23rd June 2011

New Chapter for School 26 Coming Soon

Silicon SistersVancouver’s Silicon Sisters Interactive has announced the second installment in their School 26 game series, School 26: Summer of Secrets. The upcoming iOS game combines unique social mastery gameplay with the musical stylings of popular indie band Hey Ocean! to provide girls ages 12 to 16 with a fresh and entertaining digital experience. School 26: Summer of Secrets will release for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad in July.

With school out for summer, School 26 protagonist Kate and her friends are teaming up to compete in their local music festival’s Battle of the Bands competition—and just like in real life, egos are rampant, divas are rising, and secrets areSchool 26 Summer of Secrets flying. Playing as Kate, convince your friends to dish. Then use your tact to share their secrets with the right people so that everyone benefits. Along the way you’ll become embroiled in true-to-life teen situations including band in-fighting, flirting, and emotional meltdowns. Hey Ocean’s music appears throughout Summer of Secrets as Kate’s band prepares for the big show.

“Like our first School 26 game, Summer of Secrets presents themes and dilemmas that are very real to today’s teens, so it makes sense that the music should come from a real band that teen girls can relate to,” said Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, CEO of Silicon Sisters. “We believe that our game will appeal to Hey Ocean’s fans, and vice versa. Plus, it’s wonderful to be able to support a local Vancouver band.”

Released to critical acclaim in April, the original School 26 follows Kate as she navigates life at a new high school, using her emotional intelligence to make friends and solve social conflicts. To celebrate today’s announcement, Silicon Sisters is offering School 26 at the sale price of $0.99 for iPhone / iPod Touch and $1.99 for iPad. The game is also available for Android and is coming soon to PC and Mac.

 

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23rd June 2011

MTS To Offer iPad 2 Dedicated Data Plans

mts-allstreamMTS has announced that the company will offer dedicated data plans for iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G in Canada beginning June 30, 2011. All data plans will be available without a commitment, providing the freedom to activate or cancel a plan at any time.

iPad 2 is the second generation of Apple’s revolutionary new device, featuring an entirely new design that is 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the original iPad, while maintaining the same stunning 9.7-inch LED-backlit LCD screen. iPad 2 features Apple’s new dual-core A5 processor for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics and now includes two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime and Photo Booth, and a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video, bringing the innovative FaceTime feature to iPad users for the first time. Though it is thinner, lighter, faster and packed with new features, iPad 2 still delivers the up to 10 hours of battery life* users have come to expect.

“We are excited to launch data plans for iPad 2,” said Stan Kurtas, vice president, marketing, MTS. “Our data plans are commitment free and provide access to our extensive wireless network. MTS customers will also have free access to all MTS Wi-Fi Hotspots, giving them the best iPad 2 plans in Manitoba.”

 

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23rd June 2011

C D Howe Institute Calls for End To Ownership Restrictions

C. D. Howe InstituteIt is time to end foreign ownership restrictions in the Canadian telecommunications sector, to make better use of competitive forces in providing telecommunication services to consumers. This is the majority view (PDF) of the C.D. Howe Institute’s Competition Policy Council, which held its inaugural meeting June 17, 2011.

The Competition Policy Council comprises top-ranked academics and practitioners active in competition policy. The Council, chaired by Finn Poschmann, Vice President, Research at the C.D. Howe Institute, provides analysis of emerging competition policy issues, including those potentially faced by the federal Competition Bureau. The Council, whose members participate in their personal capacities, convenes a neutral forum to test competing visions of competition policy and share views with policymakers and the public.

At the June 17 meeting, the Council addressed the following question: “Should the federal government end existing foreign ownership restrictions in Canadian telecom because of their impact on competition?”

The Council called for the abolition of ownership restrictions in Canadian telecommunications and network infrastructure used for distribution. At present, the Telecommunications Act and its regulations require that a telecommunications company be controlled by a Canadian, and that nonresidents may control shares representing not more than 20 percent of an operating company and 33.3 percent of a holding company. The Broadcasting Act requires Canadian ownership and control of the broadcasting system, including broadcast distribution undertakings.

