23rd November 2010

Bacardi Conducts Canadian Social Media Poll

bacardiCanadians might be kissing that good-night kiss good-bye as 75 per cent of social media users confess that the last thing they do at night or the first thing they do before getting out of bed in the morning is check emails, text messages and social networking sites, according to the BACARDI® Together Poll released today. If you live in Toronto or Montreal, you might want to have your smartphone beside you on your pillow since you are the least likely to get kissed as 80 per cent of those online in these two cities cite the same behaviour.

According to the BACARDI Together poll of 1,524 adults surveyed by Angus Reid Public Opinion, despite our love for smartphones, Canadians are clearly craving the joys of face-to-face connections as 69 per cent admit that one can only have meaningful relationships in-person. When asked how they prefer to interact with others, over 8 in 10 people strongly prefer face-to-face communication with family (83 per cent) and nearly as many with close friends (79 per cent).

“Human beings are meant to be together – to socialize, to share, to connect,” said Ellen Karp, social anthropologist, author, and expert in LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). “‘Social media togetherness’ is clearly not the same as ‘in-person togetherness.’ While social media is quick and efficient, there is no replacement for one-on-one time with close friends and family.”

While only a quarter of Canadians (27 per cent) cite spending too much time online as a reason for not making time for the all-important face-to-face gatherings, the other challenges we face are managing the time we spend at work (64 per cent) and raising our families (46 per cent).

Social media may be helping 78 per cent of Canadians using those channels keep up-to-date on what is happening with their friends and acquaintances, but we are not interacting with them personally or individually. It’s no surprise then that 69 per cent of Canadians think we are becoming more superficial and 75 per cent agree that we are losing our social skills because of social media when:

* Almost half of Canadians (44 per cent) believe it is okay to take or make calls while in the toilet;
* 51per cent of Canadian women between 19-44 years of age who use social media cannot imagine their lives without it (vs. 37 per cent for all social media users);
* Nearly a quarter of all Canadian social media users (23 per cent) spend between 10-20 hours on social networks each week followed by 7 per cent who spend over 20 hours a week; and
* One in five Canadians online (21 per cent) believes that they are at risk of social media burn-out. Read the rest of this entry »

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23rd November 2010

Funding And Strategies Will Move Us Forward In A Digital Economy

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF), successor organization to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF), has published the CTF 2009-2010 Annual Report (French) outlining its funding activities over the past year, which saw the CTF disburse a record amount of $327 million to help produce 4,400 hours of programming, including 932 hours of new broadcast programs. Flashpoint, The Young Romantic, Les Invincibles, and Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin are only a few examples of programs that received numerous awards, attracting many repeat viewers as indicated by audience rating numbers.

“If there were a theme to this year, that theme would be dialogue” said Louis Roquet, Chair of the Board of Directors. “The dialogue between the various stakeholders of the corporation was strengthened through an extensive year-long consultation”. The consultation process and the significant review of content funding parameters led to the creation of programs and policies currently provided by the Canada Media Fund.

Highlights of the CTF 2009-2010 Annual Report include:

· The CTF supported a total of 931 projects, including 476 Production and 352 Development projects.
· Development funding reached a record high of $9.8 M.
· 427 CTF funded programs were nominated for awards and won 95 Gemini and Gémeaux awards.
· 2009–2010 total production budgets climbed above $1 billion, or 20% above the average of the preceding four years.
· Performance envelopes (BPEs) were allocated to 59 English and 20 French broadcasters; five new broadcasters received envelopes in 2009–2010.
· Regional production received 30% of the funding allocated in 2009-2010 (including Aboriginal Language Projects).
· The Digital Media Pilot Program budget grew from 2 to 10 million dollars. The number of projects funded by the program increased almost twofold from 30 to 77.

Government of CanadaThe full text of the speech delivered by The Honourable Tony Clement, PC, MP Minister of Industry at the International Institute of Communications Canada Conference which is currently underway in Ottawa, is now available online.

In speaking on Canada’s future in a digital economy, Minister Clement stated that he is looking to the future “with confidence, even optimism. Not because I am insensitive to the challenges, but because, like you, I see the possibilities. And few areas offer greater reason for optimism than the digital economy.” He also outlined what we can expect when the Digital Economy strategy is launched in the spring of 2011, saying that “it will be a living document, one that will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of changing times. But it will be an important milestone in Canada’s path to greater competitiveness and innovation.”

Minister Clement went on to reiterate five areas of particle interest that are critical to creating a digital Canada:

* building a world-class infrastructure that connects ideas, individuals and opportunities.
* encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies to boost their productivity and drive innovation.
* developing a digitally skilled workforce to take advantage of the opportunities these technologies provide.
* growing successful Canadian companies — to supply digital technologies to global markets.
* creating made-in-Canada content across all platforms to bring Canada to the world.

Following this, Minister Clement touched on several areas of forthcoming change for both the digital industry and industry at large, in Canada. These include changes to policy at the Business Development Bank which will see ICT becoming a focus for new and expanding enterprises. He also covered other areas to be visited by the Minister Clement playing NFS at EA Canada in August 2010. Source: Richard LamDigital Economy strategy, including access to broadband in all regions of Canada and the cost of services from our telecom providers. Minister Clement also touched on what the government is working on in regards to ensuring “a well-functioning digital marketplace by introducing important new laws and amendments — including copyright, anti-spam and privacy legislation.”

Minister Clement also spoke about the need to nurture Canadian ICT talent and educational programmes, whereupon he announced the “awarding of 25 Knowledge Synthesis Grants on the Digital Economy. The research proposed by the recipients reflects both the diversity of Canada’s intellectual capital and the diversity of the digital economy itself.” He concluded his presentation with discussion of growing Canada’s digital economy both within our borders and internationally, as well drawing attention to the Canada Media Fund and Canada 3.0. During his speech, Minister Clement also noted that The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, will be presenting more about digital skills development today at IIC (see below). You can read the full text of Minister Clement’s speech on the Industry Canada web site.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, delivered her comments this morning at IIC as part of her update on Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley (photo Government of Canada)development at an industry conference earlier today, opening her presentation with the acknowledgement that technology is becoming more and more intertwined in Canadians’ everyday lives, and supporting digital skills development will be key to our future economic success.

“For Canada to be a leader in a rapidly developing, global digital economy, Canadians need to have strong digital skills,” said Minister Finley. “That’s why the Government of Canada will develop and implement a strategy that will help us work in collaboration with our industry, education and government partners to build a skilled workforce and a stronger Canada.”

As Canada heads towards economic recovery, new digital skills needs are being added to existing labour market challenges. Recent public consultations on the digital economy will help the Government develop a strategy to address many broad challenges.

