2nd September 2011

Uniserve Now Accepting Users for Its Free Uniserve Cloud Beta Offering

uniserveUniserve Communications Corp. has announced that it is now accepting users for its Free Uniserve Cloud Beta offering. Targeted at anyone who runs a computer for a server, the Uniserve Cloud Beta will give users two free months of access to one of the top public cloud platforms in Canada on the Uniserve Cloud, powered by US-based Joyent Software. Uniserve’s Free Beta offer is scheduled to run until November, but could go longer depending on demand.

“Whether you’re a web app developer or a Python or Ruby coder, our 1 GB SmartMachine is ideal for anyone looking for an application platform,” said Bruce Sanderson, Uniserve President. “By leveraging Joyent’s six plus years in the Cloud computing space we’re able to deliver an easy to use, fast, and reliable Cloud solution that is hosted in Canada. A highly optimized, virtual compute container with guaranteed resources, our SmartMachines allow users to experience burstability, elasticity, and speed not normally found from other providers.”

Uniserve hopes to spread the word about their new Cloud offering with their Free Beta trial, stating that “we’re very excited by our Cloud product. We know we are using the best Cloud platform in Canada which is why we are looking for users who want to take the Uniserve Cloud for a free test drive. We know once you do, you’ll be hooked.”

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2nd September 2011

Catching Up With Ezio and Revelations

ubisoft canadaUbisoft has announced that the Assassin’s Creed Revelations multiplayer beta is now available for download on the Playstation®Network, exclusively for PlayStation®Plus members and Playstation®3 Uplay members, and will be playable from September 3rd 10am, closing on the evening of September 11th. Players can preload to take the proverbial leap of faith into the action the moment the beta starts, on September 3.ACR Ultimate Edition

The multiplayer beta offers access to nine characters (The Sentinel, The Vanguard, The Guardian, The Vizier, The Thespian, The Deacon, The Bombardier, The Trickster and The Champion), three maps (Knight’s Hospital, Antioch, Constantinople) and four playable modes (Wanted, Manhunt, Deathmatch, and Artifact Assault), which are only a sample of the final multiplayer content.

In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of the legendary Altaïr on a journey of discovery and revelation. It is a perilous path – one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilize the region.

Assassin’s Creed® Revelations will be available on November 15, 2011, with European and Australian gamers once again being offered special editions not available in Canada or the United States, and it’s the one edition which contains the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia. Well – one version of the Encyclopedia, because true to Ubisoft’s way, there are two editions of the book – a white version and a black version. The black version is the one included with the Animus Edition bundle, and does not include “Cartes Blanche” – a section that features Assassin’s Creed artwork by other professional artists or game fans. The only place to get the white version of the encyclopedia, which does include “Cartes Blanche”  is through UbiWorkShop, where it is available for pre-order, with a list price of $34.95USD.

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Here, according to the Assassin’s Creed wiki, are all of the editions to be available, but the Ultimate Edition Bundle isn’t (as of this writing) even listed on the GameStop.ca site, and neither is the Collector’s Edition. In all honesty, the way Ubisoft has these editions broken down really doesn’t make a lot of sense, but many things the developer/publisher does don’t always make a lot of sense, so I suppose having these multiple editions shouldn’t either.

Special Edition

  • A copy of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Game
  • Game soundtrack
  • Two multiplayer characters (The Crusader and the Ottoman Doctor)
  • Turkish Assassin Armour

Signature Edition – This edition can only be obtained by pre-ordering Assassin’s Creed: Revelations from Gamestop.

  • A copy of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Game
  • Bonus single player map, Vlad the Impaler’s Prison
  • Weapon capacity upgrades – possibly the same ones listed in the Animus Edition?
  • A multiplayer character, The Ottoman Jester
  • A DVD of the Assassin’s Creed: Embers short animated movie
  • Game soundtrack

Ultimate Bundle Edition – this edition can only be obtained from Gamestop.

  • Signature Edition of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood da Vinci’s Flying Machine replica
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood 7-inch Ezio Collectable

Collector’s Edition

  • A copy of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Game
  • Collectable casing
  • 50-page artbook
  • A DVD of the animated short film Assassin’s Creed: Embers
  • Original soundtrack
  • Bonus single player map, Vlad the Impaler’s Prison
  • Two multiplayer characters (The Crusader and The Ottoman Jester)

Templar Collector Edition- only available from OpenGames Italia.

