16th December 2010

Keeping Up With Santa On Christmas Eve

NORADAs Christmas gets closer, the Canadian NORAD Region has put the finishing touches on plans to track and escort Santa Claus when he visits Canada, and has selected four CF-18 fighter pilots who will act as Santa’s official escorts.

425 Tactical Fighter Squadron Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ménard, and Major Eric Haas, an Santas Villageexchange officer from the United States Air Force, will launch from 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., to welcome Santa as the sleigh approaches Canadian airspace. 409 Squadron Commander, Lt.-Col. Eric Kenny, and Captain Chad Ireland of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., will take over the escort duties as Santa makes his way into Western Canada.

Special NORAD SantaCams, positioned around the world, will take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh as he journeys around the world. The SantaCams instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children worldwide on the NORAD Tracks Santa website, on December 24. All of this information will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese.

The Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ont., will alert NORAD when their radar and satellite systems detect Santa approaching North America. Two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing will welcome Santa as he enters Canadian airspace off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Santa flies across Canada from east to west, two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing will escort through Canadian airspace so that he may safely conduct his Christmas voyage.

On December 24, children can also receive updates on Santa’s Christmas Eve journey by calling the traditional “NORAD Tracks Santa” telephone hotline at 1-877-HI NORAD, or by emailing NORAD. Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received over 13 million unique visitors from 231 countries and territories around the world. On Christmas Eve alone, NORAD “Santa Trackers” answered more than 74,000 telephone calls and answered 3,500 emails over a 25 hour period.

Leading up to the big day, children can visit Santa’s Village and see what’s going on at the North Pole. There is music to listen to, games to play and watch the Candy Cane fill as Christmas Eve draws nearer. If you’re going to be out and about with your family on Christmas Eve, no worries, you can have updates sent right to your smartphone with Google Maps for Mobile.

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NORAD is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization, charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. NORAD performs its mission 365 days per year, but on Christmas Eve, NORAD performs an additional mission – tracking Santa around the world.

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16th December 2010

Counterfeit Movies Seized

RCMPThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Federal Enforcement Section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has partnered with the Toronto Police Service in a joint investigation, Project OSTINGER, of alleged Copyright Act infringement activities. Ten search warrants have been executed at businesses operating at the Oriental Centre, located in Scarborough.

The police and the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA) have received numerous complaints that thousands of pirated copies of new North American titled movies were being sold at multiple businesses within the mall on a daily basis, including movies which are currently playing in theaters. It is alleged that pirated copies are being manufactured, distributed and offered for a sale amount of $3.00 each and 8 movies for $20.00. The legitimate sale price should be between $20 and $30 each.

Investigators worked in close partnership with the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association in this Toronto Police Serviceinvestigation. “DVD counterfeiting hurts legitimate Canadian businesses, including film distributors, theatre owners, retails, film rental businesses and the Canadians employed by them,” said Marc Proulx, the CMPDA’s Director of Content Protection for North America – Canada. “Enforcement efforts by the film industry and police have removed hundreds of thousands of counterfeit DVDs from circulation. We’ve found that the real success has been in effective and coordinated law enforcement, as demonstrated today by the RCMP and the Toronto Police Service’s 42 Division.”

“Piracy is a widespread problem not only in the GTA and North America, but worldwide, especially during peak shopping periods such as seasonal holiday celebrations. Legitimate businesses and the Canadian economy are adversely impacted by this type of Intellectual Property Crime” says Inspector Todd Gilmore, Officer in Charge of the GTA Federal Enforcement Section.

Staff Sergeant David Rydzik of 42 Division Toronto Police Service said police have seized thousands of counterfeit DVDs and have laid over 30 charges in a year long operation. “We take this kind of criminal activity very seriously, and we intend to pursue vigorously those who break the law,” added Rydzik.

The investigation is ongoing and charges of Fraud, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime and Copyright Act offenses are anticipated.

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16th December 2010

Working To Improve The Learning Experience

UserfulCalgary’s Userful and California-based DisplayLink have announced a software/hardware partnership that will allow schools to deploy large numbers of Linux-based computer stations in the classroom for very low cost. Working in conjunction with DisplayLink USB virtual graphics technology, the Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 software turns one Linux-based computer into 11 high-performance independent computer stations, ultimately giving students the features and computing experience of a full PC, but at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, Userful is running a special promotion, offering every DisplayLink USB docking station customers a free two-user version of their MultiSeat Linux 2011 software.

