16th August 2011

Register Now For X-Engage Merging Media Conference and Masterclass 2011

merging media conferenceMerging Media Productions Inc. and CMPA-British Columbia are delighted to launch their Merging Media Conference + Masterclass 2011: X-ENGAGE website and program for Canada’s Premier Cross-media Showcase on October 27th and 28th at the SFU Woodwards Cinema, SFU Woodwards Goldcorp Centre in Vancouver. They announced today that 38 Conference Speakers and Panelists will be participating in the highly anticipated two-day event, including world thought leaders from Lionsgate, YouTube, Amazon.com, Al Jazeera, Starlight Runner Entertainment and Microsoft.

Merging Media will offer a $10,000 Development Award for the best cross-media project at its Pitch 360 Sessions on October 28th. For information on how to apply or to exhibit at the VEDC Innovation Gallery, please contact Merging Media. Register now for the Merging Media Conference and Masterclass 2011: X-Engage – early bird pricing ends September 30th.

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16th August 2011

Wild Game Studios To Debut New Dhaila Trailer At Gamescom

Wild Game Studio…but you can see it here first!

In this latest pre-launch trailer for its open-world action game Dhaila’s AdventuresWild Game Studios invites you to travel with Dhaila as she enters a new dungeon, ready to face unknown dangers and the creatures who live there. As with all adventures, the event does not go as expected.

Dhaila’s story is set in the fantasy world of Martania, where Dysan the Tyrant has forced the people into slave labour through the influence he has over all the dragons of the kingdom. As they work to extract the precious stones of Dysan’s mines needed to enhance the Tyrant’s magical skills, the people become unwilling participants in his quest for total control of the world.

A young, orphaned fairy, Dhaila fights on the side of the resistance, developing her extraordinary powers in hopes of releasing the Martanians from Dysan’s treachery. She has special skills, including one which can absorb the energy of nature directly through its DNA. Dhaila can also absorb the DNA of other creatures, making the heroine able to acquire their shape at any time.

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You can sign up for the beta test by subscribing on the Wild Game Studios web site. Dhaila’s Adventures is scheduled for release to the PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March 2012.

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16th August 2011

Nine Dot Studios Announces Brand

nine dots studioNine Dots Studio is hard at work to deliver Brand, which the studio says will be one of the most polished titles ever seen on Xbox Live Indie Games. The game will be launched before the end of September for 240 Microsoft Points. Brand is a game that offers some of the most stunning 3D graphics ever seen on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace and yet is rooted in old school 2D action gameplay. There are three open levels to explore, and you choose which quests suits your needs according to the powers you want to unlock.

The goal is to upgrade the sword to your liking, up to a set level. Any power changes both the gameplay and the sword’s appearance significantly. Some of these powers can be combined to create new abilities. There are nine powers which can be upgraded five times each and four hidden combos. Examples of gameplay altering powers: transform the dash attack into a teleport spell or transform the block ability into an offensive ability.

 

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Venture too far at your own risk in the vast expanse of levels. Falling in the wrong hole might force you to fight off waves of punishing monsters – unless you’ve done your homework and learned their patterns. Brand will deliver a different experience to each player. Although a typical game will be short (a few hours), it will offer a lot of replay value through the exploration of different play styles. Nine Dots is exploring the possibility of releasing the game on Steam at a later date, but has not committed to that avenue of development.

 

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16th August 2011

Commercial-Free Mobile Streaming Music Service Launches

Stingray DigitalA collective licensing agreement, representing more than 1500 major and independent record labels in Canada, has facilitated the launch of Galaxie Mobile by Stingray Digital, the first Canadian-owned commercial-free mobile streaming music service.

The agreement with Stingray is Canada’s first collective semi-interactive agreement and was negotiated by AVLA and SOPROQ on behalf of their members who represent the majority of recorded music in Canada, laying the groundwork for future agreements of its kind.

Music Canada, which represents Canada’s major record labels, spearheaded the negotiations, empowering AVLA to act on its behalf.  Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, points out that the major labels want to see more digital services operating in Canada as quickly as possible, “We aggressively pursued this pioneering agreement because we understand how cumbersome our regulatory environment can be, and we want to help services better navigate it.  We hope the Stingray agreement sets the stage for other online and mobile services, and signals to the marketplace that Canada is open for business.”

“For digital music services who are eager to enter the Canadian market, it is an enormous benefit to be able to negotiate with one or two organizations rather than 1500 plus rights holders,” says Victoria Shepherd, Executive Director of AVLA.