  • A copy of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Game
  • Collectable casing
  • 50-page artbook
  • A DVD of the animated short film Assassin’s Creed: Embers
  • Original soundtrack
  • Bonus single player map, Vlad the Impaler’s Prison
  • Two multiplayer characters (The Crusader and the Ottoman Jester)
  • 8.5″ Statue/Figurine of Ezio Auditore

Animus Edition – available only in Europe and Australia

  • A copy of the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Game
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Encyclopedia
  • A DVD of the animated short film Assassin’s Creed: Embers
  • Game soundtrack
  • Bonus single player map, Vlad the Impaler’s Prison
  • Two multiplayer characters (The Crusader and The Ottoman Jester)
  • The Armor of Brutus outfit from AC: Brotherhood
  • Capacity upgrades for the Pistol, Hand-held bombs, and Crossbow
  • One exclusive customization item
  • ‘Ezio in Altaïr’s outfit’ multiplayer skin. (Only when pre-ordered at certain stores.)
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2nd September 2011

Point Grey Launches 1 Megapixel Firewire Camera

Point GreyPoint Grey’s newest addition to the Grasshopper Express camera series is housed in the same compact housing as the original Grasshopper, but offers a host of new features and a new hardware architecture designed to accommodate a wide range of high speed quad-tap image sensors. The first available model, the GX-FW-10K3M-C, uses a monochrome version of the Kodak KAI-01050 1 megapixel 1/2-inch CCD image sensor. The KAI-01050 sensor features broad dynamic range, low smear, and a 4-output readout architecture that allows the camera to generate 1024 x 1024 pixel images at up to 70 FPS.

Every Grasshopper Express camera is equipped with a 32 MByte frame buffer, 14-bit analog-to-digital converter, and on-board temperature and power sensors to monitor camera status. Like all Point Grey cameras, the GX-FW provides automatic control of most camera properties, such as gain, exposure, and white balance; user Grasshopper Expressconfiguration sets for defining custom power-up settings; and customizable region of interest and binning modes. The Grasshopper Express complies with version 1.32 of the IIDC specification, which allows it to be used with many third-party software packages. Also included with every camera is the FlyCapture® SDK, a full software library that provides a common control interface for all Point Grey cameras under both Windows and Linux.

“We are excited to expand our imaging product lineup with the launch of the Grasshopper Express camera series and the addition of the Kodak KAI-01050 CCD to our sensor portfolio,” says Michael Gibbons, Product Marketing Manager at Point Grey. “The camera’s 800 Mbit/s FireWire interface allows full resolution images to be transferred at 70 FPS and is well-suited to building low latency, highly deterministic, multiple camera networks. The square 1:1 aspect ratio of the KAI-01050 sensor and industry-leading price-performance further make the Grasshopper Express an ideal solution for industrial machine vision applications.”

The Grasshopper Express GX-FW-10K3M-C, list priced at USD $1995, is available to order now from Point Grey and its network of distributors. Additional models are planned to be released later in 2011.

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2nd September 2011

Poynt and Missing Children Society of Canada Launch Child Search Alerts

poyntPoynt Corporation and the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) have gone live with their previously announced geo-targeted notification system to push Child Search Alerts to Poynt users globally. Child Search Alerts are available to Poynt users on BlackBerry smartphones, iPhone and Android devices, putting the ability to stop child abductions directly into the hands of people while they are going about their day.Missing Children Society of Canada

Judy Peterson, mother of Lindsey Nicholls, advocates for technology that will help in the recovery of missing children. Lindsey vanished on August 2, 1993 on her way to visit friends in  Comox Valley and has not been seen or heard from since. Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon as more than 50,000 children are reported missing in Canada every year.

“The concept of reaching out to all Poynt users in a specific region and being able to ask for their help is amazing. I can’t help thinking that if this technology existed 18 years ago when my 14-year old daughter vanished, we would have had answers,” said Ms. Peterson. “The contrast between the power of this technology and my desperate search using the telephone and trekking around town with my stack of homemade posters and roll of scotch tape is overwhelming. Parents will have the comfort of knowing they are not searching alone and that there are millions of people out there who care and will now have the ability to actively help find their child.”

Lindsey Nicholls

Have you seen Lindsey Nicholls?

A first-of-its-kind geo-targeted notification system through a mobile app, Poynt will assist in the timely location and recovery of missing or abducted children. When a child goes missing or new information on their whereabouts is received, time is of the utmost importance. By pushing geo-relevant Child Search Alerts to Poynt users already in the vicinity of a missing child, Poynt and MCSC will be able to quickly disseminate important information to aid in the recovery of missing children. The Child Search Alerts will direct Poynt users to a mobile website where they can view information about the missing child including pictures, a physical description, background details, information about other potential people who are with the child, as well as the areas where the child is thought to be located.

