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1st December 2010

Canadians Increasingly Susceptible to Counterfeit Purchases

Microsoft CanadaAccording to a new survey by Ipsos Reid, 75 per cent of Canadians claim their strategy is to spend less over the holidays this year due to recent economic conditions. As such, Canadians are looking for ways to stretch their holiday dollars, and are turning to online sites in search for the latest deals.

The survey, commissioned by Microsoft Canada Inc. (online poll of 1,025 Canadians was conducted in November 2010 by Ipsos Reid. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20), also revealed that 68 per cent of Canadians believe that deal-seekers may not get what they bargained for with the broad availability of counterfeit goods. With more and more Canadians making online purchases this holiday season, many also admit they are more likely to comparison shop to ensure they are getting the most for their dollar.

The search for the lowest price increases the likelihood of counterfeiters successfully attracting bargain hunters with non-genuine products including toys, clothing, video games, and software, many of which are highly sophisticated and difficult for the average consumer to detect.
how to tell
Focusing on what it calls the “three Es” — Education, Engineering and Enforcement — Microsoft makes a significant investment each year into educational resources to help consumers protect themselves. This approach also includes the development of new technologies that make counterfeiting software more difficult, and working with governments to enforce laws against software counterfeiters and bring them to justice.

“Consumers need to take extra measures when making purchases this holiday season, especially those made online,” said Chris Tortorice, Corporate Counsel, Anti-Piracy, Microsoft Canada Inc. “Both software piracy and counterfeiting crime span globally, and the only way to stop it is to educate consumers on what to look for to ensure they don’t purchase illegitimate product. Microsoft offers resources like the www.howtotell.com website and the 1-800-RU LEGIT piracy hotline for suspicious consumers that feel the software they purchased may not be genuine.”

Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians recognize that the counterfeit-goods market is a billion-dollar industry worldwide. This scepticism means they are likely to proactively try to recognize the real from the fake. Fortunately, there are also many government and non-government organizations dedicated to arming consumers with both knowledge and advice. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st December 2010

TransGaming Announces New Partnership

TransGamingTransGaming, Inc. and UK-based Amino Communications have announced a collaborative partnership to provision TransGaming’s on-demand video game platform, GameTree TV, into Amino Communications’ Freedom hybrid/OTT media centre. The addition of GameTree TV enhances the Freedom media centre by offering a comprehensive and powerful interactive consumer entertainment experience that will address a broader consumer market for operators through a single platform.
gametreetv
Amino Communications is among the world’s leading IPTV and hybrid/OTT (Over the Top) innovators. The award-winning Freedom media centre, based on the Intel® CE4100 Media Processor, offers Managed Service Operators (MSOs) a powerful platform for the seamless delivery of TV, movies, home media, and a new world of television apps to the consumer.

The GameTree TV Platform is the premier on-demand video game solution for consumers, optimized for the next generation of set-top boxes and connected consumer electronic (CE) devices. GameTree TV delivers to consumers an ever-growing catalog of video games that can be transacted through a variety of flexible pricing models. The Platform provides operators with an interactive gaming solution that will enhance their current entertainment portfolio and generate new and sustainable revenue streams by catering to the broad family demographic represented in their subscription base.

“The Amino Freedom platform is an exceptional next generation device that delivers a wealth of media and entertainment options to consumers”, commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “The GameTreeTVaddition of GameTree TV enriches the Freedom media center even further and allows consumers to enjoy all forms of entertainment, linear and interactive, through a singular experience. This collaboration allows both Amino and TransGaming to access a broader consumer marketplace and deliver an even more compelling value proposition to operators and consumers globally”.

The GameTree TV Platform supports the MeeGo™ operating system, a collaboration between Intel® and Nokia®, that is quickly becoming the operating system of choice for a range of next generation devices, including media centers, set-top boxes, net-books, tablets, or smart phones. GameTree TV is being optimized to support MeeGo and a variety of embedded Linux platforms, making it a highly versatile gaming solution for a range of consumer electronic devices.

“We are delighted to work with TransGaming to bring their GameTree TV Platform to the Amino Freedom”, stated Andrew Burke, CEO of Amino Communications. “GameTree TV will bring a rich entertainment experience to the Freedom media centre, by offering consumers a high quality gaming platform, and providing our business partners with a great new revenue stream that also aids in reducing churn within their retail operations.”

TransGaming and Amino Communications are both members of the Intel® Consumer Electronics Network (CEN), a community of hardware, software and services providers that accelerates the development and time-to-market of Internet-connected CE devices.

Budge StudiosBudge Studios invites you to experience Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure like you never have before! This interactive episode brings the experience of reading, watching and playing together in one fun-filled App. Join Dora as she helps Swiper get on Santa’s nice list and as they travel through time to learn the true spirit of Christmas. The app features activities, animation, songs, and is narrated by Dora herself!
Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure
*Play several interactive activities and mini-games designed for preschoolers
*Supports reading and listening comprehension and Spanish vocabulary
*Teaches wonderful lessons on sharing and the spirit of Christmas
*Features a special Christmas song sung by Dora that users can interact with
*Preschoolers can listen to Dora’s narration of the story or turn narration off and read together with their parents.
*The iPad version features stunning HD graphics

Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure is available now in the iTunes App store with a special launch price of $1.99 USD.

Microsoft CanadaDevelopers interested in Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform should register for (and attend) AzureFest, which is taking place at Microsoft Canada’s Mississauga campus on December 11th. Presented in Open House format, there are two sessions, one at 9:00a.m. and the other at 1:00p.m. The event is free and includes refreshments. Windows Azure

By attending AzureFest, you can learn how developing and deploying Azure Applications is fast and easy. You will learn how to set up your Azure account and how to take a traditional ASP.NET application and convert it for Azure. Publishing Applications to the Azure Developer Portal is a breeze. You’ll learn how to set up the Azure SDK and Azure Tools for Visual Studio right on your laptop.

