All posts by Kaushik

A mobile technology lover and a Strategy and RPG-game fanatic. I also enjoy astronomy and programming. I am a biotechnology engineer learning through this fascinating subject while poring over computer science. Hit me up on Twitter for more

Indite is a Home Grown Cloud Writing Tool–Now in Beta!

It is not often that you find enterprising web apps from Indian developers that cater to a diverse group of people. (Forgive my ignorance if you do, and send their links to me) So when I am asked by one of the developers, a friend of mine on Twitter, of this brand new online writing app I pretty much jump at it like a really hungry direwolf on a bunch of scared stags.

Indite is a… how do I put it… writing and thought aid that features a very minimalist, distraction-free environment (for the most part). The developers describe it as a “spatial text editor” that, in turn allows you to create short snippets of texts or “blurbs” across multiple sheets. These can be collated later and downloaded as a plain text file or a rich text file with formatting.

It holds great use for  me as a mind mapping tool to lay out the different aspects of a story, an essay, or even this post:-

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You simply click on any region of the screen and start typing. A tiny box will pop up to show you what you have written. You can use HTML markdown to format the text  and that is just *very nice* if you ask me. There is no save button anywhere in the app, because everything is automagically saved. All you need to do is login to Indite to see your thoughts arrayed across.

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Collating text to export is as simple as selecting the blurbs you want and pressing Ctrl+J (if you are on a Mac, ⌘+J) and it opens up a new window with the blurbs in an ordered manner along with an option to save it to disk.

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It is indeed quite a charming little app, currently in an open beta. However it does suffer from being slightly sluggish. I am not entirely sure if it was just my ancient laptop. There is no mobile version for this as of now. The app, however, does load on an HTML5 capable browser and is even slower than on my laptop.

The app also needs an active Internet connection and has no failover if the connection is lost and you type away happily and shut the page down without exporting and saving it.

That said, it is still in beta. I cannot wait to use this when it comes to a portable device!

Lamar Smith, Sponsor of SOPA, Gets A Crowdfunded Message From The Internet

The Representative from Texas, Lamar Smith, is well known around the Internet for all the wrong reasons. Rep. Smith was one of the key sponsors of the ill-fated Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that was protested by mostly the entire Internet and has been (for the most part) shelved because of these protests. One of the sites that went dark during this protest was Reddit.com, the popular link aggregator and community website that is well loved by the geeky community.

However, Reddit users decided to take things a little further by sending a loud and clear message to Lamar Smith. The idea was to hire a billboard and populate it with the message right outside Smith’s office. The content of the message? “Don’t mess with the Internet.”

A new website called FightfortheFuture.org was set up and a crowdfunding gateway was built to fund a billboard. This is the result:-

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More things have been planned, according to the website and frankly, we cannot wait:

This is an election year, and we’ve got a lot planned. Right now we’re scrambling to organize Senate constituent meetings to stop CISPA / Lieberman-Collins. The Internet Defense League is gearing up to build the network that stopped SOPA into an ongoing force for good. We’ll be taking aim at the US “6-strikes” regime. And even bigger things are in the works for the November election.

CD Projekt RED Hiring for an RPG in a Brand New Setting

CD Projekt RED is pretty much my most favorite developer. They have made The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. That makes them pretty awesome in my book. They are dope. They are fantastic. They are- okay okay it seems my point has been put across.

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So you can imagine my reaction when they put up a blog post with a title saying “Join Our Studio Today”. My excitement levels increased to over 9000 and I could not read the rest of the post without a crazy maniacal grin on my face. Here’s a little more about the new IP:-

Our mature dark-fantasy world is well known around the world, though if you can’t stomach dwarves, elves or sorceresses who put their ample charms on display in Playboy magazine, we’ve got also something special that might be right up your alley! We’re looking for people who would rather work on an entirely new and different IP – a vast RPG for which we want to assemble the best possible staff. It represents an opportunity for you to create a grand new project from the ground up!

So it seems it’s a dark SF world. One that aims to fill up the void left by Mass Effect perhaps?

Joyous day, indeed.

Private Indian ISP Blocks The Pirate Bay, Vimeo, Pastebin–No Reason Given

For a couple of days now a very reliable mobile internet device service operator in India has been playing Big Brother by censoring the world’s most resilient public torrent tracker – the Pirate Bay. Now speculation about this operator’s reliability to do things like these when a movie is about to be released by the parent company’s entertainment division has reached fever pitch, however there is no conclusive evidence connecting these two temporal facts together, and thus I am not in any position to comment on that.

