17th March 2011

All That And A Wookie

InTouchIn-Touch Survey Systems Ltd. (“Ltd.”), which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has announced that In-Touch Survey Systems Inc. (“Inc.”), will change its name to In-Touch Insight Systems Inc., effective immediately. Inc is a wholly owned operating company of Ltd. The public company, Ltd will not change its name. The company also launched a new corporate website with a new domain name that reflects the new corporate operating name.

“In-Touch Insight Systems” instead of “In-Touch Survey Systems” better reflects the scope and breadth of our technology and our future direction. The company continues to expand its managed mobile software technology into markets far broader that the survey industry”, said Michael Gaffney CEO.

lassosoftNewmarket company LassoSoft Inc. launched a new website today, offering the latest product versions of its web programming language, Lasso 8.6 and Lasso 9. It also united the various websites previously supported by the company, fusing its marketing message, developer support documentation, and client communication channels into a single source.

LassoSoft Inc. CEO Sean Stephens says the new website is about more that presenting a new version of the company and its products following a change of ownership in December 2010. His goal is to improve service tolasso 9 the international Lasso developer community from one central online venue. He emphasizes that he and his team have worked to create a resurgence of dialogue and enthusiasm in their clients and colleagues, encouraging input, feedback and constructive criticism to facilitate product development. They call this the LassoSoft “Ecosystem”.

“The Lasso community has shown incredible loyalty and support through the challenging times we have faced in recent years, and they have remained self-sustaining through all of the ups and downs,” says Stephens. “These talented developers are our lifeblood, so we intend to work with them to make Lasso more viable and innovative than ever before. They believe in the strengths of this product as much as we do, and we want them to know that their input is important to us as we move the company in new directions.”

The LassoSoft Inc. suite of products serves as an application server and scripting language to web developers internationally. It has been used on various platforms for diverse purposes, by many types of users, from individual developers to government and large-scale corporate initiatives. The three advantages it consistently asserts over other programming languages are: speed, security, and the “elegance” or simplicity of its code. The company now also cites improved communication and service as its latest offering to its developers.

gesUS-based Global Experience Specialists (GES) today announced that its new operation in Vancouver, British Columbia is open for business. GES Vancouver offers a comprehensive suite of services, including decorating, material handling, graphics, and customs and logistics services to Vancouver and other areas of British Columbia, including Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Fort Langley and Surrey.

“GES’ full service operation in Vancouver allows us to continue to work with our existing national, international and U.S. clients in Vancouver and to grow our position in the active Vancouver marketplace,” said Executive Vice President, Mike Lecour. “Vancouver is an extraordinary destination, and we are excited to produce multiple events during the first and second quarters of 2011.”

GES’ Vancouver operation is already working on a considerable number of events for the first half of 2011. These include, but are not limited to, BioPartnering North America, Esthetique Spa International, Helicopter Association of Canada’s 15th Annual Convention and Trade Show, World Congress of Nephrology, Canadian Health Food Association Expo West and the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

“We congratulate GES on its new operations in Vancouver. We see this as yet another indication of the positive growth of the exhibition industry in the city,” said General Manager of the Vancouver Convention Centre Ken Cretney.

GES provides full service operations across Canada with offices in Quebec City, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Banff, and Regina with Canadian headquarters in Toronto. The new Vancouver office is located at Unit #4, 7978 North Fraser Way in Burnaby.

leverageTaking a page from family fun nights, Clinton Beck from Beck Gold and Diamond Brokers in Edmonton recently attended a business fun night to increase the bottom line in his business. He had fun and learned a great deal from a night of the board game Leverage with other business owners in the area.

“It was a very interesting game that actually had a lot of strategy.” Says Beck “not only was it a lot of fun, but it gave me some great insight on how fine tuning minor things in my business can lead to big changes in my bottom line. As a business owner often I find myself so busy working in my business that the real running of my business is overlooked. As I was playing the game it made me ask myself some hard questions about areas in my business that could use some fine tuning.”

“Not everything has to be an app and downloadable. Human contact and conversation is a vital component to learning about your business and your competition. This kind of business fun night lets you talk to other people in similar situations and will ultimately help my business out.”