Digital Hot ListCongratulations to the six companies named to nextMEDIA’s 2010 Hot Digital List as the hottest emerging online properties, the most innovative new apps, games and tech solutions, and the freshest ideas from online content creators:

Hot Online Property

Hot Technology

Hot Video Content

VantrixMobile video optimization and delivery solutions developer Vantrix has been awarded the 2010 Frost & Sullivan Mobile Video Optimization Solution of the Year Award for Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer. Vantrix was selected as this year’s recipient for its solution’s unique approach to improving mobile operators’ economics, while preserving the end-user experience.

“It is an honor to be recognized, for the second year in a row, by Frost & Sullivan. This award further validates our leadership in mobile video optimization for mobile operators,” said Patrick Lopez, Chief Marketing Officer of Vantrix. “As mobile video continues to take a dominant place in our daily lives, mobile networks are challenged to handle the increasing demand. Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer alleviates this strain and maximizes the mobile operators’ network capacity by making on-the-fly adjustments to the way videos are delivered to end-users. This solution not only stops the ‘waste’ incurred by operators in delivering Internet videos to smartphones, tablets and laptops, but also effectively doubles the capacity of existing network infrastructure, while reducing the OPEX and CAPEX necessary to increase the networks capacity.”

Thanks to iPads, iPhones and Android, people are watching mobile video more than ever before. In fact, it is predicted that by 2015, video will represent more than 70 percent of all mobile traffic. As mobile video becomes ubiquitous, mobile networks are challenged to handle the increasing demand. Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer optimizes all video content and delivers it in real-time to the recipient, while maintaining the best quality of experience. To highlight the benefit of bandwidth optimization, Vantrix has created an interactive tool called the Vantrix Bandwidth Savings Calculator. This tool enables mobile carriers to calculate the savings they can experience by implementing Vantrix Bandwidth Optimizer in their network.

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29th November 2010

Sarbakan To Develop Two Kinect Titles

Game Prototype ChallengeAttention game devs – Game Prototype Challenge founder Jason Kaplan will officially announce Game Prototype Challenge V2 at noon EST on Wednesday, December 1. The new themes will be announced on December 13th, and the challenge will run from December 13 through December 20th. Get your thinking caps on, limber up those design skills and get ready for some informal designing fun. If you aren’t familiar with Game Prototype Challenge, check out their site and see all of the great ideas that were shared in Version 1.

Sarbakan Game StudioQuebec-based Sarbakan Game Studio has announced an agreement has been signed with a multinational corporation for the creation of multiple games on Microsoft’s Kinect, the controller-free, motion-based gaming device for the Xbox 360, released in November 2010.

Under the agreement, Sarbakan will develop two games, yet to be named publicly, based on the Kinect platform. The games, which will be sold in retail stores across the United States and Europe next year, are just the beginning of what promises to be a new era in video game development. More details on Sarbakan’s Kinect development and this partnership will be available over the upcoming months.

“We are truly poised as a forward-developing studio,” said Guy Boucher, President of Sarbakan. “As we broadened our services to include iOS and Kinect platforms, our existing and potential partners have really Pirates of the Caribbean Cursed Cave Crusaderamped up their creative development with Sarbakan to provide their titles and brands across multiple platforms.”

Along with the partnership announcement, Sarbakan has launched a revamp of its corporate web site. With a new look and high-tech underpinnings, the web site provides Sarbakan clients, partners and friends easier access to all Sarbakan has to offer in innovative game design and development. Although the web site is only it is first phase, visitors can quickly view the company’s latest developments and keep up-to-date on upcoming happenings. New features and information will be added over the course of the upcoming months.

With its indie vibe but larger-than-life ambitions, Sarbakan is on the hunt for talented, high-octane candidates, from game designers to programmers, to fulfill the company’s growing needs. Interested candidates can contact Sarbakan to learn more. Zombies and pencil pushers need not apply.

Previous titles from Sarbakan include The Incredibles save The Day, Pirates of the Caribbean Cursed Cave Crusade and Tron: Legacy Digital DJ web games and Wizards of Waverly Place: Spellbound on the Nintendo DS for Disney Interactive as well as Lazy Raiders for XBLA.

Sunday MuseAs a leading voice actor specializing in animation, Sunday Muse has become the go-to person for those wanting to learn how to become an actor in the animation industry. Her original techniques show students how they can animate their bodies and voice through connecting to the emotions and actions of the characters they’re playing.

Sunday Muse joins Voice Over Experts with her podcast lesson on “How to Introduce Your Child to Voice Acting” to help parents prepare their children for getting involved in cartoon voice acting. Sunday’s podcast is full of industry knowledge, casting expectations and exciting tips that will help parents prepare their child You Can Do Voices Toofor what it might be like to be a working voice over actor. Sunday has also produced a book with CD titled You Can Do Cartoon Voices, Too! and it is currently listed on her site for a limited-time special of 30% off.

The Voice Over Experts is hosted by Voices.com, the online voice over marketplace. The podcasts are an educational library of free voice acting lessons designed for those just starting out and are a treasure trove of resources for established voice actors who want to refine their knowledge and skills from the privacy of their own home and at their own pace. The Voice Over Experts Podcast can be found in the iTunes Podcast Directory and online at the Voices.com Podcast Center.

Whistler Film FestivalWhistler Film Festival 2010 now has an app for that – their new iPhone app is now available in the App Store. Developed by QuickMobile, this free app will allow you to access the 10th Anniversary Whistler Film Festival (running December 1st through 5th) from the palm of your hand. Get inspired by filmmaker interviews, panels, industry programmes, and behind-the-scenes coverage.nextMEDIA Toronto

NextMedia Toronto is currently underway, and if you were unable to attend, there are loads of live tweets to be found, just search the #nextmedia hashtag on twitter. If you are in the Toronto area and would like attend tomorrow, there are still day passes available.

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario has sent out the announcement for their next iLunch event, which will be held on December 10th at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel. Titled Relationships with Multiple Partners: Can It Work, this session will feature case-studies on creative partnerships, how these relationships were instigated and structured, plus highlights of the challenges and successes producing the resulting properties. Knowing and securing the right partners for your project is paramount to its success, and featured speakers James Milward (Secret Location), Trevor Fencott (Bedlam Games) and Garry Flahive (NFB) will focus your attention on several key points, including cross platform relationships, methodology, ROI, brand expansion, the limitations and benefits of IDM partnerships and much, much more. Purchase your tickets now to get the whole story.

