19th November 2010

Entertainment and Safety For Our Canadian Kids

Youth Media AllianceThe Alliance for Children and Television is expanding its base and changing its name to Youth Media Alliance (YMA). The association’s chair Peter Moss made the announcement today in conjunction with the Média-Jeunes conference currently underway in Montreal. “This new name more clearly defines our current mission, at a time when we’re working in various ways to improve the quality of screen-based content for Canadian children and teens. In a world where more and more content is being delivered on new platforms, especially for young people, Youth Media Alliance intends to continue focusing its efforts on all screen-based media,” said Moss.

“Our association has been around for over 35 years and now represents over 100 television and new media professionals,” said Caroline Fortier, the association’s executive director. “By adopting this more inclusive name, Youth Media Alliance hopes to engage more new-media creators in its mission and allow them to actively contribute to the association’s directions.”

The Alliance’s new name reflects the shift that the organization began about a dozen years ago, when its annual conference (known as Média-Jeunes since 2000) already incorporated a new-media component, given these platforms’ growing influence with young audiences. Since then, the media revolution has completely transformed the way content is produced and delivered.

In this new media landscape, young people must continue having access to quality content. For the Alliance, this means screen-based productions that offer excellence in form and content, meet their target audience’s needs and expectations, and comply with recognized production standards. The content of productions should be relevant and entertaining, stimulate the intellect and the imagination, and foster openness to others. It should accurately reflect the world in which young people grow up, while respecting their dignity and promoting learning.

Youth Media Alliance seeks to enrich the lives of Canadian children and teens by helping improve the quality of the content created for them on all screen-based media. The Alliance pursues its mission by presenting annual awards of excellence to the best productions targeting young English- and French-speaking Canadians. It offers ongoing training tailored to the special needs of youth production professionals and also conducts research investigating media’s impact on young people. Finally, Youth Media Alliance lobbies governments to generate interest in all matters concerning screen-based content for young Canadians.

textED.caAs a mom of two young children, Mrs. Laureen Harper knows first-hand the importance of teaching today’s youth to be safe and responsible texters. Mrs. Harper was on hand at Toronto’s Runnymede Junior and Senior Public School today for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s national launch of textED.ca – an innovative website designed to help teach children safe texting practices.

“It’s amazing to think that we live in a time where our children know more about today’s technology than we do,” said Mrs. Laureen Harper. “It’s so important that we become familiar with the technologies our kids use and the risks they face so we are in the best position to help keep them safe. TextED.ca is a great resource to help familiarize parents with today’s texting issues, but more importantly, one their children will enjoy and learn from as well.”

Designed for students in Grade 7 and higher, the textED.ca website provides a fun, interactive platform for children to learn about the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with texting. The initiative also includes lesson plans designed to help educators teach youth about safe texting and life skills that will allow them to fully benefit from what is now a very public, technological world. All lessons are tied to provincial curriculum outcomes, making them ideal for use in Canadian classrooms.

“Considering the main form of communication for much of today’s generation is through text-messaging, the need for safe-texting education is imperative,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “Texting is having an impact at home and in the classroom, and so there is a shared responsibility to teach our kids how to use this technology safely. Like parents, many teachers are struggling with the issues that arise from this technology. It’s a completely new area they didn’t have to deal with before. TextEd.ca will help them address texting in a fun, interactive way.”

“Law enforcement officers, dedicated to online child sexual exploitation investigations across the country, have never been as well trained and equipped as they are today. Even so, we desperately need parents and young people to be more proactive about their online safety,” said Det. Sgt. Kim Scanlan, with the Toronto Police Services Child Exploitation Unit.

“Cell phones – and especially text messaging – have become one of the most important tools for Canadian families to stay connected and keep safe,” said Bernard Lord, President & CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). “But while wireless communications provide convenient and immediate contact, it is essential that young people be educated about the appropriate and responsible use of the technology.”rock paper scissors

In partnership with the CWTA, the Canadian Centre first launched textED.ca as a pilot project in January 2010. Based on feedback received from teachers, students and other educational professionals in the months that followed, the Canadian Centre made numerous improvements and enhancements to the textED.ca lessons and online components. Included in the changes was the creation of an innovative text-based Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) game that also provides users with a safe texting tip following the completion of each game. Any potential text message fees associated with playing this game have been waived by Canadian wireless service providers, so the game is free to all Canadian users. Our thanks to: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, SaskTel, Solo, Rogers, TELUS, Vidéotron and Virgin Mobile for waiving fees and for their ongoing support of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Concerns surrounding children and teens sending sexual messages, nude photos and videos via text messaging is on the rise, yet the vast majority of kids doing so are unaware of the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with their actions.