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Alright, enough with the euphemistic name calling; it seems Reliance have decided to go up and block The Pirate Bay, Vimeo and Pastebin. Not only did they block these sites, they also managed to put up a large and highly friendly “This site has been blocked as per instructions from the Department of Telecom (DoT)” sign which is rather odd because no other ISP in India has blocked The Pirate Bay – especially the state run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on which I am currently writing this piece.

Speculation is ripe on the fact that Reliance Entertainment is the distributor of an upcoming big budget movie Dangerous Ishhq which might be possibly will definitely be pirated and put up on various public/private trackers. To check the rate of this astoundingly high loss of revenue, Reliance may have taken up this false censor. However, what imagined evils propagate through Vimeo or Pastebin, I will never know.

The easiest way to counter this would be to access the sites via a Proxy or a VPN. However, if the ISP decides to be rather silly and only remove a DNS entry for these sites from their DNS servers, you can easily get access back to the servers by using a different DNS service, such as Google’s free DNS: 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4

Rock Band iOS App Has An Expiration Date–May 31st

EA has some really bright ideas about marketing this wonderful commodity called a “video game” to potential buyers called “video gamers”, who have a fairly good idea about what this commodity should be. However EA does not, which has been repeatedly shown throughout its recent debacles. Not a month goes by without EA doing something wrong that is so basic that one wonders just how they did manage to become one of the biggest game publishing houses in the world.

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Players (“Rockers”) of Rock Band for the iOS – a $4.99 game on the iTunes – were recently accosted by a friendly popup that said:-

On May 31, ROCK BAND will no longer be playable on your device. Thanks for rocking out with us!

No apologies, no explanations. Just that rather verbose message. What gives?

Many are of the opinion that relicensing the music was too expensive for EA, now that they already had the players’ money, so they just let the game “expire”. See, when you ‘buy’ an app on the iTunes Store, you are just buying the license to use it, which can be revoked at any time by the licensing authority – in this case EA.

So what can you do about it? Nothing much, although you can try to get a refund from EA. You can also email Tim Cook of Apple and tell him how this sort of behavior from a licensing company is atrocious.

[Picture via Reddit]

UK Court Rules That ISPs Must Block The Pirate Bay

The world’s most resilient public torrent tracker has been demoted to the world [minus the UK]’s most resilient public torrent tracker. The British Phonographic (no, read that word again, I made the same mistake) Institute (BPI), one of the primary defendants in the case argued that Swedish torrent tracker The Pirate Bay was the most vile and evil thing in the world that took away money from poor and needy creators of music (such as Coldplay, Dido and Leona Lewis) and “lined their own pockets” with this stolen money. Interesting thought here. The spokesperson said:-

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Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists

Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.

This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.

We sincerely wish we could knock some sense into them, but alas the court has already ruled in their favor. However the ISP ban will not affect those who can use VPNs and proxies. We suggest a VPN based in Sweden, just to be doubly safe.

This is distressing, but it is merely the beginning of a long and silent battle between the corporates who equate piracy to stealing and those who believe that copying is not theft.

Steam May Come to Linux!

According to a huge scoop from Phoronix, Steam might just come to Linux. That’s right, Valve’s insanely popular video game digital distribution platform will finally see the light of day on /etc/Steam (Linux users please note that I am a newbie and as such am just throwing around filesystem names to appear “cool”)

For those that have doubted the exclusive Phoronix claims for quite a while now that the Steam client and Source Engine are in fact being ported to Linux, the doubts can be nearly laid to rest. Even I began to wonder how long it would take before the clients for their popular games would be publicly released under Linux. However, after confirming the information perhaps a bit too soon, their level of Linux interest is much more clear after spending a day at their offices.

After years of denying Steam on Linux it seems that Gabe Newell has finally let slip the codes of Linux into the fiery pit of an Internet guy. Michael Larabel, the founder of Linux focused website Phoronix had been personally contacted by Newell and subsequently he flew down to Valve’s headquarters and has apparently seen the build in person. How awesome is that? He also says that he will be posting the Linux screenies soon on his twitter feed. Soon, he says. Soon. Which translates to “not soon enough!”

