8th April 2010

Awards Shows Are The Topic of the Day

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – The Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards has released its list of finalists for the inaugural awards gala which will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre this coming May 5th in conjunction with GDC Canada, which will take place May 6th and 7th, also at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Game of the Year:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Console Game:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Handheld Game:

Battle of Giants: Dragons – LEGO Battles – MySims Racing – Pandemica and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Downloadable Game:

Critter Crunch – Implode! – Osmos – Pandemica and Super Monkey Ball 2

Best Game Audio:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Skate 2 and WET

Best Game Design:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Game Technology:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – FIFA 10 – Fight Night Round 4 – Prototype and Skate 2

Best Visual Arts:

Academy of Champions – Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Fight Night Round 4 and Punch-Out!

Best Writing:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Prototype and WET

Most Promising Game:

Dead Rising 2 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution – TRON: Evolution – ModNation Racers and Need for Speed: World

Best Animated Short:

EcoBuddies – Ormie – Splinter Cell: Conviction E3 2009 Trailer and The Oracle of Aveon

Visual Effects Movie:

Angels and Demons – Assassin’s Creed: Lineage – District 9 – Invictus and Watchmen

In-Game Cinematic:

LEGO Battles – Ghostbusters: The Video Game – NBA Live 10 and Prototype: Web of Intrigue

Voting for the awards is now open – these are going to be some very difficult choices for me to make, because almost all of my favourite Canadian-made games are on these lists. Decisions, decisions.

Georgia StraightSpeaking of awards, the Georgia Straight has published an article by journalist Blaine Kyllo about The Elans, an award show formerly held in Vancouver and now attempting to relocate to San Diego. This article is a must-read for anyone involved in the digital and interactive media industry.

Business In VancouverVancouver – Also in the awards category today, Cybele Negris, Co-Founder of webnames.ca, is one of six women to be honoured at BIV’s Influential Women in Business awards. This is the 11th year BC’s most influential business women have been honoured. Cybele, former president of Wired Woman Vancouver launched the successful mentorship program members have benefited greatly from. Hear from Cybele, along with 5 other honourees April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront.

Being honoured on April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront are:

Janet Austin, CEO, YWCA Vancouver
Ida Goodreau, Corporate Director and former CEO LifeLabs and Vancouver Coastal Health
Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chancellor, University of British Columbia
Cybele Negris, Co-Founder, webnames.ca
Janine North, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust
Lifetime Achievement Award – Julia Levy, Corporate Director and Co-Founder QLT Inc.

Event Details:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Fairmont Waterfront
Waterfront Ballroom
Reception: 11:30am
Awards Luncheon 12:00pm – 2:00pm
BIV Subscribers: $75, Non-subscribers $95

The Influential Women in Business Awards are presented by Business in Vancouver to recognize successful British Columbia business women in British Columbia. The honourees are selected based on their outstanding achievements in business, contribution to their industry, and influence in the local business community.

mob4hireCalgaryMob4Hire, the world’s largest mobile testing and market research community, today announced a significant new platform release. In development for a year, Mob4Hire Version 4.0 offers mobile functional and usability testing, as well as product and market research using it’s crowd of over 40,000 mobile users in 150 countries. This provides valuable opportunities for mobile app and website developers, advertising executives, product managers, market researchers, marketing teams and developer networks / app stores of handset and network operators to reach global users and include user feedback in the mobile development cycle. This results in a good user experience which in turn drives recommendations, top store rankings, discoverability, and ultimately, viral revenue growth.

Mob4Hire Version 4.0 replaces the old system that has been live since Autumn 2008. Since then, Mob4Hire’s crowd-sourced community of 40,000 mobile testers in 150 countries on 364 network operators, have been helping the almost 1,000 mobile developers registered from 81 countries make better mobile apps through functional testing. Testers (also known as “Mobsters”) have already made thousands of dollars for doing quality assurance work while at the same time helping mobile developers save up to 90% in traditional testing costs.

With this announcement, Mob4Hire is also introducing Basic, Premium and Managed Service pricing tiers to accommodate mobile firms of all shapes and size who need to create and run projects using its crowd-sourced methodologies. Managed Services offers efficient and cost-effective project management; using Mob4Hire’s community can save up to 65% in costs over traditional testing methods and has already been used to manage several multi-national and multi-device tests that would have been cost-prohibitive to run using traditional testing techniques.

netsweeperTorontoNetsweeper, a global provider of Internet Content Filtering and web threat management solutions, is excited to announce a series of core feature enhancements, uniquely designed to further protect children from inappropriate content and other web based threats.

“In a very short time, the Internet has evolved to become a major influence on our society,” said Perry Roach, founder and CEO of Netsweeper. “Used primarily and originally as a source for information, the Internet is now utilized for a host of applications including; entertainment, communication, purchasing, banking, advertising, commerce and data transfers just to name a few. However, the dramatic growth of the Internet does not come without its challenges. Today, the Internet is also being exploited to deliver content that may be deemed as inappropriate for some users and criminal tactics such as personal identity theft.”

