7th June 2011

Nintendo Introduces the Wii U

Nintendo CanadaAt the E3 Expo, Nintendo introduced a new paradigm for video games and home entertainment: Wii U, a new console that includes a controller with a 6.2-inch screen. Adding a second screen to the living room creates a multitude of new video game experiences while offering families a variety of options to customize their entertainment.

Previously, video games played on a home console have been confined to the TV and offered identical viewpoints to each player in a multiplayer environment. Furthermore, watching TV and playing console games have been completely separate experiences. The new controller removes these boundaries, creating a more dynamic and fluid gaming and entertainment experience. Visitors to the E3 Expo will see firsthand the type of gaming experiences made possible by Wii U and the new controller such as:Nintendo Wii U

  • In single-player games:
    • The new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV.
    • The information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope.
  • In multiplayer games:
    • The player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV. This will offer a wide variety of competitive and cooperative opportunities.

In addition to the 6.2-inch screen, the new controller also features an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, an inward-facing camera, a microphone and speakers. Adding these features to the Classic Controller button scheme – two analog Circle Pads, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons – will enable a breadth of game-play experiences while appealing to both casual and dedicated video game players.

Wii U combines motion-sensing game play with the ability to support full HD graphics. Each Wii U console will be partnered with a new controller and can also use up to four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories. The Wii console has sold more than 86 million units globally and greatly expanded the overall audience for video games. Wii U aims to expand that audience even further. Developers worldwide are already working on new games and experiences for the console.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together,” said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers.”

Nintendo 3DS, which lets users see 3D images without the need for special glasses, launched in the North America on March 27 and continues to evolve. Owners will find that their Nintendo 3DS experience is different every time they pick up the system, thanks to new content and updates delivered by Nintendo, by third parties and exchanged between users.

A new system update is now available for the Nintendo 3DS system. Users who connect to a wireless broadband Internet connection and install the system update will instantly gain access to the Nintendo eShop, which contains a variety of games and applications for download using a cash-based system.

Users can browse original 3D software, 3D Classics (select classic video games re-mastered in 3D), classic Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, and more than 350 games and applications currently offered for the Nintendo DSiWare service. Visitors can also see videos and screen shots for games, plus see how other players rank games.

The system update also provides Nintendo 3DS owners access to free items, including an Internet browser that can show 3D images on sites specifically designed to show 3D images, a download of a re-mastered 3D version of the NES classic Excitebike game (free until July 7) and Pokédex 3D, which lets users discover and view more than 150 Pokémon from the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version games in visually engaging 3D.

Nintendo also announced a huge lineup of upcoming new and fan-favorite franchise games:

  • Nintendo 3DS: Super Mario, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Mario Kart, Kid Icarus: Uprising, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario, Picture Lives!, The Rolling Western.
  • Wii: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kirby Wii, Wii Play: Motion, Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident, Mario Party 9, Rhythm Heaven and Fortune Street.
  • Nintendo DS: Kirby Mass Attack, Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 and Super Fossil Fighters.

Nintendo kicked off its E3 Expo Presentation by announcing a number of initiatives to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. A re-mastered 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time launches for Nintendo 3DS on June 19, while Wii owners will see the arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in the 2011 holiday season. Additionally, Nintendo announced a tour of orchestral concerts featuring music from the beloved franchise. Additional commemorative activities will be announced at a later date.

For the duration of the E3 Expo, Nintendo will provide fans with exclusive videos and Nintendo content on the Nintendo Network. People can visit http://e3.nintendo.com to watch developer interviews, get all the information about new games and see coverage coming directly from the show floor. The same exclusive content also will be streamed through the Nintendo® Channel to Wii owners who have a broadband Internet connection.

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24th May 2011

Rand McNally Commercial Truck GPS Now Available In Canada

Rand McNally now offers its line of award-winning truck GPS devices for sale throughout Canada. The IntelliRoute®synnex TND™ line is distributed in Canada exclusively by SYNNEX Canada Limited and will first be available at Traction, Heavy Duty Parts stores, Lordco – Auto Parts and at Amazon.ca.

intelliroute“Professional drivers in Canada will now be able to access our products at home, rather than coming stateside to make purchases. The IntelliRoute® TND™ has been designed for the North American market with full translation into French and Spanish. In addition, we have features that uniquely address driver needs in Canada, such as the ability to warn of border crossings ahead,” explained Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally.

The IntelliRoute® TND™ line was built from the ground up for professional drivers. Beginning with award-winning truck-specific navigation from Rand McNally, the units feature a speaker and mounting device designed for truck use, an extra-long power cable, and a suite of specialized Trucker Business Tools to assist drivers in managing the business aspects of trucking. Many of the features in the IntelliRoute® TND™ 510 and 710 units were developed as a direct result of tens of thousands of comments from “Tell Rand,” a unique on-device feature that provides continuous feedback to Rand McNally from the driver community.

