21st March 2011

Tweet It Up Canada

twestivalThe largest Twitter Festival in the world returns to Canada – and the world – on Thursday, March 24th. The causes that will benefit from the twelve Canadian twestival events are wide and varied – but all share a commonality in that each organization strives to make a difference in someone’s life. None of these events would be possible without the generous support of the volunteers, locations and 100’s of corporations who have donated time, services, products and talent to make this night of fundraising a huge success. Please take a moment to thank them if you’re able to attend – or tweet one to them if you’re not.canada helps

More than 600 digital enthusiasts will connect at The Fifth Social Club in downtown Toronto to meet in-person, network and raise money for The Remix Project, a local charity utilizing mentorship, instruction and the power of the arts to inspire disadvantaged youth and help them achieve their dreams.

Through ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, including Creative Niche Inc., Rogers Canada, and Hill & Knowlton, TwestivalTO (@TwestivalTO) is already in the top three cities leading Twestival global fundraising totals.

“With 12 Canadian cities and over 150 locations across the world hosting locally organized Twestivals, we’re excited to raise the bar for fundraising through Twitter and Facebook,” said Shawn Griffiths, co-lead of Twestival Toronto’s organizing committee. “Through recent global events we’re realizing the true power of social media. Toronto TwestivalTwestivalTO is the latest example of people connecting, sharing information and organizing for social good.”

TwestivalTO promises an interactive experience showcasing the best Toronto’s digital community has to offer. Highlights include red carpet Twitpics, a QR Code Treasure Hunt, the debut of ‘Canadian Twidol’ – where audience tweets decide the winner – and musical performances from The Remix Project. The evening performances will be featured during a 24-hour live stream connecting Twestivals around the world and raising money for Save the Children’s Japan Fund. TwestivalTO will also participate in an attempt to set a world record for the ‘most international charities participating in a live stream.’

“We’re very excited to partner with this year’s TwestivalTO,” said Gavin Sheppard, co-founder and executive director of The Remix Project and 2010 TED fellow, who will co-host with MuchMusic Host, Lauren Toyota. “All money raised will help creative, young people in Toronto realize and fulfill their dreams. It’s going to be truly spectacular.”

“All my mentors have been simply amazing,” said Ruthie Titus, a Remix Project graduate now working as a Quebec Twestivalprofessional photographer. “I don’t know where I’d be right now without Remix. It’s changed my life in so many ways.”

Twestival Québec 2011 (@TwestivalQuebec) will be held at Café Babylone and the group is supporting Fondation Gilles Kegle. Café Babylon will be offering two menu options: $5.00 appetizer or $12 for a meal. DJ Andrei Herran and other artists will be entertaining attendees throughout the evening.

Vancouver TwestivalTwestival Vancouver’s (@yvrtwestival) will be held at The Vancouver Lookout – Atop Harbour Centre, and will be raising funds for the Beauty Night Society, an award-winning volunteer-run,  registered Canadian charity that builds self esteem and changes lives of women and youth living in poverty through three streams of programs: wellness, life skills development and makeovers. The Society helps women of all ages and from all walks of life. Homelessness, hunger, mental ill health and debilitating illnesses are some of the reasons Beauty Night’s participants connect with the Society. One in three women have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 years old, but we have found that number to be much higher amongst our participants.

Society Founder Carolne MacGillivary shares some background about the Beauty Night Society: “If people do not believe change is possible, change will not happen. We welcome our participants as they are. They come in, make friends, access services, and many become leaders in their community.  When we ask women living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside what assistance they want, they tell us they want to be treated with dignity and respect. Beauty Night because dignity is beautiful. The makeover is a great opportunity to reintroduce healthy touch in a non-threatening way and build relationships based on trust with the participants. Through the makeover program and life skill development we are able to connect our participants with resources to help them move forward in their life.”

The Edmonton Twestival (@yegtwestival) will be supporting the Edmonton Public School Foundation, whose primary purpose is to help children get ready for life through public education. But what does that really mean? Before they even start Kindergarten, children begin learning. Research tells us that 75 per cent of brain growth occurs before age six. When children live in vulnerable circumstances without opportunities for healthy growth, their future success becomes threatened. The Edmonton event will be held at the Red Star Pub.

Victoria TwestivalThe Victoria Twestival (@yyjtwestival) will be supporting The Cool Aid Society, a group which traces its origins to the Cool Aid Hostel, established over 40 years ago on June 10th 1968, to provide short-term, emergency shelter to transient youth travelling the country. Today, Cool Aid operates a diverse range of social and health services for those in the Victoria community who are most vulnerable. A large portion of the funds raised at the Victoria Twestival comes from the Silent Auction – and after looking at the list of goods and services, I can see why. Head over to the Victoria Twestival page and take a look for yourself. While you’re there, scroll down and check out the awesome artists who will be entertaining those of you meeting up in the Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Caroline Spence, Adam Basterfield and Mike Ross from Spaceport Union will be performing, along with You, me and Jose as well as acoustic duo Megan Johns & Hayden Cyr and rising star Ashleigh Eymann.

Montreal’s Twestival event (@TwestivalMTL) will be supporting The Dans La Rue team, who works tirelessly to put Father Johns’ philosophy of help without judgment into action by providing street kids with food, shelter and support through their outreach programs.Montreal Twestival

Montreal’s Cabaret du Mile End is happy to host the Montreal Twestival, and set in the heart of the Mile End district at 5240 Parc Avenue for close to 30 years, Le Cabaret has seen thousands of local artists perform and contribute to make this venue a landmark of this neighborhood limitrophe to the Plateau and Outremont.

UpVenue is also supporting the Montreal Twestival, and the super talented Inuk singer, composer and filmmaker Elisapie Isaac will be showcasing “There will be Stars”  which is her first solo recording. There Will Be Stars is the much anticipated follow up to the internationally acclaimed, award winning duo Taima which she co-founded with guitarist / composer Alain Auger in 2001.

Kelowna’s Twestival (@YLWtwestival) will be held at The Kelowna Art Gallery and will working to raise funds for the purchase of five new computers for The Women’s Resource Centre. These new computers will become a part of the Women’s Resource Centre’s educational programs.

The Lethbridge Twestival (@LethTwestival) will be held at Average Joe’s and has chosen the Family Centre Society of Southern Alberta as its cause. The Society provides services to children and their families as a Family Resource Centre. It is a community-based organization, working with children, families and caregivers to enhance identified strengths, to build capacities and to promote healthy development. They also provide a comprehensive range of prevention and early intervention services to children, youth and families as well as offering early learning through play programs.

Calgary TwestivalMeanwhile the Calgary Twestival committee (@YYCtwestival) is thrilled to announce Mandie Crawford, President of Roaring Women, as the emcee for this year’s fundraising event to support Making Changes. Crawford was honoured as Business in Calgary’s 2010 Woman of the Year, and has a passion for encouraging women.

“All great leaders in history have used their passion as the driving force in making a difference in other people’s lives. Mandie is a great example of someone in our community who decided to step up and make a difference,” says Jay Cloutier, Calgary Twestival committee member. “Her life’s work is to empower women to strive for the best and be confident in their abilities, which is a perfect fit for this year’s theme. We are extremely excited that she accepted our offer to emcee this event.”