“We have enjoyed great success deploying our Linux-based zero client solutions in developing regions such as Latin America and Asia because of the low cost of implementation and the growing awareness of the long term economic benefits of deploying Linux desktops in education,” said Tim Griffin, president of Userful. “Regardless of region, however, over 50,000 schools around the world have adopted Userful MultiSeat Linux not only because of the cost-effectiveness, but also the ease of configurability, and the high-quality computing experience that it provides students.”
userful stations
The combined solution reduces hardware costs by up to 80 percent, and reduces required infrastructure (power plugs, cabling, etc.) by a factor of 10 as compared to a traditional PC-per-seat solution. It also reduces energy costs by up to 90 percent, enabling organizations to recover the cost of their computers through electricity cost savings over a few years. On average, customers report saving 60 percent in up-front costs, and 80 percent in annual power savings as compared to their previous PC-per-station solutions. The significant savings could bring computing to millions of people without access today.

“We are excited to work with Userful on the development of drivers and MultiSeat Linux software solutions that enable the use of our USB virtual graphics on a robust open-source platform,” said Dennis Crespo, executive vice president of marketing and business development at DisplayLink. “Now schools can spend less time and money configuring systems, and more time providing students with practical computing experience.”

Currently, the Userful software solution and their high-performance DisplayLink Linux driver is compatible with the full line of DisplayLink chips, allowing plug and play graphics over standard USB cables. DisplayLink USB virtual graphics technology has been widely adopted and can be found in devices like adapters, docking stations, monitors and projectors from leading PC accessory and monitor OEMs.

staples canadaThere is only one week left to enter the Staples Canada Recycle For Education Computer Lab Contest – rewarding the country’s most eco-responsible school with a $50,000 computer lab.

“We have received a tremendous amount of support from schools throughout the country, and delighted to learn about the environmental programs that our young people are taking part in,” says Steve Matyas, President of Staples Canada.

The Computer Lab contest is the first of its kind for the office supply retailer, who will determine the top five schools in January before declaring its winner in the spring.

“This is a chance for schools to improve both their community, and their school by winning this contest. We also feel this will get more people motivated to start eco-responsible programs if they haven’t already done so,” says Matyas.

Entries will be accepted until December 23, and will consist of a 500-word essay on a school’s environmental activities which have been in existence for at least one calendar year.

Teaching With TechnologyCDW Canada, a leading provider of technology solutions for Canadian organizations in the public and private sectors, today launched its third annual Teaching with Technology™ Story Contest and Sweepstakes, offering Canadian educators and administrators opportunities to win information technology (IT) for their classrooms and schools by entering a three-tiered contest. With a total prize value of over $20,000 this year, the contest begins today and runs until Monday, February 28, 2011. The Contest is open to legal residents of (who are currently living in) Canada. Residents of (who are currently living in) Quebec are not eligible to enter the Contest.

Educators and administrators can enter the Teaching with Technology contest in three ways:

  • The ‘Story Contest’ asks entrants to describe how incorporating IT into school classrooms enhances the learning experience for their students.
  • The ‘Tweet UR Tech Tale’ contest asks teachers to submit their technology story via Twitter in no more than 140 characters.
  • A ‘Sweepstakes’ is open to all Canadian educators, administrators and — new this year — IT managers/staff at school boards.

“Inspired by the many terrific technology stories from devoted educators during the first two years of the Teaching with Technology contest, CDW Canada is proud to include IT managers at school boards for the first time this year,” said Mary Ann Yule, General Manager, CDW Canada. “Educating students is a process that requires dedication from those in all levels of education, from the classroom, where committed teachers and administrators fill young minds with knowledge, to the school boards that provide the technology and infrastructure policies for imparting that knowledge. We appreciate the value that technology adds to this process and are excited to keep bringing this contest to Canadians.”

Entering its third year, the contest has received exceptional support from a number of CDW Canada’s technology partners. Sponsors of this year’s contest include the following: premier sponsors HP and AMD; gold sponsors Epson, Lenovo and Microsoft; silver sponsors BenQ, Cables To Go, Cisco, InFocus, Kodak, Netgear, OKI Data, Polycom, PolyVision and Watchguard; and bronze sponsors Sony, Targus and Xerox.

