Snapkeys is a Mind-Reading Imaginary Keyboard

Disclaimer: the veracity of the application/service in question is unknown. Whatever is said in this post comes directly from the website of the application, and we really have no idea about how it actually works. For all reasons and purposes, we will suppose that the application is magical and will actually work as it says, or that it is fake.


Now that the rather long disclaimer is done with, I really hope it’s magic at work when you use Snapkeys. At least it looks that way.

However there are no indications of how it exactly works. Although there are quite a few people typing away at blank screens on their iPads and iPhones, there is still no definitely clue as to how this revolutionaryproduct will actually work.

Perhaps you have to train it to respond to certain parts of the screen (in which case the imaginary interfaceselling point is basically moot), or it will start off with an algorithm that emulates a QWERTY keyboard and makes guesses as one types on one row and the next. That is, if I wanted to write MAT, I’d press the lowest row on the right, the middle row on the left and the top row on the left. How it’d interpret it differently than BATis a very valid question, and I’m afraid I have no answers to that except this conjecture: it’s either fake or there’s some sorcery at work here. Or if it works that way at all it probably has just two rows (4 keys in total). I am quite befuddled here.

The Snapkeys website is spartan on the details, and the downloads page (which threw up a suspicious warning on Chrome) just had wallpapers. Nothing yet.

Portal’s “Still Alive” Song in Minecraft. Music Block Win!

This video is going viral, and we cannot help but make sure it reaches the level of SUPER AWESOMEin no time. The last Minecraft update went up very recently, and someone decided to make a song play using the newest kind of blocks: the note blocks. It is just the introduction of the song, and it’s so perfect that I could actually croak out the entire song in sync while it was being played in Minecraft.


Although my previous guess was incorrect, at least it stuck to being from the gaming world. YouTube user Tritext989 used Redstone (a kind of material that can be made into circuits. More info here) to make a circuit that plays the song Still Alivefrom the game Portal composed/sung by Jonathan Coulton. Before you ask, yes it is pretty good even though it’s just the intro part.

If you want to know how to craft your own note blocks and how to tune them, this video handles it quite well.

If you want to skip making your own song and just play what Tritext989 has made on your own computer (not as a video), the original map file has also been linked to by the gracious creator. Download the map from our servers here.

To play this map, go to the .minecraft folder and unzip it to the Saves’ folder in that directory. Rename the file to World[1-5] (i.e. World1 or World2 or World5; the game only acknowledges the numbers 1 to 5).

On a Windows machine, the .minecraft folder is in your AppData directory. Simply run WinKey+R and type %appdata% and press enter.

On a Mac, the saves are in this folder: ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves/

Have fun tuning your own version of Still Alive!

Something Up at

Well well well, what do we have here? It seems that the monks at the castle are up to no good again. It seems that the police have caught up to’s no-DRM policy and have made a page a crime scene. That, or it is really official businessas the post explains.


Something’s happening here on, as you can see. Very official. Anyone caught violating the police line will be shot on sight. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on what’s going on behind that police line, and we certainly can’t encourage you to come back here and check the site over the weekend to see if clues have been revealed as to what it is.

Conjectures and theories lead us to many conclusions. One of the most formidable ones are that this could be the release of the really old games or interactive fiction games as they were called such as the text based adventure Zork. Probably this will also result in other Infocom classics such as Phobos or Deadline.

In other words, stellar. I have never played a proper text based adventure since Zork, which left a lasting [bad] memory of the Grue. What is a Grue, you ask?

> what is a grue?
The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

In any case, we’ll keep this post updated

Minecraft Hits the One Million Mark, Updates to 1.2

Before we get on with this post, I want to ask you, the reader, what the number one followed by six zeroes actually implies. In terms of dollar bills, one million $1 bills would weigh just over 1 ton. However, since a copy of Minecraft does not sell for $1 (it sells now for $20 and was sold for $13 earlier), Minecraft developer @notch has about 13 to 20 tons of $1 bills in his bank account. (More correctly they are in his company, Mojang Specifications’ bank account).