“By enabling Stingray to clear all rights necessary with both major and independent music labels, we have created an accessible template for other semi-interactive services that want to come to Canada.  In addition, AVLA’s independent members benefit from being at the ground floor of a deal that may otherwise have begun only with the largest rights holders.  Developing the digital business here will remain an important priority for us in the months ahead,” adds Shepherd.

Stuart Johnston, President of the Canadian Independent Music Association welcomed the agreement, “This agreement with Stingray is an exciting and important step forward for the Canadian music industry, and we are hopeful it will serve as a template for other services going forward. Any agreement that serves to streamline the approvals process while providing a broad licensing deal for the benefit of our industry is most welcome.”

The new music service offers all of Galaxie’s 45 commercial and talk-free channels, already available online and via cable satellite and IPTV, on mobile devices.  Interactive controls allow listeners to skip songs and purchase their favourite songs directly on iTunes via the Galaxie Mobile player.  The player is available immediately in Canada for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and all Android devices.

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16th August 2011

WIND Mobile expands to Kitchener-Waterloo

wind mobileWIND Mobile has continued its national rollout and brought wireless change to the Kitchener-Waterloo region. As it does in its other regions across Canada, WIND now offers K-W residents their first real alternative to the incumbent oligopoly in years, bringing with it freedom from term contracts and real value with fair prices on advanced wireless services.

Today’s launch marks the sixth market for WIND across the country. In addition to increasing coverage areas, WIND is rolling out network upgrades to 4G speeds (HSPA+ up to 21.1Mbps). This upgrade will be available to all WIND customers at no additional cost. It will allow faster data access on smartphones and Mobile Internet enabled devices such as netbooks, laptops, tablets – making services from video streaming to access to cloud-based data and other Internet services even more accessible.

“We are aggressively expanding and enhancing our network for the long haul,” said Anthony Lacavera, Chairman and CEO of WIND Mobile and Globalive Communications, “Today’s announcement is our latest step in delivering on our commitment to Canadians to bring wireless change by offering excellent, innovative service at affordable prices.”

WIND’s Growth Highlights

  • One hundred per cent of WIND customers are data-enabled, and about half are using smartphones.
  • WIND’s network is currently capable of delivering download speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps and is being upgraded to 21.1 Mbps.
  • The latest generation WINDspeed Mobile Internet Stick E366 will be arriving in WIND stores shortly to take advantage of up to 21.1 Mbps download speeds.
  • WIND is the only HD Voice capable network in North America and is committed to adding more HD voice handsets to its existing line-up which includes the Google Nexus S, Nokia C7, Nokia C5 and Alcatel Tribe with Android
  • WIND is one of the first operators in Canada to live-test LTE.

To take advantage of WIND’s improved network, WIND is currently offering unlimited local talk, global text, and data, plus voicemail on smartphones for the unbeatable price of $29 per month. WIND is also offering unlimited mobile Internet for laptops, netbooks and tablets for only $29 per month.

In addition to these offers, WIND customers can now save more than $350 on the latest smartphones or mobile Internet sticks without signing a term-contract on the amplified WINDtab+. Customers that take advantage of WINDtab+ will also receive WIND’s Pay-Off Promise – a commitment that once a customer has been with WIND for three years any remaining WINDtab+ balance will be cleared away. This is an entirely new concept in the wireless market and is only available at WIND.

As part of its launch initiative and to introduce its service to residents in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, WIND awarded a $10,000 WINDthanks KW Community Grant to Mosaic Counselling and Family Services’ Pathways to Education program for their Mobile Education Project (MobileED).

“Our launch in the Kitchener-Waterloo region marks our continued pursuit to bring more wireless choice to all Canadians,” said Lacavera. “We’re also introducing ourselves to the community by helping to facilitate more positive change through our $10,000 grant to Mosaic’s MobileED project to help students gain access to the Internet for schoolwork, applying to jobs and completing university and college applications.”

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16th August 2011

BLG Offers More Ways To Be Prepared For Bill C-28 CASL

Borden Ladner Gervais LLPFrom Canadian legal firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP: Expected to come into place this fall, Canada’s new Anti-Spam and Online Fraud ActB (Bill C-28) is one of the most rigid in the world, and will have serious implications for any business that sends commercial electronic messages, including e-mails, texts, instant messages, or social media messages, to customers or suppliers in Canada.

