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22nd March 2011

Canadian Government Solidifies Commitment To The Canada Media Fund

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) thanks the Government of Canada and particularly the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable James Moore, for announcing in the Budget that the CMF will receive funding support on an ongoing basis starting April 1, 2011.Government of Canada

“This is a very significant commitment,” declared Louis Roquet, Chair of the CMF’s Board of Directors, “one that will enable the CMF to truly play its part in Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy by providing ongoing funding support for the creation and promotion of content for all Canadians on the platforms of their choice.”

The Government’s contribution of $100 million, combined with the funding the CMF receives from Canada’s cable and satellite distributors, will enable the CMF to provide over $350 million to the television and digital media industry in 2011-2012.

“With the help of this commitment, the CMF will continue to drive innovation and to support Canada’s creative talent in contributing to our competitiveness in the global marketplace for content,” stated Valerie Creighton, President and CEO of the CMF.  “This is most welcome news for the industry as a whole.”

Canada’s technology and digital media sectors stand to reap some major benefits from today’s budget, as laid out on the Government of Canada’s Action Plan site. In addition to the above announcement regarding the Canada Media Fund, and as stated on the Action Plan site (meaning I did not write any of the following, I grabbed it from the Government), the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan sets the stage for the Digital Economy Strategy to make Canada a leader in the creation, adoption and use of digital technologies and content. Budget 2011 measures include:

  • Providing $80 million in new funding over three years through the Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small and medium-sized businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with colleges.
  • Announcing $60 million over the next three years to promote increased student enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy.

The digital economy is woven into the fabric of our modern economy. Digital technologies power activities in all areas of the economy, from manufacturing and transportation to advanced telecommunications and Web-based services, and provide a platform for all sectors to be more innovative and productive. Leadership in the creation, adoption and use of digital technologies and content will help Canada to increase its world-class standard of living.

In the summer of 2010, the Government held nationwide consultations to seek the views of Canadian industry, creators and consumers on how Canada can build a globally competitive digital economy by 2020. Budget 2011 sets the stage for the release of Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy later this spring by introducing new measures focused on accelerating adoption of information and communications technologies at small and medium-sized businesses, preparing students for careers in the digital economy, and building Canada’s digital content through the Canada Media Fund.

As Canada enters the digital age, the small and medium-sized businesses that drive our economy have an opportunity to maximize their growth potential by adopting information and communications technologies. Colleges, with their linkages to local industry and access to cutting-edge technology and skills, are ideally placed to develop technological solutions that respond to the challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses. The National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program has experience in working with colleges and innovative small and medium-sized businesses.

To support the development of Canada’s digital economy, Budget 2011 announces $80 million in new funding over three years for a pilot initiative, delivered through the Industrial Research Assistance Program, to support collaborative projects between colleges and small and medium-sized businesses to accelerate their adoption of information and communications technologies.

In addition, as part of the Government’s effort to strengthen Canada’s research advantage, Budget 2011 announces $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs. Some of these new research chairs will be active in fields relevant to the Digital Economy Strategy. The Government is also renewing the Community Access Program for an additional year.

The ability of Canadians to effectively use new digital technologies will be crucial to Canada’s success in the global digital economy. Budget 2011 announces that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada will reallocate $60 million in funding over the next three years to promote enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Government has recently taken steps to accelerate the growth of the digital economy, including by:

  • Ensuring more than 98 per cent of Canadians have access to broadband services through a variety of initiatives, including through the Broadband Canada: Connecting Rural Canadians program in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
  • Modernizing policies to build confidence in e-commerce through the passage of new anti-spam legislation and tabling privacy and copyright legislation.
  • Adding information and communications technology adoption as a strategic focus of the Business Development Bank of Canada, including new consulting services to help companies enhance their use of information and communications technologies, as well as offering flexible financing to help support these investments.
  • Opening up spectrum for next-generation wireless networks and services by launching consultations on the 700 megahertz spectrum with a view to auctioning it in late 2012, concurrent with consultations on the 2,500 megahertz spectrum.
  • Enabling telecommunications businesses to increase investment by freezing licensing fee rates for cellular and personal communications services, extending the length of licences for mobile broadband spectrum to 20 years, announcing a review of the 2008 tower sharing and roaming policy, and examining options for liberalization of foreign investment restrictions in the telecommunications sector.