Shaw CableOn the heels of raising 2.6 million pounds of food and $250,000 as part of the Fill the Food Banks campaign (PDF), Shaw has launched Shaw’s Amazing Family Reunion contest, the next initiative in their Together is Amazing movement.

The contest invites Canadians to create a virtual scrapbook page sharing their story of why together is amazingthey would like to reunite their family. Ten deserving families will be chosen by a panel of judges and will create their dream family reunion, each valued up to $25,000.

“There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing families come together,” said Brad Shaw, CEO, Shaw Communications Inc. “Over the past couple of months we’ve had the great pleasure of watching as our communities united to fill food banks across Canada as part of our Together is Amazing movement. Nothing would make us happier than to see that sense of ‘togetherness’ continue.”

Canadians can enter online from November 29, 2010 to January 15, 2011. Entries are limited to one per person, and applicants are asked to create virtual scrapbooks of their family memories and their dream reunion as part of the submission process.flightnetwork on blackberry

flight networkFlight Network, one of Canada’s leaders in online travel, has launched its free iPhone, and BlackBerry mobile applications. Unique to the FlightNetwork.com, this mobile application offers the ability to search and compare the lowest airfares available in the country, then seamlessly book a flight within the native app, without being re-directed to another webpage or having to telephone in payment information.

Additional features of the FlightNetwork.com mobile application include an option to connect instantly with one of FlightNetwork.com’s 65 flight specialists for customer support. Also, easy sharing of airfares with friends and family is available through email, Facebook and Twitter. It also allows customers to book in either US or Canadian dollars and provides secure 128 bit encryption for payments.

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26th November 2010

Global Game Jam 2011 In Vancouver

GGJ YVR 2011The annual Global Game Jam returns for the weekend of January 28-30, 2011. Game developers of all talents gather for the event to build mobile, console, web, and PC based video games in 48 hours. Yearly growth for this event has steadily increased since it began in 2009. In 2009, the Global Game Jam had over 1600 participants from 23 countries. In 2010, Global Game Jam was held in 39 countries with 4300 participants.

Based on past popularity, Global Game Jam Vancouver 2011 plans to host 100 games industry professionals, academia, and students of game coding, digital art, and design at the BCIT campus. Being able to work alongside professionals and new talent during the weekend makes the event a great icebreaker and networking venue.

Organizers at the event ensure you get mixed in with new groups of people who aren’t in your usual set of peers. The event is collaborative in nature so participants usually find they end up working with several teams and getting to know all of the participants and organizers well by the end. Indie coders like to attend because they can meet artists and designers – and vice-versa. Game companies like to get involved to spot new talent, to promote their products, and to get new game ideas from the grass roots. Many of the big game development schools are there also supporting their students in addition to meeting with industry players and independent developers.

This year’s expected attendance of 100 persons more than doubles Vancouver’s initial 40 attendees of 2009. Last year’s game jam in Vancouver sold out at a capacity of 60 persons and another sell-out is anticipated this year based on interest in the event. If you are considering attending sign up soon to reserve your seat.

For locations outside of the Vancouver area, please see the international Global Game Jam site.

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24th November 2010

New DLC and New Apps Plus a Thank You to WestJet

westjetNote: I would like to publicly thank Allison over at WestJet for going above and beyond the duty of a great CSR person and getting my daughter home from CFB Borden via Toronto after her original flight was canceled. This is just one example of how Twitter can work for business – not only did the airline make it right (sorry Mike Holmes, I know that’s your ® tag line) – but Allison got her on a flight landing in Abbotsford tonight, which is much, much more convenient for us than Vancouver International. That said, the “distraction” of getting flights sorted and the fact that I actually slept in this morning, means a bit sparser news for now – but there will be more later, because Canada’s digital media community is always creating new things for me to tell you about.

UbisoftUbisoft has just announced that the Animus Project Update 1.0 downloadable content (DLC) for Assassin’s Creed® Brotherhood for the Xbox 360® and the PlayStation®3 will be available as a free Mont St Micheldownload on December 14th, 2010 on XBOX LIVE® and PlayStation®Network.

The Animus Project Update 1.0 will include a brand-new game mode and brand new map for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Multiplayer. The game mode, Advanced Alliance, will make the original Alliance Mode with target identification and engagement more difficult than in original Alliance Mode, thus providing a more challenging experience for players. With three teams of two players each, Advanced Alliance is a tougher test for players and rewards teams that use stealth techniques to hunt their targets.

Located on a rocky tidal island of Normandy in France, the new map, Mont Saint-Michel, offers breathtaking Hellequin In Mont St Michelscenery sure to enchant all. Its particular topography of narrow streets, high-perched bell tower and multi-leveled architecture is perfect for hunters and predators alike to surge from out of nowhere to execute their prey. To survive, recruits will need to use free-running and narrow roads to their advantage.

“We are very thrilled to be able to offer the first Multiplayer DLC for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood for absolutely free,” said Sebastien Puel, executive producer, Ubisoft Montreal. “We wanted to say thank you to our fans for making Brotherhood such a huge success its opening week. We are very proud of the unique and innovative Multiplayer mode it offers, and hope the fans enjoy the new content.”

Last week I told you all about Game Prototype Challenge – well the first round has been completed, and there are some great game prototypes up for you to play. The theme for this first round was Dreams and Collectibles; GamePrototypeChallengehere is who submitted prototypes:

Sleep Harder! by Cale Bradbury
Chased by Monsters by Jason P. Kaplan
Part Of A Machine by Damian Sommer
Dreamcatcher by James An
Sleepscape by Jonathan Remedios
ProjectKyoto by Arthur Marris

These games were all built in one week, from start to finish. Check them out, they’re rather good (not that I’m surprised, because Canadian game devs are the best). Version 2 of the Game Prototype Challenge will be coming in December – keep an eye on their site and ours for the theme and time frame announcement.

