14th December 2010

Heroic Interactive Launches Spy Alliance

heroic interactiveRecruitment begins today for Spy Alliance, a free online multiplayer game that lets tweens and young teens train to become top spies, earn “Intel” and build their own spy agencies. Designed around an asynchronous play style, the experience appeals to players who are looking for a range of play, from bite-sized to involved gameplay with a large number of friends. Spy Alliance also appeals to parents because youngsters can play with each other without direct interaction, adding a layer of security that is not present in typical MMOGs. Spy Alliance was developed by Toronto-based game developer Heroic Interactive, whose previous titles include How to be Indie: A Day in the Life for YTV.
spy alliance
“Spy Alliance provides a deeply engaging online experience for kids and their families,” says Karen Lee Hall, founder of Heroic Interactive. “It’s a layered game that appeals to all sorts of players. It’s engrossing to enter the world of espionage and play an Agent-in-Training. For those who love using their brains there’s lots of opportunity to be strategic while also being just plain fun for gamers who simply want to personalize their avatar with the coolest looks and visit their friends’ customized game spaces.”

Spy Alliance incorporates eight mini-games that feature “platform-style” action such as running, jumping and shooting. One of the first ways players can earn “Intel” – the key metric of Spy Alliance – is by playing the mini-games. As they progressively acquire more “Intel” points, players can build and customize their own spy agencies or infiltrate other agencies. The mini-games include classic arcade and paintball games, a parkour-style slider game, and “camera-click” shooter-style games.

In a novel twist, the game also allows players to interact with the characters and world of “Connor Undercover” a tween TV series, which features Max Morrow as spy buff ‘Connor Heath’. “Connor Undercover” is currently airing on The Family Channel (Canada), ABC3 (Australia), Boomerang (Latin America and U.S.) and Nickelodeon (Germany). It is distributed worldwide by Shaftesbury Kids.

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Asynchronous game play allows multiplayer gaming to fit the schedule of regular kids with busy lives. As long a player can find 15 minutes per day to check the game, they can play with a very large group of friends. Many of the popular social games found on platforms such as Facebook are asynchronous games.

Spy Alliance was produced by Karen Lee Hall with interactive design by Scott Nihill, Karen Lee Hall and Daniel Loach; and game design by Daniel Loach, Josh Yaw, Danny Zabbal. Lead artist on the game was Danny Zabbal.

Funding for Spy Alliance came from the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Canadian Media Fund and Family Channel. Development funding was also provided by Bell New Media Fund and Heroic Film Company, producer of the companion series “Connor Undercover”

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14th December 2010

PriceWaterhouseCoopers Points To Trends Outside of Gaming for 2011

PricewaterhouseCoopersInteractive e-books, mobile shopping carts and more virtual experiences outside of gaming will be some of the emerging technologies to watch for in 2011 and beyond, according to a series of trends offered by PricewaterhouseCooper’s Technology, Information Communications and Entertainment & Media (TICE) group.

“The future of consumer technologies resides in borderless digital communication designed for people who are looking for “feel good technologies,” as well as faster and more secure information they can access anytime, anywhere,” says Dr. David Jacobson, Director of Emerging Technologies at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Technology changes will either be transformational, which builds on prior innovations, or they will be disruptive, by being so completely different and new that they will very quickly influence and change the lifestyles and spending habits of consumers, says Jacobson.

Key emerging tech trends to look out for in 2011 (and beyond) include:Dr. David Jacobson

* Wi-Fi Direct: This convenient new way for devices to communicate directly with each other without having to connect first to a conventional Wi-Fi access point bypasses traditional Wi-Fi networks and provides numerous device-to-device applications. Printers, scanners and handheld devices like phones and gaming consoles can now share and synch securely within a short distance of each other, for instance, exchanging files and videos at speeds more than 25 times faster than other options on the market.

* Next Generation e-Books: The huge interest in and use of mobile tablets or “pads” is driving new multimedia applications. Current e-books transform the conventional paper format into an electronic book, but the next generation will go even further, providing an enhanced and interactive audio/visual experience for the reader through cross-linking of the e-book to other digital forms, including videos, social media and web cams.

* Mobile payments going mainstream: Mobile commerce is becoming quicker and more secure for consumers and businesses alike, making it easier to shop and order securely, particularly when making smaller transactions. Secure and quick-click checkouts from a mobile device will give consumers the ability to make on-the-go payments and to stay logged in while they surf for more goods to buy.

* The mobile shopping cart: Grocery stores will provide suggestions, advice and check-out options to grocery shoppers using mobile devices including in-built screens on shopping carts that remember your last visit, know your preferences and provide information and offers on what’s in stock, including row information and recipes. The relationship between consumer-packaged goods suppliers and grocery retailers and how they market to their customers will also evolve.