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6th May 2011

Kobo Now in US Best Buy Stores

koboCanadian eReader device platform Kobo has announced that the Kobo Wireless eReader is now available in Best Buy stores throughout the United States as well as in the American Best Buy online store. Now customers can visit any U.S. Best Buy location to get hands-on experience with the affordable, Kobo Wireless eReader as well as access to over 2.3 million eBooks, Newspapers and Magazines in the robust Kobo store. Starting today through May 14, 2011, U.S. Best Buy locations are offering the Onyx Kobo Wireless eReader in stores and online for the special discounted price of $99.99 in celebration of Mother’s Day. At the end of this promotion, Best Buy will resume selling the Kobo Wireless eReader for $129.99.

The Kobo Wireless eReader comes pre-loaded with 100 free eBooks, so purchasers can read right out of the box. Users can easily shop the Kobo store that offers over 2.3 million titles including today’s newest releases and bestsellers, newspapers and magazines – plus a selection of over 1 million free titles. Delivering open standards versatility (supporting ePUB, PDF and Adobe DRM), customers can also borrow eBooks from their local libraries and read them for free on the Kobo Wireless eReader.

The compact, lightweight, and simple-to-use Kobo Wireless eReader features an eInk screen that reads like print on paper and is easily customizable with a selection of font sizes and font styles. Perfect for reading on-the-go, Kobo’s Wireless eReader holds up to 1,000 eBooks and has a SD expansion slot that can increase capacity to hold up to 10,000 eBooks. Featuring a modern, clean design, with easy-to-use navigation and a unique soft quilted back, the Kobo Wireless eReader provides an intuitive user experience with access to a rich assortment of the latest content with just the press of a button.

To provide additional flexibility, free eReading applications are available online for most smartphones, desktops, laptops and tablets, and come pre-loaded on the recently released BlackBerry PlayBook. This multi-platform approach to reading freedom championed by Kobo offers consumers the ability to read across multiple devices while building a lifetime eReading library, available from anywhere, with Kobo.

“We’ve seen great success working with Best Buy in Canada and look forward to being available in-store in the U.S. with the Mother’s Day special,” said Todd Humphrey, vice president of business development, Kobo. “Having Kobo’s Wireless eReader in Best Buy stores throughout the United States and online provides the eReading public with more purchasing options and allows shoppers to compare our eReader to the competition to see the value and versatility we bring to the table. Best Buy is the ultimate electronic shopping destination, offering knowledgeable product experts and a low price guarantee.”

Kobo is changing eReading with Kobo Reading Life, an industry-first social experience that lets passionate readers, discover, track and share their love of reading. With Reading Life, Kobo users can connect with friends or book clubs and discuss their favorite books on Facebook. Statistics help users track their Reading Life, and earn awards – just for spending time reading.

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5th May 2011

Nintendo Canada Confirms Price Drops

Nintendo CanadaNintendo Canada is dropping the suggested retail price of its Wii™ system to $149.99 and including a Mario™ game with the Wii hardware. Starting May 15 at many stores across Canada, the newly priced Wii system will come in either black or white with the Mario Kart™ Wii game and a matching coloured Wii Wheel™ accessory, replacing the previously included Wii Sports™ and Wii Sports Resort™ games.

Also on May 15, Nintendo launches the new Nintendo® Selects collection of Wii games, a set of popular games that millions of people have already experienced, at a suggested retail price of $19.99. The four must-own games in this collection are The Legend of Zelda™: Twilight Princess, Animal Crossing™: City Folk, Mario™ Super Sluggers and Wii Sports, which is available for the first time as a separate software purchase. Parents and video game fans can now easily expand their library of fun, family-friendly Wii games. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for any Canadian-made titles that are designated as Nintendo Selects – if you see any, let me know.

“From the day it launched, Wii has let players of all ages and experience levels have fun with one another,” said Ron Bertram, Nintendo of Canada’s vice-president and general manager. “The new suggested retail pricing for both the hardware and select games will help create more of these magical moments for even greater numbers of people.”

With Mario Kart Wii now included with the Wii hardware, players will be able to enjoy fun go-kart racing with Mario and all his Mushroom Kingdom pals right out of the box. The Wii Remote™ Plus controller, Nunchuk™ controller and Wii Wheel included in the package will all match the hardware, meaning they will be either black or white. The new black Wii Wheel will also be available separately at a suggested retail price of $9.99.