Ripe AppsToronto app developer Ripe Apps has just released their latest title. Geo Alerts is an app that lets you set reminders for specific locations by placing pins on a map, choosing an address from the Address Book or by typing an address in search. Geo Alerts gives you 20 custom alert sounds with an unlimited number of alerts and notifications. With background processing on iOS 4 (3GS or Newer), Geo Alerts can help you in these ways:

* Remember to pick up “Milk” every time you pass by your usual convenience store (if I had an iPhone, this alone would be worth it!)
* Drop by and pick up the mail at an old address
* If you are a real-estate agent and need to remember to stop by at a few locations
* Are you a Pool Cleaner, Gardner, or any Profession that require multiple stops per day?
You can pre fill your stops on the app and it will remind you every time you are near you next closest client.
* Fun & Experimentation
* Remind yourself to flirt with that house you are looking into buying whenever you’re there
* It can remind to do something when you get home from work, even if you don’t know when that will be
* Organize your driving; look at the app (in NSEW mode) and know what you need to do “North of Here”.
* Wake yourself when sleeping on the bus but only when you get home.

BCITBCIT is looking for mentors for their Games Development Bachelor’s Degree students. The first crop of students will be graduating Spring of 2011. These students will be available to work on their practicum from January to April 2011. I encourage you to participate in this practicum program and to include one of the students in your projects. Doing so will help cultivating and grooming our next generation of IT professionals in the games industry. This is also an excellent opportunity to evaluate potential employees while getting cost-effective development assistance.

With a focus on advanced programming, the BCIT Games Development Degree is designed to also equip students with critical skills in multidisciplinary areas including graphics and audio design, higher level Mathematics (3D graphics, calculus, analytical geometry), Physics and artificial intelligence. Students learn to develop games for PCs, consoles (e.g. Xbox) and mobile devices (e.g. iPhone).

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24th November 2010

Game Design Expo Speakers Announced

Game Design Expo 2011The lineup for Game Design Expo 2011 in Vancouver has been revealed, highlighted by keynotes from Rovio Mobile, the makers of all-time bestselling iPhone game Angry Birds, and Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of the world’s most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft®. The entire day of presentations by the luminaries behind some of the most important games of this year and next constitute the event’s biggest speaker lineup in its five-year history.

The event, slated for January 22-23, 2011, is hosted by the acclaimed one-year Game Design program at Vancouver Film School (VFS), which the Los Angeles Times has called “a top school favoured by game industry recruiters.” Saturday’s Industry Speaker Day at Game Design Expo will feature talks aimed at game industry professionals, students, and anyone interested in games. Tickets for Industry Speaker Day are on sale now and already selling fast.

Rovio Mobile’s Angry Birds, a puzzle game for iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices, has been downloaded over 20 million times. Rovio’s Senior Game Designer and Marketing Manager will kick off Saturday’s schedule by delving into the design and business factors behind its incredible success in a presentation called How to Design a Hit Game for the iPhone.

In addition to crossing the 12 million subscriber mark recently, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft has racked up numerous achievements. Its first two expansions, The Burning Crusade® and Wrath of the Lich King®, both broke PC-game sales records upon their release, and Blizzard’s latest expansion for the game, Cataclysm™, is set to launch on December 7. Blizzard’s lead content designer on the game will discuss how the company uses macro design to stay focused on the big picture amid a world of details.

Among the schedule’s many other highlights are talks by leading minds behind Dead Space 2, Tron: Evolution, True Crime: Hong Kong, and Halo Waypoint, as well as PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect. The lineup represents an incredible cross-section of the game industry, from mobile and online games to big-budget AAA titles, from traditional platforms to new motion-based systems.

Game Design Expo Industry Speaker Day Guests – January 22, 2011

Jaakko Iisalo/Matthew Wilson – Senior Game Designer/Marketing Manager, Rovio Mobile (Angry Birds)
Jeff O’Connell/Mike Skupa – Lead Producer/Lead Designer, United Front Games (True Crime: Hong Kong)
Anton Mikhailov – Software Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment (PlayStation Move)
Paul Parsons – Senior Game Designer, 343 Industries (Halo Waypoint)
Mitchell Lagran – Designer, most recently of Rockstar Games Vancouver (Max Payne 3)
Alan Shen – Senior Design Program Manager, Microsoft (Kinect)
Jonathan Gallina – Lead Game Designer, Propaganda Games (Tron: Evolution)
Seth Marinello – Level Designer, Visceral Games (Dead Space 2)
Cory Stockton – Lead Content Designer, Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft)

The event is held in the intimate Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre, and has sold out every year. Anyone hoping to attend is encouraged to buy their tickets now.

“We’re incredibly excited to be welcoming these speakers and companies to Vancouver,” says Dave Warfield, Head of VFS Game Design and the host of Game Design Expo 2011. “Whether you’ve worked in the game industry for years or you’re just starting out, you never stop learning. Games like Angry Birds and World of Warcraft offer countless lessons to us all.”

In conjunction with Game Design Expo 2011, Warfield and VFS Game Design will be hosting a free Open House at the school (390 W. Hastings) on Sunday, January 23, where attendees will be able to hear about the program, meet students and faculty, play games, take sample classes, and get details on the full-tuition Women in Games Scholarship. Space is limited, so anyone interested in attending the always-popular Open House is strongly encouraged to register now.

VFS is proud to partner with the following event sponsors to realize Game Design Expo 2011: G4, 3vis, Annex Pro, Pixologic, Radical Entertainment, Sumo Lounge, and The Georgia Straight.

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23rd November 2010

Event Updates New Postal App and A Mini Sasquatch

GameON FinanceGameON: Finance, Canada’s premier investment forum for the interactive entertainment industry, is pleased to announce three featured international speakers who will be at the conference on January 20 & 21 in Toronto.

Dino Patti, Director, Co-Owner and Co-Founder, Playdead
In 2009 Playdead received 11 million DKK (Danish Kroner) in venture money to finish their game. Their critically acclaimed title, LIMBO, has now received several international awards including two awards at the Independent Games Festival in San Francisco and 3 Milthons for Game of the Year, Best Indie Game and Best Visual Art at the European Games Awards.