* VoD in-your-hand: Recently released Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards have jump-started mobile and personalized video-on-demand (VoD). This IP-based technology will let you receive your choice of movie entertainment whenever you would like it, wherever you want it, complementing Cellular, WiFi and WiMAX channels and avoiding video-traffic overloads on these networks.

* “Feel-good” technology: gesturing and haptic feedback – The desire for greater physical freedoms in controlling devices has led to gaming consoles without handheld controls that rely purely on interactive 3D visuals, sensors and gesturing. A combination of gesturing and physical feedback will have applications beyond gaming. The possibility to “reach” into the computer display and “grasp” electronically-generated objects, feeling their size, shape and texture will enhance education; for instance, teaching medical students to feel the difference between healthy and diseased organs.

* The mobile cloud: Accessing software, systems and applications in “the cloud” began with software as a service (SaaS) and is quickly accelerating as confidence grows. Companies are now using time- and security-critical solutions outside of their firewalls. Mobile computing is an important new impetus for use of “the cloud” and versatile mobile devices are becoming pervasive ‘thin clients’ ideal for accessing cloud solutions, anytime, anywhere.

“The digital channel has already touched all industries and is dramatically changing the ways in which consumers buy and relax. Companies have to keep pace with this rapid development of new technologies and re-examine their business models so they can compete in the new mobile Internet,” says Jacobson.

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14th December 2010

New Release From Celsius Game Studio

Celsius GamesNew in the iTunes App Store today is Red Nova, an inertial survival shooter for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Created by Celsius Game Studio, Red Nova is available now for the introductory price of 99 cents.

Game Description:Red Nova

While on a routine mission to test a number of prototype fighters destined to replace the Earth Colonial Fleet’s aging Starhawk, the ECS Red Nova, your carrier, comes across an unknown alien fleet preparing to stage a sneak attack on the human colonies!

In order to give the Red Nova a chance to escape and warn the rest of the fleet you have volunteered to attack the aliens head-on. With a choice of any of the fighters on deck, you have to use your wits, your guns, and your ample supply of homing missiles to survive for as long as you can!

Game Features

* Universal app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPadChoose Your Ship
* Game Center leaderboards
* Retina Display graphics
* 3 scaling difficulty levels
* 3 playable ships
* 4 power-ups
* 7 different enemies
* Dynamic camera zooms in when things get intense
* iOS Controller: use an iPhone or iPod Touch to control Red Nova on an iPad wirelessly
* Dynamic touch controls for faster reaction times; no more hunting for fixed virtual buttons when it counts

Future episodes of Red Nova will be released as free updates, adding different game modes and missions to the game.

All Seeing Eye GamesDrum Studio: Platinum Edition from Vancouver developer All Seeing Eye Games is now available on  Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points. This follow-up to the award-winning Drum Studio allows players to record, layer, & edit their own drum songs on virtual drums customizable from a collection of over 320 drum sounds.

Drum Studio: Platinum Edition is a virtual drum recording tool that gives players the ability to build their own drum beats using their Xbox 360 drum kits or controllers.  Players can then go online to share their songs with friends, listen to each other play, and even jam together in real-time.

Lead Programmer Darren Joe says, “Music has always been about sharing. Drum Studio put music creation in the Drum Studio Platinumplayer’s hands. Now, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition allows players to share their music with each other and the world.”

It is no secret that the music game genre is in steep decline. Whereas the big names have rehashed the same gameplay mechanics a dozen times over and then some, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition pushes the genre forward with a music creation & sharing experience unlike anything any other title has to offer.

In addition to its extensive online features, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition also expands upon the award-winning original with 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.

Sherwood DungeonMaid Marian Entertainment Inc. and Gene Endrody, sole creator of the indie hit MMORPG, Sherwood Dungeon has announced the arrival of, two new allies just in time for the holidays – the Shadowfey Knight and Priestess.shadowfey priestess

The Shadowfey are lost descendants of the Picts, an ancient Celtic tribe. Possessing ominous white skin and a dark mysterious gaze, this race of warriors will battle alongside players as they crawl through Sherwood’s perilous dungeons.

An additional feature for those who purchase pets in Sherwood is the ability for players to transform their characters into the form of their pets. Explore the world and fight monsters while transformed into a Dragon, Unicorn, Spider, Shadowfey, and more. If that wasn’t enough, the Wolf and Lion pets can now be ridden as mounts. Along with the Horse and Unicorn mounts, players now have plenty of options for striking fear into Sherwood’s minions while leading the charge mounted on these ferocious beasts.

You are cordially invited to check out the new allies and features, or just play in the snow at the holiday themed Sherwood Castle, head over to – no sign-up or download is required. With the addition of the new Zong SMS Mobile Phone Payment system, players all over the world can easily purchase premium companions for their enjoyment, without the need of Paypal or a credit card.