The event is on March 24th at Firewater (222 – 7th Street S.W.), and tickets can be purchased online for $15, and also sponsorship is available for as low as $100. The theme of the night spurred from one of Making Changes programs called Walk in Closet whose mandate is “To empower women by providing them with knowledge and a selection of work attire for their transition into the workplace.” At the event, there will be a paparazzi-filled red carpet, a photo booth, and models. People will have the chance to buy Espy clothes off models backs for chances Fraser Valley Twestivalto win bigger prizes.

The Fraser Valley Twestival (@FVTwestival) will be held at the Coast Hotel and Conference Centre in Langley City and will feature the following:

1. Exciting performances by Sound Refuge, Greg Neufeld, The Latency and March Hare band!
2. Delicious food provided by Mizuna Culinary, Mozart Bakery and a fresh oyster bar from 1 Fish 2 Fish
3. Mesmerizing contortion acts by Westcoast Contortion
4. Free wine and beer tastings from Vista D’oro Winery, Township 7 Winery and Dead Frog Brewery
5. Big screen xBox games from Digital Smart Homes
6. Hilarious photo booth fun with Jennifer Kirk Photography
7. Airbrush tattoos from Tattoos For Now
8. Chance to win some amazing raffle prizes and silent auction items.
9. Your ticket includes one drink ticket (cash bar available thereafter) and one raffle ticket.

This is going to be such a fun night out! Invite your friends, your colleagues – and see you there, and remember: 100% of funds raised from this event will benefit the new Canuck Place Abbotsford! It’s also 1 year anniversary of the Fraser Valley Social Media Meetup and the 2 year anniversary of FraserValleyPulse.com.

Ottawa Twestival’s (@TwestivalOTT) chosen charity is the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, and 100% of Twestival’s ticket and live & silent auction sales (along with all other proceeds) will go to support the Foundation. Your Ottawa Twestival ticket will get you in the door at Daly’s in The Westin Hotel, salty snacks and cupcakes, a photo area to get a professional avatar picture done, lots of mingling opportunities and a Twitter demo area for those who haven’t caught the bug yet.

Whistler TwestivalWhistler’s Twestival (@TwestivalWhis) will be supporting Zero Ceiling, an organization that affords at risk youth and street youth the opportunity to learn and grow through the experience of adventure sport such as skiing and snowboarding. Since the charity’s inception it has helped over 4,000 youth over 13 years.

According to the Whister Twestival page, they will be drawing for a Scandinave Spa Whistler pass from the first 50 tickets  sold, and then they’ll draw for an even bigger prize when sales hit 100, and an even bigger prize than that for the 150th.  Big Mountain Rhythm will get the party started and with  a killer silent auction, raffle and grab bag fundraiser the organizers suggest that attendees bring some cash or cheques if you want to score some cool swag and help raise more money for Zero Ceiling.

DJ Foxy Moron will get on the decks after Big Mountain Rhythm but the Whistler Twestival isn’t all about the music.  It will be a feast for the senses with Paintertainment’s Candy Girls in the house, live art stations where you will be able to express yourself on blank skis and snowboards with Whistler-based artists, showings of the top three Deep Winter and Deep Summer slideshows, not to mention tasty nibbles from Pure Bread Whistler and Nester’s. Whistler’s Twestival will be hosted at the Whistler Brewing Company.

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17th March 2011

New Initiatives Designed To Save You Money

Orby - Proud to be CanadianAs the week draws nearer to a close, there is no sign of slow-down in Canadian digital media activity. Tonight Scott and Mike will be checking out an event at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre hosted by AnnexPro and Avid, while I’ll be over in Yaletown at a Women In Games Vancouver board meeting. Don’t forget that our Women In Games March Martini night (sorry guys, ladies only) is next Thursday, March 24th at Rogue.

Congratulations are due to the Ubisoft Montreal Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood team, who picked up the BAFTA in the UK last night for top Action Game and to the Bioware team who garnered the Best Game award for Mass Effect 2.

big book driveI keep forgetting to tell you all about the huge Book Drive that’s been going on in BC, so I left the page open to the site to remind myself because I tend to be forgetful. The next big event is this weekend, March 19 & 20th, at the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters located at 3833 Henning Drive in Burnaby. Drawing directly from the information on the Book Drive site:

The Big Book Drive is a two-day event aimed to help the less-fortunate and low-income families so that they may gain a better education in the future. Oftentimes after we’ve read a book, we leave it lying around without touching it for years. This is wasteful of Earth’s resources, and it does not have to be so. These books can be used to help others, so make The Big Book Drive your way of giving back to the community. Our goal is to collect as many books as possible. The books will either be sold at used bookstores to generate proceeds, donated to the charities we’re working with, or recycled to be remade into new books. Either way, 100% of the proceeds will be donated, because we want to help others just as much as you do!

I hope that if you are able to help out, you can. The organization is looking for textbooks, journals, comic books, novels, children’s books, magazines and catalogues. No adult material, newspapers or eBooks on CD/DVD, though.xna

Students in need of software should check out Microsoft initiative DreamSpark. Verified Microsoft Canadastudents can gain access to licensed Microsoft products, including XNA Studio 4, Visual Studio, Expression, Robotics Developer and more. You now have fewer reasons to not get out there and create something. Go, go, go!

Microsoft Canada also offers assistance to small-medium businesses with volume licensing programs designed to Hasbrosave money and get companies creating. It’s worth your time to check out what is available for you.

On Saturday March 19th, let the games begin as YTV WOW! Let it rip with non-stop action and adventure with Hasbro’s Beyblade: Metal Fusion Battle Zone. Beyblade fans can come out to the Real Canadian Superstore at 51 Gerry Fitzgerald Drive in Toronto and battle it out for prizes and gift packs from 10am until 4pm.

Government of CanadaSpeaking of availability, the Government of Canada has launched its Open Data Pilot Project, which is designed to improve the ability of the public to find, download and use Government of Canada data. You are invited to search the catalogue, download datasets and explore the possibilities of Open Data. This project could go a long way towards helping businesses gain access to research data they may require for such activities as market research or even finding new business partners.

As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to drive innovation and economic opportunities for all Canadians, the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway launched the pilot project for an online Open Data Portal following public consultations on the digital economy strategy which saw Canadians asking for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats.

“The Government of Canada is launching its Open Data Portal to make a large amount of data accessible through a single window,” said Minister Day. “With this portal, application developers can reuse data for commercial or research purposes to benefit all Canadians in a variety of ways. We want to continue to make Canada one of the best places to do business by ensuring that Canadian entrepreneurs, researchers, academics and voluntary organizations have access to government data in useful formats to help foster innovation, job creation and community services for Canadians.”

