17th August 2011

Ontario In Full Force At Gamescom

Ontario Technology CorridorDespite various global economic challenges, the digital media and video game industries continue to thrive. People like to play games – especially in tough times. Over the past two years, Canada’s gaming industry has expanded 11 per cent annually and is forecasted to grow 17 per cent in each of the next two years. Executives from the Ontario Technology Corridor are at GamesCom to demonstrate the province’s “winning combination” of talent and tax credits. Canada is one of the world’s top three game producing nations.

Larry MacKinnon, Director of Business Development for Technology in London Ontario and member of the Ontario Technology Corridor, says “Ontario continues to offer the talent and the financial incentitves that make this region such a strong part of the digital entertainment industry. Our job at GamesCom is to add to our tremendous home-grown crop of companies and help demonstrate that Ontario is a prime destination in North America for gaming investments.”

Federal and Ontario provincial research and development tax credits combine to give Canada the most favourable tax treatment among G-8 countries — giving Ontario innovation companies the ability to cut R&D expenditures by up to 63%.

In 2011 Ontario’s gaming advantage has scored several wins:

Arkadium Inc.

On July 19, 2011, this global leader in online games opened a Toronto office to focus on mobile gaming titles. Company executives stated “key factors” in the move were assistance from the Ontario government and the Digital Media Tax Credit, plus help from the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance. Arkadium’s Toronto office has a goal of producing ten new games to introduce to the market within the next 12 month.

Gameloft Inc.

This France-based company has started hiring 205 people for a new Toronto office that will be a state-of-the-art gaming studio. The company also confirms the key role played by the provincial tax credit. The company’s General Manager for Canada, Mario Poulin says, “We remain at the top of our game by partnering with jurisdictions like Ontario where there is a real interest backed by sound policies to make the gaming sector a strong contributor to the economy and the creation of jobs.“ Gameloft posted 15 per cent revenue growth in the first part of  2011.

Silicon Knights Inc.

Also in July, Silicon Knights announced it will nearly double its staff by adding 80 new jobs. Ontario government tax credits combined with the company’s own invesment will allow the studio to improve its technology, create new products and become a self-publishing company.

Morro Images Inc.

Morro is working with Silicon Knights as Morro Images expands their current visual effects operation in St. Catharines. Morro is a sister firm to Morro Images of Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany, and is also a supporter of nGen, the Niagara Interactive Media Generator, a hub for business development of digital media companies. nGen hosts the Generator at One motion capture facility which will serve as headquarters for the new Ontario Augmented Reality Network.  Brock University recently received funding from the Ontario Media Development Corporation to develop the Network.

Ontario’s lead agency for provincial incentives in digital media is the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).  Darius Basarab, Senior Business Development Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade is headed to GamesCom and says, “Ontario is well positioned to compete with other jurisdictions who are trying to attract gaming firms and we have a lot to offer – that will be one of my message at the conference.” To date the OMDC IDM Fund has contributed $7.7 million to 76 projects with budgets totaling $32.7 million – and continues to offer the following incentives:

  • Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit – refunds 35-40 per cent of eligible production costs
  • Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit – refunds 20 per cent of labour costs
  • OMDC Interactive Digital Media Fund – up to $150,000 in project production funding, up to a maximum of 50% of the project budget.

Ontario’s fast-growing entertainment and creative cluster employs nearly 300,000 while contributing $12.2 billion to the province’s GDP. In addition, 22 Ontario colleges and universities produce18,000 graduates per year from174 specialized digital media programs including 3D animation, film studies, advanced computer programming, math, and hardware engineering.

The C.D. Howe Institute, which studies social and economic policies, notes Canada’s international reputation as a destination for capital and investment is better than it has been for a generation.

Canada’s federal corporate income tax rate will fall from 18 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent by 2012 — less than half of the top U.S. federal marginal corporate income tax rate, and the lowest in the G7 plus the lowest R&D costs in the G7, with a 12.9 per cent advantage over the U.S. Canada also has the world’s soundest banking system according to the World Economic Forum.