“Though Netsweeper does not take a stance on what information should be accessible online, we do develop and offer tools to enable the IT managers or parents to manage Internet access and activity for those they are responsible for,” continued Roach. “Netsweeper’s latest enhancements now allow for better controls around the accessible content on sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia.”

In addition to providing the ability to enforce Safe Search on Search Engines, including Google, Yahoo! and Bing among others, Netsweeper will now enforce YouTube filtering for minors. With this features enabled, access to inappropriate videos will be blocked.

“YouTube is a fantastic site and is regularly used for educational purposes,” said Andrew Graydon, COO at Netsweeper. “However, many school systems and parents have a tough choice to make when it comes to the idea of allowing or disallowing access to YouTube. Enforcing the Safety Mode for YouTube now allows children and teachers to leverage this tool for educational purposes without the worry of inappropriate materials being accessed.”

A second enhancement introduced by Netsweeper, is the ability to filter the search results returned from Wikipedia. With this new feature enabled, IT administrators now have the ability to control access for content which could be deemed as inappropriate or offensive for display.

“While Wikipedia has no Safe Search functionality, we have had many requests to enable filtering and blocking of content for some of the more explicit entries,” added Graydon. “To combat this in a procedural way, we have implemented a solution from the core of the Netsweeper systems requiring only configuration changes for each customer. As of today, all deployments of Netsweeper can manage the available content for all searches made in Wikipedia.”

In addition to these two industry advances, Netsweeper has enhanced its market leading abilities to detect and block Anonymous Proxies. Today, anonymous proxies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. To combat the challenges posed by these proxies, Netsweeper has invested considerable time and energy to research and further refine its Artificial Intelligence Categorization Engines to properly identify and quarantine these sites.

“Students are infamous for attempting to ‘beat the filter’. One of the more common methods is through the use of anonymous proxies. With a significant percentage of our business being in the education space, it is crucial for us to remain one step ahead,” explained Graydon. “Today, the core of our business proposition is our ability to accurately and quickly identify and categorize new web content. This Artificial Intelligence Engine is not only capable of identifying sites with such content, but is the best in the industry when it comes to deciphering new web threats, such as viruses, spyware and anonymous proxies.”

National Film BoardMontreal – The Forum des images, in Paris, in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), will celebrate the work and artistic contribution of animation filmmaker Jacques Drouin on April 13 and 14. Not only will there be screenings of his films and a documentary about him, Drouin will present films that have influenced him and will give an exceptional master class on the pinscreen technique, of which he is the world’s foremost practitioner. The event has been organized to coincide with the French launch of the DVD box set Jacques Drouin: Complete Pinscreen Works, in the NFB’s prestigious Mémoire collection.

Jacques Drouin’s unique and poetic body of work is inextricably linked to a legendary animation device, the Alexeïeff-Parker pinscreen. Animators and the general public alike will have a unique opportunity to attend a demonstration of this uncommon technique by Jacques Drouin in the French capital on April 14. The number of pinscreens in the world can be counted on one hand, and two of them will be brought out for the occasion: the last pinscreen built by Alexeïeff and Parker in 1976, preserved by the Cinédoc & Paris Films Jacques DrouinCoop, and a small toothpick screen, preserved by the Archives françaises du film in Paris.

Since Alexeïeff’s death in 1982, the only pinscreen in use anywhere in the world is the one acquired by the NFB in 1973. It consists of 250,000 pins, each inserted in its own hole through a vinyl screen held in a rigid frame. “Jacques Drouin is a major figure in NFB history,” said Julie Roy, producer of the box set. “For three decades, he was the only filmmaker in the world who was working with the pinscreen, the incredible ‘dream machine’ invented around 1930 by the Russian-born French filmmaker Alexander Alexeïeff. The NFB is proud to be associated with this one-of-a-kind master class, because we feel it is our duty to ensure the future of the technique by teaching it to interested artists in other countries.

Drouin’s high-quality oeuvre, constant experimentation and eminently personal vision proved that the pinscreen could express the imaginative ideas of animators other than its inventor. It was with this ingenious device that Jacques Drouin made all of his films, from Three Exercises on Alexeïeff’s Pinscreen, in 1974, to Imprints, in 2004. Today, animator Michèle Lemieux (Stormy Night) is using it to make her animated short Le grand ailleurs et le petit ici, produced by Julie Roy and slated for release in 2011.