Juan Benito, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Joystick Labs
Juan Benito co-founded Joystick Labs during Summer 2010. Prior to Joystick, Juan Benito started the Atomic Games studio in Raleigh, NC, and before that co-founded Red Storm Entertainment in the Triangle area in 1996, where he was Executive Producer for the original Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. Before Red Storm, Juan designed the world’s first fully 3D military submarine simulation game, Tom Clancy’s SSN, while at Virtus Studios, a Triangle-area pioneer in 3D and game technologies. In addition, Juan has worked on numerous entertainment projects with companies such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Konami, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia University, United Media, and has developed training systems in collaboration with the USMC, FBI, and agencies within the US Intelligence Community. He is also founder and CEO of Cooperative Entertainment, a boutique development group and consultancy, and serves as Creative Director for the Triangle Game Initiative.

Joel Benton, Founder & CEO, Easy Tiger Media Ltd.
Joel Benton is a video game professional who has spent a career helping games developers achieve their creative and commercial goals. After a successful career in software sales and marketing, Joel joined Indie developer Wide Games in Brighton, UK – creators of one of the first stealth-based console games Prisoner of War for Codemasters. When the Wide Games team was acquired by Kuju Entertainment Ltd, one of the UK largest game developers, Joel became Business Development Director for the six studios in the group and negotiated and signed development deals with all the major publishers. Joel left Kuju to work as Head of European Operations for international agents Digital Development Management before starting his own Business Development consultancy. In 2009 Joel started Easy Tiger Media Ltd, a digital publishing company which released two titles on XBLA in 2010 and PlayReplay Ltd, the world’s only marketing and PR agency focusing exclusively on successfully promoting digitally distributed games, which now has offices in London and Los Angeles.

Tricon Films and TelevisionTricon Films & Television along with Toronto-based Shark Teeth Films have announced the launch of the CGI/live-action kid’s series in development, Smallfoot. The teaser has been licensed to CBBC’s My Toons in the UK, a hub for the funniest, quirkiest and coolest short ‘toons.

“The My Toons site is a great place to try out new shows, new talent and new formats which hopefully will benefit the audience, the producer and the broadcaster,” said Jon Rutherford, Vice President, International Sales and Acquisitions at Tricon Films & Television.smallfoot

Created by Adrian Carter and Tom Mudd at Shark Teeth Films, Smallfoot, a hilarious and rambunctious action-comedy for kids, is based on the comedic and mischievous adventures of two miniature friends in the big city. Smallfoot,­ a miniature Sasquatch, ­ is around twice as big as a mouse and is a species unknown to science. He’s the new kid on the block and he’s out of his element. Luckily for Smallfoot, a resourceful mouse named Larry has decided to take him under his wing. Unluckily for Smallfoot, Larry is a chatterbox and a know-it-all, and his blabbermouth gets the two of them in trouble all the time.

“Smallfoot is a distinctive show with a unique, completely original style of production,” said Shark Teeth Films Tom Mudd, producer of Smallfoot. “Through on-camera techniques and digital post wizardry, the characters have life and a deep sparkle of intelligence. They feel like real creatures doing hilarious things.”

webcom MontrealUnder the theme of corporate rebooting through collaboration, communities and mobility, the 9th edition of webcom-Montréal international conference on new technologies and Web 2.0 held on November 17, was a resounding success.

Through the participation of renowned keynote speakers, namely Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, and Marsha Collier, one of the world’s foremost experts on online sales communities, this edition benefited hundreds of attending professionals and amateurs in the fields of communications and new technologies.

Over 800 participants answered the call and gathered at OACI, where the event was held, thanks to the participation of numerous collaborators and partners in the business, Web, communications and multimedia sectors.

Guests participating in this 9th edition had the option of attending 30-odd sessions and conferences presented by 42 speakers, including six case studies and one webCamp, a must-see event for 2.0 fans.

The four main themes presented, namely Business 2.0, Marcom 2.0, Solutions 2.0, as well as a theme focusing on mobility, enabled participants to learn more about the latest Web trends and practices.

The 9th edition of webcom-Montréal also stood out through social media, thanks to a popular following on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, where the #webcomMT hashtag was very active. webcomLIVE’s noted presence on UStream once again enabled Web users from around the world a live connection to a continuous flow of unique interviews with both speakers and participants.

During this latest edition, webcom organizers also took the opportunity to present two important awards to individuals who contributed to and expanded in their own way Québec’s new tech industry, namely Patrick Lauzon and René Barsalo. Louise Guay and Sylvain Carle were the proud recipients of this award in the conference’s May edition.

Get your calendars out: webcom-Montréal is already gearing up for its 10th edition, to be held on May 11, 2011, and which will once again prove to be a must-see event featuring international case studies, fascinating panels and free special conferences with the world’s greatest experts. Web best practices and new trends will be the main focus under four different themes, namely Business 2.0, Marcom 2.0, Solutions 2.0, as well as another to be announced next spring.

This event’s success stems from the collaboration of several partners, including Transcontinental, w.illi.am, Massy-Forget Public Relations and MarketingQc.

Canada PostCanada Post has announced the official launch of its free application for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that will provide customers with convenient and easy access to two of the most popular web tools at CanadaPost.ca.

The new application, which is now available for download at the iTunes App Canada Post AppStore, enables customers to track their packages and find nearby post offices, either by typing in an address or by using their device’s GPS feature. Track a Package and Find a Post Office are two of the most frequently used tools on Canada Post’s website – with a combined monthly average of more than 4.25 million uses.

“Our customers are on the go, and we aim to provide them with convenient, easy access to our products and services by keeping abreast of current trends and new technologies. We have seen an increase in the use of mobile devices to access our website, and we expect demand for mobile-enabled services to continue to grow,” says Louis O’Brien, Senior Vice-President and Chief Customer Officer at Canada Post. “We’re pleased to be able to launch this application just in time for the holidays as this is the busiest time of year for many of our customers.”

The free application is now available for download at the iTunes App Store. Canada Post will release a Blackberry version of the application in early 2011.

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23rd November 2010

Canadian Companies Need To Improve IT Risk Management

Ernst & YoungAccording to a study by Ernst & Young, less than a third of global businesses, including Canada’s, have an IT risk management program in place capable of addressing the risks related to the use of new technologies. Borderless Security, the firm’s annual global information security survey, reveals that in spite of the rapid emergence of new technology, only one in 10 companies consider examining new and emerging IT trends as a very important activity for the information security function to perform.