Since adolescent behavior is less inhibited with the use of technology, it’s important they are aware of the risks and know how to deal with the various situations new technologies present. textED.ca is a comprehensive in-class and online program that will help educators teach youth about safe texting and life skills that will allow them to fully benefit from what is now a very public, technological world. While some teachers have introduced safe texting education to their students, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection identified a gap in the delivery of comprehensive text education programming in Canada’s schools.

To address this, the Canadian Centre developed the textED.ca program, which consists of an innovative and interactive new website and a series of associated lesson plans for teachers to use with their Grade 7 students. Importantly, all of the lessons are tied to provincial curriculum outcomes, making them ideal for use in classrooms right across the country.

From learning how to deal with textual harassers to helping teens deal with stress or a break-up, the textED.ca website incorporates games, quizzes, discussion pages, and other fun tools to help them navigate through the issues.

In partnership with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the Canadian Centre first launched textED.ca as a pilot project in January 2010. In total, more than 350 Grade 7 classes took part in the pilot between January 21, 2010 and April 30, 2010. During that time, 1,292 users signed up on the site and 441 teachers signed up for access to the lesson plans. In conjunction with the feedback received from teachers, students and other educational professionals, the Canadian Centre made numerous improvements and enhancements to the textED.ca lessons and online components.

Texting Stats:

• In Canada, 4.6 billion peer-to-peer text messages were sent in June 2010. This represents a 10% increase over the last reported March 2010 total of 4.2 billion messages.
• The total number of person-to-person text messages sent during the first six months of 2010 was 25.7 billion, which already represents 73% of the 2009 total of 35.3 billion.
• In June 2010, Canadians sent an average of 154.1 million messages per day. This is up from the average 135.4 million messages per day in March 2010.

(Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, as of October 2010)

Teen Texting Stats:

• The average teen sends 3,339 texts per month. That’s more than six texts per waking hour.
• For teens age 13 to 17, female teens send an average 4,050 texts per month while male teens send an average 2,539 texts per month.
• These teens are sending eight times more texts than they were this time last year.
• Other age groups don’t come close to this level of texting. The average 18-24-year-old sends only 1,650 texts per month. The average drops further with other age groups.

(Source: The Nielsen Company study released October 2010)

astral mediaAstral’s Playhouse Disney will follow suit with its U.S. counterpart and re-brand its English and French-language networks as Disney Junior in May 2011. Continuing the promise to provide the best in entertaining, development-based programming for younger viewers, Disney Junior will launch with new series such as Jake and the Never Land Pirates and programming that taps into Disney’s rich legacy of classic characters as featured in such programs as Disney Poetry Shorts. The re-branded multiplex channel will also expand on its educational mandate to layer in learning that focuses on social values, the environment and healthy living.

“Since its launch in November 2007, Playhouse Disney has continued to build its viewership, program offering and prestige,” said Joe Tedesco, Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Family and Playhouse Disney. “The evolution of Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior comes at an exciting time and will add a new energy to the network while disney playhouseremaining dedicated to bringing highly entertaining, home-grown and Disney programming to Canadian families.”

Coinciding with the re-brand, Jake and the Never Land Pirates will premiere on Disney Junior in May 2011. The animated adventure has classic Disney characters Captain Hook and Smee joined by a new crew of kid pirates led by the courageous Jake. The series, which emphasizes teamwork, features original pirate-rock music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band and stars David Arquette as the voice of the lookout parrot, Skully. Other new Disney programming set to premiere on Disney Junior includes Disney Poetry Shorts which showcases poems for children set against classic Disney animation and the short-form series Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps encouraging healthy lifestyles for preschoolers and families.

These new series will join new episodes of popular series such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso, Jungle Junction and Imagination Movers. Original Canadian series on Disney Junior will include the popular Franny’s Feet, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear and new episodes of Stella and Sam.

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17th November 2010

Business and Education Rounds Out The Day

49 pixelsVia 49 Pixels: In 2008, Canada’s digital media industry, comprised of approximately 3,000 interactive digital media companies, generated approximately $3.8 billion dollars through the hard work of over 50,000 industry professionals.

