21st October 2010

Clarity Systems Acquired By IBM

clarity systemsIBM today acquired Toronto-based Clarity Systems, a privately-held company that delivers financial governance software that enables organizations to automate the process of collecting, preparing, certifying and controlling financial statements for electronic filing, in support of mandates by the SEC and other financial regulatory agencies. To significantly reduce the risks of potential error and the lengthy times required to create and file financial documents, Clarity Systems software allows finance professionals to seamlessly integrate information for more efficient planning, consolidation and financial reporting.

The acquisition of Clarity Systems extends IBM’s business analytics initiatives, and represents IBM’s commitment to address financial governance and risk management challenges faced by financial departments in virtually every industry. With today’s news, IBM now has a comprehensive portfolio of business analytics software for financial professionals to plan, forecast and analyze performance, identify and manage key business risks, and report to external stakeholders with confidence.

Finance departments in organizations are relied upon to provide accurate data more quickly, improve risk management and forecasting decisions, and meet financial business goals. To address these demands, CFOs and finance managers are increasingly relying on business analytics software to make faster decisions to anticipate performance gaps, prioritize resources, and gain insight into profit and growth.

A recent IBM study of 1,900 global CFOs and senior finance leaders revealed enterprises that have adopted standards and increased finance efficiency are performing 25 percent better by strengthening compliance programs and internal controls. The study also indicated that enforcing data standards, integrating information and applying business analytics are key capabilities that enable improved business insight and risk management.
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21st October 2010

A Message From Kik

kik interactiveKik Interactive, Inc. today unveiled the next generation of Kik Messenger, a free, cross-platform mobile instant messaging (IM) service. The new version – available worldwide starting today – makes texting conversations more real-time than ever before.

Kik Messenger, officially out of beta today, now ensures lightning fast delivery every time. It’s about four times faster than the old system, which was already pretty quick! That means every message – and Kik’s message sent, delivered and read receipts – appear in real-time. So messaging with Kik now feels more like a real conversation.

Other cross-platform mobile IM apps are more like regular, plain texting; none offer message receipts, nor Kik’s speed and reliability. Only BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) provides similar receipts, but Kik Messenger stands apart because it works on all smartphones – iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

“Kik Messenger offers the closest thing to a real-time, face-to-face conversation. And you can connect with all your friends, no matter what smartphone they use or where they live,” said Ted Livingston, President and CEO, Kik. “With the latest improvements and global reach, we expect more and more people to get Kik-ing.”

Introduced six months ago, the beta version attracted more than 175,000 users, even with availability limited to the US and Canada and no marketing push. The new system is more scalable and reliable, ensuring Kik will remain fast as user numbers continue to grow.

If you’re a Kik user now, or if you’ve ever used BBM, you’ll know why message receipts are so popular. Receipts tell you more information about your message. ‘S’ means your message has been sent. ‘D’ means it has been delivered to your recipient. ‘R’ means your message has been read. And ‘Is typing’ means your friend is currently typing a reply.
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21st October 2010

Meridian4 Inks Publishing Deals For Scary Games

Meridian4Montreal publisher Meridian4 has signed a digital publishing agreement with Welsh developer Arberth Studios to publish its 2008 haunting adventure game Rhiannon – Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition.

“We see this new alliance with Meridian 4 as the ideal completion of our strategy for sales of Rhiannon in North America,” comments Karen Bruton, one of the three partners at developer Arberth Studios. “Meridian knows and understands the complexities, pitfalls and potentials of the North American market. We are confident in their ability and dedication in bringing our game to new audiences who have yet to experience our chilling, Welsh, supernatural mystery.”

“We are so pleased that we can make Rhiannon available to the wide audience that digital distribution provides. Arberth have created a game that weaves a deep and immersive storyline that has you hooked from the beginning. With the Premium Edition, they have listened to their community and have offered up features that increase the value of the gameplay. We know that this game is a ‘must’ with any adventure fan.” said Andy Sher, CEO at Meridian4. Rhiannon Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition

Rhiannon is hearing noises and seeing things she can’t explain. Living in her family’s remote farmstead miles from friends and neighbours and having ambitious, busy parents, Rhiannon is alone. Her parents believe her stories to be an overactive imagination and teenage angst. So the Sullivan’s decide to take their daughter away for a break and have asked you to look after their home. The moment you enter, you suspect that something is not right. Rhiannon’s stories are true and the farmstead is engulfed in supernatural happenings as an ancient myth spills over into reality.

Discover dark secrets in this chilling point and click adventure as you encounter an ancient evil lurking in the walls of the home that holds a terrible connection to a timeless struggle between man and magic.