The conference, entitled Connections, Content and Consumers: Towards a National Digital Strategy for Canada, was hosted by the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications (IIC Canada).

Mr. Bernard Lord, Chair of IIC Canada, welcomed the Minister’s remarks. “The Government of Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to chart the path Canadians will take towards prosperity in the 21st century,” said Mr. Lord. “Networks and connections will enable that prosperity, but it will be the digital skills, hard work and inspiration of Canadians that will maximize it.”

While elements of digital skills training can be found in existing Government of Canada programming, developing an overarching Digital Economy Strategy will improve our innovation and competitiveness and help prepare Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow.

DIG London 2010A coalition of over 40 Canadian video game developers, academic institutions, and intermediate enabling organizations are working together to establish Canada as the globally recognized innovator and exporter of digital interactive game development software, technology, and IP. Meeting at the Digital Interactive Game Developer’s conference, DIG 2010, key partners discussed this initiative, striking an action committee to define the initiative’s strategic priorities and execution plan, with hopes to launch in the summer of 2011.

Through a robust partnership, industry, academics, NGOs from across Canada are working to create a Centre for testing, validation, and commercialization of game development IP. With over $5.5 million raised in cash and $5.5 million in-kind contributions, the team is committed to levering existing investments and assets to create a competitive advantage for Canadian game developers. The partners are putting together a program to:

* Identify and aggregate existing digital interactive game technology IP
* Support small and medium sized game developers to access the resources required to identify, validate, and accelerate the commercialization and licensing of their IP
* Facilitate and promote the ongoing collaboration among and between industry, academia, and national networks to mobilize the resources needed to solve technology related problems and develop marketable digital interactive game technology
* Develop, attracting, and retaining highly skilled software developers and engineers, researchers, and IT professionals
* Provide a conduit for digital interactive game developers to leverage access to industry information
* Host an annual series of national workshops – physical and virtual to bring together partner organizations for education, networking, and development of new programs
* Contribute to Canada’s digital media content creation by establishing and facilitating a path to market for hundreds of new Canadian digital interactive game technology licenses and content

“An opportunity exists to position Canada as a global leader in the creation, commercialization, and licensing of digital interactive game technology. This opportunity will be achieved by enabling synergistic interactions at all levels of game technology development through access to technologies that enable development, industry intelligence, and research,” says Michael Schmalz, a key leader of this initiative. “Our recent application to the National Centres of Excellence was not funded, but our team is committed to moving forward with our plan and defining the best opportunity for our industry,” adds Schmalz.

“It is ultimately our intent, shared by many supporters in industry, academia, and government across Canada, to create increased opportunities for Canadian digital interactive media technology developers, commercialize their IP, and export Canadian Digital interactive media technology globally,” says Douglas Robertson, President and CEO of Tech Southeast in New Brunswick.

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22nd November 2010

New Drum Studio Coming Soon

All Seeing Eye GamesVancouver indie studio All Seeing Eye Games is pleased to announce that its new game Drum Studio: Platinum Edition will be available this December on the Xbox LIVE indie games channel of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Record songs, share them online, and jam with your friends in real-time over Xbox LIVE in Drum Studio: Platinum Edition. The follow-up to the multiple award-winning Drum Studio expands upon the original virtual drum recording tool with all-new graphics, Xbox 360 Avatar support, and extensive online features. Players will be able to meet online, chat, share songs, listen to each other play, and jam together in real-time. Lead Programmer Darren Joe says, “Music has always been about sharing. Drum Studio put music creation in the player’s hands. Now, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition allows players from around the world to share their creations with each other.”

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Drum Studio: Platinum Edition also features 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. It features the same simple yet powerful song recording interface as the award-winning original and hundreds of high-quality drum sounds to choose from. Players can play with any combination of one to four Xbox 360 drum kits or controllers.

The original title in the series, Drum Studio, received widespread critical acclaim & multiple awards upon its release, including an Editor’s Choice Award from teamxbox.com, who declared that it “takes music games to a whole new level”. You can get the original Drum Studio game now from Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points.

desert bus for hopeOnce again the clock tells me that it is high time I head for my day job at “the salt mine” but before I go, I’d like to draw attention to two events currently underway – the first is Desert Bus for Hope – which, according to the event’s FAQ, is an “internet telethon by accident – you give donations to Child’s Play, and we play Desert Bus.  It’s really boring and mind numbing and generally unpleasant. The more you donate the longer we play. To keep you and us amused, and to increase the donations we auction off  and give away prizes, have celebrity guests stop by, and become your monkeys. Want us to sing “Still Alive?” Sure, we’ll do it for a $20 donation.  We play 24 hours a day until you stop donating.” Be sure to visit the site and check out their Challenges, Giveaways and Auctions.

The second event is happening at Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Start-Up Incubator. The 7 cubed Project involves a group of coders who, beginning on November 20th, locked themselves in for seven days with, to quote “food, energy drinks, and beanbag chairs” during which time they will attempt to write an app a day for seven days. The group has promised video summaries of each day, and according to the Project’s site, the participants firmly believe “that seven smart people with perfect communication, mutual trust, and an agile mindset can get more done in a day than anyone would believe. And if all that isn’t enough, we have no intention of being timid. We’ll choose difficult problems, and we’ll probably fail once or twice. If we didn’t, we would know we didn’t shoot high enough. We’ll work insanely hard, probing the limits of human creativity and team productivity.”

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22nd November 2010

Danny Robinson Is New BCIC CEO

BCICGreg Aasen, Chair of the BC Innovation Council has announced the appointment of Danny Robinson as Chief Executive Officer.

“Danny brings over 15 years of experience to BCIC and has a proven track record of successfully working with early-stage technology companies,” said Aasen. “Danny will be a great asset to our organization and will ensure that BCIC continues to play a leading role in promoting the development of entrepreneurs and the commercialization of technology in British Columbia.”

Prior to joining BCIC, Danny Robinson was co-founder of Bootup Labs, an Internet Seed Accelerator, which invested and mentored eight new Internet companies in the last two years. Along with his wife, Maura Rodgers, he was co-founder of the Bootup Entrepreneurial Society, a non-profit, community and mentor-driven organization that was formed to inspire entrepreneurship and help Internet startups take their idea from concept to commercialization.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest minds to create more tech startups in BC,” said Robinson. “In partnership with industry, academia, government and the dedicated team at BCIC, I am committed to ensuring our province continues to capitalize on the tremendous potential of our high tech companies.”

“The board is excited to bring the passion and energy of Danny to BCIC. His experience at Bootup will accelerate our mission of helping entrepreneurs and startups across all segments of British Columbia’s high Launch Party Vancouver 10tech community,” added Aasen.

