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  • New eBook on Jordan By Vancouver Writer Lori Henry

5th July 2011

New eBook on Jordan By Vancouver Writer Lori Henry

Jordan A Different Middle EastOne of the most historically potent places in the world, Jordan is often overlooked in favour of its neighbours, Egypt and Israel. Fortunately for travellers, the fewer amount of tourists makes this small country an enchanting place to visit. Jordan: A Different Middle East follows the author Lori Henry’s adventures as she visits the two most emblematic tourist attractions in the country – Petra and Wadi Rum – and discovers the lesser known parts that make Jordan so exceptional. Published by Vancouver company Dancing Traveller Media, Jordan: A Different Middle East is (or will be) available on all e-readers.

Lori Henry left for Jordan near the end of March 2011 on a week and a half long trip through the country. This also happened to be just over a month after the protests against President Mubarak in Egypt, and in the middle of the uprisings in Syria and fighting against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

As she would learn very quickly, Jordan – although in the middle of the conflicts in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt – was staying out of trouble. The country was stable enough for a thriving tourism industry to welcome visitors, but many of them had cancelled their trips. Most travellers include Jordan on an Egypt and Israel circuit, so when things heated up in Cairo, tours were cancelled and trips postponed or re-booked to other parts of the world.

What a shame. Jordanians were watching the news just as carefully as those in North America were, waiting to see what would happen, but were otherwise open for business. Lori discovered the charming children who were eager to tag along with her in Amman; hiked through the lowest nature reserve on earth, Wadi Mujib; ate lunch with a Druze family in the lightly populated eastern desert; stayed at an incredible off-the-grid eco lodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve; and spent the evening with a Bedouin family in the western desert.

 

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5th July 2011

Alberta SouthWest Video Contest Now Open

alberta southwestAlberta SouthWest (AlbertaSW) is celebrating the launch of its new website with a video contest that answers the call ‘Show Us Your Alberta SouthWest’. The contest is open to any resident of Alberta 18 years of age and older.

“We want Albertans to send us their personal video clips that show us their favorite experiences in AlbertaSW – and almost anything goes – record your friends and family singing a song around a campfire, recite a poem, capture a sunset, a prairie field, a family at play…whatever AlbertaSW means to you, we would love you to share it with us,” says Bev Thornton, Executive Director, Alberta SouthWest Regional Economic Development.

“Alberta SouthWest is a place where people feel connected to the land, the communities, and the lifestyle that make this such a special place to live. We realize that creating a video clip is a bit more of a challenge than just sending a photo, but this is a great opportunity for images of our region to be seen by a great number of viewers. From historic landmarks to World Heritage Sites, from hiking and bird watching to some of Alberta’s best golf…you will find it here in Alberta SouthWest. And the people who live here and visit here come from all walks of life, each with their own story—a story about AlbertaSW—just waiting to be told.”

AlbertaSW also hopes to create greater awareness of the video contest by sending out its own videographers throughout the region to capture candid/impromptu moments with residents and/or visitors.

“The idea is that a videographer and a ‘reporter’ will intercept people on the street in various communities and ask them questions about the region – what they love, where they are from and whether they are residents or tourists. Like those submitted for the contest, these videos will be posted online.”

Adds Thornton, “Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance (AlbertaSW) is a group of 16 communities, working together for positive regional economic development. Collectively, we collaborative on initiatives that focus on creating the right environment in which balanced growth can occur thus increasing prosperity for all members.” AlbertaSW is bordered by Nanton in the North, Cardston to the east, Waterton Park to the south and Crowsnest Pass to the west.

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5th July 2011

Body Tracker App Now Availabler on iTunes

gratisitesAn exciting new health and fitness iPhone app has been released by Calgary’s Gratisites Inc. Body Tracker is an app that allows users to keep all of their essential measurements in one place and compare their progress over time when used in conjunction with a workout regime. Progress can be viewed by measurement or pictures to help with motivation.

“Gratisites prides itself on creating technological answers to everyday problems,” says Gratisites spokesman Danton Lalonde. “Our objective is that Body Tracker will fill the need of enabling people to body trackerreach their fitness goals.”

