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26th November 2010

Harlequin and Big Fish Launch Mystery Files Sweepstake

HarlequinToronto book publisher Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Big Fish Games have launched the Blackpool series of Mystery Case Files® novels by announcing The Mystery of Blackpool $10,000 Sweepstakes. The Blackpool series of novels are based on the extremely popular Mystery Case Files franchise of games.
Big Fish Games
The Mystery of Blackpool $10,000 Sweepstakes allows entrants to experience firsthand the greed, jealousy and murder at the heart of the cozy English seaside town that is the setting for the Jordan Gray novels based on the popular Mystery Case Files game. Registrants are automatically entered into the $10,000 Grand Prize drawing and have the opportunity to instantly win one of fifteen copies of Stolen or Vanished, the first two books in the series. Also, thirty lucky Instant Win Game winners will receive an online coupon for a free game from Big Fish Games.

The next books in the Blackpool series, Submerged and Unearthed, will be published in February and May 2011, respectively. Meanwhile, Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull, the newest Mystery Case Files game, is available now from Big Fish.

One bonus entry per day into the Grand Prize drawing and the Instant Win Game are avMystery Case Files 13th Skullailable by locating codes posted on eHarlequin.com and the eHarlequin Community page, Harlequin’s Facebook and Twitter pages, the Harlequin Blog, the Paranormal Romance Blog and the I Heart Presents Blog. The Mystery of Blackpool $10,000 Sweepstakes website also features book excerpts where readers can enjoy a preview of the Blackpool series.

The Mystery of Blackpool $10,000 Sweepstakes is now open to legal residents of the 50 United States (and D.C.) and Canada (except Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their state, province, or territory of residence at the time of entry (void where prohibited by law). The Sweepstakes closes on January 26, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Instant Win Game Prizes available to be won: 15 copies of “Stolen” and “Vanished” by Jordan Grey (ARV: $10 USD each); 30 online coupons for Big Fish Games (ARV: up to $9.99 USD each). Grand Prize Drawing Prize available to be won: 1 – $10,000 cash prize. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.   Instant Win Game Sponsor: Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3K9 Canada. Grand Prize Drawing Sponsor: ePrize, LLC, One ePrize Drive, Pleasant Ridge, MI 48069 U.S.A Please see the Sweepstakes site for complete contest rules.

To date, more than 100 million people have played a Mystery Case Files game. Mystery Case Files is widely credited with establishing the popular hidden object puzzle adventure game genre. Games in the series include hidden object scenes, puzzles and engaging storylines that challenge players to solve mysteries in a quest to achieve Master Detective status. Harlequin is the first publisher to release women’s mystery fiction for Big Fish Games. Harlequin titles have enjoyed a total of 232 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists in 2009 with three titles achieving the coveted #1 position. Since its inception, Harlequin has sold approximately 5.93 billion books.

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23rd November 2010

Aliens Pocket Gods and Sharp Pointy Things

Rocket 5 StudiosRocket 5 Studios, an emerging independent game developer, today announced the release of their latest iPhone app, Alien Booth. The app features the ability to easily transform pictures of friends, family, coworkers and even pets into amazing looking aliens. Alien Booth is available on the iTunes App Store today for $0.99.

Using simple on-screen controls, create fun and realistic looking aliens from pictures taken with the iPhone camera or that are already stored in the iPhone, iPad or Touch photo library.
Alien Booth
Easily share aliens on Facebook, Twitter or email from within the app. Save aliens to the photo library and then send them via MMS. Shake the device to see before/after versions of the alien or toggle between before/after portrait and side-by-side views.

Alien Booth features a cool, interactive interface that includes a fingerprint scanner, animated laser image scanner, sound effects, detailed help screens with tips and more.

Alien Booth is fun at parties – it’s a great way to meet new people and share contact information. There’s virtually no limit to the wild alien effects that can be created with Alien Booth. And the aliens make great avatars for use on social networking sites.

How it works:

1. Take a picture or choose one from the photo library.
2. Position the markers over the eyes and mouth.
3. Press “GO” to see the face magically transformed.
4. Adjust the color of the alien.
5. Share with friends and family.

Alien Booth is available exclusively through the iPhone App Store in the Entertainment category.

frima studioQuebec’s Frima Studio and Bolt Creative, a San Francisco-based developer of original iPhone applications and games, have announced that the best-selling game Pocket God will officially make its way to Facebook later this fall.

Originally developed by Bolt Creative for iPhone and iPod Touch, the Facebook version of Pocket God is being developed by Frima Studio and will feature a brand new way to experience the colorful, death-inducing, all-powerful and hilarious universe of Pocket God across the world’s most popular social network. With all-new socially integrated features, episodic updates and a host of hilarious ways to both dispose of and resurrect the immortal pygmies of each island, the Facebook iteration of Pocket God will offer a fresh experience for both fans of the iOS versions, and those looking for an omnipotent new twist in online social gaming.

“There were very few partners who could truly understand the essence of what Pocket God has become to its legion of devoted fans,” said Dave Castelnuovo, CEO of Bolt Creative. “Frima knew exactly what needed to be done in order to take Pocket God from being an application for millions of individuals, to a shared experience for hundreds of millions more.”

Pocket God throws players into the role of an almighty deity, commanding a small island full of god-fearing followers who unquestionably bend to the user’s whim. Benevolent players can choose to feed and care for their subjects while vengeful gods will have more fun torturing the Pygmies in a variety of wacky ways that have entertained players since the title’s iOS debut.

“Working in the Facebook space, we simply could not have asked for a more exciting and irreverent franchise so perfectly suited for the world of social gaming,” said Steve Couture, CEO of Frima Studio. “What Bolt has created has become more than just a game or an application; Pocket God is a true pop culture phenomenon with millions of fans across the globe. Everything fans have grown to love about this game and its characters has been happily fed to the sharks and tossed into the volcano, only to be resurrected onto Facebook in a way that fans are truly going to love.”