Jacques Drouin – Complete Pinscreen Works

This box set in the prestigious Mémoire collection brings together the six animated shorts Drouin made at the NFB, including his now classic Mindscape (1976), all digitally restored for this collection created to preserve significant film works. Bonus features include four student films, two trailers and several animated sequences with the director’s commentary, as well as Jacques Drouin in Relief. Made specially for the box set, this documentary portrait offers new insights into the work of an outstanding artist. Complementing the films is a bilingual booklet containing essays by animation experts, Drouin’s notes and other invaluable archival documents. Les films du paradoxe is the distributor for French-speaking Europe.

SupernovaTorontoSupernova.com is proud to announce that they have opened their growing music community to International users. Now emerging artists, indie bands and fans from anywhere in the World, as well as members of the International music industry, can join the Supernova.com community.

With over 22,000 new music bands and artists, on a community of over 200,000 passionate music fans and supporters, Supernova.com is the largest and only social network to produce live shows to promote new artists and their talent.

Though the Supernova.com indie network began in Canada and the US, music has always reached out beyond geographical borders. Last year, the Russian website Rambler recommended Supernova.com’s artist community and music exploration tools as a top music discovery website. As a result of this growing interest, Supernova has seen an increase in International traffic and is proud to now open its doors to the global music community.

Operated by Supernova Interactive, this unique new music community will now connect band, listener and industry profiles from all over the World. Now any music fan can access Supernova’s easy song, photo and video sharing tools, event promotion and publicity pages, and exclusive live event and concert opportunities. The result is a much stronger Supernova.com social network, delivering a musically immersive and interactive experience for bands, fans and listeners that is focused on their common passion for new music.

Ontario Science CentreToronto – To celebrate the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at its exclusive Canadian venue, the Ontario Science Centre, Harry Potter film stars James and Oliver Phelps, who play Fred and George Weasley in the film series, brought their magical charm and humor to today’s opening event. The exhibition offers fans a first-hand look inside the famous wizard’s magical world, giving guests the opportunity to experience the amazing craftsmanship of hundreds of authentic props and costumes from the Harry Potter films. The exhibition will be on view until Sunday, August 22, 2010.

“The Science Centre seeks out temporary exhibitions that will appeal to our traditional audience and attract new visitors who may never have visited a science centre,” said Lesley Lewis, CEO, Ontario Science Centre. “Harry Potter: The Exhibition holds just such crossover appeal. Our visitors will be inspired by the creativity, technology and attention to detail behind the artifacts and themed settings in this wonderful exhibition.”

In a 1,300 square metre exhibit space, Harry Potter: The Exhibition features authentic film artifacts displayed in immersive settings inspired by the film sets. As visitors tour the exhibition, they will be taken on a journey into the world of Harry Potter through several themed vignettes based on iconic Hogwarts settings, and come face-to-face with some of their favourite props and costumes, all of which were hand-picked by GES, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and the filmmakers themselves.

Some of the key artifacts on display include Professor Snape’s robes; Professor Trelawney’s crystal ball and exotic wardrobe; costumes and props from Professors Lupin™, Lockhart™and Umbridge™; props and artifacts from the Yule Ball, including costumes from notable characters such as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Professor Dumbledore™; and life-size centaurs, a caged dragon, Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff and a giant Acromantula spider.

“We are truly excited to unveil the exhibition and its incredible offerings to so many loyal Canadian fans,” said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President, Domestic Licensing and Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “The magical and immersive settings bring the films to life and the Ontario Science Centre is the perfect location for the exhibition’s debut outside the U.S.”

Future ShopBurnaby – Hundreds of electronic items previously abandoned and sent to landfills or stored in closets will now be accepted back at Future Shop. Today, Future Shop, Canada’s leading retailer and e-tailer of consumer electronics, announced the official expansion and launch of its Electronics Take Back program throughout Alberta, making it easy for consumers to responsibly dispose of end of life electronics. Customers can bring in up to two products per day to any Future Shop location whether the item was originally purchased from the chain or elsewhere.

The program, which kicks off on April 9, started as a test pilot in Calgary and Ottawa in late 2009, will begin its permanent offering in Alberta, with plans to roll the Electronics Take Back program into other provinces in the upcoming months.

“Everyday our customers are coming into our stores looking for new electronic products but they’re also looking for solutions to dispose of the technology they’re replacing,” said Todd Empey, Vice President of Operations, Future Shop. “Future Shop is committed to doing its part to help reduce our environmental impact.”

During the successful test pilot program in Calgary with recycling partner GEEP Alberta Inc., Future Shop responsibly disposed of and recycled an average of 3,307 lbs of electronics from each store every month. The program has now expanded to include all Future Shop stores in Alberta (with the exception of Grande Prairie).

“It has been a great opportunity to partner with Future Shop on such a rewarding and necessary program for our communities,” said Brendan Lefebvre, Manager of Logistics and Business Development, GEEP Alberta Inc. “Future Shop’s footprint of stores offers more convenient locations for consumers to access the service and return product in a location where they’re making their next purchasing decision.”

