8th December 2010

What You Could Be Doing Next Week

VFSVancouver Film School presents its Digital Design Winter Graduation Show, Delicious Bites of Digital Design, on Wednesday, December 15th at the VFS Main Theatre.

Not your typical grad show, this event is open only to those from the design industry, and each graduate will be presenting the one project of which he or she is most proud in back-to-back three minute presentations. The presentations will be followed by a festive mingler with interactive portfolio kiosks and plenty of food and drink in the lobby.

Come and meet these promising designers before they are snatched by others in the industry who are looking for talented team members and be among the first to sample the tastiest student work in areas such as branding, music videos, interactive design, experimental motion design and iPad applications.

Special guest Adam Neilson from the Nation Film Board will be kicking off the evening’s festivities as he walks guests through the NFB’s most immersive, interactive projects, such as Test Tube and Waterlife, that have swept the design awards this year, including SXSW Interactive.

Wine, beer, eggnog and hot chocolate at 5:00pm with the presentations starting promptly at 5:30pm. Please see this event’s Facebook page for information on how to register – deadline for registration is December 13th.

CanWITThe BC chapter of CanWIT (formerly CATA WIT) will be holding its  Holiday Networking Event from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday December 15th at the Yaletown Milestones restaurant on Hamilton Street. This event is free, but pre-registration is required.

You are invited to come network with other professional women in the tech community and learn about our exciting programs for the new year. During the event, CanWIT representatives would like to hear from you about your interests and suggestions for future CanWIT workshops. Be sure to bring your business card for door prizes. We look forward to seeing you for holiday cheer!

49 pixelsPixel To Product and 49 Pixels would like to invite you to a casual 2 hour working session, where attendees will gather to hear from digital media professionals about the kind of work they do and what they’re interested in learning more about where it concerns the habits of those who work in the Canadian digital media space.

This event is part of the 49 Pixels study currently underway across the country which is gathering information to aid Canadian in their drive to understand the digital media space we work in, one of the goals of our research study is to get a sense for the size of the digital media workforce; how many professionals are employed in our industry, their geographical location, salary, benefits and other qualitative, quantitative and behavioural data.

Agenda
Jet Cooper
5:30: Pre-event networking
6:00pm: Gather in the event space to set the context for the conversation
8:00pm: Wrap-up and break for the evening

Many thanks to Jet Cooper for donating their space at Jet Cooper # 307 – 20 Maud Street, Toronto, and helping to convene this working session, which is being styled as a roll up your sleeves, break-out-your-moleskin working session with clear goals and deliverables. Expect a casual working session with smart and creative industry personalities like yourself working together towards a larger outcome.

The next industry survey will be looking at the qualitative, quantitative and behavioural aspects of Canada’s digital media professionals; namely, where they’re located, what they do, and their working habits. The outcomes of this working session will be a draft list of questions for this survey, a strategy to distribute and promote the survey as well as put together a team of advocates to help further spread the word.

Register online by selecting the ticket type that best describes you in the list.
Add your contact information, and tell us what gifts you’re bringing to the table. Remember to check your inbox afterwards, as you will receive an email confirmation of your registration.

Please note, space is limited for this working session, so please do not register unless you’re absolutely certain you can attend. If your plans change, please let us know as soon as possible so that we may offer your ticket to the next person on the wait list.

Canadian Games ConferenceAlso, a reminder that the Call for Papers for the Canadian Games Conference 2011 is now open. Everyone loves a good story….and there are many out there. If you have a riveting tale to tell about challenges faced or success achieved in the Game industry – we want to hear about it!

The Conference will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre next May 19th and 20th. All entries must be received by midnight of January 25th, 2011. Invited speakers will be notified by March 10th, 2011.

2011 Conference Topics:

New Business Models
Rapid Game Development
Box vs. Bits – Alternative Distribution Models
Game Design Stories
Social Games
Games on the Go
Content Creation
Programming
Student Stories

Session formats this year will include 25 and 60 minute lectures, panels and roundtables. The advisory board will be selecting submissions based on depth of content, relevance and interest, speaker credentials, and takeaway value. The intellectual property rights of those submitting papers for review will be respected throughout the process.