Pocket God will officially move into a closed beta later this year on Facebook, with exclusive access being given only to some of the game’s already rabid fanbase.

Dragon Age 2Florida-based EPIC Weapons announced today that it has launched the auction for the Grey Warden Sword and Darkspawn Greatsword as seen in BioWare’s Dragon Age. Each sword is embedded with a Game-to-Gear RFID chip for easy identification and certification, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and wall mount. Each participant who registers will be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase a Grey Warden Sword or Darkspawn Greatsword (of their choosing) with delivery following the auction winners in the order of sign-up. All auction participant shipments will be completed prior to any Christmas or introductory offers.

Epic Weapons will be offering a Christmas introductory offer for the first 200 Grey Warden Swords and Darkspawn Greatswords.

Grey Warden Sword:Grey Warden Sword

The chantry teaches us that it was the mages who brought the horror of the blight down upon the world of Dragon Age. Twisted and corrupt, the magisters of the Tevinter Empire decayed into the malformed Darkspawn and were driven underground. There, they spread. The ancient dwarven kingdoms were all but obliterated, leaving their ancient empire a festering breeding ground for these twisted creatures. When they rose to the surface, in countless hordes, led by an undying draconic Archdemon, the first blight began, and the world stood on the brink of destruction.

That is, until the Grey Wardens. Men and women of every race, these battle-hardened veterans counted mage, warrior, commoner and king among their ranks, sacrificing all to turn aside the Blight, and restore some semblance of peace to the land. Blades much like this were forged with the Warden’s iconic gryphon symbol, remember the mighty flying mounts the Wardens once rode into battle. While the gryphons are extinct, the Wardens fight on, grimly remembering that in war, victory, in peace, vigilance and in death…sacrifice.

Darkspawn Great SwordDarkspawn Greatsword:

Of the brutal, corrupt “race” known as the Darkspawn, the Hurlocks are by far the most numerous. While they share some physical similarities to humans, their unnerving grin, pallid skin and beastial nature mark them as anything but. Constantly fighting amongst themselves like packs of animals, the Hurlocks pose less of a threat than they could, until the awakening of an Archdemon unites them under a single purpose.

Marching to the surface in endless swarms, these inhumanly strong creatures arm themselves with wickedly sharp blades, often coated with their own blood, blood that infects any who taste the razor sharp edge. The mighty greatswords wielded by the strongest of the Hurlocks makes for a terrifying sight on the battlefield. A single Darkspawn wielding one of these might blades can scythe through opponents, cleanly cutting through armor, flesh and bone while leaving a deadly infection that will finish off any unlucky enough to survive the initial assault.

gamerkraftToronto’s Game Bridger Entertainment has announced an update to their new free-to-play parkour racing game, FreeJack. The free update, which is available now, brings new character clothing items and “MyRoom” decorations, in addition to the all-new track “CosmosJack”, and an achievement system with more than 50 in-game achievements for players to collect.

Set in the dark recesses of space, “Cosmos Jack” lets players run along planetary rings, vault over orbiting satellites, and even grind through a wormhole! Upon their return from orbit, FreeJackers will be happy to discover that they can now unlock and collect more than 50 in-game achievements. The achievements are earned by completing various in-game tasks, with each one offering a valuable reward. This substantial free update is available now.

FreeJack is a free-to-play parkour racing game for Windows PCs supporting Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Players race head-to-head across the urban metropolis of New Jack City in high-octane foot races, chaining together stylish flips and tricks into combos to increase their speed and cross the finish line first!. Players can personalise their character with fresh outfits and running gear and even customise their own unique in-game living space with cool furniture and accessories to show off to friends! FreeJack also supports online leaderboards, a club/clan system, in-game friend lists, and more.

iStockphotoiStockphoto today announced that voting for the new “Stockys” award competition is now open to the entire iStock community. The Stockys were created to recognize excellence in stock photography, illustration, video and audio in 10 categories including Technical Achievement, Stockiest Stock and Coolest Abstract.
One of the finalists in the "Funniest" stock category for the iStock "Stockys" awards by artists mrPliskin. Credit: iStock/mrPliskin
Throughout the first part of November, iStock has collected more than seven thousand submissions and the company’s panel of judges has chosen 20 finalists for each category. iStock’s community of more than 6 million members will select the winners in each category by popular vote and everyone who votes will be entered for a chance to win $2,000 cash and 2000 iStock credits.

While iStock has held competitions to honor its artists’ work in the past, those awards were segmented by medium. The Stockys take things in a completely new direction and focus on the different aspects of great stock rather than the specific file type. This allows the competition to focus on what matters most – great content and the ability to help tell a story or define an idea, feeling or concept.

“The concept of stock has come a long way in the decade and we wanted to create a contest that would reflect that,” said Kelly Thompson, COO of iStockphoto. “We have fantastic artists and this is our way of showcasing their amazing talent and rewarding the best of the best regardless of how that talent is manifested.”

Each type of file available on iStockPhoto is eligible for every part of the competition. The complete list is as follows:

* Technical Achievement
* Artistic Vision
* Best Composition
* Funniest File
* Coolest Abstract
* Concept Execution
* Stockiest Stock
* Most Emotionally Evocative
* Story Telling
* WTH (What the H*ck?)

The results of the competition will be announced on December 13. The winning contributor from each category will be awarded a $2,000 cash prize. An additional $3,000 will be awarded for “Best in Show,” as selected by iStockphoto judges.