With Danny’s departure from Bootup, Board member Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures has accepted the role as the new Chairman over at Bootup Entrepreneurial Society. According to the BES blog, other changes over at the Lab, have included Jeff Magnusson becoming the interim COO, where he will assist in rolling out their plan for a cool new space for Founders, details of which will be coming in the near future.

Bootup has also announced the nine new companies who will be presenting at LaunchParty Vancouver 10, which is being held at the Canvas Lounge on December 1st:

ClinicBook

Clinicbook is a local health care website that helps over 60 000 Canadians each month find health care in a convenient and timely manner through consumer reviews and its up-to-date search directory. After launching the feature where the live wait time at walk-in clinics is displayed, Clinicbook will be demoing its online booking system for dental appointments in Greater Vancouver.

Foodtree

Foodtree helps you discover where your food is from and connects you directly with the source, so you can feel confident about the food you buy. Just like a family tree, a Foodtree traces the origins of your food from the farm, ocean or forest right to your table. For example, a quick search on Foodtreecan tell you not only where you can buy the freshest local salmon in your area but also provide you with detailed information on the fisherman, who caught it. With Foodtree, transparent (or reliable) and relevant food information is finally at your fingertips.

OpenCal

We’ve spent the past year and a half building OpenCal – the web’s most beautiful and easy-to-use online appointment system. With OpenCal, service-based businesses (think hair salons, massage therapists, anyone that sells their time) can receive appointments online 24/7, manage their staff’s schedules, track clients, create insightful reports, and lots of other cool things.

Panty by Post

Make the Postman Blush. Panty by Post delivers French panties right to your door, no matter where in the world you live. When your pretty panty surprise arrives monthly, the nostalgia of the packaging, note and tissue paper is a sensual experience bound to generate a mood to help you discover your inner sexiness. This means you can enjoy a taste of French romance every month (wink). Or, share this sensual surprise as a thoughtful gift for a friend or loved one. They’ll love you for it. There is also a line for brides, plus sizes and Briefs in a Box for men.

Geotoko

Geotoko is a promotional campaign management platform for geo-location based services. By leveraging existing API’s that provide checkin functionality (foursquare, gowalla, twitter, etc…), Geotoko help businesses engage their customers.  By creating simple self serve tools to create, manage and track promotional campaigns and reward loyal costumers, Geotoko aims to reduce the friction for businesses to get into the growing geo-location trend.  We’ll be officially launching our app at LPV.

NodeFly

We are a hosted application and infrastructure monitoring service that will be launching at LPV10.

TaxiNow

TaxiNow a free iPhone app that allows passengers to see the exact location of nearby available taxis on their iPhone map and hail them with one simple click. And passengers can track the taxi all the way to their pickup location through Apple’s GPS. Our goal is to make the the experience of hailing a taxi way better. The taxi industry is inefficient and we’re certain we can reduce the amount of time passengers wait for taxis and reduce the idle time for drivers. TaxiNow is available to any passenger and driver, anywhere in the world but the initial focus will be in Vancouver, Canada. We plan on rolling this out to other cities across Canada and revolutionize the way taxis are hailed. This will be the official launch of TaxiNow. We will demo the product and actually hail a taxi to Canvas Lounge to show how just how powerful what we have built is!

XKeyAMS

RSI is a company that offers software solutions, support and first class customer service for the hospitality industry. Our latest project is an amazing new product called XKey Activity Management System, which provides activity vendors the opportunity to maximize their revenues by having their inventory online! We will demo our visually appealing online booking engine, the seamless reservation integration, the personalized confirmations and the ability to use XKey as a Central Reservation System for multiple vendors (ie. Vancouver Attractions)!

AppGrower

AppGrower is a service meant to increase the traffic for social apps mainly on Facebook and other social game platforms. Appgrower will offer a pay per install campaign allowing the app developer to set the sale rate of their traffic.

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22nd November 2010

It Was On Like Donkey Kong In Toronto Last Weekend

Nintendo CanadaOne of the most iconic characters in video game history has made a triumphant, chest-pounding return just in time for the holidays. The game Donkey Kong Country™ Returns is now available exclusively for the Wii™ system, giving new and experienced players a wild new way to get acquainted with the legendary Donkey Kong™. Combining imaginative new features and dynamic motion controls with classic elements from the original Donkey Kong Country games for Super NES™, this side-scrolling jungle adventure also marks the first time in the series that friends can play together in a cooperative two-player mode.

“The Tsunami” Takeru Kobayashi, the king of competitive eating consumed a bunch of bananas at Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country Returns Banana Eating Challenge last weekend in Toronto. Kobayashi competed against a Donkey Kong fan who played the new game to determine how many bananas Kobayashi would have to consume in 60 seconds. “The Tsunami” ate 16 bananas, exceeding the challenge of consuming at least ten. Takeru Kobayashi Photo Credit: PJ Stephen

Donkey Kong Country Returns takes place on scenic Donkey Kong Island, where the mischievous Tiki Tak Tribe has plundered Donkey Kong’s banana stash. Players use either the Wii Remote™ and Nunchuk™ controllers or a single Wii Remote held horizontally to maneuver the famous ape as he runs, jumps and climbs on a quest to recover the stolen bananas. Players can feel the power of Donkey Kong by shaking the controllers to perform moves such as the mighty Ground Pound or forward-tumbling Barrel Roll as they advance through more than 70 beautifully rendered levels. The new simultaneous two-player mode lets a second player (with his or her own Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller or Wii Remote held horizontally) swing into action as Donkey Kong’s agile sidekick, Diddy Kong™, whose special talents include riding high on Donkey Kong’s back, using his Barrel Jet to defy gravity and firing his Peanut Popgun.

Takeru Kobayashi holds the Donkey Kong Country Returns Champion prize of an oversized banana with his challenger, a Donkey Kong fan. Photo Credit: PJ Stephen“Players of every generation know they can count on Donkey Kong to deliver timeless video game experiences, and with Donkey Kong Country Returns, they can also pair up with a friend and enjoy the fun together,” said Ron Bertram, Nintendo of Canada’s vice-president and general manager. “Whether you’re a longtime fan or just getting your first video game console, Donkey Kong’s latest jungle adventure is right at home on Wii with collaborative multiplayer action, fun motion controls and colourful worlds to explore.”

The creatively designed levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns contain loads of hidden items for players to discover, keeping them coming back for more to uncover all of Donkey Kong Island’s secrets. By finding hidden puzzle pieces and collecting “K-O-N-G Letters,” players can unlock fun enhancements like new stages and behind-the-scenes concept art as they progress through the game. Donkey Kong Country Returns also includes a built-in Super Guide feature, which players of all kinds can activate to help make it through tricky levels.