Submissions will only be accepted online, please provide the following information with your submission:

Name of speaker
Title
Organization
Phone number
E-mail Address
Expertise Level: (Executive, Management, Developer, Publisher)
General Theme (see below)
Topic (25 words or less)
Abstract (250 words or less)
Bio (200 words or less)

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8th December 2010

Partnerships and Competitions To Benefit The Canadian Psyche

BCIC New VenturesBCIC-New Ventures has announced the top 20 finalists in its newly launched BCIC New Ventures – Regional Competition for early-stage BC technology entrepreneurs based outside the Lower Mainland. Similar to the province-wide competition that celebrated its 10th anniversary in September, the four-month, three-round regional competition includes a unique mix of business education, networking and mentoring. This year’s regional competition attracted more than 40 applications from technology startups across our province.

The winners of the 2010 BCIC-New Ventures Competition: Regional will be announced February 24, 2011 at a special reception in Kelowna. The top 20 finalists include businesses in the life sciences, cleantech, sustainability, new media and high technology sectors:

A22 Rent-A-Bike, AC Global Systems Ltd, EcoMeter by EnviroSpeak Media, Find It EZ, HuStream Technologies Inc.,
Hydra Cat Performance System, JuliasWild.com, KoK Technologies Inc, Map Jungle, MemoryLeaf Media Inc., Rapid Water Testing Ltd., Reef Safe Fish Inc., Resonessence Labs, Ripcharger, SchedulePanda.com, SideStix Ventures Inc.,
Smile software (Smart Menu), TRiBiNET, Vida, Wolf Trailer Company, Inc.

The top 20 companies will now be paired with a team of mentors and will attend a final business education seminar in January. Each company will have one more chance to present to a panel of experts from February 9-11 in Victoria and Kelowna where they will convince a jury of venture capitalists, financiers and angel investors of the commercial viability of their business idea and that they have what it takes to succeed in the marketplace.

BCIC is the title sponsor of the 2010 BCIC-New Ventures Competition: Regional and proud to support the competition’s top three prize packages for a total of $60,000. They include the $30,000 BCIC First Prize, $20,000 BCIC Second Prize and $10,000 BCIC Third Prize. This contribution is part of BCIC’s overall commitment of $390,000 as title sponsor of both the regional and larger provincial technology idea competition advancing BC’s emerging technology industry.

ROVEOttawa-based mobile IT solution company Rove has announced its support for tablet computing form factors. Offering true portability without sacrificing screen resolution, tablets are an ideal platform for business applications, giving users “always-on” access to the systems and services they need to get the job done. Rove Mobile Admin on Samsung Galaxy Tab

“We’re seeing mobility become an integral part of IT Service Management practices, with many of our customers looking at tablets such as the iPad, Galaxy Tab and RIM’s PlayBook as providing an ideal interface for the IT professional on the move,” said Russell Ure, President, Rove. “To this end, providing support for Rove Mobile Admin on tablets is a key priority for us.”

One of eWEEK’s 2010 Products of the Year – “offerings that had the biggest impact in their spaces and that did the most to move enterprise technology forward” – Rove Mobile Admin was singled out along with products by Cisco, VMware, Apple, Microsoft, salesforce.com and Red Hat. Rove Mobile Admin delivers advanced mobile IT administration capability, providing IT staff with comprehensive, secure access to a wide range of servers, services and platforms. With Mobile Admin in hand, IT professionals can identify, diagnose, triage and resolve IT issues without the need for a laptop computer or internet connection, enabling them to reduce network downtime and provide their users with exceptional customer service.

At the forefront of providing mobile IT solutions, Rove will continue to lead this dynamically evolving market and introduce software optimized for the variety of tablets becoming available. To date over 3,000 customers worldwide, including many of the world’s financial institutions, have deployed Rove Mobile Admin – get a free 14 day trial now.

postmedia networkIf you’re looking for newspaper apps, you’re in luck because earlier today Postmedia Network announced that nine Canadian cities now have a new way to experience their local newspapers with new apps for iPad use in the App Store. The ten Canadian newspapers with apps for iPad are: The Vancouver Sun, Times Colonist (Victoria), The Province (Vancouver), the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, the Leader-Post (Regina), The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon), the Ottawa Citizen, The Windsor Star and The Gazette (Montreal). The Postmedia newspaper apps are available at no cost to the reader. This is made possible through sponsorships from Air Canada, CISCO, Rogers Communications Inc. and Disney’s TRON Legacy.

