вторник, 11 сентября 2012 г.

Foundation's firm support. - Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds, England)

MARKETING agency Fantastic Media has been at the forefront of the launch of a new foundation aimed at promoting healthy recreation for young people through sport.

The company, based in Leeds, attended the launch of the James Milner Foundation at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.

The foundation is the brainchild of Manchester City and England footballer James Milner.

Fantastic Media was asked if it could support the foundation with brand development and the creation of a website which offers information, news and the opportunity to donate.

Sporting figures such as Alan Shearer, Kevin Sinfield, Mark Cueto, Patrick Vieira and Gordon Taylor have agreed to be patrons for the Foundation. Many businesses have also voiced their support, including BMW, Nike and EA Sports.

IBC Announces Applications Shortlisted for Innovation Awards. - Entertainment Close-up

The shortlist for the IBC Innovation Awards 2009 features a breadth of applications, from locations spanning Europe, the USA and the Middle East - and even the bottom of the ocean.

From a large number of nominations, the judges have selected three finalists in each of three categories: for most innovative use of technology in content creation, content management and content delivery.

The IBC Innovation Awards are unique in celebrating not just technology but the application of that technology in the real world. Each nomination must be for a working solution, and the award itself goes not to the technology companies behind it but to the end user. Previous winners have included CNN for its backpack satellite system for journalists in war zones and the Disney 3D movie Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus.

'Because of their special nature, the IBC Innovation Awards have firmly established themselves as 'the ones to win',' said chair of the judges Michael Lumley. 'The international judging panel have had the demanding job of coming up with a shortlist from an excellent range of quality entries. We have selected the most outstanding submissions, displaying innovative applications of technology.'

The three projects selected for the final list in the content creation category could not be more different. Sports specialist ESPN is using a customised version of an EA computer game to recreate NFL plays on the studio floor; Oceanopolis has worked with Boom Audio & Video to create a new underwater high-definition (HD) camera, capable of working at depths of up to 500 metres; and Expert TV in Moscow has created a tapeless, multi-platform, HD news operation with support from Media-Alliance and ISPA.

The finalists in the content management category all centre on making the enterprise more efficient and repurposing assets for future revenues. YLE in Finland has brought more than 50 years of archives together into a unified asset management solution with technology from Blue Order; RTBF in Belgium has created an integrated production workflow across television, radio and the web, thanks to a consortium of suppliers including Dalet, EVS, Orad, Avid, MediaGenix, Fairlight, Front Porch and FAB; and the Italian Mediaset group has focused on the challenges of repurposing content, in co-operation with lead supplier TXT Polymedia.

The shortlist for the content delivery award reflects the very different challenges facing the industry today. The Arab States Broadcasting Union, with members in 28 states, has introduced Menos, an IP-based satellite content exchange system, with the help of Newtec; TV Barrandov in the Czech Republic is now on air in HD using both DVB-T and IPTV, thanks to HaiVision with Mattes and MediaStream; and Virgin Media in the UK is using technology from Seachange to add advertising to its highly successful on-demand service at the point of delivery.

The judging panel is made up of leading journalists and editors from the specialist press around the world, under the chairmanship of Michael Lumley. As well as selecting the shortlists and the final winners in each of the three categories, they also have the power to award the Judges' Prize, which may be taken from one of these shortlists or can be another project which has attracted their attention during the year.

The IBC Innovation Awards, along with the IBC International Honour for Excellence and other special awards, are presented in a ceremony as part of IBC. This year's awards event takes place on Sunday 13 September at 18.30.

IBC is an international forum for the electronic media industry, attracting well over 40,000 visitors and more than 1000 exhibitors from 130 countries. It combines a highly respected and peer-reviewed conference, an exhibition and unrivalled networking opportunities. IBC2009 runs from September 10 to September 15, at the RAI Centre in Amsterdam.

Carnival gets hip with 'Fun Ship 2.0' launch - Winnipeg Free Press

When you refer to your ships as 'Fun Ships,' you'd better be able to deliver. For the most part, Carnival does live up to its mission. Now it's taking a big step forward.