Body Tracker monitors users’ body fat and weight, while keeping track of the following measurements:

  • Waist
  • Chest
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Neck
  • Arms

“We recognize that goals need to be written down if they are to be effective. With Body Trackers “History” and “Compare” functions, you can easily see your progress, encouraging you to stay on track,” Lalonde explains, “Body Tracker is your accountability partner.”

Body Tracker for iPhone is available immediately for $0.99 on your mobile device or from Apple’s App Store. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.

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5th July 2011

Ubisoft Announces Line of Collectible Products

ubisoftUbisoft® has announced the creation of UbiCollectibles, a collection of premium, limited-edition merchandise for fans of the company’s popular brands, including Assassin’s Creed®, Might & Magic®, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon® and more. UbiCollectibles are available exclusively through UbiShop, Ubisoft’s official online store, and the store is now accepting pre-orders from European customers.

The first UbiCollectibles are inspired by fans of the Assassin’s Creed®, Ezio's FuryMight & Magic® Heroes® and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchises. More than 29 million people have purchased an Assassin’s Creed video game, and now a fortunate 2,000 will have the chance to buy a highly detailed, hand-crafted statuette called “Ezio’s Fury.” The figurine shows Ezio in a combative stance as he moves in for the kill.

In Might & Magic® Heroes VI, Michael, the legendary Archangel, is one of the most charismatic characters, and 500 fans will now have the opportunity to own an intricate polyresin figurine of Michael, wings spread and sword drawn for battle. UbiCollectibles is using a design chosen with fans on Facebook to create this unique offering.

From Ghost Recon, a limited quantity of “Production Team” t-shirts, with the same design as those worn by the development team during this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, will be available as UbiCollectibles.

“UbiCollectibles are designed to give true fans something special,” said Geoffroy Sardin, Chief EMEA Marketing and Sales Officer at Ubisoft. “Each item is a custom-designed, limited edition, created to give fans an exceptional way to deepen their experience with their favorite Ubisoft universes.”

Future offerings from UbiCollectibles will include apparel, figurines, lithographs, jewelry, and replicas from Ubisoft’s best-selling brands.

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5th July 2011

Xplornet Acquires RipNET

xplornetXplornet Communications Inc. (formerly Barrett Xplore Inc.) has acquired Brockville region ISP RipNET Limited, which currently operates in the eastern Ontario region that extends from Manotick to Gananoque, and as far north as Perth.

“We are delighted to welcome the RipNET customers into the Xplornet family,” said John Maduri, Chief Executive Officer of Xplornet Communications Inc.  “This acquisition increases our fixed wireless broadband footprint in eastern Ontario and continues our company’s mission to make affordable broadband Internet services available to every rural Canadian.”

This acquisition is effective immediately.  However, RipNET will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Xplornet. RipNET’s customers will continue to enjoy their current service and packages. Mr. Maduri noted that Xplornet looks forward to working with RipNET’ s team. “Over the last 16 years, RipNET has built a skilled and committed team, and they bring significant expertise to Xplornet,” said Maduri.

Technical support contact information, service and billing practices will remain unchanged for all RipNET customers.

“Xplornet is committed to the ensuring that fast, affordable broadband is available everywhere in Canada,” said Maduri today.  “This acquisition is complementary to the work we are doing to roll out 4G wireless and satellite broadband in Eastern Ontario over the next year that will give more Ontarians the opportunity to enjoy a robust broadband connection.

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5th July 2011

Canada Media Fund Invests In 51 Projects

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced an investment of $16.8 million in 51 new innovative interactive projects (download PDF for full list of results). Those projects were submitted in the first round of its 2011-2012 Experimental Stream. The CMF offers financial assistance to support projects at various stages of their completion: production, development or marketing.

In production, the CMF is investing $11.6 million in 22 new projects: 11 games, 5 interactive contents, 4 mobile applications, 1 interactive webseries and 1 application software. The average commitment to each project is $525,000. One project is being carried out in Alberta, 4 in British Columbia, 1 in Prince Edward Island, 1 in Nova Scotia, 11 in Ontario and 4 in Quebec.

In development, the CMF is investing $4.3 million in 25 projects. The average amount offered for each project is $171,000. Five will be developed in British Columbia, 1 in Prince Edward Island, 1 in New-Brunswick, 2 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec and 1 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Finally, in terms of marketing assistance, the CMF is investing $1 million in 4 projects, with an average contribution of $262,000. One project is from British Columbia, 1 is from Ontario and 2 are from Quebec.