Cookie JarCookie Jar Entertainment has announced long-term deals with Netflix, allowing consumers in the U.S. and Canada to instantly enjoy selected titles from Cookie Jar’s extensive library of animated and live-action programming. Terms of the agreements are confidential.

In the U.S., Netflix members now have instant access to four of Cookie Jar Entertainment’s most Cookie Jar Charactersrecognizable television series – Busytown, Johnny Test, Metajets and Strawberry Shortcake – for a total of almost 200 half-hours of children’s entertainment.

In Canada, the agreement covers nine classic titles for a total of more than 500 half-hours and includes Bunch of Munsch, Caillou, Country Mouse City Mouse, Heathcliff, Horseland, Inspector Gadget, Paddington, Wimzie’s House and Zoboomafoo.

“Internet streaming offers tremendous opportunities for leveraging our catalogue of nearly 6,000 half-hour episodes of television series, the second JoyRide for Kinectlargest kid’s library in the world. With these ground-breaking agreements in hand, we are actively pursuing additional digital distribution deals worldwide,” said Michael Hirsh, CEO of Cookie Jar.

Those of you who own Joyride for Kinect will be able to download a Chevrolet Camaro, Corvette and Cruze for free on January 4, 2011. You can choose a color for your new cars or paint them using the Kinect sensor and then take them for a spin in any of “Kinect Joy Ride’s” six game modes. You can also use the cars in online races over Xbox LIVE. To unlock the new Chevrolet cars for Kinect Joy Ride simply select the Chevrolet ad in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace – keep your eye out for it – or you can unlock the Chevrolet cars by visiting Colin and Justin ChristmasXbox.com.

This video has absolutely nothing to do with gaming whatsoever, but it is a timely bit of cheer from interior designers Colin & Justin. The dynamic duo have put out three Christmas songs on iTunes, with all proceeds going to support Cash for Kids. While we do have a Cash For Kids charity here in Canada, I do believe that these songs are to benefit the UK Cash for Kids organization. Either way, enjoy the video, buy the songs (I did, and I’m not even a huge fan of the Christmas season), but most importantly, support the kids – and please remember your local toy, clothing and food drives, too.

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13th December 2010

Enter The 2011 Adobe Design Achievement Awards

Adobe Design Achievement Awards 2011Students! Teachers! Get your entries in for the 2011 Adobe® Design Achievement Awards. This competition is open to all individuals 18 years or older who are students or faculty at an accredited institution of higher education. For group entries, everyone who worked on the entry must be listed on the entry form and must meet these requirements. One of these people must be indicated on the entry form as the group leader. Due to U.S. export regulations (which Adobe has to follow, being an American company), this contest is not open to any resident of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.

All entries must be uploaded to the competition website no later than 5 p.m. (PDT) on June 24, 2011. Please see the ADAA site for complete contest information and rules.

Both individuals and groups may enter up to two unique projects in the following categories during each judging phase. You are eligible to enter again if you are not already holding a Semi-Finalist status, either as an individual, Team Leader, or team member, within the same category:

* Interactive Media: Browser-Based Design, Non-Browser Based Design, Application Development, Mobile Design, Game Design, Installation Design, Innovation in Interactive Media in Education
* Web and Mobile Analytics: Web Analytics and Mobile Application Analytics
* Video and Motion: Animation, Live Action, Motion Graphics, Innovation in Video and Motion in Education
* Traditional Media: Illustration, Packaging, Photography, Print Communications, Innovation in Traditional Media in Education

Individuals and groups will compete with one another in all categories. The following list of prizes describes both individual and group.

Individual Student category winners receive:

* US$3,000 cash, a winner’s certificate, and a 3D award
* Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 Master Collection education version
* Complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei during the 2011 IDA Congress and two nights’ accommodation in lodgings.
* A one-year mentorship with a design leader.
* Be appointed to an Icograda Youth Advisory Panel.

Individual Faculty category winners receive:

* US$3,000 to be used as an educational grant for the educational institution
* Winner’s certificate and 3D Award
* Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 Master Collection education version
* Complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei during the 2011 IDA Congress and two nights’ accommodation in lodgings.

Student Group category winners receive:

* US$3,000 cash to be split by the winning team members and one 3D award
* Each team member gets his or her choice of the education version of either Design Premium (US$599 value), Web Premium (US$499 value), or Production Premium (US$599 value); a winner’s certificate; and an invitation to the awards event
* Group’s designated leader receives complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei and two nights’ accommodation during the 2011 IDA Congress.
* Group’s designated leader receives one-year mentorship with a Design leader working in their area of interest or in geographic proximity. Mentors would be available to students in an online environment to offer work review, answer questions and provide career advice
* Group’s designated leader is appointed to an Icograda Youth Advisory Panel. the Panel would be consulted by the Icograda Board to ensure that Icograda’s programming and policy is relevant not only to current members but also the next generation.