Inside Gaming Awards 2010Congratulations to all of the Canadian nominees in Machinima.com’s Inside Gaming Awards 2010:

Game of the Year: Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood
Best Trailer: Deus Ex: Human Revolution E3
Best MultiPlayer: Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood
Best Animation: Shank
Best Game Play Cinematography: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™
Most Compelling Character: Jack (Subject Zero) – Mass Effect 2
Best DLC: Lair of the Shadow Broker – Mass Effect 2 and Dead Rising® 2: CASE ZERO
Best Control: EA Sports MMA
Best Original Score: Mass Effect 2
Best Weapon: Chainsaw Bike – Dead Rising 2

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19th November 2010

October 17 Media and Future Shop Team Up For Holiday Contest

October 17 MediaThe holiday season is here and what better way for families to get into the holiday spirit than by decorating a personal online living room? Vancouver-based online marketing firm October 17 Media has teamed up with Future Shop once again to embrace the gift of giving by creating an innovative online contest with weekly and instant chances to win fantastic prizes.

“The team at October 17 Media knows a thing or two about getting into the holiday spirit,” said Tamara Brooks, Partner, October 17. “We welcomed the opportunity to develop a marketing idea that would put Canadian Thrilling To Winfamilies in a festive mood and highlight Future Shop as the go-to destination for holiday gift buying. In preparation for this contest, the October 17 team began listening to Christmas music weeks before Halloween had arrived!”

October 17 Media prides itself as a local leader in creating cutting-edge virtual contests, collaborating with businesses to develop elaborate viral campaigns focused on an organization’s particular needs. The “Thrilling to Win!” campaign is the company’s fourth collaboration with Future Shop.

“We’re excited to partner with October 17 Media again to launch another fun-filled holiday contest,” said Nikki Hellyer, Director of Marketing, Future Shop. “We know Canadians will enjoy this year’s online contest where they create their own virtual holiday-themed living rooms and have the chance to win incredible prizes.”

Between November 19 and December 16, Canadians are invited to visit the contest’s page to register online and dive into the holiday spirit with online activities for chances to winFuture Shop prizes such as Apple product bundles. Special codes will be available in-store and through other Future Shop online marketing channels and can be redeemed on the contest site to unlock unique holiday activity options and increase the chances of winning.

Participants can spread the holiday cheer by inviting friends and family to their virtual decorated living room through social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, for every user that registers online, Future Shop will donate $1 for every room created – up to $25,000 – to put gifts under the tree for deserving kids across Canada.

BCTIABCTIA presents Part II of the MOBCOM speaker series, Always Connected: The Risk & Opportunity of 24/7 Connectivity this November 23rd at CBC Vancouver’s Studio 700, 700 Hamilton Street. The doors open at 5:30pm, and tickets are $45.00 each.

Mobile market Update:

Mobile computing is enhancing connections between people, businesses, and machines. In this opening presentation Jonathan reveals emerging market trends and new business models as consumers and business shift from eCommerce to mCommerce.

Panel Discussion:

Moderator:

Speakers:

Mobile connectivity has become ubiquitous. People now carry connected devices where ever they go – even to bed. This level of connectivity is unprecedented but what does this mean for business? How are consumer behaviours and expectations changing? The Vancouver Sun’s Gillian Shaw leads an insightful discussion with a multidisciplinary panel of industry experts about the unprecedented growth of personal mobile computing and how location-aware, 24/7 connectivity is changing the way business is done.

Case Study:

Research shows that extending applications to the smartphone platform can improve workforce productivity, enhance customer service and communication, and reduce operating costs. But how does it all really happen? And what is the impact on the business when customers can access service instantly? Trevor will share lessons from a customer case study – Sykes Assistance Services Corporation. Learn how Sykes plans to reduce operating costs and enhance their customers’ experience by extending their roadside assistance program to GPS-enabled BlackBerry smartphone and iPhone applications for Canada’s leading luxury auto manufacturers.

After the presentations, join speakers and attendees for drinks (first drink free) and lively discussion at the BREAD GARDEN (outside and next to the front doors of CBC Vancouver).

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16th November 2010

Harmony Launches New Title While Hothead Seeks Game Name

I apparently missed finding out about Microsoft’s GoDevMental programme when it was here in Vancouver…and I also missed the Toronto, Halifax, Edmonton and Ottawa dates…but hey, the tour is headed for Montreal (November 23rd), Winnipeg (December 7th) and Calgary (December 14th), so I can redeem myself at GoDevMentalleast a little. According to the initiative’s web site, Go DevMENTAL is Microsoft’s free academic tour designed to teach you coding for the coolest apps and platforms, connect you with the industry, help you pursue your career aspirations and a great chance to have a fun evening out with friends.

The tour crew will be fiving you the opportunity to learn how to write apps and games for Windows Phone 7, get a handle on WebMatrix, an awesome free website building tool and punch-up your animation skills using Expression Blend for Silverlight. There will also be technology partners from the industry, offers and demonstrations of their latest technology and will be handing out DreamSpark Tokens for free software downloads and other freebies. You can get more details and register on the GoDevMental web site.

castle smashVancouver social game developer Harmony Arcade has announced the upcoming beta launch of Castle Smash, a medieval themed social game that gives players the chance to defeat villains, make friends, and destroy castles in all variety of locales. Castle Smash is a multiplayer physics-based castle destruction game now available on Facebook. Choose your weaponry, such as the slingshot or trebuchet, and equip magical items that give you extra advantage in battle, then smash your friends’ castles in order to win the gold they’re hoarding.

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

Speaking of Vancouver studios, Hothead Games would like you to help them name their upcoming game, a dueling card game played by wizards. Check out the studio’s blog Hothead Games for full details and a bit of legal stuff, along with a game screenshot and a great pic of our friend Hamish…

WaveFront AC invites location-based app developers to attend a free breakfast seminar on November 18th and learn more about the new wavefrontNAVTEQ App Warehouse, a highly visual online catalog of location-focused applications which offers a unique matchmaking opportunity for developers and customers. Tom Tierney, Director of NAVTEQ’s Partner and Developer Program, will present how to market your LBS application through the App Warehouse including success rates and final NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge Winners. Other developer tools will be reviewed as well such as the Smart SDK for Mobile and turn-key location based advertising services. Revenues from mobile location-based services will exceed $12.7 billion by 2014 according to Juniper Research, so it’s now the time to capitalize on this opportunity.