This pilot portal will make more than 260,000 datasets from the following ten participating departments available to all Canadians: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Environment Canada; Department of Finance Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Library and Archives Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada; Transport Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat. The pilot phase will take place over a 12-month period, during which the government will continue to increase the number of datasets available to users.

get georgeI just found out about this service today, when the company began following me on Twitter, so I haven’t really had a chance to look very deep into the site and get all of the details, but Get George, which is based in Vancouver, looks like it may be a program that is advantageous to smartphone users. Get George is a free download in the iTunes and Android shops, and looks like it could end up saving people some serious money – but as I don’t have a smartphone, and haven’t yet investigated the services offered, please be sure to read the application’s FAQs and service conditions before use.

square enixWith the August 23rd release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution drawing nearer every day, Square Enix is looking for a location to open another Canadian studio. Personally I’m rooting for Vancouver, but Toronto and a second Montreal location are also in the running. I imagine that the publisher will be looking closely at incentives offered by each province, and while another studio in Montreal would be convenient for the Eidos Montreal crew, I’m hoping that the proximity of Vancouver to the Square Enix headquarters in Tokyo will give the city an edge in the running. The time line for the new studio looks to be for a 2012 opening, with an initial staff of 100.Thumpies for Mac

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s original, award winning and massively fun rhythm game Thumpies is now available in Apple’s Mac App Store. Now Mac owners can test their skills in correctly matching the beat of bouncing Thumpies, and those with the beat skills can progress through songs and the current 15 game levels, unlocking new Thumpies along the way. Suitable for all ages and already available in the iTunes App store, Thumpies uses a mechanic of bouncing in time instead of just a series of notes. The game features a quirky art design accompanied by a unique musical score composed by award winning industry veteran David Kerr sets Thumpies in a genre all its own.

Big Sandwich GamesHoard™ from Big Sandwich Games will release via Steam for your PC and Mac on April 4th, and will retail for $9.99USD. Pre-sales will begin on March 21st with a limited time Hoard-knight“fire-sale” discount of 25%.  In addition, sharing with your friends is rewarded, as a 4-pack of HOARD™ can be purchased for the low price of $28.00.  Steam Play is supported, meaning Steam users who own both a PC and a Mac only need buy the game once.

The Steam version includes the same fire-breathing fun as the PS3 console release plus some brand new features.  The game has 4 modes, over 35 levels, leaderboards, full multiplayer suites (4-player co-op and competitive), and 100+ Steam achievements. In addition, never seen-before features such as Night Mode (for vibrant fiery goodness), a Winter tile set, and new maps are added as a reward for PC and Mac fans’ patience.  Finally, cross-play allows PC and Mac users to compete or cooperate in their quests for gold.

zincroezinc Roe’s latest release is now live. Created for the Family Channel, Hot Ticket is a game of musical and hot ticketeconomic strategy. Players drag and drop locations onto a map to create “Famburg”, a rocking little town that plays host to shows by a wide variety of fictional acts. “The Temper Tantrums”, “Vagablonde”, and “The Jazz Hands”, are among dozens of hilarious characters created to animate locations like “The Golden Cocoon Mall”, The Hideaway” and “Das Beats Dance Club”. The game features colourful artwork, catchy melodies and an appropriate level of economic complexity for school-aged children. There is a demo version available to try out, and if you like the game, you can register to play the full version. Judging from comments posted on the game’s page, Hot Ticket is on its way to becoming a hit casual title.

D-BoxD-Box has announced yet another expansion for this week, citing a new agreement with Germany-based FTT (the company’s first European distributor for its commercial theatre expansion) for two new theatres with Netherlands-based Jogchem’s Theatres known in the market as JT Bioscopen. JT Hoogezand and JT Arnhem will each equip its theatres with respectively 20 and 21 D-BOX MFX Seats. With the introduction of D-BOX at these newest locations, Jogchem’s Theatres will have a total of four movie theatres that offer D-BOX’s motion experience. In addition to the sale of these systems, this deal will also generate licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance with the systems’ utilization.

Conservatory Canada invites piano students from across Canada to put their compositional skills to the test for conservatory canadathe first annual Creative Composer’s Competition. Launched as a partnership between Conservatory Canada, Mayfair Music Publishing and Long & McQuade Music Stores, the contest is a unique opportunity for budding composers of all ages to let their talent shine, says Conservatory Canada national executive director, Victoria Warwick.

“There are many students across Canada who love to compose music in all styles,” says Warwick. “We hope this competition will inspire and encourage them in this creative pursuit.”

Piano students of all ages have until May 31 to submit entries through the Conservatory Canada website. Submissions should be written in a contemporary musical style – Jazz, Country, Latin, and Broadway – as included in Conservatory Canada’s Contemporary Idioms Syllabus for Piano.

All submissions will be reviewed by Conservatory Canada examiners with compositional skills, Warwick says. Winners will be announced at Conservatory Canada’s national convocation ceremony in November, and winning compositions will be included in a new Mayfair Music Publication.

“Composition is a natural part of our Contemporary Idioms program,” notes Warwick. “The Creative Composer’s Competition will allow students to showcase their fine work, and by compiling the best-of-the-best in a new publication, teachers and students across Canada will be able to enjoy them.”

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16th March 2011

All Is Not Quiet On The Digital Front

Canada and JapanMembers of the game development industry have launched a site and Facebook group to help raise much needed aid funds for Japan. The group, called Play For Japan, is looking for gamerobilia (new word, like it?) that can be auctioned off. Please check out the site and the Facebook group and help out if you’re able. You can also find Play For Japan on Twitter.3vis

Upcoming Event: 3Vis and Chaos Group will be holding three product seminars across Canada to give interested digital creators a preview of V-Ray 2.0 for Maya. The presentations will be held in Vancouver on March 29th, Montreal on March 31st and Toronto on April 5th. Pre-register now on the event’s Facebook page.fez

Announced: Trapdoor and Polytron have officially announced their co-publishing deal for Polytron’s upcoming XBLA game FEZ. Late last year Trapdoor announced a publishing deal with EA Partners for stealth action game Warp™, the company’s first console title. Warp premiered alongside FEZ at PAX East this past weekend in Boston.

Canadian Games ConferenceConfirmed: The Canadian Games Conference has announced the first three speaker sessions for the upcoming May conference. Cyrus Greenall from Ubisoft Vancouver will present “Online Everywhere: Effectively Leverage the Competencies of Online & Develop Features that Appeal to a Wide Audience.” Matt Tanner from Snowed In Studios will present “Growing Your Game Studio Using Social Media Marketing” and Export Development Canada, RBC & Big Sandwich Games will present a panel titled “New Business Models-How to Self Fund Development.”

seniors circleNow Live: SeniorsCircle.ca is Canada’s most comprehensive website exclusively servicing the needs of seniors and their families. The site focuses on five primary topics: Health & Well Being, Services for Seniors, Housing Options, Lifestyle for Seniors, and Community & Contests. Each primary topic features a customized and comprehensive online directory of contacts (service providers, associations and government contacts), informative news articles, and related links for further information.