The Council recommended that:

  • foreign ownership restrictions be lifted for all market participants, including new entrants and incumbents;
  • owing to corporate and technological convergence in telecommunications services and broadcasting, foreign ownership restrictions simultaneously should be lifted for telecommunications carriers and broadcast distribution undertakings (BDUs, including broadcast distributors that are also content providers);
  • to permit speedy competition for the market, restrictions on ownership should be removed in full and at once, without gradual raising of ownership thresholds; and
  • measures for pursuing discrete public policy objectives, such as Canadian content requirements for broadcasters, should continue to be met through other means, including better targeted policy tools, such as subsidies for content production.
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23rd June 2011

New Version of Kobo iOS eReading App is All About Connecting With Friends

koboKobo has launched new and engaging features for its popular social program Reading Life on the free Kobo eReading app for iOS. Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, the new 4.5 version is all about friends – users can now connect with their friends on Facebook to see what books they are reading, compare number of books read in Reading Life™ stats, view awards earned and much more.
The latest release includes the full friends feature set, allowing users to:

  • See the books friends have read and ask them for recommendations
  • See the books in common
  • Compare Reading Life awards
  • Compare and measure progress with friends through Reading Life stats, including the number of books read, time read and more
  • Invite friends to join on Kobo via Facebook or email

Other new features include navigational enhancements – users can now swipe left to right with one finger to easily navigate their library shelves and use a two-fingered swipe to open and close the library edit menu.

The latest release builds on the feature rich functionality of Kobo’s previous iOS release that lets users:

  • Easily share the Reading Life Mosaic via Facebook with followers
  • Share their latest read with Twitter followers
  • Share their favorite quotes and passages, notes and thoughts with followers
  • Earn awards – just for spending time reading
  • View awards friends have earned by tapping on the shared award from the activity feed on iPhone or iPad
  • Chat with friends about new and favorite reads
  • Purchase or start reading books recommended by friends simply by tapping on the shared book cover from the activity feed
  • Organize their library by creating and personalizing shelves of books, newspapers, magazines and documents

Building on Reading Life, the industry’s first comprehensive social reading experience, these new features make the highly popular Kobo eReading app even more of a “must have” free download. Nearly all of Kobo’s iPad and iPhone users have started using Reading Life, with millions of awards earned by Kobo readers to date. The highly rated app redefines the reading experience for millions of users looking for an industry-leading experience that incorporates the latest features and functionality in eReading.

“With Reading Life, we continue to build features to enable more social interaction between Kobo readers and their social networks,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo. “Our goal is to engage readers and inspire them to share the fun of reading, and our latest iOS app does just that – bringing additional ways to connect and enjoy reading with friends and family both near and far.”

The Kobo store offers a selection of over 2.3 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines with titles ranging from the New York Times’ Bestsellers list, the hottest new releases, thrillers, romance and over a million free books. In addition to its global store, Kobo also offers locally merchandised English language stores in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Since its launch in 2009, Kobo has been dedicated to an open cloud-based platform, enabling users to read on any device, and with open standards that give users freedom to build their lifetime libraries as they choose.

The Kobo eReading app for iPhone, iPad and iTouch can be for downloaded for free from Kobo or the iTunes App Store. Customers who currently have Kobo on their iPad or iPhone can download the update directly from their device.

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23rd June 2011

HBO Canada Takes Mob Rule To The Playground

hbo canadaCorruption, greed, violence, betrayal…and recess. HBO Canada, a multiplex channel of Astral’s The Movie Network (Eastern Canada) and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central (Western Canada) brings the mean streets to the schoolyard in The Yard, a mockumentary series from The Movie Network and Movie Central, debuting Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m. ET/MT with two back-to-back episodes.

“Only on Pay TV can we provide a platform for a series that is as entertaining, and boundary pushing as The Yard,” said Jocelyn Hamilton, Vice President, Original Programming, Kids, Comedy, Drama, Corus Entertainment. “We’re pleased to be working with Paul Gross and the talented team at Whizbang Films, who produced an original Canadian series that is unlike anything else on television”.