The Missing Children Society of Canada, a registered Canadian charity, will enter information that will create a child search alert containing timely information on a missing child which will in turn be sent to Poynt users in a specified geographic area. Poynt users will then be notified via push notification that a child has been potentially sighted within a relevant radius of where they were last sighted. Users do not have to be using Poynt at the time to receive a notification; notifications will be made based on the Poynt users last known location. On iPhone, a pop-up dialogue will appear notifying the user that a missing child might be in their area. On Android and BlackBerry smartphones a notification icon will appear at the top of the phone. The system will have an opt-out option which can be found in the menu on each device.

“Being socially responsible and giving back to our community is an important part of how we feel we can make an impact. We value our families and locating missing children is a cause near and dear to us,” said Andrew Osis, President and CEO of Poynt Corp. “The capabilities of our location technology to target an area at a critical moment where a child’s life can be saved, is the perfect fit for us. The addition of Child Search Alerts enables our users to positively impact their communities in a simple yet highly effective manner, and that really has a greater societal impact.”

“We know that this push system will bring children home,” said Amanda Pick, Executive Director of MCSC. “Being able to immediately engage people in a pin-pointed area where we are conducting an investigation or where a missing child has recently been sighted is a game-changer in the search for missing children.”

“Increasingly, our investigators are working parental abduction cases that cross international borders,” continued Pick. “The ability to connect with Poynt’s existing, engaged 10 million users around the world is a huge asset to our investigation team. Most importantly, it’s a huge asset to our searching families.”

“Whether a child has been missing for 5 minutes or 5 years, communicating time-sensitive information in a case’s breakthrough moment is going to make the difference in bringing that child back to safety.”

Founded in 1986, MCSC is the only non-profit organization in Canada that has an in-house team of former law enforcement investigators that actively search for missing children. If you have seen Lindsey Nicholls or know of her whereabouts, please call 1 (800) 661 6160 or email tips@mcsc.ca.

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2nd September 2011

Cackleberries For Kids

Cackleberries, the latest online virtual world introducing children to the future of education is now open for familes to explore. This living community, full of fun learning and adventure, is the brainchild of entrepreneur Eronne Foster, a passionate mother cared so much about the future of children’s education and the promotion of a safe online environment to learn in that she assembled a team of educationalists, British Columbia’s finest animators and game developers to develop an imaginative world rich in learning and packed with entertainment.

“Information technology provides us with opportunities to make learning material more visual, interactive, and accessible,” Eronne says. “We encourage children to learn through creativity, playful thinking, social integration and computer skills. Cackleberries is designed to allow young children between the ages of 3 and 7 to play and learn. It’s not just about reading and math, but embodies life skills, social practices and cultural integration.”

Cackleberries, named after an Australian word for “egg,” reside in a live, ever changing, exciting virtual world. Aside from the wondrous characters and structures illustrated by Vancouver artist Ken Rolston, many unique features contribute to this learning environment.

“We have strived to make the learning seamless” says Eronne, “in the reading skills component, for example, it is the word bar that helps children learn. It brings together both visual and audio cues. Multimedia learning is enhanced with this combination of visual and auditory stimuli, and the beauty is that children are fast tracked into learning outcomes without even realizing they are learning. ”Eronne Foster

A highlight of Cackleberries experience is the safety aspect. Using Adobe AIR, developers of Cackleberries are able to build and deploy rich web applications and content directly to the desktop. They have developed a proprietary “Cackleberries Desktop Safety Icon.” The safety icon takes your child into the online world of Cackleberries with no access to the wider internet and no one on the internet has access to your children. The wondrous characters children interact with are carefully crafted computer generated avatars that deliver the fun and education.

“While many parents have recognized the advantage of online supplemented early education, there is nevertheless a fear of allowing children unrestricted access to the internet,” says Eronne. “At Cackleberries we are passionate about providing the safest online environment for your children to play, explore, and learn in. We take early childhood education and online safety very seriously, and consult with some of the top experts.”

“It’s important that parents are able to engage and help direct their children’s play and learning outcomes,” continued Eronne. “We are building a growing resource centre with current information on parenting, early childhood education and child safety. To this end the Cackleberries team has developed Club C for grownups. Club C is for anyone who has a child in their life – parents, grandparents, educators and caregivers.”

In Cackleberries world children develop their own avatars, which are engagingly interactive and kick start the child’s creativity. Children participate in a growing, living world, with houses, streets and communities that evolve around them. The creators imagined a place for children where everyone is accepted, differences are never feared and innocence still exists.

