Yesterday while we were at the grocery store, I was killing time at the checkout by perusing the magazine stand, and noticed that Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes, Holmes Inspection) has a magazine. Who knew? So, being a fan of his shows and because it had an article on smart homes, I bought the magazine. (I wonder if the sales guy we’ve been dealing with for our modular home design is tired of hearing “Mike Holmes said…or…I saw on Mike Holmes’ show…”) One of the magazine’s features is a “bookmark it” blurb, and this issue’s featured bookmark was the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s home (or office) inventory tool, Know Your Stuff™. This is a very handy – and free – tool that those of us with an abundance of high-tech and high-priced equipment should use – just in case.
According to the IBC’s info page, “The Know Your Stuff™ tool will help you to build a room–by–room record of your belongings and calculate replacement costs. A home inventory will help you get the right insurance coverage and make it easier to file a claim, should you need to. And with IBC’s free, secure, online storage you will have access to your inventory anywhere, anytime.”
MaRS today launched a new commercialization program called TechStart! Consumer, following an open call for promising start-ups in the consumer digital media space. A total of 15 aspiring ventures have been chosen for the 16-week intensive boot camp program led by MaRS Advisors and subject matter experts from the industry.
The program was created in response to the growing demand of consumer-facing digital media companies seeking advisory services, mentorship and market connections from MaRS to help refine their business models and market penetration strategies. The TechStart! program combines advisory, peer-to-peer interactions and focused sector-specific education into one intensive, fast-paced program.
In the last year alone, MaRS’ client portfolio – the approximately 600 Ontario-based companies actively working with MaRS advisory services – has seen a 61 per cent increase in digital media ventures. Today, digital media companies represent 50 per cent of the broader information technologies practice area.
TechStart! Consumer is composed of 10 intensive advisory-driven sessions that cover a range of important business-building topics including: market assessment; user experience design; business modeling; consumer branding; and market launch.
“We hope that TechStart! Consumer will allow us to further our business model and refine our strategy,” says Kuhan Puvanesasingham, Co-founder of Price My Ride, one of the participating companies. “Not only will we be able to closely work with a broad group of seasoned MaRS advisors and experts, we’ll also be able to share our energy and enthusiasm amongst other participants.”
“The TechStart! Consumer program is the first of its kind in Ontario. Creating a meaningful experience for 15 companies is challenging, but the program has been designed to meet the considerable demand from entrepreneurs for this type of immersive learning experience, working closely with both advisors and other entrepreneurs,” says Krista Jones, the MaRS Practice Lead who is spearheading the program. “We have benchmarked a number of acceleration programs internationally in the design of TechStart!, and we believe that the program will help catalyze, scale-up and enrich our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
In addition to launching TechStart! Consumer, MaRS is also renaming its ICT practice to ICE – Information technology, Communications & Entertainment – to better reflect the growth of consumer facing start-ups working with MaRS.
“Repositioning our practice name is the right response to a fast-changing marketplace,” says Jones. “It better reflects the types of clients we attract and work with today. ICE is just a more succinct, sharper and relevant way to describe our focus and expertise beyond traditional ICT to include consumer and entertainment-based ventures.”
Winnipeg’s Indigo Rose Software has released AutoPlay Media Studio 8 Personal Edition for use on Microsoft Windows 7, Vista and XP. This new version of the company’s popular visual software programming environment is being offered free for non-commercial users. The program is designed to help encourage the development of free software applications and utilities by students, hobbyists, open-source programmers and freeware developers.
With AutoPlay Media Studio’s WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) object-oriented development environment and powerful, yet easy-to-use scripting language, even beginners can create professional software applications. It’s ideally suited for developing graphically rich multimedia software applications, autorun/autoplay menus, internet utilities, video games and interactive training software – complete with features like database connectivity, dialog boxes, web interaction, data visualization and multimedia audio and video playback.
“We really wanted to give something back to the community,” says Indigo Rose Software President Colin Adams. “There are a lot of aspiring programmers out there that have great ideas for new software products, but they don’t have any way to realize those ideas. By supporting them with free software development tools and an online programming forum, we’re hoping to see these ideas come to life.”
AutoPlay Media Studio 8 includes 21 built-in visual interface objects, including buttons, images, menu bars, QuickTime video, data grids, PDF viewers, web browsers, checkboxes and more. It’s as easy as dropping the objects onto a page or dialog box and then customizing their properties and events.
With over 865 high-level scripting actions, programmers can easily add powerful functionality to their application, like XML parsing, database queries, web server interaction, file transfers and much more. Plus, it’s easy to expand the language with dozens of plugins and code modules – many created by other users. Additionally, the professional script editor features color syntax highlighting, code completion, function highlighting, as-you-type action prototypes, function listings, and context-sensitive help.
AutoPlay Media Studio 8 Personal Edition is compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. Personal, non-commercial users can download it for free. Business and government users can purchase the ‘Professional’ version of AutoPlay Media Studio 8 for $295 (USD) per developer (or $995 for the 5 developer Team Pack) from most software development tools vendors or online.
Del Rey, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group, announced today that Del Rey Books will publish a novel based on the Deus Ex® video game series. DEUS EX: THE ICARUS EFFECT will be written by UK author James Swallow and will release in 2011. James Swallow is a renowned science fiction author whose first foray into writing came with the 2001 Sundowners Series. Since then, Swallow has gone on to pen both novels and scripts for popular franchises such as Doctor Who, Stargate, Warhammer 40,000, and Star Trek. He has also worked on numerous videogames including Star Trek Invasion, Maelstrom, and Killzone 2. In 2009 the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers awarded James with the Scribe Award for Best Speculative Fiction Original.
DEUS EX: THE ICARUS EFFECT is set in the complex and enthralling world of Deus Ex, a cyberpunk-style technological dystopia where all is not what it seems. In the not-so-distant future, the world is a place of great innovation and technological advancement… but also a place of chaos and conspiracy. New technologies push the limits of human potential, even while they threaten the very future of the world. And from the shadows, dark and secret powers are coming together to take control, intent on designs so large, so intricate, they will take decades to come to fruition. But when two unlikely heroes—Anna Kelso, a Secret Service agent, and Ben Saxon, a special-ops soldier—draw uncomfortably close to the truth, the choices they make here and now will alter the course of history… or usher in an age of darkness.
“We’re really pleased to be able to announce this new DEUS EX novel with Del Rey books,” said Andre Vu, Marketing Game Manager, Deus Ex. “The novel is set in the DEUS EX universe and there will be characters and story elements in it, that will overlap with our next videogame DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION, which we hope fans will be very excited about.”
DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION the game currently in development at Eidos Montreal, was recently been unveiled to critical acclaim at E3 2010 in Los Angeles, where the game received over 25 award nominations from gaming media from around the world, securing 13 awards at the show.
DEUS EX: THE ICARUS EFFECT will release in North America and Europe in 2011, the book will also be available in many other countries around the world please keep an eye on the Official Deus Ex: Human Revolution website for further details.