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31st March 2011

Canada Media Fund Preliminary Program Budget Information

Canada Media FundCanada Media Fund announces preliminary program budget and performance envelopes for 2011-2012, and the creation of a new Convergent Stream Digital Media Incentive.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced today that its preliminary program budget for the upcoming year (excluding the $100M program funding allocation that was proposed in the federal budget) will amount to $271M.  The funding allocated to each of the CMF’s programs is outlined on the CMF’s web site as a PDF.

All programs without exception received a preliminary funding allocation based on approximately 73% of the expected total program budget for the year ($271M/$371M).

The CMF also announced that it will issue broadcaster agreements tomorrow which will outline the performance envelopes allocated to broadcasters for the upcoming year.  In order to enable broadcasters to ask any questions they may have pertaining to their envelope allocations, the envelope allocations will be posted on the CMF’s web site by April 15, 2011.

Two distinct performance envelope amounts will be indicated in each broadcaster’s agreement: the first amount is based on the preliminary program budget of $271M and represents the amount that the CMF will commit to in the broadcaster agreement. It excludes the amount related to the 5% Digital Media Investment factor which will be released in mid-April, as this factor is based on amounts spent in the current year and therefore requires data validation as of April 1, 2011.

The second amount is based on the expected total program budget of $371M (including the $100M program funding allocation that was proposed in the federal budget) and is provided to assist the industry with licensing and production planning.  It also includes the currently estimated amount related to the 5% Digital Media Investment factor, prior to data validation.

As stated in the CMF’s prior release on March 26, 2011, the preliminary program budget of $271M is based on confirmed sources of revenue, including the projected monthly contributions from broadcast distribution undertakings, as well as the allocation of funding of $34.6M included in the budget of the Department of Canadian Heritage which is targeted for the CMF.
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31st March 2011

Canadian Production Sold to Belgium

distribution360Distribution360 has announced the sale of the award-winning comedy cross-platform property TAC.tv to Belgian broadcaster RTBF (Radio télévision belge de la communauté française). The broadcaster will air the Québec-based Salambo Productions original French shorts (181 x 3 minutes), known in French as tetesaclaques.tv, over the next three years.

The series of shorts features a cast of hilarious characters such as The Googoos, The Secretary, and The Pilot, to name a few. The off-the-wall characters featured in the series are sculpted from modeling clay by the creator himself, Michel Beaudet. While in post-production, he superimposes his own moving eyes, mouth, and nose, creating unique characters with over-the-top personalities.tactv-characters

TAC.tv’s witty and humourous animated shorts are wildly popular and have proven very successful across all media, especially in French-speaking Canada and France. Originally in French, the series has expanded to add English shorts to its slate.

“We’re thrilled that Belgium’s French-speaking population will be able to enjoy TAC.tv’s crazy antics on RTBF,” says Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, Managing Director/Head of Sales, Distribution360. “Our goal has always been to showcase our dynamic lineup of cross-platform projects to international audiences,” adds Stephanie. “TAC.tv has already proven to be a highly successful and hilariously entertaining brand in many markets, and we’re excited to be able to share it with audiences in Belgium.”

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has announced that it has received approval from the TSX Venture Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange for its graduation and the listing of its common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange as of market opening on Friday, April 1, 2011.  D-Box’s common shares will trade under the stock symbol “DBO” as opposed to “DBO.a”.

“The graduation to the Toronto Stock Exchange is part of a normal evolution reflecting our growth and the execution of our business plan,” said Claude Mc Master, President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies. “It’s a great achievement for the entire D-BOX team.”

BCICFounders and CEOs of technology ventures wanting to improve their chances of building a successful company can now participate in the BCIC Mentor Program and benefit from the experience of seasoned technology entrepreneurs. The Program (in partnership with ACETECH) is a province-wide development program for early-stage entrepreneurs with the goal of improving the success of technology companies in BC.

“The BCIC Mentor Program matches mentors with ventures in a way that recognizes the needs of the entrepreneur and the interests of the mentor,” said Paulin Laberge, BCIC Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of the BCIC Mentor Program. “The focus of the mentoring is on entrepreneurial education in the context of building a real venture. Once an entrepreneur is accepted into the Program, we expect that the mentoring relationship will span multiple years.”

In order to be accepted into the BCIC Mentor Program, the CEO or founder must be referred by one of the Program’s Participating Organizations. The first four organizations to come on board with the BCIC Mentor Program are: ACETECH, BC Technology Industry Association, BCIC-New Ventures Competition and Accelerate Okanagan. With the addition of Accelerate Okanagan as a Participating Organization, the BCIC Mentor Program is available to entrepreneurs in the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan region. The program will expand into other regions, including Victoria, later this year.

While each Participating Organization has its own set of criteria under which entrepreneurs can access the BCIC Mentor Program, the criteria typically includes participation in current or recent entrepreneurial development programs offered by that organization.

“Through this Program, Accelerate Okanagan is able to expand the breadth of our current offerings to include long-term mentorship,” says Jeff Keen, Director of Acceleration Programs at Accelerate Okanagan.

Since the program launched last fall in the Lower Mainland, over 40 mentors have been accepted into the program and they are eager to begin working with the founders and CEOs of local technology ventures. Mentorship through the BCIC Mentor Program is provided to entrepreneurs at no cost. Stay tuned for additional Participating Organization announcements.