Clinton and several other business owners in the Edmonton area took part in a Leverage business board game night run by Laurie McNaughton and Brad Prince, two business coaches with ActionCOACH. The game of Leverage was developed by US-based ActionCOACH founder Brad Sugars, and is played all around the world.

teletoonStar Wars fans, it is time to channel your inner Wookiee for the special two-part season finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on TELETOON featuring the highly anticipated debut of Chewbacca! Part one of the season finale premieres on Friday, March 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT and will be preceded by a marathon of the previous three episodes beginning at 7 p.m. ET/PT. One week later, part two will premiere on Friday, April 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT with an encore presentation of part one at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

In order to make Chewbacca’s animated character as authentic as possible for the season finale, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars creative team enlisted the help of Peter Mayhew, the actor who donned the furry costume in the original Star Wars trilogy, to advise animators on the Wookiee’s movements and also helped to recreate his trademark growl.

“Bringing Chewie to The Clone Wars is very special for us, and it wouldn’t be right without Peter’s involvement and blessing,” said Dave Filoni, Supervising Director, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. “Peter and Chewie are one and the same; he brings so much of himself to the character and it was important for us to capture that. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t feel right. Having his input was great; he was able to add all the little mannerisms and details that he knew from living with Chewie for more than three decades.”

The third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has delved deep into the characters, conflicts and the Force itself, taking viewers behind the front lines of battle. In a season wrought by fragile allegiances and questionable loyalties, viewers have seen Star Wars in a whole new way through the exposure of stunning secrets and detailed insights into the prophecy and fate of the Chosen One.

The four episodes included in the March 25 marathon will be available on-demand on Monday, March 28. TELETOON is the exclusive Canadian home to Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

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17th March 2011

Events To Explore and Inspire

communitechCanadian tech powerhouse RIM along with other high-tech and recruiting companies will be looking for top talent when they participate in Communitech-sponsored recruiting events in Montreal on March 21st and Ottawa on March 22nd. Communitech represents more than 700 tech company members in Waterloo Region which currently has some 2,000 tech job openings. This is the first time Communitech has staged a recruiting event in Montreal, but the Communitech recruiting event staged in Ottawa last year was a major success, given Ottawa’s history in high-tech development.

“Tech companies involved in software and hardware development spanning everything from wireless technologies to all aspects of digital media have specialized talent requirements,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. “We hold these recruiting events to help attract that crucial talent to Waterloo Region, which is a great place to work and live.”

Monday, March 21, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Delta Hotel, 475 Avenue President Kennedy
Ottawa: Tuesday, March 22, 11:30 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. new grads-focused event at the MVP Lounge, 683 Bank Street (in The Glebe); and 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at The Holiday Inn & Suites in Kanata, 101 Kanata Avenue, for all qualified applicants.

Companies recruiting for talent are targeting both recent graduates from various post-secondary institutions as well as experienced professionals. Participating companies in the Montreal event will include: RIM, Desire2Learn, PROCOM; Talent Technology. Those same organizations along with Sandvine and Nuvation will be recruiting in Ottawa. Please see the Waterloo Tech Jobs web site for full event information and to register.

“We find these events work well to connect key employers with prospects as an initial point of contact and to give job-seekers a sense of the overall innovation culture in the Waterloo Region,” said Klugman.

digital albertaDigital Alberta has put the call out for people who would be interested in serving on the association’s Board of Directors or helping out as a volunteer. Elections will be held at the Digital Alberta AGM, which is next month on April 19th. So, if you live in Alberta, have lots of energy and ideas, can contribute some time to the community, are interested in building your network in the areas of film, TV, gaming, music or mobile, the Association is looking for you. Areas of opportunities: marketing, sponsorship, events, funding, partnerships, finance. Interested parties are invited to submit a nomination form to Digital Alberta ahead of the AGM.

AMPIAStaying with Alberta, the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association is presenting an exciting and informative workshop sponsored by Telefilm Canada in Edmonton on April 1st and Calgary on April 2nd. The session, titled How to Create Compelling Digital Extensions for Feature Films and Television will be lead by Productions Speaker Matt Toner from Zeroes to Heroes Media.

These sessions are designed to highlight the impact and opportunities offered by digital media, and is ideally suited for those filmmakers who have already had some experience (good or bad) in this area. Building on practical examples, highlights of this session will include:

  • an analysis of new media approaches that have begun to truly enhance feature films and television productions
  • tactics that will make new media relevant to your film production, regardless of the budget
  • an overview of how you can identify, understand and pre-build an audience online
  • the top five mistakes you might make when selecting a new media partner
  • some tell-tale signs that your digital strategy is succeeding… or failing dismally

Edmonton Location: World Trade Centre,  6th Floor – 9990 Jasper Avenue, 2-4pm
Calgary Location: Delta Bow Valley Hotel, Salon A – 209  4 Avenue SE, 10am – noon

Tickets for the above event are $15.00 for AMPIA/Digital Alberta/FAVA/DOC AB members  or $20.00 for non-members.