Also affected are businesses that route data through Canadian servers, whether or not that information is intended for Canadian consumers. The new act, which is designed to prohibit unsolicited and misleading electronic communication and online fraud, outlines a number of new offences, enforcement mechanisms, and severe penalties of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for organizations. Businesses must move swiftly to ensure compliance and reduce risk.

“This new legislation will impact any American business that communicates with Canadian customers or transmits data through Canadian servers. For most organizations, the key part of the act is the new rules of consent around almost every commercial e-mail, text or social media message a business sends,” said Barbara McIsaac, counsel in BLG’s Ottawa office who specializes in privacy and access to information law. “Unless the recipient has given consent – or opted-in – to receive the communication, and the message complies with very specific formalities, businesses are going to find it much more difficult to send electronic messages with commercial content. Businesses, including directors and officers, are facing much greater risk.”

In many countries, including the U.S., recipients are offered the option to “opt-out” once an e-mail message is received. When e-mailing Canadian customers, businesses will be required to obtain recipient consent prior to sending the message. What may prove challenging for many businesses is the need to obtain consent without the ability to send a message requesting consent.

To reduce risk once the act comes into place, BLG recommends that businesses begin preparations now, and offers the following tips:

1. Conduct an internal audit to account for all external-facing electronic communications distributed by the organization. Consider relevant third parties such as distributors or marketing agencies, and the location of any external servers.

2. Establish procedures to ensure that all customer or supplier-facing messages are accurate and comply with new requirements, including information disclosure language and an unsubscribe mechanism that is promptly implemented.

3. Obtain and maintain an accurate and current list of recipients’ consent to receive messages. Instances of express and implied consent should be handled separately to ensure clarity and compliance.

4. Revise contracts with any relevant third parties that distribute electronic messages on behalf of the organization to require compliance with the act.

5. Clearly communicate and educate relevant employees on policies that need to be implemented as a result of the act. Consider holding staff training programs to ensure everyone is clear on both the guidelines and the risks.

6. Put into place a gate keeping process to ensure that established procedures for monitoring compliance are being followed.

7. Obtain insurance to protect the business, corporate directors and officers from liability.

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16th August 2011

Bluestreak Technology To Demonstrate Video Everywhere at IBC 2011

bluestreak technologyMontreal’s Bluestreak Technology will be demonstrating a variety of new Video Everywhere™ services at the IBC Expo 2011 conference and exhibition in Amsterdam this September 9th through 13th. Video Everywhere™ is an emerging concept, blending the delivery of content from traditional TV services, over-the-top (OTT) vendors, and social media into connected devices, including televisions, set-top boxes, digital video recorders, smartphones, and tablets.

A recent study by UK-based IMS research forecasts that OTT video services will generate $16.4 billion in revenue by 2016, with video-on-demand services from pay-TV providers seeing an additional $14.7 billion. With researchers machbluepredicting a tenfold increase in pay-OTT transactions over the next five years, it is clear that the promise of delivering video services any time on any device is now becoming more important than ever.

Expect Video Everywhere™ to be a key topic at this year’s IBC 2011 conference, where companies will be showcasing their latest innovations in the areas of optimized video delivery. At the event, IBC exhibitor Bluestreak Technology will be demonstrating a variety of new services focused on the areas of:

  • OTT – The company will be unveiling a new customer deployment that delivers premium OTT video services from leading service providers, including Netflix, BBC, and YouTube, on a wide variety of televisions, digital media players, and Blu-ray players worldwide.
  • Multi-screen and companion screen – The company will be showcasing its connected TV capabilities with a product demonstration that combines live TV, network PVR, video on demand (VOD), interactive widgets, and Internet TV into a single service that runs across a variety of connected devices, including televisions, set-top boxes, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
  • 3D interactive video – The company will be highlighting leading-edge innovations in the area of 3D video with a demonstration that showcases both 3D content and interactive features for IBC attendees to experience.

Bluestreak Technology will also be demonstrating the latest updates to the company’s MachBlue platform which deliver an outstanding video experience for today’s largest connected device vendors and content providers, including Bouygues Telecom, DivX, Mitsubishi, NDS, Orange, Panasonic, SagemCom, Soft@Home, Time Warner Cable and Videotron.

Demonstrations and product information will be available at the Bluestreak Technology stand in Hall 13 at the IBC 2011 exhibition, stand number: 13.123.