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26th April 2011

Telefilm Canada Returns To Hot Docs As Presenting Partner

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada is pleased to announce that it is a Presenting Partner to Canadian international documentary film festival Hot Docs, taking place in Toronto from April 28 to May 8. Telefilm is also a proud sponsor of the Hot Docs Forum, one of the leading international documentary business markets in North America. This year, Hot Docs is presenting over 200 films from more than 40 countries and welcoming hundreds of international filmmakers and industry delegates. hotdocs

“Congratulations to Hot Docs on 18 years as an essential meeting place for the international documentary industry,” said Carolle Brabant, Telefilm’s Executive Director. “With our continued sponsorship of this first-rate festival and our industry financing most notably through the Theatrical Documentary Program – a unique public-private partnership between Telefilm and the Rogers Group of Fund – we are a proud supporter of this mobilizing art form.”

Five Telefilm-financed documentaries in the Hot Docs spotlight

Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, Trish Dolman
Feature-length documentary about a man on a mission to save the planet and its oceans. Part Captain Nemo, part Grizzly Man, the film follows Watson in the act as he repeatedly flouts the law, so that he may apprehend what he sees as the more serious law-breakers – the illegal poachers of the world.

The Future is Now!, Gary Burns and Jim Brown
Documentary-drama hybrid in which a young journalist leads “Everyman” on a quest for knowledge from experts in art, science and philosophy. The Future is Now! was recently part of the International Festival of Independent Cinema of Buenos Aires’ prestigious retrospective on Canadian director Gary Burns.

The Guantanamo Trap, Thomas Selim Wallner (Canada/Germany/Switzerland co-production)
Recounts the story of Murat Kurnaz, who was born in Germany of Turkish heritage and detained and tortured at a US military base in Afghanistan, and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held for five years.

Family Portrait in Black and White, Julia Ivanova
From Variety Magazine: “Engaging docu Family Portrait in Black and White considers the much-extended household of Olga Nenya, a middle-aged Ukrainian woman who’s foster mother to 17 children, many mixed-race.”

Beauty Day, directed by Jay Cheel
Before there was Jackass… before there was Tom Green… there was Ralph Zavadil. His cable access television show, The Cap’n Video Show, ran from 1990 to 1995, challenging the sensibilities of his small Southern Ontario audience.

D-BoxSticking with film-related news, D-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed its first agreement with Regency Theatres to equip Regency Agoura Hills Stadium 8 in Agoura Hills, Calif. with 32 D-BOX MFX Seats.

“California remains one of our largest and fastest growing markets to-date,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “As we continue to introduce our motion technology, demand in our existing markets remains on the rise. We’re delighted to once again announce a new theatre in the area and new partnership.”

“At Regency Theatres we strive to provide our customers with the most extraordinary entertainment experience imaginable,” said Lyndon Golin of Regency Theatres. “With state-of-the-art audio and visual technologies, and dedication to quality, customer service, the addition of D-BOX is an ideal complement. We anticipate great success at the box office.”

D-Box also announced today that Paramount Pictures’ summer sci-fi thriller Super 8 will feature D-BOX Motion Effects in select theatres when the movie is released June 10.

“The opportunity to feature our motion technology with one of the most anticipated films of the summer will continue to drive expansion into new and existing markets,” said President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “It’s a great pleasure to once again partner with Paramount Pictures. The content of this new picture is an ideal match for our incredibly realistic motion effects.”

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18th April 2011

BC High School Wins NEC Technology Giveaway Extravaganza

NEC TechnologyCommercial LCD display and projector solutions provider NEC Display Solutions of America has named Chase Secondary School as the winner of its $25,000 giveaway contest. Administrators at Chase Secondary will choose $25,000 worth of NEC products for the Chase, BC secondary school. Local dealer and NEC Star Student reseller Points West Audio Visual Ltd had notified Chase Secondary of the contest, suggesting that the school submit an entry.

“We’re extremely excited to work with Chase Secondary on their technology makeover and design something that will benefit both the faculty and students,” said Ashley Flaska, Vice President of Marketing at NEC Display Solutions. “Chase Secondary’s video submission was incredibly creative with a touch of humor that really got the public audience’s attention. We hope this contest brought awareness to schools about how they can improve their classrooms and computer labs, and that NEC has programs in place to help our customers achieve their ideal setup.”

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After more than 25,000 public votes during the month of March, Chase Secondary emerged the favorite and will take home the grand prize. The school has chosen to install projectors in its classrooms and desktop monitors. The four runners up include Robbin Hebrew Academy (Toronto), Rockvale Elementary (Rockvale, TN), St. Jude School (Joliet, IL) and Valley View School (North Brookfield, MA). Each of the runners up will receive a 32-inch NEC-E321NEC E321 for their schools. The contest through NEC’s Star Student (education) program received more than 200 entries during the submission period, and a panel of NEC judges reviewed all video submissions to select the most creative and deserving schools for the top five.