Faculty Group category winners receive:

* US$3,000 in cash to be used as an educational grant for the educational institution, one 3D award, and group member certificates
* Each team member gets his or her choice of the education version of either Design Premium (US$599 value), Web Premium (US$499 value), or Production Premium (US$599 value); a winner’s certificate; and an invitation to the awards event
* Group’s designated leader receives complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei and two nights’ accommodation during the 2011 IDA Congress.

Other Student individual finalists receive:

* Finalist certificate
* A choice of the education version of either Design Premium, Web Premium, or Production Premium
* Complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei and two nights’ accommodation in lodgings during the 2011 IDA Congress.
* Portfolio review by a member of the Icograda Executive Board

Student Group finalists receive:

* Each team member receives a finalist’s certificate
* Each team member receives a choice of the education version of either Design Standard or Web Standard or a choice of three individual products
* Group’s designated leader receives complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei and two nights’ accommodation during the 2011 IDA Congress.
* Group’s designated leader receives a Portfolio review by a member of the Icograda Executive Board

Faculty Group finalists receive:

* Each faculty team member receives a finalist’s certificate
* One education version of either Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Premium, Web Premium, or Production Premium
* Group’s designated leader receives complimentary round-trip economy class airfare to Taipei and two nights’ accommodation during the 2011 IDA Congress.
* Individual, faculty, and group honorable mention winners receive:
* One Adobe education version software product of their choice, an honorable mention certificate, and an invitation to the awards event

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13th December 2010

iStockphoto Now Accepting Contributor Submissions

iStockphotoiStockphoto has announced to its community of more than 85,000 contributing artists that in January it will begin accepting images for use under a new “editorial use only” licensing agreement to be rolled out in early 2011. These images will be available to those needing non-released imagery such as news outlets, publishers, magazines, bloggers and presenters. They will be licensed for use as a descriptive visual reference to a product, place, event or concept.

While all images currently available on the photo site can be used for editorial purposes today, they are most commonly used commercially for advertising and promotional materials. This creative type of usage requires contributors to follow a stringent set of guidelines. For example, images of specific products or anything marked with a logo are not allowed, images of people require model releases, and many buildings and landmarks may not be shown.

Because editorial only images may not be used for commercial purposes, they are not subject to the same guidelines. This makes it easier for contributors to provide additional content and provides customers with access to more great imagery.

iStock is currently accepting several types of editorial imagery, including:

Architecture and landmarks
Travel and lifestyle
Social commentary
Urban living

iStock is not looking for time-sensitive news items or images or items that fall within the realm of traditional photojournalism. Contributors looking to submit these types of images are encouraged to contact Getty Images. For more information on submitting editorial content, please visit iStock’s contributor information page.

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13th December 2010

From Zombies To Barbie

Game Prototype ChallengeGame Prototype Challenge has announced its Version 2 themes – Immortality and Thin Ice. For this second round, developers have until 11:59pm on December 20th, 2010 to submit their games by posting a link to it on Twitter with the hashtag #GPCv2. Web deploy-able games are preferred but not required, simply provide a download link if your game is run as an executable. Please see the Game Prototype Challenge blog for complete details on how to participate.

CAPCOMA quick message from Capcom has alerted me to the approaching availability of Dead Rising 2: Case West. Developed exclusively for the Xbox 360, zombie fans will be able to purchase this chapter for 800 MS Points on December 27th. Case West will see the two Dead Rising heroes unite to battle back the hoards of walking dead, infiltrating the Phenotrans Facility in an attempt to uncover the company’s murky dealings.Dead Rising 2 Case West

With all new content, new combo weapons to create, new enemies to test them on and the return of the ability to capture those magic moments on camera, Dead Rising 2: Case West continues the Dead Rising 2 experience in both single and co-op play. You do not need to own Dead Rising or Dead Rising 2 in order to play this DLC.

For those constantly on the go, Dead Rising for the iPhone and iPod touch shambles onto the App Store, just in time for the holiday shopping season with a limited-time launch price of $4.99 USD. In the game players must fight their way through a shopping mall that’s been overrun with an army of the undead utilizing anything they can to fight off the flesh-hungry mob.

Like the console games of the same name, users play as Frank West, a freelance photojournalist on the hunt for the scCapcom Mobileoop of a lifetime. Utilizing makeshift weapons scavenged from the stores and displays, players battle against waves of zombies in the hopes of surviving and making their way to freedom. Items like samurai swords, chainsaws and shotguns will help the player sow a path of destruction through the undead menace. More ordinary items like bowling balls and manikins can also be used to keep zombies at bay.