Projects were evaluated using the following criteria: innovation, production team, business plan and distribution strategy. Those criteria are detailed in the Evaluation Matrix included in our Experimental Stream’s Guidelines (PDF).

For projects at the production stage, the innovation and production team criteria were assessed by a jury of Canadian and international industry specialists: Frank Boyd (London, UK), Gina Desjardins (Montreal), Dre Labre (Toronto), Lucie Lalumière (Toronto), Frédérik Lesage (London, UK), Michael J. Sikorsky (Calgary). The CMF would like to thank each one of them for their valuable work.

The remaining factors for the production projects, as well as the applications for development and marketing funding, were evaluated by analysts from the CMF Program Administrator, Telefilm Canada. All decisions made by the CMF are final.

Since the creation of its Experimental Stream in 2010, the Canada Media Fund has invested $44 million in 132 innovative interactive projects.

 

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5th July 2011

First-Ever National Survey of Canadian Angel Groups Investment Activity Released

nacoThe National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is pleased to announce the release of the Investment Activity by Canadian Angel Groups: 2010 Report.  This report, the first of its kind, was completed in partnership with the Government of Canada and authored by Professor Colin Mason. It highlights the importance of Angel capital to the growth of Canada’s high-potential companies.

Significant findings of this report include that:

  • 90% of companies funded by Angel groups in 2010 were new not follow-on.
  • Angel groups collectively received around 1,850 business plans. 14% were considered in detail. Roughly 32% received investment.
  • Angels groups invested CAN$35.3 million in the 88 deals for which we have information; an under-estimate as some groups did not report the amount invested. Co-investors were involved in 58% of investments and invested at least a further CAN$29.4 million. It should be noted that these statistics are for Angel groups only and do not include individual Angel investments.
  • Angels invested in a wide range of industries but with a strong technology focus including: ICT sector (43%), followed by life sciences (18%) and clean tech (16%).
  • 74% of investee businesses had sales revenue in 2010.

“This landmark study confirms the strong activity level of organized Angel investors across all of Canada,” said Bryan Watson, Executive Director of NACO. “We encourage the Angel community that NACO represents to keep investing, through the Year of the Entrepreneur, to support the businesses best positioned to drive the economy forward.”

“Angel investors invest experience and mentorship along with capital, and continue to invest in new companies even as other investors consolidate around their previous investments,” said Michelle Scarborough, Co-Chair of NACO.  “This makes Angels an increasingly vital part of the innovation ecosystem as they support their investments to exit.”

NACO would like to acknowledge Industry Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for their support of this research.

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5th July 2011

ScoreMobile Now On PlayBook

scoremediaScore Media Inc., home of sports app ScoreMobile®, has announced the launch of an optimized application for the BlackBerry® PlayBookTM tablet. It will provide sports fans with access to real-time scores, stats, news, live blogs and original video.

The perfect sidekick for sports fans, the app offers features for TV companion viewing including interactive live blogs and Twitter streams of sporting events.  The BlackBerry PlayBook version of the ScoreMobile app is designed specifically for the tablet form factor and features full support for both portrait and landscape modes.

“ScoreMobile for BlackBerry smartphones launched two years ago,” says Dale Fallon, Vice President, Digital Products, Score Media Inc. “Due to the overwhelming success to date it was clear that an app for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was an essential part of our mobile strategy.”

“The BlackBerry PlayBook is elegant and powerful, which is very much how we think of ScoreMobile,” says Fallon.  “Our fans have extremely high standards in terms of usability, and we’ve worked hard to deliver a stunning overall experience on this exciting new platform.”

Built from the ground up for the BlackBerry PlayBook using HTML 5 and the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for Tablet OS, ScoreMobile is a comprehensive multi-sport app covering top worldwide leagues including MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, EPL and PGA.

“ScoreMobile applications have found great success on the BlackBerry platform and we are excited about the launch of the ScoreMobile application for the BlackBerry PlayBook,” said Tyler Lessard, Vice President of BlackBerry Global Alliances and Developer Relations at RIM. “With real-time updates, interactive features and original video, the application is optimized for the PlayBook’s form factor in either portrait or landscape mode.”