Today’s Federal Budget also outlined initiatives for many other areas of research in the fields of science and Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd March 2011

Indie Game Life Flashes By Emerges From Beta

Life Flashes ByIndependent Vancouver game developer Deirdra Kiai has released her first solo title, Life Flashes By, which is available via digital download for Windows, Linux and Mac computers.

Life Flashes By invites you into the world of writer Charlotte Barclay, and to quote Ms. Kiai, as she really can describe her game the best,  “Life Flashes By is a video game about success and failure in following one’s dreams, about finding love and losing it, and about feeling isolated and out of step with the rest of the world. It is a story that is at times clever and fun and at times melancholy and introspective. Most notably of all, however, it is a story best told non-linearly, which lends itself uniquely to the interactive nature of games. As a player, you won’t just be watching a plot unfold, you’ll be shaping and affecting it in a way unique to you alone.”

“Play as middle-aged novelist Charlotte Barclay as she navigates a near death experience involving vignettes from her past, while accompanied by a wisecracking spirit guide with fairy wings named Trevin,” Ms. Kiai said. “Inspired by both 2D point-and-click adventure games of the nineties and the modern ‘art games’ movement, Life Flashes By’s story combines dry, comedic wit with melancholy, existential reflection, while surrealist cartoon art, a whimsical soundtrack, and a stellar cast of voice actors round out the experience.”

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Ms. Kiai funded the game’s development herself, with a little help from supporters on KickStarter, and while Life Flashes By is a free game, players can help support future development either by making a donation of appreciation or by purchasing the Collector’s Edition for $20.00 CAD/USD or $25.00 globally. There is also a downloads page if you would like to listen to the game’s soundtrack.

The Collector’s Edition Includes:

– Hard copy of the game on DVD
– Stylish cover art signed by yours truly, the author
– “Life Flashes By: The Guided Tour”, an interactive director’s commentary
– An excerpt from the original manuscript of Charlotte’s first novel, Joined at the Hip
– Music from the game’s soundtrack, for your listening pleasure

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22nd March 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Exhibition Sales on Track to Meet or Exceed 2010 Results

Awesome news from the SIGGRAPH head office: siggraph 2011

SIGGRAPH has traditionally provided the year’s largest, most comprehensive exhibition of products and services for the computer graphics and interactive techniques marketplace. If current sales trends continue, SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver will be no different.

SIGGRAPH 2011, taking place this August 7 – 11th at the Vancouver Convention Centre, is on pace or in some instances exceeding the exhibition sales data at this point last year for SIGGRAPH 2010 in Los Angeles. For instance, the current number of exhibitors participating and amount of booth space sold is higher this year than at this same point in time last year.

“Since this is the first time SIGGRAPH is being held in Canada, we are encouraged by the positive response of our exhibitors from North America and around the world,” said Peter Braccio, SIGGRAPH 2011 Conference Chair from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “We are very encouraged by this vote of confidence from the exhibitor community. This year’s submissions are even more encouraging. The volume and quality of papers, talks, courses, artwork, films, and interactive demos submitted so far confirm that this will be one of the most memorable SIGGRAPH conferences in years.”

To register for the conference, please visit the Registration page. There is still some exhibit space remaining, if you or your company are interested in renting space on the expo floor, please visit the Exhibitor’s page. If you are a Canadian company, this would be an incredible opportunity to get your product in front of thousands of national and international visitors (side note, if you’re interested in going co-op for space, we’re looking for partners to possibly share expenses with). SIGGRAPH 2011 organizers have begun listing those who will be exhibiting at the conference – are your competitors going? Shouldn’t you be going too? There are also many opportunities for advertising and sponsorship – please click the link for the Exhibitor’s page to get all of the information.