The world's largest cruise line is adding much that's new and, to show its technology, hipness, so the new venture is being referred to as 'Fun Ship 2.0.'

All the features of 2.0 will arrive together this year when the new ship, the Carnival Breeze, is launched. In the meantime, some Carnival ships will be getting some of the enhancements.

The full package includes the George Lopez-branded comedy club, where Lopez will be on video, offering some laughs while introducing two comedians who will perform four shows nightly. The early show will be family-oriented and then, as the night goes on, it will get more and more 'adult.' On sea days, the comedy show will include brunch.

Playlist Productions is responsible for stepping up the entertainment in the main theatre and elsewhere. There is lots of new production, both on the stage and artistically, through technology.

DJ Irie, who apparently is especially famous in the Florida area, is running discology school for Carnival's DJs, so I assume that means new and better music in the clubs. Carnival has licensed the Hasbro shows that will be part of audience-participation game shows during the day.

Don't expect this metamorphosis to happen overnight. It's a long process and Carnival's investment is $500 million, so it'll likely be 2015 before the balance of the fleet is completed.

The Carnival Liberty that I sailed on recently on a four-port Caribbean cruise is the first out to undergo the partial upgrade. There are many changes on the Liberty, and you don't have further than the Lido deck in the centre pool area of the ship to see them.

Guy's Burger Joint is the creation of Guy Fieri, the Food Network chef with the spiky blond hair and the in-your-face personality. All the patties are handmade -- no freezing here -- and are cooked on the spot, under several names. Then you're left with an 'add to your burger' station that's loaded with toppings.

To date, the best burger I've had on a ship was here, and it's part of your cruise price, as is the food from the Blue Iguana Cantina -- same deck, just 30 feet away.

The cantina is all about Mexican food, naturally, and the tortillas are made fresh right in front of you. Tacos and burritos, including breakfast burritos, are made to your liking. On top of that, a condiment bar lets you select the amount of heat you require in a taco, which can be stuffed to overflowing. Like Guy's Joint, the cantina has no extra charges.

A few feet farther, and you're at the BlueIquana Tequila Bar and then, still on the same deck and in the same area, is the RedFrog Caribbean Bar, a greatly scaled-down version of the highly successful RedFrog Pub on the new Carnival Magic.

The whole ship may not be as much fun, but this deck is, with music, eats and more.

Also new is the EA Sports Bar, which allows you to play interactive sports games and watch your favourite teams; running around the clock is a sports ticker tape with scores from major league sports. The Alchemy Bar on Deck 5, or the 'cocktail pharmacy,' as they call it, is a mix-your-own-drink place, or you can leave it to the mixologist, who can make anything you can name.

-- Postmedia News

GAME PLAY. - Sunday Life (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Viva Piata: Trouble in Paradise

Microsoft (Xbox 360)

Cuter than a shop full of buttons, Viva Piata is one for all the family.

This character-creation game is like the Sims crossed with EA's Spore, with a gardening simulator added for good measure.

Nurture your small patch of land to attract Piatas - colourful little munchkins who eat, sleep, and enjoy a bit of nookie from time to time.

This sequel to 2006's game has a bit more of a story thrown into the mix, as you set out to thwart a villainous Piata's plot.

You can trap, train, breed, and manage 100 different Piata species, with loads of customisable options along the way. Furthermore, you can theme your garden (like a pirate cove, space centre, etc) and invite friends, in co-op play, to tinker with your vegetables.


Madden NFL 09

EA (Xbox 360)

They might not know the meaning of the word 'football', but the Americans sure know how to throw a party.

In Madden 09, the umpteenth title in the series, there are 85 new features. These include a new Virtua Trainer Mode that teaches you the basics of American Football and how to master the controller.

As in Tiger Woods 09, the game engine monitors your performance during play, and adapts different experiences each time you play.

Apart from the cheerleaders, American football might be an ugly spectacle, but with realistic weather, dazzling player movements and brimming stadiums, 09 is slicker than a Dallas Cowboy.

A touchdown for sports fans, then, but if you hate American Football, don't even bother turning up.