National Film BoardThe National Film Board of Canada will be presenting an interactive and linear information NFB Now session from 2-4pm on March 25th at Fort Calgary. At this information session, you’ll see how the NFB has broadened its definition of “creator” to also include people working outside of the film industry.  In addition to filmmakers, the NFB now collaborates with interactive directors and designers, photographers, writers, computer programmers, social media producers, and a new generation of visual artists exploring both film and digital formats.

Come and be inspired by the work that Canada’s public producer is involved in. Executive Producer David Christensen and Producer Bonnie Thompson will showcase some of the new documentary, animation, and digital projects happening at the NFB right now – ground-breaking work that will inspire you to think about your own ideas for film and interactive platforms. RSVP here to register.

INplay 2011INplay 2011 has announced its first four confirmed speakers for the May 17th – 18th conference.

Ewan McIntosh, Director, NoTosh Limited (Edinburgh)
* He was Scotland’s first National Advisor on Learning and Technology Futures and a member of the Channel 4 New Media Education Advisory Board.
* He is also the founder of 38minutes.co.uk, the creative industries platform for the North of the UK.

Dr. James M. Bower, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, Numedeon Inc. (Texas)
* After a postdoctoral fellowship at NYU and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Dr. Bower was a professor at the California Institute of Technology for 17 years.
* In addition to his technical and scientific achievements, Dr. Bower has also had a long-standing interest and involvement in science education at all levels and especially for children.

Nic Mitham, Founder & CEO, KZero Worldswide (Cambridge UK)
* KZero developed one of the first ever branded virtual goods campaigns inside a virtual world.

Josh Koppel, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, ScrollMotion (New York City)
* Architect Maya Lin hailed Josh as “the Woody Allen of cyberspace.”
* This company has more than 11,000 apps in the App Store, Scrollmotion has been at the forefront of mobile app creation and industry trend forecasting since 2008.

Early Bird pricing is available now through April 14th, and one lucky Early Bird will win a shiny new Nintendo 3DS. Being held at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, INplay 2011 will feature three major streams, each covering a different dimension of working with properties for kids aged 2-12:

*Inspiration – creativity and content stream
*Investment – business stream
*Insights – research and e-learning

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17th March 2011

New Initiatives Designed To Save You Money

Orby - Proud to be CanadianAs the week draws nearer to a close, there is no sign of slow-down in Canadian digital media activity. Tonight Scott and Mike will be checking out an event at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre hosted by AnnexPro and Avid, while I’ll be over in Yaletown at a Women In Games Vancouver board meeting. Don’t forget that our Women In Games March Martini night (sorry guys, ladies only) is next Thursday, March 24th at Rogue.

Congratulations are due to the Ubisoft Montreal Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood team, who picked up the BAFTA in the UK last night for top Action Game and to the Bioware team who garnered the Best Game award for Mass Effect 2.

big book driveI keep forgetting to tell you all about the huge Book Drive that’s been going on in BC, so I left the page open to the site to remind myself because I tend to be forgetful. The next big event is this weekend, March 19 & 20th, at the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters located at 3833 Henning Drive in Burnaby. Drawing directly from the information on the Book Drive site:

The Big Book Drive is a two-day event aimed to help the less-fortunate and low-income families so that they may gain a better education in the future. Oftentimes after we’ve read a book, we leave it lying around without touching it for years. This is wasteful of Earth’s resources, and it does not have to be so. These books can be used to help others, so make The Big Book Drive your way of giving back to the community. Our goal is to collect as many books as possible. The books will either be sold at used bookstores to generate proceeds, donated to the charities we’re working with, or recycled to be remade into new books. Either way, 100% of the proceeds will be donated, because we want to help others just as much as you do!

I hope that if you are able to help out, you can. The organization is looking for textbooks, journals, comic books, novels, children’s books, magazines and catalogues. No adult material, newspapers or eBooks on CD/DVD, though.xna

Students in need of software should check out Microsoft initiative DreamSpark. Verified Microsoft Canadastudents can gain access to licensed Microsoft products, including XNA Studio 4, Visual Studio, Expression, Robotics Developer and more. You now have fewer reasons to not get out there and create something. Go, go, go!