The Donkey Kong character was originally created by veteran Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, and first appeared in the 1981 arcade classic Donkey Kong, which also marked the debut of Mario™ (then known as Jumpman). Donkey Kong has since been featured in countless games across multiple console and hand-held platforms, selling a combined total of more than 49 million units worldwide to date.

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22nd November 2010

A Trio of New and Upcoming Indie Titles

rocketfuel gamesAlberta’s Rocketfuel Games has announced the online availability of Seek Your Own Proof Season One: The Guardian’s Guild, an online puzzle adventure game that lets players of all ages investigate science and history mysteries as secret agents of a time travel organization called the Central Institute for Exploration (C.I.E.).

Seek Your Own Proof: The Guardian’s Guild ($9.95USD) draws players into a chase through time and history against enemy agents plotting to rewrite the past, present and future. Players are led by field seek your own proofagents – Aidan (Agent Slingshot), Milanie (Agent Firefly), and Heiko (Agent Hardcover) Munro – three investigative siblings who discovered the secret underground agency.

They must locate the eospheres – energy orbs that power time travel – that have been entrusted to famous figures in history, before they fall into the hands of the evil Frostbite. Along the way, the Munro kids encounter a series of historical figures known as the Eosphere Guardians and find out more about their father Dr. Sebastian Munro, a famous scientist and co-founder of the C.I.E., who went missing years ago without a trace.

In the spirit of learning based adventure games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Seek Your Own Proof: The Guardian’s Guild combines a cast of heroes and villains, historic settings like Renaissance Italy, Colonial America and Ancient Greece, and is seeded with over 50 brain teasing puzzles that players discover as they progress through the adventure. Players can also sign up for a free agent membership that provides access to bonus puzzles, missions and other extras.

vblankVBlank Entertainment has announced the first of many Retro City Rampage fan art contests, and it’s open now for entries. Round One requires that entrants draw the Player carjacking a flaming DLX-88 sports car with a light gun. The developers are allowing the creation of said fan art to be done in any medium, including Digital Art, Pixel Art, Paintings, Claymation, Retro City RampageLego, Cake, Hamburgers, Tacos and Ground Beef.

All entries will be posted in the game’s brand new Fan Art Gallery, and the winner will receive a signed Retro City Rampage NES cartridge case. All entries must be submitted by December 6th, with the winner being announced on December 13th.

Also new on the Retro City Rampage site is the ability to download the RCR Soundtrack Mixtape, which is available as an mp3 and music video. You can also read about the three music artists responsible for the soundtrack – Freaky DNA, Virt and Norrin Rad. The developers have also let slip that there are clips of some debut game footage in the music video which reveal some upcoming additions to Retro City Rampage. The game is also has some hands-on details featured in this month’s Nintendo Power, GameFan and Edge magazines.

spooky squid gamesSpooky Squid Games has released an early game-play trailer on YoutTube for They Bleed Pixels, which according to the studio (and their design doc), is a fast paced, gothic, low-fi pixel art, platforming beat’em up. A collaboration project with musician Shaun Hatton (aka DJ Finish Him), the trailer was first viewed at the recent GamerCamp event in Toronto.

They Bleed Pixels is being developed for Xbox Live Indie Games, and according to Spooky Squid designer Miguel Sternberg, the game was “inspired by by games like Niddhogg. I wanted to experiment with a more abstract, simple style that would let me really focus on smooth and stylish animation. They Bleed Pixels is about game feel. The kinetic joy of moving and interacting with the game and creating beat’em up combat that isn’t button mashy or button heavy. We also wanted it to be a game that was radically different from our others so we could switch back and forth and keep our brains active.”

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19th November 2010

Two New Game Titles And A Bit of Business News

binary dawnNewfoundland studio Binary Dawn Interactive has updated and improved the PalmOS game WordUs for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The studio made so many enhancements that they Word Us 2named it WordUs2. The aim of the game is to guess the word in a varying number of attempts. Help comes in the form of colored symbols which indicate when letters are correctly placed or if a letter exists within the word.

WordUs2 is a fun and smart game suitable for all ages, and with a dictionary of thousands of words, that’s weeks of entertainment. WordUs2 has four exciting game modes: Calm & Collected, Every Guess Counts, Think Fast, and Six Minute Sprint. Each game mode features different twists and challenges sure to keep you guessing! WordUs2 features OpenFeint integration with achievement rewards for completing different gameplay tasks. WordUs2 is available now in the iTunes App Store for $0.99 USD.

Sensory robotics software company Flurple2 has unveiled Trivio™, a new trivia game app that flurple 2allows users to say their answers out loud. In its first week on the App Store, Trivio launched onto the Top 50 list in the USA. In Canada, Trivio climbed to the iTunes Top-5 New and Noteworthy board for Free Games & Trivia apps.

The television game show-style app, Trivio is the first trivia game to incorporate voice activation, speech recognition plus artificial intelligence (AI). Trivio works with all Apple products, including the iPad™, iPhone® 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, the original iPhone, and the iPod touch®.

Gaming is simple and fun — you tap the big red button on the screen and speak your answer. If you miss, your opponent gets a chance to answer the question. Points are scored for the fastest correct response. The more difficult the questions, the more points you get.

“With Trivio, it’s challenging to think fast — and speak the answer. Other quiz games are based on a simple multiple choice setup. Trivio is a quantum leap forward in mobile, interactive gaming”, states Pete Deschamps, Flurple2 CEO.trivio

Flurple2 is pleased to announce that Trivio is powered by Sensory®, the leader in speech technologies for consumer products. “Trivio is a fun and challenging game that uses speech recognition technology in a very effective way to enhance the interactive gameplay beyond multiple choice or the hassle of typed in responses”, said Todd Mozer CEO Sensory.

Trivio can revolutionize family game night, allowing parents and kids to form “teams” to play against each other and “buzz in” when they think they have the right answer. The app uses Bluetooth for lightning fast multiplayer games, and has four levels of question difficulty, from ‘Easy’ to ‘Killer’.

Trivio uses Apple’s Accessibility features for the disabled – seeing-impaired players can have the questions read aloud to them. Deschamps sees the technology being used to help people, as well as for pure entertainment.

“Helping people help themselves is something I’ve never forgotten from my time in the local Burlington Rotary Club. Trivio can be used to assist stroke victims, and help people with disabilities learn how to talk again, while having fun at the same time”, says Pete Deschamps.

Trivio’s robotics can be franchised and serve-up any company’s content and media, including trivia and educational content licensing. The educational and medical applications are endless”, states Pete Deschamps.