SIGGRAPH 2011 In Vancouver – Make It Home

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22nd March 2011

While Waiting For Swarm on XLBA

swarmiteI am waiting (somewhat) patiently for Hothead’s Swarm to appear on Xbox Live Arcade – even though I have roughly a dozen other games to play and comment on – but at least I could queue it to download, but alas, Swarm will not be on XBLA until sometime after midnight, I believe. It is, however, available now on PSN, for those of you with PlayStation 3 consoles.

Relic EntertainmentThis little tidbit from THQ and Relic Entertainment will make the Cavechild happy. Warhammer®40,000®: Dawn of War®II – Retribution™ will be receiving a free update for The Last Stand™ mode is scheduled to be available for free via a downloadable patch on 6th April. The Last Stand, the game’s co-operative survival mode, will be getting an additional twelve new Steam achievements. Unlocking each achievement will grant a new piece of wargear, giving the player even more options when equipping their hero.

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games announced today that their award-winning strategy title HOARD™ is available for purchase in North America on the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. To celebrate, the publisher has also put the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system version on sale. Both versions are currently selling for the low price of $9.99, although the PlayStation®3 system discount is for a limited time only. The titles can be purchased via the PlayStation® Network. If you would prefer to pre-purchase Hoard through your Steam account, you can do that now, too. Steam offers versions for both Mac and PC, and remember, the Steam pre-purchase price is 25% off the regular price right now.animal pop

Big Blue BubbleFollowing the success of Burn the Rope, Big Blue Bubble is proud to announce their partnership with startup Krot and Enot and the arrival of their latest joint effort, Animal Pop!

It’s a bubble popping bonanza where you pop bubbles to save pets. Pop two or more bubbles of the same color to float all of the pets to the top and win. Watch for power-ups to pop those bubbles before your time runs out! Super easy controls and fantastic art combined with addictive gameplay make Animal Pop easy for anyone to pick-up and play!

Animal Pop features endless gameplay with simple pick up and play controls as well as piles of pets with power-ups galore. This looks like a very colourful and fun game – I’ll be taking a look at it later this afternoon.

Game Prototype ChallengeThe fourth iteration of Game Prototype Challenge has now concluded – well actually, it ended on March 21st, but I wanted to make sure that Jason had time to post all of the submitted prototypes to the Challenge’s web site. They’re up now, and you really should head on over and check out the thirteen “Burden and Sunshine” games. These games really do illustrate just how creative and imaginative our country’s game designers really are. You won’t be disappointed at all. I’m glad that winners don’t ever have to be chosen, because if I were a judge, I’d have a very difficult time of it.

If you’d like a chance to win a promo code for Good Guy Robots’ puzzle game Codex, check out the article over at Best WP7 Games to see how to enter their contest. They will be giving away 15 codes at the end of this week.

Banff World Media FestivalBanff World Media Festival has just announced its Media Leaders panel, which will be moderated by Gordon Pitts, Senior Reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. These top executives will discuss the issues they find most pressing for today’s media ecosystem and field questions submitted online via Twitter and Facebook by BANFF delegates. Conference organizers will choose their favourite questions from among the submissions and present them to the panel at the Festival. This year’s panelist are:

Phil Lind, Vice Chairman for Rogers Communications
Paul Robertson, Group Vice President, Broadcasting & President for Shaw Media
Kevin Crull, Chief Operating Officer for CTVglobemedia
Kirstine Stewart, EVP English Services for CBC
John Riley, President for Astral Television Networks

Don’t forget about the Festival Meetups being held in Calgary (March 29), Edmonton (March 30) and Vancouver (March 31). We’ll be at the Vancouver meetup, hope to see you there. There is a Meetup in the works for Toronto, but a date has not yet been confirmed. Chaos Theory Remixed Vinyl

ubisoftUbiworkshop has released a vinyl edition of Chaos Theory Remixed, which will be sold exclusively on Ubiworkshop for $30.00. The album is a Ninja Tune remix of the original Splinter Cell Chaos Theory OST composed by Amon Tobin. Big Ninja Tune names participated the project: Kid Koala, Lorn, The Qemists, King Cannibal, Eskmo and Daedelus, with artwork by Ninja Tunes’ own DJ Food. Coincidentally, it’s also the soundtrack for Splinter Cell 3D releasing soon on the Nintendo 3DS.