“The Movie Network is known for working with distinctly Canadian voices to deliver bold, risk-taking original series forThe Yard Cast Members our subscriber and The Yard fits squarely into this framework,” said Aubie Greenberg, Director, Original Programming, Movie Services, Astral Television Networks. “Michael Mabbott and David Eddie and the entire team at Whizbang are to be congratulated for creating such a unique vision.”

In the six-part, half-hour miniseries viewers are taken inside a schoolyard by an unseen Documentarian (voiced by Paul Gross) who records students’ behaviour during recess. Through interviews with the kids, he sees adult-world scenarios played out by two schoolyard gangs: 12 year old leader Nick; his idealistic younger brother J.J., the brains of the outfit; weird pal Johnny, his lieutenant; big girl Suzi, the muscle; and his six-year-old little brother Adam, who just wants to play. Nick’s crew tries to keep the peace while defending their turf against: Frankie Miladic, leader of his gang of self-indulgent, cruel bullies; “Pork Chop” and his brother Mickey; while also fighting his affection for Frankie’s popular and influential sister Mary, leader of the girls.

Starring kids between the ages of 10 and 13, The Yard was created and written by Michael Mabbott (The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico) and David Eddie (House Broken, Globe & Mail‘s Damage Control). The series stars Quintin Colantoni, Keana Bastidas, Sarah Cranmer, Daniel Lupetina, Alex Cardillo, Shemar Charles and is Executive Produced by Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa, David Eddie and Michael Mabbott.

The Yard is developed and produced by Whizbang Films. The Movie Network and Movie Central developed, commissioned and invested in the series. It is produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Ontario Media Development Corporation and distributed by Entertainment One.

Following its special two-part premiere, subsequent episodes of The Yard will debut Fridays at 9:30 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada. All episodes will be broadcast in High Definition. In Eastern Canada The Yard will also be available via HBO Canada OnLine with Rogers On Demand OnLine, Bell TV Online and Videotron’s Illico Web and in Western Canada via HBO Canada Online with Shaw Video On Demand and Bell TV Online.

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23rd June 2011

Vancouver Airport Authority Launches Unique Live Blogger Contest

live at yvrVancouver Airport Authority is on the lookout for an awesome storyteller who’s got what it takes to come live at YVR for 80 days and 80 nights and tell the unique, interesting and little-known stories of Canada’s second largest airport. The only catch: the special correspondent can’t leave YVR and its Sea Island home for the entire duration of the gig, which begins on the heels of YVR’s 80th anniversary on July 22, 2011. YVR Airport Authority

That’s right, the Live@YVR assignment focuses on covering the unique people, places and stories that make the airport so unusual – from the midnight cargo flight full of blueberries to the mid-afternoon cleaning of an aquarium that’s home to a pair of breeding wolf eels.

“We know that nearly 90 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents come to YVR at least once a year, but most of those people only get a very superficial view of what happens here,” said Rebecca Catley, Director of Communications for Vancouver Airport Authority. “We’re looking forward to welcoming a special kind of storyteller who will become immersed in fascinating airport stories and share them with the world. YVR is a small city: with 23,600 people working here — from emergency responders to environmental specialists — the stories are endless and we hope people will tune in to find out more about their airport.”

The contest launches today and is open to residents of B.C. Prospective correspondents will submit a video online that highlights their storytelling savvy. After a shortlist of finalists is chosen, the public will have the opportunity to vote its favourite applicant onto Sea Island, where he or she will begin an 80-day assignment on August 17, 2011. The correspondent will sleep at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, live in the YVR community and experience its shops, services and restaurants. He or she will receive a living allowance during the80 days at YVR and an honorarium upon completion.

The Live@YVR correspondent will be equipped with a camera and editing equipment and will act as an all-in-one producer, director, reporter, editor and post-production supervisor. He or she will uncover stories and share the triumphs – and trials – of living at an airport full time on liveatYVR.ca, Facebook and Twitter.