SeniorsCircle.ca communicates and engages with seniors and families through a monthly eNewsletter, business promotions, humour and fun topics and contests. Specialized features such as “Ask the Expert” and an interactive forum (community discussions) engage the users while also increasing the quality of information available. Our vast audience includes anyone 20 to 80+ years old who is seeking information and resources related to seniors. The site is user-friendly and its convenient platform enables any user anywhere to access essential information and resources in one spot that is easy to navigate.

tourism vancouverTourism Vancouver is holding two three-day seminars designed to teach interested parties how to submit conference and event host bids. The seminars are designed educate you on what Vancouver has to offer as a meeting destination, what Tourism Vancouver’s complimentary Be a Host program can do for you, as well as the opportunity to experience our city from a delegate’s point of view. Professional guest speakers will be on hand to give you the most up to date and relevant information that covers bid strategies, international lobbying, raising sponsorship, financial budgets, and many other subjects. please contact Kathy Nicolay at 604-631-2886 for more information.

Future ShopTwo downtown Future Shop stores, one each in Toronto and Vancouver, will be celebrating the release of the Nintendo 3DS with midnight openings later this month. Nintendo Canada is hosting interactive launch parties in Toronto (at Yonge-Dundas Square) and Vancouver (TD Square Granville & Georgia) where customers will be led to downtown Future Shop stores before midnight to be among the first Canadians to own and experience the Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo parties start at 6pm local time.

Customers in line at the two stores will have the chance to win $400.00 gift cards, which will more than cover the purchase price of a N-3DS, a game or two and some accessories. The Midnight Launch Event will take place on Saturday March 26th at 11:59pm at these two Future Shop locations:

Gamer Heaven - Nintendo 3DSIn Toronto: 325 Yonge Street
In Vancouver: 798 Granville Street

If you missed our hands-on preview of the Nintendo 3DS, this new mobile gaming device is one of this year’s most exciting gaming technologies. The Nintendo 3DS comes in two colours and offers two screens – one of which requires no glasses to view in 3D, a telescopic stylus pen, motion and gyro sensors to detect motion, and much more. The Nintendo 3DS retails for $249.99, and can be pre-ordered now at Future Shop. Pre-orders also receive a free basic Starter Accessory kit as well. Some of the titles that will be available for the 3DS launch are from Ubisoft and Gameloft, including Asphalt 3D and Combat of Giants 3D. Assassin’s Creed Lost Legacy is scheduled for release on December 31st. A 3D edition of Splinter Cell has also been announced, but no release date has been given.

parta dialogueParta Dialogue Inc., an organization specializing in Social Media and Social Learning for businesses and operators of Edu-Performance Canada Inc., has announced that at its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders held on February 15, 2011, the Shareholders passed a special resolution amending Parta’s Articles to change its name to Parta Dialogue Inc. This rebranding reflects Parta’s newly refined business offerings focused on “online engagement” and “employee engagement” through social media.

Many visionary businesses already employ PARTA’s solutions for internal and external online engagement. Among these are Renault, Orange, Astra Zeneca, Hydro-Québec, Iusacell (Mexico), the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Neslté Waters, and Fondaction.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has finalized an agreement with China’s Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment Company to install 19 D-BOX MFX Seats at one of their prime Hong-Kong location. This transaction marks the first sale of D-BOX MFX Seats in Hong Kong and will generate licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance to the systems’ utilization. This installation will add to D-BOX’s presence in Asia as 31 motion systems are already installed at two different sites in Japan, with a further 35 agreements in place across North America and Europe.

“It’s very exciting to further expand in Asia with Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment Company,” declared President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “With this breakthrough into a new and promising international marketplace, we look forward experiencing the same success and growth as we have elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, Orange Sky Golden Harvest Company’s vertical integration as a movie producer and their presence in several other Asian regions such as; Mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore also represents very interesting growth opportunities for D-BOX. ”

sierra wirelessSierra Wireless has been chosen by next generation patient monitoring company PositiveID Corporation to provide AirPrime™ intelligent embedded modules which will power PositiveID’s iglucose™ mobile health solution for real-time diabetes management. Sierra Wireless will showcase the iglucose solution at its booth (1670) in the upcoming CTIA Wireless event in Orlando, Florida from March 22 to 24.

iglucose uses the power of Sierra Wireless’ AirPrime platform to revolutionize the way individuals with diabetes iglucosemanage their condition. The size of a smart phone and has a rechargeable battery, iglucose can be used anytime and anywhere. Once connected to a data-capable glucometer, iglucose seamlessly communicates data to the iglucose database; blood glucose readings can then be shared in real-time with family members and health care professionals. iglucose completely eliminates the burden of keeping journals and empowers individuals with diabetes to be more engaged in the self-management of their condition.

Sierra Wireless will provide the AirPrime™ Wireless Embedded GSM (global system for mobile communications) module that powers the wireless communication of iglucose. Sierra Wireless AirPrime wireless modules offer a seamless integration of hardware, software and services that significantly simplifies and accelerates the end-to-end development of M2M applications. For solution providers like PositiveID, this helps to reduce development costs and deliver products to market more quickly.

Trend MicroTrend Micro Incorporated and Montreal-based Radialpoint, a Digital Home Services solutions provider for consumer technology brands, have formed an alliance to develop, market and sell new online and data protection services built for service providers around the world.

This alliance will drive business results for service providers in an increasing effort to meet consumer demand for a protected “digital home”. By integrating Trend Micro’s capabilities into Radialpoint’s radialpointend-to-end Digital Home Services Platform, service providers will now have a powerful tool for supporting their customers’ need to manage and protect their devices, connectivity and content.

The first offering, to be named Managed Internet Security, powered by Trend Micro™announced as part of this alliance integrates industry leading Trend Micro™ Titanium™ Maximum Security with Radialpoint’s Digital Home Services Platform. Trend Micro will leverage Radialpoint’s platform to deliver its consumer security offering to the ISP channel, offering unique value and benefits for both service providers and their customers, with Virgin Media already signed up for the new offerings.

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22nd February 2011

Relic Names Intern and Open Media Turns Up The Heat

Reminder: IGDA Vancouver soft-launch and Global Game Jam Post-Mortem takes place tonight. More info on the event’s Facebook page.
Reminder: Ontario companies, get your submissions in for the INplay Ontario Show & Tell Kids Interactive Showcase, the deadline is April 1st. Also note that the INplay Kick Off registration rate for attendees will end tomorrow.
Reminder: There is one week left to get your nominations in for the Canadian Video Game Awards. I nominated at least a dozen, is your favourite Canadian-made-in-2010 game nominated? No? Make it so – nominate it today.

Congratulations to VFS Game Design graduate Zach Williams, who has been named as the very first recipient of the Zach and Jonathan Photo Credit: VFSBrian Wood Memorial Internship, an internship that will be awarded three times annually to celebrate the life of Relic employee Brian Wood, who was killed in a tragic car accident last year. Zach, who has previously worked in the local industry as a QA Tester, will begin a four-month internship at Relic Entertainment.

Relic’s General Manager Jonathan Dowdeswell stated on the VFS blog that “Zach’s personal drive to become a great game developer, his broad skill base across a number of the disciplines, as well as his passion for Relic and knowledge of the culture and practices that we maintain were the things that made him stand out as a clear choice for this internship, he even had a Relic shirt ready to put on when we announced the winner to the class!”

