13th January 2011

Good News From Indie Studios Beenox and Frima

frima studioFrima Studio has announced that its Facebook version of Pocket God has already reached the 100,000 monthly active users milestone.

Originally developed by Bolt Creative for the Apple iPhone™ and iPod® touch, the Facebook version of Pocket God is a brand new way to experience the colorful, death-inducing, all-powerful and hilarious universe of Pocket God, one of the most popular iOS games in history. With all-new socially integrated features, episodic updates and a host of hilarious ways to both dispose of and resurrect the immortal pygmies of each island, the Facebook iteration of Pocket God offers a fresh experience for both fans of the mobile versions as well as those looking for an omnipotent new twist in online social gaming.

Since moving into open beta on December 20, 2010, Pocket God Facebook users have had fun torturing the Pygmies in a variety of wacky ways that have entertained players since the title’s iOS debut:

* 85,000 players have created accounts and have sacrificed over 7.5 million pygmies, more than the entire population of Massachusetts!
* Nearly half (46%) of the Pocket God players are from the US
* Close to 300,000 Facebook friends have been sacrificed & 60,000 of those had their head eaten by a shark

Beenox StudiosActivision Publishing and Beenox announced today that the Quebec studio has been named the primary developer on upcoming Activision titles featuring Marvel™’s famous web-slinger, Spider-Man™. Beenox’s most recent breakout success was with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, one of the most highly rated Spider-Man titles to date and Wizard Magazine’s 2010 Game of the Year. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has also been nominated for awards at the Canadian Video Game Awards, which will take place in Vancouver this May.

“Beenox’s creative vision reinvigorated the Spider-Man gaming experience among critics and fans in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions,” said Patrick Kelly, Senior Vice President, Activision Studios. “We can’t wait to see where this talented studio will take this franchise in the future.”Spiderman Shattered Dimension

“We are thrilled with this opportunity to continue our close, collaborative relationship with Activision, Marvel and everyone’s friendly, neighborhood hero, Spider-Man,” said Dee Brown, Studio Head, Beenox. “Being able to map out Spider-Man’s interactive future gives us the creative freedom to really craft the best gaming experience for the fans.”

“Beenox has done a tremendous job showcasing the essence of Spider-Man while pushing new creative boundaries with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions,” said Todd Jefferson, Director of Games, Marvel Entertainment’s Global Digital Media Group. “We look forward to working with Beenox on creating new Spider-Man game experiences.”

homick labsHomick Labs preschooler app Noah’s Matching Ark is now available in the iTunes store for the iPhone, iPod noahs arkTouch and iPad. This free title is fun and educational, and geared towards children age 2 and up. Kids will love matching the tiles of the various themes and earning stickers to be placed in their sticker album. With pleasing graphics and fun music, this interactive application is sure to become a family favorite.

The Creative GroupSocial media isn’t just a trend taking the world by storm; it’s also the term advertising and marketing executives ranked as the most annoying industry buzzword in a survey by The Creative Group. Also high on the list: “synergy” and “ROI,” which rankled respondents in a similar survey conducted in 2006.

The Canadian study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm and was based on 250 telephone interviews — approximately 200 with Canadian marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 50 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.  The advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In your opinion, what is the most annoying or overused buzzword in the creative/marketing industry today?”

The top-ranked responses include:

1. “Social media/social networking”
2. “Synergy”
3. “Innovative/innovation”
4. “Extra value/value added”
5. “Going green”
6. “Free”
7. “ROI/return on investment”
8. “Culture change”
9. “Think out of the box”
10. “Interactive”
11. “Proactive”
12. “Social media expert”
13. “Multitasking”
14. “End of the day”
15. “Integrated/Integration”

“Certain buzzwords may be commonly used amongst marketing and advertising professionals, but when overused, they can quickly lose impact and cause people to lose interest and tune out,” said Lara Dodo, regional vice president of The Creative Group in Canada. “In order to ensure your ideas are conveyed effectively, aim to keep your messages simple and direct.”