Microsoft Canada also offers assistance to small-medium businesses with volume licensing programs designed to Hasbrosave money and get companies creating. It’s worth your time to check out what is available for you.

On Saturday March 19th, let the games begin as YTV WOW! Let it rip with non-stop action and adventure with Hasbro’s Beyblade: Metal Fusion Battle Zone. Beyblade fans can come out to the Real Canadian Superstore at 51 Gerry Fitzgerald Drive in Toronto and battle it out for prizes and gift packs from 10am until 4pm.

Government of CanadaSpeaking of availability, the Government of Canada has launched its Open Data Pilot Project, which is designed to improve the ability of the public to find, download and use Government of Canada data. You are invited to search the catalogue, download datasets and explore the possibilities of Open Data. This project could go a long way towards helping businesses gain access to research data they may require for such activities as market research or even finding new business partners.

As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to drive innovation and economic opportunities for all Canadians, the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway launched the pilot project for an online Open Data Portal following public consultations on the digital economy strategy which saw Canadians asking for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats.

“The Government of Canada is launching its Open Data Portal to make a large amount of data accessible through a single window,” said Minister Day. “With this portal, application developers can reuse data for commercial or research purposes to benefit all Canadians in a variety of ways. We want to continue to make Canada one of the best places to do business by ensuring that Canadian entrepreneurs, researchers, academics and voluntary organizations have access to government data in useful formats to help foster innovation, job creation and community services for Canadians.”

This pilot portal will make more than 260,000 datasets from the following ten participating departments available to all Canadians: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Environment Canada; Department of Finance Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Library and Archives Canada; Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada; Transport Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat. The pilot phase will take place over a 12-month period, during which the government will continue to increase the number of datasets available to users.

get georgeI just found out about this service today, when the company began following me on Twitter, so I haven’t really had a chance to look very deep into the site and get all of the details, but Get George, which is based in Vancouver, looks like it may be a program that is advantageous to smartphone users. Get George is a free download in the iTunes and Android shops, and looks like it could end up saving people some serious money – but as I don’t have a smartphone, and haven’t yet investigated the services offered, please be sure to read the application’s FAQs and service conditions before use.

square enixWith the August 23rd release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution drawing nearer every day, Square Enix is looking for a location to open another Canadian studio. Personally I’m rooting for Vancouver, but Toronto and a second Montreal location are also in the running. I imagine that the publisher will be looking closely at incentives offered by each province, and while another studio in Montreal would be convenient for the Eidos Montreal crew, I’m hoping that the proximity of Vancouver to the Square Enix headquarters in Tokyo will give the city an edge in the running. The time line for the new studio looks to be for a 2012 opening, with an initial staff of 100.Thumpies for Mac

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s original, award winning and massively fun rhythm game Thumpies is now available in Apple’s Mac App Store. Now Mac owners can test their skills in correctly matching the beat of bouncing Thumpies, and those with the beat skills can progress through songs and the current 15 game levels, unlocking new Thumpies along the way. Suitable for all ages and already available in the iTunes App store, Thumpies uses a mechanic of bouncing in time instead of just a series of notes. The game features a quirky art design accompanied by a unique musical score composed by award winning industry veteran David Kerr sets Thumpies in a genre all its own.

Big Sandwich GamesHoard™ from Big Sandwich Games will release via Steam for your PC and Mac on April 4th, and will retail for $9.99USD. Pre-sales will begin on March 21st with a limited time Hoard-knight“fire-sale” discount of 25%.  In addition, sharing with your friends is rewarded, as a 4-pack of HOARD™ can be purchased for the low price of $28.00.  Steam Play is supported, meaning Steam users who own both a PC and a Mac only need buy the game once.

The Steam version includes the same fire-breathing fun as the PS3 console release plus some brand new features.  The game has 4 modes, over 35 levels, leaderboards, full multiplayer suites (4-player co-op and competitive), and 100+ Steam achievements. In addition, never seen-before features such as Night Mode (for vibrant fiery goodness), a Winter tile set, and new maps are added as a reward for PC and Mac fans’ patience.  Finally, cross-play allows PC and Mac users to compete or cooperate in their quests for gold.

zincroezinc Roe’s latest release is now live. Created for the Family Channel, Hot Ticket is a game of musical and hot ticketeconomic strategy. Players drag and drop locations onto a map to create “Famburg”, a rocking little town that plays host to shows by a wide variety of fictional acts. “The Temper Tantrums”, “Vagablonde”, and “The Jazz Hands”, are among dozens of hilarious characters created to animate locations like “The Golden Cocoon Mall”, The Hideaway” and “Das Beats Dance Club”. The game features colourful artwork, catchy melodies and an appropriate level of economic complexity for school-aged children. There is a demo version available to try out, and if you like the game, you can register to play the full version. Judging from comments posted on the game’s page, Hot Ticket is on its way to becoming a hit casual title.