Canada, with everything we know about our industry and where it’s been, we know very little about where it’s headed. Who are these companies? Where are they located? Are their businesses growing? What types of skill-sets are they looking to acquire over the next year? Given the disparity of available data in this area, the Pixel to Product research team decided to take it upon themselves to ask these important questions.
Justin Kozuch
This social media news release is announcing that Justin Kozuch, winner of the Mesh Prize and Lead Researcher for the Pixel to Product research study, is launching Canada’s first nation-wide digital media census, designed to answer these and a few dozen other questions about the state of our digital media ecosystem.

The survey can be completed in both in English and en Francais, and in the time it will take you to drink a Tim Horton’s Double Double, you can complete the survey and add your voice to our collective digital legacy.

We’re also incredibly excited to announce you can now receive project updates, breaking news and important development on your mobile device. This morning, in conjunction with our partners at Broadplay, we launched an opt-in SMS campaign to help us further spread the word about our research to the approximately 70% of Canadians who own a mobile device. To opt-in to our SMS broadcast system, simply text 497957 (49PXLS) to 123411.

We need your help in getting this survey out to as many digital agency owners, web startups, and freelancers in order to capture the highest quality data we can muster. We have a number of short term and long term needs; please visit the Actionable Tasks page on our wiki for more information about how you can contribute your gifts to our initiative. Tweet, post to your wall, blog about this release or visit our census page and help us get the word out!

Edmonton’s Digital School, a licensed private vocational career college built on 25 years of digital schoolasynchronous technical training experience is excited to announce a revolutionized form of e-Learning, called Global e-Training.

Global e-Training includes highly effective online Autodesk software training programs which can be done from virtually anywhere to meet each learner’s own personal requirements. Its interactive and engaging fashion lets the learner dictate the entire training process to suit their particular learning style, making it one of the most desirable and advanced Autodesk e-training solution available in the world.

Global e-Training (GeT) is an enhanced form of e-learning which prepares and engages users of Autodesk’s design software programs in a revolutionary and interactive manner. It allows the user to effectively acquire all practical knowledge and skills required to carry out specific tasks on Autodesk software. A user is fully trained on the programs so they can hit the ground running. Unlike e-learning, which includes knowledge based resource tools, e-training by GeT on the Autodesk programs enhances skills acquisition and retention in a way which is real and useful to the user. It gives users an opportunity to immediately apply the software skills at the same time they are learning it. This is something no other competitor can offer, and may be especially beneficial to those who desire flexibility in their learning environment.

Global e-Training (GeT) is comprised of two main elements:

GeT Interactive is a self-paced online Autodesk software training program which lets students study on their own schedule, using visual, auditory and hands-on learning methods. Milestone tracking along with competency based progress ensures that students stay focused to complete their program. GeT Interactive courses include: AutoCAD 2D & 3D, Revit Architecture, Inventor and Civil 3D with more titles scheduled for release.

GeT Live Network is a collaborative learning platform which brings students and instructors together through the use of the Internet. It is a virtual classroom interface which enables students and instructors to interact with one another in real time. Instructors are brought into contact with students from around the globe, increasing class sizes and reducing overhead costs. It also allows quality training providers to host and market live courses on the network, making it a truly revolutionary training tool.

All of the GeT programs are designed to be fun and interactive, combining the best e-learning practices into a highly effective e-Training system. Global e-Training represents the future of online learning on Autodesk software.

D-BoxTwo more Canadian tech devs are celebrating expansions this week as well. D-Box Technologies has penned deals with two more American theatre companies who will be installing the D-Box MFX seats.

Muvico Entertainment’s Pompano 18 in Pompano, Florida will introduce D-BOX to its patrons on November 19th with the long-awaited release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The theatre is the first location in Florida to offer the immersive moviegoing experience. Meanwhile over in Texas, Premiere Cinemas will be adding its second outlet offering D-Box seats when the El Paso Premiere Cinema 18 offers 22 D-BOX MFX Seats for the Deathly Gallows opening.

YANGAROOYangaroo has signed a multi-year agreement with BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom International Inc. to deliver artist and music-related audiovisual content to BET properties – including the primary BET channel, BET Digital Networks, BET.com, BET International, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop – using YANGAROO’s patented Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS), as well as integrate DMDS with BET Network’s internal workflow. BET Networks will actively promote and recommend to the entertainment industry to utilize DMDS to send content digitally to BET Networks.