The Creative Group offers four tips for eliminating jargon in your communications:

1. Translate your thoughts. It’s typical to think in the lingo you use every day. But when putting your ideas to paper or in an e-mail, take the time to explain the concepts in terms that your audience will
easily understand.
2. Edit, edit, edit. Many buzzwords are unnecessary. Think carefully: Does a phrase like “at the end of the day” really add to what you’re trying to say? Probably not.
3. Break bad habits. We all rely on certain phrases when we speak. If the ones you gravitate toward are on the list of annoying buzzwords, think of alternatives that convey the same meaning.
4. Show instead of tell. Rather than relying on buzzwords, use concrete examples to convey your thoughts. For instance, instead of discussing your fully “integrated” marketing strategy for a product rollout,
describe the various elements and how they work together.

KMI CanadaBlake Melnick, Chief Knowledge Officer of The KM Group (TKMG), Graham Westwood, CEO of Procarta and Douglas Weidner, Chairman of The International Knowledge Management Institute, have announced the official launch of The Knowledge Management Institute of Canada (KMIC). The Institute will be headquartered in Toronto and will conduct industry level research and provide KM training, learning and professional certification programs, which address sector and Industry challenges related to:

* The aging of the Canadian workforce.
* The pending loss of critical knowledge through attrition.
* Managing knowledge necessary to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency and promote operational excellence.
* Improving organization performance and profitability.
* Creating competitive advantage through continuous improvement and the creation of new knowledge.

“The world has changed. Canada is experiencing a tipping point, where age old structures which previously shaped how we thought about work and learning are being transformed by information, communication technologies and the democratization of knowledge,” said Blake Melnick, KMIC’s Chief Knowledge Officer. “For Canadian companies to continue to prosper, and attract and retain key talent and expertise, they must embrace new ways of thinking, working and learning, which align with the realities of a global knowledge-based economy – this is where we believe the Knowledge Management Institute of Canada will have an exciting and challenging role to play.”

The Knowledge Management Institute of Canada will operate as an independently owned, licensed affiliate of the International Knowledge Management Institute of Washington D.C., working with industry, government, business, education and the not for profit sectors to develop certification, accreditation and professional development programs tailored to meet their evolving operational needs and the training and learning needs of their workforce.

KMIC programs will assist organizations manage change by training knowledge managers how to leverage critical knowledge assets, improve the transfer of explicit and tacit knowledge across the their organizations; capture and transfer critical knowledge and know how from retiring experts to new employees to effectively bridge the knowledge gap which exists between formal classroom training and learning and field experience. With a focus on key industry sectors where pending knowledge loss is most acute and where the acquisition of new knowledge is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing global marketplace, the Institute will serve as an incubator for emergent knowledge and information technologies and cultural practices designed to improve sector, industry and organization best practices.

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13th January 2011

Mike Holmes Teams Up With Cisco

Make It RightThe Holmes Group and Cisco today announced a collaborative relationship to explore opportunities in the residential construction sector. The Holmes Group and Cisco will collaborate to define and identify solutions which integrate Smart+Connected Real Estate into eco-friendly communities – with the aim of supporting the responsible economic, environmental and technological sustainability of model communities.cisco

The collaboration will explore opportunities to provide mixed-use residential developments, led by Mike Holmes, with Cisco network and communication platforms to increase access and sharing of information, assist in planning and construction best practices, and incorporate skills development to increase efficiency, lower costs, and promote superior construction standards. Benefits to homeowners include improved connectivity, increased energy efficiency and savings through automated home energy-management tools, reduced maintenance, and increased longevity of home systems.

“It’s time we take responsibility and start thinking about building sustainably. We need to focus on durability. We need to reduce our carbon footprints for future generations. If we start building smart homes within smart communities that are connected to a smart grid that allows energy to flow two ways it will increase our home efficiency,” said Mike Holmes, President of The Holmes Group. “Technology and communication add a new dimension that makes this possible– it’s what I call the fourth utility. Together with Cisco we aim to establish a new global standard in community development through giving homeowners the tools they need to reduce the energy they use with improved value and quality.”

Cisco-HolmesThe companies are currently working on two pilot projects that will showcase the potential of these platforms as a model for environmental innovation around the world. Cisco will join The Holmes Group and the national Assembly of First Nations in a pilot project focused on re-establishing indigenous environmental stewardship and self-determination through building sustainable and efficient homes, enhancing community design and planning, and integrating appropriate green technologies and clean energy sources to improve the health and living conditions in First Nations communities. The pilot project will be located at Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation, in northern Ontario.