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16th August 2011

Be Prepared For Bill C-28 The Canadian Anti-Spam Law

constant contactFrom Constant Contact: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), Bill C-28, may not be in effect until early 2012, but that doesn’t mean that small businesses and organizations should wait to make sure they are prepared for the new legislation. Marketing advisor Constant Contact®, Inc. is offering its insights to help small businesses and nonprofits across Canada – as well as any others communicating with people in Canada – prepare for compliance.

“The general guidelines set forth by Canada’s new anti-spam legislation actually mirror what Constant Contact has been promoting for years—the ‘best practices’ that make email and social media marketing most effective,” said Lisa Kember, Constant Contact regional development director for Toronto. “By following best practices, marketers not only set themselves up for success, but also put themselves in a better position to comply with the law when it goes into effect.”

The Canadian Government passed CASL in December 2010 to establish a regulatory framework for permission-based marketing, including email marketing, social media marketing, text, and other electronic messaging. This framework will protect electronic commerce in Canada, deter damaging and deceptive forms of spam, such as identity theft, phishing and spyware, and drive out spammers.

“Education and awareness are key to ensuring that organizations are proactively evaluating their contact list collection methods and practising permission-based online marketing,” said Guy Steeves, Constant Contact regional development director for Vancouver. “With or without the legislation, there are many things that small businesses and organizations can do now, and we want to be sure they know we’re here to help.”

Following are 10 permission-based online marketing best practices that small businesses and organizations can use to spruce up their marketing efforts and prepare for CASL:

1. Be Respectful – Ask for permission to communicate with your contacts. Some email marketers have operated for years with implicit consent to use an address obtained through relationships with customers or clients, but this will no longer be enough once the new legislation goes into effect. There will be a grace period for obtaining explicit consent through opt-in, however anyone who has gathered their contacts with implied consent will eventually have to convert them to explicit. Start gathering explicit consent from your new and existing contacts now so that you are ahead of the game.

Also, recognize that permission can be given, but it can be taken away too. Make sure every email you send has the option for the recipient to unsubscribe or “opt-out.” Interests may change over time and communications may no longer be valuable to a given subscriber. Those subscribers are entitled to withdraw their permission at will.

2. Be Specific – When people sign up for your email list, allow them to select—precisely—their areas of interest (e.g., newsletters, sale notifications, new product or service announcements, event invitations). You can make subscribers feel more comfortable by specifying what they will receive and when they will receive it (e.g., “Sign up for Our Weekly Concert Announcement”). Also, be sure to identify yourself to your subscribers in the “From:” line, and use the name they recognize most easily – your name or your company name.

3. Be Trustworthy – Your privacy policy should be clearly posted, and your address and phone number should be included in all email communications. This adds credibility to your company and your emails even if recipients do not click on the link.

4. Be Straightforward – Remind recipients why they are receiving an email from you. Whether they are a valued customer, a prospect who expressed interest, or a client you want to keep in touch with, the reminder will enhance recognition of your business and put your email into context, thus differentiating your communications from unwanted email.

5. Be Interested – Are your email communications adding value? Is the frequency right? A survey is an inexpensive, easy, and immediate way to find out how your customers really feel about your company and your email communications. So, when you do a survey, don’t forget to ask how your customers feel about your emails.

6. Be Current – People change ISPs, jobs, and email addresses frequently. Often, you’ll be the last to know. Ask for updated information and give subscribers an easy way to change their email address. In addition, provide a way for your subscribers to change their profile, interests and preferences to help you target the right content for the right audience.

7. Be Considerate – Respect the privilege of communicating with your customers and prospects by taking care not to communicate too often. Gratuitous emails are not met with gratitude. Think carefully and plan how many, and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers.

8. Be Diligent – Some subscribers will reply to an email to unsubscribe instead of using the automatic unsubscribe link. Monitor your inbox for unsubscribes and complaints, then make sure you remove unsubscribe addresses right away and take action on any grievances.

9. Be Observant – Look at your reports! There’s a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. Always pay attention to how many people are unsubscribing from your emails. If you are losing more than .5 percent of your subscribers per month, take a look at all of the elements of your campaigns, make sure you’re following the other nine tips, and make adjustments where you’re falling short. Opens and click-throughs can also indicate where you might be missing the mark.

10. Beware – Beware of strangers bearing lists! Permission is not transferable. Today, subscribers want to receive email from those companies they have subscribed to, not an unknown third party. If anyone claims you can “Blast your ad to over 1,000 safe addresses for only $5.00!” or “Buy a CD with 10,000,000 email addresses for only $99!” this is too good to be true. These lists are not permission-based—they are spam lists.