Yangaroo’s technology team worked closely with BET Networks’ engineers to refine the DMDS process for digitally distributing SD and HD television broadcast-quality video to integrate with and enhance BET Networks’ workflows. DMDS also transcodes the television broadcast file for online availability for streaming and provision of a frame-accurate preview quality version of the file with the time-code burned in, which improves reviewing and editing processes. The television broadcast-quality video file can be easily integrated into Online Editing Suites, On-Air Playback Servers and stored in a Digital Archive Server.

maximizerStrengthening its presence in the Ontario market, Vancouver’s Maximizer Software, a provider of simple, accessible CRM and mobile CRM solutions, has announced the appointment of software and sales veteran Alastair McKeating as Key Account Manager for the Ontario region. With more than a decade of experience in software solution sales, McKeating will focus on helping customers and prospects increase the value of their investment in Maximizer CRM.

“This is a critical appointment for Maximizer in our strategy to bring an expanded focus to Ontario. Alastair was the ideal candidate based on his in-depth knowledge of triangulating software technology with business process and user adoption to drive value and change management at large-scale organizations,” said Vivek Thomas, president, Maximizer Software. “Ontario is a growing market and revenue opportunity for Maximizer, and having a dedicated local representative is our first step in offering higher value to current and new clients with more sophisticated and broader CRM integration deployments.”

McKeating has an extensive software industry background, previously holding software sales positions with prestigious organizations including SAP, Business Objects and Computer Associates. He began his career in IT working as a data systems and applications architect for organizations such as Canadian Tire, the Ontario government and Manulife Financial.

Mobilicity has marched into Vancouver and Edmonton, rallying against wireless contracts and the surprise charges and extra fees consumers have been forced to pay the country’s incumbent carriers – until now.
mobilicity
The unlimited wireless carrier, which will have over 100 points of distribution in the Greater Vancouver Area when it launches its state-of-the-art 3.5G network tomorrow, deployed its troops (literally) to spread the good news to Vancouverites.

Edmontonians will also appreciate Mobilicity’s lineup of popular name-brand handsets and smartphones. Prices start at $49.99 without a contract and include crowd-pleasers like the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700, BlackBerry® Curve 3G and the Nexus One™ by Google™ Android™ 2.2 device.Mobilicity YVR

Today, the carrier announced the upcoming availability of the Motorola Spice™, Canada’s only sub-$200 name-brand Android™ 2.1 device, and the $99.99 LG Wink™ slider phone.

Dressed in magenta fatigues (Mobilicity’s signature colour) and singing the praises of contract-free unlimited wireless, the ‘Magenta Militia’ paraded through the city while Mobilicity executives held a press conference at the carrier’s corporate store in Richmond.

Mobilicity Chairman John Bitove said consumers have the power to bring down Vancouver’s high price of wireless by not surrendering to Telus Mobility, Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility, commonly known as the country’s wireless oligarchy.

And to round out the news for today, here is a recall notice for iPod users:

The Electrical Safety Authority is notifying the public that Emerge Technologies has announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately.

Name of Product: Retrak iPod retractable wall charger.
Units: 11,359 units in Ontario and 4,429 units in the rest of Canada.
Manufacturer/Importer: Emerge Technologies, Inc.
Hazard: The affected products have not been tested to determine whether they have been compliant with the Canadian Standards for product safety.
Incidents/Injuries: There have been no injuries or damage reported.
Description/Models: ETIPODCHGW is a white wall charger with retractable cable. ETIPODCHGWB is a black wall charger with retractable cable.
Sold by: Best Buy, GEM-SEN Distribution, Micro Channel Management, Staples and Tiger Direct for $24.00.
When was distributed: Between August 2008 and October 2010.
Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Customer should contact Emerge Technologies directly by calling toll free: 877-499-6072 or fax: 972-456-4220 or by email. Product to be returned to Emerge Technologies and customer will receive a full refund, including shipping costs.

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16th November 2010

University of Waterloo Senate Approves Games Institute Proposal

via UWaterloo: At a meeting of the University of Waterloo Senate last evening, a proposal for a Games Institute, drawing on Waterloo expertise in such fields as animation, gambling, simulation, neurobiology and wellness, was approved to move forward. The proposal, which was backed by the senate’s Graduate and Research Council and the Dean of Arts, drew on “core faculty members” in systems design engineering, drama and speech communication, psychology, anthropology, management sciences, mechanical and mechatronics engineering, English language and literature, and computer science.

University of WaterlooThe summary, which allowed that the Games Institute vision is very broad, incorporating game research that may have non-gaming applications, non-gaming research that may have game-related applications, hardware, software, and interaction, would seek funding from government (SSHRC, NSERC, MRl, etc.) and industry (Google, Microsoft, partners in the games industry and related industries); and UW seed funding. The proposal also went on to state that:

“The games industry is growing rapidly throughout Ontario, Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and offers numerous and wide-ranging areas for cross-faculty and multi-institutional interdisciplinary research collaborations. Furthermore, the games field is an area of strong interest for students, as researchers, creators and industry employees. The games industry is receiving substantial funding and incentives from governments, including the Ontario government.