At the end of the seminar there will be an opportunity for you to meet one-on-one with NAVTEQ to explore the commercial opportunities of working together, so please sign up when you register. When you register, feel free to submit questions/topics you would like covered by the panel.

CTVCTV has launched Bangatar, a promotional contest for The Big Bang Theory television series airing weekly, every Thursday on CTV at 8:00 PM (ET), where players must upload a photo of themselves to create a photo mashup, or “Bangatar.” Simply visit the Big Bang Theoryweb site, click on the Contest page, and complete and submit your entry by following the instructions found on the site – after you read the rules of the game.

The contest started on November 11th and will run until January 5, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. There is one grand prize consisting of a trip for two by air to Los Angeles (this means you must have a valid passport), two preferred seating tickets to a taping of an episode of The Big Bang Theory, a tour of the set and a signed script of an episode of The Big Bang Theory. There will also be twenty-four weekly prizes, each consisting of one The Big Bang Theory Bazinga t-shirt and one The Big Bang Theory DVD box set of Seasons 1-3. Please see The Rules for complete prize details and conditions. (Why did I just hear Sheldon’s voice say “the rules” when I typed that?)

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15th November 2010

Upcoming Events and New Contests Announced

AnnexProThere a number of events recently announced for the Canadian interactive and digital media industries, including the Annex Pro Expo 2011, which will be held on December 8th at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This free-to-attend event will feature some of the latest technology solutions for VFX, animation, games as well as post-production for TV, film and music.

Expo Agenda:

3:00 p.m. – Technology Open House featuring Adobe, AJA, Aspera, Autodesk, Avid Audio + Video, Chaos V-Ray, Craft Animations, G-Tech, HP, Wacom and Blue Arc
5:00 p.m. – Drinks + Apps, Industry Networking, Open House
6:00 p.m. – Keynote: “Trends in Post-production Infrastructure” presented by Tom Burns from Technicolor Creative Services
7:00 p.m.+ Drinks and Open House

Space for the Annex Pro Expo 2011 is limited, so make sure you’re on the list by pre-registering now.

IABC TorontoBlogs, online conversations, and social networking have exploded over the past couple of years, making social media expertise a must-have skill for today’s communicators. Opportunities for online engagement, promotion, and monetization are limitless, but when adopting social media, it is critical to demonstrate its business value.

In an exclusive breakfast seminar taking place at the Marriott Downtown on November 17th, Cyrus Mavalwala, ABC, Founding Partner of Advantis Communication and IABC/Toronto Board Member, will draw on his experience as a communications expert to offer practical advice on integrating social media into communication programs and measuring success.

In Selling, Implementing and Measuring Social Media, communicators will learn how to develop their sales pitch and a practical plan to integrate social media into external communications. They’ll also learn how to get approval to double their budget the next time around by tracking the right metrics with the right tools.

WordCamp Fraser Valley, which will be taking place at the SFU Surrey Campus on November 20th has posted its schedule:

John Bollwitt – Building an Intranet using WordPresswordcamp fraser valley
Raul Pacheco – Build your Online Community
Tris Hussey – Hacking and Creating Your Own Theme
Dave Zile – WordPress SEO BootCamp
Danny Bradbury – Tools for Gathering Topics for Blog Posts
Lynne Robson – Designing with Child Themes
Kulpreet Singh – To be announced
Leah Cross – Video Blogging

Tickets for this full day event are available online, and cost $45.00 each.

the citizen labThe Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs that ferrets out cyber attacks and espionage, will be awarded the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 2010 Vox Libera Award. The Citizen Lab was selected for its dedication to free expression and access to information online. World leaders in the field of “hacktivism,” the Citizen Lab’s members focus their research on documenting cases of internet espionage and censorship around the world, reinforcing the idea that the Internet should remain a safe, public domain.

In 2010, Citizen Lab (and its partner the SecDev Group) uncovered 1,294 computers in 103 countries (embassies, government agencies etc. including to the desktop of the Dalai Lama) that had been compromised by a virus originating out of servers in China. The Citizen Lab developed the psiphon censorship circumvention software, and continues to provide “red team” research, threat analysis, and support for open source development for Psiphon Inc through the Psi-Lab project.

Victor Malarek, investigative reporter on CTV’s W5, and Anne-Marie Mediwake, news anchor and co-host of CBC News, will emcee the evening that honours the Citizen Lab and journalists from Cameroon and Mexico at the 13th annual CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Fearless Reporting at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on Thursday, November 25, 2010.

“Freedom of expression on the Internet is very much under threat today,” said Ron Deibert, Founder/Director of the Citizen Lab and Professor of Political Science. “Citizen Lab is very proud to have been selected for this year’s CJFE Vox Libera Award. We hope that our work and that of our partners will help raise awareness of these threats and safeguard the Internet as an open commons.”

The Vox Libera Award is an annual award granted to a Canadian or Canadian organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the principles of free expression and has made an important and sustained contribution at home or abroad to those same principles. The CJFE Gala brings together approximately 500 members of Canada’s media, business and professional communities in support of journalists who are putting their lives on the line to defend freedom of expression. CJFE recognizes its annual award winners as well as journalists worldwide for their extraordinary courage and for overcoming tremendous odds to report on controversial stories despite dangerous circumstances.

Canadian Food Blog AwardsNominations for the 1st annual edition of the Canadian Food Blog Awards (CFBAs) will open on November 21st. Food lovers and blog readers alike are invited to nominate their favourite food and drink blogs from across Canada in sixteen categories including Best Writing, Best Photography, Best Professional Blog, Best Seasonal/Local Blog and Best Baking and Dessert Blog.

“We think there are some fantastic food bloggers across the country and it’s time that they were recognized and supported for their efforts,” says CFBA co-founder and veteran food blogger Sheryl Kirby. “Our hope is that through these awards, we will find Canada’s best online food writers, and that by presenting them with awards to acknowledge their work, this will set a standard of excellence to which food bloggers from coast to coast will aspire.”