Since the announcement, a barrage of followers and users have pretty much taken down the site where he promised a video will soon be uploaded.

Excellent news? You bet. It is thoroughly welcome after Desura’s Linux-specific game search as well as Steam’s own SteamPlay Mac support. Cannot wait for the video!

Introducing 0x10c, A New MMO Being Developed By Minecraft Creator Notch

Minecraft creator Notch’s new space faring Massively Multiplayer Online game called 0x10c has an ominous backstory of a doomed people waking up after billions of years of cryogenic sleep in a universe that is slowly dimming:-

In a parallel universe where the space race never ended, space travel was gaining popularity amongst corporations and rich individuals.

In 1988, a brand new deep sleep cell was released, compatible with all popular 16 bit computers. Unfortunately, it used big endian, whereas the DCPU-16 specifications called for little endian. This led to a severe bug in the included drivers, causing a requested sleep of 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years to last for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years.

It’s now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.

That is definitely a lot of information to digest, but I am guessing Markus Persson (Notch) wanted it that way, since it is a hard science fiction (read: as grounded in plausible engineering and science as it is possible) video game with a player controlled ship that is guided by a player controlled and software emulated 16-bit CPU. That is correct, you are a space farer on a ship that is controller by a computer from the ‘80s, that you have to program on the fly to work in deep space. Sounds like fun? We bet!

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The website for 0x10c mentions a lot features such as a fully working computer system, lots of engineering and knowledge-based game play and, of course, lots of space loot! The documentation for the working computer system has been released. There is also an unofficial FAQs available that answers a ton of questions!

Notch also mentions that this will be a game that features a monthly fee; probably not as much as the mainstream MMOs like EVE: Online or World of Warcraft, but is a sufficiently significant step in the annals of indie gaming history.

Fallout Goes Free on GOG.com For 48 Hours, New Premium Releases

At the recently concluded CD Projekt Spring Conference where, among ships, shoes and sealing wax, the new updates to GOG.com – the digital distribution arm of CD Projekt – were quietly rolled out to a high level of praise.

Starting with a small but important announcement of the preorder for Botanicula – a point n’ click game made by the creators of the much acclaimed Machinarium:-

This charming point & click game stars five friends on a perilous journey to save the last seed of their home tree from an infestation of parasites. With lush visuals and a soundtrack composed by Czech alternative band DVA, this game is sure to wow all of the fans of Machinarium and adventure games in general.

Next, a biggie, GOG.com announced the addition of “GOG.com Premium Edition” Games that are Good but not so Old. This is kicked off by Ubisoft’s two great hits of recent times Assassins Creed: Director’s Cut and Heroes of Might & Magic V both DRM free. That’s right, you just read “Ubisoft” and “DRM free” in the same sentence. Each is priced at $19.99, however until the 19th of April, the purchase of one game bags you the other for free!

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And finally, the mega gigantic super god level behemoth kraken cthulhu roboto announcement: GOG.com will be giving away DRM free copies of Fallout: A Post Apocalyptic Adventure Game for free for the next two days. That’s right, they lived up to their hype of giving away a legendary game. Because this is one of those few games that deserves the epithet for making open world an actual workable mechanic in a highly believable alternate universe. Grab Fallout here!

CD Projekt RED Will Give Away a “Legendary” PC RPG On Thursday on GOG.com

Speaking to Eurogamer, the head of marketing of PC Role Playing Game developer CD Projekt RED, Michal Platkow-Gilewski, said that on Thursday at around 5PM GMT the Witcher developers will announce a giveaway of a “legendary” PC RPG. However he said that there is no announcement of a new game at the time of the CD Projekt Spring Conference where this announcement will be made.

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However, Platkow-Gilewski said that this announcement has nothing to do with the “extraordinary” announcement for current and future The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings owners, which will be… you guessed it, extraordinary. (Or so we hope!) Straight from the horse’s mouth:

No, there will be no announcement of a new game. But to give you some hints and not to spoil the surprise, CD Projekt RED and GOG.com have prepared something very special for all the PC fans of The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings, who already have the game, as well as for all those who will buy one any time in the future.

Good stuff from one of the better video game development companies of our time! Any speculations/guesses on what this “legendary” PC RPG would be? My money is on one of the Black Isle games but one can never be sure, can they?