Unless you have absolutely no interest gaming, you will be well aware that today is the launch of the demo for Dragon Age 2, available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Bioware will, as we told you last week, unlock two perks should the demo be dDragon Age 2ownloaded and played by 1 million gamers before March 1st. The key to answering this Call To Arms, as the demo phase has been dubbed, is that you must sign in to your EA account. So in our house, at least, that has been achieved by two of us on two separate Xboxes. I’ve played a few minutes of the demo, and thus far Dragon Age 2 looks awesome – the only part I’m concerned about is that the text is awfully small and sometimes difficult to read on a CRT television, even with a large screen.

Of course downloading two demo files also burned up 3.96gb of our new lower monthly cap of 100gb, and upon checking our nifty new Shaw Bandwidth Monitor we are now at 80gb with two weeks still to go on our billing cycle. Yes, we’ll be over – again. We are such bandwidth hogs – especially since Shaw decided we could do with 25gb less per month, but still pay them the same amount of money. Good thing that Shaw is holding off on charging for overages until after they hold their Customer Consultation sessions. I know there will be one in Langley next month, and Shaw has confirmed that my request to attend a session, but I have not yet been emailed about the exact location and time.  open media

Speaking of User Based Billing, Open Media is still fighting the good fight, and have issued their own call to arms as Rogers and the other obese telecoms meet to find ways to defeat the right of Canadian consumers to have access to fair and affordable internet services. In a post on their site, Open Media asks for the support of consumers in continuing the fight for our rights, and yes, this fight will require funding. We don’t have a huge amount of disposable income in our house, but honestly I would rather help Open Media with a $20.00 donation than pay it to any telecom for an already overpriced cable plan. If Open Media can raise $15 000.00 in the next 48 hours, indie ISP providers TekSavvy and Acanac will match those funds. Please help if you can.

What really, really irks me – besides the high prices for less service, that is – is that the telecoms are telling the CRTC how we internet hogs are clogging up the interwebs so steps must be taken to curb our overuse, yet they continually come up with new “limited special deals” to sign up new customers. If those of us already using the Net are clogging it up, stop trying to sign up more people, because they’re just going to clog it up even more!

While I want to direct you over to Open Media’s site to read their plan in full, here is a quick look at their initial plan of action:

1. Unleash the creativity and ingenuity of Canadians. People from all walks of life — innovators, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and everything in between — are getting together on February 26th for a Day Of Action to educate our fellow Canadians about Internet metering.

2. Put together a united front of public interest groups, creators, indie ISPs, online service providers and half a million Canadians to put forth a well-researched, evidence-based submission to the CRTC.

I would like to add to this plan of action by asking all of you to write your MP and Industry Canada – don’t just accept the bullying of the telecoms as a done deal. We can fight back – we’ve already shown that with the delay of User Based Billing – and we can make a difference. I found an old flyer the other day when I was making an attempt at cleaning up the clutter in my office. This flyer was from our local MP, Mark Warawa (Conservative) and the CIRAheadline phrase on this flyer is that the Conservatives stand up for Canadian consumers. Well? Let’s see some action behind that statement. Not sure how to contact your MP? Check here. And don’t forget – the CIRA-hosted Canadian Internet Forum being held in Ottawa on February 25th will be available via webcast (yup, burning up more of those gigabytes), so remember to tune in and watch the discussion about the future of Canada’s internet and digital economy. There is also an active discussion group on the CIF site, registration is required to view and post on it.

ubisoftUbisoft has finally confirmed a release date for the PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Those of you who prefer to battle the Templars and Borgia on your computers will be able to do so beginning on March 22nd.  Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for PC will be available at retail stores and for digital download in two different versions:

Retail and Digital Standard Edition:

Main game + Abstergo Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 and The Da Vinci Disappearance

Digital Deluxe Edition:Assasins Creed Brotherhood for PC

·Main game + Abstergo Project Update 1.0 and 2.0 and The Da Vinci Disappearance

o Assassin’s Creed® Lineage: discover the story of Giovanni Auditore, Ezio’s father, by watching this three episodes short movie.

o Exclusive additional content featuring the Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood original soundtrack, galleries, Making-of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood…

o Exclusive unlockable content:

* One Multiplayer Character: The Harlequin, a deadly assassin lying behind a gaudy costume and a twisted smiling mask
* One Multiplayer Character: The Officer, a stealthy assassin who can assassinate his targets with a swift and powerful attack
* One exclusive single player indoor map: The Trajan Market
* One exclusive single player outdoor map: The Aqueducts map
* Ezio “Drachen Armor”

Both the Standard Digital Edition and the Deluxe Digital Edition can be pre-ordered at the Ubiworkshop Store.

Microsoft CanadaMicrosoft has announced that it will release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit from Microsoft Research later this spring, followed by a full commercial version of the SDK later in the year. This “starter kit” for application developers is intended to make it easier for academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology. Through its collaboration with the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), Microsoft Research is hoping to support a growing community of academic researchers and enthusiasts who are exploring potential applications built using Kinect.

The starter kit will give academic researchers and enthusiasts access to deep Kinect system capabilities such as audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor. Microsoft has deep investments in R&D in natural user interfaces (NUI), which is a part of the company’s long term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us. The fruits of those investments manifesting across many of Microsoft’s products, including Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Surface 2.0, Bing for Mobile and Office 2010 Mini Translator.

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16th February 2011

A Few Examples Of Why Canada Is Creative Central

Reminder: Banff World Media Awards submissions closes on February 18th.

Note of Interest: Are you looking for funding sources? Check out the searchable database on the MaRS Discovery District website.

trainyardIndie game developer Matt Rix has put his super-hit puzzle game Trainyard on sale in the iTunes store – and 25% of February’s profits will go to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  The goal in Trainyard is simple: get each train to a goal station. Red trains go to red stations, blue trains go to blue stations, etc. You control the trains by drawing track for them to follow. There isn’t a time limit or even a score; the only thing you need to do is figure out a solution for each puzzle – which is often easier said than done, believe me. Trainyard is very much worth the price, plus for this month you’ll be helping to support a very important organization. If you haven’t bought this challenging puzzler yet, now would be the time.

xmg studioXMG Studios has released its latest title on the iTunes App Store. Cows vs Aliens is a game of bovinecows vs aliens protectionism.  Aliens are invading and amid all of the chaos, you need to get your cattle in the barn as fast as possible. Featuring a fun and unique multi-touch interface, Cows vs Aliens challenges your herding skills as you  squeeze as many cows through the barn doors as possible before time runs out. Not all cows are created equal, either – you’ll soon learn that some beefy beasts are more valuable than others, and the more heifers you herd at one time the higher your multiplier. Remember you are battling spacemen, though – Aliens are sneaky and determined to free you of your beef. Make sure you keep those visitors from the outer limits out of your barn or they’ll take off with your herd. Cows vs Aliens is currently priced at 99 cents USD and offers Game Center integration.