A significant increase in the use of external service providers and business adoption of new technologies, including cloud computing, social networking and Web 2.0, is recognized to increase risk as much as 60% for respondents. Yet, in spite of this fact, less than half (46%) intend to increase their annual investment in information security.

“Technology advances have provided Canadian companies with seemingly endless ways to connect and interact with colleagues, customers and clients across the globe,” says Tony Ritlop, Canadian Leader of Ernst & Young’s IT Risk and Assurance practice. “While these developments represent a massive opportunity for IT to deliver significant benefits to the organization, new technology also brings significant risk.”

For example, more than half of respondents state that increased workforce mobility poses a considerable challenge to the effective delivery of information security initiatives, due to widespread use of mobile computing devices, allowing individuals to access and distribute business information from anywhere at any time. For almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents, employees’ level of security awareness is recognized as a considerable challenge.

For the first time, continuous availability of critical IT resources was identified by respondents as one of the top five risks. Increased mobility and lack of control over end-user devices can cause problems when trying to implement effective and efficient business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities — identified by 50% of respondents as an area of increased expenditure.

Cloud computing services are gaining greater adoption: 23% of respondents are currently using cloud computing services and a further 15% are planning to use them within the next 12 months. When asked if an external certification of cloud service providers would increase trust, 85% of respondents said yes, with 43% stating that the certification should be based upon an agreed standard and 22% requiring accreditation for the certifying body.

“It’s vital that companies not only recognize these developing risks, but take action to avoid them,” says Mr. Ritlop.

According to Mr. Ritlop, in addition to implementing new technology solutions and re-engineering information flows, companies must focus on informing the workforce about risks. The delivery of effective, and regular, security awareness training is a critical success factor as companies attempt to keep pace with the changing environment.

Half of respondents plan to spend more over the next year on data leakage and data loss prevention — a seven percentage point increase from last year. To address potential new risks, 39% are making policy adjustments, 29% are implementing encryption techniques and 28% are implementing stronger identity and access management controls.

Communities are changing; populations are aging; competition for talent is intensifying; the economy is slowly recovering; values are evolving and technology is rapidly shifting. Can leadership, knowledge and innovation save us?

public policy forumThe Ideas Festival brings together emerging leaders with established leadership from across all sectors and industries to discuss a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to energy and technology to creativity.

The Public Policy Forum (PPF), an independent, non partisan organization dedicated to improving the quality of governance in Canada and 21inc are co-hosting the conference in St. Andrews by the Sea, New Brunswick at the Fairmont Algonquin, November 24-26. Event hashtag: #ideas2010

Topics include:

* Can innovation save health care? Business model innovation in health care
* Can Atlantic Canada be an energy hub?
* The Future of Media: How new media is changing our roles and relationships
* Conversations with people changing the game and shaping our future
* The Economic Future of Atlantic Canada

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute® Software Corporation announced today that it has launched Absolute Manage Mobile Device Management (MDM) for iOS 4 devices, such as the iPhone® and iPad®. The breakthrough solution available with Absolute Manage allows IT departments to efficiently manage and secure iOS 4 devices alongside their PC and Mac® computers from their platform of choice, Mac or Windows.

“Apple mobile devices are immensely popular with consumers and are now making a notable impact in the enterprise. People want to use their preferred device at work as well, but IT has been hesitant due to a lack of solutions on the market that can provide security and management capabilities for Apple mobile devices. Absolute Software is a leader in managing and securing endpoints, and our customers asked us to extend our cross-platform capabilities to iOS 4 devices,” said Peter Frankl, vice president of lifecycle management at Absolute Software. “With the launch of Absolute Manage MDM for iOS 4, our customers can have the control and security they need for the enterprise while keeping their employees happy and increasing productivity.”

Absolute Manage is one of the first software solutions to allow IT administrators to remotely manage, wipe and lock Apple® iOS 4 devices from either a PC or Mac, computer -without the need for extra hardware or software infrastructure. With the addition of MDM, Absolute Manage customers can manage PCs, Mac computers and now iOS 4 devices from a single, comprehensive user interface in a PC or Mac infrastructure.

YANGAROOYangaroo has been granted Canada patent number 2,349,797 titled “Biometric Rights Management System” by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). The Biometric Rights Management (“BRM”) patent relates to YANGAROO’s innovative use of biometric security measures to provide secure online distribution of digital media. The BRM patent will be in effect until June 2021.

“The receipt of this fourth patent grant is further confirmation that we continue to lead through innovation,” said Cliff Hunt, Chairman and COO of YANGAROO. “As more and more valuable media assets are made available online, the need to control and monitor the users accessing that media continues to grow. The utilization of BRM in our Digital Media Distribution System provides a secure, user-friendly and portable way to link media access rights to an individual through their unique traits, rather than to a machine or an easily shared password. This feature provides our customers with the most advanced solution available today.”

This BRM patent augments YANGAROO’S intellectual property portfolio, which includes the related United States patent number 7,003,670 titled “Biometric Rights Management System”, United States patent number 7,529,712 titled “Content Distribution System and Method” and Canadian patent number 2,407,774 titled “Content Distribution System and Method”. YANGAROO also has pending U.S. continuation patent application number 12/398,238 titled “Content Distribution System and Method” and U.S. patent application number 11/854,289 titled “Media File Distribution System and Method”. Together these provide a North America-wide safeguard for the company’s sector leading innovations.

Project X LtdToronto boutique advisory and technology services company Project X Ltd. has entered into a partnership with California-based BigDataLabs, Inc. to distribute the company’s technology in Canada.

Project X will be the sole Canadian partner for BigDataLabs GeoDash™ technology. GeoDash is a new way to add GeoSpatial context to business intelligence environments through the integration of MicroStrategy technology and Google Maps. GeoDash is a lightweight solution for the business intelligence market with no extra hardware or server costs and no extensive training needed for users.

Project X President, Stephen Hayward remarked, “BigDataLabs matches our rapid business intelligence model and like Project X, is focused on fast to market technology that demonstrates maximum innovation and value for customers.”

Ajo Abraham, BigDataLabs founder commented, “We looked for a Canadian partner with the right combination of experience and passion for delivering business intelligence solutions with the best technology available and found Project X. As we expand into the Canadian market, they will lead the way.”