CDW Canada developed the Teaching with Technology contest in recognition of the need for educational institutions to have the best available IT tools to enhance students’ education. Each year the contest presents an opportunity for Canadian educators and administrators of K-12 schools to win partial or complete IT packages to enrich the learning environments of their students. Started in 2008, the contest features three tiers of prizing each with a different entry method. Participation is easy and incorporates interactive elements providing an in-depth look at the contributions of technology to the education system.

“These tools will help me improve students’ safe social networking skills by demonstrating responsible Internet behaviour and creating positive learning-based communities online,” said Richmond, B.C. teacher Grace Ho, a grand-prize winner in last year’s contest. “They will also enable me to hold video conferences with students across the globe, opening my classroom to the world, giving students an authentic experience and stimulating their interest in language.”

Story contest submissions – Story contest submissions must be between 200-500 words and describe the role technology plays in that entrant’s school or classroom.

For example:

  • How have students been more engaged in the learning process since the introduction of IT equipment into the classroom?
  • Discuss the role technology will play once integrated into lessons and how it will enhance the learning experience.

Stories can be submitted online, via email or via postal mail. Online and e-mail entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, February 28, 2011. Mail entries must be postmarked no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, February 28, 2011. Entrants must provide their full name and contact information along with title, school and board of current employment.

A panel of IT experts will judge entries according to educational value and distinctiveness of the described technology solution. Three winners will be selected from all entries to receive one of three prize bundles. Each bundle includes a desktop computer, laptop computer, projector, printer, pocket video camera, e-reader, digital camera, document camera and hardware and laptop accessories.

A random draw will select the five winners. Each will receive a prize consisting of either a printer, hardware bundle, e-reader, projector or netbook.

Tweet UR Tech Tale Contest Entry – Submissions must be made through Twitter, within the 140-character limit and include the hashtag #twtcda. The tweet must describe how the technology has been, or will be, used in the classroom or school. Tweets must be posted by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, February 28, 2011. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on the creativity, relevance and educational value of their tweet. One winner will receive an interactive whiteboard.

New this year, six sweepstakes prizes will be awarded to IT managers at Canadian school boards. Complete rules and regulations for all three contests are available online.

For holiday lesson ideas and to read the article 12 Holiday Websites that bring the Spirit of the Season into your Classroom.

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16th December 2010

Venture Capital For Canada Campaign Launched by CATA

CATACATAAlliance, Canada’s largest high tech association has sent out a statement about the launch of its advocacy Campaign aimed at increasing the availability of Venture Capital funding for new and growing companies.

Known as the “Venture Capital (VC) for Canada” campaign, it is part of the industry’s Innovation Nation program, developed under the tutelage of Canada’s leading entrepreneur, Sir Terence Matthews that lays out what we must do as a nation to move us from a 13th place ranking to first place in innovation rankings.Sir Terence Matthews

Recent studies such as The Global Trends in Venture Capital: Outlook for the Future Survey (March/April 2010) point to a contraction of VC Funding in Canada, in contrast to significant growth in available funding in emerging markets, such as, China, Brazil and India.  Canadian VCs find that our lack of critical mass creates a poor climate for investment and innovation, a dynamic that sets up a shift in wealth creation from Canada to the more favoured jurisdictions. The study was sponsored by Deloitte in cooperation with other VC associations around the world. It surveyed venture capitalists in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Of the total number of respondents, 61% were based in the Americas (of which 7% or 36 firms were Canadian), 16% in Europe, and 23% in Asia Pacific.

According to CATA Leadership Council Director & Senior Vice President of OMERS, John Ruffolo, “clearly, Canadian venture capital firms are up against serious competition from emerging markets, as are their counterparts in the U.S and Europe. But with the small size of the Canadian industry, the impact of this decline is even more devastating.”

Ruffolo, added “We face an urgent situation; public policy makers need to move now with measures that improve the success prospects of this vital sector here at home. We need to get more dollars into the hands of existing Canadian VCs, and also encourage the creation of more domestic VCs.”

