothers Jon and Mark Pedersen who have years of Canadian film and television production experience, including the Canadian Antiques Roadshow, documentaries for CBC, CTV and IFC and Jon’s feature film Tuesday, Wednesday.

Go Explore Canada covers travel anywhere in Canada (including the high Arctic) with extensive listings in all ten provinces and three territories, many with multimedia, and the producers – Go Explore Everywhere Inc – have loaded it with the top natural wonders and travel attractions of Canada. They also sell listings to the top restaurants, hotels and clubs, and it already has 5,000 locations with more being added every day.

Users of Appolicious say Go Explore Canada is one of the top 10 Canadian apps: “So you’ve arrived in Canada. What next? This app has tours based on your province, city, and what kinds of tourism you’re into. I definitely can vouch that the Toronto tour hits all the major amusing activities/sites in the city and surrounding areas.”
go explore canada
The producers of Go Explore Canada have streamlined the latest version with new Category searches that allow users to easily zero in on what they want to find anywhere in the country. One of the challenges was to build an app this big while making sure it doesn’t crash. Working closely with their software developers, the producers have come up with an app that occupies little space on the phone but still runs fast.

“We wanted to make an app that’s the one to have if you’re travelling in Canada,” says Mark Pedersen, one of the two Maritime brothers who have expanded their media production company to include multimedia apps.

The more than 5,000 Points of Interest are searchable by province, territory and city with sections for nature and adventure, history, fun things to do, eating, sleeping, night life, transportation, essential services and more. Each POI has a pin on the map, address, phone number, description and direct link to its web site that can be surfed without losing your place on the app tour. The sites can also buy embedded multimedia that plays instantly off their listing.

Go Explore Canada has been so successful that the producers have also begun selling branded map-based apps to other clients in three different sizes. All their apps come with patented Tour Builder software developed by their U.S. partner, Bar Z Adventures. The software allows app clients to change the content as often as they like simply by logging on to the dedicated server with their password.

CreativeworksCreativeworks Productions is pleased to announce that their video In Your Own Words was a gold award winner in this year’s prestigious Pixie Awards competition, which honours outstanding creativity in motion graphics, FX and animation. The In Your Own Words video was created for Seneca College, where for almost 45 years, Seneca’s commitment to quality post-secondary education has provided the foundation for students to become successful career-ready graduates in business, industry and the communities in which they live. The video was created to launch a multimedia campaign for Seneca College students aimed at obtaining their opinions in a fun and engaging format while also giving them an opportunity to hear and see their new President.

“Seneca’s In Your Own Words campaign gave students an opportunity to tell us in their own words the type of Seneca they want”, said Seneca’s President, David Agnew. “The need for student involvement in designing Seneca’s future community is a critical component. By using new media such as the green screen video and special effects, In Your Own Words achieved excellent results. We’re thrilled with the recognition received by the video produced by Creativeworks Productions. It played an important role in the success of this project.”

Creativeworks Productions’ President Doug Hohener says, “This video was part of an exciting multimedia student engagement program for the College. The challenge we were given was to target college students with an “out of the box” solution that was fresh, innovative, fast-paced and engaging, while communicating the College’s key messages. The result seems to have hit the mark!”

The Pixie Awards are sponsored by The American Pixel Academy, whose goal is to connect creative visual professionals in the pixel media with educators and judged by top industry professionals, all of whom have won significant awards for their work.

female eye film festThe Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF) launches its 9th annual showcase and celebration of films directed by women with a bang! This March 16 to 20, 2011, join us as we take a look through the lens at sex, violence and politics through the Female Eye. This years’ line up, slated to be unveiled at the Female Eye Media Sizzler which will be held at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel on February 24th, will prove to be both a mainstream and unusual mix of salacious, revelatory and provocative cinema.

The Female Eye Film Festival is recognized around the world as an opportunity for both established and first-time filmmakers to experience an international independent film festival, meet and interact with internationally recognized directors and showcase their work. “There are very few festivals that give you the opportunity to spend quality time with your fellow filmmakers and to make what we’re sure will be long-lasting personal and professional relationships,” reflected Richard Wilson, L.A. Producer of FEFF 2010’s closing night gala film Nothing Special.

