Saturday, 30 October 2010

Canadian Gamers Going Social

39% playing more social games

TORONTO, October 29, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) has released its annual Essential Facts, a snapshot of the Canadian computer and video game industry. The 2010 Essential Facts reveals that 39% of gamers (defined as someone who has played video games in the past 4 weeks) are spending more time playing games accessible through social networking websites.

Also of note is the fact that 7% of gamers use a mobile device (such as a cell phone or smart phone) most often to play video games - almost twice as many as in 2009 (4%). Gamers are also connecting their games with others through the Internet with 76% reporting online play.

"Social games are a growing part of the Canadian gamer's repertoire - especially for women and teen girls - but they are only one of the many types of games that Canadians enjoy," says Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC. "While we're seeing a shift in how Canadians are playing games particularly towards online games, console and computer games remain the principal way to play," she adds.

Social games are mostly free, widely available and accessible through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. These games - including popular ones like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Cafe World - are quick to load, take only a few minutes to play and grow virally as users invite their contacts to join in. Research found that 35% of adult women and 37% of teen girls play social games. 26% of girls (6-12yo) play social games, with 38% report spending more time playing these types of games.

To read a full version of ESAC's Essential Facts, which includes data on gamer demographics and gaming habits, information about the Canadian video game industry, ESRB rating awareness and updated charts on top-selling PC and video games, visit ESAC's website at

The research was collected through a comprehensive Internet survey using NPD Group's Online Consumer Panel. Data was obtained from over 3,500 Canadians across the country identified as having played a video game at least once in the past 4 weeks. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 1.6%, 19 times out of 20.

ESAC is the voice of the dynamic and growing video and computer game industry in Canada which employs over 14,000 people. Association members include the nation's leading entertainment software developers and publishers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Canada, Nintendo of Canada, Sony Computer Entertainment Canada, Disney Interactive Studios, THQ, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and Take Two Interactive, as well as distributors Solutions2Go and Team One Marketing. In 2009, Canada's video game industry accounted for more than $2 billion in retail sales of entertainment software and hardware and contributed over $1.7 billion in direct economic activity to the Canadian economy.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

One Toilet Paper Company Decides to Ditch the Tube

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

In an attempt to cut down on consumer waste, one toilet paper manufacturer has unveiled perhaps the biggest change the product has undergone in over a century -- replacing that old cardboard tube with, well, nothing. If the advancement in TP technology seems unremarkable, consider just how much waste it will keep from the landfill. Each year, a million miles worth of cardboard tubing is tossed out -- that's enough to circle the Earth over forty times.

Kimberly-Clark, the company which produces Scotts toilet paper, will begin testing its oddly revolutionary Tube-Free TP next week in Walmarts and Sam's Clubs across the North-eastern US. Depending on how well it's received, soon the trend might spread globally.

According to a report from USA Today, while it may seem fairly innocuous, Americans have been tossing out a lot of those cardboard tubes each year -- and it really adds up.
The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That's from here to the moon and back -- twice. Most consumers toss, rather than recycle, used tubes, says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly-Clark.

A consumers demand for less wasteful products is apparently what has driven the toilet paper maker to update a product which has gone without any major improvement since it was invented over 100 years ago.

"We found a way to bring innovation to a category as mature as bath tissue," says Daniels.

While the new tubeless rolls won't always be perfectly round, they'll have no problem fitting on standard toilet paper spindles -- and they can be used to the last square. The trick is in the special winding processes, but the company is keeping their technique a secret.
Seinfeld's George Costanza once pointed out how little TP has progressed over the decades. "Do you realize that toilet paper has not changed in my lifetime? It's just paper on a cardboard roll, that's it. And in ten thousand years, it will still be exactly the same because really, what else can they do?" On that last point, he was wrong.