“The Games Institute is proposed to advance research and knowledge in game-related interactions and technologies. The institute aims to establish strong academic and academic-industry research projects and programs, establish a richly cross-disciplinary graduate teaching and research institution, develop commercialization projects with industry partners, strengthen community ties, encourage student engagement, and enhance educational and employment opportunities for students. Research will cover video and computer games (including online games), social games, mobile games, educational and serious games, simulations and virtual worlds, more traditional non-digital games, board games and gambling games.

Also listed in the proposal were examples of some of the research studies and questions that researchers in the institute could tackle. Among them: “What are the psychological and psychophysiological aspects of gaming that contribute to addiction? What aspects of interface design can we learn from games? How can machine learning and AI influence new games? How can we optimize code for networked mobile games? How do we incorporate ideas from board games into new digital technologies? What public policy recommendations should be made with regard to games?”

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9th November 2010

The Changing Views of Social Media and How It Can Invoke Change

accountempsAs social media makes its way into the workplace, executives are weighing the potential risks and benefits. Nearly half (47 per cent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed recently for an Accountemps survey said their greatest concern is that employees are wasting time during business hours using sites such as Facebook and Twitter. CFOs also expressed worries their staff may behave unprofessionally or post inappropriate information online. However, almost one in four financial executives (24 per cent) said these sites can help staff members expand their networks of valuable business contacts.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with responses from more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “What is your greatest concern for your company regarding employees using social media?” Their responses:

Wasting time at work………………….. 47%
Behaving unprofessionally……………… 14%
Posting negative comments about company…. 11%
Posting financial/confidential company information… 5%
No concerns………………………….. 12%
Access not allowed……………………. 3%
Other……………………………….. 3%
Don’t know/no answer………………….. 6%

Total: 101% (*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

CFOs were asked, “What is the greatest benefit to your company of employees using social media?” Their responses:

Expand networks of valuable contacts……. 24%
Enhance company’s reputation…………… 22%
Provide better customer service………… 18%
Can secure new business……………….. 5%
No benefits………………………….. 21%
Access not allowed……………………. 3%
Don’t know/no answer………………….. 8%

Total: 101% (*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

“Many organisations are still determining how social media fits into their workplaces,” said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian division president of Accountemps. “Executives are concerned with the possibility of added distraction from their employees’ daily duties, which may affect productivity and efficiency on the job.”

Bolt also added, “On the other hand, more firms are realizing that the rewards may outweigh the risks, as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be used by employees to expand their networks of valuable business contacts and enhance the company’s reputation.”

war child canadaMeanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, four digitally savvy and socially conscious young blogging Canadians are socially suiting up for an opportunity of a lifetime that will see one of them join War Child on an upcoming visit to Ethiopia.

War Child Canada‘s War Child Challenge has bloggers reporting on a variety of issues to win a ten-day trip with War Child to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The challengers are blogging for the chance to tweet and report on War Child Canada’s Ethiopian efforts.

“The War Child Challenge is one example demonstrating War Child’s consistent leadership in adopting new social media practices,” said James Topham, director of communications, War Child Canada.  “Thanks to funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, the War Child Challenge can illuminate the issues faced in Ethiopia in particular, and the developed world more generally, by communicating on a platform that is much more apt to generate discussion and concern around global youth issues and the Millennium Goals.”

Challengers Joel Kelly (Halifax, NS), Sara Hamil (Belleville, ON), Christine Estima (Toronto, ON) and Ben Boudreau (Halifax, NS) are tackling a variety of multi-media citizen journalism challenges. The War Child Challenge is made up of three main parts: the challenges, vote tallies and post evaluation by a youth jury for clarity, focus, originality and creativity.  The challenges include:

  • Creating an image gallery of an event occurring in their community which offers a contribution to overcoming Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, or Gender Equality.
  • Profiling a person or organization in their community who is making a difference in one of the following areas: Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, Gender Equality.
  • Creating a video up to 5 minutes in length that conveys their thoughts, feelings, etc. regarding the global impact of Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, or Gender Equality.
  • Building a feature article which includes video, text, audio and images to tell their story of why they want win the War Child Challenge.

The War Child Challenge officially ends on Monday, December 20.