D-BoxD-Box has announced yet another expansion for this week, citing a new agreement with Germany-based FTT (the company’s first European distributor for its commercial theatre expansion) for two new theatres with Netherlands-based Jogchem’s Theatres known in the market as JT Bioscopen. JT Hoogezand and JT Arnhem will each equip its theatres with respectively 20 and 21 D-BOX MFX Seats. With the introduction of D-BOX at these newest locations, Jogchem’s Theatres will have a total of four movie theatres that offer D-BOX’s motion experience. In addition to the sale of these systems, this deal will also generate licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance with the systems’ utilization.

Conservatory Canada invites piano students from across Canada to put their compositional skills to the test for conservatory canadathe first annual Creative Composer’s Competition. Launched as a partnership between Conservatory Canada, Mayfair Music Publishing and Long & McQuade Music Stores, the contest is a unique opportunity for budding composers of all ages to let their talent shine, says Conservatory Canada national executive director, Victoria Warwick.

“There are many students across Canada who love to compose music in all styles,” says Warwick. “We hope this competition will inspire and encourage them in this creative pursuit.”

Piano students of all ages have until May 31 to submit entries through the Conservatory Canada website. Submissions should be written in a contemporary musical style – Jazz, Country, Latin, and Broadway – as included in Conservatory Canada’s Contemporary Idioms Syllabus for Piano.

All submissions will be reviewed by Conservatory Canada examiners with compositional skills, Warwick says. Winners will be announced at Conservatory Canada’s national convocation ceremony in November, and winning compositions will be included in a new Mayfair Music Publication.

“Composition is a natural part of our Contemporary Idioms program,” notes Warwick. “The Creative Composer’s Competition will allow students to showcase their fine work, and by compiling the best-of-the-best in a new publication, teachers and students across Canada will be able to enjoy them.”

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17th March 2011

And The Whole Town Showed Up

Well, not quite, but it was a very full house for a town meeting at our local high school last night. I know, you’re asking what this has to do with digital media. Well, nothing, really – but it has everything to do with Canadian content, and not just on this site, either.

Vancouver production company Force Four is looking for a town to be the focus of a show the studio currently has in development. The premise of the show is to find a Canadian town and assist that town and its residents to force fourovercome challenges faced by the community in regards to economy, community, crime and more. The producers will bring in a variety of high-profile experts to work with the town’s residents to help them meet specific goals – not just on a town level but also on a personal level. They will provide guidance for financial challenges, business dreams and community pride. The premise of the show is to bring a whole town together to inspire other communities, to show others what can be accomplished when a town works together.

Aldergrove has made the short list of roughly a half dozen Lower Mainland communities, and tonight’s town hall meeting built on this area’s reputation of rising to a challenge, of people coming together to build, to support and improve. Speaking from their experience with other documentaries, the producers have found that the best ideas often come from the communities themselves, and to this end has requested that residents and business people

Now I know that some of you are thinking “wait a minute, you just lambasted the Township in the local paper last week.” Yes, yes I did – but that was not my community or my town – that was a portion of the local government who have trouble thinking outside the box – and incidentally, none of those members of Council were at the meeting – or if they were, I didn’t see them, which means they didn’t stand up and take part in the conversation.  To the Council members whom I know were there (and not part of the problem I have with local government), thank you for taking the time to support our town.

Force Four Productions is known for such productions as Village On A Diet, Cupcake Girls and Murder She Solved, to name but a few. The studio produces scripted, documentary, factual scripted and children’s programming. This new show will be presented to the Oprah Winfrey Network with the hopes of getting a greenlight for full production.

What did surprise me was the number of relatively new residents who came forward to share their views of our town. One 16 year resident – yes, that qualifies as “relatively new” for me, my family has lived here since 1873, homesteading a quarter section farm just west of the town proper – spoke of her first experiences after moving here with her family, and how a little rain didn’t dampen spirits during our Festival Days parade. People still lined the street to watch the procession and community groups still gave out strawberry shortcake. Another resident who moved here 6 months ago related a similar experience with the annual Christmas parade, except with the dispensing of hot chocolate. Read the rest of this entry »

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