Nominations will remain open until December 21st, after which a shortlist will be created for each category, and given to a judges’ panel to select the winners. The panel will consist of a veritable who’s who of Canada’s food and drink scene, including chefs, food writers, newspaper and magazine columnists, and industry experts. The list of judges, which continues to grow as more are confirmed, is available on the CFBA website.

In addition, there will be a special “People’s Choice” award for the overall Best Canadian Food Blog, which will be selected and awarded based on a public vote. Judging and voting will take place January 1st to 15th, and the winners in all categories will be announced on January 31st, 2011.

clickboxClickbox Software, creators of the ilumii.com Social Learning Community & Marketplace, have announced an exciting contest that will give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to win everything they need to start their very own virtual school or training academy online. The “Teach The World” contest is part of the initiatives to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week–a global movement meant to inspire, connect, mentor, and engage young entrepreneurs around the world.

The grand prize package includes all the tools needed for an entrepreneur to launch and manage a fully-operational online school on ilumii.com. ilumii’s Virtual Academies, a new addition to the ilumii.com platform, allow entrepreneurs to deliver live, instructor-led educational courses online, receive payments for educational services, manage multiple instructors, and market their online schools across the globe. The grand prize, valued at close to $10,000, also includes training, advice, and the opportunity to be featured in advertising campaigns.

Daniel Del Mastro, CEO of Clickbox Software, said, “Our goal is to kick-start young entrepreneurs that are interested in education, and in sharing their knowledge with the world using technology. We know that there are many young, creative entrepreneurs out there wanting to start an education-based business, and through this contest, we can help them fast-track their business set-up and quickly get them sharing their knowledge, generating revenue, and creating jobs.”

To enter the contest, entrepreneurs must follow @ilumii on Twitter and tell us in 140 characters: “What would you teach the world if you won an ilumii online school?” Clickbox Software will select the top ten most compelling and innovative entries, in conjunction with votes collected by Twitter users, and one grand-prize winner will be chosen from this group. In addition to the grand prize, Clickbox Software is also giving away runner-up prizes, including books on entrepreneurship by Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin, and free upgraded instructor memberships on the ilumii.com platform.

staples canadaEighty per cent of Canadians who use social media are on Facebook, and now, you can follow Canada’s largest office supply retailer on Facebook and Twitter as well – plus you could win a laptop complete with software, and a day as the president of Staples Canada via the company’s Easy Button Photo Contest. One lucky Staples Canada Facebook and Twitter follower who posts a picture or video with the Easy button in it has a chance to win an HP laptop with Microsoft Office Suite, and spend a day with the president of Staples Canada (excluding Quebec).

“Canadians are a plugged-in society, and very much interested in anything to do with social media. On Randy with his EasyButton in TorontoOctober 16th, we launched our social network pages on Facebook and Twitter to inform customers about promotions and deals, and any social corporate giving news, as well as invite them to communicate with us,” said Jameel Lalji, innovation and business consultant for Staples Canada.

“We’ve seen some great examples of people taking pictures with the Easy button around the globe. For example, it has been to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and in the delivery room while a woman gave birth. We want to see people be creative – maybe underwater deep sea diving or in a jet. Who knows – the sky’s the limit,” continued Lalji.

Staples will fly the winner to Toronto for the day, where they will be presented with a new software-loaded laptop and spend the day with the president.

Best Buy CanadaAnd, starting today, Best Buy is asking Canadians to upload unboxing videos and videos capturing precious holiday moments for its first ever UNboxing Day Facebook contest.

Unboxing, the Internet trend of sharing videos where people open hot new electronics, has garnered a cult-like following in Canada and around the globe. Simultaneously, YouTube videos of exuberant children opening holiday gifts can garner millions of views in mere days. With its UNboxing Day contest, Best Buy celebrates both phenomena and offers Canadians the chance to win one of two $2,500 Best Buy gift cards.

Whether it is carefully unpackaging the soon-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy tablet or the shrieking joy of a child in front of the tree on Christmas morning, Best Buy is looking for Canadians to share their special moments with technology.

Canadians 18 and older can enter by uploading their best unboxing video between November 10 and December 31. Electronics enthusiasts and proud parents can go to the Best Buy Facebook page, click on the UNboxing Day tab and enter to win. Anyone who uploads a video by November 30, will also qualify to win the Early Bird prize of a $150 Best Buy gift card.

Videos will be shared on the Facebook page starting December 1, 2010. At that point, people are encouraged to ask friends and family to vote for their videos. The two videos with the most number of votes on December 31, 2010, will win the $2,500 gift card grand prizes. The Grand Prize winners will be announced on January 3, 2011.

The UNboxing Day prizes break down as follows:Best Buy Unboxing Day Contest

Grand Prize: Two $2,500 CAD Best Buy Gift Cards – The two videos that receive the highest number of Best Buy Canada fan votes on the UNboxing Day Facebook Page will win the two $2,500 CAD Grand Prizes.

Early Bird Prize: One $150 CAD Best Buy Gift Card – One $150 gift card is available to be won by anyone who uploads an ‘UNBoxing Day’ video on the UNboxing Day Facebook Page by November 30, 2010.

Weekly Prizes: Three $150 CAD Best Buy Gift Cards for voters and three $150 CAD Best Buy Gift Card for video clip submissions

As of December 1, for every vote made and every video uploaded, individuals will be entered into a weekly draw to win one of six $150 CAD Best Buy Gift Card prizes. The weekly prize draws will take place on December 13, 2010, December 20, 2010 and December 27, 2010 and will be selected through a random draw. Winners will be contacted via Twitter and/or Facebook and telephone.

For complete contest details, including eligibility, video uploading instruction, winner selection and prize description, visit the UNboxing Day Facebook tab. No purchase necessary, correct answer to skill-testing question required in order to win.