Microsoft CanadaA large majority of Canadians and Americans believe business leaders need to be open to take more intelligent risks in order to create innovation, a Microsoft Canada survey conducted by Harris/Decima has revealed. The majority of office workers in both Canada (97 per cent) and the U.S. (96 per cent) also agreed that companies must embrace new technologies in order to remain competitive. Both Canadians (96 per cent) and Americans (99 per cent) agree that technology is shaping the future of how they work.

The survey, which ran from January 5th to January 14th 2011, polled senior and junior/mid-level Canadian and U.S. office workers to better understand their views about technology and innovation in the workplace. Of the 504 surveys that were completed among a random sample of Canadian office workers and 501 surveys among a random sample of American office workers,  the results were clear: 84 per cent of Canadians and 77 per cent of Americans believe business leaders need to take more risks to create innovation, while only 53 per cent of Canadians and 55% of Americans feel the company they work for is already driving innovation.

“Canadian business leaders must embrace an appetite for intelligent risk instead of shying away from it to stay within the comfort of status quo,” says Eric Gales, President of Microsoft Canada. “Now is the time to createorganizational cultures where risk is not a dirty four-letter word, but is encouraged as a valuable ingredient in fueling learning, creativity and inspiring innovation.”

“The business world is in the midst of an exciting period of change driven by technology,” said Peter Aceto, Chief Executive Officer, ING DIRECT, commenting on the survey results. “For businesses to be successful in this environment, leaders need to promote a culture where employees at all levels not only understand their business but feel safe to experiment in it- to reach far across the divide – with no danger of the repercussions of failure.”

Added Gales: “What we need to do is overcome the misconception that risk automatically equates to danger. We need to transform the idea of risk into a true opportunity – whether in business, skiing down a mountain, or in improving Canada’s healthcare system. Business leaders need to empower their teamsand drive forward innovation to strengthen our economy and put Canada on the map.”

“Understanding the intersection of technology and innovation is critical to the future success of firms. It is particularly critical for larger organizations, that must not only embrace change and creativity, but most also “scale up” in order to survive global competition. This report is an excellent start toward understanding and infusing Canada’s corporate culture with the need to innovate and accept change,” commented Dr. Benson Honig, McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business, TeresaCascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The survey also found that:

  • The younger generation of corporate/business workers entering the workforce are considered to be just as innovative (Canada 47%; US 46%) or more innovative (Canada 41%; US 39%) than today’s current leaders
  • The top reason for indicating the younger generation is more innovative than today’s current leaders is their experience, comfort, and understanding of technology (Canada 68%; US 80%)
  • Americans are more likely than Canadians to believe the younger generation is more innovative due to their experience with technology (80% vs. 68%), while Canadians are more likely than Americans to think the younger generation is more innovative because of their ability to learn and adapt (27% vs. 15) and their fresh approach (10% vs. 5%)

SimplyCastSimplyCast.com has released Version 6.2 of its SaaS all-in-one marketing application. The latest software release further enhances the multi-channel marketing process by adding powerful features throughout the application to help beginners and advanced online marketers get the results they want.

All users will immediately benefit from an improved reporting framework, faster image serving for newsletters, a list segmentation option for fax marketing and a manage subscription feature that allows recipients to decide what lists they want to remain on.

“Our product development has always been driven by customer feedback and what small business owners need to get the job done,” said Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO of SimplyCast. “This release represents another important milestone for our company as we continue to provide the most competitively priced all-in-one marketing product to users worldwide.”

Other new features of Version 6.2 include the latest version of SimplyCast’s one-of-a-kind Visual Editor, a revamp of the autoresponder marketing tool and key additions to the free Twitter Marketing service, including a RSS feed to Twitter option.

SimplyCast’s 11-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, Twitter, fax, SMS and link tracking services.

Future ShopFuture Shop has introduced a new trade-in program which gives Canadians a chance to responsibly recycle their old DVDs and grow their Blu-ray collections with a special offer. Trade & Save will officially launch tomorrow, April 1st, and run until May 5th. Future Shop customers will be able to bring in their old DVDs in exchange for a $5 coupon to use towards purchasing a new Blu-ray movie from a massive selection of over 150 titles to choose from.

“Future Shop is excited to launch the new Trade & Save program that allows customers to upgrade their movie collections with Blu-ray movies at a discount,” said Nikki Hellyer, Director of Marketing, Future Shop. “This program provides a win-win scenario where customers can recycle old DVDs and receive a coupon geared towards helping them build their Blu-ray collections.”

To participate, customers can bring any DVD movies to their nearest Future Shop and exchange them for $5 coupons for select new Blu-ray movies at the Customer Service desk. Eligible Blu-ray titles are clearly marked with in-store with a Trade & Save sticker on the case. A $5 coupon will be provided per returned DVD to a maximum of 20 per customer per day. Customers can redeem one $5 coupon per select Blu-ray title.

The $5 coupon applies to a wide selection of Blu-ray titles from the industry’s top studios* in all genres: action and adventure, family, female favourites, comedies, dramas and musicals. Select new releases in the Trade & Save program, include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (April 8) and Gulliver’s Travels (April 19).