Zombie hunters the world over know that nothing gives you the munchies like fighting off a flesh-starved undead maw. “Dead Rising” therefore includes a game mechanic that requires the player to scavenge for mall food to stay alive. Finally, just because it’s a zombie apocalypse doesn’t mean you can’t be social. When a player dies in the game they’ll have the opportunity to send out a distress call via Facebook or Twitter to their friends. If the player is revived, the player and their friend will receive a bonus. However, if the player is allowed to die, they’ll rise as a powerful zombie in their friend’s game.

podcamp torontoSocial media gurus, if you aren’t busy on February 26th & 27th, then you might want to check out PodCamp Toronto, a free “unconference” bringing together professionals and hobbyists from Toronto and the surrounding area to explore the cutting edge of new and social media. If you are an online content creator – hobbyist and professionals – who are building communities online in a variety of ways, then PodCamp Toronto 2010 is for you. Share ideas, discuss theories and learn lessons from an audience of experts.

A reminder from DFAIT: To ensure that your company is included in the Trade Commissioners Service (TCS) international match-making at GDC 2011, make sure you have your application filled out and sent in to your DFAIT representative by December 15th (that’s the day after tomorrow, btw). Trade Commissioners are actively seeking GDC 2011match-making opportunities for Canadian companies at GDC 2011 in San Francisco with publishers such as CapCom, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive, Activision Blizzaard, PlayFish, Bandai Namco and Zynga among others. If you are selected for a meeting, a Trade Commissioner will contact you in the weeks immediately before GDC 2011. Meetings will be scheduled at the venue of the buyer’s choice.

Please note the following initiatives planned by the TCS and partners for GDC 2011.

GDC 2011 Prep Camp Webinar – January 11 and 12 (date TBC)
Telefilm is organising a pre-GDC 2011 webinar in co-operation with the Trade Commissioners Service. Canadian companies will have the option of attending on two different dates to receive practical information and advice on best international business development practices when attending GDC – Game Connection.

Canada Business Lounge at the W Hotel – March 1, 2 and 3
The Trade Commissioners Service is pleased to announce that the Canada Business Lounge will be at the W Hotel during GDC 2011. The Canada Business Lounge includes 2 private meeting rooms and an open-concept lounge that will be exclusive to Canadian companies and their clients for meetings. Your local Regional Office will be in touch in January 2011 with more details when the schedule is released.

Canada Networking Event – March 2
Please reserve Wednesday, March 2 in your calendar for the annual Canada Networking Event at Jillians. Registration information will be sent closer to GDC 2011.

Club PenguinFans of Club Penguin can rally together this holiday season to help provide children around the world safe places to live, learn and play as part of the fourth annual Coins for Change event, allowsing the children who visit the snow-covered virtual world of Club Penguin to donate the virtual coins they earn playing games online to real world causes that matter to them.

Players can direct their virtual donations to provide medical help, build safe places and protect the earth. At the end of the event, which runs from December 17 to 27, 2010, the players’ virtual donations will serve as votes to determine how a $1M contribution from Disney Online Studios will be divided among pre-selected charitable projects aimed at helping children, families and the planet.

“It’s incredible to witness the passion our players have for making a difference in the lives of others, and we love being able to empower them through Coins for Change,” says Lane Merrifield, one of Club Penguin’s co-founders and executive vice president of Disney Online Studios. “The kids who play Club Penguin have already helped more than two million people get medical care, enabled 200,000 children to go to school and helped protect more than a dozen endangered species and their habitats, and we’re confident they’ll rise to the challenge again this year.”

Club Penguin is one of the largest virtual worlds for children with a reputation for providing fun for kids and peace of mind for parents. Millions of children and families in more than 190 countries play Club Penguin in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Word filters and live moderators monitor chat and activity on the site and work to prevent the sharing of inappropriate or personally identifiable information.

Club Penguin is free to play, however special features such as front-of-the-line access to game features, exclusive parties and opportunities to customize your penguin and igloo require a membership. A portion of the proceeds from each membership purchased supports organizations working to improve the lives of children and families around the globe. The results of Coins for Change 2010 will be announced on January 4, 2011.

shopifyOnline retail platform Shopify has secured $7 million in Series A funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital and Felicis Ventures, enabling the company to continue providing advanced commerce functionality to businesses of all sizes.

Shopify, which features a groundbreaking “app store” to help run your shop, will use the proceeds to invest in the growth of the company, including product development and international expansion. Shopify already serves customers in over 60 countries. The company also plans to invest in its technology, infrastructure and developer tools. Shopify is committed to attracting the best app developers to its platform, giving them access to thousands of retailers.

Shopify’s software-as-a-service offering can scale as customers grow: Shopify processes more than $100M in revenue for customers as diverse as General Electric, Tesla Motors, Amnesty International and the Foo Fighters. “Shopify has allowed us to focus on our product,” said Craig Dalton, president and co-founder of DODOcase. “We knew we wanted to have a powerful e-commerce system in the background, so we chose Shopify.”