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17th August 2011

Get Immortalized In Candy

maynardsDo you have a perfect pucker?  A sweet smile?  Ever dream of having your face recognized – and devoured – by thousands? For one lucky Canadian, that dream will come true. Maynards, Canada’s #1 candy brand, is asking Canadians to ‘Make Your Face a Maynards’and transform their good looks into a delicious candy offering for the chance to become the face of Maynards next candy – literally!

From now until September 30, candy-face wannabes are invited to upload a photo of their best Maynards face to the Maynards Canada Facebook page and morph their fabulous features into a virtual candy caricature.  Only one sweet stand-out submission will be selected to become an actual candy based on one of Maynard’s most popular treats:  Sour Patch Kids, Fuzzy Peach, Sour Cherry Blasters, or Swedish Berries.

“Maynards fans are an extremely passionate bunch when it comes to expressing their love for their favourite candy. So we thought hey, why not let a Maynards fan actually be a Maynards?” said Jessica Sheth, Brand Manager, Maynards Candy.  “Maynards is offering a unique opportunity to immortalize the face of one of its fans in a special, sweet way for everyone to enjoy.  Imagine being able to tell your friends or family to ‘bite me’ and mean it!”maynards contest

After transforming their faces, candied Canucks can create a virtual custom pack design to show off their new candy look.  It’s not just about the appeal of your photo but the creativity of your expression and fit with the Maynards’ personality too! Maynards is asking each entrant to submit a brief statement as to why their face would be the perfect match for Maynards.

Sweet-toothed officials will choose the top 10 faces, which will be showcased on Facebook beginning October 17.  A random draw from the top 10 entries on October 24 will determine the grand prize winner. The winner of ‘Make Your Face a Maynards’ will receive a year’s supply of Maynards candy featuring his or her actual face and a cash prize of $5,000, plus a trip for two to Toronto for a photo shoot and a factory tour to see how Maynards candy is made. You can also find all of the contest rules and guidelines on the Facebook Page.

Sweet tips for star style

So what’s the best way to make those cute dimples pop or that funky ‘fro stand out in order to get noticed by the judges?

According to Chris Buck, when it comes to modeling—candy-style — it’s all about letting your unique character shine through.  And he should know.  Not only is Chris maynards contestworking with Maynards as a celebrity consultant on ‘Make Your Face A Maynards’, he’s also a successful photographer who has spent more than two decades shooting celebrity faces through his lens.

“As a photographer, I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to shoot unique portraits with some of the best known faces and personalities in the entertainment industry.  When Maynards Canada approached me to help them in the search for the winning face for its next candy, I couldn’t believe they were actually turning a person into a candy!  I had to be a part of it!” said Buck.  “Maynards is looking for a distinctive Canadian face. People shouldn’t feel shy about embracing their sillier side or highlighting their unique features. The best faces will be ones that are unusual, expressive, and deliciously odd.”

Here are some more tips from Chris Buck on how to make your sweet face stand out:

Let there be light: To really make your face stand out, the photo can’t be too dark or too bright.  Avoid standing in front of a window; to really show off your features, it’s best to have the light hit your face on an angle (like over the photographer’s shoulder).

Try out different shots – Whether you’re taking the photo yourself or enlisting a trusty friend to help, take a variety of shots with different expressions to see what you like best.  You may be surprised at what ends up being the most compelling shot!

It’s time for a close up! The focus should be on your face – so make sure you’re submitting a headshot that clearly shows your features.

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17th August 2011

Rogers Launches Home Monitoring and Automation System

rogersImagine if you could feel closer to home,even when your front door is far away. You can now truly be the master of the house with Smart Home Monitoring, an innovative home monitoring and automation service launched today by Rogers. From remotely controlling thermostat levels, to scheduling lights to turn on when you get home, this new system delivers a connected personalized experience at home, at work or on-the-go. Powered by both Rogers cable and Rogers wireless networks, Smart Home Monitoring lets consumers automate and manage sensors, cameras, thermostats, lights and small appliances from their computer or smartphone. This service is currently only available to Rogers Hi-Speed Internet customers in the Rogers cable footprint across Ontario.