“On behalf of all the students and faculty at Chase Secondary, we are thrilled to be the grand prize winner of NEC’s Giveaway Extravaganza and humbled to be receiving new innovative technology that will benefit our students’ education,” said Mark Wereley, English Teacher at Chase Secondary School. “The staff is very much looking forward to selecting projector and desktop models for use in their classes to help improve student achievement. NEC creates reliable products that our teachers can count on and use to enhance their lessons and engage students.”

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13th April 2011

Two Days Left For Canadian Digital Media Industry Survey

Important Reminder: The April 15th deadline for the Pixel To Product industry survey is two days away.

Graphic Taken From Pixel To Product SiteWhether you’re a game developer, visual designer, HTML5 coder, design wireframes, make apps, teach or engage in social media marketing – if you work in any digital media sector – please take the time to participate in the Canadian digital media workforce survey. It only take 8 minutes to complete, and the final report will be made available free of charge upon completion in May 2011. Participants are also encouraged to provide feedback on what data in the survey is important to them, essentially giving you all a hand in the final look of the survey’s report. I can’t stress enough how important this survey is to our industry. Please take the time to answer the questions, and if you already have, send the link along to someone who hasn’t. You can check out a sampling of the data already collected on the project’s site.

JAC GeoDesignWhen Judith Chinn launched JAC GeoDesign in Nanaimo last year she had little doubt that her new 3D geo-modeling company would work towards excellence, achievement and innovation in her community. Little did she know that her community would extend beyond the rocky coast of Vancouver Island. She soon found herself involved in a number of international volunteer projects that would have her helping showcase Olympic host city London, England, recreating earthquake damaged L’Aquila, Italy, and supporting relief efforts in Saitama City, Japan. “I manage to participate on all of these projects remotely from my Nanaimo office,” says Chinn, who has become Canada’s first Google Certified Geo 3D Developer.

The Google Earth 3D geo-modeling community is a very active group of individuals and businesses. They host community 3D workshops, participate in school program, and participate in youth mentoring programs. When a colleague like British Architect, Barnaby Gunning proposed an ambitious project to build a digital 3D model of earthquake damaged L’Aquila, Italy to help stimulate discussion about its reconstruction, the 3D geo-modeling community responded by creating over 1000 3D buildings to help L’Aquila. “The images out of L’Aquila, Italy are shocking. Two years after the earthquake the city core is abandoned and citizens remain displaced,” says Chinn.

Locally, 3D geo-modeler Chinn has been busy participating in a number of youth mentoring programs like Science World’s Opening the Door Program that encourage high school students to pursue careers in science, and the National Geographic/ESRI GeoMentor Program that inspires volunteers who use geography in their work to work with teachers or youth leaders to help kids see, use and do more geography in and out of the classroom. “I try to include 3D models, 3D animation and videos into my geography and geoscience presentations. The kids love it, ” says Chinn.

Chinn recently supported the Rebuild Canada Pilot Project in Cumberland, BC. Cumberland Junior School students created 3D buildings from images of old buildings to help showcase the historical evolution of their community. The intention now is to roll out this program to other schools on Vancouver Island. Chinn also has her eye on Google’s Project Spectrum. Google created the program to give people with autism the opportunity to express their creativity and develop a life skill using Google SketchUp 3D modeling software. “Both of these projects would be excellent programs to develop on Vancouver Island,” says Chinn.

belzbergBelzberg Technologies, Inc. and Frontline Technologies Corp. have announced the closing of the acquisition of Frontline by Belzberg and the change in company name to Frontline Technologies Inc. The combined company will change its trading symbol to FLC which is expected to take place during the week of April 18, 2011.frontline

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, the key elements of which were approved by Belzberg shareholders at a Special Meeting held on April 11, 2011, on closing, Hoss Astaraki, President of Frontline was appointed CEO and Chairman of the combined entity and Judith Robertson resigned as President and CEO and from the board of directors of Belzberg. Resignations were also accepted from board members Robert Forbes, William Gnam and Steve Scarff. New board members, Keith Harris, Richard Ness and Deborah Robinson were appointed. The Company would like to thank the resigning directors for their years of service and contributions to the Company.

playjamUK-based PlayJam has struck a deal with LG Electronics to bundle PlayJam’s games service with LG Smart TV for worldwide distribution via its own platform, Netcast™. The PlayJam games network will offer a rich and compelling casual gaming destination on LG Smart TV and Blu-ray players from April 2011 – but not until May in Canada, according to media spokesperson Diane Mckaye. Highly visible within LG’s own service platform Netcast™, PlayJam will use its existing world-wide billing, CRM and games servers to deliver thousands of social, casual and skill titles as well as tournaments, leader-boards, editorial, messaging and more.

LG Smart TV enables viewers instant access to the latest Hollywood releases, TV shows, games, news, weather and music. The PlayJam service will sit alongside notable entertainment offerings from Netflix, Roxio Cinema Now, Pandora and Vudu.