At the same time, Shopify makes it simple for smaller sellers with little or no programming skills to set up an online shop in just a few minutes. Each Shopify storefront is customizable and gives the user control over a shop’s look and feel, in addition to setting up a streamlined checkout and the ability to easily integrate PayPal or a credit-card processor for payments. Shopify employs a dedicated team of security experts to ensure each storefront meets the highest possible security requirements. The Shopify App Store is a collection of Shopify apps that can extend the functionality of the online store, and has brand name apps such as Quickify, Chimpified, Hubspot, and Vurve.

LGLG Electronics Canada has named Brandon, Manitoba as the host city of the 2011 LG Rocks Your City Winter Festival. Residents of Brandon showed-off their hometown pride amassing the highest percentage of votes to have their city host the LG Ultimate Winter Festival featuring Hedley. On January 22, 2011, LG will melt away Brandon’s winter blues with a free concert from Hedley and the Plain White T’s, pro snowboarders and other amazing entertainment.

“We are thrilled to make life good for residents of Brandon. People all over Canada voted to win the LG Rocks Your City contest for their city, but the residents of Brandon truly showed their passion and enthusiasm with their votes,” said Colin Bettam, Vice-President of Marketing, LG Electronics Canada. “We look forward to rocking out in Manitoba at the LG Ultimate Winter Festival.”

The LG Winter Festival will feature performances by platinum selling, award winning rock group Hedley and the Grammy nominated Plain White T’s. The crowds in Brandon will also be treated to demonstrations by pro athletes in the LG Snowboard Rail Arena and tons of prizes from the LG street team.

The contest isn’t over yet though! From now until December 31st, 2010, Canadians can still become LG VIPs by purchasing any LG phone from TELUS. VIPs are eligible for daily and weekly prizes and are entered for the chance to win the VIP grand prize which includes:

* Round trip transportation to Brandon (flight, car, etc.) – departing Friday, January 21, 2011 and returning Sunday, January 23, 2011 – from the nearest major Canadian city to Brandon
* Two nights accommodation in Brandon
* VIP access at the LG Rocks Your City Winter Festival
* The opportunity to participate in a meet-and-greet with Hedley
* $500 spending money for the winner and his/her guest

netflixNetflix Canada has announced that some new titles are now available on its streaming video service, and others will be made available over the next few weeks. Among the highlights of new additions for Netflix members in Canada are seasons 1 and 2 of the Emmy® Award-winning television series “Weeds,” season 1 of Sony’s “The Big C,” and season 1 of Emmy-nominated television series “Undercover Boss.” Also coming to the service are seasons 1 through 4 of the epic and critically-acclaimed hit TV series “The Tudors,” season 1 of the popular “Men with Brooms,” and seasons 1 and 2 of “Republic of Doyle.” Season 2 of “Republic of Doyle” will be available from Netflix the day after episodes air on the CBC in Canada. “Best of” episodes and the last two complete seasons of “Saturday Night Live” and seasons 1 through 5 of “The Kids in the Hall” will be available, and seasons 1 and 2 of “Merlin” will be available in the first half of 2011. Seasons 1 and 2 of the popular comedy series “Pulling” will also be offered through Netflix.

barbieAnd last but certainly not least, for those parents currently enveloped in the world of Barbie, to celebrate the recent collaboration between the Joe Fresh Style® brand and Barbie®, Mattel has created its first Canadian one-of-a-kind doll in the likeness of the larger than life fashion icon, Joseph Mimran. A specialist team of five Mattel designers, stylists and cosmeticians worked together over the span of three months, and brought the magic and authenticity of Joe Mimran’s individual style to life (in plastic) in the form of this unique doll.Mattel honours Canadian designer Joe Mimran. Photo Courtesy of Mattel

“Barbie is thrilled to salute one of our great Canadian designers and add him to a very select group of celebrities in fashion, music and entertainment,” says Samantha Taylor, Senior Manager, Licensing, Mattel. “We are also very excited to partner with the Joe Fresh Style brand for a limited collection of vibrant apparel and encourage Barbie girls everywhere to dream big, continue to explore a world without limits, and do it all with great style this holiday season.”

The one-of-a-kind 11.5″ doll, which was presented to Mimran on Thursday, December 9, 2010, features his unique face-sculpt, skin-tone, hairstyle and clothing including a blazer, dark jeans, white dress shirt and his signature velvet loafer shoes. Mattel’s Tammy Abang, principal designer on this project, has created one-of-a-kind Barbie® dolls for celebrities and world-renowned designers, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, The Barbie Collection from JoeRachel Zoe, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Janet Jackson, Will Smith and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few. One of a kind Barbie® dolls are created in-house at Mattel’s head offices in El Segundo, California and are reserved only for high-profile celebrities and significant partnerships. Joe Mimran is the first Canadian celebrity to be awarded this exclusive gift and one of the few males to make the high-profile list.