Congratulations to our Canadian developers on multiple BAFTA 2011 nominations:

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood topped the total number of nominations, being named to seven categories: Action, Artistic Achievement, Best Games, Gameplay, Multiplayer, Technical Innovation and Use of Audio, while Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 received nominations for Artistic Achievement, Best Game, Gameplay, Original Music and Game Award of 2010.

Toronto studio Digital Extremes developed the multi-player components for Bioshock 2, and that title is nominated in the Action and Story categories. EA Sports‘ FIFA 11 is nominated as Best Game, Sports and the Game Award of 2010. Vancouver’s Smoking Gun Interactive is the developer behind 20,000 Leaks, which is a component of Kinect Adventures, and that title is nominated in the Family category.

bootstrap awardsContinuing in the awards recognition theme, this year’s winners for the Exploriem.org 2011 Bootstrap Awards (PDF) have been announced, and receiving recognition for their achievements in the interactive, digital and social media industy were:

Favequest received Gold Best Micro Business medal
Ideavibes received Gold for Most Innovative Source Bootstrap Capital, while VirtuStructure received Silver and Purple Forge received Bronze.
Zeebu Mobile received Gold for Best Guerrilla Marketing Idea/Social Marketing, while NetGen took Silver and ContestMob received Bronze.
Select Start Studios received a Silver Medal for Best Value Proposition/Value Differentiator/Pixie Dust
Threedify took home Bronze for its corporate website
NetGen also won Silver in the Most Innovative Social Enterprise Fundraiser category, while Civiside received Bronze.
Ideavibes took Silver for Most Innovative Business Model, while Arkli took the Bronze.

There is one more Bootstrap award to be presented – the top Ottawa start-up will be named at the OCRI Awards in April. IDM nominees for that award are: Purple Forge, Dual Code, Inc., GPS To Go (who also won a Bronze medal for Best Value Proposition/Value Differentiator/Pixie Dust), Blindside Networks and Pretzil.

OMDCOMDC is reporting that Ontario’s film and television industry contributed $964.3 million to the provincial economy in 2010- an increase of almost $18 million over 2009 — despite fierce competition from other jurisdictions, a sluggish U.S. economy and a high Canadian dollar. The $964 million in production activity accounted for more than 23,000 full-time direct and spin-off jobs.

The film and television industry held and gained ground over 2009, a year which experienced dramatic growth over 2008 and marked a return to production levels not seen in Ontario since 2002. Increased spending was seen in foreign television series, reflecting the continuing influence of the Ontario Government’s 2009 enhancements to the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC), which was expanded from 25% of eligible labour to include all eligible Ontario production costs.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) programs also support the book and magazine publishing, music and interactive digital media industries. The entire entertainment and creative cluster supports almost 300,000 jobs and contributes $12.2 billion annually to the province’s GDP.

rare methodCalgary marketing firm Rare Method Interactive has experienced recent stock activity that prompted a statement from the company this morning, whereby “Rare Method Interactive Corp. wishes to confirm, at the request of IIROC, that the Company’s management is unaware of any material change in the Company’s operations that would account for the recent increase in market activity.Mood Media

Mood Media Corporation has acquired PELIKA Business Music Oy (Pelika) for US $9.8 M, implying an acquisition multiple of 4.9 x EBITDA. Pelika is a dominant market leader in digital business music solutions in Finland, predominantly serving clients in the hospitality sector.

endras bmwEndras BMW, one of Canada’s most innovative BMW retailers, is offering the ultimate job for a social media savvy, BMW enthusiast. Beginning today, anyone in the world who loves to be “in the BMW know” can attempt to make a career of it by applying to be Endras’ Ultimate Blogger at EndrasBMW.com. The most qualified and connected applicant will land the job of a lifetime. This in-house social media gig pays the chosen candidate $65K a year to drive a brand-new BMW, attend BMW events around the world, find the latest BMW news, and blog, Tweet and Facebook about it all. If these responsibilities aren’t enough to pique interest, the job also comes with a downtown Toronto condo for the Ultimate Blogger to call home for the duration of his or her contract. Stage One of the application process closes on April 1, 2011.

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17th December 2010

Hasbro And Best Buy Lend Helping Hands

Hasbro Hasbro Canada has donated $15,000 worth of Toys & Games to Montreal Children’s Hospital after hearing the hospital’s appeal for help earlier this week. This donation is intended to help alleviate much of the shortfall in toy donations that the hospital has experienced this Holiday season.

“We are proud to support the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s need for toys,” said Michael Hogg, President for Hasbro Canada. “We hope that our donation will not only help fill up the hospital’s storage room, but ultimately bring comfort and joy to the children in the hospital this Holiday Season.”

Best Buy CanadaBest Buy Canada has also gotten into the spirit of the season, working together with the United Way of the Lower Mainland to create Imagine – a new online gift catalogue that provides a way to help underprivileged and at-risk children, families and seniors in 23 communities throughout the Lower Mainland.

Imagine is available online at imaginegifts.ca and features 12 unique gifts. Gifts range in price from $12 to $600. When donors purchase a gift from the catalogue, they will be sent a card, with an image of the gift purchased to be given to a friend, family member or colleague. Each gift in the catalogue represents a program or service that is funded through United Way. Gifts purchased help to support larger programs.

Best Buy Canada employees have been instrumental in helping create and deliver this important project and bring Imagine to life. Employees from the web design team volunteered their personal time and spent more than 100 hours making the online catalogue into a reality.

“I’m extremely proud of the time and commitment my team has put into this important project for the United Way of the Lower Mainland,” said Robert Pearson, Vice President E-Commerce Best Buy Canada. “The Imagine Gifts project makes it possible to reach out to so many Canadians in need this holiday season and we are honoured to be a part of it.”

koboKobo has announced an update to its iOS4 software. The update introduces innovative new features for users on the Kobo iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch eReading apps enabling them to interact with books and easily share their love of reading.

The most significant feature being introduced in today’s update is the integration of Instapaper into the Kobo eReading application, which is now available to sync and read with the Kobo eReading app across all Apple devices. Instapaper facilitates the easy reading of long text and lets users easily save articles and other types of web content to read later via their Kobo eReading application.

As with books, magazines and newspapers in the Kobo Library, users can now sync Instapaper clippings on Kobo apps across all Apple devices. Any content saved to Instapaper and stored in the Kobo Library will automatically update in the Instapaper feed.

With today’s announcement, Kobo users will also be able to “Like” books and share what that they are reading with their friends on Facebook. Also newly introduced, iPhone and iPod Touch users can share favourite passages and notes from any book to Facebook.

Kobo recently launched Reading Life an industry first social eReading experience, which personalizes eReading and creates a fun, engaging way for users to enjoy an eBook. Reading Life displays statistics about a reader’s habits and preferences, shows activity timelines, and awards achievements for just simply reading. With this new Kobo iPad app release people will be able to interact with their Reading Life book cover and consumers using Instapaper are able to earn awards and monitor statistics.

Since the release of Reading Life in early December, users have earned a reward every five seconds and have shared over 1,000 experiences every day. Reading Life is currently available on the iPad and will launch on iPhone and all Kobo platforms in the coming months.