In addition to promoting their own titles, PlayJam is working with games developers worldwide to bring much loved and renowned titles to TV. PlayJam is a dedicated TV games publisher, delivering thousands of branded casual games to a global network spanning multiple connected TV vendors as well as digital TV operators Sky, Dish TV (US), Freeview and UPC. A pioneer in connected and Over The Top (OTT) TV games content with over 12 years’ international operating experience, PlayJam has generated over 6 billion downloads during the last 5 years.

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29th March 2011

IGDA Vancouver Makes A Move Forward

Reminder: Early Bird Registration for Partnerships in Learning close on March 31st. Conference is being held at Dalhousie University this April 26th – 28th.

On Sale: Tickets for HackWaterloo, taking place on April 9th at the Post Rank office in Waterloo.

Panel Event: BCTIA TechForum Series presents Accelerator Programs…Do they really work? on April 19th at the Sutton Place Hotel, featuring speakers Jim Maynard, Wavefront President, Tim Jackson, Waterloo Accelerator Centre CEO, and Iain Klugman, Communitech Hub President and CEO.

Election 41: The Polaris Institute has re-launched TarNation, a popular political video game aimed at highlighting Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff’s unwillingness to take action on the environmentally destructive tar sands. Players spray oil at Conservative and Liberal party leaders to get them out of the tar sands.

Last evening the EA Canada Campus in Burnaby played host to the relaunch of IGDA Vancouver, with pizza supplied by Slant Six Games and beer provided by Granville Island Brewery. There was a pretty good turnout of people from IGDA Vancouver Relaunchthe local development community, which to me says that there is interest in breathing new life into our long-dormant local chapter. IGDA Executive Director Gordon Bellamy and IGDA Community Manager Ryan Arndt were on-hand to answer questions and bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on with the global association, and it looks like there are some very good initiatives on the horizon.

Work Life Balance, Outsourcing and Collaboration were but some of the topics pursued throughout the course of the meeting, and I hope that as our local industry revamps itself and moves forward, the discussions will continue. As one who is unable to attend events such as GDC San Francisco or the Leadership Forum, due travel and ticket costs being rather prohibitive, I look forward to more localized and affordable events as outlined in Gordon’s preamble to the meeting. What stood out the most for me was the willingness of the IGDA to work with other groups and events, including the BC Interactive Task Force, Women In Games Vancouver, ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver, the Canadian Games Conference and Full Indie for the betterment of all aspects of the digital media industry – not just those who are artists and coders – because not all of us are talented enough to create outstanding artwork or code more than a Hello World function. I hope that the next iteration of DigiBC will also see the opportunity for collaboration, thereby adding even more strength to our local community.

For those unable to attend, Scott videotaped the information and open mic session that took place in the EA theatre, and we’ll be posting that to our YouTube channel as soon as he has a chance to process it. If you would like to find out more about our local IGDA chapter and (hopefully) get involved, please visit the IGDA Vancouver Facebook page and jump into the conversation. There are future events being planned, two of which will be hosted by Next Level Games and Radical Entertainment – I believe there was also mention of Relic Entertainment hosting an event as well.

Decapod StudiosVancouver’s Decapod Studios has updated its Slash Effect WP7 app, which is a news reader for  the Slash Dot website. The studio has also released Photo Search Free to the WP7 marketplace. With fully customizable search parametres, you will be able to search the internet from your phone to find anything from regular photos to clip art and design elements to new wallpaper backgrounds and even faces. Search results can be shared with your friends as well as saved to your phone’s Photo Library.

Bioware CorpThe final chapter of Mass Effect 2 has now landed on my Xbox 360 – and it can land on yours too, as it’s available in the XBL Marketplace today for 560 MS Points. The DLC is also available for PC (560 Bioware Points) and for the PS3 (approx. $9-10) and gives gamers the opportunity to earn three new achievements (or trophies, whichever applies to your chosen platform).  In this new game add-on, Commander Shepard is sent to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who may have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion that has been looming since the very beginning of the series. Returning and playing a prominent role in Mass Effect: Arrival is fan favorite Admiral Hackett, who is voiced by legendary science-fiction actor Lance Henriksen of Alien and Terminator fame.

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So ends the current adventures of Commander Shepard. Now I can go back and try to earn 100% on the first two titles while awaiting news bits about Mass Effect 3, which Bioware will start releasing in the near future – perhaps in May.

