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7th March 2011

Big Sandwich Games Announces Next Round Of Release Dates

Upcoming Event: Toronto Twestival on March 24th.

Great Canadian Appathon 2011Competition: Student App Coders, don’t forget that the Great Canadian Appathon, presented by XMG Studio and the National Post, is THIS weekend. Register before noon on Wednesday, March 9th for a chance to win an Xbox 360 Kinect package! This is an awesome opportunity to learn more about app coding from the professionals, as well as a chance to win some major cash and other prizes, not to mention getting your app published. Please see the web site for complete details.

Meetup: The Vancouver Indie Dev Meetup is tomorrow night at The Helm.

RatRod StudioFormer Playdom veteran Shohag Al-Mamun has joined Ratrod Studio Inc. as Chief Technology Officer. Shohag has several years of experience in video game development and held important roles for well established companies.

“With Shohag`s experience in various fields including games that launched on the social and mobile platforms, Shohag will be an important asset for Ratrod which will allow us to tap into a different type of market,” says Pat Toulouse, Ratrod Studio Inc. President.

After completing a bachelor degree in computer science and engineering, Shohag started his career at Deep Red Studio Ltd. where he was hired to develop triple-A social themed simulation games. He then worked at Playdom as lead developer where he was managing his team during the production of popular Facebook and iPhone social games such as TikiFarm, Verdonia, High School and MobAir, to name a few.

With a solid technical background, senior programming skills and plenty of experience in the gaming field, Shohag will be responsible for managing our day-to-day game development operations. His dedication, passion and knowledge of the industry will allow us to develop high quality content dedicated to the social and mobile space.

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games has announced the release dates for upcoming versions of their critically acclaimed strategy arcade game HOARD™, which puts players in control of an ambitious dragon bent on gathering large mounds of gold while burning medieval villages, kidnapping princesses and roasting thieves.Hoard-Screenshot

HOARD™ will release on PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system in North America on March 22, retailing for $9.99.  It will follow on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP system in Europe in early April.  Pricing is yet to be announced.  The PlayStation®3 system version is already available for purchase in North America for $14.99.  All versions feature over 35 levels and 100+ badges to earn.

The game’s innovative design and addictive combination of action and strategy earned it a “Best Quick Fix” award and a nomination for “Best Competitive Multiplayer” in IGN’s Best of 2010 Awards.  We haven’t had a look at the game yet, but Joystiq says “HOARD’s gameplay shines,” and 1UP reports “the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy.”  Ars Technica quips it “will keep you scorching villages for hours on end.”

Colba.Net Telecom Inc., through its Quebec subsidiary Colba.Net Inc.,  is proceeding to launch and offer in 2011 colbaits new Internet Protocol Television (“IPTV”) service. This follows a recent decision by the CRTC th approve the application by Colba.Net for a broadcasting license to operate a Class 1 terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertaking to serve the Montreal Island. Colba.net footprint currently covers approximately 400,000 households over the Island of Montreal – and on visiting their site, I see the company offers internet with no throttling and no limits. I wish we had that option in our neighbourhood, but instead we have a choice of Telus or Shaw.

At launch, the new IPTV service will offer several high-definition channels, some international channels, some of the most popular American channels as well as unlimited Internet access to websites of movies and TV episodes from NetFlix, AppleTV and TOU.TV for example. The new service will be offered at $19.95 per month for a 12 month fully paid upfront subscription.

“Once again, we are thrilled and proud to launch a new service such as IPTV at such a competitive monthly price. Our whole business model, core corporate values and reputation are based upon offering the best possible products and services at unbeatable prices. We strongly believe that both the industry and consumers stand to greatly benefit from increasing competition in our fast growing industry sector.” Said Mr. Joseph Bassili, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colba.Net.

Kik Interactive has closed an $8 million round of Series A funding with RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union kik interactiveSquare Ventures. Kik also announced that Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures) and Adam Ludwin (RRE Ventures) are joining the company’s Board of Directors.

The new funding positions the company for its next phase of development, which includes the launch of new group messaging and picture sharing features. Following its explosive launch in October 2010, Kik Messenger is being used by more than three million people due to its speed, reliability, and unique user experience.

“Kik is a fast, simple, and elegant solution to cross device mobile messaging which we think is one of the most exciting investment opportunities right now,” said Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures.  “We believe the Kik team has shown that they understand how to deliver the right set of features in the right package and we are excited about working with them to build the mobile messaging marketplace.”

Kik also released a new version of Kik Messenger today for iOS and Android devices that features real-time group chat and picture sharing. Kik’s group chat makes it extremely simple to add anyone to a conversation on the fly. Up to ten people can be included in a group.

