Vancouver – A brief reminder that the Women in Games Vancouver (WIGEH) Networking Event takes place tonight at the Wine Room, downstairs at the Steamworks Brew Pub. We invite you to join us at 7pm for an evening of socializing and information. This event is open to both women and men, and we hope to see you there.
Ottawa – The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) has released its annual Knowledge-based Industry Survey. The study indicates that as of December 31, 2009, the number of companies in Ottawa’s knowledge-based sectors has increased by nearly half of one per cent while the number of employees has decreased by 1.3 per cent. The most current data, garnered from 13 industry sectors, indicates a slight increase of 0.4 per cent in the total number of companies to 1,857 up from 1,850 last year. The survey garnered responses from 88 companies whose primary business focus is in cleantech, contact centre/customer centre, convergent medical devices, defence and security, eBusiness, health and drug discovery, knowledge-based support services, photonics, semiconductor, software, telecommunications, wireless and digital media.
“We certainly expected 2009 to be challenging so we are not surprised by the decrease in employment but we also know that the best time to start a new business venture is during tough economic times. With 222 companies added to the database and a notable increase in employment for small and medium sized businesses we see that the support programs and tools available to new companies and entrepreneurs here in Ottawa are having a positive impact,” says Claude Haw, President and CEO, OCRI. “The entire city has rallied to provide support to help our companies become successful and there are examples of great collaboration all around us. Of course, we must continue to create an environment that is attractive to investors and actively leverages the various funding programs available for small and medium sized companies in order to fuel innovation and propel our economy forward.”
Ottawa’s cleantech sector demonstrated the greatest growth for the third year in a row, with several companies adding more than 50 employees to their staff base. This translates to a 25.2% increase in job positions for this industry sector. Also of note is Ottawa’s recent designation as one of the world’s top seven intelligent communities by the Intelligent Community Forum.
The OCRI report also points out the strength of the region’s digital media industry, stating that “the digital media sector has been gaining traction in our region. In October, Ottawa hosted the International Animation Festival, proving to many who weren’t already aware that Ottawa is a hotbed for digital media creativity. The cluster features 63 companies that have identified digital media as their primary industry and more than 120 others see digital media as their secondary industry. As a result, a formal digital media cluster, GENERATOR, was launched in December.”
Vancouver – Hive is a board game originally designed by John Yianni and released by “Gen Four Two Games” in 2001. Independent developer Lotusland Studios has developed Hive as a mobile game, and it is now available in the iTunes App Store for the iPhone™ and iPod touch®. Hive is categorized as an abstract strategy game and is highly unique as the pieces are simply placed on a flat surface without the limitations and constraints of a traditional game-board.
The objective of Hive is to surround the opponent’s queen bee while preventing your own queen from being captured. Whichever player accomplishes this task first has won the game. The game is made up of hexagonal tiles representing the contents of the hive. In total, Hive features 22 pieces, 11 per player, including 1 queen bee, 2 spiders, 2 beetles, 3 grasshoppers and 3 soldier ants – each having different methods of movement and abilities.
Hive is suitable for players of all ages: it is quickly learnt but hard to master, and as levels are completed, others become unlocked. Interface elements clearly indicate where players may move or position pieces and the game can be enjoyed as a single-player experience featuring four levels of difficulty, including an introductory setting against an artificial opponent gently allowing beginners to become familiar with the rules of play, and a multi-player feature against another human opponent.
Hive can be played using no less than four distinct sets of tiles: A wooden tile-set with the official 2nd edition board game artwork, a plastic set with the official 3rd edition board game artwork, a tile-set designed by the developer Lotusland Studios, and finally a high contrast black and white Carbon set primarily designed for outdoor play. Players can set the play surface background color, with an optional hex grid to aid visualization. Hive features a soundtrack by John Tennant, including “Depths” – “TypeCaste” and two exclusive remixes of “Project of Science” from the album “Early Ambient Works”.
The touch version of Hive clearly displays where each piece can move, making the different pieces easy to learn for beginners. Game options include tournament rules and the new Mosquito expansion to Hive: a parasitic new player piece that takes on the abilities of its neighbors, use your mosquito cleverly as an extra ant, beetle or spider!
Orillia – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch is investigating an Internet-based fraud scheme and warning the public to exercise vigilance when dealing in business transactions with unknown individuals over the Internet and/or by telephone.
The investigation has revealed that an Ontario resident recently applied online to a job advertisement for an Accounting Assistant/Payment Representative position posted at an employment centre.
The position professed to involve working from home by contacting legitimate companies via the Internet on behalf of a fraudulent company and receiving cheques purportedly from these companies that were mailed to the new employee by the fraudulent employer. A company representative then instructed the victim via email or by telephone to deposit the cheques to her personal bank account and retain a 10 per cent fee for her work and the remainder of the money was to be deposited to a specified account or sent via email money transfer.
Fortunately, both the victim and her bank reported this matter to police when they became suspicious of the excessive amount on one of the cheques. The investigation also revealed that the cheques received by the victim originated from legitimate Canadian businesses and the OPP have since linked these cheques to reported incidents of cheque theft and cheque duplication.
The OPP is warning the public to refrain from engaging in any business transactions with individuals they do not know, over the Internet, even if they provide a telephone number and email address. If you have any information or if you are a victim of this scam, please report it to your local police service or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre at: 1-888-495-8501 or online at www.recol.ca.
This next news bit is from the USA, and while we don’t usually carry international news, this project from Time Warner carries an important message about education and could possibly inspire students everywhere. If any of you out there know of any Canadian projects comparable to the one mentioned here, please let us know about it.
Time Warner Cable has released the first in a series of videos designed to bring the cool factor back to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The videos, which are part of the company’s Connect A Million Minds (CAMM) program feature a flying car and Microsoft’s new video game project, code-named “Project Natal.” In both videos the people working on the project talk not only about their job, but about how important STEM education has been to their success.
Tessie Topol, Director of Strategic Philanthropy for Time Warner Cable said, “We want to remind kids and their parents that many of the things they consider cool require a background in STEM to work on. You can’t build a flying car if you don’t know anything about engineering and you can’t be on the team that is creating the coolest and most advanced video game ever if you don’t study math and computer science.” Ms. Topol added that “80% of the jobs that today’s kids will be applying for will require a high level of STEM education. The Connect A Million Minds (CAMM) program is designed to give kids and their parents easy ways to spark an interest in STEM.”
The videos are rolling out in conjunction with a new PSA entitled And The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, which is available on the Connect A Million Minds website. Those who are interested in the latest developments are urged to check out Connect A Million Minds on Facebook and follow @connectminds on Twitter.