Netflix Canada has begun offering three different viewing options to its Canadian subscribers, which is very timely for those who are concerned about User Based Billing and data transfer caps. Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix, announced on the company’s blog today that the new options are designed to enable a 2/3 reduction in transfer usage. In short, these new options are:

  1. “Good” – The default setting with good picture quality and lowest data use per hour (about 0.3 GBytes/hour)
  2. “Better” – Better picture quality and medium data use per hour (about 0.7 GBytes/hour)
  3. “Best” – Best picture quality and highest date use per hour (generally about 1.0 GBytes/hour – or up to 2.3 GBytes/hour when streaming HD content)

Please visit the Netflix blog for complete details on how to manage your Netflix transfer usage.

dhx mediaDHX Media has signed a deal with Discovery Communication’s The Hub for the second season of its hit preschool series Animal Mechanicals. Originally commissioned by CBC in Canada, where it is one of the highest-rating preschool shows, Animal Mechanicals is produced and distributed by DHX Media. It airs around the globe on channels including the Disney Channels in the UK, Italy and Asia; Radio-Canada, Discovery Latin America, Beetle BuggyRomania’s HOP, EBS in Korea; Al-Jazeera Children Channel and Prava I Prevodi, which acquired the title for Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Josh Scherba, SVP Distribution at DHX Media, said: “Animal Mechanicals has really engaged with young audiences on The Hub since its launch last Fall; success underscored by this commitment to the second season. We continue to build the licensing programme for the show including the launch of the Animal Mechanicals app which offers a new interactive element for children and their parents.”

DHX Media has also recently launched a new iOS app based on the show. Animal Mechanicals: Beetle Buggy Race, is priced at $1.99, and available on all iTunes stores worldwide. In licensing deals, Producciones Publiexpress have been signed up for colouring and activity books in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has really been on the move this week (pun intended) – the company has just announced two more Motion Seating agreements with American movie theatres.  Emagine Entertainment will equip two screens at its new Royal Oak, Michigan theatre with a total of 29 D-BOX MFX Seats when the theatre opens in May. D-Box has also signed its first agreement with RC Theatres to equip two of that company’s Pennsylvania complexes. The Hanover Movies 16 will feature 18 D-Box MFX Seats and the Wilkes Barre Movies 14 will feature 22 D-Box MFX seats. These two RC locations will soon be the first in the state to feature the immersive motion technology that completely transforms the movie viewing experience with seats that move in perfect sync with the onscreen action.

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23rd March 2011

Today In Development and Technology

Pixel to ProductAs the April 15th deadline approaches for the Canadian Digital Media Industry Survey, Pixel To Product is reaching out to the last few digital media agencies on their list. Whether you’re a web designer, information architect, social media marketer or mobile application developer, Pixel To Product is encouraging all digital media practitioners to fill out the survey. It only take 8 minutes to complete, and the final report will be made available free of charge to the community upon completion. Survey respondents get early access to the final report and will be entered into a draw to win prizes as a thank you for their participation.

CMPAThe Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) applauds the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for recognizing the importance of fair terms of trade agreements between independent producers and vertically integrated media companies.

In its recent report to the Government of Canada on the impact of private television ownership changes, the Standing Committee recommended that the Government consider the issue of fair terms of trade agreements between independent producers and vertically integrated media companies when reviewing the Canada Media Fund.

“The Committee is to be congratulated for its timely recognition of the need for minimum standards and safeguards for Canadian independent producers in today’s increasingly integrated broadcasting ecosystem,” says Norm Bolen, the Association’s President and CEO. “We interpret the report as a clear signal of support from all political parties for independent producers and the significant role they play both in the Canadian broadcasting system and in Canada’s digital economy,” says Bolen.

“While a terms of trade arrangement has not yet been finalized, we are encouraged that the private broadcasters have remained at the bargaining table in good faith,” says John Barrack, the CMPA’s Chief Negotiator.

Also contained in the Standing Committee’s report on the impact of private television ownership changes is the recommendation that the CRTC examine the growing emergence of non-Canadian broadcast players to determine whether and how such foreign players should support Canadian cultural programming. “We see the potential for these foreign players to erode Canadian broadcasters’ current business models and weaken their ability to contribute to the creation of quality Canadian programming. Accordingly, we agree that a review is both timely and necessary,” says Bolen.

sierra wirelessFor all of you network admin types, Sierra Wireless has unveiled its 4G LTE multi-purpose wireless gateway that leverages the power of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. The Sierra Wireless AirLink™ GX440 – the first 4G version of the recently announced AirLink GX400 – delivers the higher bandwidth required by applications including high-quality wireless video surveillance, multi-data-stream wireless connections to branch locations, or mobile office applications for public safety and field service activities. Sierra Wireless is showcasing the AirLink GX440 gateway in the Sierra Wireless stand (1670) at CTIA Wireless, which runs until March 24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The AirLink GX440 gateway is expected to be available in the second half of this year, and to help facilitate the 3G-to-4G transition, Sierra Wireless also announced a technology upgrade program that will reduce customer risk by allowing customers to purchase an AirLink GX400 3G gateway now and upgrade to the AirLink GX440 when it becomes available.