Here are a few examples of after trade-in pricing:

* $4.99: Heat, Speed and James Bond movies.
* $9.99: Alien vs. Predator, 300 and Ice Age movies.
* $11.99: The Dark Night, Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary, The Hangover.
* $14.99: Inception, The Sound of Music, A-Team, Faster, Robin Hood.

All DVDs collected will be responsibly recycled in Canada.

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31st March 2011

Shenanigans Releases Awards and Student Development

gamers heart japanReminder: The Gamers Heart Japan television special will be airing on SPACE and G4 on April 4th. Watch, Enjoy, Donate.

PlayTest: zinc Roe is looking for kids (ages 3-6) in the Toronto area to playtest some of the studio’s upcoming projects. Contact them via their website or email if you’re interested.

ubisoftYannis Mallat, President & CEO of Ubisoft Montréal & Toronto will be offering a glimpse into the secrets which enabled Canada’s video game developing industry to grow into the world leader it is today when he makes a presentation to the Canadian Club of Montreal on April 4th. Mr. Mallat’s speech is titled Myths and Realities of the Canadian Video Game Industry, and during his presentation, Mr. Mallat will also address what he considers to be the type of strategic thinking that should be encouraged in order to ensure a sustainable Canadian economy.

Yesterday Quebec newspaper Rue Frontenac broke the story that Ubisoft Montreal has fortified its court injunction barring THQ Montreal from further actively recruiting Ubisoft staff. THQ has already successfully obtained the development services of Mark Besner, Jean-Francois Boivin and Alex Drouin, all of whom worked on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise, and it’s suspected that other Ubisoft developers will be switching work addresses if they haven’t already. The first inkling of trouble between the two Montreal studios came last spring when THQ signed Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Désilets, who was named to head up the THQ studio beginning this May.

And with that news bit, I will segue over to some Dawn of War II news. Owners of  Relic Entertainment’s Warhammer® 40,000®: Dawn of War® II – Retribution™ will soon be able to purchase a custom Dark Angels Space Marine chapter for use in multiplayer. The Dark Angels Pack is scheduled to be available for download on Steam, the THQ E-Shop and select digital retailers on 6 April for a suggested price of $7.50 USD.

The Dark Angels Pack adds the iconic Space Marine chapter to the game with eight unique models for the major multiplayer units as well as new color schemes for the others.  The Force Commander is replaced by a Dark Angels Company Master complete with winged helmet, the Tactical Marine squad all sport the iconic Dark Angels robes.  Additionally, the Scout Squad, Assault Marine Squad and Terminators all receive similar chapter-specific revisions. The Space Marine vehicles also get a visual makeover with this DLC pack, adding custom designs and emblems to differentiate them from the standard vehicles.

Beenox StudiosActivision Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Entertainment, LLC have officially announced Spider-Man™: Edge of Time, where Spider-Man faces one of his greatest challenges ever — saving Spider-Man. Developed by Activision-owned studio Beenox, Spider-Man: Edge of Time challenges the player to take on the roles of both classic Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 to correct a time-stream gone awry and prevent a catastrophic future brought on by the early and untimely death of Peter Parker.

“The first Spider-Man entry by Beenox, Spider-Man™: Shattered Dimensions, was touted as one of the wall-crawler’s best Spider-Man games to date from both critics and fans,” said Vicharin Vadakan, Director, Global Brand Management. “Beenox is once again taking a fresh and different approach to bring a fast-paced and high-octane adventure and unexpected story to life in Spider-Man: Edge of Time.”

“At Beenox, we are constantly listening to the fans and looking for new and creative ways to innovate the gameplay experience for them,” said Dee Brown, Studio Head, Beenox. “We want to create a totally distinct experience in Spider-Man: Edge of Time by working with Peter David on the story and creating this urgent, high-stakes experience where time is working against you and the fate of Spider-Man hangs in the balance.”

Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a focused, action-packed adventure set in two connected and evolving timelines, from the contemporary times of the Amazing Spider-Man to the corrupted future world of Spider-Man 2099, against the backdrop of a rich, tightly crafted narrative by acclaimed Marvel veteran Peter David (co-creator of the comic book series Spider-Man 2099). The game features all-new “cause-and-effect” gameplay, where players will see how the immediate and sometimes unexpected effects of their actions as one Spider-Man changes the timeline of the other Spider-Man. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is slated for release this fall.

frima studioCongratulations to Frima Studios, whose Zombie Tycoon: IceField Demo has reached the FITC finals for Technical Excellence in Flash and Excellence in 3D. The title is also nominated for an FITC People’s Choice Award. Voting is open now and will remain open until midnight on April 22nd. You can play the Zombie Tycoon Interactive Demo on Adobe Molehill.

“We’re honored to be nominated for two FITC awards,” said Steve Couture, Frima’s CEO. “Our R&D team has worked extremely hard to ensure we’re always on the leading edge of technology and it feels fantastic to be recognized.”

Built using a combination of Adobe’s Molehill technology and Frima’s proprietary IceField 3D engine, Zombie Tycoon is one of the most advanced Flash games to be released. In Zombie Tycoon, players control their very own horde of ravenous zombies! Developed in just a few months by Frima Studio’s R&D team, the Zombie Tycoon: IceField Demo offers three levels of zombie madness. Two game modes are available to try; mild, which offers FITCplayers a chance to explore and conquer the game world, and chunky mode which offers players the chance to see the full power of the new technology with over a hundred zombies moving on the screen at the same time.