“This is the latest step in our digital first strategy,” said Malcolm Kirk, Executive Vice President, Digital Media. “By combining innovative technology with our newspapers’ compelling content, we are proud to invite our readers to experience the latest innovation in Canadian publishing, on iPad. The new apps also give our advertisers an opportunity to reach their target audiences in dynamic new ways.”

The new newspaper apps give users a rich and personalized experience and include the following features:

* Heat Map – readers see and read “Stories Around Me” and check out which stories are most popular in their neighbourhoods and across the country
* My Articles – saves and stores articles that users want to read later
* Social Media Tools – the ability to comment live on stories and share with friends through Facebook, Twitter and email
* Integrated Video Player – readers can view a variety of videos within articles
* Photo Gallery – a wealth of high resolution photos and inline photo galleries

Each of the apps takes advantage of iPad’s large, high-resolution display and innovative Multi Touch interface, and feature customized newspaper content pulled from the best of the web and print editions as well as mobile specific content. Readers can download, save, comment, interact and customize the content, their way.

RaytheonRaytheon Canada Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of USA-based Raytheon Company, has partnered with Let’s Talk Science to engage Canadian youth in science and technology. As an innovative technology and engineering company, Raytheon Canada is keenly aware of the need to motivate young people to continue their studies in science and technology.
lets talk science
Let’s Talk Science is an award-winning, national, nonprofit science outreach organization. Let’s Talk Science creates and delivers science learning programs and services that turn kids on to science, keep them engaged in learning, and develop their potential to become 21st century stewards, innovators and citizens.

“Raytheon Canada employs some of the smartest, most innovative and capable engineers in our industry, and we understand that the future of our country depends on the skills of the next generation,” said Denny Roberts, country manager for Raytheon Canada Limited. “This partnership will help meet our responsibilities to young Canadians.”

“Science education opens many more doors for career opportunities than today’s youth realize,” said Let’s Talk Science President and Founder Bonnie Schmidt. “Raytheon Canada, like Let’s Talk Science, understands the acute need to get kids excited about the possibilities of science, so they stay in science in high school and pursue it at the post-secondary level. Through this partnership, we hope to showcase the unique career opportunities available with a background in science, engineering and technology.”

This holiday season, shoppers will have a way to check how busy malls and mall parking lots are before they venture out to buy gifts. PayPal Canada is introducing “mall traffic reports” on Twitter through @PayPalCA. The reports are an easy way for shoppers to share information about wait times, store lineups and congested parking lots by posting tweets or real time pictures, alerting others to the busiest shopping destinations using the hashtag #ESCTheMall.

The campaign is a response to the findings of a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of PayPal Canada, which revealed that half of all Canadians find the crowds and long lines of holiday shopping frustrating. The survey also found that holiday shoppingEscape The Mall takes a lot of time – an average of five trips to the mall and 11 hours for Canadians.

“PayPal’s goal this holiday season is to help those who are frustrated by the typical, overcrowded shopping experience to escape the mall,” said Nicky Mezo, head of marketing at PayPal Canada. “With so many merchants now accepting PayPal through their websites, why not do more of your holiday shopping online, from the warmth and comfort of your home?”

The Twitter feed will also provide online shopping tips as well as timely retail news, and will be integrated with PayPal Canada’s other online platforms including its Blog, Facebook page and Escape The Mall microsite, aimed at helping Canadians find holiday deals online.

In addition, starting today, PayPal is launching a contest through which Canadian shoppers can enter to win a $2,500 online shopping spree. The Escape the Mall contest, promoted through the PayPal Canada Facebook page and a newly-launched microsite, encourages Canadians to vote on the best Holiday gift from a range of gifts available online and runs until December 20th, 2010. Through several rounds of voting, contestants can enter to win one of ten gifts valued at approximately $100 each, and also be entered into a draw for the Grand Prize – $2,500 transferred into their PayPal account.

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3rd December 2010

SIGGRAPH 2011 Call For Submissions and Volunteers

Siggraph 2011SIGGRAPH announces the 2011 Call for Submissions for contributors and volunteers for the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, Sunday 7 August through Thursday, 11 August 2011 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This marks the first time that SIGGRAPH (North America) will be held outside of the United States.