AOL CanadaAOL Canada Corp. is making big gains heading into the holiday season. According to comScore’s Media Metrix, Canada, All Locations October 2010 data, the AOL Inc. owned and operated web properties have grown by 10% from last month to 9.2M unique visitors. With the reach of their ad network, Advertising.com, AOL advertising properties reach over 20 million Canadians each and every month.

This upsurge in traffic is largely attributed to the strategic acquisitions of the web properties TechCrunch and 5Min. TechCrunch brings with it breaking tech news and insight into the innovative world of start-ups to the AOL Technology suite of sites, and matches perfectly with the expert content of their marquis tech property, Engadget.com. The acquisition of 5Min allows AOL to significantly expand its consumer offering of contextually relevant, high-quality video across its sites and increases AOL’s appeal to advertisers, allowing it to capture share the growing video advertising spend. This combo delivers a power punch technology content offering and expands the affluent male audience key to advertisers in this category. (AOL Networks: Technology is 78% more likely than the average Internet web site to generate page views with males 25-34 and 103% more likely with males age 35-44 as well as 47% more likely to attract unique visitors with a household income of more than $100k. comScore Media Metrix. Canada, All Locations. October 2010.)

To support this growing business AOL Canada has made a number of strategic hires as well. Since Graham Moysey joined AOL in August of this year, he has grown his team by 10, most recently hiring Laura Pearce as Director of Marketing, Dana Toering as Director of Business Development and Tanya Iliakis, Account Executive. Laura brings with her valued experience in online media and marketing, hailing from Postmedia Network and companies such as Trader Media and Dell Canada, and will be key to the strategy of positioning AOL to consumers and advertisers as a leader in premium content and network advertising, under an innovative and creative global brand.

Other hires include Michelle Edwards-Boldt, heading up Moysey’s office, Melissa McLintock, Alia Iannuzzi and Tanya Penala, all Account Managers and previously announced Brad Cressman, Head of Content, Julie Howlett, Account Director & Allison Burley, Account Executive.

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23rd November 2010

Funding And Strategies Will Move Us Forward In A Digital Economy

Canada Media FundThe Canada Media Fund (CMF), successor organization to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF), has published the CTF 2009-2010 Annual Report (French) outlining its funding activities over the past year, which saw the CTF disburse a record amount of $327 million to help produce 4,400 hours of programming, including 932 hours of new broadcast programs. Flashpoint, The Young Romantic, Les Invincibles, and Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin are only a few examples of programs that received numerous awards, attracting many repeat viewers as indicated by audience rating numbers.

“If there were a theme to this year, that theme would be dialogue” said Louis Roquet, Chair of the Board of Directors. “The dialogue between the various stakeholders of the corporation was strengthened through an extensive year-long consultation”. The consultation process and the significant review of content funding parameters led to the creation of programs and policies currently provided by the Canada Media Fund.

Highlights of the CTF 2009-2010 Annual Report include:

· The CTF supported a total of 931 projects, including 476 Production and 352 Development projects.
· Development funding reached a record high of $9.8 M.
· 427 CTF funded programs were nominated for awards and won 95 Gemini and Gémeaux awards.
· 2009–2010 total production budgets climbed above $1 billion, or 20% above the average of the preceding four years.
· Performance envelopes (BPEs) were allocated to 59 English and 20 French broadcasters; five new broadcasters received envelopes in 2009–2010.
· Regional production received 30% of the funding allocated in 2009-2010 (including Aboriginal Language Projects).
· The Digital Media Pilot Program budget grew from 2 to 10 million dollars. The number of projects funded by the program increased almost twofold from 30 to 77.

Government of CanadaThe full text of the speech delivered by The Honourable Tony Clement, PC, MP Minister of Industry at the International Institute of Communications Canada Conference which is currently underway in Ottawa, is now available online.

In speaking on Canada’s future in a digital economy, Minister Clement stated that he is looking to the future “with confidence, even optimism. Not because I am insensitive to the challenges, but because, like you, I see the possibilities. And few areas offer greater reason for optimism than the digital economy.” He also outlined what we can expect when the Digital Economy strategy is launched in the spring of 2011, saying that “it will be a living document, one that will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of changing times. But it will be an important milestone in Canada’s path to greater competitiveness and innovation.”

Minister Clement went on to reiterate five areas of particle interest that are critical to creating a digital Canada:

* building a world-class infrastructure that connects ideas, individuals and opportunities.
* encouraging businesses to adopt digital technologies to boost their productivity and drive innovation.
* developing a digitally skilled workforce to take advantage of the opportunities these technologies provide.
* growing successful Canadian companies — to supply digital technologies to global markets.
* creating made-in-Canada content across all platforms to bring Canada to the world.

Following this, Minister Clement touched on several areas of forthcoming change for both the digital industry and industry at large, in Canada. These include changes to policy at the Business Development Bank which will see ICT becoming a focus for new and expanding enterprises. He also covered other areas to be visited by the Minister Clement playing NFS at EA Canada in August 2010. Source: Richard LamDigital Economy strategy, including access to broadband in all regions of Canada and the cost of services from our telecom providers. Minister Clement also touched on what the government is working on in regards to ensuring “a well-functioning digital marketplace by introducing important new laws and amendments — including copyright, anti-spam and privacy legislation.”

Minister Clement also spoke about the need to nurture Canadian ICT talent and educational programmes, whereupon he announced the “awarding of 25 Knowledge Synthesis Grants on the Digital Economy. The research proposed by the recipients reflects both the diversity of Canada’s intellectual capital and the diversity of the digital economy itself.” He concluded his presentation with discussion of growing Canada’s digital economy both within our borders and internationally, as well drawing attention to the Canada Media Fund and Canada 3.0. During his speech, Minister Clement also noted that The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, will be presenting more about digital skills development today at IIC (see below). You can read the full text of Minister Clement’s speech on the Industry Canada web site.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, delivered her comments this morning at IIC as part of her update on Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley (photo Government of Canada)development at an industry conference earlier today, opening her presentation with the acknowledgement that technology is becoming more and more intertwined in Canadians’ everyday lives, and supporting digital skills development will be key to our future economic success.