“Consumers are looking for solutions to enable their connected home seamlessly, reliably and securely,” said Ian Pattinson, Vice-President & General Manager, Smart Home Monitoring, Rogers Communications. “With Smart Home Monitoring, we have reinvented home security with easy home automation and energy management providing Rogers customers with a truly connected home of the future.”Rogers Home Panel

At the heart of the system is an ultra-rugged, easy-to-use touchpad that consumers use to arm/disarm and manage their system. Available in wall-mount or table-top, the touchpad provides quick 1-touch access to home security functions, home automation apps for lighting, cameras and thermostats as well as multimedia apps for photos, traffic, weather and sports. When an alarm occurs, the touchpad instantly connects with the Rogers central monitoring station simultaneously over both Rogers cable and wireless networks. The touchpad constantly communicates with its highly encrypted smart sensors throughout the home, checking their status, signal strength, battery level and even room temperature.

Staying connected to your home is easy – consumers can securely connect to their Smart Home Monitoring service through any computer or a smartphone allowing them to view, manage and secure their homes through a two-step security process at any time from any internet-based location.

Additional features and benefits of the service include:

  • Real-time, 24/7 monitoring at the Rogers Central Monitoring Station provided by certified security experts with over twenty years of experience in security, monitoring and emergency services
  • IP-based dual network connections ensure constant connection of the home to the Rogers Central Monitoring Station
  • Real-time sensor and video alerts sent via text and email
  • Remote access from a computer or smartphone to securely view, control and arm/disarm the home
  • Professional installation by specially-trained Rogers cable technicians

“Consumers want a next generation system that protects and connects their home seamlessly with their connected lifestyle,” Pattinson said. “Smart Home Monitoring is a natural evolution for our business that leverages our proven networks, expertise in communication and commitment to innovation and next generation connected experiences.”

Smart Home Monitoring has three rate plans, each including always connected wireless-data backup, starting with the Home Basics plan at $39.99 per month. Rogers Cable Hi-Speed Internet required.  The Touchpad starter kit is $149.00 on a three-year term, or $749 with no term, with optional sensors available a-la-carte and in discounted Value Packs.   All systems are professionally installed for a one-time fee of $99.00.

But will it turn off the iron? 😉

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17th August 2011

E FUN Launches Android Tablets and Digital Pens in Canada

efunCalifornia-based E FUN, a consumer electronics designer and marketer of fun, easy-to-use lifestyle products, has launched its Nextbook brand of Android tablet computers and its APEN digital line of pens in Canada. The products are being distributed through SYNNEX Canada Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of apen-a2SYNNEX Corporation.

“Our goal is to secure a leadership position within the consumer electronics field,” stated Jason Liszewski, managing director and vice president of sales for E FUN. “Our partnerships help us attain that goal and play a major role in the success of nextbookour product lines.”

E FUN Nextbook tablet computers are sleek, lightweight and highly versatile. Features found in every model include Wi-Fi connectivity, a color TFT touch-screen display, a variety of multimedia functions and an integrated e-book store. Functionality is enhanced by many readily available, third-party applications.

The E FUN APEN2 wireless digital pen is now also available in Canada. Value priced for mass consumer accessibility, the APEN2 does not require special paper or ink, nor does it have to be connected to a computer. A special transmitter and software allow the digital pen to digitize handwriting and hand-drawn images.

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17th August 2011

Shaw Direct Adds Speech Analytics To Customer Experience

Shaw CableShaw Direct is proud to continue raising the bar on their award-winning customer service in selecting Nexidia’s Integrated Recording and Analytics Solution.

The selection follows a six-month pilot on speech analytics technology for Shaw Direct, whose call centres are located in Calgary, Mississauga and Montreal. Nexidia’s integrated recording and analytics solution offers greater flexibility and allows Shaw Direct to quickly access and analyze recorded audio from its contact centre customer interactions in French and English.

“We have a history of award-winning customer service which we’re very proud of, but we’re always looking for new ways to amaze our customers with the support we give them,” said Peter Bissonnette, President, Shaw Communications Inc. “The speech analytics service from Nexidia will provide us with a whole new way of analyzing how we can take our customer experience to the next level.”

Shaw Direct is also using Nexidia’s Managed Analytic Services, which allows for identifying and improving in common areas like average handle time, first call resolution, sales and process effectiveness.