You can get more information on this and a variety of topics at Constant Contact’s online learning centre. There are also a number of educational seminars in BC and Ontario that may interest you.

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16th August 2011

NetFlix Introduces Just For Kids

netflixNetflix has made it easier and more fun for Canadian kids and families to instantly watch a huge range of kid-friendly TV shows and movies with its new “Just for Kids” experience. Although the “Just for Kids” experience is currently available only via the Netflix website, similar functionality will come to the Wii, iPad, Xbox, Playstation and many other devices over the next year.

Members in Canada can now click on the “Just for Kids” tab at the top of the Netflix home page and find a newly-designed section featuring content perfect for children 12 and under. Kids will now be able to click on an icon of their favorite characters – from “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “Dora The Explorer”, and from “Arthur” to “Pingu” and “Thomas and Friends”- and find a deep selection of great TV shows and movies featuring that character.

Kids, parents and caregivers will also be able to scan through row after row of movies and shows organized by easy-to-understand genres like superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs and girl power, featuring clear and simple descriptions of the plot of each title. To develop these selections, Netflix used ratings and reviews from Common Sense Media, a non-profit provider of independent, trustworthy ratings, reviews, and information to help parents make great media choices.

“Kids discover and categorize movies and TV shows differently than adults,” said Todd Yellin, Netflix Vice President of Product Innovation. “Just as we have revolutionized the way people find the movies and shows they want to watch when and how they want to, we’re making it easier for kids and parents alike to have the best possible Netflix experience.”

Netflix designed the “Just for Kids” experience in recognition that kids are among the most ardent consumers of TV shows and movies. Almost half of the 25 million Netflix members in the United States and Canada have instantly watched at least two movies or shows made for kids in the last 90 days.

“Family movie night is a great way for parents to connect with their kids in our 24/7 media culture, and over the last few years, Netflix has recreated the concept, bringing kids and parents together around great, quality entertainment on multiple platforms,” said Amy Guggenheim Shenkan, president and COO, Common Sense Media. “We’ve partnered with Netflix for many years and our work informs the overall quality and scope of the “Just for Kids” experience, helping parents to make great media choices for the entire family.”

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16th August 2011

Young Entrepreneurs Set To Shake Up The Mobile App Market

the next 36Heavy-hitting investors and business elite from across North America heard pitches from Canada’s youngest entrepreneurs yesterday, and are evaluating the first business ventures created through game-changing program, The Next 36. An initiative supported by more than 50 Canadian business leaders – including Galen Weston, Paul Desmarais Sr. and Jim Pattison as founding patrons – The Next 36 aims to transform the country’s most promising undergraduates into high-impact entrepreneurs and nation builders.

“For years, I have been looking for the best way to help young entrepreneurs,” explains Anthony Lacavera, a director of The Next 36 and Chairman and CEO of Globalive. “The Next 36 is the perfect formula.”2010 Selection Day for The Next 36

Yesterday’s ‘Venture Day’ marked the culmination of the program’s inaugural year. The accomplished young co-founders (aged 19 to 23) spent the last eight months working in teams and together with CEO mentors, top business school faculty, and others to seize opportunities in mobile application technology. These ventures include mobile apps relating to local bartering, customer feedback, exercise rewards, flirting and virtual clothing.

Monday’s graduation ceremony featured the presentation of three highly-coveted awards. The 2011 Valedictorian, selected by his peers, was David Berkal, a Peace & Conflict Studies graduate from The University of Toronto. Emily Dimytosh, who is entering her final year in Commerce at Queen’s, was chosen by the program’s co-founders as winner of the Satchu Prize, named in honour of Founding Chair, Reza Satchu.  “In terms of raising the bar, The Next 36 has taken me from varsity high jump to Olympic pole vaulting,” states Dimytosh.  The recipient of the Outstanding Venture Award was Tradyo, a swapping application that allows users to buy & barter on a local level through their smartphone.  Tradyo’s co-founders come from McGill, Western, Guelph and Toronto.

“Canadian prosperity depends on our ability to generate more seasoned entrepreneurs to drive this country forward.” said Claudia Hepburn, co-founder and executive director of The Next 36. “Entrepreneurs who see opportunities where others see challenges have the ability to change our community and our economy. We can’t wait to see how they build on this experience in the real world.”

As the first cohort of The Next 36 makes plans to forge ahead with their businesses – some while juggling their studies – the program is gearing up to welcome its next wave of students. The application process is open until October 7, 2011.

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