“This collaboration is a significant step toward defining new community-planning models and establishing Smart +Connected Community solutions as the standard in residential construction. We look forward to working with The Holmes Group to not only showcase the capabilities of energy management and collaboration through these pilot projects, but also to assist in establishing a network of resources to support industry education and community skills development,” added Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada.

Cisco will also collaborate with The Holmes Group on Wind Walk in southern Alberta, a sustainably planned mixed-use community featuring 457 high-performance green homes and self-supporting infrastructure designed to reduce consumption and its impact on the surrounding environment. Both initiatives explore opportunities to utilize Cisco’s Collaboration, Smart+Connected Communities and  Smart Grid technologies to set new standards in residential design.

myspark technologiesOntario’s mySpark Technologies Inc. is preparing to deliver a full-featured tablet computer and software platform tailored for educational institutions. The mySpark Education Platform is an Android tablet that integrates with popular education-based learning management systems to provide unprecedented connectivity between students, instructors and social networks. With their finger or a specially designed stylus, students can take notes, share content and save key passages from any digital textbook.

The mySpark Education Platform is the brainchild of consumer technology veterans Adrian Hartog, CEO, and Steven Turner, CTO. Hartog and Turner led and created billion-dollar international divisions for graphic chip makers ATI Technologies Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. The mySpark Education Platform will be offered at two prices, depending on configuration, and will ship in the second quarter of 2011.

“We recognize the economic constraints facing today’s students and school districts and are committed to building an industry-leading tablet at an affordable price,” said Adrian Hartog, Chief Executive Officer at mySpark. “Students today have technology wired into their DNA. The customized features we are building into the mySpark Education Platform will enable technological advancement in education and facilitate collaborative learning as well.”

The mySpark Education Platform is designed specifically for students, teachers and administrators, allowing students to purchase digital textbooks from an online store and borrow one from the campus library. Students and teachers can annotate text, write notes, insert multimedia content and sync with schools various calendars. The mySpark Education Platform can search an online campus library or for a specific digital textbook on the campus network or the tablet. Through their unique “Ideabook,” students can store a variety of content to access later for coursework and class projects. The mySpark Education Platform is a collaborative tool, allowing students to share multimedia content and post questions through instant messaging, group chat tools and message boards.

The 10-inch color mySpark Education Platform includes Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, 4GB or 8GB of internal storage, SD card expansion, front and rear cameras, a 1 GHz dual-core processor, Adobe Flash support for multimedia playback, stylus inputs and a docking station so students can easily move from classroom to dorm room to work and connect anytime, anywhere. mySpark Technologies is also hiring, please see their web site for details.

ovcfThe Ontario Venture Capital Fund (OVCF) has announced that it has made a commitment to Blackberry Partners Fund II, a leading independent venture capital firm focused exclusively on mobile internet investing. The Blackberry Partners Fund (Blackberry Partners), a Toronto-based firm, ranks among Canada’s most active technology investors.

“We are pleased to have made a lead commitment to one of Canada and Ontario’s most promising venture capital funds,” said Melissa McJannet, Managing Director of Northleaf Capital Partners, the manager of OVCF. “The investment in Blackberry Partners is reflective of OVCF’s strategy to invest in best-in-class Ontario-based and Ontario-focused venture capital and growth equity funds. Blackberry Partners has served as a local champion in the Ontario market and we believe its differentiated investment strategy positions the manager to succeed not only in the Canadian market, but on a global basis.”

“We are thrilled to add OVCF as a lead investor in our next fund and look forward to a long and successful partnership,” said John Albright, Co-Managing Partner of the BlackBerry Partners Fund. “Their support, along with our other lead investors, Research In Motion and Thomson Reuters, will allow us to continue to invest in leading players in the mobile internet sector and deliver strong returns for our investors.”

OVCF’s commitment to Blackberry Partners is an extension of a partnership that began in 2008 through a direct co-investment made alongside JLA Ventures (the predecessor to Blackberry Partners Fund) in I Love Rewards, a high potential Ontario-based company. OVCF believes that investing in promising venture capital and growth equity funds and co-investing alongside them to support innovative, high growth companies is critical to the development of a long-term, world-class venture capital ecosystem in Ontario. OVCF’s primary objective remains to generate attractive, long term returns for its investors and, by so doing, clearly demonstrate the significant opportunities available through investment in Ontario venture capital and growth equity funds and companies.

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