“Combining audio recordings and analytics provides Shaw Direct the advantage of dynamically analyzing enormous amounts of audio so they can quickly improve the customer experience,” said John Willcutts, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nexidia. “These changes can save a company time and money while improving its revenue generation potential and creating a new level of care for its customers.”

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17th August 2011

Canadian Government Helps Fund First Nations Young Entrepreneur Clubs

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, has announced that the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC) has been granted $98,201 in non-repayable funding for the establishment of First Nations young entrepreneur clubs.

“The Government of Canada supports the creation of these clubs, whose primary mission will be to stimulate entrepreneurship among young members of the First Nations,” explained Minister Lebel.

Allocated over a three-year period, this financial assistance will enable the FNQLEDC to hire a coordinator to organize a variety of activities for First Nations community members between the ages of 18 and 35. These will include, among other things, conferences with Native entrepreneurs, enterprise visits, networking events, information sessions on the resources available to young entrepreneurs looking to start a business, and a series of training sessions. In the first year, the clubs will draw their clientele from various Native communities, including those in Lac Simon, Kitigan Zibi and Uashat.

This contribution from the Government of Canada has been granted through the Community Diversification program.


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17th August 2011

MoboVivo Plugs NGX Veteran Into CFO Role

mobovivoMoboVivo has appointed Stephen Butler as its first Chief Financial Officer. Stephen brings to Mobovivo almost a decade and a half of financial expertise and business building experience, both as an advisor and principal.

“Stephen is a perfect fit for a dynamic company like Mobovivo at this stage in our development,” said Trevor Doerksen, Mobovivo’s founder and CEO. “His financial and deal experience are essential as we work through our next stage of growth and financing. He’s been in the trenches as a business manager in highly fluid competitive situations, where he’s displayed the right mix of creativity and commitment to the vision.”

Stephen’s formative career was with The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. He advised Fortune 500 customers on issues of strategy and performance improvement, particularly in financial services and telecommunications, with a focus on responding to paradigm shifts brought about by the rise of e-commerce.

In 2001 TMX Group hired Stephen as group director of corporate development and key member of its “IPO team”, guiding the development of the growth and diversification strategy with which the company went public in 2002. He subsequently built and led a corporate development team that oversaw the evaluation, negotiation and implementation of several investments that took TMX beyond its traditional core. This included the 2004 acquisition of NGX, Canada’s leading energy exchange and the largest physical clearing facility in North America. Stephen joined NGX’s senior leadership team, where he helped the company return to healthy double-digit growth.

Stephen holds a joint honours B.A. in Economics and Political Science from McGill, and a Ph.D. from Cambridge.

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17th August 2011

DBI Technologies releases Studio Controls for COM v1.2

dbi techDBI Technologies Inc., a provider of interface design and scheduling component software for the development community, has released Studio Controls for COM v2.1.  This new release provides traditional application developers with an advancing set of interface design and appointment scheduling components. ‘There are many commercial applications in the market place developed in traditional IDE’s, and in our current economic climate, many organizations are giving new life to their products with new features that can be quickly implemented.”

DBI has seen an incredible increase in the interest of Scheduling and User Interface design component software for COM based development environments over the last number of months. “We’re pleased to be able to respond to our customer requests for additional enhancements that are now found in release v1.2 of Studio Controls for COM”, said Craig Gluck, senior VP of  product development.  “The 62 royalty free components that comprise Studio Controls for COM are a perfect choice for commercial software companies and consultants offering packaged solutions for their customers.”  Studio Controls for COM adheres to Microsoft standards delivering design and operational performance wrapped in an advanced developer experience.

Value is more important than ever and competitive advantage even more critical in our current business climate. The combination of Value and Competitive Advantage can be found in Studio Controls for COM v1.2 offering benefits for Windows developers and for their end-users.  Value also includes being able to provide an outstanding developer experience, which is a tenant of good business and a point of pride for DBI. The release of Studio Controls for COM v1.2 offers Windows developers the latest in Windows styles and themes, a new set of data presentation features, as well, DBI’s industry respected high level of customer service.