To participate in Electronics Take Back, customers can bring common electronics items such as TVs, personal computers and peripherals (mice, keyboards, speakers and cables), desktop printers and monitors into their local Future Shop during store hours and deposit them at Customer Service. Customers do not need to purchase items to receive the service or show original receipt of purchase.

Absolute SoftwareVancouverAbsolute® Software Corporation, the leading provider of firmware-based, patented, computer theft recovery, data protection and secure IT asset management announced today that on April 7, 2010 it purchased the technology assets of FailSafe® and Phoenix Freeze™ from Phoenix Technologies Ltd.

FailSafe is a competitive theft deterrence product that provides users the ability to protect, track, and manage their laptop and its files if it is ever lost or stolen. Freeze allows users to lock and unlock an XP or Vista based laptop when they walk away from it and unlock it when they return. Freeze is Bluetooth®-enabled; once a user steps out of the “zone of safety” their laptop is locked and their data protected. Absolute will integrate certain components of the acquired technology into its industry leading Computrace® LoJack® for Laptops solution to extend its data protection and theft recovery capabilities.

“This asset acquisition enhances our competitive position in the market and reaffirms our commitment to the anti-theft space,” said John Livingston, CEO. “These two products provide some additional features we can incorporate into our existing suite of services. We will also use this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our computer manufacturer (OEM) relationships and embedded positions. We have long valued our OEM relationships and the acquisition of FailSafe and Freeze solidifies our leadership position with these key partners.”

HewittToronto – As the Canadian economy shifts from recession to recovery, organizations that were able to retain their employees during the downturn simply because they had nowhere else to go now run the risk of losing key talent, according to Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company. However, employers with high employee engagement are more likely to keep the people they need to succeed than those with low engagement.

For employers that want to identify the degree of their employee retention risk, a good place to start is one of the Best Employers studies. “One key component of the Best Employers studies is the employee opinion survey, used to determine the level of employee engagement at an organization,” said Neil Crawford, a principal at Hewitt and leader of the Best Employers in Canada study. “If employees speak positively about their employer, want to continue working there, and go ‘above and beyond’ to help the organization succeed, we identify them as being highly engaged. These employees are likely to remain with the organization, despite other career opportunities.”

Whether an organization has 50 or 50,000 employees, it can participate in one of the two Best Employers studies to measure employee engagement and benchmark its results against those of other participants. It can then use the study findings to pinpoint exactly where changes in the work environment can have the greatest impact on overall engagement. Employers that have been in business in Canada for at least three years are eligible. Those with between 50 and 399 permanent employees participate in the Best Small & Medium Employers study, while the Best Employers in Canada study is for those with at least 400 employees.

Hewitt announced the launch of the 12th annual Best Employers in Canada study today. In addition, the Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada study, sponsored by Queen’s School of Business and the Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing in conjunction with Hewitt is now accepting registrations. In both cases, there is no charge to participate and organizations have until the end of May to sign up.

In addition to providing actionable information to individual study participants, the Best Employers studies present an opportunity to survey over 100,000 employees on current human resources issues. For the 2011 studies, Hewitt has partnered with study sponsor the National Quality Institute (NQI) to examine the links between employee engagement, quality and organizational excellence. The theory that will be put to the test is that employers with high engagement are better positioned to achieve quality and excellence in the workplace.

“The Best Employers studies offer Hewitt and NQI a unique opportunity to delve deeper into our respective areas of interest – employee engagement, quality and organizational excellence – and to better understand the relationships among them,” said Allan Ebedes, NQI’s president and CEO. “We look forward to sharing the results with study participants and NQI members.”

The 2010 lists of the 50 Best Employers in Canada and 50 Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada have already been announced. However, participants in those studies have more opportunities for recognition. Profit magazine will highlight organizations on the 2010 Best Small & Medium Employers list in its April 14 issue. A new list that celebrates the best “green” employers, The Green 30, drawn from participants in the two 2010 studies, will appear in the May 3 edition of Maclean’s magazine and the May 10 issue of Canadian Business magazine. Both issues will be on newsstands across Canada on Earth Day, April 22. In addition, the Toronto Star will recognize the Best Employers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in June.

Best Employers from across Canada will be named from amongst participants in the 2011 studies in Maclean’s and Canadian Business this fall. That list will also appear in La Presse newspaper. The 2011 Best Employers in the GTA list will appear at approximately the same time in the Toronto Star.

“We’re delighted to have forged new publishing partnerships, while maintaining strong relationships with existing partners and sponsors,” stated Crawford. “All study participants that start the journey to becoming a Best Employer deserve to be recognized when they arrive at their destination. Winning the hearts and minds of employees is not easy and certainly worthy of applause.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010 at 2:19 pm and is filed under Awards, Business News, Education, Events, National News, Research Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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