Attendees of the festival will enjoy five full days of extraordinary films along with Script Readings, Industry Panel Discussions, the Directors Round Table, The 3rd Women In The Directors Chair Career Advancement Module, Best in The Biz Series and the Honorary Director Brunch and Tribute. An Opening Night Gala will kick off the festival followed by exciting parties each night leading to the closing night awards reception and gala. All screenings will take place at the Rainbow Cinemas Market Square, 80 Front Street East, while the FEFF hotel partner, the Novotel Toronto Centre, 45 The Esplanade will host all panel discussions, workshops and award ceremonies. Party & other venues TBA.

trelliaTrellia Networks a Montreal-based provider of enterprise mobility management solutions, today announced the “Enabling iPhone and iPad for the Enterprise” webinar on Thursday February 3, 2011. This session is designed for organizations looking to overcome the cost and security challenges associated with embracing iOS devices for business use.

The consumerization of mobile devices in the enterprise is an unstoppable trend, with iPhones and iPads leading the way. Chances are that in almost every enterprise a handful of mobile users are already asking IT to support them. On the other hand, some enterprises recognize that these devices represent a powerful new set of tools: from new presentation options to custom applications, iOS devices present the enterprise with an opportunity to take their mobile business to a whole new level. If your organization is considering support for iOS devices, whether corporate or personal, this webinar is for you.

Best Buy CanadaBest Buy Mobile, the mobile specialty retail unit of Best Buy Canada, announces the launch of Free Phone Fridays at all stores across Canada. Beginning February 4 and running every Friday in February, Best Buy Mobile will feature two to three free mobile phones in all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile specialty stores across Canada.

Each week will feature at least one high-end, in-demand smart phone for free with a new, in-store three-year activation. Reward Zone members will receive 2,500 points for every new, in-store activation or renewal (based on new in-store three-year activations. Minimum voice and data plan required. See in-store and online for details). The free phones will be announced every Thursday to the company’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

Best Buy Mobile has become a leading destination for smart phones and accessories, in part because of the promises the store offers its customers: better choice of phones and networks; impartial, informed advice; straightforward pricing; and someone to be there for the life of the phone. In addition, Best Buy Mobile offers an array of services aimed at improving the mobile phone buying experience, including:

* Upgrade Checker: A quick and easy service that gives customers the ability to see when they are eligible for their next phone upgrade. Best Buy Mobile Specialists can review customers’ current plan to determine which upgrade options they are eligible for and can help customers change plans or providers if they are unhappy with their current carrier plan.

* Walk Out Working™: Free in-store smart phone setup by a Best Buy Mobile Specialist who will sync personal email accounts, set up Bluetooth headsets, transfer contacts and activate other services to allow the customer to leave the store with a fully functional new smart phone.

aeroplanThe Walrus Foundation and Aeroplan have launched The Walrus Foundation Amateur Travel Photography Contest. Sponsored by Aeroplan, this nationwide contest will be judged by acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky, The Walrus magazine’s art director Brian Morgan, and the Canadian public. The contest is open to Canadian residents, and the winning photo will be published in The Walrus magazine. The winning amateur photographer will also receive 100,000 Aeroplan Miles courtesy of Aeroplan, and an invitation for two to The Walrus Foundation Gala in January 2012. In addition, a full gallery of photographs from the runners-up will be showcased on the contest page.
The Walrus
“This is a great opportunity for photography fans and travelers alike to get out and snap photos of their favourite destinations, unique landscapes and off the beaten path locations or even be creative in their own city,” said David Klein, Vice President, Marketing, Aeroplan. “For the last few years, through our partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, we’ve been trying to raise the profile of photography with the Grange Prize. Aeroplan is thrilled to be a part of this contest and to be working with The Walrus Foundation to encourage participation in this important art form.”

For those unfamiliar with The Walrus Foundation, it is a charitable non-profit organization with a mandate to promote public discourse on matters vital to our country. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting Canadian writers, artists, readers, education, ideas, and debate. First and foremost, we achieve these goals by publishing The Walrus magazine ten times a year. We also produce public debates, leadership events, and run an intensive internship program training the next generation of leaders of media and the arts.

“The Walrus Foundation is a keen supporter of Canadian artists, both established and emerging,” said The Walrus Foundation’s executive director and co-publisher Shelley Ambrose. “We’re delighted to be working with Aeroplan and Edward Burtynsky to showcase Canadian photographers and their unique perspectives on our world.”

The Walrus Travel Photography contest begins today with the release of the March issue of The Walrus, and officially closes on May 31, 2011. Judges will select a shortlist of ten photos Between May 31 and July 1, 2011. Throughout the summer of 2011, readers of The Walrus magazine and visitors to the contest page will be asked to vote for their favourite photo. The winning photo will be selected on August 27, 2011, and will be featured along with a short essay in the special double winter January/February issue of The Walrus.