“When we heard about this idea we wanted to be a part of it,” said Craig Reaume, General Manager of The Fairmont Vancouver Airport. “The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is one of the many special features atYVR for locals and visitors alike to experience, and we’re excited to highlight our unique and unexpected stories as part of Live@YVR.”

Here’s how the program works:

  • From June 23- July 18, 2011, video applications from potential candidates will be accepted at liveatYVR.ca, with entries available for public viewing.
  • Once the application process closes, a panel of judges will identify a short list, and the public will vote on the winner in early July.
  • The winner will be announced — and start his or her 80-day adventure — on August 17, 2011.
  • The winner will live at the airport for 80 days and 80 nights to share the stories of YVR with the world on liveatYVR.ca.
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23rd June 2011

TD and PROFIT Magazine Looking For Top Young Entrepreneurs

TD Financial GroupTD Bank Group, national sponsor of the 2011 FuEL awards, invites Canadians to apply or nominate others for this year’s contest. FuEL Awards honour the achievements and aspirations of entrepreneurs under the age of 30, identify role models for progressive business practices and inspire youth to make entrepreneurship their top career choice.

“TD sponsors the FuEL Awards because we believe in small business and we recognize that they are a key driver of Canada’s economic growth,” said Alec Morley, Head, Small Business Banking, TD Canada Trust, “and we’re thrilled to celebrate and encourage young entrepreneurs.”

Nominate or apply online before the 11:59PM EDT July 15th 2011 deadline.

Candidates will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Product/service innovation
  • Community building/social responsibility
  • Job creation/employment practices
  • Commercial results/potential
  • Total votes Watch

The 20 applicants deemed Canada’s Future Entrepreneurial Leaders in 2011 will receive:

  • A national accolade that can attract the attention of customers, investors and strategic business partners.
  • Profile on the FuEL Awards website and in the December 2011 issue of PROFIT Magazine.
  • A one-day business consultation with professionals from KPMG Enterprise.
  • A chance to be named FuEL Entrepreneur of the Year and attend QuantumShift™, an exclusive leadership development program at the Ivey School of Business.

After the submission period closes, Morley encourages supporters of young entrepreneurship to vote for their favourite candidates and to share their thoughts by tweeting, blogging and talking about it.

“I’ve met plenty of young Canadians who are passionate about a business idea, technology or service; they are resourceful and ambitious and are exactly the type of people we want building small – and eventually, bigger – businesses in this country. I hope the FuEL Awards will help drive the conversation and inspire future young entrepreneurs.”

Candidates will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Product/service innovation
  • Community building/social responsibility
  • Job creation/employment practices
  • Commercial results/potential
  • Total votes Watch
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23rd June 2011

Nordicity Reviews OECD Wireless Rankings

nordicityThe wireless rankings released today by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) are based on a limited sample of wireless providers and plans from each of the profiled countries. Although the OECD’s revised methodology better captures the variety of mobile usage patterns in different countries, the rankings should still not be considered representative of International wireless costs.

Therefore, if using the OECD rankings as part of an overall comparison of international wireless markets, the following limitations must be considered:

  • The OECD rankings typically only consider a couple of wireless plans from two different carriers – Canada’s complete OECD wireless price ranking across six different calling profiles is based on fees from only four different wireless plans (two each from Bell and Rogers).
  • The OECD compares post-paid, pre-paid and ‘friends and family’ plans to develop rankings within a single calling profile.
  • The OECD rankings do not recognize that nearly half of the wireless subscribers in the OECD countries outside of North America pay for more than one mobile plan.
  • The OECD rankings do not measure the affordability of wireless service by considering average incomes in each of the profiled countries.

Typical Canadian mobile calling patterns are also not reflected in the OECD calculations. In fact, the OECD calling profiles closest to the average Canadian cell phone usage profile are based on 187 less, or 194 more, minutes-of use per month than the average Canadian usage. Consequently, Canada ranks as having above-average wireless costs in four of the OECD’s six Calls Baskets.

International wireless cost comparisons that address the omissions of the OECD rankings reveal that Canada’s average per-minute wireless costs are in reality $0.02 below the international average, 11th– lowest of all OECD countries. Also, as a percentage of average income, Canadian’s pay 10 per cent less for wireless voice service than the international average and 12 per cent less for wireless (voice and data) service overall.