“I am thrilled to be honoured by Barbie with my own look-a-like doll, says Joe Mimran of Joseph Mimran & Associates, Creative Director, Apparel, Home and Entertainment for Loblaw Companies Limited. “What a fun way to celebrate the BarbieTM Loves Joe Fresh® collection that brings Barbie’s playful spirit to life through stylish and affordable fashions, which is what Joe Fresh is all about.”

The limited-edition Barbie Loves Joe Fresh collection is comprised of items for women and girls including: sleepwear sets and separates as well as boyfriend-style underwear, all priced from $6 to $14 and in stores now. The collection also features a Barbie Loves Joe Fresh tote bag for $2. The colour palette combines light and dark pinks with white and black, and the designs feature cute animal graphics, argyle patterns, Barbie’s silhouette and the Barbie logo.

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13th December 2010

Business Productivity boosted by OpenText and SAP

Open TextWaterloo’s OpenText Corporation has announced a series of enhancements to Extended ECM for use with SAP® solutions, also resold by SAP AG as the SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management (SAP Extended ECM) application by OpenText. The enhancements allow users to access shared workspaces from their preferred user interface and more easily and productively collaborate on content relating to SAP business transactions. Other enhancements include new social capabilities, including the ability to create user profiles and activity feeds, case management tools, increased security and tighter integration between ECM and SAP applications.

Since it began reselling SAP Extended ECM in October 2009, SAP has had great success reselling this and a number of other OpenText solutions for archiving, invoice management, digital asset management and most recently employee file management, as announced earlier this year.

“A year ago we called the Extended ECM solution a “game changer,” and that has certainly proven to be the case as more and more organizations are using it to connect business processes with information assets,” said Victor Szczerba, General Manager, Enterprise Information Management, SAP. “With the latest release, OpenText is adding a number of important advancements that will even further enhance the value this solution is bringing to SAP customers, specifically by helping to boost user collaboration and productivity.”

The latest Extended ECM solution introduces Business Workspaces to relate content to SAP business processes. These workspaces are managed together with business objects in SAP solutions such as customers, vendors, products or materials. The advantage of workspaces is that they provide consistent access to business data and unstructured content for users working in different applications with different front-ends, such as SAP GUI, the Web-based Extended ECM UI, desktop applications (Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office) and the SAP NetWeaver® Portal among others. Workspaces also incorporate productivity-boosting collaboration tools such as workflows, follow-ups, discussions and activity feeds. Workspaces give users an accurate and holistic view of SAP business processes without having to leave their preferred user environment. Read the rest of this entry »

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13th December 2010

No Trailer Trash Around Here

Radical EntertainmentProbably one of the worst-kept secrets in this part of the country is that Alex Mercer will be returning in 2012. Activision Publishing confirmed during the Spike VGAs that PROTOTYPE® 2, the sequel to PROTOTYPE, Radical Entertainment’s original best-selling game of 2009, is currently in development at the Vancouver studio. PROTOTYPE 2’s first official trailer was revealed, giving fans of the shape-shifting open-world Prototype 2action franchise their first glimpse into the mind and character of  Sgt. James Heller, and why he is going to destroy PROTOTYPE’s original anti-hero, Alex Mercer. EGM magazine has been given an exclusive, in-depth first look preview of PROTOTYPE 2, which will be published in EGM’s April 2011 issue.

“When PROTOTYPE surpassed 2MM units we knew gamers would want a sequel to find out what happens next with Alex Mercer,” said Ken Rosman, Studio Head, Radical Entertainment. “The team here at Radical is sincerely grateful to the fans and we are laser focused on delivering an even bigger and better experience with PROTOTYPE 2.”

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Additionally, for those who missed out on one of 2009’s best-selling games, or fans dying to reawaken their shape-shifting skills, Radical Entertainment’s original over-the-top action game PROTOTYPE is available now for download on Xbox LIVE® Marketplace for $29.99, and will be available for download tomorrow, December 14th, on the PlayStation®Store for $29.99. Fans of the game on PROTOTYPE’s Facebook page will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a token to download the game for free.

EA SportsEA Sports has released more information about the announced return of SSX™, one of the most critically-acclaimed videogame properties of all-time. Currently in development at EA Canada for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, gamers will experience a stunning reinvention of the classic action snowboarding franchise, SSX™: Deadly Descents packs adrenaline into every run with compelling characters and heart-pumping adventures as riders battle the most treacherous and diverse mountain ranges on Earth.

“An entire genre was born from the original SSX a decade ago, and it’s time to reboot one of the most popular franchises of all-time in an unpredictable and unexpected way,” said Peter Moore, President, EA SPORTS. “Fans have been begging for this since the launch of this generation of consoles, and we have an experience that will be worth the wait. This franchise has always been about racing, tricks, characters and fun – SSX: Deadly Descents will deliver all of that, and more, on a global scale, with rich online experiences, and with the sense of adventure never before imagined on a snowboard.”