The Kobo iOS4 applications for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad all come preloaded with 5 FREE eBooks: Alice in Wonderland, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dracula, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales – so users can begin eReading as soon as their download is done. Plus, just in time for the holidays, Reading Life has released a selection of limited edition Holiday badges that are attached to exclusive deep discounted holiday offers.

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11th December 2010

New Freelance Alliance For Canadian Writers

CWA CanadaA national media union and an agency that represents independent journalists have joined forces to advance the interests of freelancers who provide content to Canadian media organizations. The Canadian Media Guild, along with its parent union CWA-SCA Canada and the Canadian Writers Group are working together to represent individual freelance writers and to advocate for all freelancers on issues such as rates, copyright and digital and re-use rights.Canadian Media Guild

“I’m proud to be a partner in this alliance,” says Derek Finkle, an independent journalist and founder of the Canadian Writers Group. “The agency has already made important strides in expanding our writers’ client base and has worked hard to make sure our writers are compensated properly and signing the fairest contracts possible. With the support of the Canadian Media Guild, our writers will be marketed in a more sophisticated way, and freelance journalists will have an effective way to negotiate more collectively when it comes to publishing contracts that are increasingly less favourable to contributors.”

“After years of stagnating rates and contracts that haven’t kept up with the digital realities, this is a true opportunity to improve the economic situation for media freelancers,” adds Lise Lareau, national president of the Canadian Media Guild. “Many groups, including trade unions, have been struggling for a long time to represent freelancers effectively. This alliance is a new model that is already starting to bear fruit.”
In addition to negotiating individual contracts, the two organizations have begun meeting with publishers with a view to introducing new standards for contracts with freelancers that allow writers to benefit from additional revenue their work generates in digital and other new platforms and that protects their copyright and moral rights. The group has also launched The Storyboard, an online community for Canada’s independent journalists, complete with the latest news, advice and opportunities for freelancers.

gameloftAssassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles, previously available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, is now available in HD for the iPad for $9.99 USD. Developed by GameLoft, Altair’s Chronicles plunges the player into this Assassin’s Creed prequel with rich gameplay and a well-balanced mix of stealth, chaotic action, and riddle-solving exploration in the midst of a 3D world set in the historical Middle East. Features exclusive to this iPad version include impressive HD graphics, and iPad optimized camera and a customizable interface.Assassin's Creed Altair's Chronicles

This chapter of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is sent in 1191CE Jerusalem, a time when the Third Crusade is tearing the Holy Land apart. Playing as Master Assassin Altaïr, you are sent by the Order of the Assassins on a quest to find the “Chalice”, an object of such power that, in the right hands, can end the Crusades. Steal the Chalice from the Templars before someone offers them the right price for it. The fate of the Holy Land depends on you.

As with other Assassin’s Creed titles, playing as Altair will present with the benefits of your Master Assassin skills – acrobatic moves, combo attacks, patience, coercion and dexterity. You will be able to adapt your fighting tactics with the use of six weapons for both close combat and long-range attacks including swords, daggers, a grappling hook, and bombs. Achieve the ability to upgrade your health and weapons by collecting the glowing orbs as you explore the fully 3D-rendered historic world of the Crusades.

My ICD9Vancouver technical artist Jason Brackman has published his first iOS app in the iTunes store. My ICD9, available for $2.99 USD, is an app that provides users easy and immediate access to medical my icd9diagnostic codes. The easy to use search button provides access to the code you want right now and you can always bookmark items for later retrieval.

Jason’s debut app features the following:

* everything is contained within the application. Results are immediate and always accessible.
* My ICD9 has a simple design aesthetic for ease of readability and interaction.
* a custom dictionary that understands short forms of medical terms.
* Add frequently used codes to “My Favorites” for even faster reference.
* search the entire ICD9 database, or just one category

Computers For KidsIn this age of increasing electronic technology, developing computer skills at an early age has become necessary for successful transition into working life. The use of a computer can empower any student with a powerful tool which can greatly improve their homework assignments, research projects and ultimately their education level. Computers for Kids takes aim at turning children of families with economic barriers into success stories of the future.

Computers for Kids relies on computer donations from local area businesses and residents to fulfill referrals received from social organizations and schools. “I would like to thank the many donors we have, both commercial and residential, for their support,” said Chris Davies, Computers for Kids executive director. “By choosing to donate your computers and electronics to us you have enabled us to continue offering this valuable service to our community.”

Donated equipment is evaluated by trained staff and volunteers who then repair and refurbish as many systems as possible. This year over 700 computers were refurbished for designated placements in which over 1,000 children reaped benefits.

In order to continue to meet the high demand in their area increased equipment donations are necessary. Products which are accepted include desktop and laptop computers; peripherals such as mice, keyboards and disk drives; monitors; televisions; desktop printers and fax machines. Even non-functional items are found useful as Computers for Kids operates a recycling program which helps raise funds for their mission. To drop off your items visit Computers for Kids anytime between 9:00AM-6:00PM Monday through Friday or 9:00AM-3:00PM on Saturday. They are located at 4150 Sandwich in Windsor, Ontario.

Stingray DigitalStingray Digital, a Montreal-based provider of music services to multi-channel operators, has launched their Galaxie Online Music Player as part of the Rogers On Demand Online service.

“The popularity and appreciation of the Galaxie music service continues to grow, and loyal users of Galaxie are asking for access to the service on the Internet,” says Eric Boyko, President of Stingray Digital. “Every day, our customers ask us how to listen to Galaxie online since they want to be able to tune to Galaxie elsewhere than in front of their televisions. Now, Rogers digital cable customers can continue to listen to Galaxie, their preferred source of music, through Rogers On Demand Online.” he adds.

Rogers digital cable customers will be able to access the Galaxie Online Music Player by choosing “Galaxie” in the list of channels on Rogers On Demand Online. With the Galaxie Online Music Player, users can stream their choice of the same 40 Galaxie channels available on Rogers digital cable. Users can browse the 40 channels, see the album cover art of the current, next and previously played songs, and they can consult a complete list of the songs played in the past 24 hours on each of the 40 channels. The player is easy to navigate and is visually attractive.

The Galaxie Online Music Player is the second Galaxie service to be offered on Rogers On Demand Online. The popular Galaxie Music Videos on Demand service has been available on the platform since the launch. Visitors to the site can search, select and view their choice of current top videos from among a large library of titles of all genres.

And, to leave you with a laugh this weekend in case you’ve not seen it cycling through Twitter and Facebook, here is Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain talking about his game playing adventures. I know it’s not Canadian content, but I bet every single one of you can relate to this routine – especially the crouch button dilemma.

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22nd November 2010

New Drum Studio Coming Soon

All Seeing Eye GamesVancouver indie studio All Seeing Eye Games is pleased to announce that its new game Drum Studio: Platinum Edition will be available this December on the Xbox LIVE indie games channel of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Record songs, share them online, and jam with your friends in real-time over Xbox LIVE in Drum Studio: Platinum Edition. The follow-up to the multiple award-winning Drum Studio expands upon the original virtual drum recording tool with all-new graphics, Xbox 360 Avatar support, and extensive online features. Players will be able to meet online, chat, share songs, listen to each other play, and jam together in real-time. Lead Programmer Darren Joe says, “Music has always been about sharing. Drum Studio put music creation in the player’s hands. Now, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition allows players from around the world to share their creations with each other.”

