14th April 2011

PSA – Beware of WestJet Phone Scam

westjetWestJet is warning the public about the re-occurrence of a scam being perpetrated by fraud artists trying to obtain credit card information. The scam is occurring nationally via telephone whereby callers pose as WestJet or other reputable companies.

Although there are variations to this scam, fraudsters are randomly calling people to say that they are eligible to win a prize, but will have to purchase a product or send money to receive it. Credit card information is usually requested.

WestJet does not engage in telephone marketing or share guests’ personal information with third parties for use in telephone marketing. Those responsible for this fraud are calling telephone numbers they have selected at random.

“We have taken steps to warn our guests in the past when these scams have surfaced, and now this one appears to be making the rounds again,” said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Sales. “We want Canadians to know that this is a scam, and that we are not providing any guest information to these fraudsters.”

For more information on this and other scams, visit the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre. Anyone receiving one of these calls should hang up immediately and call 1-888-495-8501 or email info@antifraudcentre.ca to report it.

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14th April 2011

Social Media Breakfast Being Served In Edmonton

social media breakfast edmontonThe Edmonton Social Media Breakfast (SMBYEG) is pleased to announce internet marketer extraordinaire, Jennifer Banks as this month’s guest speaker. This month’s topic is “What the heck? Why aren’t you doing SEO?”

Search engine optimization is probably the most effective, misunderstood, bad-mouthed, and ignored component of a high performing online presence- including blogs and social media. The idea is simple; create your content so that Google knows what you do and assists you with gaining visitors/followers and ultimately, making money from your website. Why is this so controversial? There are no secrets, and the basics are straightforward.

This session will cover:

What is Search Engine Optimization?
Why do I need SEO?
How do I integrate SEO into my blog/website/social media?
Live website audits (time permitting)

Stay after the discussion to network and share ideas within the realm of social media. Marketers, PR pros, entrepreneurs, bloggers, podcasters, new-media fanatics, and online social networkers are all welcome to attend. More seats will be released on April 15th at 12:00 p.m. Seating is limited and fills up quickly so hurry to book your place on Eventbrite.com. (Registration will be taken at the event.)

squirrel systemsNevada-based independent payment gateway organization Shift4 Corporation is pleased to announce a recent integration with Burnaby-based POS innovator Squirrel Systems. This integration pairs Squirrel’s state-of-the-art POS system with Shift4’s SaaS-based enterprise payment solution.

“I’m excited by the potential this relationship holds for both organizations,” said Bob Lowe, Shift4’s Director of Strategic Relationships. “It’s nice to see Squirrel building their POS with truly modern Microsoft SQL technology. Now with a certification to Shift4’s Dollars On The Net®, their offering just got that much better.”

Both companies are industry veterans, recognized as technological innovators in their respective spheres. Squirrel was the first vendor to introduce POS touch screen technology and continues to innovate today. Shift4 introduced tokenization to the credit card industry in 2005, and remains at the forefront of payment technology. Squirrel Systems integration of Shift4 payment solution is a next step in meeting the needs of their customers.

“With the integration of Shift4’s solution to Squirrel, we are able to provide our customers with a very flexible, proven, and secure payment processing platform. Our customers are thrilled with the capabilities and cost-effectiveness of Dollars On The Net,” said Joe Cortese, Squirrel’s Vice President of Product Development.

The integration premiered at the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa, and Conference Center in Winnipeg, Canada. Fort Garry also opted to install Shift4’s It’s Your Card® gift card solution, which enables gift card use across POS and PMS systems, and allows guests to use the same gift card throughout the property’s various revenue centers.

“Thus far, the Dollars On The Net feature most impressive to me is the back-of-house reporting functionality,” said Fort Garry Controller Mike Watson. “It’s all online, accessible from anywhere, and the lookups are flexible — so when I go to search for info, it’s right there at my fingertips.”

In addition to top-notch auditing features, this integration brings Shift4’s industry-leading security, speed, and reliability to Squirrel’s clientele while offering them enhanced flexibility and lower costs.

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14th April 2011

eXadox Wiz Now Available

multicim technologiesMultiCIM Technologies Inc. has released eXadox™ WIZ, a software wizard that simplifies the creation, re-working, and sharing of document naming and storage policies for all organizational entities (e.g., departments, work-groups, business-units, etc…). Organizations should institute file naming and storage policies to ultimately benefit from fast and precise searching, identification, and retrieval of their electronic documents. This helps increase productivity and collaboration amongst all staff needing to share and access common electronic files/documents. A filing policy plan is always essential, regardless of whether the organization plans to implement a manual document management strategy, or deploy a dedicated document management system. exadox

Vincent Santaguida of MultiCIM Technologies states “As organizations migrate from paper-based operations to paperless or ‘less-paper’ practices, staff generally lack direction in terms of electronic document naming and storage policies. Each individual names and saves departmental files as they see fit. Therefore, there is hardly any consistency in how everyone names and stores electronic files. The end result can be utter chaos and awful inefficiencies in the file searching and retrieval process. A minimum initiative is to institute storage and file naming policies for each business activity in the organization. We created the eXadox WIZard to make it easier for our clients and others to start instituting best practices for file naming and storage. The rewards in productivity gain can be incredible with minimal effort.”