January 19, 2011 – The Walrus Foundation Amateur Travel Photography Contest sponsored by Aeroplan opens
May 31, 2011 – The last day for entrants to submit their travel photos to The Walrus Foundation
July 1, 2011 – Judges Edward Burtynsky and Brian Morgan release shortlist of ten photos, and public voting opens
August 26, 2011 – Public voting ends, and the winning photo is selected
December 5, 2011 – The winning photo will be published in The Walrus magazine
January 18, 2012 – The winning amateur photographer and a guest will attend The 4th Annual Walrus Foundation Gala

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17th January 2011

Get In On The Survey And Be Counted

Canadian Games ConferenceReminder: The deadline for Papers submission for the Canadian Games Conference is January 25th. See the Conference web site for full details. The Canadian Games Conference takes place in Vancouver this May 19th and 20th.

A few minutes ago Interactive Ontario announced that there were only 11 tickets left for GameON: Finance. If you GameON Financedon’t have a ticket yet, chances are the conference will be sold out by the time you read this – but it’s still worth a try. If you don’t check, you’ll never know for sure, and you might end up missing some great learning and networking opportunities. GameON:Finance is happening this week on January 20th and 21st in Toronto.

Pixel to ProductHelp Pixel to Product find out how many people are employed in Canada’s digital media industry by completing their new survey. As stated on the Pixel to Product site, “By collecting this data, we’ll have a better understanding of the size and scope of the Canadian digital media labour force. For example, we’ll understand the salary ranges as it relates to the job titles found in our industry, which areas of the country have the highest concentration of visual designers, and the relationship between education levels and job satisfaction.”

Pixel to Product is aiming for 10,000 complete responses, and asks that you help spread the word amongst your co-workers, partners, friends and associates. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, and will provide valuable insight into our digital media workforce.

Relic EntertainmentThis beta announcement from THQ and Relic has The Cavechild all excited today, because got his pre-order in last week. A multiplayer beta for upcoming real time strategy game, Warhammer® 40,000®: Dawn of War® II – Retribution™, is scheduled to launch in late January.dawn of war 2 Retribution

Featuring all six multiplayer races including the new Imperial Guard faction, this beta is expected to run from the end of January through the end of February to test the new Steamworks networking and matchmaking features and to help balance the multiplayer mode. All new units for each race will be available in the beta along with the new multiplayer maps which ship with Retribution.

The beta is scheduled to go live on Monday, January 31st when global press and key Dawn of War(R) community members will be given access. It will then broaden to include everyone who has pre-ordered Dawn of War® II – Retribution™ on STEAM to date on February 1st. Finally, anyone who has bought a Dawn of War game through STEAM or has registered a Dawn of War II product on their STEAM account will automatically receive an invite on February 8th. There will be no open registration phase to this beta.

The Dawn of War II – Retribution multiplayer beta is currently planned to run until midnight on February 24th, at which point the developers will take all feedback into account to create a day-zero balancing patch.

inspirado gamesVancouver developer Inspirado Games formed a partnership with World Wildlife Fund Canada to enable players of the online brain training game, GardenMind, to support real-world conservation initiatives by completing in-game brain game challenges.

“We chose WWF-Canada as our partner because of their incredible dedication to protecting threatened habitats and endangered species as well as the logical fit with the concept of our game,” said Inspirado GardenMindGames CEO, Rick Davidson. “If a player wants a virtual Tiger for their garden they have to actively protect Tigers in the real world through WWF’s Save The Tiger program.”

The GardenMind game itself is based upon the metaphor that your brain is like a garden and needs to be nourished each day through mental exercise. The argument for brain training is that just like the other muscles in our bodies, our brain needs regular exercise to remain strong and healthy. In GardenMind, players plant garden items in their virtual garden and then play a variety of brain training games to grow those items.

Given that video games have historically come under fire by skeptics for being “a waste of time”, meaningful gaming products such as GardenMind are a clear sign that the video game industry is evolving to meet the needs of new market segments – in this case not just the needs of entertainment and social connectivity, but also personal-development and contribution. GardenMind has been nominated in the Best Social/Casual Game category for this year’s Canadian Video Game Awards.