The release of Studio Controls for COM v1.2 continues DBI’s market support for Windows developers offering nine logical groups of components covering: Scheduling, Data management (Lists, Trees and Grids), Masked Edits, Calendaring, UI Design, Navigation, Presentation, Dialogues and  general app styling.  Each current license of a DBI component product includes annual product updates, upgrades, new component releases and technical support on an annualized basis.  DBI has made managing a set of third party component software easy through the product’s integrated Product Manager.   The Product Manager becomes a single point of developer access to all of the product’s assets; components, help files, demo’s and sample applications, licensing, online software activation, product updates and related news items are all available from a single double click.

A single developer’s license of Studio Controls for COM starts at $749. Complete product details including samples with integrated PEM viewers in Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro formats can be found on the  DBI Technologies web site.

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17th August 2011

SurfEasy Launches on KickStarter

surfeasySurfEasy is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind product that makes it plug-and-play easy for anyone to protect their Internet privacy and online freedom from any computer. The Company has developed its secure personal web browser technology around the SurfEasy USB key and is now ready to introduce the product and make it available for pre-ordering on KickStarter.

SurfEasy’s patent-pending technology has been custom-designed to address four key concerns that affect hundreds of millions of Internet users on a daily basis:

  •     Internet Privacy – SurfEasy encrypts all Internet traffic to prevent third parties from spying on your online life, making it easy to browse privately on any network or computer.Surf Easy USB
  •     Internet Security – Unlike normal web browsers that store personal information on a computer for others to find, SurfEasy leaves nothing behind on any computer. All web browsing data including history, passwords and bookmarks are stored safely on the password-protected SurfEasy key.
  •     Internet Freedom – SurfEasy enables users to access their favourite web sites from any computer or network without censorship. Bypass firewalls and most other tools that may monitor, block or restrict access to important sources of online information like Facebook and YouTube.
  •     Portability – No matter where you are, SurfEasy’s portable, plug-and-play form factor offers the same level of protection and security on any web-enabled computer or network. Seamlessly continue browsing sessions from computer to computer, while having secure access to your bookmarks, passwords and other web browser preferences.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

SurfEasy’s mission is to make it plug-and-play simple for anyone to secure their online privacy and freedom, and the company has gone to great lengths to make sure of that. Behind SurfEasy’s unique hardware, is a customized software layer that interacts with a private global network of proxy servers, offering the same level of data encryption as used by the world’s leading banks. SurfEasy wants to put that kind of online security in the hands of millions of Internet users and promote the principles of online privacy and Internet freedom.

As part of the Kickstarter soft launch and product pre-sale, the first 100 contributors of US$30 or more will receive a SurfEasy key at almost half of the expected retail price. Any contribution, big or small, is welcome in assisting SurfEasy and promoting the values of Internet Privacy and Freedom. Rest assured that every penny raised goes to supporting our mission to protect your online identity.

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17th August 2011

CDI College Opens New Campus in Victoria

cdi collegeCDI College has opened a new campus in Victoria BC, making it easier for residents of the Island to get the career training they need, without having to travel to the Mainland. For more than 40 years, CDI College has provided thousands of Canadians with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully pursue new careers.

The new campus in Victoria will bring that wealth of experience to a wider range of students and allow them to train closer to home. With increased growth on Vancouver Island, there is greater demand for well-trained professionals in many communities. Applications are now being accepted for all programs at the new Victoria campus.

“Our graduates are in high-demand across the country, and we’re excited to offer residents of Victoria and the surrounding communities the opportunity to train with us,” says Bohdan Bilan, VP of Academics. “Students who enroll at CDI College will benefit from our small classes, industry-experienced instructors and our hands-on method of teaching.”

The new Victoria campus will offer several programs including Accounting and Payroll, Health Care Assistant, Paralegal, Addictions and Community Services Worker, and many more. With start dates staggered throughout the year, CDI College in Victoria makes it easy to head back to school, no matter what your situation.

Randy Cox, President of CDI College attributes Vancouver Island’s growth in the last several years as the reason for expansion. “Recently, we’ve seen huge demand for trained professionals in the areas of business and healthcare across the Island. This makes it the perfect time to open our latest campus in Victoria.”

CDI College grads become part of an extensive alumni network composed of thousands of professionals in the business, technology and healthcare fields. These connections prove invaluable when starting out in a new career field. With 21 campus locations across Canada, CDI College grads are recognized throughout the country.

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