eXadox WIZ operates in a wizard-mode by automatically guiding the user through five simple steps to quickly build a unique filing policy plan. It also comes with ready-built filing policy templates to help expedite the planning process. Users may modify, mix and match several templates in order to build a unique filing policy profile that best satisfies their operational requirements. The plan import/export feature enables the planning team to collaborate in planning activities by taking advantage of everyone’s contribution to more readily establish policy consensus. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th April 2011

Dare Labs and Optimum PR Launch the Social Election Experiment

dare optimumCan the number of likes a candidate has on Facebook indicate their chances of winning the 2011 Canadian Federal election? That’s what the teams at Optimum PR and Dare Labs in Vancouver wanted to find out, so they have joined forces to create The Social Election Experiment.

Since there are now over 16 Million Facebook users in Canada, the teams at Dare and Optimum PR decided to look at Facebook support (“likes”) for candidates in each of the 308 ridings across Canada – in real time. They will be tracking the race dynamically, and showing a snapshot of where each candidate stands in every race across the country and any changes in daily trends.

The experiment was inspired by research published after the 2010 House and Senate Elections in the US. The team at Facebook went back after the election was over to see if support for a candidate on the popular social network translated into real world support in a few key ridings. Their analysis showed that more than 80% of Senate races and 74% of House races could have been accurately predicted based on which candidate was more widely “liked” on Facebook.

“We have decided to keep our methodology very straightforward”, explained David Brodie, Vice President, Western Canada at Optimum PR and former Prime Ministerial advisor. “We’ve identified the nominated candidates for each party and will be measuring the number of likes each gains throughout the race looking for trends. This is the first time anyone has ever tracked an election on Facebook in this much detail, and we are excited to see what the results can tell us about the important role social media plays in both shaping and reflecting public opinion.”

“Our goal is not only to see what is happening throughout the race, but also to encourage all candidates to become more social online” added Angele Beausoleil, VP, Strategy and Innovation Dare North America. “We have added tips on our site explaining how candidates can establish their own presence on Facebook if they don’t already have one, and we hope we can help this become the most social election in Canadian history.”

decision canadaMeanwhile in other election news, canada.com has partnered with the community-powered news organization OpenFile to offer Canadians a new way to participate in the federal election. Readers can click on the “Your Idea” icon on the canada.com home page to suggest election stories that they feel deserve more attention. The goal of this collaboration is to gather information from Canadians to help shape the way the federal election is covered.

“More than ever, this election is influenced by Canadians setting ‘the real agenda’,” said Scott Anderson, Senior Vice President, Content at Postmedia Network. “We’re asking Canadians what they want their candidates – local and national – to be talking about during the campaign.”

OpenFile.ca is a collaborative news site where readers suggest stories and journalists are assigned to report and write on those deemed relevant. OpenFile’s community-driven news platform will be used to manage the flow of user-suggested stories, to assign journalists and to enable Canadians to view and interact with the proposed stories. The stories will be available to canada.com, Postmedia Network newspapers and online properties, and to OpenFile’s seven city websites.

“This partnership provides Canadians with a unique opportunity to shape the way this important election is covered at the local and national level,” said Wilf Dinnick, CEO of OpenFile. “Working with canada.com and Postmedia Network, our editors and journalists will report the stories that might otherwise get missed along the campaign trail. We’re excited to tell the stories that matter to Canadians in the communities where they live.”

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14th April 2011

Indiana Jones Archaeology Adventure Coming To Montreal

x3 productionsSince his big screen debut in 1981, the globe-trotting, rugged, whip-lashing archaeologist Indiana Jones has captured the imagination of audiences around the world – and over the years, his quest for treasure, fortune and Indiana Jones Exhibitglory has engendered a pop culture fascination with the field of archaeology. Lucasfilm Ltd. and Montreal’s X3 Productions are thrilled to celebrate thirty years of Indy’s adventures – and the science that inspired them – with Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, a world-touring exhibition presented by the National Geographic Society.

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology is designed to transport visitors into the universe of Indiana Jones whilst shedding light on the true nature of archaeology. An original audio greeting recorded by Harrison Ford – the world-renowned actor who brought Indy to life – will welcome visitors and invite them to begin their journey into the science of field archaeology.

The Exhibition designers have created a truly unique educational environment in which to showcase a wealth of historical and cultural artifacts from the National Geographic Society and the Penn Museum. In a setting comprised of the most extensive collection of Indiana Jones films’ concept art, props and models from the Lucasfilm Archives, as well as remarkable real-world artifacts, visitors will elucidate myths, explore excavation sites, and discover the true origins of archaeological mysteries.