Big Blue BubbleNew projects are afoot for Big Blue Bubble, who is currently developing two titles for the Nintendo 3DS. The studio’s very successful iOS and Android game Burn The Rope will soon come to life in 3D game play, along with another as-yet-unannounced title currently in development. The studio is also working on a new iPhone game as well as a new PC game, both of which remain untitled. Big Blue Bubble’s large catalogue of previously-released mobile, casual and console titles include the Home Sweet Home series, Thumpies and iCarly: iJoin the Click, which is a companion title to the TV show iCarly.

CMPAThe Canadian Media Production Assocation (CMPA) has released Profile 2010, its annual economic report on the Screen-Based Production Industry in Canada, which showed limited growth from 2008/09 to 2009/10, with an overall increase in production volume from $4.8 billion to $4.9 billion.

Profile is an annual economic report published by the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) in collaboration with the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ), and the Departmentprofile 2010 of Canadian Heritage. The report provides a statistical overview of the three main screen-based production sectors in Canada: Canadian production (includes television and theatrical), foreign location & service production, and broadcaster in-house production. These sectors helped sustain 117,000 full-time jobs in 2009-2010.

Total numbers for independent television production were down by 3.4%, despite an overall one per cent rise in activity in the industry. The 7.8% decrease in English-language production levels largely contributed to the lower television values. The report also reveals that while Canadian theatrical production and foreign location & service production regained some momentum in 2009-2010, both production segments are below peak levels reached in the last 10 years.

quickinarsSocial media is the current trend taking the business world by storm, and Calgary businesses are no exception. The problem is, corporate communicators and business owners aren’t sure how to fold social media marketing and public relations into their overall media mix. That’s where Quickinars™ comes in, providing quick seminars for business, mainly on social media and Internet marketing topics.

This new seminar series is a joint production of Calgary internet marketing firm Anduro Marketing and social media agency communicatto. Anduro President Jeff Nelson and communicatto President Doug Lacombe, both Internet veterans and long-time educators, will lead the seminars.

“There’s a strong drive for business people to develop or enhance their social media skills,” says Nelson. “Until now there’s been a gap in this market as to acquiring those skills, and busy communicators have no time or appetite for trial and error.”

An array of topics, from developing your social media strategy to proper use of Facebook fan pages, Twitter, YouTube, and best blogging practices are scheduled between now and March 2011. Sessions are half or full day, are generally limited to twenty or fewer people, and, with early bird discounts, start as low as $249 plus fees for a half day session.

“We wanted to make Quickinars informative, interactive and practical,” says Lacombe. “Professionals should expect to have their social media questions answered and to walk away with quite a bit of information and follow up resources.”

Quickinars was born out of the intense market demand Calgary is currently experiencing for social media information.

“So many people were asking so many social media questions, we just couldn’t satisfy them one at a time,” says Lacombe. “Exactly,” concurs Nelson “it just made sense to help people climb this learning curve in small, personal groups. We ran a trial course in November that was a huge success. In the feedback forms one attendee said they brought back several ideas to their supervisor who was ‘psyched’ and they would be incorporating lessons learned to strengthen their communications. To see this information put to good use is very satisfying to us as educators.”

wordsworthThere’s only one way to escape the dead of winter. Let your mind wander and get your creative juices flowing this February at the WordsWorth Weekend. Young writers are invited to join Judith Graves, one of the hottest YA authors around, on a horrific journey on how to write to die for fiction including the terrifying realms of character development and revision.Judith Graves

Judith Graves is the smart and sassy author behind the hit paranormal trilogy Under My Skin. Librarian, singer, songwriter, author, and book club haunter, Graves has her own opinions about words and she’s not afraid to voice them. Much like Eryn, the snarky protagonist in her books, Graves doesn’t pull punches when it comes to calling ‘em as she sees ‘em. Now she’s putting her bold opinions to good use at WordsWorth by teaching young and emerging writers how to better craft their own tantalizing tales.

“I’m a firm believer that Canadian teen fiction can be sexy, action packed, and snarky as hell,” says Graves. So what better author could there be for encouraging youth to develop their own feisty stories?

The Young Alberta Book Society’s WordsWorth event is a weekend-long sleepover for young writers being held February 4-6, 2011 and is open to all writers aged 13-19. The weekend will take place at Kamp Kiwanis in Bragg Creek. Over the course of the weekend, writers will be completely submerged in their fictitious worlds. Carefully guided by Graves and poet Owen Percy, writers will be able to attack their projects with newfound creativity. They will learn how to tweak, manipulate, push, pull, and revamp their stories and characters to create truly unique tales.

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