“For Canada to be a leader in a rapidly developing, global digital economy, Canadians need to have strong digital skills,” said Minister Finley. “That’s why the Government of Canada will develop and implement a strategy that will help us work in collaboration with our industry, education and government partners to build a skilled workforce and a stronger Canada.”

As Canada heads towards economic recovery, new digital skills needs are being added to existing labour market challenges. Recent public consultations on the digital economy will help the Government develop a strategy to address many broad challenges.

The conference, entitled Connections, Content and Consumers: Towards a National Digital Strategy for Canada, was hosted by the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications (IIC Canada).

Mr. Bernard Lord, Chair of IIC Canada, welcomed the Minister’s remarks. “The Government of Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to chart the path Canadians will take towards prosperity in the 21st century,” said Mr. Lord. “Networks and connections will enable that prosperity, but it will be the digital skills, hard work and inspiration of Canadians that will maximize it.”

While elements of digital skills training can be found in existing Government of Canada programming, developing an overarching Digital Economy Strategy will improve our innovation and competitiveness and help prepare Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow.

DIG London 2010A coalition of over 40 Canadian video game developers, academic institutions, and intermediate enabling organizations are working together to establish Canada as the globally recognized innovator and exporter of digital interactive game development software, technology, and IP. Meeting at the Digital Interactive Game Developer’s conference, DIG 2010, key partners discussed this initiative, striking an action committee to define the initiative’s strategic priorities and execution plan, with hopes to launch in the summer of 2011.

Through a robust partnership, industry, academics, NGOs from across Canada are working to create a Centre for testing, validation, and commercialization of game development IP. With over $5.5 million raised in cash and $5.5 million in-kind contributions, the team is committed to levering existing investments and assets to create a competitive advantage for Canadian game developers. The partners are putting together a program to:

* Identify and aggregate existing digital interactive game technology IP
* Support small and medium sized game developers to access the resources required to identify, validate, and accelerate the commercialization and licensing of their IP
* Facilitate and promote the ongoing collaboration among and between industry, academia, and national networks to mobilize the resources needed to solve technology related problems and develop marketable digital interactive game technology
* Develop, attracting, and retaining highly skilled software developers and engineers, researchers, and IT professionals
* Provide a conduit for digital interactive game developers to leverage access to industry information
* Host an annual series of national workshops – physical and virtual to bring together partner organizations for education, networking, and development of new programs
* Contribute to Canada’s digital media content creation by establishing and facilitating a path to market for hundreds of new Canadian digital interactive game technology licenses and content

“An opportunity exists to position Canada as a global leader in the creation, commercialization, and licensing of digital interactive game technology. This opportunity will be achieved by enabling synergistic interactions at all levels of game technology development through access to technologies that enable development, industry intelligence, and research,” says Michael Schmalz, a key leader of this initiative. “Our recent application to the National Centres of Excellence was not funded, but our team is committed to moving forward with our plan and defining the best opportunity for our industry,” adds Schmalz.

“It is ultimately our intent, shared by many supporters in industry, academia, and government across Canada, to create increased opportunities for Canadian digital interactive media technology developers, commercialize their IP, and export Canadian Digital interactive media technology globally,” says Douglas Robertson, President and CEO of Tech Southeast in New Brunswick.

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22nd November 2010

New Drum Studio Coming Soon

All Seeing Eye GamesVancouver indie studio All Seeing Eye Games is pleased to announce that its new game Drum Studio: Platinum Edition will be available this December on the Xbox LIVE indie games channel of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Record songs, share them online, and jam with your friends in real-time over Xbox LIVE in Drum Studio: Platinum Edition. The follow-up to the multiple award-winning Drum Studio expands upon the original virtual drum recording tool with all-new graphics, Xbox 360 Avatar support, and extensive online features. Players will be able to meet online, chat, share songs, listen to each other play, and jam together in real-time. Lead Programmer Darren Joe says, “Music has always been about sharing. Drum Studio put music creation in the player’s hands. Now, Drum Studio: Platinum Edition allows players from around the world to share their creations with each other.”

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Drum Studio: Platinum Edition also features all new art by graphic artist Terry Wong (Cirque Du Soleil, National Geographic, Electronic Gaming Monthly) and full Xbox 360 Avatar support, allowing players to turn their Xbox 360 Avatars into full-fledged animated virtual drummers. It features the same simple yet powerful song recording interface as the award-winning original and hundreds of high-quality drum sounds to choose from. Players can play with any combination of one to four Xbox 360 drum kits or controllers.

The original title in the series, Drum Studio, received widespread critical acclaim & multiple awards upon its release, including an Editor’s Choice Award from teamxbox.com, who declared that it “takes music games to a whole new level”. You can get the original Drum Studio game now from Xbox Live Indie Games for 80 MS Points.

desert bus for hopeOnce again the clock tells me that it is high time I head for my day job at “the salt mine” but before I go, I’d like to draw attention to two events currently underway – the first is Desert Bus for Hope – which, according to the event’s FAQ, is an “internet telethon by accident – you give donations to Child’s Play, and we play Desert Bus.  It’s really boring and mind numbing and generally unpleasant. The more you donate the longer we play. To keep you and us amused, and to increase the donations we auction off  and give away prizes, have celebrity guests stop by, and become your monkeys. Want us to sing “Still Alive?” Sure, we’ll do it for a $20 donation.  We play 24 hours a day until you stop donating.” Be sure to visit the site and check out their Challenges, Giveaways and Auctions.

The second event is happening at Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Start-Up Incubator. The 7 cubed Project involves a group of coders who, beginning on November 20th, locked themselves in for seven days with, to quote “food, energy drinks, and beanbag chairs” during which time they will attempt to write an app a day for seven days. The group has promised video summaries of each day, and according to the Project’s site, the participants firmly believe “that seven smart people with perfect communication, mutual trust, and an agile mindset can get more done in a day than anyone would believe. And if all that isn’t enough, we have no intention of being timid. We’ll choose difficult problems, and we’ll probably fail once or twice. If we didn’t, we would know we didn’t shoot high enough. We’ll work insanely hard, probing the limits of human creativity and team productivity.”

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