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22nd March 2011

Canada Media Fund Supports Merging Media

merging media conferenceThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) will sponsor 8 CMF-Merging Media Scholarships worth up to $800 each to the Merging Media Transmedia Seminar and Lab 2011 in Vancouver, BC on April 28-29, co-presenters Merging Media Productions Inc. and the Canadian Media Production Association – British Columbia (CMPA-BC), announced today.

Conducted by Anita Ondine, one of the world’s foremost transmedia educators and practitioners, the event will take place at the Vancity Theatre and BCIT Atrium, in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The CMF-Merging Media Scholarships will cover the registration fees for 8 selected participants and could include accommodation support for out of province attendees.

“We are very fortunate to have Anita tailor-make this event specifically for our rapidly converging industry,” says Liz Shorten, CMPA-BC’s Managing Vice-President. “Her workshops in Europe have been highly successful in energizing the transmedia community there, and we hope to do the same with the Merging Media Lab here for our over 85 members and the media industry”. The hands-on Lab will take a holistic approach, by upgrading the industry on multiple levels and involving professionals from various media disciplines.

“We are grateful to CMF for making this possible,” elaborates Christine Lim-Labossière, CEO of Merging Media Productions Inc. “We wish to provide a group of media professionals from mixed disciplines with a unique opportunity to upgrade their transmedia skills and understanding collectively, so that they can go on to become key practitioners and budding thought leaders in their various fields.” All applicants to Merging Media’s Lab will be considered for the Scholarships, but priority will be given to digital media practitioners (including game, mobile and user experience developers) and individuals involved in selecting projects for funding.

The half day Transmedia Seminar on April 28, 2011 is open to the public, while the Lab on April 28-29 will enable just 20 media professionals to develop projects in a intensive collaborative environment, while learning about transmedia creative and business practices from “Conception to Consumption”. The deadline for Lab applications has been extended to April 8, 2011 to enable all media sectors to take advantage of this opportunity. Results of the Scholarships will be announced in mid April.

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22nd March 2011

Mesh Conference Tickets Now On Sale

mesh conferenceThe digital media landscape is rapidly evolving, leaving many seeking a better understanding of the impact that new trends and technologies will have on how we live, work and play. Thought-leaders and game-changers from around the world will be coming together for the 6th annual mesh conference to share insight, perspective and information on emerging trends, tools and companies within the global digital landscape.

Held at the Allstream Centre in Toronto on May 24 and 25, mesh is for marketers, media, entrepreneurs and citizens who want to navigate through and benefit from everything the Web has to offer.

“mesh is more relevant than ever as the Web is increasingly impacting society, media, business and marketing around the world,” says Stuart MacDonald, mesh co-founder. “mesh continues to build stronger content, increase the number of interactive, hands-on workshops and provide attendees with news they can use. I’m very excited about the ideas and knowledge that will be shared at this year’s event.”

Early-bird tickets are on sale now for $539 until April 20. Then, they will be available at the full price of $639. There are also 50 student tickets for $99 each. All prices are in CAD and do not include 13% HST.

Keynote speakers, attendees, panels and workshops at this year’s mesh conference will speak to four featured themes: Society, Marketing, Business and Media. The keynote speakers are:

* Society Keynote: Ron Deibert, the Citizen Lab will tackle global social issues such as state control of the internet, efforts in the Arab world to shut down the internet and efforts taken to circumvent that as well as Wikileaks and internet freedom.
* Marketing Keynote: Gabe Zichermann, The Psychology of Online Behaviour, explores the opportunities and challenges in motivating, inspiring and encouraging online users, including the use of gamification.
* Business Keynote: Mark Surman, Mozilla Foundation, will explain how companies can become more social and less hierarchical in order to take advantage of the web and how this can motivate younger, web-savvy employees intrinsically instead of extrinsically.
* Media Keynote: Jeff Jarvis looks at: how the media is changing, the rise of WikiLeaks as a press entity, crowdsourcing, transparency, where the future of journalism is headed, and the challenges ahead for traditional media entities.