Could we create a 'Cwm Silicon' here in Wales?(Business) - Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)


Last week, I was in California as a guest speaker at the British American Business Council (BABC) event in San Francisco.

It was an impressive event focusing on innovation and I was fortunate enough to share the platform with luminaries such as Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital, one of Wales' most successful business exports; Peter Moore, president of gaming company EA Sports (and a former teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran, Llangollen); and Penarth-born Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry.

Of course, there is nowhere better than Northern California to hold a symposium on innovation, given that the world's greatest concentration of high technology companies is to be found in an area down the road from San Francisco that has now become famous as Silicon Valley.

The term Silicon Valley comes from the fact that, back in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a cluster of companies involved in the semiconductor industry within the region although the real success of Silicon Valley has emerged in the last 25 years with the rapid development of companies such as Apple, eBay and Google, businesses that have revolutionised the way we live and work.

In fact, even Facebook, whilst originating at Harvard University, only achieved its dazzling success after relocating to California.

During the conference, Cardiff-born venture capitalist Mike Moritz was asked what was the defining factor in the success of Silicon Valley. He responded by saying that it was education, and investment into research and development into world-class institutions such as Stanford University that had really made the difference.

It was also argued that high quality research alone was not sufficient to enable the development of innovation in vast quantities. Indeed, it was suggested in a later session that one of the real catalysts in ensuring the future development of Silicon Valley was the creation of the Stanford Industrial Park in the 1950s on land owned by Stanford University. This enabled a centre of high technology industry to be created close to a proactive university.

More relevantly, future tenants were limited to those high technology companies that might be beneficial to the university. Given this, many will be wondering why Wales has yet to establish a science park near any of its two main research universities? The other key factor is the finance that was available across the region. Whilst venture capital in the USA originated in the North East of the country around Boston and New York, it found its feet in the West coast of America, where opportunities were quickly emerging from world-class engineering departments and companies such as Hewlett Packard with a strong commercial track record.

Indeed, during the 1980s, the number of venture capital firms increased from just a few dozen firms to more than 650 firms by the end of the decade, with more than $31m of funds available.

Whilst the bursting of the dot-com bubble at the beginning of the century had the biggest impact amongst Silicon Valley companies and investors, it didn't take long for the funding opportunities to re-emerge with the growth of new internet opportunities such as social networking through companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all of which did not exist prior to 2005.

Many would say that, despite the emergence of the new economies of China and India, Silicon Valley has undergone a renaissance in recent years as a result of this new sector. In fact, in the first quarter of 2011, 65% of all venture capital deals within the USA were undertaken in California and new fast growing companies are emerging all the time. For example, Zynga, the social network game developer responsible for Facebook-based games such as Farmville, was recently valued at $10bn despite only starting in July 2007.

For policymakers, the key question is whether you can recreate Silicon Valley elsewhere, that is, could we create a 'Cwm Silicon' here in Wales? The answer is probably no, at least given the short-term election cycles that most politicians in Wales adhere to when developing economic policy.

However, that is not to say that new clusters cannot be developed given the right combination of talent, opportunity and timing. Indeed, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of computer giant Intel, argued a decade ago that whilst Silicon Valley is very hard to clone, there are important elements for success that can be developed elsewhere. These include the existence of a technology-anchored tenant in the area with many exploitable niches; lots of well-trained engineers; entrepreneurs with no fear of failure; available capital to back ventures; and accommodating government policies. Certainly, one could argue that in Wales, such factors have yet to be put into place for even a mini Silicon Valley to be developed but a detailed review of whether we can develop such factors quickly could be an early win for the new Business Minister.

On the other hand, perhaps the best way to start is by trying to learn directly from the last 60 years of success enjoyed by Silicon Valley and at the very least, Welsh businesses should be looking to create greater links with one of the real high technology hotspots of the world.

If we can't exactly replicate its success of the most innovative region in the world, we should at least try to connect directly with the innovation ecosystem in Northern California - rather than bringing Silicon Valley to Wales, we take our best companies out to Silicon Valley to look for new opportunities and, more importantly, venture capital funding.

Can Wales do that? Watch this space!