Held from May 2-4, 2011 in Toronto, FITC is a three day event of presentations, demonstrations, networking opportunities and parties about the creative, technical and business aspects of Flash and digital media. Topped off with the FITC Award Show, the event aims to leave the attendees inspired, energized and awed while covering the Flash and digital media industries.

 

Shaw CableFollowing its successful launch on iPad, Shaw Media today announced their Global Video App is now available on the App Store for iPhone and iPod touch. The Global Video App offers Canadian viewers on-the-go access the network’s blockbuster library of premium content, including full episodes of House, The Good Wife, NCIS: LA, The Office, Rookie Blue and Survivor along with previous broadcasts of Global National and 16:9:The Bigger Picture.

Highlights of the Global Video App include:

* Full-length episodes and clips
* Superb video quality
* Sleek interface design with user-friendly features
* Progress bars to indicate runtime – allowing viewers to exit the app and to resume viewing at the same spot
* Schedule guide for Global programs with listings up to two weeks in advance
* Behind-the-scenes footage and Web-exclusive content

pearsonAs college enrollments surge to record levels, thousands of students are arriving to campus finding they lack the basic math and English skills needed to succeed in their studies. Many of these students are coming from the high-school system, are non-native speakers or are displaced workers looking to improve their workforce skills, necessitating enrollment in remedial programs that help address basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Providing students with a way to quickly improve their math, reading and writing skills is the basis for MyFoundationsLab from Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Suitable for multiple college and career readiness programs, including boot camps, high school bridge programs and student success centers, MyFoundationsLab is a complete online resource for assessing and remediating developmental skills. The program also includes comprehensive learning modules to improve students’ general skills, such as note taking, test taking and critical thinking.

Built specifically for Canadian students in mind, MyFoundationsLab delivers interactive, customizable features, including a comprehensive diagnostic tool, personalized content modules specific to each student’s skill level and self-paced learning activities that allow students to measure their progress toward the skills needed for continued academic and workplace success. “Colleges need flexible resources to help students learn the math and English required to succeed in their courses, and MyFoundationsLab can be tailored specifically to the needs of any learning environment,” said Steve O’Hearn, President of the Higher Education division of Pearson Canada. “Pearson’s investments in new technologies and learning solutions like MyFoundationsLab are designed to support institutions and instructors in their efforts to improve student achievement and retention.”

Pearson’s award-winning MyLabs and Mastering programs have personalized learning for millions of students around the globe, delivering proven results for institutions looking to improve student performance and lower costs. Available in a range of subjects including math, English composition, the sciences, foreign languages, economics and IT training, the programs provide immediate feedback and targeted help where and when students need it the most. Students learn at their own pace, in their own style, while educators are able to monitor student progress and communicate with their students online to keep them engaged and accountable for their work.

 

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31st March 2011

Telefilm Partnership Ensures Strong Canadian Presence at MIPTV

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada has announced that 70 Canadian companies – representing areas of activity such as production, distribution, new media & mobile, and animation – will be participating under the Canada Pavilion umbrella – the largest national pavilion at the market – at MIPTV, the international television and multiplatform market that runs from April 4 to 7 in Cannes.

“By providing support on the international scene, we help clients forge international ties and facilitates the sale and purchase of Canadian products as well as the signing of co-production agreements,” said Carolle Brabant, Telefilm Canada’s Executive Director. “MIPTV is key to our international business development strategy; one of the highlights of our 2010 edition was that participating exhibitors generated a total of $21 million in economic activity for the Canadian television and film industry.

Canadian Films at MIPTV 2011

MIPTV Attendees - Please click to view full size

Carolle Brabant added: “For the 2011 edition, Telefilm is pleased to welcome the Canada Media Fund as a new partner to the Canada Pavilion – another sign of the synergy between our two organizations.”

By exhibiting under the Canada Pavilion, Canadian companies will benefit from a strong brand image, have access to a prime location visited by a large number of delegates, and obtain a variety of logistical, promotional and strategic services, as well as the support of a co-production specialist.

In addition, the Pavilion will play host to two invitation-only networking events between Canadian participants and their foreign counterparts. The first will be with France, organized in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy in France and TV France International. The second event will take place with Singapore, an important co-production partner for Canada.

“As an international distributor of Canadian content as well as programming from all over the world, Octapixx Worldwide has proudly attended MIPTV and exhibited at the Canada Pavilion for almost 25 years now,” said Octapixx President J. Gary Gladman. “MIPTV provides Octapixx with the perfect opportunity to meet face-to-face with global broadcasters, buyers and producers. And the Canada Pavilion has proven to be a wonderful platform upon which Octapixx can share our film content with the world.”

“MIPTV is an ideal place to develop new partnerships with a view to meeting new challenges and taking advantage of new business opportunities,” added Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos, Vice President of Program Distribution for Montreal’s Bejuba! Entertainment. “We produce and distribute children’s and family entertainment – which has international appeal – and thanks to Telefilm Canada we can build our positioning in an increasingly global trade environment.”

MIPTV’s Content 360 competitive program connects developers of future-defining creative concepts with the most influential audience in multiplatform content. Two Canadian entries are among the 18 finalists: the Canada Media Fund-financed Sports Vision (Phéromone and ODD1) for Online and Social Games, and Media Undone smartPhone App (PinkPom Digital) for Smartphone App for Youth Engagement.