· Set in present day, the plot draws from ancient Welsh myths and legends
· Explore the eerie Welsh farmstead, from the imposing house, to its extensive grounds and buildings
· First-person point-and-click with approximately 20 to 30 hours of largely non-linear gameplay
· Involved multi-threaded plot
· Features classic themes such as: magic, paranormal phenomena, and technological gadgets
· Interact with a comprehensive inventory of nearly 200 items
· Engaging and unusual challenges, mostly plot and inventory driven
· A haunting musical score will send chills up your spine
· Solid chapter structure to the compelling and ultimately uplifting story

The Rhiannon – Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition includes an in-game tutorial and hint system, interactive map and improved navigation.

ScratchesMeridian4 has also signed a digital publishing agreement for the 2007 horror/adventure game Scratches – Director’s Cut was developed by now-closed Argentinian developer Nucleosys Digital Studio.

“Scratches is one of those rare games that genuinely gets under your skin. Its storyline, dark graphics and all too effective soundtrack will have you looking over your shoulder and hearing strange noises long after you turn off the computer. Meridian4 is excited to be able to bring this quality of adventure game to a wider audience through digital distribution. We know that anyone who likes adventure games or a good scare will love Scratches.” said Andy Sher, CEO at Meridian4.

Dark Legends surround the old abandoned Blackwood house, secluded far away in the northern wastelands.

For writer Michael Arthate, this cold, solitary atmosphere is fodder for his restless imagination. But Michael soon becomes distracted by the mysteries offered up, as he follows a trail exploring and delving into the secrets of the past. As he is drawn deeper into the story, his sleep is shattered by mysterious noises, and he is plagued by nightmares that cross into reality.

Whose shadows lurk in the dark corners? Is that lonely house inhabited by restless spirits of the past or something more sinister? What is that sound that chills to the very bone…scratching?

Join Michael in a suspenseful adventure, as you explore beautiful and chilling environments. Prowl dark corners and solve puzzles leading to the solution of a tale begun with obsession, and ending with madness and murder.


· Eerie and immersive story
· Haunting soundtrack
· Full 360 degree panoramic viewing
· Puzzles and challenges throughout
· Numerous hours of gameplay
· Explore a Victorian mansion, sinister chapel, forbidding crypt, musty rooms, greenhouse…

Director’s Cut includes:

· An alternate ending that might be more shocking than the original
· A new chapter: “The Last Visit” will have you back at the house 10 years after the events of the original game
· Michael’s diary with more clues and thoughts from the main character
· Upgraded graphics and an eerier soundtrack

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21st October 2010

EA SPORTS NBA JAM to Feature Online Play on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

EA SportsEA SPORTSNBA JAM will be available in stores worldwide November 17 for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360® and, for the first time ever for the arcade classic, in high definition and featuring online play. Described by Gamesradar.com as “virtually perfect”— NBA JAM will take advantage of the online communities playing on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to bring all the action into your own virtual arcade.

Featuring gameplay that is true to the original, NBA JAM will have players spinning with ankle breaking moves to the basket and on the way to high-flying, backboard-smashing dunks. With two distinct game modes—Classic Campaign and Remix Tour—plus online modes, EA SPORTS NBA JAM offers something for everyone.

At launch, gamers will be able to take on all rivals playing Classic 2-on-2 online^ for the first time ever, measuring their success on Friends and Global Leaderboards. In December 2010, the online features for NBA JAM will expand significantly with several major online features being delivered through a free title update for connecteNBA Jamd gamers. In December, connected fans will be able to team-up locally and online to compete in Remix Games, including classic arcade hoop games like Backboard Smash, Domination Free-for-All, Elimination, and 21. Fans will also be able to make it a Jam Party online by inviting up to 3 friends to play. Plus, gamers will be able to take on the world in Online Progression, levelling up through a series of challengers and secret online JAM Challenges to unlock online exclusive rewards and hidden content in the ultimate quest for global bragging rights.

“We have listened to our NBA JAM fans and appreciate their desire to play this game online, so we are going to deliver the online feature set they expect and deserve,” said Trey Smith, Creative Director of NBA JAM. “Fans will be able to play Classic JAM online right out of the box, and can expect to enjoy features like Team-up, Remix Online, Jam Party, Online Progression, and even more secret players and teams, in December.”

In Classic Campaign, players can take a trip down memory lane, individually or with a friend, as they play all 30 teams in the NBA in a worst to first ladder tournament. In Remix Tour, players will be faced with a new twist on the traditional NBA JAM experience. From boss battles against some of the NBA’s greatest legends, to half-court game modes with distinct challenges and winning conditions, players will be taken through an NBA JAM experience completely unique to the basketball videogame genre while demonstrating classic arcade hoops at its best.