Visitors will embark on this comprehensive museum experience equipped with a multi-media hand held device. Providing a wealth of information, videos and commentaries about the exhibits, the interactive video companion will also allow kids of all ages to create their very own interactive quest.

Visitors may begin their adventure of archaeology as early as today by visiting the newly designed web site. A portal into the exhibition, the website now hosts information that will allow visitors to discover the past, investigate lost civilizations, attempt to solve archaeological mysteries and prepare their journey into the world of Indiana Jones.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

After its premiere at the Montreal Science Centre on April 28, the travelling exhibition will be presented in eleven world-class institutions throughout Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Various travel packages are now available for those who wish to experience Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology in Montreal before it sets sail overseas. The exhibit will be at the Montreal Science Centre from April 28th through September 18th 2011.

Tickets are on sale now, with advance ticket purchases available online or by visiting the Montreal Science Centre Box Office or by contacting them at (514) 496-4724 or (877) 496-4724.

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14th April 2011

TransGaming Studios Announces New Title

TransGamingThis morning I also woke up to an announcement from TransGaming Inc. about the new title its Studio Division, creators of the popular title Garage Inc., have been teasing about the past few weeks on both Twitter and Facebook. This new title, Kula Blox, is a  multi-platform game targeted to a broad family audience. Leveraging TransGaming’s innovative cross-platform game enablement technologies, Kula Blox will be simultaneously released on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, PC and the GameTree TV Smart TV Gaming Platform in the summer of 2011. Kula Blox

“Our original game Garage Inc. was an incredible success and has garnered a user base of almost 500,000 since its release. The casual gaming sector is a high-growth market with lots of potential. These are exciting times, and we are very pleased to be launching a new title based on our own IP”, commented Wojtek Kawczynski, Managing Director of TransGaming’s Studio Division. “By incorporating both TransGaming’s own enablement technologies, as well as innovative micro-transaction business models Kula Blox,  is well-positioned to become profitable quickly while at the same time generating a long-term revenue stream.”

Kula Blox will be an animal-themed arcade-style game that allows a broader audience of non-traditional gamers to have immersive, but still “snack” gaming experiences. The Kula Blox property is designed to become a franchise that spans across multiple future titles with Kula Blox being the first. When paired with the lucrative in-game micro-transactions and content updates, the result will be a game that maximizes both profitability and long-term playability.

Strange Block Fellows

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14th April 2011

IGDA Board Lists Concerns Over Amazon App Store

As an IGDA member, I received this letter in my email a couple of hours ago – as other members did. I feel that the information contained in it needs to be shared with the greatest number possible, and no doubt those of you living in earlier time zones have already been passing this information around, which it should be.  If I were a developer considering releasing titles on the Amazon App Store, I think I’d be giving it a serious second thought. Here is the letter in its entirety.

To all members of the game development community:

Two weeks ago, Amazon launched its own Android Appstore. We know that many developers have been eagerly looking forward to that launch in hopes that it would represent a great new revenue opportunity and a fresh take on downloadable game merchandising. The IGDA applauds Amazon’s efforts to build a more dynamic app marketplace. However, the IGDA has significant concerns about Amazon’s current Appstore distribution terms and the negative impact they may have on the game development community, and we urge developers to educate themselves on the pros and cons of submitting content to Amazon.

Many journalists have noted the unusual nature of Amazon’s current store terms, but little has been said about the potential implications of those terms. In brief: Amazon reserves the right to control the price of your games, as well as the right to pay you “the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price.” While many other retailers, both physical and digital, also exert control over the price of products in their markets, we are not aware of any other retailer having a formal policy of paying a supplier just 20% of the supplier’s minimum list price without the supplier’s permission.

Furthermore, Amazon dictates that developers cannot set their list price above the lowest list price “available or previously available on any Similar Service.” In other words, if you want to sell your content anywhere else, you cannot prevent Amazon from slashing the price of your game by setting a high list price. And if you ever conduct even a temporary price promotion in another market, you must permanently lower your list price in Amazon’s market.

These Amazon policies could have far reaching effects on game developers. The IGDA has identified five potentially problematic scenarios in particular:

1) Amazon steeply discounts a large chunk of its Appstore catalog (imagine: “our top 100-rated games are all 75% off!”). Some developers will probably win in this scenario, but some developers — most likely, those near the bottom of the list — will lose, not gaining enough sales to offset the loss in revenue per sale. Amazon benefits the most, because it captures all the customer goodwill generated by such a promotion.

2) By requiring all developers to guarantee Amazon a minimum list price that matches the lowest price on any other market, Amazon has presented developers with a stark choice: abandon Amazon’s market or agree never to give another distributor an exclusive promotional window.

3) Other digital markets that compete with Amazon (both existing markets and markets yet-to-be-created) may feel compelled to duplicate Amazon’s terms, and perhaps even adopt more severe terms in an effort to compete effectively with Amazon. In essence, we’re looking at a slippery slope in which a developer’s “minimum list price” ceases to be a meaningful thing. Read the rest of this entry »

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