From students to studio executives, from scientists to researchers, SIGGRAPH is home to the best and brightest minds in computer graphics. The theme behind SIGGRAPH 2011 is to “Make it Home” based along the philosophical idea that “home” is a positive place where everyone gathers, and they are free to exchange ideas and different outlooks. Home is a place where bonds are made or strengthened and sharing is a core belief.

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“We are excited to call such a world-class city home for SIGGRAPH 2011, the first time in our history to be outside the United States: furthermore, we are encouraging our community to feel comfortable submitting and discussing wide-ranging ideas or concepts just as they would in their homes,” says Pete Braccio, SIGGRAPH 2011 Conference Chair from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “Vancouver already has a broad and fertile computer graphics atmosphere, and it is our goal to enrich it even further with your help, ideas, and inspirations.”

All work submitted to SIGGRAPH 2011 through the Call for Submissions is reviewed by a highly qualified jury composed of top practitioners in the relevant field. Because each jury needs time to review each piece carefully, submission deadlines generally are several months before the conference. All submission deadlines are 22:00 UTC/GMT and are strictly enforced.

The latest submission deadlines are:

Art Gallery and Art Papers: Friday, 14 January 2011
Game Papers: Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Technical Papers: Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Student Volunteer Applications: Monday, 14 February 2011
General Submission (Courses, Emerging Technologies, Panels, Posters , Talks, The Studio): Friday, 18 February 2011
SIGGRAPH Dailies!: Friday, 18 February 2011
Real-Time Live!: Friday, 15 April 2011
Computer Animation Festival – Films: Friday, 15 April 2011
Late-Breaking Work (Late-Breaking Posters, Late-Breaking Talks): Friday, 6 May 2011
Computer Animation Festival – Animation Clinic: Tuesday, 10 May 2011

In 2011, Make It Home – To Vancouver

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3rd December 2010

Will Facebook Connect Requirement Stop You From Nominating a Title

According to my Twitterfeed this morning, congratulations are due to David Lightbown, Senior Artistic Waldorf Comic and Zine FairTechnical Director at Behaviour Interactive for being named as the winner of the Autodesk® Maya® Master Award. Check out his Autodesk interview on the Autodesk interview.

The Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver will be holding a Comic and Zine Fair on Sunday, December 19th from 11:30am – 7:00pm. The event will feature American artist Dame Darcy, who will be signing books and performing with her band, Death by Doll. Other comic artists and zine makers who will be in attendance include Ed Brisson, Robin Bougin, Cloudscape Comic Collective among others. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more information and table space availability.

Canadian Video Game AwardsThe first nominees for the 2011 Canadian Video Game Awards have been announced: Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, EA Sports Active 2, Trainyard, Lil Pirates and Top Bar. Make sure your favourite Canadian-made games of 2010 are nominated, submit your choices today. Please note that the nomination process does require Facebook Connect – I’ve noticed that a few people have stated that they will not send in their nominations due to that fact, and while it’s a step that I too could do without, I hope that it will not deter too many of you from nominating games to the awards process. We also use Facebook Connect on this site, as we thought it would make it more convenient for cybele negrisreaders to comment on articles if they wanted – is this not the case? Do you find Facebook Connect to be an intrusion?

Webnames.ca President and Co-Founder Cybele Negris will be participating in the launch of Momcafé in the Fraser Valley on January 13th, 2011 (9:00 – 11:00a.m.). Join Cybele and Chillwack mayor Sharon Gaetz at the Clayburn Gourmet Gallery as they discuss how they have navigated their way through different career paths to find their passion while balancing the responsibilities of family. Childcare is available during this event, and a portion of ticket sales will be donated to Matthew’s House. Please see the registration page for complete list of ticket prices and options.
EA Sports
EA Sports has released two new videos for Fight Night Champion featuring boxer Andre Bishop. You can view Part One here, Part Two is also posted on our YouTube channel. Fight Night Champion takes the boxing experience one giant step forward by delivering an experience never before seen in an EA Sports video game. Fighting as contender Andre Bishop in an all-new story-based Champion Mode or as one of more than 50 legends or future champions, battle your way to the top in the boxing revolution that builds upon the best-in-class gameplay and physics engine of the critically acclaimed Fight Night Round 4.