Currently Trivio is available on the App Store worldwide. In its first week on the free app iTunes market, Trivio ranked in the Top 200 Free Games/Trivia category in 37 countries around the globe. Trivio was deemed New & Noteworthy in 5 countries including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Webnames.ca Inc., Canada’s original domain registrar and an “ally on the web”™ to Canadian businesses, has launched a new professional services arm called Power for Small Business™. Power for Small Business™ provides small businesses the tools they need to succeed online and offline including website design, online strategy, search engine optimization and logo and collateral development, among other professional services.

Power for Small Business™ builds on Webnames.ca’s strong foundation of exceptional customer support. The cornerstone of the new program is a comprehensive website and online strategy package called Essentials™. Covering all of the bases small businesses and start-ups need to establish a strong online presence, Essentials™ includes a custom designed, search engine friendly WordPress website, an online strategy that integrates Twitter and Google Analytics, and personalized training on how to use each of these tools.

Essentials™ provides exceptional additional value by positioning small businesses for continuous growth at a competitive price. “Understanding peoples’ needs is what Webnames.ca has always done best,” said Webnames.ca CTO Matt Lane. “We developed Essentials™ to give small businesses a complete online presence and a professional website they can build on for years to come. Whether you want to redesign an existing website or launch a new business on the Internet, Essentials™ will you get found and help you grow your business.”

For a limited time the Essentials™ package by Webnames.ca Power for Small Business™ is being offered at a special introductory rate of $1895. Recognizing that many small businesses are stretched for time, Webnames.ca has also launched a comprehensive selection of affordable support plans for WordPress.

beyond the rackMontreal-based online shopping club Beyond the Rack has announced that after only 20 months in operation it is now serving over 2.5 million members. The company reached the 1 million member milestone at the end of April, 2010, and so has grown its membership by 150% in the past six months. To help celebrate this milestone, Beyond the Rack is offering its members the chance to win two luxury vacation packages to any Sandals or Beaches Resort.

At the same time, the company has refreshed its Web site. The upgrade includes an enhanced shopping calendar with event category tabs, drop-down menus, and category-specific calendar pages to help customers find what they’re looking for more quickly; a pop-up shopping bag which remains visible throughout each shopping session; larger product images and in-depth brand information; and a more robust blog which now features exclusive fashion tips and trends from Beyond the Rack’s style editor.

“As our growth continues to accelerate, we remain committed to providing our customers with the most pleasurable shopping experience we can give them,” says CEO, Yona Shtern. “Many of the improvements came directly from feedback from customers themselves.”

SimplyCastNova Scotia’s SimplyCast.com, a leader in multi-channel marketing software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for organizations worldwide, announced today it has released an application integration with WordPress. The downloadable plug-in allows for a streamlined process to manage contacts between the world’s largest blogging solution and the most innovative all-in-one marketing platform.

”By integrating with WordPress, we are making it that much easier for users to access their contacts without the hassle of storing them in multiple places. Customers can now simplify the sales cycle and build stronger customer relationships regardless of where they store contact information,” said Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO of SimplyCast.

Users can now easily and accurately share their WordPress contacts with their SimplyCast multi-channel marketing account. As a result, those that limit access to their blogs with a login feature, can now connect their WordPress contacts to their online marketing using SimplyCast. This makes for more accurate and efficient maintenance of customer contact information that results in more targeted communications. The application is free to SimplyCast customers at www.simplycast.com and can be accessed immediately within SimplyCast’s multi-channel marketing platform.

SimplyCast’s 10-in-1 multi-channel marketing platform is a web-based solution designed to create, track and deliver targeted online marketing campaigns such as email, survey, event, autoresponder, fax, SMS and link tracking services.

Camouflage Software Inc., the leader in data masking technologies, is pleased to announce its support for the camouflage softwarelatest changes to the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) version 2.0, which was released October 28, 2010.

The new PCI DSS clarifies the requirements of the existing security standards necessary for the protection of payment card data. It also confirms the current industry best practices related to ‘remaining ahead of the threat landscape.’ In addition to mandating that ‘all locations of cardholder data are included in scope of PCI DSS assessments’, this amendment also allows ‘vulnerabilities to be ranked and prioritized according to risk.’ PCI 2.0 becomes effective January 1, 2011 and becomes mandatory by January 1, 2012.

In allowing for a strategic approach to compliance, PCI 2.0 also confirms that there is a clear preliminary requirement to audit and locate all cardholder data, regardless of where it may reside. This involves i) a comprehensive inventory of cardholder data and ii) a threat analysis of that inventory. The Camouflage Discovery Module™ provides a compliance advantage by automatically identifying and classifying cardholder data located in applications throughout the organization. It features a powerful search engine and standard search templates customized to facilitate PCI compliance. These templates offer a significant head start to your compliance efforts by providing search rules aimed at locating cardholder data out-of-the-box.

The Camouflage data classification functionality allows organizations to automatically categorize discovered data according to the data classification scheme that best represents the given sensitive data and intended uses. Once the cardholder data has been located, the Data Discovery Module can classify specific sensitive information which can then be used for reports, including threat analyses.

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19th November 2010

October 17 Media and Future Shop Team Up For Holiday Contest

October 17 MediaThe holiday season is here and what better way for families to get into the holiday spirit than by decorating a personal online living room? Vancouver-based online marketing firm October 17 Media has teamed up with Future Shop once again to embrace the gift of giving by creating an innovative online contest with weekly and instant chances to win fantastic prizes.

“The team at October 17 Media knows a thing or two about getting into the holiday spirit,” said Tamara Brooks, Partner, October 17. “We welcomed the opportunity to develop a marketing idea that would put Canadian Thrilling To Winfamilies in a festive mood and highlight Future Shop as the go-to destination for holiday gift buying. In preparation for this contest, the October 17 team began listening to Christmas music weeks before Halloween had arrived!”

October 17 Media prides itself as a local leader in creating cutting-edge virtual contests, collaborating with businesses to develop elaborate viral campaigns focused on an organization’s particular needs. The “Thrilling to Win!” campaign is the company’s fourth collaboration with Future Shop.

“We’re excited to partner with October 17 Media again to launch another fun-filled holiday contest,” said Nikki Hellyer, Director of Marketing, Future Shop. “We know Canadians will enjoy this year’s online contest where they create their own virtual holiday-themed living rooms and have the chance to win incredible prizes.”

Between November 19 and December 16, Canadians are invited to visit the contest’s page to register online and dive into the holiday spirit with online activities for chances to winFuture Shop prizes such as Apple product bundles. Special codes will be available in-store and through other Future Shop online marketing channels and can be redeemed on the contest site to unlock unique holiday activity options and increase the chances of winning.

Participants can spread the holiday cheer by inviting friends and family to their virtual decorated living room through social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, for every user that registers online, Future Shop will donate $1 for every room created – up to $25,000 – to put gifts under the tree for deserving kids across Canada.

