Upcoming Event: Toronto Twestival  on March 24th.
Competition: 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.
Former 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 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™ 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 its 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 Square 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.
Vancouver-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.”