As with previous apps for BlackBerry smartphones, Score Media partnered with innovative FiveMobileToronto-based mobile software developers Five Mobile Inc. The new version of ScoreMobile is available for download today on the BlackBerry PlayBook by visiting BlackBerry App World.  Tablet OS version 1.0.6 or higher is required.

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5th July 2011

CFIB Report On Border Barriers

cfibResearch conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) with the assistance of its American counterpart, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the participation of the U.S. Embassy (Ottawa) reveals a number of challenges and obstacles small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must overcome in order to be able to successfully conduct business across the border.

Earlier this year, Canada and the U.S. issued a declaration on the countries’ shared border. The objective of the pact was to ‘streamline and decongest’ the Canada-U.S. border, as well as find ways to reduce and prevent regulatory barriers to cross-border trade. A high-level commitment to improving the efficiency of the border will reduce the costs of doing business, enhance security and facilitate trade. “A Canada-U.S. border that is more effective, secure and trade-friendly will increase Canadian competiveness and create jobs on both sides of the border,” stated CFIB vice president, national affairs, Corinne Pohlmann.

CFIB’s policy brief, Border Barriers: SMEs Experience With Cross-Border Trade involved interviewing 12 small business owners: eight Canadian and four American. This report offers mixed results from Canadian small business owners about their experiences with border agencies on both sides of the border.

The number one obstacle in cross-border trade for smaller companies relates to the complexity of the process and its related paperwork. The data shows the common thread in the problems faced by small business is the varying requirements of government agencies and complicated rules and regulations. “And, although the requirements of any one entity may not be unreasonable, it is the combined effects that impede SME participation in cross-border trade,” said Pohlmann.

“Simple measures, such as providing information in plain language, making information sources readily accessible and easy to find, providing contact information (email/telephone) to respond to questions and creating a one-stop web portal with trade and border information specific to SMEs, will help address some of these issues,” said Pohlmann. Adding, “With this in mind, the brief offers policy maker’s practical recommendations on how to make trade and border processes more small-business friendly.”

As both Canada and the U.S. have a strong entrepreneurial presence with SMEs accounting for half the GDP, more than half of employment and the bulk of net new jobs, this research offers ways to encourage cross-border trade. By focusing on small-business friendly policies, making an extra effort to provide information and services geared to small business’ unique needs, and creating a culture of service and understanding of small business challenges within the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may help to encourage more small firms to take the plunge and start looking to other markets to grow and expand their business.

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5th July 2011

Social Media Site For Sports Fans Launched

nextsportstarThe newly announced Nextsportstar.com is a social networking website combining the best of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and adds elements of Kijiji and Craigslist to create a unique social media site for one of our biggest passion touchpoints – and entertainment businesses – worldwide: Sports.

Nextsportstar.com is the digital meeting place for amateur athletes, teams, students and fans of all ages as well as amateur and professional coaches. Members (stars) share content and information for their passion for high school, college/university amateur sports and minor leagues.

Student and amateur male and female athletes create a profile (home page) of their sports achievements and share statistics, photos and video highlights. This information may just be of personal interest, but it will also be of interest to any amateur looking to gain a scholarship or be scouted for a professional team.

And for the professional recruiter and scout, it is a great site that captures the available talent in one convenient location, helping them evaluate athletes while giving a site to promote their college/university or team to prospects.

When a new member registers on Nextsporstar.com as a member (star), they share their interests and passions while connecting with other members and their friends (fans) in Nextsportstar.com blogs, polls, forums and private or public chat rooms worldwide.

Plus Nextsportstar.com has a classified advertising section, similar to Kijiji and Craigslist, where members advertise products and services to other members of their sport communities. The classified section is directly linked to PayPal to make transactions convenient and worry-free.

“I love this website” says Josh Rimer, television and radio sports broadcast producer, “It’s a never ending way to connect with all levels of sport.”

Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito says, “Finally a social network that all hockey fans can connect with.”

Besides being a unique site to network with people who are passionate about sports, Nextsportstar.com is also giving members an opportunity to win money with the $1 Million Dollars Up For Grabs contest, a first-ever in social networking websites. In total, there’s $800,000 to be won by amateur athletes, with another $200,000 for schools’ athletic programs!

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