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9th November 2010

Canadian Students Say Science Is Not Cool

I see a great opportunity for Canadian interactive media developers, technology and schools coming about, perhaps spurred by the results in this study.

lets talk scienceScience and technology-based careers may have exploded in recent years, but Canada’s youth have little interest in studying science after they graduate from high school. According to a new Angus Reid Vision Critical survey, only one in three (37 per cent) Canadian teens aged 16 to 18 are interested in taking a science course at the post-secondary level – and these are teens who are currently enrolled in at least one high school science course.

This is a surprising statistic, especially given that more than eight out of 10 (82 per cent) teens recognize that studying science opens many different career options and believe that if fewer students pursue science it will have an impact on our society long-term (84 per cent). Across the country Canadians agree, with nearly 90 per cent saying that young people’s interest in science is essential for Canada’s future prosperity.

“There is clearly a disconnect between Canadians’ theoretical belief in the value of a science education and students’ actual intentions,” said Bonnie Schmidt, president and founder of Let’s Talk Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of science learning. “We need to encourage more teens to pursue science and technology learning at high school and post-secondary levels. The reality is that science education opens many more doors for career opportunities than people realize. A basic understanding of science is also needed for everyday life.”

The problem may be that Canadian teens do not think of science as ‘cool’. According to the survey, Canadian teens perceive people working in science related professions as intelligent (81 per cent) and serious (54 per cent), but only four per cent think they are ‘cool’. Yet, the number and variety of science-related careers available to youth today is higher than it has ever been before – and go beyond the obvious careers in medicine and computer technology. Science can lead to careers in the sports and entertainment industry or the business and financial world.

W. Brett Wilson, Chairman of both Prairie Merchant Corporation and CANOE Financial LP, as well as a scientist and entrepreneur, wants to help Canadian youth see the value and ‘cool’ factor of science. “The scientific skills learned at the high-school and post-secondary levels are critically important to virtually every career area,” said Mr. Wilson. “For me, studying science as part of my engineering degree has made a world of difference in my success. I use those skills every day in my own business, and in analyzing the potential value and utility of new business ideas. Now I am encouraging my own children, who have all taken sciences at a post-secondary level, to leverage those skills in whatever career paths they might choose.”

Partnerships like those between Let’s Talk Science and Amgen Canada are essential when trying to raise awareness of the importance of a science education among Canadian youth. According to the survey, eight out of 10 Canadian teens said that having access to mentors or assistance with homework would help them be more successful in science. Let’s Talk Science is a pioneer in developing programs that stimulate the interest of young people in science, including outreach programs that provide role models and real-world experiences in science and CurioCity, an interactive ‘place’ tailor-made for teens to explore and discover the science, engineering and technology in their lives. At CurioCity, teens have access to insightful articles that relate to their own interests and activities, such as health issues, technology, entertainment, sports and relationships, as well as a careers profile section that highlights the integral role science plays in career opportunities.

“Making science relevant is key to helping teens see the possibilities science brings to their own future,” said Dr. Schmidt. “Resources, like CurioCity, take science to where teens are – online and mobile – so they can explore science in ways that are meaningful to them. It’s very exciting, and the feedback by those who have used the website is very encouraging.”

Supporting educators in an effort to engage students in science in novel ways is also important – especially given that 70 per cent of teens say their science teachers have influenced their perception of science. The Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE) recognizes four outstanding Canadian science teachers each year for their extraordinary contribution to elevating science literacy through creativity and innovation in the classroom.

“As we move towards a knowledge-based economy, we need to work together with supporters of science education to ensure our youth understand its importance, as well as make the connection between cutting-edge science and its everyday applications,” said Karen Burke, director of regulatory affairs, Amgen and vice-president, Canadian Society for Chemistry.

“At Amgen Canada, we are committed to raising the value of science literacy in Canada and hope to attract bright young minds into the field of science for many years to come,” continues Daniel Billen, Vice President and General Manager of Amgen Canada.

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5th November 2010

Hegemony Philip of Macedonia Available Now

Longbow GamesToronto’s Longbow Games, one of the few selected for this year’s PAX 10 showcase winners, is proud to announce that their strategy wargame, Hegemony: Philip of Macedon, is now available on Steam. In addition, they have lowered the price to only $19.99.

“As an independent developer, it’s always a struggle to gain the attention of your audience,” said Jim McNally, president of Longbow Games. “We’re very excited to be launching Hegemony: Philip of Macedon on Steam, where we can share our game with a much wider audience.”