BCTIABCTIA presents Part II of the MOBCOM speaker series, Always Connected: The Risk & Opportunity of 24/7 Connectivity this November 23rd at CBC Vancouver’s Studio 700, 700 Hamilton Street. The doors open at 5:30pm, and tickets are $45.00 each.

Mobile market Update:

Mobile computing is enhancing connections between people, businesses, and machines. In this opening presentation Jonathan reveals emerging market trends and new business models as consumers and business shift from eCommerce to mCommerce.

Panel Discussion:

Moderator:

Speakers:

Mobile connectivity has become ubiquitous. People now carry connected devices where ever they go – even to bed. This level of connectivity is unprecedented but what does this mean for business? How are consumer behaviours and expectations changing? The Vancouver Sun’s Gillian Shaw leads an insightful discussion with a multidisciplinary panel of industry experts about the unprecedented growth of personal mobile computing and how location-aware, 24/7 connectivity is changing the way business is done.

Case Study:

Research shows that extending applications to the smartphone platform can improve workforce productivity, enhance customer service and communication, and reduce operating costs. But how does it all really happen? And what is the impact on the business when customers can access service instantly? Trevor will share lessons from a customer case study – Sykes Assistance Services Corporation. Learn how Sykes plans to reduce operating costs and enhance their customers’ experience by extending their roadside assistance program to GPS-enabled BlackBerry smartphone and iPhone applications for Canada’s leading luxury auto manufacturers.

After the presentations, join speakers and attendees for drinks (first drink free) and lively discussion at the BREAD GARDEN (outside and next to the front doors of CBC Vancouver).

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19th November 2010

Entertainment and Safety For Our Canadian Kids

Youth Media AllianceThe Alliance for Children and Television is expanding its base and changing its name to Youth Media Alliance (YMA). The association’s chair Peter Moss made the announcement today in conjunction with the Média-Jeunes conference currently underway in Montreal. “This new name more clearly defines our current mission, at a time when we’re working in various ways to improve the quality of screen-based content for Canadian children and teens. In a world where more and more content is being delivered on new platforms, especially for young people, Youth Media Alliance intends to continue focusing its efforts on all screen-based media,” said Moss.

“Our association has been around for over 35 years and now represents over 100 television and new media professionals,” said Caroline Fortier, the association’s executive director. “By adopting this more inclusive name, Youth Media Alliance hopes to engage more new-media creators in its mission and allow them to actively contribute to the association’s directions.”

The Alliance’s new name reflects the shift that the organization began about a dozen years ago, when its annual conference (known as Média-Jeunes since 2000) already incorporated a new-media component, given these platforms’ growing influence with young audiences. Since then, the media revolution has completely transformed the way content is produced and delivered.

In this new media landscape, young people must continue having access to quality content. For the Alliance, this means screen-based productions that offer excellence in form and content, meet their target audience’s needs and expectations, and comply with recognized production standards. The content of productions should be relevant and entertaining, stimulate the intellect and the imagination, and foster openness to others. It should accurately reflect the world in which young people grow up, while respecting their dignity and promoting learning.

Youth Media Alliance seeks to enrich the lives of Canadian children and teens by helping improve the quality of the content created for them on all screen-based media. The Alliance pursues its mission by presenting annual awards of excellence to the best productions targeting young English- and French-speaking Canadians. It offers ongoing training tailored to the special needs of youth production professionals and also conducts research investigating media’s impact on young people. Finally, Youth Media Alliance lobbies governments to generate interest in all matters concerning screen-based content for young Canadians.

textED.caAs a mom of two young children, Mrs. Laureen Harper knows first-hand the importance of teaching today’s youth to be safe and responsible texters. Mrs. Harper was on hand at Toronto’s Runnymede Junior and Senior Public School today for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s national launch of textED.ca – an innovative website designed to help teach children safe texting practices.

“It’s amazing to think that we live in a time where our children know more about today’s technology than we do,” said Mrs. Laureen Harper. “It’s so important that we become familiar with the technologies our kids use and the risks they face so we are in the best position to help keep them safe. TextED.ca is a great resource to help familiarize parents with today’s texting issues, but more importantly, one their children will enjoy and learn from as well.”

Designed for students in Grade 7 and higher, the textED.ca website provides a fun, interactive platform for children to learn about the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with texting. The initiative also includes lesson plans designed to help educators teach youth about safe texting and life skills that will allow them to fully benefit from what is now a very public, technological world. All lessons are tied to provincial curriculum outcomes, making them ideal for use in Canadian classrooms.

“Considering the main form of communication for much of today’s generation is through text-messaging, the need for safe-texting education is imperative,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “Texting is having an impact at home and in the classroom, and so there is a shared responsibility to teach our kids how to use this technology safely. Like parents, many teachers are struggling with the issues that arise from this technology. It’s a completely new area they didn’t have to deal with before. TextEd.ca will help them address texting in a fun, interactive way.”

“Law enforcement officers, dedicated to online child sexual exploitation investigations across the country, have never been as well trained and equipped as they are today. Even so, we desperately need parents and young people to be more proactive about their online safety,” said Det. Sgt. Kim Scanlan, with the Toronto Police Services Child Exploitation Unit.

“Cell phones – and especially text messaging – have become one of the most important tools for Canadian families to stay connected and keep safe,” said Bernard Lord, President & CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). “But while wireless communications provide convenient and immediate contact, it is essential that young people be educated about the appropriate and responsible use of the technology.”rock paper scissors

In partnership with the CWTA, the Canadian Centre first launched textED.ca as a pilot project in January 2010. Based on feedback received from teachers, students and other educational professionals in the months that followed, the Canadian Centre made numerous improvements and enhancements to the textED.ca lessons and online components. Included in the changes was the creation of an innovative text-based Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) game that also provides users with a safe texting tip following the completion of each game. Any potential text message fees associated with playing this game have been waived by Canadian wireless service providers, so the game is free to all Canadian users. Our thanks to: Bell, Fido, Koodo, MTS, SaskTel, Solo, Rogers, TELUS, Vidéotron and Virgin Mobile for waiving fees and for their ongoing support of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Concerns surrounding children and teens sending sexual messages, nude photos and videos via text messaging is on the rise, yet the vast majority of kids doing so are unaware of the short-term costs and the long-term ramifications associated with their actions.

Since adolescent behavior is less inhibited with the use of technology, it’s important they are aware of the risks and know how to deal with the various situations new technologies present. textED.ca is a comprehensive in-class and online program that will help educators teach youth about safe texting and life skills that will allow them to fully benefit from what is now a very public, technological world. While some teachers have introduced safe texting education to their students, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection identified a gap in the delivery of comprehensive text education programming in Canada’s schools.