vixsViXS Systems Inc. will be collaborating with iPanel TV Inc., a technology provider focused on TV value-added business services with some of the most advanced technology and largest scale deployments in China. By integrating iPanel’s set-top box software, or middleware, into ViXS’ XCode® 4210 series of products, it enables next generation media processing capabilities in the leading Chinese set-top box middleware solution. The combination of iPanel software and ViXS also allows the deployment of streaming content to multiple devices as supported by the Chinese government’s “n-Screen” initiative. N-Screen refers to having the same content being capable of being displayed on a computer, a TV or a smart phone screen.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. is going to have global movie-goers shaking all over – the Quebec company has announced a new agreement with Germany-based FTT (the company’s first European distributor for its commercial theatre expansion) to equip a first theatre with Germany’s CinemaxX. The Mülheim theatre will feature two auditoriums with 18 and 32 D-BOX MFX Seats marking the first sale of D-BOX in Germany for commercial theatre use and will generate as well, licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance to the systems’ utilization.

“This agreement with FTT further advances our position in the European market with theatres now in Germany and the Netherlands,” said President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “This is a great achievement for us as we look to maintain our steady growth in Europe and on a global scale. As confidence in our international distribution model continues to build, we anticipate continued expansion and similar agreements for multiple D-BOX screens.”

“We see the D-BOX experience as a new standard in cutting-edge movie entertainment,” said Thomas Ruettgers of Film Ton Technik. “This theatre will represent an outstanding showcase in Germany coupled with state-of-the-art sound and picture technologies, and high-end amenities. We foresee customers responding overwhelmingly positively to the D-BOX experience.”

Mood MediaToronto’s Mood Media Corporation will be showcasing a suite of market leading in-store media products and services at the upcoming Global Shop 2011 show in Las Vegas beginning March 28, 2011. Mood Media will be debuting its latest visual solution for the North American market, which currently powers the in-store digital signage for several world brands including Nike, Foot Locker and Guess. This turnkey visual solution incorporates Moods talented creative team, a centralized content management system, and solid-state commercial grade hardware.

Mood Media will also be presenting its next generation in-store background music product known as the Trusonic MBOX 4, which is the latest version of the leading Internet-delivered audio solution for retailers today. In addition, Mood Media is debuting its “Now Playing” feature, which works with the MBOX 4’s real-time audio update capabilities, and allows store managers and customers to see song and artist data for each track currently being played via any mobile device such as an iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Also making its debut is Mood Media’s in-store touch screen casual games kiosks for retailers, which features hit Windows & Mac games from leading publishers such as PopCap Games and Big Fish Games. These interactive kiosks use the successful sample before you purchase technology that has helped Mood Media sell millions of music albums in 2010 through major retailers.

innovacorpNova Scotia’s early stage technology companies are getting improved access to scientific and technology expertise thanks to Innovacorp’s new advisory council. The Science and Technology Advisory Council, which was announced on March 16, will be made up of researchers and industry experts in fields related to Innovacorp’s focus industries, including clean technology, life sciences and information technology.

“I’m delighted to have a group of this calibre as a resource for us and our clients,” said Clifford Gross, president and CEO of Innovacorp. “Their experience, knowledge of science and industry, and contacts in the global community will be invaluable.  The council will also be a great platform for assessing emerging science and technology issues important to Nova Scotia’s economic future.”

Members will provide Innovacorp’s clients with independent, strategic advice about relevance, quality of science, and commercialization potential. Providing Nova Scotia businesses with resources to help them compete globally is part of jobsHere, the province’s plan to grow the economy.

“I am pleased to join Innovacorp’s new advisory council, and I look forward to offering my expertise and perspective to the team,” said Richard Murphy, president of Richard Murphy and Associates Inc. “Innovacorp’s clients include some of the region’s most promising and innovative emerging technology companies. I’m eager to help that community succeed.”

The advisory council builds on Innovacorp’s approach of using a network of external experts to complement its in-house business expertise. The Nova Scotia Crown corporation’s High Performance Incubation business model has earned international recognition for helping entrepreneurs commercialize their technologies. The model incorporates incubation infrastructure, business mentoring, and seed and venture capital investment.

Joining Mr. Murphy on Innovacorp’s Science and Technology Advisory Council are:

— Richard Karsten, associate professor in the department of mathematics and statistics at Acadia University
— Ian Hill, associate professor in the department of physics and atmospheric science at Dalhousie University
— Diana Pliura, president of ALBRY Inc.

corporate renaissance groupCorporate Renaissance Group (CRG), a global provider of innovative solutions that drive better business management and performance, is pleased to announce the availability of an upgrade to CRG emPerform™, its all-inclusive, web-based employee performance management solution.

Version 3.14 is the latest release available and includes administrative enhancements to several areas of emPerform’s functionality; including, eSurvey, Succession Manager, Compensation Manager, and Automated Appraisals. Some of the upgrades include enhanced availability of historical reviews, improved tagging and search functionality, and greater administrative control over succession manager templates and viewer assignment.