The Canada Pavilion at MIPTV is a Telefilm Canada initiative, in partnership with British Columbia Film and Ontario Media Development Corporation as Principal Partners; the Canada Media Fund as a Major Partner; the Canadian Media Production Association as a Contributor Partner; and the National Bank of Canada as a Silver Sponsor.

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30th March 2011

Fly A Dragon Take Hoard For A Spin On Steam

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games announced today that their award-winning strategy-arcade title HOARD™ now has a demo version immediately available for download on Steam.  The full version can be purchased at a “dragonfire sale” discount of 25% off the normal retail mark of $9.99. The full version unlocks Hoard-Screenshot(releases) on April 4th on Steam for both PC and Mac.  4-packs are also available for a discount, so gamers can take on their friends as well as participate in the Hoard Steam Community and follow the game on Facebook.

Big Sandwich Games expects HOARDTM to be a big hit with PC and Mac users who want an addictive combination of action and strategy. The game offers bite-sized chunks of single and multiplayer play that includes a co-op mode for up to 4 dragons working together.  “HOARDTM is a rare game that was created for both core and casual gamers,” says Tyler Sigman, the game’s designer. “Whether they prefer solitary play, competitive multiplayer, friendly co-op, or arcade-style score-attack challenges, HOARDTM is a great fit. At under $10, that’s a lot of fire-breathing destruction and fun for very little money.”

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All popular Steamworks features are employed in HOARD™, including over 100 achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer matching, friend invites, stats, and Steam cloud saving.  Steam Play is also supported, meaning users who want to play on both PC and Mac only need to buy the game once.  Several new features are also making their appearance in the Steam version, including graphical boosts like night mode and a crisp winter tile set.

audiokineticAudiokinetic Inc. has released the latest version of Wwise. Wwise 2011.1 introduces new features and enhancements, including support of portable systems such as iOS (iPhone and iPad) and previously announced Nintendo 3DS™.

“The video game industry is evolving, casual and social games are becoming a focus for more partners. This also implies making games available on a wider range of media and devices.” said Simon Ashby, VP of Product Strategy at Audiokinetic Inc.

In an effort to make Wwise accessible to a wide range of developers, Audiokinetic confirms a new pricing model for iOS projects. Developers will be able to license Wwise for $500 US. New public discussion forums will be made available to the community. Approved Nintendo 3DS developers that want to license Wwise will be able to purchase a license at $5,000 US. Additional details on our pricing are available on Audiokinetic’s web site.

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30th March 2011

Used Smartphones Can Be A Source of Income

New smartphone use is growing rapidly in Canadian enterprise, but the investment in current wireless devices or the terms of the wireless contract may hamper adoption for many organizations. The new Wireless CellBack Program, powered by The Wireless Source Canada can help organizations convert to smartphones, shorten device upgrade cycles, more quickly refresh wireless technology and expand their mobility footprint.

Wireless CellBack is a pre-owned wireless handset buyback program tailored specifically to the needs of Canadian organizations who will now be able to receive real monetary value for retired, replaced and redundant devices and have the assurance of comprehensive data removal and the security of complete serialized compliance and disposition reporting. The Program is Simple, Safe and Smart with easy, no cost return shipping, reliable free quotations, guaranteed data security, serialized reporting and a focus on sustainable product reuse

And the “New Source of Power” – Organizations receive a free vehicle charger to charge-up the new smartphone for each used handset returned with residual value, regardless of the amount (ask for details, some restrictions apply).

For The Enterprise

Residual values as high as $100 for Blackberry Bolds, Curves, Pearls & Storms can help fund upgrades to the Torch and BB 6 system or can support an enterprise-wide conversion to Android. Similarly, early generations of the iPhone, which retain even higher value, can be captured to help the enterprise change devices or move up to the new iPhone 4. And there may even be a few ‘early adopters’ that are interested in the next wave of tablets that are hitting the market and use the almost $300 of value in first generation Apple iPads or Samsung Tabs to help role out new tablets for the whole enterprise.

Many organizations may also be migrating from employer-provided to individual supplied devices. Legacy handsets can be a real security risk and a real loss of value if left in storage and forgotten. Wireless CellBack ensures that confidential information left on these handsets is properly managed and that the enterprise receives value for the retired assets.

For The Mobility, Wireless Expense & Telecom Management Service Provider

Lifecycle mobility management is a fast growing enterprise service that, increasingly includes management of used devices during decommissioning. Consultants and service providers can use the Program to help their clients realize cost effective refresh strategies and reduce wireless spend to win new business and retain existing clients.

For The Enterprise Wireless Dealer

Corporate account ‘hunters’ looking for new business can convert prospects and help offset the cost of the required new handsets, while The Wireless CellBack Program can help support early contract renewal; early device upgrade, service plan expansion and retention for business account ‘farmers’ working with existing customers

Enterprise, mobility management service providers and dealers in all Canadian provinces and territories can use Wireless CellBack. Program launch includes a 10% ‘QuickStart Premium’ for handsets received during the month of April.