Kik Messenger’s new picture sharing features allows users to share what they’re seeing with the click of a button.  Other picture sharing applications are essentially a file transfer, while Kik’s photo sharing capability is built around the idea of visually connecting people in real time. “It puts you right there with them, letting you see what they see as it happens,” Livingston added.

Kik will be a highly visible presence at the upcoming SXSW conference this week. Kik will be offering a free real-time concierge service for conference goers.  Users can add “SXSW” to their Kik contacts and ask any question they might have, from what time a panel is starting to how late Torchy’s Tacos will be open. A real person will respond with Kik and answer the question in real time.

voice mobilityVancouver-based developer and provider of carrier and enterprise messaging solutions Voice Mobility International, Inc. has closed the debenture financing that was previously announced on February 2nd and 15th, 2011, for proceeds of $580,000.

In connection with the closing of the financing, the Company is also pleased to announce that it has completed the acquisition of all of the assets of Tagline Communications Inc. for total consideration of $425,000 and the issuance of 1,000,000 common shares of the Company.

The debentures are secured, bear interest at 12% per annum, and have a term of four months. As consideration for the debenture financing, the Company issued 1,500,000 common shares to an arm’s length party. The Company has also settled $87,500 in outstanding debt through the issuance of 875,000 common shares at a deemed price of $0.10 per common share. The balance of the proceeds of the debenture financing are being used to settle existing indebtedness, and for working capital purposes.

“We are taking a step by step, methodical approach to executing on our stated strategy. With the strengthening of our balance sheet brought by the closing of the AVST transaction in February, 2011, we are now commencing our strategy of acquiring Cloud based unified communications (“UC”) service providers. Each acquisition will lead us further along the path to profitability and value for our shareholders,” commented Jay Hutton, CEO of VMI. “We are pleased that we were also able to take the opportunity to eliminate some of our debt in this transaction and will continue efforts to improve our financial position and grow our business through acquisition. The Tagline transaction is the first step in this acquisition strategy. We remain committed to the growth strategy that we communicated late last year.”

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7th March 2011

Telefilm Takes Canadians On A Mission To SXSW

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada is pleased to announce its support of 12 Canadian companies attending the 2011 South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Film Conference and Festival and SXSW Interactive taking place in Austin, Texas from March 11th to 19th. With a total of 36,000 participants last year, SXSW conferences and festivals offer a convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies that foster creative and professional growth alike.

This year Telefilm is piloting a multiplatform mission to SXSW that aims to enhance Canadian participants’ multiplatform production skills and competencies, and support international partnership opportunities for Canadian film and television producers and distributors, and interactive digital media producers.
Telefilm Canada will provide the 12 SXSW film and interactive newcomer participants with a $1,500 grant to be put toward their event registration, travel and accommodation costs. A series of orientation sessions hosted by SXSW veteran and two-time Emmy Award®-winning principal of Stitch Media, Evan Jones, have also been organized to provide participants with an experienced SXSW guide and mentor to help them get the most out of their time in Austin.

“Helping Canadian film and interactive producers attend and leverage the South by Southwest interactive and film conferences is part of Telefilm’s renewed focus on helping Canada’s content creators expand their knowledge and skill sets so they can continue developing groundbreaking products that appeal to audiences here and abroad,” said Florence Moureaux, Telefilm’s Interim Director, National and International Business Development. “This focus helps build a competitive industry in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.”

Geoff Morrison, Director-Producer of Toronto-based FilmCAN NPP Films, added: “SXSW is possibly the best festival and conference in the world for bringing together artists and professionals who think, create and do business across multiple platforms. We’re thrilled to attend and take advantage of SXSW’s first-rate panels and networking opportunities – especially since we are also premiering the National Parks Project – our new film, music, television and interactive project – at the SXSW Film Festival. Telefilm’s SXSW pilot project will put us on excellent footing to seek increased sales and distribution for the NPP, and production partners for our next project.”

Ziad Touma, President-Producer of Montreal-based Couzin Films, further added: “I’ve wanted to attend SXSW ever since one of our project’s website was nominated for Best Extreme Entertainment Site at SXSW 2003. With Telefilm Canada’s support this year, I look forward to experiencing the festival and presenting Alone All Together – our latest Canada Media Fund-financed, detective-style, alternate reality game. Through its open-sourced exchanges on social networking and forward-thinking panels on digital storytelling, SXSW will inspire the creativity and marketability of our projects and be an integral part of our success.”