A recent study of the BC Venture Capital program (i.e., Hellmann Schure 2010 Venture Capital Report) offers some insight into the B.C. VC program, established to increase the amount of growth capital available to innovative early-stage small- and medium-sizes enterprises (“SME’s”) in that province. If the other provincial Programs were to be modeled after the Investment Capital Program (Eligible Business Corporations) operated by the Government of British Columbia, these programs would include:

  • Credits: 30% of the invested amount, refundable to individuals / creditable against Ontario taxes payable for corporations with carry-over availability
  • Contribution Limits: $250,000 per annum for individual or corporate investors ($75,000 maximum tax credit)
  • Budget Size: $100 million in tax credits for direct investments (e.g., proportional to Ontario’s overall population). Amount would leverage $333 million in equity investments for eligible SME’s in Ontario)
  • Target sectors: to be determined, but potentially focused on priority sectors Such as the bio-economy and clean technologies, pharmaceutical research and manufacturing, digital media, information and communication technologies and advanced manufacturing
  • Eligible investments: SME’s with up to 100 employees, a payroll where at least 75% of wages go to Ontario residents (50% for export-oriented SME’s) and equity of $25,000
  • Term: minimum of five years, with pro-rated refunds if sold earlier
  • Eligible investors: residents and corporations

CATA CEO, John Reid, calling for industry engagement through traditional and social media channels to advance solutions, pointed out that “Companies participating in the BC program generate more taxes than they consume tax credits, and consistently create new jobs. The overall program has a provincial tax multiplier of 1.98 and Canadian tax multiplier of 2.92.”

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As a first step the Venture Capital (VC) for Canada campaign is calling for the introduction as quickly as possible, of a shared federal/provincial “Venture Capital Investment Tax Credit” system based on the very successful model currently operating in B.C.

The CATAAlliance invites you to review the Venture Capital (VC) for Canada campaign communiqué and join the Conversation by offering your guidance, views and feedback on the CATA Linkedin social media site as well as sharing electronically and/or printing out and faxing the Venture Capital (VC) for Canada communiqué and follow up with a phone call to your local MP, media and network of contacts, inclusive of posting on your own social media accounts.

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16th December 2010

IPF Maintains Web Series Funding Program

IPFIn a statement released yesterday, the IPF announced that it would be continuing the funding program for the production of web series properties. This is very good news for those creators who want to follow the path of success already being traveled by such web series as Ruby Skye, P.I., Moderation Town and BunnyHop, to name but a few of the projects funded by the IPF web series program.

The Board of Directors of the Independent Production Fund undertook an evaluation of its Web Series Pilot Program and determined that funding support should be maintained in 2011, in order to continue to explore this innovative, story-driven dramatic form and its potential business models. “The creativity of the web series format is exciting and inspiring, but there are a few mysteries yet to solve in this experimental format” noted IPF Chair, Charles Ohayon, “Time is needed to develop appropriate marketing, distribution and business models”.

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There has been very strong industry interest in this unique funding Program and much anticipation for its renewal. The IPF is the only Canadian Fund that supports linear online dramatic content. The 2010 Pilot Program invested $1.2 M in the production of 11 drama series in English and in French, created for audiences from pre-schoolers to adults, representing 942 minutes of linear drama as well as interactive activities and social media strategies. Budgets ranged from $300 a minute to $5,000 a minute. The funded projects were selected from amongst 166 submissions made by Canadian producers and writers from across the country. The IPF created its own web series dashboard for the series it funds, Wip, available at www.ipf.ca/webseries.

The deadline for Requests for Proposals for the 2011 Web Series Program is March 1, 2011. The selected short-list of finalist projects will be available by March 28 and complete production applications will be required by May 2. Funding decisions will be announced in mid-June. Eligible projects must have a Canadian web host and URL, and be original content designed primarily for the web. Guidelines are available on the IPF web site.

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In the past 20 years, the IPF has invested $51M in the production of 229 drama series for television, 11 web series and 300 professional development activities. The IPF works in close collaboration with the Cogeco Program Development Fund. Therefore, television drama series for private broadcasters will continue to be eligible to apply to the IPF, and the Board may recommend that applications be transferred to the Cogeco Fund, if there is insufficient funding available at the IPF.

The Independent Production Fund is a private, charitable Foundation with a $35M endowment. It uses the interest from this endowment as well as recoupment from successful projects, for its industry investments. An independent Board of Directors representing various aspects of the industry is responsible for all funding decisions.

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