“We are always developing exciting new learning delivery methods which encompass a wide skill set,” enthuses Eronne.  “As borders open between nations, ethnic diversity has become part of the mosaic of life. Cackleberries teaches acceptance, understanding and caring; and shows our young audience how to celebrate, not fear differences.”

 

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2nd September 2011

Helping Tweens Find Their Way

kids nowIt’s not easy being tween. Youth today face difficult and sometimes life-threatening decisions, and at this time of year, back-to-school anxiety and stress is much discussed among parents, educators and the media. Tweens and young teens, confronted with peer pressure, cyber-drama, bullying and the increasingly pervasive influence of social media, often need support to help them navigate their way from childhood to high school.

And schools in Toronto and the GTA are able to do that with the free kids.now after-school program, which matches one volunteer mentor with 10 students in a 12 week curriculum-based program that provides students with important lessons in building self-confidence, resolving conflict, setting goals, improving communication and managing stress.

“We are really pleased to be partnering with kids.now to offer many of our students the opportunity to work with a mentor that will help students discover who they are and what they can become,” says Chris Spence, Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board. “I know from personal experience the value of mentorship and I encourage students to get involved and let their journeys begin.”

Since 1999, kids.now, a charitable organization, has provided free in-school group mentoring programs to more than 11,000 grades 7 and 8.  This fall, kids.now will run 80 programs in Ontario and 40 more throughout New Brunswick and Alberta.

“What we do is really provide kids with a toolbox that helps them in these critical years but that they can also access as they get older,” said kids.now President and Founder Janet King. “We empower youth to believe in themselves to make positive choices so they can reach their full potential.”

Marilia Lana signed up “shy introvert” Vinny during a particularly difficult time in her family’s life. “After the program, Vinny was like a flower blossoming. He just became better,” said Marilia, a family support worker. “Our experience with kids.now has impacted our whole family, and I want to tell other parents that this program is a no brainer – the results are big, a huge improvement in social skills.”

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2nd September 2011

Stylish Girl Now On Android

After experiencing the great success with their two iPhone apps “Stylish Girl” and “Cool Guy” (more than one million downloads and over 100000 active users worldwide), the Toronto based DDN Media team has decided to expand their fan club by inviting Android users in it. They gave advantage? to the girls first and developed stylish girl“Stylish Girl” for Android so that they could feel as stylish as their iPhone friends.

Stylish Girl is a multifunctional fashion app focusing on three major fashion elements:

1. users’ virtual closets where they can create numerous outfits

2. Shopping by allowing users to combine items from the online fashion stores with their own and shop from their phone directly

3. fashion news on style and tips from professional stylist The social element anchors the fun by the allowing users to post links and pictures of items and outfits with comments to twitter and Facebook

Stylish Girl was presented by Apple on New York Fashion Week as a successful symbiosis of mobile technology and fashion and later included in their well-known campaign for the app store”There’s an app for that.”

“Our strength lies in the number of users. We love and them and respect their feedback always replying each of them. Many of those emails were surprisingly from Android who have seen the app at their iPhone friends and wondering if they would ever be able to use it on their android devices. The Android version was on our to do list for some time already but we have finally hired another developer and shortened the process getting the Android users closer to fashion style and shopping by making Stylish Girl inseparable part of their lives. And this is not the end of surprises. The soon coming app. upgrade includes a pop up shop and the version for guys is on the way as well,” says DDN Media co founder  Dubravko Naumov.

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1st September 2011

Wajam Goes Local

wajamPopular social search plug-in Wajam has expanded with Wajam Places, which shows users location-based results from their friends directly in Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines.

Now it’s even easier to find relevant information from friends who live in the places you’re searching such as places that friends and associates have liked in any given locale, along with places they have checked-in to and photos they may have taken at that location.

Users who are new to Wajam’s service will start seeing results based on location directly in their compatible search engines, while longtime users will see Wajam Places along with regular results as the service crawls location markers that Wajam has already stored for you.

As an early adopter, I’ve been using Wajam for several months, and I find this to be an invaluable add-on for my search results, especially when I know someone mentioned something but I can’t remember whom – a simple Google Wajam search on the topic and there it is. Wajam is easy to install and very easy to use; for me it’s become an important part of my research toolkit.

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1st September 2011

Shaw To Build Broadband Wireless Network

Shaw CableShaw Communications Inc. has announced the results of its strategic review of the wireless business opportunity, including the potential value of wireless in the traditional cable bundle, the rapid evolution of wireless technologies, the capital needed to build a competitive wireless network (including additional spectrum requirements), recent changes in the wireless competitive environment, and the impact that wireless would have on long-term shareholder value.