According to Metacritic.com, EA SPORTS NBA JAM for Wii™ is currently the 8th highest rated sports game ever on the Wii platform as of Oct. 19th, and is available in stores now. EA SPORTS NBA JAM is rated “E” for Everyone by the ESRB and has an MSRP on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation3 of $49.99 USD.

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21st October 2010

Nintendo Announces Red Holiday Bundles

Nintendo CanadaNintendo has everyone’s holiday shopping list covered with an array of great new products. These include Mario™-red, limited-edition Wii™ and Nintendo DSi XL™ system bundles that celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros.™ game on the NES™ and a new Wii Wii Red BundleRemote™ Plus controller that has Wii MotionPlus™ motion technology built right in. Nintendo already offers tremendous video game value, and these products will make it even easier for shoppers to find fun at a great price. All new products go on sale in North America on November 7th, and the limited-edition products will be available while supplies last.

“Whether shoppers want to add a cool new look to their gaming setup or expand their supply of controllers with an exciting game, Nintendo offers a great value for the holidays,” said Ron Bertram, Nintendo of Canada’s vice-president and general manager. “For anyone who is still on the fence about whether to join the world of video games, we’re offering many fun, easy, economical ways to get involved.”

Red Wii Bundle: This limited-edition Wii hardware comes in beautiful red to celebrate the 25th DSi XL Red Bundleanniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game. The bundle includes New Super Mario Bros.™ Wii and a new red Wii Remote Plus controller, in addition to all the other included items, like Wii Sports™ and a red Nunchuk™ controller. It will be available while supplies last at a suggested retail price of just $209.99.

Red Nintendo DSi XL Bundle: This special-edition Nintendo DSi XL bundle is also red in honour of the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and features three iconic Super Mario Bros.-themed graphics. The bundle comes with Mario Kart™ DS, which looks gorgeous on the extra-large screen. That’s in addition to the pre-loaded software of Brain Age™ Express: Arts & Letters, Brain Age Express: Math and Photo Clock. It will be available while supplies last at a suggested retail price of just $179.99.

Wii Remote Plus whiteWii Remote Plus: This new controller combines the original, iconic Wii Remote™ controller with built-in Wii MotionPlus functionality. The compact WiWii Fling Smash Bundle Boxi Remote Plus controller offers players precision motion controls all in one unit. It becomes the new standard Wii controller, and will be available from now on in all Wii hardware packages and bundles, as well as sold separately at a suggested retail price of $44.99.

FlingSmash™ Bundle: The new Wii game combines the hands-on fun of tennis with the nonstop action and instant gratification of pinball. It requires use of the Wii MotionPlus accessory, so it seemed natural to bundle it with the new Wii Remote Plus controller. For a suggested retail price of $49.95, shoppers get to enjoy both the game and the controller in one package.

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21st October 2010

Riese the game Preview

Last Friday I had the opportunity to go visit the headquarters of Genius Factor Games and sit down with the CEO Ted Nugent to talk about their new release “Riese” for the iOS platform. The game is based on “Riese The Series” web show, which has been picked up for digital broadcast by Syfy.com. Riese The Series will begin airing on October 26th under its new title, Riese: Kingdom Falling,  and Riese the Game will be launched in the App Store at the same time.

The game is a card based strategy game in which you play as one of three factions The Sect, The Eleysian’s or The Resistance with the goal to take over the world. As you try to gain control of the Riese world Riese Start Screenprovinces, for each province you try to take over you must battle the computer or online opponent and gain control of 75% of the game board by placing your troops and defeating the bad guys. As you progress you will unlock new cards for your battle and using open feint some nice achievements. Fans of the series will be glad to know that you can use the heroine Riese as a character and her trademark wolf Fenrir in battle.

The game looked really nice when I got to take a look at it, the graphics were polished and the audio sounded good.The controls were easy to pick up and learn. I will also mention I was surprised to learn that the narrator for the game is Felicia Day from The Guild.

When the game launches it will have 3 difficulty settings for you to choose from. In the version 1.1 release local multiplayer will be added so you can battle your friends. The group at Genius Factor Games is optimistic that the game will be enjoyed by the Series’ fans as well as gamers who enjoy strategy card games.