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Redefining the SSX franchise, SSX: Deadly Descents will pit riders versus both mountain and man. Players will explore the story of a team who seek to be the first to descend the faces of the most treacherous mountain ranges on the planet. The team will travel the world to face the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them. From the peaks of the Himalayas, where the air is so thin that riders have to descend through the death zone at breakneck speeds to keep from blacking out, to the solid ice ranges of Antarctica, where a sunlit line is the only survival option when temperatures drop 50 degrees centigrade in the shade. And the mountain isn’t the only danger players will face. In SSX: Deadly Descents the first goal is to survive. The second, in true SSX fashion, is to look good doing it.

Bioware CorpAfter weeks of rumour and hints, the speculation finally came to an end Saturday evening as the world witnessed “Earth”, the spectacular announcement trailer for Mass Effect 3 when it was broadcast exclusively on the Spike Video Game Awards. The pinnacle of Commander Shepard’s emotionally charged journey and conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy is set to launch globally in holiday 2011 on the Xbox 360®, the PlayStation®3 and the PC, which marks the first time the Mass Effect franchise will launch on all three major platforms simultaneously. And as was also announced at Saturday night’s Spike VGAs, Mass Effect 2 was named “Best RPG” and “Best Xbox 360 Game” and BioWare was named “Studio of the Year”. Mass Effect

“At BioWare, we are always driving ourselves to improve and I firmly believe our best work is still ahead of us,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Group General Manager and Co-Founder of BioWare. “We could not be prouder of the team’s accomplishments with Mass Effect 2, and are excited and humbled by all of the recognition the game has received so far. We can’t wait to show you what the team is doing to make Mass Effect 3 an even bigger success.”

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Mass Effect 2 is available now for the Xbox 360 and PC. The Mass Effect franchise will make its first appearance on the PlayStation 3 console when Mass Effect 2 ships to retailers on January 18, 2011 in North America and January 21, 2011 in Europe. The PlayStation 3 demo of Mass Effect 2 will be available on PlayStation Network starting December 21, 2010 in North America and December 22, 2010 in Europe.

Eidos MontrealSquare Enix and Eidos Montreal have released a Director’s Cut trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, giving players a close-up look at ex-SWAT member Adam Jensen as he narrates the story of civilization as it exists in 2027. Rated M for Mature by the ESRB, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now available for pre-order (with some pretty cool pre-order bonus options) and will arrive on the gaming airwaves early in 2011. I firmly believe that this latest chapter in the Deus Ex universe will help to launch a year of Canadian-made blockbuster releases, and I am only one of many looking forward to giving this title a spin.

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11th December 2010

I Want My Two Hours Back

Wow…or should I say…ugh. The 2010 Spike Video Game Awards has got to be the worst awards show I have ever watched on TV. Neil Patrick Harris was lack-lustre and very unfunny – as was the poorly written dialogue and tasteless jokes sprinkled throughout the entire show. If they had cut out some of the idiotic backstage comments perhaps there would have been more time to actually present awards instead of mentioning a few in pass and some not at all.

There were far too many commercials, and overall the show’s production was lacking and juvenile. I was definitely not impressed…or amused. For supposedly being the premier awards show for the biggest segment of the global entertainment industry, Spike produced an epic fail. About the only thing that was done right were the cinematics for the Character of the Year nominees – and they were only good because Spike had nothing to do with the actual development behind them. I would, however, like to know who Sgt. Frank Woods paid off/tortured to be named as Character of the Year – what a farce.

The best thing that Spike could do for next year? Fire the whole production crew including the writers and start again. Next time around, pay the homage due to the creative force behind the interactive entertainment industry and put together a show that better reflects the purchasing demographic of the gaming public, not some half-cut college dorm production.

And now, I would like to extend my congratulations to our Canadian award winners:

Studio of the Year: Bioware
Best Xbox 360 Game: Mass Effect 2
Best RPG: Mass Effect 2
Best Action Adventure Game: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Best Adapted Video Game: Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Best Performance by a Human Male: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions – Neil Patrick Harris as Peter Parker/Spider Man (he’s not Canadian, but the title was developed by Quebec’s Beenox)
Best Performance by a Human Female: Tricia Helfer as Sarah Kerrigan, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (The game’s not Canadian, but she is)

The trailer for Batman: Arkham City looks awesome, but as far as I’m concerned, the best game announcements of the entire evening were for SSX Deadly Descent from EA Sports – EA Canada, Mass Effect 3 from Bioware, and Prototype 2 from Radical Entertainment – waiting until Holiday 2011 for ME3 and all the way until 2012 for Prototype 2 is almost like torture, though. No, I take that back. Sitting through Spike’s award show was torture. Bring on the Canadian Video Game Awards – a show done right.

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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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