.. read more story at

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Increased Arctic Shipping Means Even More Warming & Less Ice

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY

It's likely not long before Arctic ice melt reaches levels where trans-Arctic shipment of goods is no longer headline-making, but commonplace. With that comes more black carbon air pollution from ships--soot to you and me--and, that means already disproportionately high levels of warming will increase and with those, more ice melting. A new report in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics highlights the issue:

James Corbett, professor of marine science and policy at the University of Delaware, lead author of the study says,

One of the most potent short-lived climate forcers in diesel emissions is black carbon, or soot. Ships operating in or near the Arctic use advanced diesel engines that release black carbon into one of the most sensitive regions for climate change. (Science Codex)

Though it's certainly a wide range of possible impact, the study concludes that in a high-growth scenario this increased black carbon pollution could increase warming in the region by 17-78% by 2030... read more story at

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

New Report Uncovers Energy Efficiency of Golf Carts

Evaluation compares gas, electric and solar-assisted golf carts and shows electric golf carts
leading the way to better energy savings

TORONTO, October 20, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new report, by the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP), a multi-agency program led by the Toronto and Region Conservation, is shedding new light on the energy efficiency of gas, electric and solar-assisted golf carts. The report, released today, determined that gas carts were on average over three times less fuel efficient than an electric golf cart. In real terms, the difference in fuel economy between a gas and electric golf cart is similar to that of a Hummer H3 SUV and a Toyota Prius Hybrid car.1 Findings show that electric carts have 85 per cent lower fuel costs and produce one-quarter of the emissions of gas carts. STEP also determined that a solar-assisted golf cart isn't the only solution when looking to reduce air pollution and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"We started this study with the assumption that the solar-assisted golf carts would be best solution, but what we've found is that electric golf carts are actually a better investment for golf courses both financially and environmentally," said Ted Sherk, Project Co-ordinator, STEP, Toronto and Region Conservation. "The addition of solar panels to a golf cart can slightly improve performance and when we surveyed more than 50 golfers many thought the solar carts were a great idea which would help with a golf course's green image. But aside from being a marketing advantage, the data in this study shows that electric carts can provide energy savings at a lower cost than the solar-assisted carts, by simply maintaining the carts in good condition."

The team at STEP did a side-by-side field evaluation of two solar-assisted electric golf carts, two standard electric golf carts and two gas-powered golf carts at Bathurst Glen Golf Course in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Over a three month period, the study measured the carts energy use and associated Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, dependability, overall capital and operating cost, and golfer preference.

A solar-assisted cart might obtain an energy savings of 12 per cent over a conventional electric cart which is much less than manufacturer claims of 30-50 per cent. More importantly the study found that the energy consumed by the carts varied greatly, indicating that other factors relating to cart condition (e.g tire pressure, new bearings) or driver behaviour may be more important than the solar panels in determining overall energy consumption. The report concludes that a well-maintained electric cart, free of mechanical problems may offer better energy and financial savings than the purchase of solar panels.

"We supported this study because we felt it's important for golf courses in Canada to get a true picture of what they need to do to become more environmentally friendly, " Said Ryan McCutcheon, Bennett Golf Cars. "As manufacturers of golf carts we're always looking for the best approach to meet the needs of our clients, and it's interesting to see that going solar isn't the best way to go."

There are at least 179 golf courses within a 100 km radius around Toronto, of which roughly 80 per cent are estimated to use electric carts, while the remaining use gas. According to the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program, if the 20 per cent were replaced with electric carts, this could reduce emissions by approx. 3.8 tonnes CO2 per day in an annual golf season, an amount roughly equivalent to taking 155 mid-sized gasoline cars off the road.

"The study is beneficial for golf course operators who are looking to green their operations in a cost-effective way," said Joe Petta, Manager, Bathurst Glen Golf Course. "We recently achieved Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Certification, which is the highest level eco-certification a course can get for Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Our next step is to take the data from the golf cart study to begin moving forward with a plan to bring electric carts to our course."

The study was made possible by funding support from Bennett Golf Cars and TRCA municipal partners. The full report is available for download at

With more than 50 years of experience, TRCA helps people understand, enjoy and look after the natural environment. TRCA's vision is for The Living City - where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity. For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at

Friday, 15 October 2010

Shaftesbury Films and Citytv welcome Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the set of their popular television series, Murdoch Mysteries

...on location in Guelph, Ontario this past summer

TORONTO, October 15, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Shaftesbury Films and Citytv today welcomed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Toronto set of their popular drama series, Murdoch Mysteries. A longtime fan of Murdoch Mysteries, the Prime Minister visited the set to meet the cast and crew of the series, which is set in late 1890s Toronto and follows the adventures of a detective who pioneers forensic techniques in his quest to solve the city's crimes. Canadian production company Shaftesbury Films is currently filming season four of Murdoch Mysteries, which is broadcast on Citytv in Canada and drama channel Alibi in the UK, and has also been licensed in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide.