Longbow Games is currently working on their next title, Hegemony Gold: Wars of Ancient Greece, which will soon be in beta testing. Customers of Hegemony: Philip of Macedon can help test the new game for free at www.LongbowGames.com.Hegemony Philip of Macedon

Hegemony: Philip of Macedon lets you conquer the ancient Greek world in this PC RTS war game that follows the rise of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Players campaign across a continuous satellite-accurate map of ancient Greece encountering the full range of warfare from reconnaissance to raids to field battles to mountain blockades. The game also features:

* Innovative supply system – Siege and starve the enemy by cutting their supply lines or burning their crops, all the while building and protecting your own supply network to support your growing empire.
* Steeped in history – In-game pedia and 100+ historical objectives recreate the rise of the Macedonian empire.
* Detailed and stylized world and map – Transition smoothly between the detailed 3D world and the stylized board-game map while maintaining complete control over your empire. Read the rest of this entry »

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29th October 2010

ESAC Releases 2010 Essential Facts and New Promo Video

esacToday is a big day for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, with the launch of a new Canadian game industry sizzle video and the release of its annual guidebook to the entertainment software industry, ESAC 2010 Essential Facts (PDF). In this report, readers can find updated stats on the average age of the Canadian gamer, frequency of play, gender breakdown, preferred platforms and ways to play. The report also provides data on how online play, social games and mobile games are changing the gaming landscape. This annual publication also features relevant data about ESRB ratings awareness, family gaming and top selling games. Finally, Essential Facts gives an overview of the Canadian entertainment software industry with data on jobs, growth rate and annual contributions to the Canadian economy.

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The 2010 Essential Facts reveals that 39% of gamers (defined as someone who has played video games in the past 4 weeks) are spending more time playing games accessible through social networking websites.

Also of note is the fact that 7% of gamers use a mobile device (such as a cell phone or smart phone) most often to play video games – almost twice as many as in 2009 (4%). Gamers are also connecting their games with others through the Internet with 76% reporting online play.

“Social games are a growing part of the Canadian gamer’s repertoire – especially for ESAC 2010 Essential Facts PDF Reportwomen and teen girls – but they are only one of the many types of games that Canadians enjoy,” says Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC. “While we’re seeing a shift in how Canadians are playing games particularly towards online games, console and computer games remain the principal way to play,” she adds.

Social games are mostly free, widely available and accessible through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. These games – including popular ones like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Cafe World – are quick to load, take only a few minutes to play and grow virally as users invite their contacts to join in. Research found that 35% of adult women and 37% of teen girls play social games. 26% of girls (6-12yo) play social games, with 38% report spending more time playing these types of games.

The research was collected through a comprehensive Internet survey using NPD Group’s Online Consumer Panel. Data was obtained from over 3,500 Canadians across the country identified as having played a video game at least once in the past 4 weeks. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 1.6%, 19 times out of 20.

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27th October 2010

Hey BC Devs – Justin Wants To Meet You

Pixel to ProductA note to BC developers from Justin Kozuch and the Pixel to Product research project: As we (and I don’t mean me! Come on Canada – this is YOUR digital legacy too!) continue to drive towards our goal of releasing our first survey designed to measure the size and scope of the Canadian digital media ecosystem, we’ve been exposed to many different communities within the digital media space. Our most recent trip to Alberta was a great success; we met with community leaders and passionate digital media professionals who expressed a great interest in our research study and echoed our sentiments where it concerns the publication of freely available market data for the CANADIAN digital media industry. The data and insights we’ll be sharing at the conclusion of this study will allow us to truly understand the size and scope of the Canadian digital media ecosystem.

With this in mind, we are looking westward to arrange meetings to speak to digital media professionals from marketing to mobile application development and everything in between. We’ll be heading to Vancouver from November 1st to November 5th, and we’re looking to connect with you!
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We’re looking to speak at a number of events, and have confirmed our attendance at the upcoming DemoCamp Vancouver 12 on Wednesday, November 3rd, from 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM at The Lounge at Caprice (965 Granville Street).

To support our outreach initiatives, Mesh Prize winner and project visionary Justin Kozuch is interested in connecting with digital media and marketing professionals in the Vancouver digital media sector. Justin will be looking to build up an on-the-ground support team of influential and engaged industry professionals interested in helping us promote and support our research study and subsequent findings in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia. These events and connections will help us gain an understanding of who the local industry players are, build an ongoing relationship with them and leverage their skills in assisting with the research and study promotion activities.

Please tweet, email, Facebook, string-and-can anyone you know in the Vancouver area who fit this bill, and please ask them if they are interested in joining us at DemoCamp on November 3rd or connecting with Justin for coffee.