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30th March 2011

Quebec Entreprenship Contest Report Now Available

qecThe Québec Entrepreneurship Contest (QEC) has released a comprehensive report based on an analysis of the spinoffs and success factors of entrepreneurial projects that were carried out in Québec elementary and secondary schools in disadvantaged areas (according to the socioeconomic indicators of the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport), in the context of the Valoris project. Over 800 young people and 50 teachers from five regions of Québec (Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Mauricie and Montréal) took part in this process during the 2009-2010 school year.

The observations that emerged from this survey are very revealing. As QEC President and Director General, Natacha Jean, put it: “Although we are in a unique position to observe the workings of entrepreneurship in the schools, we are favourably impressed by the Valoris findings. These data confirm the full scope of the benefits of entrepreneurial projects for both young people and their teachers.”

Young people with more confidence, motivation and a sense of empowerment can work towards their potential – “I now know that I can go farther in life.” said one 16-year-old student in special education.

During entrepreneurial projects, students are encouraged to make decisions, take on responsibilities and come up with ideas. In doing so, they become aware of their abilities, and sometimes even reach the point where their perceptions of themselves change. Moreover, 95% of teachers have observed that entrepreneurial projects have led to increased self-esteem among students with learning difficulties, while 82% of students stated that, by taking part in such projects, they have developed pride in their abilities. And 77% of students said that they were more confident as a result of the experience.

Thus, motivation to succeed in school is one of the positive spinoffs of student entrepreneurship projects. Indeed 97% of teachers feel that entrepreneurial projects have increased students’ motivation in the classroom, 99% say that students’ feeling of belonging in the school has also increased, and 66% of students claim that such projects motivated them to stay in school.

Moreover, according to 98% of teachers entrepreneurial projects developed students’ entrepreneurial profiles. A sense of responsibility, perseverance and team spirit were the qualities that the students themselves mentioned most often in response to the question. Through entrepreneurial projects, students have also come to know themselves better and discover new talents, according to 96% of teachers.

Teachers who are happier in their work and who tailor their interventions to their students’ needs – “Carrying out this project reminded me of why I became a teacher. It’s what keeps me grounded in my work!” comments one secondary school teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

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30th March 2011

Funcom ReWrites Engine In Preparation For The Secret World

funcomFuncom and NVIDIA have announced that Funcom’s proprietary game engine Dreamworld 2.5 has been launched within Age of Conan, which  is the first game to incorporate server-side NVIDIA® PhysX®. This unique implementation into the Dreamworld engine  results in more than a doubling in the speed-of in-game physics processing vs. traditional client-side PhysX technology, delivering realistic collision effects within the online gaming environments.

Dreamworld currently powers two of the world’s most popular massively multiplayer online games,  Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, and the launch of the new engine is a major milestone towards the high requirements for The Secret Worldvisual performance in virtual adventures for The Secret World, which is currently in development at Funcom Montreal.

“We are excited to be working closely with NVIDIA to integrate PhysX technology into our Dreamworld 2.5 engine,” said Rui Casais, Chief Technology Officer at Funcom. “Server-side collision using PhysX will allow us to add a new level of realism to our online worlds, and we look forward to implementing other enhancements as well, including NVIDIA APEX clothing and destruction, to make our games even more interactive and immersive.”

“We are also proud to have launched  a fully rewritten render engine for Age of Conan, yielding major performance increase on high-end systems and enabling several new visual features for lower end machines”, said Casias. “We have been collaborating closely with NVIDIA in continuously improving the quality of the Dreamworld Render engine, resulting in fully new effects such as shader-based anti-aliasing techniques now being implemented in Age of Conan.

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30th March 2011

Distribution360 Is Ready And Set For Action At MIPTV

distribution360Distribution360 has unveiled over 200 hours of content, and will showcase a wide range of properties including a new format in France next week at MIPTV .

“We’re bringing an array of exciting properties to MIPTV this year that are sure to appeal to many audiences,” says Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, Head of Sales, Distribution360. “In less than a year, D360 has built an impressive slate of over 200 hours of content, and we’re thrilled to have built partnerships with many internationally-renowned producers.”

New additions to Distribution360?s slate of offerings include:skatoony

Kids & Youth
Skatoony (39 x 30′ / 13 x 30′ live-action/animation, web games, online videos) An animated/live-action comedy series that pits tweens and „toons against each other in competition through four frantic, trivia-based rounds – but only one will be named Skatoony Quiz Champ. Set in a fantastical television studio in the fictional town of Showtown, the series is anchored by the hilarious cartoon duo of host Chudd Chudders and his lounge-singing sidekick, The Earl. Each week they attempt to put together another show while all manner of mad happenings occur around them… but the show must go on! North American versions produced by marblemedia; UK and German versions produced by Cartoon Network UK.

Splatalot (26 x 30’ action reality series, format rights, web games, online videos) A hilarious medieval-themed action reality show geared to the tween audience, featuring an extreme obstacle course with more wipe outs and spills than ever imaginable. Each episode features a different group of 12 thrill-seeking teen contestants, dubbed Attackers, competing in three cringe-inducing rounds. The Defenders of Splatalot, an international squad of nine splatalotmedieval-themed gladiators, will do their best to protect the castle from the Attackers – only leaving one to be crowned King or Queen. Splatalot was commissioned by YTV, the BBC, and ABC (Australia). Produced by marblemedia.