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Indie studio SillySoft has released v1.12 of their board game-inspired title Castle Vox for the PC. The developers offer a free demo download which includes a Tutorial map, a Hex Barons medieval kings map, and a World War 2 – Axis vs Allies modern map.sillysoft

The reasonable purchase price of $14.00 allows players to access  over 40 more hand-crafted maps including the American Civil War, the Hundred Years War, Napoleon, the Roman Empire and a Map Editor that can be used to create even more Geographic and Hex maps.

Play online multi-player games with once-a-day moves, or fast online skirmishes. Team-chat lets you collaborate in team scenarios. Achievements track your progress through the different wars. Impressive rank titles accompany your advances.

Rogers WirelessRogers Communications Inc. has unveiled the company’s vision for tablet and mini tablet devices. Anchored by growing customer demand to be connected on multiple devices any time, any place, Rogers announced three new initiatives including new data sharing plans, the upcoming launch of Rogers On Demand Online for tablets and plans to introduce remote PVR capabilities on tablets and smartphones for its Rogers Digital Cable customers.

“The tablet is the command centre – a mobile hub through which our customers will be able to access everything in their world – from reading email for work to looking at photos, programming their televisions to turning on lights at home, checking on friends on Facebook and even updating their personal finances,” says John Boynton, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Rogers Communications. “Our role is to enable these experiences seamlessly and reliably across all devices. Our announcement today reflects our commitment to ensuring we continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

Rogers also unveiled the results of a recent poll of tablet and non-tablet owners, conducted by the Strategic Counsel. Close to 60 per cent of those surveyed who currently do not own a tablet agree that tablets will transform the way we live, work and play, and 42 per cent say they plan to purchase a tablet within the next year. Of those surveyed who have already purchased a tablet, the vast majority (69 per cent) claim they take their tablet everywhere they go and 58 per cent state their tablet is typically the first device they turn on in the morning.

“What we are seeing is a shift from one device to many devices connected together, anytime, anyplace,” Boynton continues. “The tablet is the dashboard for the highways of tomorrow, where people can easily access the same personalized experiences at work, in the home or on the go. We will provide the best tablet selection, integrate Rogers content on devices and build new pricing structures to make it easy for customers to make tablets part of their work, home and personal lives.”

Boynton made the remarks in a keynote speech at Rogers TabLife TO, an event Rogers organized to showcase the way tablets are changing the way we live work and play. The event brought industry leaders, manufacturers and experts to share experiences with tablets in communications, healthcare, business, media and entertainment. More information on Rogers TabLife TO conference can be found at www.tablife.ca.

A tablet-optimized version of Rogers On Demand Online will feature hours of primetime TV, movies, sports, music and will adapt perfectly to a variety of tablet screen sizes and operating systems. In 2011, customers will be able to go online on any tablet free of charge (standard data rates apply) to access Rogers On Demand as well as Rogers’ new Remote PVR service to set and manage recordings from any tablet, and smartphone anywhere, anytime. Rogers On Demand Online and Remote PVR for tablets will be available in early 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st December 2010

Shaw Rocket Prize Winner Named

notsoftOshawa indie game studio NotSoft is getting into the holiday spirit by giving away the full version of their casual game, Wytches Brew, free of charge.

Wytches Brew features five modes of play, including an epic 52 chapter quest that has the player share a year long journey with 3 Wytches as they travel around their island brewing up magical potions for those in need. With four other play wytches brewmodes, including timed modes and modes with relaxed rules, Wytches Brew offers something for casual gamers of every skill level.

“We don’t have much of a marketing budget, and with the game’s story mode beginning on Yuletide we thought giving it away during the holiday season would be a great way to attract new players,” said Steven J. Hill (aka bignobody), the man behind NotSoft, “Especially since people’s budgets are often tight at this time of year.”