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20th October 2010

Canadian Small Businesses Want and Need the Internet

intelA new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll shows very clearly the recognition by Canada’s small and medium business sector (SMB) that the Internet is a key element of business strategy. However, the study also suggests that the country’s SMB sector may be reluctant to expand capacity to use the Internet and to hire or train people with the appropriate skills.

The survey, commissioned by Intel Canada, indicates that 90% of companies employing less than 100 people conduct at least some of their business with customers or suppliers over the Internet (with 38% saying they do “all” or “most” of their business using the web). Furthermore, 2/3 (67%) of companies believe that universal access to the Internet is “important” to their business.

“Clearly, we’ve passed the point where the Internet is a luxury or an add-on to a business’s operation,” said Doug Cooper, Country Manager, Intel Canada. “Canada’s small business segment wants, needs and uses the Internet to advance their company goals. The SMB sector is an absolutely crucial economic driver whose increased Internet adoption will, ultimately, benefit all Canadians.”

“For my business to succeed, I need fast, reliable, uncapped internet capabilities to move huge amounts of data into the cloud and deliver our creative work to clients,” said Chandra Clarke, owner of Chatham, Ontario-based Scribendi Inc. “Having my business located in a small community, I often feel the effects of the lack of digital infrastructure in Canada.”

The survey also points out a possible disconnect between companies wanting to offer more Internet-based services and investing in acquiring the skills to do so: More than 8-in-10 (82%) company owners said that hiring for or training people to improve either digital skills or the ability to do business on-line was “not a priority”. At the same time, almost 2/3 (63%) of all small and medium business owners surveyed believe they are currently spending “enough” on Internet-based technology with just under 2-in-5 (19%) believing they should be spending more.

Interestingly, almost 9 out of 10 (89%) respondents were not aware of Canada’s “moon shot” goal of ensuring that: “Anyone can do anything online in Canada by 2017”. This moon shot goal arose from the Canada 3.0 Forum this past spring which brought together industry players and entrepreneurs, government, academics, creators and journalists to discuss the future of the digital economy in Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th October 2010

New Canadian Research Shows Online Video Is Promising Channel for Marketers and Content Producers

M ConsultingThe first-ever study on Canadians’ viewing habits of online video conducted by Ipsos Reid and M Consulting finds 80 per cent of all Canadians indicate watching some video content online. Among those that have watched video online 41 per cent watch more online video content than they did last year. A growing audience means a bigger business opportunity for brand marketers and the Canadian film community to produce original online video content.

“A loyalty of sorts is being developed for online video,” says Bill Mohri, president of M Consulting who commissioned the study, which will be unveiled in full at the MergeMedia: Online Branded Entertainment Conference on October 22 at the MaRS Discovery Centre in Toronto. “There is the potential that a critical mass of Canadians could be watching more online video than TV much sooner than experts predicted.”MergeMedia Conference

While males between the ages of 18 to 24 comprise the biggest, most frequent audience, 41 per cent of all Canadians say they watch online video at least a few times per week. And the study found that people who view online video at least once per day are more receptive to branded entertainment, with 18 per cent indicating positive purchase intent for brands that have developed entertaining content online.

“It’s clear that brands have an impact with more frequent viewers of online video. It’s a more engaging, interactive medium,” says Bill Mohri. “Brand marketers and content producers need to pay attention to this growth area because it’s much less expensive than TV advertising and has real potential to reach consumers more effectively than TV.”

More research highlights include the following:

* Almost 100 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 to 24 watch some video content online, with 76 per cent watching at least a few times per week.
* Even though the incidence of viewership declines with age, fully 68 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 indicate watching some video content online.
* 49 per cent of respondents cited poor production quality as a main downside to watching videos online compared to TV.
* Comedy is the most popular online video genre, with 65 per cent of respondents who already watch video on the internet say they watch this genre most often.

The MergeMedia Conference will showcase full results of this benchmark study and explore implications through an interactive presentation by Ray Kong, senior vice president at Ipsos Reid, which includes a group of actual respondents who participated in the study that will be on-hand to answer audience questions about individual online video viewing habits.

The full-day conference will also bring together leading marketers and content producers to provide insights on online branded entertainment. The roster is long and includes Canadian producer Fred Fuchs, actress Illeana Douglas who created and stars in IKEA’s hit series Easy to Assemble, Alison Leung, marketing director, hair care and deodorants at Unilever Canada and Joe LaMuraglia, social media manager at General Motors.

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