Lifestyle
Ghostly Encounters (83 x 30’ episodes) Start a conversation about things that go bump in the night, and pretty soon everybody in the room has a story to tell. Paranormal experiences aren?t just the domain of psychics and tarot card readers – in fact, many ordinary people believe they have had supernatural encounters. Ghostly Encounters looks into those incidents and the regular folks-next-door who had them, and takes the viewer on a chilling ride through a fascinating, highly personal ghost story. Produced by Logan Hill Productions.

Comedy
TAC.tv (181 x 3’ animated shorts & 23 x 30’ animated episodes and online videos) The series features a cast of hilarious characters such as The Googoos, The Secretary, and The Pilot, to name a few. These off-the-wall characters are sculpted from modeling clay by the creator himself, Michel Beaudet. In post production, he superimposes his own moving eyes, mouth, and nose, creating unique characters with over-the-top personalities. Produced by Salambo Productions.

Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town (8 x 30’ episodes) When Death gets off the Greyhound bus in small town Shuckton, Ontario, everyone in town is implicated when one of its most distinguished citizens is found murdered. As a suspect is arrested and the trial plays out, the entire town is affected and its dark secrets are unraveled and exposed. Famous around the world for their sketch comedy, Death Comes to Town features the original five Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, in an all-new narrative format. The Kids still play all the characters – men and women – all distinctively quirky, gender-bending, boundary-pushing and definitively Kids in the Hall. Produced by Axis Entertainment.

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30th March 2011

No Excuse For Boredom

Open: Online Registration for SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver – Make It Home.
Reminder: Early Bird pricing for the Canada 3.0 Forum ends today.
Nominate: The Ingenious Awards Program celebrates and showcases the achievements of Canadian organizations that have accomplished significant business transformation or outcomes through the innovative use of ICT.
Develop: Flash in The Peg March 31st meeting looks at WordPress Design and Development with Dreamweaver
Luncheon Learning: CanWIT BC presents A Career in Project Management signature event, taking place in Vancouver on April 30th and featuring an expert panel of women in technology who will discuss their careers and experiences in Project Management.
Islanders: Next Viatec networking event is April 28th. Don’t forget to submit your VIATeC Award nominations!
Call For Speakers: Get your proposals in for the Montreal International Game Summit before April 11th.
Just Announced: Gamification workshop in Toronto on May 27th.

Silicon SistersVancouver studio Silicon Sisters has submitted its debut title, School 26, to the iTunes store for approval. Official launch is imminent. Designed for girls ages 12 to 16, School 26 is a unique casual game built around the complex social hierarchy of high school. Versions for iPad ($4.99) and iPhone or  iPod Touch ($2.99) are expected to arrive in the App Store in April, with PC, Mac and Android versions coming soon after.school 26

School 26 follows Kate, a student whose nomadic family has made it difficult for her to maintain long-term friendships. As she enrolls at her 26th new school, she and her parents strike a deal: if Kate makes good friends here, the family will stay put. Now the player must help Kate use intuition, empathy, and strategy to build friendships and navigate the moral dilemmas of high school. These dilemmas range from power struggles to peer pressure, from romance to betrayal, from alienation to acceptance — real and relevant situations teens face every day.

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School 26 is inspired by academic research that identifies social engineering as a prominent element in the lives of teenaged girls. In the game, Kate must get to know her new classmates’ personalities, resolve their issues, and strengthen her connections to them. These objectives are met through various types of gameplay including dialogues during which players pick up on social cues and select appropriate emotional responses, quizzes that provide insights into other characters’ (and the player’s) personalities, and a card matching game with shifting rules that reflect the evolving social dynamic among the School 26 crew.

While Silicon Sisters ultimately plans to develop games for all age ranges and demographics, the company decided to lead with School 26 after considering where they could make the biggest impact. “With the workplace shifting to knowledge-based industries and women leading in university enrollments and professional degrees, today’s teen girls are poised for better success than any other generation,” says Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters’ CEO. “By highlighting and rewarding the social activities girls engage in every day, School 26 legitimizes ‘soft skills’ such as communication, empathy, and networking. Girls need to understand that these skills will give them a competitive advantage not only in high school, but also later in life.”

Slant Six GamesCapcom and Slant Six Games have released the debut trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. As I mentioned yesterday, this game is scheduled  for release in Winter 2011, and players can expect the return of familiar faces, including police rookie Leon S. Kennedy, iconic landmarks and classic enemies as the Umbrella Security Service battles to destroy all evidence of the deadly T-Virus.

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Coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City is expected to deliver a true third person team based shooter experience set within the dark and sinister Resident Evil universe and a reinterpretation of the events depicted in Resident Evil™ 2 and Resident Evil™ 3. The setting of the Resident Evil universe not only provides a rich backdrop to the action but delivers a unique and thrilling triple threat battle. Zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W’s) add to the mix as players not only compete against an opposing squad but also tackle this third unpredictable element, creating a brand new style of gameplay and breaking the conventions of traditional team based shooters.