Riese The Series Backgrounder:

Riese tells the story of a banished princess on the run from a dangerous religious sect in a steampunk inspired world. It stars Allison Mack (Smallville), Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary), Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Gallactica), Patrick Gilmore (Stargate Universe), Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary), Sharon Taylor (Stargate Atlantis), Ben Cotton (Harper’s Island), and in the title role, Christine Chatelain (Sanctuary). Read the rest of this entry »

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20th October 2010

Air Canada Announces Winners of 2010 enRoute Film Festival

Air CanadaAir Canada is pleased to announce the award winners of the 2010 annual Air Canada enRoute Film Festival.

Best Short Film: Adam Shamash for La Khaima: The Tent of Mile-End (Montreal)
Achievement in Direction: Adam Shamash for La Khaima: The Tent of Mile-End (Montreal)
Achievement in Cinematography: Shervin Kermani and Aita Jason for Sofia (Toronto)
Achievement in Animation: King Mugabi for Red Snow (Toronto)

“After receiving this award, I feel very honoured to have been highlighted as an emerging filmmaker from Air Canada, enRoute and renowned jury members,” said Shamash, originally from Vancouver and a Langara College alumni. “The festival has given me an amazing platform to network and communicate my message.”Adam Shamash

Millions of Air Canada passengers around the world will be able to view the award winners on their personal entertainment system with 8.9-inch wide digital in-seat monitors and touch-screen controls offering hours of audio and video on demand programming at every seat.

Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre hosted a free public screening of all the nominated films yesterday, followed by the awards celebration at The Drake Hotel. The grand prize winner was awarded $5,000 courtesy of Cineplex Entertainment. All winners were awarded an all-inclusive trip for two to the Whistler Film Festival courtesy of Air Canada.

Filmmakers, jury members and industry luminaries were in attendance at the exclusive event, including celebrity presenters Kari Skogland (Genie Award-winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, director/writer, Fifty Dead Men Walking), Carlo Rota (24), Rob Stewart (director, Sharkwater), and Kathleen Robertson (A Night For Dying Tigers, 90210).

Today's ParentJust in time for the holiday season, Rogers Media announced the launch of Today’s Parent’s first mobile application, the Today’s Parent Gift Finder application available for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.

The free Today’s Parent Gift Finder application lets users find the perfect gift for any child based on a child’s age, play preference and price range. Users can also create wish lists for each child they are buying for and share the list with others through email, Facebook and SMS.

The majority of the toys in the Gift Finder come from the Today’s Parent “Top Toys” list, a highly anticipated annual feature in Today’s Parent magazine. The Today’s Parent Gift Finder Application is the first iPhone application from a Canadian parenting magazine brand.

“The Today’s Parent Gift Finder application is a great tool for anyone with a child on their shopping list – anytime of the year,” says Claude Galipeau, SVP & GM, Digital Media, Rogers Media Inc. “We are excited to launch this application using the reliable reviews from Today’s Parent to help parents, relatives and friends, pick out the best presents for the children in their lives. Santa himself will want this app!”

Presented by Toys”R”Us, Canada’s Greatest Toy Store, this app not only helps gift givers find the perfect toy, but gives them the opportunity to save money while doing so. In the holiday spirit, when users download the app, they will receive a special code which entitles them to save $5 off any purchase of $25 or more at Toys”R”Us stores across Canada.

The Today’s Parent Gift Finder iPhone app will be available exclusively to Rogers Wireless and Fido customers when accessing through a 3G connection and available to all users via their wi-fi connection. The content can also be accessed on all Web-enabled mobile phones at the Today’s Parent web site.

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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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20th October 2010

Canadian Small Businesses Want and Need the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20th October 2010

Seasoned Venture and Technology Executive Derek Smyth Joins Bridgescale Partners

bridgescaleBridgescale Partners, a California- and Toronto- based growth equity firm providing equity to high growth information technology companies, today announced Derek Smyth joined the firm as Managing Director. Smyth, a venture and technology industry veteran with an extensive operating background as a CEO, will leverage his company building experience and broad network to originate, source and manage new investment opportunities for Bridgescale Partners throughout Canada and the United States. Smyth has served on the board of many of Canada’s leading early stage companies and complements Bridgescale Partners’ Howard Gwin in Canada as well as the U.S. investment team.
Derek Smyth
“Derek’s operating expertise in both Silicon Valley and Canada as well as his excellent venture capital track record make him a great addition to the Bridgescale team,” said Robert Chaplinsky, Managing Director, Bridgescale Partners. “He complements our existing team of experienced investment professionals. We expect Derek to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact to the firm.”

“Derek brings a diverse network of relationships to the Bridgescale platform, which will enable us to attract exciting new investment opportunities in the U.S. and Canada,” said Matthew Cowan, Managing Director, Bridgescale Partners.
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