“This upgrade reinforces our commitment to providing customers with an easy-to use and flexible talent management suite” said John Smith, Director of Enterprise Business Solutions at CRG. “emPerform 3.14 includes many smaller features that were requested by customers and are aimed at making the software as user-friendly as possible”.

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21st March 2011

Get Ready Canada The Nintendo 3DS Arrives This Weekend

Nintendo CanadaNintendo introduces portable entertainment in 3D – without the need for special glasses. The Nintendo 3DS™ system goes on sale in Canada on March 27 at a suggested retail price of $249.99. It comes with a collection of pre-installed games and fun features, with more on the way.

“Nintendo 3DS can play 3D video games and take 3D pictures, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime. “The 3D display is amazing in its own right, but just as compelling are the new forms of gameplay it delivers, and the groundbreaking ways it will connect players to new content and eMadden-3DSach other.”

To celebrate the arrival of the system, Nintendo is hosting launch events in Toronto and Vancouver on March 26 from 6 PM to 12 midnight. The events will feature hands-on Nintendo 3DS demos with food, music and giveaways (while supplies last), leading up to a countdown to midnight, when the Nintendo 3DS system goes on sale. Fans can visit check out the event page for more information on the launch events as well as the Nintendo 3DS sampling tour.

Nintendo 3DS has 18 games available on launch day, with more than 30 total available by early June. Nintendo-published games available March 27 include:

  • Pilotwings Resort™, a high-flying aerial adventure that lets you soar over a tropical island in a plane, on a hang glider or with a rocket belt. You can take on more than 30 challenging missions, or go sightseeing and snap pictures in the game.
  • nintendogs™ + cats, which lets you train and interact with your very own puppy and kitten. They react to your voice and will even welcome you with a lick of the face as you lean in. There are three different versions of the software, each featuring a different starting breed: Toy Poodle, Golden Retriever or French Bulldog. In each version, players can eventually unlock all 27 different breeds to enjoy.
  • Steel Diver™, an action-packed and immersive 3D submarine combat adventure. Take command of your sub to control its speed, depth and pitch, and use both the touch-screen and motion-sensitive controls to navigate through lush undersea environments and fire torpedoes at enemy ships and obstacles.

3DS boxshot

Nintendo’s third-party publishing partners are rolling out their biggest names for launch day. Games ready for March 27 include Super Street Fighter® IV 3D Edition from CAPCOM, The Sims™ 3 from EA, Madden NFL Football from EA SPORTS, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., LEGO® Star Wars® III: The Clone Wars™ from LucasArts™, RIDGE RACER® 3D from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., Super Monkey Ball™ 3D from SEGA, BUST-A-MOVE UNIVERSE™ from Square-Enix, Inc., SAMURAI WARRIORS®: Chronicles from TECMO KOEI AMERICA Corp., plus Asphalt™ 3D, Combat of Giants™: Dinosaurs 3D, Rayman® 3D and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon® Shadow Wars from UBISOFT.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is working on Nintendo 3DS games from its top franchises, including The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D, Star Fox™ 64 3D, Kid Icarus™: Uprising and new installments in the Super Mario™, Mario Kart™, Animal Crossing™ and Paper Mario™ series. The system is also ready to play nearly every single Nintendo DS™ game with its original 2D graphics. Nintendo DS games that required the use of the Game Boy™ Advance slot are not compatible with the Nintendo 3DS system.

Nintendo 3DS features two screens. The top screen displays 3D images without the need for special glasses. The bottom screen is touch-sensitive. It also has three cameras. One inner camera points at you, while two exterior cameras let you take pictures of your friends and family in 3D or 2D. It weighs approximately 8 ounces and is available in Cosmo Black or Aqua Blue.3DS Black

Built-in games and applications include Mii Maker™, which uses facial recognition technology to create a Mii™ character that looks just like you; Face Raiders™, which requires you to shoot at comical depictions of your own face as well as others around you; AR Games™, which superimpose graphics and animations on the real world using the included AR Cards; and Nintendo 3DS Sound, which lets you listen to MP3 or AAC music files, or make your own recordings and play with them using fun filters. The StreetPass™ feature lets some of your games and applications wirelessly swap small bits of game data as you pass other Nintendo 3DS users throughout the day, if you choose. SpotPass™, on the other hand, lets the Nintendo 3DS system detect wireless hotspots or wireless LAN access points and allows users to obtain information and game data when the system is in Sleep Mode. Free software and videos will also become available with future system updates.

Soon Nintendo will roll out a series of additional features for Nintendo 3DS, including an Internet browser, an online store called Nintendo eShop, and the ability to access 3D Hollywood movie trailers. Remember that the Nintendo 3DS system features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access.

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