"Without the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Media Fund and tax credit programs, Murdoch Mysteries would simply not exist," said Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury Films. "Murdoch Mysteries has created more than 5000 jobs in the Canadian television industry since 2003, is enjoyed by audiences on TV and online in Canada, and has been sold to broadcasters in more than 100 countries around the world, making it a true Canadian success story."

"Murdoch Mysteries on Citytv represents some of the finest homegrown programming available to Canadian audiences," commented Leslie Sole, CEO, Rogers Media Television. "We are extremely proud of this series heading into its impressive fourth season. Murdoch Mysteries has solidified its position as a true fan favourite keeping Citytv audiences entertained week after week."

Based on Canadian author Maureen Jennings's popular Detective Murdoch series of mystery novels set in late 1890s Toronto, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), who uses unusual techniques for the time - including fingerprinting, human-blood testing, surveillance and trace evidence - to solve some of the city's most gruesome murders. Murdoch's small circle of confidantes include pathologist Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), a staunch ally who shares the detective's fascination for forensic science; Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), Murdoch's eager but sometimes naïve right-hand man; and Murdoch's reluctantly supportive boss, Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig).

Since 2003, Murdoch Mysteries has created more than 5000 jobs for actors, writers, directors, producers, crew, extras and technical and production services. Murdoch Mysteries was initially adapted for television as three made-for-TV films produced by Shaftesbury, which were broadcast in Canada in 2004 and 2005. Following the success of the three movies, the series premiered in Canada in January 2008. Shaftesbury is in production on the fourth season of Murdoch Mysteries in and around Toronto and Southern Ontario until early November, for broadcast on Citytv in Canada and Alibi in the UK in early 2011. 52 hours of the series will have been produced upon completion of season four (four seasons x 13 one-hour episodes).

Murdoch Mysteries is developed and produced by Shaftesbury, in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Media Inc., ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment and UKTV, and with the assistance of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, the Canada Media Fund, the Bell New Media Fund and the Cogeco Production Development Fund. ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment holds worldwide distribution rights for the series (excluding Canada and the UK).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Death of the Yoga Mat?

by Jessica Root - Brooklyn, NY

Authentic Hatha yoga is already pretty minimalist. Spotted in The New York Times style section, a small group of yogins is taking it further--opting to sun salute on straight up floor rather than on their sticky mat.

... They argue that yoga mats are over commercialized, bad for the environment and less hygienic.

Their reasons are for the most part valid and to a certain extent, I agree. Sure, I get psyched that there are yoga mats set at price points for every aspiring yogin out there making it accessible to all-- but I also get ill over the saturation of conventionally-made mats spotted in supermarkets, book stores, beauty supply stores, etc. They're everywhere and riddled with toxic PVC as Pablo points out.

So I say, yes, if it works for you, forgo the mat altogether. But don't do it simply to join the trend and know that it doesn't need to be all or nothing. There happen to be some great green mat brands like Manduka and Jade out there. The NYT article fails to mention this... read the full story at

Saturday, 2 October 2010

What A Waste: Coffee Machine Designed For Paper Cups Only

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

We often talk about how good design can improve the world, but one can also see many cases where designers and companies actually conspire to make it worse. A good example is the new in-room coffee system in the Sheraton Hotel where I am staying for a conference. I get up very early to put together the TreeHugger newsletter (wot, you don't read it? Sign up here!) and need my coffee, and I also try to avoid disposable cups. I noticed yesterday that they only had paper cups in the room and borrowed a ceramic one from a meeting room, but they have in fact redesigned the coffee maker so that there is no carafe, you have to make it in the paper cup!

Since it is a 12 oz cup and my ceramic cup is half that, I have to make it in the paper cup and then pour it into the ceramic. Of course when I go to refill, the coffee is cold because there is no heater.

Sheraton makes no claims to being green on their website; other Starwood hotels do, and it appears that this machine was designed for Starwoods and Starbucks, who should be ashamed of themselves.

I suppose it is convenient to make coffee right in the paper cup. But there is price for convenience and a message it delivers to the guest: We don't care... read full story on