Other mesh speakers include:

* Micah Sifry, TechPresident
* Wilf Dinnick, CEO of OpenFile
* Evan Smith, CEO of Texas Tribune
* Anthony De Rosa, Neighborhoodr
* Dan Debow, Rypple
* Laura Croucher, KPMG
* Kevin Restivo, IDC Canada
* David Armano, Edelman
* Lara Barlow, Canada Country Manager, Travel Zoo

In addition, mesh will feature interactive workshops focusing on topics including:

* How to use social media for reporting, journalism and more – lead by Bert Herman, founder of Storify and former foreign correspondent.
* Not-for-profits leading social media – led by Sarah Falconer, WWF; Karen Snider, Red Cross; and Misty Meeks, Argyle Communications.
* How to effectively leverage LinkedIn – led by Leona Hobbs, Social Media Group (SMG)
* How to create and build a great corporate blog – led by Eli Singer, Entrinsic Partners


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22nd March 2011

3D Printing Technology Helped Identify Canadian WW1 Soldier

CanadaI am including this story in today’s news because I feel that it shows important ways in which the advancement of technology can aid humanity not only in learning about ourselves and our history, but in seeing our potential with the responsible use of said technology.

A Canadian First World War soldier killed in action nearly a century ago can finally rest in peace following the identification of his remains and his burial last week in France. This resolution was possible due to a novel combination of identification disciplines, including that of Burlington, MA company Z Corporation’s 3D printing technology.

Private Thomas Lawless of Calgary, Alberta, were discovered in 2003 at a construction site near Avion, France. He was killed in action on June 8, 1917, a few months after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was 28.

Two sets of remains were found at the site. The first soldier was identified using DNA analysis in 2007. A combination of historical research, forensic anthropology (the study of the human skeleton), facial reconstruction and isotopic analysis yielded Lawless’ identification, as announced on February 24, 2011.

“Although it’s sad to contemplate the loss of young lives in war, it’s rewarding to account for the missing, both for the sake of the deceased and for long-grieving family members,” said Andrew J. Nelson, a key researcher on the project and Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario.Private Thomas Lawless

The identification team created 3D computer models of Lawless’s skull, derived from CT scan data of several large skull fragments, in order to narrow the list of possible matches for the remains. Physical models of the skull were produced using a Z Corporation 3D printer, which creates physical composite models from scan data much as a document printer produces a business letter from a word-processing file.

Using muscle markings on the skull model, scientific tissue-depth tables and plastilina modeling clay, the team worked with noted Canadian artist Christian Corbet to construct a face on the model. They then photographed that face, and superimposed images of it on photographs of soldiers who were potential matches. By seeing how the images lined up – by face height, width and features such as jaw shape – the team was able to narrow the list of potential matches to two. An isotopic analysis of teeth and the jaw bone indicated that the recovered soldier grew up in Dublin – a direct biographical match with Lawless. To see photos of the rebuilding process, please visit Military Historian Jeremy Banning’s site, where he has posted the images with full permission of Christian Corbet.

“Anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA testing are standard approaches for identification,” Nelson explained. “However, mtDNA requires material from living family members on the maternal side to make a connection. In this case, we had none of that at our disposal. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first instance in which facial reconstruction and isotopic analysis were added to the mix. It may result in a new protocol, or certainly new tools, for the identification of the missing.”

Private Thomas Lawless, born April 11, 1889, was a member of the 49th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and was buried March 15, 2011, at La Chaudiere Military Cemetery in Vimy, France, with his family in attendance. La Chaudiere, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, currently has 907 servicemen from the First World War buried or commemorated there, including Canadian Private Herbert Peterson, the soldier found in 2003 with Private Lawless.