When the corporation first started looking at the wireless opportunity, it saw wireless as a complementary product in a world where broadband Internet access is moving increasingly to wireless devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc). A wireless offering could give Shaw a platform from which to extend current services and leverage its broadband, video, voice and content/programming businesses. Editor’s note: this could also translate into a bonus for Canadian programming like Endgame, the Gemini Award-nominated crime drama which many are hoping will be renewed for at least a second season.

However, the economics of a conventional wireless business as a new entrant are extremely challenging. New entrants lack the economies of scale and scope to compete effectively against well established incumbents with ubiquitous coverage, extensive device ecosystems, deep spectrum positions and large retail networks. Even with Shaw’s established base and considerable strengths and assets, the company could not justify a wireless network build at this time.

The corporation believes that a more prudent approach is to provide a managed Wi-Fi network that will allow customers to extend their Shaw services beyond the home. This will achieve the company’s objectives without risking well over $1 billion in capital expenditures on a traditional wireless network build.

As a wireless broadband technology Wi-Fi is evolving rapidly with significant improvements in throughput, coverage and reliability. Wi-Fi technologies are now capable of providing seamless hand-off and extensive metropolitan area coverage. Wi-Fi is in virtually all portable consumer devices and customers are actively seeking Wi-Fi hot spots to reduce data costs and improve their wireless broadband experience. The vast majority of tablets sold to date are Wi-Fi only devices. Wireless broadband is increasingly viewed as a portable and nomadic service for the consumption of media rich content and video.

Major wireless carriers worldwide are deploying Wi-Fi as means of offloading 3G/4G traffic thereby reducing network build costs, and improving capacity and coverage. Shaw believes that cable operators are uniquely positioned to take advantage of Wi-Fi.

In addition, given that Wi-Fi spectrum is free and there are no device subsidies, Shaw can build extensive Wi-Fi coverage at a substantially lower cost relative to a traditional wireless network and still provide customers with an excellent broadband wireless experience.

“We have decided to focus on strengthening our core business and leveraging our media and programming assets to support our leadership position in broadband and video,” said Brad Shaw, Chief Executive Officer of Shaw. “Our decision not to pursue a conventional wireless business is consistent with this strategic approach and our focus on shareholder value.”

Shaw held a conference call earlier today to discuss additional details regarding the announcement, with further news forthcoming.

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1st September 2011

Coming Up At WordFest

WordFest has announced the full Festival line-up for the 16th annual WordFest, which runs from October 11-16. Outside of the more than 60 events during the six day festival, WordFest is also hosting two special events in November featuring Adrienne Clarkson (November 1) and Wade Davis (November 9).Adrienne Clarkson

On Tuesday, November 1, WordFest presents Adrienne Clarkson at the Central Library, John Dutton Theatre (616 Macleod Trail SE in Calgary) at 7pm. The event will feature the former governor general of Canada presenting her new book, Room For All of Us, followed by a signing. Clarkson’s book is a collection of personal stories that explore the immigrant experience. Tickets are $15.

On Wednesday, November 9, WordFest returns to the Central Library, John Dutton Theatre to present bestselling author and adventurer Wade Davis at 7pm. Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, will present his latest book, Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest. Tickets are $15.

Jo Steffens, Festival Director, revealed the list of 76 writers showcased in the Festival with an eager response from readers, local writers, sponsors, supporters, volunteers, media and WordFest patrons. WordFest will Wade Davisfeature 17 Albertan writers, 64 Canadian artists and writers from Australia, Germany, Mexico, Scotland, St. Lucia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“I am really excited about this year’s line-up, there’s an exceptional group of Canadian and Albertan writers and some very strong emerging and first-time novelists,” said Steffens. “WordFest is introducing new programming this year, including more free events in addition to annual favourites.”

“This year WordFest is sharing the power of words in new ways. The Festival is showcasing a radio play based on the work of Jessica Westhead and a text-based installation on outdoor billboards. With this mix of talent, genres and themes there is really something for everyone,” said Steffens.

Annual WordFest favourites are included in the line-up of events this year, including Poetry Bash, Lattes, Love and Laughter and the Evening Showcases. New events such as Alberta (Un)Bound, Persuasion, Word Powered Art and Franklin Family Fun Day! show the breadth of WordFest programming that includes industry events, poetry and diverse multilingual programming. Read the rest of this entry »

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