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12th November 2010

D-Box Expands To Casinos While Kobo Invites Readers To Stack and Win

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed a multi-year development and sales agreement with US-based WMS Industries Inc., a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of games and gaming machines to the global gaming industry. Under the terms of this agreement, D-BOX’s realistic motion technology will be incorporated into future WMS products that will enable casino players to hear, see and feel their gaming experience. This agreement provides WMS with the capability to maintain exclusive rights to D-BOX’s motion technology for casino gaming applications subject to the achievement of specific performance thresholds.

“We are very pleased with this multi-year agreement with WMS Industries and D-BOX’s breakthrough into the casino gaming segment.” declared Claude Mc Master, President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies. “Over the years, WMS has built a distinctive culture of innovation which aligns perfectly with D-BOX’s own vision. This agreement also fits in very well with our strategy to expand outside our core segment of commercial theatre applications to other markets, allowing us to accelerate our growth based on the strengths and networks of quality business partners.”

Commenting on behalf of WMS Industries, Larry Pacey, Executive Vice President – Global Products and Chief Innovation Officer of WMS, added: “As part of our ongoing player-driven focus, our creative teams continuously seek new and advanced technologies that will enable us to set new standards for innovation and gaming excitement. D-BOX Technologies has demonstrated innovative leadership in developing and utilizing motion technology, and this agreement will expand our range of capabilities. We see D-BOX as a key collaborator in the future in establishing new entertainment experiences, and we look forward to building a strong relationship with them.”

koboKobo, a global digital reading service, today announced a contest in which all Kobo customers, with the purchase of an eBook, are eligible to win one of many exciting prizes – including the grand prize: a one week stay at a Fairmont Hotels Caribbean Resort. The “Kobo Stack and Win” contest, ending November 19, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. ET, makes shoppers eligible for a prizing category based on the number of eBooks they purchase.

“We are very excited to be able to offer really great prizes to Kobo customers right before the holiday season,” said Liz Ridout, V.P. Marketing and Communications at Kobo. “People can treat themselves to great new reads and be entered to win one of many fantastic prizes to make their holidays even more enjoyable.”

Separate prize drawings will take place after the conclusion of the contest on November 20, 2010. All eligible shoppers during the contest period will be automatically entered into different prize drawings based on the number of eBooks purchased throughout the contest.

The prize draw categories are as follows:

* 1 eBook = an Apple TV
* 2 eBooks = Kobo Wireless eReader
* 3 eBooks = Wayspa gift card
* 4 eBooks = Apple iPad
* 5 eBooks = Microsoft Kinect Xbox 360 Package

PLUS – all shoppers who buy eBooks during the prize window will automatically be entered into the grand prize draw for a week’s stay at a Fairmont Hotels Caribbean Resort – in addition to being entered into the draw for the prizes outlined above.

Kobo offers over 2.2 million eBooks, from New York Times best sellers, the hottest new releases, romance, suspense, and more. Consumers can try eReading for free by selecting from hundreds of thousands of free titles, ranging from 18th century romance novels to thrillers, to the most famous literary masterpieces. With Kobo, users can read across a selection of popular devices ranging from smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops by downloading the free Kobo reading app, or read on the Kobo Wireless eReader – in addition to other eReaders. Reading is seamless across devices, as users can pick up on the last page they were reading with Kobo Sync.

Kobo also offers a selection of the most popular newspapers and magazines, delivered automatically to the Kobo Wireless eReader as well as the Kobo iPhone and iPad reading apps. With Kobo eReading is easy.

Roaring PenguinIn response to Red Hat’s announcement of the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL 6) Roaring Penguin Software Inc., makers of the acclaimed CanIt line of anti-spam solutions, today announced the availability of packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 on Intel i386 and x86_64 for CanIt-PRO and CanIt-Domain-PRO.

RHEL 6 features a completely updated core and a newer Kernel. Also included are support for virtualization and next generation networking (including comprehensive IPv6 support). We expect that Roaring Penguin’s core customer set will take advantage of Virtualization and IPv6 support features.

Roaring Penguin Software offers three anti-spam solutions. CanIt-PRO is available as a software solution or as an on-premises “soft-appliance” for the client’s site; CanIt-Domain-PRO is a centralized spam filter for the solution provider who provides anti-spam to multiple clients from their Data Center; and Hosted CanIt, a completely outsourced anti-spam service hosted by Roaring Penguin. Hosted CanIt is not affected by the release of RHEL 6.

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12th November 2010

New Options For Learning, Development and Shopping

Mindshare LearningMindShare Learning has partnered with San Diego based Tech4Learning Inc. to win a bid to provide 21st Century skill based creativity software to all Ontario public elementary schools.

“With the Ontario Ministry of Education’s licensing of Tech4Learning’s Pixie 2 software, one of the Ontario Software Acquisition program Advisory Committee’s (OSAPAC’s) key licensing mandates was met. The committee sought to recommend software that would address graphic painting software needs for students in Grades JK-3. Pixie 2 is engaging, award winning, educational software elementary students can use to further their exploration of the world around them. Pixie 2 combines a paint program with text options, clip art, voice recording, and standards-based curriculum activities, helping students build 21st century skills as they develop podcasts, online storybooks, videos, and Flash animations,” said Mark Carbone, OSAPAC Committee Member & Chief Information Officer.

“The OSAPAC Committee is excited by the licensing of Pixie 2, which will perform well in Windows and Macintosh computing environments in our Ontario classrooms,” said Mark Carbone, OSAPAC Committee Member & Chief Information Officer for the Waterloo Region District School Board.

The Tech4Learning Pixie 2 software will begin shipping to Ontario school districts later this fall. Pixie 2 is available to Ontario teachers through their educational site Ontario Educational Software Service (O.E.S.S.) representative.