To address this, the Canadian Centre developed the textED.ca program, which consists of an innovative and interactive new website and a series of associated lesson plans for teachers to use with their Grade 7 students. Importantly, all of the lessons are tied to provincial curriculum outcomes, making them ideal for use in classrooms right across the country.

From learning how to deal with textual harassers to helping teens deal with stress or a break-up, the textED.ca website incorporates games, quizzes, discussion pages, and other fun tools to help them navigate through the issues.

In partnership with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the Canadian Centre first launched textED.ca as a pilot project in January 2010. In total, more than 350 Grade 7 classes took part in the pilot between January 21, 2010 and April 30, 2010. During that time, 1,292 users signed up on the site and 441 teachers signed up for access to the lesson plans. In conjunction with the feedback received from teachers, students and other educational professionals, the Canadian Centre made numerous improvements and enhancements to the textED.ca lessons and online components.

Texting Stats:

• In Canada, 4.6 billion peer-to-peer text messages were sent in June 2010. This represents a 10% increase over the last reported March 2010 total of 4.2 billion messages.
• The total number of person-to-person text messages sent during the first six months of 2010 was 25.7 billion, which already represents 73% of the 2009 total of 35.3 billion.
• In June 2010, Canadians sent an average of 154.1 million messages per day. This is up from the average 135.4 million messages per day in March 2010.

(Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, as of October 2010)

Teen Texting Stats:

• The average teen sends 3,339 texts per month. That’s more than six texts per waking hour.
• For teens age 13 to 17, female teens send an average 4,050 texts per month while male teens send an average 2,539 texts per month.
• These teens are sending eight times more texts than they were this time last year.
• Other age groups don’t come close to this level of texting. The average 18-24-year-old sends only 1,650 texts per month. The average drops further with other age groups.

(Source: The Nielsen Company study released October 2010)

astral mediaAstral’s Playhouse Disney will follow suit with its U.S. counterpart and re-brand its English and French-language networks as Disney Junior in May 2011. Continuing the promise to provide the best in entertaining, development-based programming for younger viewers, Disney Junior will launch with new series such as Jake and the Never Land Pirates and programming that taps into Disney’s rich legacy of classic characters as featured in such programs as Disney Poetry Shorts. The re-branded multiplex channel will also expand on its educational mandate to layer in learning that focuses on social values, the environment and healthy living.

“Since its launch in November 2007, Playhouse Disney has continued to build its viewership, program offering and prestige,” said Joe Tedesco, Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Family and Playhouse Disney. “The evolution of Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior comes at an exciting time and will add a new energy to the network while disney playhouseremaining dedicated to bringing highly entertaining, home-grown and Disney programming to Canadian families.”

Coinciding with the re-brand, Jake and the Never Land Pirates will premiere on Disney Junior in May 2011. The animated adventure has classic Disney characters Captain Hook and Smee joined by a new crew of kid pirates led by the courageous Jake. The series, which emphasizes teamwork, features original pirate-rock music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band and stars David Arquette as the voice of the lookout parrot, Skully. Other new Disney programming set to premiere on Disney Junior includes Disney Poetry Shorts which showcases poems for children set against classic Disney animation and the short-form series Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps encouraging healthy lifestyles for preschoolers and families.

These new series will join new episodes of popular series such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso, Jungle Junction and Imagination Movers. Original Canadian series on Disney Junior will include the popular Franny’s Feet, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear and new episodes of Stella and Sam.

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18th November 2010

Play Coming To Vancouver Next Month

Play!Jason Michael Paul Productions, Inc. has announced that PLAY! a symphony concert world tour with music from a catalogue of blockbuster video game titles will be making a stop in Vancouver for a special concert on Monday, December 6th at 8:00 pm at the Orpheum with the Vancouver Symphony and Chorus.

As a special treat for fans prolific composer Jeremy Soule (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Guild Wars, Prey and Company of Heroes) will be in attendance along with Oleksa Lozowchuk (Dead Rising 2), Michael Curran and Geoff Knorr (Civilization 5). All will be signing items after the show as part of special meet and greet.

Music and visuals from Civilization 5 will be premiered as part of this concert. In cooperation with 2K Games and Firaxis, there will be a drawing to give away 10 copies of Civilization 5, and a limited number of free Civilization 5 soundtracks will be available for those who attend the meet & greet. Tickets are priced from $29.00 – $68.00 plus fees and taxes.

Canadian Youth Business FoundationIn conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Canada, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), Canada’s entrepreneur gateway and official host of GEW Canada, is pleased to announce the opening of a new regional office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The opening is a momentous occasion for the organization, which has worked diligently to foster youth entrepreneurship from coast to coast to coast since its inception in 1996.

The office, located at 230-3025 Portage Avenue in Winnipeg’s St. James neighbourhood, provides an environment for young entrepreneurs to learn about CYBF’s start-up financing, pre-launch coaching, mentorship and online resources. The new location also features access to mobile workstations, additional business resources and complimentary wireless internet access.

“The growing interest in entrepreneurial careers combined with the desire to ‘come home’ to Manitoba creates significant opportunities for CYBF to begin to reverse the historic outward migration and cultivate future business leaders within the province,” says Joelle Foster, director of Manitoba, Nunavut and Northwest Territories, CYBF. “CYBF looks forward to working with young entrepreneurs and helping to turn their fresh ideas into a reality.”

The expansion of CYBF into Manitoba comes at a pivotal time in Canada’s economic recovery. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, more Canadians living in the regions most affected by the crisis, including Manitoba, have stated their intentions to start a business. Currently, there are 90,000 self-employed entrepreneurs in the province, a number that has risen nearly 70 per cent over the last three decades. CYBF aims to further encourage this persuasion towards entrepreneurship and provide the necessary supports for success. One such program is the CYBF Newcomer Entrepreneur Program, which offers flexible loan assessments and a hand-matched mentor to provide new Canadians with insight into running a business in Canada.

Cineplex Entertainment today announced movies can now be digitally downloaded into your home with Download To Own (DTO) and Video on Demand (VoD) service from the Cineplex Store. New releases will be available for digital download on the same day they are released on DVD and Blu-ray. This new service complements the DVD and Blu-ray products already available for purchase at the Cineplex Store. Customers will now have the option to easily and seamlessly select whichever option best suits their movie-watching needs. Effective today, digital downloads purchased from Cineplex.com can be played on your PC or other compatible devices.

To celebrate the launch of the download service, Cineplex Entertainment is offering a buy one get one free promotion until December 31, 2010 where customers who purchase any regularly-priced DTO movie will receive a second movie of equal or lesser value free. Some restrictions apply so visit Cineplex.com for full promotional details.