Private Herbert Peterson was born on February 28, 1895, in Scranton, Kansas. He and his five brothers were the offspring of Charles and Julia Peterson from Rose Lynn, Alberta. On February 22, 1916, just shy of his 21st birthday, Private Peterson joined Private Herbert Peterson burialthe 137th Overseas Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force in Calgary as a private.

On his attestation form, Private Peterson listed his (1916) address as Berry Creek, Alberta, and recorded that he was a farmer, single, Presbyterian, with no current or previous military service. During Private Peterson’s medical examination, he was noted as being five feet, nine inches tall, with a fully expanded chest measurement of thirty-nine inches, a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He arrived in England with the 137th Battalion on August 30, 1916, and was formally transferred to the 49th Battalion, CEF, on December 7, 1916. A few weeks later, on January 20, 1917, he joined the 49th Battalion in France as a reinforcement soldier. He was declared missing after action on June 9, 1917.

Until the recent discovery of his remains, Private Peterson was one of the more than 11,000 Canadian soldiers who died in France during the First World War and who have no known grave. Private Herbert Peterson burial photo credit: from the blog of military historian Jeremy Banning.

Nelson sees a variety of applications for 3D printing in anthropology beyond the identification of soldiers’ remains. For example, his team used Z Corporation 3D printing in the 2003 facial reconstruction of the Sulman Egyptian mummy housed at the Chatham-Kent Museum in Chatham, Ontario. The facial reconstruction of the mummy was also done by Christian Corbet.

“Societies who wish to move forward must know their past to better understand who they are now and where they might be going,” he said. “The high variability of cultures of the past – before the internet – tells us a lot about the interplay of traits like gender, status, health and wealth in different settings. It’s the bones that help us associate those cultural traits with a particular set of human remains. And though CT scans enable us to a look inside a mummy, for example, without disturbing the bones, wrappings and so on, 3D printing lets us extract these pieces, figuratively speaking, by creating a physical model from CT scan data. We can thus examine the bones more closely and learn more from them.”

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22nd March 2011

Activitap Activity Logger Now Available

activitapVancouver developer TechSingular Applications has announced the first release of Activitap, an app specifically designed to minimize the number of taps required to record what activities are being done when, and to turn this information into a deliverable timesheet without any further calculation or editing in most circumstances.

Available free of charge for a limited time, Activitap was designed for professional Entry list viewshows an example of entries made to record time spent on activities.consultants who switch between several tasks and clients in a day. Its functionality is, however, general enough to be used by just about anyone who needs to prepare a timesheet for rapidly changing tasks.

The key to the usability of this app is recognition of the fact that professionals are likely doing things they have done before. Having entered and classified something once, there should be no reason to have to do so again. Activitap was designed so that entire log entries, or just the values used in individual entry fields (activity descriptions, categories, and timekeeping or budget codes) are automatically available as items to pick when adding new entries. There is no need to set things up; the choices grow naturally as you use the app.

Timesheet views update their totals on the fly, allowing you to view the current or past timesheets at any time. If you manually override a value, the original and new values will be remembered and the change highlighted in the app, not the sent timesheet. Timesheets are email-ready, and can be sent to anyone in your address book. A configuration option allows you to set the timesheet recipients if you Timesheet view of a partial weekdon’t want to choose them each time.

As with activity logging, configuration of the application was designed to require minimum effort. In fact you may be able to use the app without any prior configuration. The most likely change you may need is the day of the week for which timesheets are generated. This is easily accomplished by picking any date on which a timesheet is required. Activitap’s default configuration ignores any entries categorized as “Personal” and includes all others in timesheets. You can change the configuration to include or exclude any categories, and also to exclude any codes within included categories. The Activitap website at www.activitap.com offers a downloadable 28-page user guide–most of the space being devoted to illustrative screen shots. The website also includes a support forum.

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