“We are thrilled to see Pixie selected as a tool to help students across Ontario build 21st century skills as they develop podcasts, online storybooks, videos, and Flash animations,” said David Wagner, CEO, Tech4Learning, Inc.

tvokidsTVO invites young viewers and families across the province to tune in to TVOKids between 4-5 pm on Tuesday, November 16 to find out who will be the Grand Prize winner in the “Where’s Polkaroo?” photo contest. The announcement will be made live in The Space, TVOKids’ interactive after-school program block (weekdays from 3:30 pm – 7 pm).

The Grand Prize winner will receive a day behind the scenes at TVO’s Toronto studios for up to six people, including:

* A tour of TVO’s Toronto studios and sets
* A meet and greet with TVO’s hosts
* The opportunity for kids and adults to attend production meetings and rehearsals
* An inside look at a live TV production from the control room

Since the contest launched in September as part of TVO’s special 40th anniversary initiatives, the iconic Polkaroo has been captured in photos from all over the province including: Kingston, Ottawa, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Toronto, North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Waterloo, London and Windsor.

The “Where’s Polkaroo?” photo contest encouraged Ontarians to upload photos to polkaroo.com that reflected their pride-of-place. Entries included a diverse range of beloved landmarks such as: Canada’s Wonderland, Saunders Farm in Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Toronto Zoo, Marine Land, and beautiful parks and beaches across Ontario.

Rogers WirelessConsumer appetite for mobile apps is growing at a rapid pace and the mobile application market is poised to generate revenues reaching $10 billion by the year 2015, according to data from the North American Mobile Market Report (North American Mobile Market, Commerce, Content & Applications 2010-2015). To cater to Canadian consumer demand for new, next-generation mobile applications, Rogers Communications Inc., has announced that it is giving the developer community unprecedented access to Rogers’ wireless network assets through the new Rogers Catalyst beta program, designed to enable the cost-effective, fast creation of mobile apps and services customized for the Rogers network.

A centralized, no charge, third-party developer portal, Rogers Catalyst provides online access to several of Rogers’ application programming interfaces (APIs) including SMS, location-based services and carrier billing. Leveraging the power of Rogers network API’s, the handset-agnostic platform enables smartphone-like functionality on a large variety of Rogers mobile devices. With faster time to market, Rogers Catalyst allows developers to innovate quickly, test applications in minutes and enable a variety of mobile apps and services that can be accessed by Rogers’ more than 8.5 million wireless subscribers.

Through a simplified registration and project creation process, Rogers Catalyst enables developers to gain access to a number of SOAP and RESTfull APIs that will allow them to build compelling new cloud-based services which leverage the Rogers network. In addition, Rogers Catalyst includes access to click through agreements, code samples, documentation, tips and tricks, a development sandbox, as well as a larger developer community and the ability to interact with Rogers Catalyst program managers.

Rogers is committed to working with developers and customers to provide the means to bring new wireless data solutions, products and services to Canadians. In addition to the newly-launched Rogers Catalyst program, Rogers has launched several initiatives to promote and foster innovation in Canada including the Rogers Data Alliance, a technology program designed to help machine-to-machine solutions and connected device providers bring their products and services to market quickly and easily on the Rogers network.

tiger directTigerDirect.ca® has announced the unveiling of its six remodeled Canadian retail outlets featuring Retail 2.0® technology.

Retail 2.0 provides online product information to in-store customers as they shop: product-by-product, aisle-by-aisle. Customers can access all product information, owner’s manuals, reviews, product tutorials, pictures, installation detail, and availability—whatever they need to make purchasing decisions—literally right at their fingertips. Customers are also free to browse competitor sites and comparison shop as if they were in the comfort of their own home or office.

All desktops, laptops, monitors and televisions – more than 200 screens per store—are connected to dedicated computers, providing direct, single key access to all production information on the item from the Internet and allowing further discovery—even outside of the TigerDirect.ca website.

“We are happy to now offer our Retail 2.0 concept in all of our TigerDirect retail stores in Canada,” said Gilbert Fiorentino, Chief Executive of the Systemax Technology Products Group, which includes TigerDirect. “With touch screens, hands-on product/internet capabilities and greater communication of promotions to our in-store customers, we feel that this enhanced new take on retail will provide a richer shopping experience for our customers.”

The enhanced Markham store will provide shoppers the ease of finding extensive product information for many devices including GPS, cellphones, MP3 players and cameras. These items are attached via a “waterfall display” allowing customers to touch & feel each item—activating Retail 2.0 by simply lifting the item from the unit.

The Retail 2.0 concept empowers and educates consumers as well as employees who can easily access all product information…a resource that has increased customer service and satisfaction. “Knowledge is power,” added Fiorentino. “Retail 2.0 has made our staff—and customers—instant experts in electronics.”

The Markham TigerDirect retail store is located at 8401 Woodbine Avenue in Markham. Store hours are Monday–Saturday 9am–9pm; Sunday 11am–6pm.

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10th November 2010

Pfizer Announces New Contest For Young People With A Vision

pfizerStarting today, young adults across the country aged 16 and up are invited to Start Something with Alesse. This one-of-a-kind Canadian initiative empowers young adults to creatively articulate their personal goals and will provide two winners with mentoring and financial support to help make that vision a reality. Entries can be submitted online until 9:00am ET on Tuesday, January 4, 2011.

Inspired by the resourcefulness and community focus characteristic of Generation Y (or those born between 1980 and 1999), the Start Something with Alesse contest is designed to solicit innovative proposals from young adults committed to bringing about positive change in their own lives and the lives of those around them. Examples include creating a charity, producing a play or film, or starting a company. The possibilities are endless. (Editor’s Note – for those who do not know – Alesse is a contraceptive prescription for women.)

Christine Ho, co-founder of Well of Change, and Marième Ndiaye, a former MusiquePlus VJ and member of the singing group CEA, will serve as both contest judges and mentors to the two winners. Both of these women have significant experience starting something unique.

As the co-founder of Well of Change, a non-profit organization that has revolutionized the way people support not-for-profit organizations, Christine, along with partner Kevin Tsoi, has created an online platform that gives people and organizations the flexibility to donate either time or money to their charity of choice.