DTO and VoD purchases made from the Cineplex Store can be stored either on a customer’s hard drive or in a digital locker contained within the Cineplex Player that customers will download when they make their first digital download purchase. The locker enables purchasers to store their movie safely and securely without depleting space on their device’s hard drive while still allowing unlimited future downloads of DTO titles. The Cineplex Player and digital locker technology are powered by RoxioNow™ from Sonic Solutions®.

Today’s launch is the first of a multiphase rollout, with several key features planned for a 2011 update. Cineplex.com will feature streaming High Definition content for DTO and VoD titles and, once available, the ability to store content in a cloud-based UltraViolet™ account. UltraViolet™ is a digital rights locker and account management system that will allow consumers to watch their digital entertainment across multiple platforms, such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles, smartphones and tablet PCs, in an easy, consistent way.

Poynt Corporation has announced that their Poynt Local Search app is available for poyntWindows Phone 7 in the United Kingdom. Poynt harnesses the power of multiple applications in one intuitive package. Users can view search results, call businesses, and get driving directions, as well as view restaurant information, make dinner reservations, and view local weather forecasts. Poynt’s integrated weather screen allows users to view real-time weather conditions. The movie section provides showtimes, trailers and features movie ratings. Poynt for Windows Phone 7 also features movie ratings.

Poynt is a free application that connects Windows Phone 7 users to business, movie, retailer, restaurant, and local weather information. The App integrates with the device using click-to-call, click-to-browse, map location and email results to friend in addition to including some of the unique features of the device including the pivot feature to facilitate toggling between different features and screens.

“As the company continues to grow and build momentum, adding Windows Phone 7 to the variety of platforms Poynt is already available on in the United Kingdom extends our local search solution to even more consumers in the region,” said Andrew Osis, CEO, Poynt Corp. “Windows Phone 7 is poised to be a successful platform worldwide and we are extremely excited to be among the early developers.”

Radiant CommunicationsRadiant Communications Corp. today announced the opening of its cloud datacenter located at 151 Front Street in Toronto, expanding the company’s cloud computing infrastructure to two facilities. Radiant’s other facility is located in Vancouver. Together, the two datacenters provide one of the widest cloud computing footprints in the country.

“The availability of Radiant’s AlwaysThere Enterprise Cloud platform in Toronto gives companies greater geographic options when selecting their cloud or managed hosting partner,” said Radiant’s President and CEO, David Buffett. “Located at a central downtown address, the Toronto facility provides companies situated near the datacenter with the added advantage of geographic proximity and high end-user performance.

“The central location of our facility in downtown Toronto minimizes network latency for Toronto based customers and provides a disaster recovery location for our Vancouver based clients,” said Buffett.

When a company selects a cloud hosting provider, the services are typically delivered from a single datacenter, making the customer vulnerable to disaster based outages in that area.

Radiant has two datacenters situated in Western and Eastern Canada, which allows customers to select the datacenter nearest their offices, providing the best end user experience possible while also taking advantage of Radiant’s disaster recovery services hosted in the other datacenter.

Another competitive advantage of Radiant’s AlwaysThere cloud infrastructure is that it is based in Canada and not subject to the U.S. Patriot Act. Under the provisions of this legislation, American authorities can access and collect companies’ data without their knowledge or consent.

“Some Canadian businesses want assurance that their data will remain under the jurisdiction of Canadian privacy laws,” said Buffett. “They are more comfortable knowing their data is kept here, always under the control of a Canadian corporation.”

Radiant’s infrastructure reflects this focus on privacy. “Our approach is quite unique in Canada in that we bundle cloud services with high-speed business Internet and private networking security products to create a hosted ‘private cloud’ with security and user experiences comparable to any internal IT infrastructure,” said Buffett.

AlwaysThere cloud-based solutions are flexible, reliable and affordable. Radiant’s AlwaysThere products are sold on a pay-as-you-use pricing model. Virtual servers are available from $149 per month and the company’s flagship Hosted Microsoft Exchange service is available for between $4.95 and $14.95 per user, per month. Radiant’s AlwaysThere services are sold by a direct sales force to midsize businesses in Canada and through partner programs with IT service vendors across the country.

Bell today announced it has begun to double HSPA+ network speeds to a maximum of 42 Bell CanadaMegabits per second (42 Mbps), and will introduce initial commercial service in Toronto with the launch of the Novatel Wireless U547 Turbo Stick – the first 42 Mbps product available in North America – on November 23.Novatel Wireless U547 Turbo Stick

“Canada’s Best Network just got better. By implementing HSPA+ Dual Cell technology, Bell Mobility offers clients the ability to access the Internet and other data services at what we believe are the fastest mobile data speeds commercially available from any wireless carrier in North America,” said Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Mobility & Residential Services, and Bell’s Chief Brand Officer. “Bell is leading the way in Canadian wireless investment and innovation, enabling the mobile ecosystem that supports the development of new apps and data services by Canadian developers for mobile users here and abroad.”

HSPA+ Dual Cell technology combines two wireless 21 Mbps data carriers through multiplexing techniques at individual HSPA+ cell sites, increasing top-end data speeds from 21 Mbps to 42 Mbps for compatible products. Bell will continue enhancing HSPA+ network with Dual Cell technology to serve more Canadian cities and towns through 2011.

Coordinated through Bell Development Labs, this HSPA+ Dual Cell network enhancement leveraged the technical expertise of chipset, radio and core network infrastructure manufacturers and suppliers, including Huawei, Novatel Wireless and Qualcomm. Already providing speeds up to 21 Mbps to consumer and business clients, Bell Mobility’s HSPA+ network provides a robust platform on which developers continue to deliver a wide range of innovative business, entertainment and productivity applications.

Bell introduced broadband HSPA+ service in November 2009, bringing high-speed wireless service to 93% of the Canadian population in rural and remote locations, small towns and major urban centres across the country. The new network has supported the development of industry-leading data services such as Bell Mobile TV and rapid wireless growth at Bell, including a 39% increase in mobile data revenue and a 74% increase in the company’s base of smartphone users year over year.

The first product able to take advantage of 42 Mbps Dual Cell technology is the U547 Turbo Stick from Novatel Wireless, available at Bell retail locations, including The Source, in Toronto next Tuesday November 23. When paired with a laptop or netbook. Novatel Wireless’ latest Turbo Stick will allow Bell Mobility clients to experience mobile access speeds never before available for the fastest mobile Internet access, business applications, video streaming, gaming and much more.

Bell will also introduce new speed-based pricing with the launch of these Dual Cell compatible devices. A $10 add-on feature will be available on all Mobile Internet pricing plans to allow Bell clients to take advantage of speeds up to 42 Mbps. The pricing model aligns with the approach for fixed broadband services, which ensures clients benefit from the value associated with the highest access speeds available.

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