Decapod StudiosDecapod has released another app to the WP7 Marketplace.  According to the information available for Emergency Alerts Free, it provides extended information and useful tips for survival in case of various natural and man-made disasters. Along with the provision of emergency phone number for various countries, this app allows you to tapp into the live feed of nationwide FEMA alerts. The Emergency Alerts app shows location, status, time of occurrence and detailed description of most calamities known to mankind.

radian6Probably the most tweeted-about news today is the acquisition of Radian6 by American-based SalesForce. SalesForce is an enterprise cloud computing company with offices around the globe – including a Canadian corporate presence in Toronto. The 5 year old Radian6, which is based in New Brunswick, is a leader in the social media monitoring platform. SalesForce will be assimilating the Radian6 for approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock, net of cash acquired, with the expectation that the transaction will be completed during SalesForce’s fiscal second quarter ending July 31, 2011, and it is subject to customary closing conditions.

Earlier this month Radian6 had announced that it was releasing a new platform for SalesForce clients, connecting social capabilities within both the Salesforce Service Cloud and the Radian6 platform, enabling enhanced social customer service for SalesForce Clients. Apparently SalesForce liked it so much, they bought the company. Radian6 had also done a little acquiring of its own this month, welcoming the UK’s 6Consulting into the fold. The London company provided social media monitoring services to corporations in the UK, and had been a Radian6 platform reseller for the past two years.

summifyAnd as one startup is acquired, another makes its official launch. Vancouver’s Summify, a new company founded by former Google and Microsoft interns and backed by its first round of seed funding. Investors include Accel Partners, Rob Glaser (RealNetworks), Stewart Butterfield (Flickr, Tiny Speck), Steve Olechowski (Google, FeedBurner), and Canadian super angel Boris Wertz. Company founders Mircea Pa?oi and Cristian Strat have been programming together since high school in Romania. They built two successful services there, connecting programmers to competitions and jobs, and were pursued for full-time jobs by Google and Facebook. Opting for entrepreneurship, they relocated to Vancouver to start up Summify.

For connected people with hundreds of friends and followers, it’s impossible to keep up with relevant news, and what friends are saying, sharing and posting. Summify analyzes and filters your streams, so you can read less but get more out of it. Summify distills the social web, boiling down the torrent of daily information from Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader into a summary of the top five or ten most important and relevant stories that day. An easily consumable summary arrives in email or on the web, with mobile coming soon. Summify is based on a highly refined algorithm that analyzes, among other things, what people you interact with most, what stories your friends are sharing most, and global reaction in social media to important stories worldwide.

Best Buy CanadaTo celebrate the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS™, Best Buy Canada is offering hot deals to help Canadians get the most out of their portable 3D entertainment device. With 18 Nintendo 3DS game titles to choose from, a wide selection of accessories to protect your device and hot offers to trade in your old DS systems, Best Buy is making it easy for customers to maximize their Nintendo 3DS experience.

Best Buy is offering two trade in promotions with the Nintendo 3DS until March 31:

  • Trade in your Nintendo DS and save $50 off of your 3DS
  • Trade in your Nintendo DSi XL and save $100 off 3DS
  • Trade in three Nintendo DS games and receive a $10 credit

Until April 7, purchase any two Nintendo 3DS games from the selection of 18 game titles Best Buy is carrying and save $10.

getting-business-onlineGoogle wants Canadian businesses to get a web site – the upside is that it’s free – for one year. The downside is that they are not using Canadian web hosts or designers. For business owners who aren’t internet or design-capable, this is a good initiative on Google’s part. It’s also an easy way to serve ads, and to help businesses get started with Adwords, Google is also offering a Get Your Business Online badge, a listing and a $200.00 for an Adwords account. Google has been trying very hard to get Canadian businesses using Adwords – I’ve received at least a half dozen snail-mail gift cards from them – some of them with the right mailing address, but the names they were addressed to weren’t even close. Don’t know who Killian is, but apparently he works for us.

casaThe Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has launched a new social media campaign aimed at making education and student voting a cornerstone of the 2011 federal election.

“Students live on social networks and media, and this campaign and website engages students and politicians online,” said Zach Dayler, National Director of CASA. “This might be the first ‘Twitter election’, which means that the conversation will be taking place on our doorsteps.”

The campaign features key information about parties’ post-secondary education policy, important voter information for students, a student blog. It will also feature a video vault, and throughout the campaign students and others will be asked to contribute their own videos on the importance of student and youth voting.

Kicking off the collection is a video from comedian and CBC Host Rick Mercer. “Rick Mercer’s message on student voting speaks directly to the important role that we can and should play during an election,” said Dayler. “It is ready-made viral, and we expect to see many more like it between now and May 2nd.”

CASA is calling on politicians to make a firm commitment to post-secondary education this campaign, calling on them to introduce policies that improve access to and enhance the quality of Canada’s university and college system. CASA has also invited all party leaders to help encourage youth participation by posting videos on education and join the online dialogue with students.

parta dialoguePARTA Dialogue Inc. has announced that its social media hubs, including ecomobility, energy 2.0 and alternativechannel have been white-listed by Facebook as video-serving sites that can embed their players directly into Facebook pages. This status places Parta’s web-video sites on par with recognized leaders such as Youtube, Dailymotion and Blip.tv, whose video players can also appear directly through Facebook. An expert in social media engagement, Parta’s strategies for generating online conversation involve the building of a central debate hub and active outreach and participation in the social networks where publics congregate. The company has already created and deployed DialogGeneratortm , a Facebook application which allows for two-way penetration between discussions happening on the social network and those on Parta’s proprietary sites.

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