Canadian film and interactive producers attending SXSW 2011 with financial support from Telefilm:

sxsw-canadaCanadian delegates who will be shining at SXSW 2011 include:

  • Telefilm pilot-project mentor Evan Jones of Halifax-based Stitch Media will be a speaker at SXSW Interactive. Evan pitched Stitch’s new online comedy series Moderation Town and won the 2011 nextMEDIA Digital Launch Pad event for most cutting-edge online content, web platforms and tech solutions available on the web at the annual NATPE/Content FirstMarket and Conference in Miami.
  • Vancouver’s Smoking Gun Interactive is nominated in the SXSW Interactive Awards’ Experimental category for its 2009 alternate reality game X that Keith Stuart of the UK’s Guardian said “may just show the way to the future of videogame story telling.”
  • Toronto’s FilmCan NPP Films will see some short films from its National Parks Project (NPP) featured in a live musical event where screenings are accompanied by live performances of pieces composed and recorded in the parks by many of the artists who participated in the project. The NPP is a ground-breaking collaborative film, music, television and new media project featuring contributions by more than 50 of Canada’s most acclaimed filmmakers and musicians, all celebrating the inspirational beauty of Canada’s national parks.


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7th March 2011

Telus Recycles Press Releases With Swapped Out Locations

I might be more inclined to believe Telus was doing wonderful things for our infrastructure if this press release wasn’t almost identical to one the company sent out last week, except that one touted the work they were doing in Alberta and they’re spending an million more in BC than they did in Alberta. I’m sure that Telus isn’t the only corporation that recycles press releases for different areas, this is just the first time I’ve noticed it – maybe because of the UBB and price-gouging practices of the Telecos and the fact that I am not a Telus fan…or maybe I’m just cranky today.

TelusTELUS is investing $670 million across British Columbia this year to further expand and enhance its wireless and wireline networks. This year’s network investment builds upon the $24 billion TELUS has invested in its operations and technology in the province in the last 10 years. (versus 23 billion in Alberta)

In 2011, TELUS will continue to invest in its Optik TV and high-speed Internet services as it lays thousands of kilometres of fibre optic lines to support the growing demand in the province. The company will also deliver British Columbians access to even better and faster wireless broadband services by installing 76 new cell sites and introducing HSPA+ Dual Cell technology, one of the most advanced wireless technologies in the world.

After a decade of focused investment in leading-edge technology TELUS has:

* Extended TELUS wireless service to 99 per cent of B.C.’s (Alberta’s) population. With the introduction of a world-leading 4G wireless network offering manufacturer rated peak download speeds of up to 21 megabits per second – and soon up to 42 megabits per second* – British Columbians (and Albertans) have access to extremely fast wireless high-speed Internet anywhere within TELUS’ vast network coverage area. (does this include mountainous areas like the Fraser Canyon & the Coquihalla?)
* Made wireline broadband available to 95 per cent of B.C. (Alberta) households, including a selection of Internet plans with speeds up to 25 megabits per second. The company also expanded availability of TELUS’ Optik TV to more than 1 million households across the province. (same number in Alberta)
* By the end of last year, 314,000 customers in British Columbia, Alberta and Eastern Quebec had switched their TV service to TELUS. (last week they implied 314 000 Albertans had switched)
* Enabled healthcare institutions to improve the flow of information across the continuum of care through electronic health records accessible on both wireless and wireline networks. Recently, 2000 TELUS team members and their families began a pilot of TELUS Health Space; paving the way for millions of Canadians to take control of their own health records with the ultimate goal of shifting the focus from remediation to prevention of illness.

“Our planned $670 million investment this year in advanced communications technology continues TELUS’ track record of providing British Columbians (Albertans) with access to telecommunications and entertainment services that are the envy of the world,” said Darren Entwistle, TELUS President and CEO (last week he said that Telus had a proud history of providing service to Albertans. I guess that pride does not extend to the west coast). “This year, TELUS will continue to bring the innovations of Optik TV and faster Internet speeds to even more British Columbians (and Albertans). We will continue to bring citizens faster wireless broadband services as we introduce HSPA+ Dual Cell technology, one of the most advanced wireless technologies in the world, to more B.C. (Alberta) communities. TELUS is also committed to working with all levels of government in B.C. (and Alberta) to advance the provision of life-changing healthcare and education services over our networks.”

By the end of 2010, TELUS had installed the infrastructure necessary to bring wireline broadband Internet speeds of up to 25 megabits per second and Optik TV to more than 1 million households in the Vancouver Lower Mainland, Victoria, Campbell River, Whistler, Kelowna, Vernon and Prince George (and more than 1 million households in Alberta communities including Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, to name a few). Optik TV runs over a high-speed Internet connection, providing customers with game-changing services and features as well as more than 480 channels, including 85 in High Definition (HD). Read the rest of this entry »

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