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Drum Studio: Platinum Edition also features all new art by graphic artist Terry Wong (Cirque Du Soleil, National Geographic, Electronic Gaming Monthly) and full Xbox 360 Avatar support, allowing players to turn their Xbox 360 Avatars into full-fledged animated virtual drummers. It features the same simple yet powerful song recording interface as the award-winning original and hundreds of high-quality drum sounds to choose from. Players can play with any combination of one to four Xbox 360 drum kits or controllers.

The original title in the series, Drum Studio, received widespread critical acclaim & multiple awards upon its release, including an Editor’s Choice Award from teamxbox.com, who declared that it “takes music games to a whole new level”. You can get the original Drum Studio game now from Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points.

desert bus for hopeOnce again the clock tells me that it is high time I head for my day job at “the salt mine” but before I go, I’d like to draw attention to two events currently underway – the first is Desert Bus for Hope – which, according to the event’s FAQ, is an “internet telethon by accident – you give donations to Child’s Play, and we play Desert Bus.  It’s really boring and mind numbing and generally unpleasant. The more you donate the longer we play. To keep you and us amused, and to increase the donations we auction off  and give away prizes, have celebrity guests stop by, and become your monkeys. Want us to sing “Still Alive?” Sure, we’ll do it for a $20 donation.  We play 24 hours a day until you stop donating.” Be sure to visit the site and check out their Challenges, Giveaways and Auctions.

The second event is happening at Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Start-Up Incubator. The 7 cubed Project involves a group of coders who, beginning on November 20th, locked themselves in for seven days with, to quote “food, energy drinks, and beanbag chairs” during which time they will attempt to write an app a day for seven days. The group has promised video summaries of each day, and according to the Project’s site, the participants firmly believe “that seven smart people with perfect communication, mutual trust, and an agile mindset can get more done in a day than anyone would believe. And if all that isn’t enough, we have no intention of being timid. We’ll choose difficult problems, and we’ll probably fail once or twice. If we didn’t, we would know we didn’t shoot high enough. We’ll work insanely hard, probing the limits of human creativity and team productivity.”

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20th October 2010

B.C. Firefighters Paramedics and Police Unite This Friday To Give Our Heroes A Home Away From Home

Honour House SocietyBritish Columbia firefighters, paramedics and police are coming together on Friday October 22nd to launch the Helmets For Heroes campaign to raise funds to for Honour House, which will be a temporary home for military personnel and first responders and their families who come to Metro Vancouver for medical attention.

The kick-off will be at 11:00a.m. as Canadian Forces make a special appearance by repelling from a Cormorant helicopter as RCMP Air 1 and the BC Ambulance Service Helijet land next to Firehall No. 1 at 1 East 6th Avenue in New Westminster. Navy divers will be demonstrating rescue techniques and the Vancouver Police Mounted Squad will be on hand all in support of the Helmets For Heroes campaign.

On October 23rd and 24th British Columbia firefighters will be out in their communities on street corners and public areas seeking donations from residents around the province. The goal is to open Honour House on November 10, 2010.

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Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan has donated her time and music in support of Honour House. On the evening of October 28th she will perform at the Honour Our Heroes Gala fundraiser at the Sheraton Wall Centre. This event is proving to be one of the largest and most popular charity events in Vancouver this year, with 800 seats selling out in less than two weeks.

The support offered by BC Housing and the City of New Westminster was instrumental in acquiring the Honour House property. Members of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association and the Royal Canadian Legion along with corporate and community associations have generated enough funding and in kind contributions to enable Honour House Society to commence the extensive renovation of Honour House.
Honour House
Honour House is the first home of its kind in Canada, a $5-million initiative by a group of grassroots Canadians wanting to build a temporary home-away-from home for military personnel, first responders and their families. The building of Honour House is thanks to the generous efforts by British Columbians who have donated their money or time. Efforts to raise funds for the project, as well as an endowment, continue.

On October 23rd and 24th British Columbia firefighters will be holding out their helmets for donations to support Honour House. Sometime heroes need a home. Now we’ve built one for them. Honour House Society thanks you all.

Where You Can Make Your Contribution:

* October 22nd: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Firehall No. 1 in New Westminster. Hundreds of firefighters, veterans, ambulance and paramedics ring the bell to start the Helmets for Heroes campaign.

* October 22nd: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Firefighters and other 1st responder groups visit Honour House to meet the work crews and get ready for two days of campaigning.

* October 23rd: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. — Firefighters will be stationed IN New Westminster at 6th and 6th, in Vancouver at Granville and Georgia, Robson and Burrard, Denman and Davie, Robson and Thurlow, 41st and Yew and Commercial and Broadway and for all other participating fire departments and locations; contact Chief Tim Armstrong. For BC Ambulance Services and their locations contact B.J. Chute (President of Local 873) 604-218-6169.

* October 24th: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. — Firefighters will be stationed at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver; Metrotown Shopping Centre in Burnaby; and 6th and 6th in New Westminster.

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8th October 2010

Sears Canada Invites You To Click For Kids and Support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Sears CanadaA new fundraising campaign from Sears Canada and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC) is inviting the public to visit the Sears Canada website and help support Canada’s children and youth with just the click of a mouse.

“Click for Kids” is setting out to raise $100,000 to support Boys and Girls Clubs across the country who are providing essential after school programs. By simply visiting www.sears.ca/clickforkids and clicking on the “Click for Kids” button, $1 will be donated by Sears to BGCC for each “click”, up to a maximum of $100,000. Sears support, through initiatives like “Click for Kids,” has allowed Clubs to provide valuable after school programming to tens of thousands of additional children and youth for 45 years.
Click For Kids
One of the most significant programs recently initiated by Sears is the Sears After School Enhancement Grants program. This year, 18 Clubs will each be receiving $10,000 to deliver specialized programs that meet the needs of children in their communities. These range from academic support to technology skills development to nutritious meals to working with children with special needs. Through the Sears After School Enhancement Grants program, more than $2 million has been provided since 2001 to enhance and expand programs that help children and youth realize their full potential.

“For 45 years, Sears Canada has partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada to create positive opportunities for young people coast to coast,” said Dene Rogers, President and CEO, Sears Canada. “The ‘Click for Kids’ campaign is a wonderful way to involve our customers in marking this special anniversary while making a difference for families in communities across the country.”

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada“Forty-five years is a remarkable amount of time for a company to support a non-profit organization,” said Pam Jolliffe, President and CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. “But even more impressive than the length of Sears’ commitment is their continued interest in deepening support to help even more young people have access to safe, enriching programs after school. Through innovative fundraising ideas like ‘Click for Kids’ and helping even more Clubs through the Sears After School Enhancement Grants, this partnership is having a tremendous impact on the lives of the children, youth and families we serve.” Read the rest of this entry »

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