I have been playing Wytches Brew off and on for a few months now, and while I haven’t yet completed the game, I have found it to be a different take on the match 3+ genre. I will be writing a review for this game once I have played through to the end, but as I have often confessed, I am more of a console gamer than a PC gamer – my PC is just too closely related to…work. 😉

shaw rocket prizeCongratulations to Dino Dan from Sinking Ship Entertainment, winner of the prestigious $50,000 Shaw Rocket Prize for 2010 after being voted the best in Canadian kids’ programming for ages 6-12. Dino Dan is an entertaining and educational TV show about a 10-year-old boy who loves interacting with dinosaurs in his imagination and learning about them. This show was favourited by kids of all ages across Canada as well as in the US, where it recently achieved the record as the highest watched debut episode on Nick Jr. in its history. Dino Dan was judged for quality and content both for the TV show and its online content. The kids jury loved playing games and digging up dinosaurs on dinodan.com.

Other titles in the running for this year’s Rocket Prize were:

How to Be Indie (DHX Media)
In Real Life (Apartment 11)
Jimmy Two-Shoes (Breakthrough Entertainment)
League of Super Evil (Nerd Corps)

OpenFeint DevelopersAs the freemium model continues to gain momentum in the mobile gaming space, developers are looking for the best ways to apply the lucrative model to their games. Today, OpenFeint is encouraging developers sell downloadable content in their games by announcing a $1 million free-to-play mobile games challenge.

The OFX Freemium Challenge waives the revenue share on OpenFeint’s just released OFX software development kit for up to $10,000 per developer, available to the first 100 games that go live. With this challenge, developers can implement OFX and sell up to $10,000 in downloadable content in game before sharing any revenue.

“With the OFX Freemium Challenge, developers will see how easy-to-use and profitable OFX can be in their games with little commitment,” says Jason Citron, CEO of OpenFeint. “We’ve all seen that the freemium model is generating some amazing results. OFX gives developers the tools they need to take advantage of this emerging model.”

Mega Jump has proved to us that the freemium model is a great way to earn revenue as an independent developer,” said Derek van Vliet of Get Set Games. “Since changing the game to freemium we’ve seen a 400% increase in overall revenue.”
Mega Jump Celebrates 7 million
Mega Jump celebrated 7 million downloads, and stated on their site that “hot on the heals of Update 10, Update 11 is just around the corner, featuring the astonishing new upgradable Jump Boots and a couple of new rascals who will be joining the growing Mega Jump family of characters.”

Released today, OFX is a set of client and cloud based services that help game developers sell new content in their games without having to submit full game updates to Apple. Future updates will allow game developers to offer virtual currency and virtual goods for sale in their games. OFX is completely free for game developers to download and implement in their games. OpenFeint only shares in revenue earned from the sale of paid downloadable content in games sold with OFX.

intuitIntuit’s online personal finance service Mint.com is now available to Canadians. Mint helps people see where their money goes, keep their spending on track by creating budgets they’ll stick with, and uncovers opportunities to save them money. And it’s free.
mint
“Canadians are global leaders when it comes to the use of online banking, social media and other online activities, so bringing Mint.com to Canada was a natural next step,” said Aaron Patzer, general manager and vice president of Intuit Personal Finance and founder of Mint.com. “A uniquely Canadian version of Mint will help Canadians make informed decisions as they plan their financial lives.”

Setting up a Mint account takes about five minutes – users register anonymously using a valid e-mail address, and then add login information for the online banking, credit card and other financial accounts they want to consolidate. Mint connects securely to more than 40 Canadian banking financial institutions, and is adding more. Users can ask Mint to add support for their favourite bank from within their account.

After users register, Mint automatically aggregates their accounts and transaction information, and provides up-to-date and accurate views of their financial life. Mint offers many ways to view and graph information, and the flexibility to scan the big picture or focus on specific details:

* Analyzes spending – Mint reveals spending patterns by automatically categorizing expenses, showing how much a user pays for gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, entertainment and more.
* Makes recommendations – Mint also saves users money by providing unique, money-saving and money-making suggestions based on users’ individual spending patterns. Slowly paying down a high-interest credit card? Mint will recommend a lower-interest card. Paying more for life insurance than others of a similar age in your region? Mint can often find a better deal. Offer data for the recommendations is provided by RateSupermarket.ca, Canada’s largest independent and impartial rate comparison service for personal finance products.

In addition, Mint is available for those on the go. Users can view their Mint account from a password-protected website or check in on the go with the free Mint.com mobile applications for iPhone and Android mobile phones, available on the iTunes Canada app store and Android Market. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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