“I’ve always been passionate about giving back to the community, and I wanted to find a way to encourage young people to support their charities of choice,” says Christine. “Kevin and I have been fortunate to see Well of Change continue to grow and to see the impact our work has had on various Canadian charities. I look forward to sharing my personal experiences and providing guidance to help the Start Something with Alesse winners pursue their goals.”

Marième Ndiaye has pursued a decidedly different, but no less important, vision. Since 2003, Marième has been singing with the group CEA, a collective in Quebec that marries urban musical genres including funk, hip hop and soul. Her motto: “You can reach more people with celebration through music and dance.”

“CEA prides itself on positive messaging and has given me the opportunity to realize my dream of being a singer while growing as an artist,” says Marième. “The Start Something with Alesse contest will open many doors for the lucky winners. It is a phenomenal chance to help them realize their dreams.”

“We want to see today’s generation change the world,” says John McKendry, Commercial Director, Pfizer Original Brands, Established Products Business Unit. “By providing resources and support to two creative and passionate individuals, we are hoping to help support them through a truly unique and self-fulfilling experience. Alesse is proud to be able to provide resources to young Canadians to help them pursue their goals and ‘start something’ of their own.”

To view the official contest rules and regulations along with an overview of how to enter the Start Something with Alesse contest, visit the Start Something With Alesse site. All proposals will be reviewed and six finalists will be chosen by Christine and Marième. Winners will be determined based on votes earned through online voting by the general public. The two winners will be contacted by Thursday, March 8, 2011. Alesse will provide each winner with a $5,000 grant to help them start realizing their dreams.

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9th November 2010

The Changing Views of Social Media and How It Can Invoke Change

accountempsAs social media makes its way into the workplace, executives are weighing the potential risks and benefits. Nearly half (47 per cent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed recently for an Accountemps survey said their greatest concern is that employees are wasting time during business hours using sites such as Facebook and Twitter. CFOs also expressed worries their staff may behave unprofessionally or post inappropriate information online. However, almost one in four financial executives (24 per cent) said these sites can help staff members expand their networks of valuable business contacts.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with responses from more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “What is your greatest concern for your company regarding employees using social media?” Their responses:

Wasting time at work………………….. 47%
Behaving unprofessionally……………… 14%
Posting negative comments about company…. 11%
Posting financial/confidential company information… 5%
No concerns………………………….. 12%
Access not allowed……………………. 3%
Other……………………………….. 3%
Don’t know/no answer………………….. 6%

Total: 101% (*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

CFOs were asked, “What is the greatest benefit to your company of employees using social media?” Their responses:

Expand networks of valuable contacts……. 24%
Enhance company’s reputation…………… 22%
Provide better customer service………… 18%
Can secure new business……………….. 5%
No benefits………………………….. 21%
Access not allowed……………………. 3%
Don’t know/no answer………………….. 8%

Total: 101% (*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding)

“Many organisations are still determining how social media fits into their workplaces,” said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian division president of Accountemps. “Executives are concerned with the possibility of added distraction from their employees’ daily duties, which may affect productivity and efficiency on the job.”

Bolt also added, “On the other hand, more firms are realizing that the rewards may outweigh the risks, as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be used by employees to expand their networks of valuable business contacts and enhance the company’s reputation.”

war child canadaMeanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, four digitally savvy and socially conscious young blogging Canadians are socially suiting up for an opportunity of a lifetime that will see one of them join War Child on an upcoming visit to Ethiopia.

War Child Canada‘s War Child Challenge has bloggers reporting on a variety of issues to win a ten-day trip with War Child to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The challengers are blogging for the chance to tweet and report on War Child Canada’s Ethiopian efforts.

“The War Child Challenge is one example demonstrating War Child’s consistent leadership in adopting new social media practices,” said James Topham, director of communications, War Child Canada.  “Thanks to funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, the War Child Challenge can illuminate the issues faced in Ethiopia in particular, and the developed world more generally, by communicating on a platform that is much more apt to generate discussion and concern around global youth issues and the Millennium Goals.”

Challengers Joel Kelly (Halifax, NS), Sara Hamil (Belleville, ON), Christine Estima (Toronto, ON) and Ben Boudreau (Halifax, NS) are tackling a variety of multi-media citizen journalism challenges. The War Child Challenge is made up of three main parts: the challenges, vote tallies and post evaluation by a youth jury for clarity, focus, originality and creativity.  The challenges include:

  • Creating an image gallery of an event occurring in their community which offers a contribution to overcoming Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, or Gender Equality.
  • Profiling a person or organization in their community who is making a difference in one of the following areas: Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, Gender Equality.
  • Creating a video up to 5 minutes in length that conveys their thoughts, feelings, etc. regarding the global impact of Hunger/Poverty, Conflict, HIV/AIDS, Basic Education, or Gender Equality.
  • Building a feature article which includes video, text, audio and images to tell their story of why they want win the War Child Challenge.

The War Child Challenge officially ends on Monday, December 20.

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8th November 2010

filmpossible Winners Announced

Holland BloorviewSeventy-three entries, seven judges, and over 62,000 online votes cast has produced a winner: Taryn Green, a 28-year-old freelance film editor from Sudbury, Ontario, has claimed first prize of $5000 in Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s filmpossible contest, which challenged entrants to create a video bringing visibility to disability.

Taryn’s winning video, The Triangle Girl Retold, is a touching retelling of a story she wrote at age six, in which the triangle represents her disability, Cerebral Palsy. She longs to be like everyone else, but in the end, she becomes more confident and proud and embraces her disability, or “inner triangle”.

“Filmpossible was a great learning experience for me, as well as a very humbling one,” said Taryn. “I was competing against so many amazing videos that really challenged my own perception of disability. Through filmpossible, Holland Bloorview initiated a great change toward the public perception of disability. We need to keep this dialogue alive long after this contest is over. It is important to keep watching all the videos and to keep telling our stories.” Read the rest of this entry »

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