Nordicity’s International Wireless Market Comparison (PDF) report analyzes other key wireless market conditions. In doing so, it reveals that Canada has the least densely subscribed network of any developed wireless market with only 12 subscribers for every square kilometre of coverage. This density compares with 37 subscribers per square kilometre in the United States and 312 subscribers per square kilometre in the United Kingdom.

Canada is now served by three national wireless providers and six regional providers, resulting in one of the most competitive market structures of any developed wireless market. In fact, Canada is one of only six OECD countries where the two leading providers serve fewer than 70 per cent of all subscribers and the top three providers serve less than 95 per cent of all subscribers.

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23rd June 2011

Art and Technology Merge For Interactive Artistic Expression

trafficshapingFerndale, Washington-based URL shortening service TrafficShaping has collaborated with British Columbia artist Wes Giesbrecht to create interactive wall sculptures that utilize QR codes to deliver custom messages.

The partnership with TrafficShaping allows collectors to modify the destination Internet address for their artwork. Viewers can enjoy the beauty of the fine wood tiles as a modern-day mosaic or scan the artwork with their smart phone. When scanned, the viewer will be redirected to an Internet destination of the collector’s choosing.Wes Giesbrecht

Each piece is constructed of thin one-inch aspen and thermally enhanced oak tiles. The one-inch tiles are each hand finished and secured to burlap canvas. Each sculpture hangs from a french cleat system located along the upper edge creating a special flow to the work.

“The ability to edit the destination Internet address for the pieces created by Wes is truly unique. A collector can change the destination based on current events, trends or interests as a form of artistic expression,” observed David McInnis, owner of Fairhaven Originals Gallery, in Bellingham, WA.

“TrafficShaping was selected as a collaboration partner for this project because their service allows the collector to make unlimited edits to their destination Internet address,” commented Mr. Giesbrecht.

The art is further enhanced by the use of TrafficShaping’s rules-based filters that allow the collector to redirect viewers based on a number of variables including time of day, day of week and device type used to read the QR code.

Each piece is tied to a custom domain name pre-paid and registered to the collector for a period of ten years. Each piece includes unlimited access to the TrafficShaping service and a script to allow the collector to host the technology on their own server resources should they desire.  Collectors can purchase these pieces from Fairhaven Originals Gallery online or through the gallery directly in Bellingham, Washington.

 

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23rd June 2011

Hatch And SMART Develop Comprehensive K-1 Content

Smart TechnologiesHatch Inc., a North Carolina provider of classroom technology innovations for early learning and SMART Technologies Inc. have announced the creation of CoreFocus by HatchTM. The content solution, designed to work within SMART Notebook™ collaborative learning software, includes more than 2,500 research-based math and literacy activities for kindergarten and first grade and is aligned with the new U.S. national Common Core State Standards.

The robust set of activities will assist teachers in integrating SMART Board interactive whiteboards into their daily lesson plans and curriculum and also provide a content management system for all of their existing interactive whiteboard content. Early learning experts designed CoreFocus by Hatch to provide critical math and literacy skill development for young learners.

“Hatch is excited to work alongside SMART Technologies to develop a comprehensive content solution that supports teachers in accessing research-based math and literacy activities, with a focus on Common Core State Standards for kindergarten and first grade. The team who developed the TeachSmart® Learning System, the first interactive whiteboard solution proven to impact math and literacy outcomes for early education, led the development of CoreFocus. This product will have a definite impact on the development of children and provide teachers with proven strategies for success,” said Hatch President Ginny Norton.

“We are pleased to enter into a new phase of our relationship with Hatch, collaborating with their research and development experts in the creation of standards-based activities for SMART Board interactive whiteboards that educators can easily integrate into their curriculum,” said SMART Products Vice President Linda Thomas. “CoreFocus by Hatch supports our commitment to meet the needs of educators with innovative products and services to further engage their students with high quality content made in SMART Notebook software and fully aligned to Common Core State Standards.”

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