What is more phenomenal is that this game is not even a fully polished, fully released version. It’s still beta. So when a post saying that Minecraft has sold one million copies is titled Exclamation Mark, it is very understated. As an honorary, the millionth customer was given a custom unique cloak to use in multiplayer games:-


That’s all very nice and all, but what is the point of all this if the game is not updated at all? Thankfully no one got to ask that question the devs of Minecraft released v1.2 yesterday to a huge amount of happy sighs from the customers. The awesome bits of the new update are note blocks (which you can tune and play). I can’t wait to see Rube Goldberg machines made out of this that play the Mario theme or something. Trust me that’s going to happen sometime.

The full list of updates are on Notch’s tumblr. Have fun playing with all the new goodies!

Anonymous Calls for a Global Protest on Jan 15

With the recent spate of attacks on Wikileaks (and as a side effect, the anon culture of 4chan and Usenet) anonymous freedom groupAnonymous has decided to ante up the pressure on traditional global media. Anonymous is urging faceless internet users to move into the real world and protest against the censorship of news and Wikileaks.


While the common internet user will not know the implications of hindering net neutrality, free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly the very things that Governments are vouching to quell and prohibit on the internet protests such as these will be an eye opener for many such users.


With banners stretching across The Pirate Bay and other free speech and pro-piracy websites as well as 4chan’s notorious /b/ board, it is safe to assume that January 15th will be quite the red-letter day in the history of the free society movement. Actively denouncing aggressive copyright policies and standing up for ideas rather than authorship, the protest aims to be so large that the traditional media will have to cover this activism. Anonymous calls people all over the world to peacefully protest on the streets of their city for these ideals.

One can see and join events all over the world (or create one of their own) at

Minecraft + Kinect = Internet Glory

The Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing gaming system is probably one of the finer and sharper tools in comparison to the blunt, uncivilized clubs that are the PSMove and Wiimote. Actually no; I was kidding in a bid to start a console war on the comments thread of this post. In fact the Kinect is the most different piece of equipment in that it uses a infrared depth sensing camera (and some other technological wizardry) so that your movements in front of the camera translate into movements in the game.

Minecraft, on the other hand is E Lego, as my friend eloquently put it. You have blocks, lots and lots of blocks and you can build a lot of things from within the game world. The maximum surface area achievable on Minecraft is eight times that of the surface area of the Earth. People have been busy building a lot of absolutely gorgeous automated machines, gargantuan sculptures and horsing around with the source code to make ducks sound like they hate you.


That is all very cool but what have the hackers been up to? More importantly, what is the connection between the previous two paragraphs? The title puts it well, I believe. Nathan Viniconis, a retro cool Python programmer (retro cool was our addition) did something completely awesome. He took a Kinect and made it take a picture of him. He then made Python scripts to import a pixel version of the 3D image into Minecraft, resulting in some gloriously blown up sculptures of him and people/things around him.


Hit up his website (which is under severe pressure from RPS, Kotaku and Reddit) to get the code. Also, tell us if you actually implemented all that Python-fu!

Payoneer Services Blocked in India–Freelancers Furious

Payoneer is an international service that allows employers to pay their employees (subcontractors or freelancers) online. Though this payment option is quite similar to PayPal, the crux of the matter is that Payoneer sends a MasterCard to the employee through which they can directly withdraw money via an ATM or swipe it at a store. With the recent bout of problems that contractors in India had with PayPal, many switched over to their existing Payoneer cards (or made new accounts) for their pay.


Sadly, the RBI is at it once again and has blocked the Payoneer MasterCard POS (swipe payment) throughout India, and will soon be blocking ATM withdrawals as well. However, the folks at Payoneer maintain that it is a temporary block and it will be reversed in the future by the Indian authorities. In other words, if you have money in your Payoneer account, there is no fear of losing it in the future.

If you are in need of the money in your Payoneer MasterCard, you can try these steps to retrieve it.

ATM Withdrawal: The ATM withdrawals have apparently not been blocked yet, so you might want to try out the nearest ATM and withdraw all the money. Since Payoneer does not charge any money for the upkeep of the card if the balance is empty, you can flush out your entire savings at one go. Important caveat: since the ATM services might also be blocked, do not use an ATM that takes your card in (or eatsit). You might not get your card back!

Payment Reversal: You can contact Payoneer and reverse your transactions back at the originating site (such as oDesk or Elance or iStockPhoto). From there you can use the many types of different withdrawal methods to get your money back.

That being said, it is extremely sad that the RBI is creating problems after problems against Indian freelancers. For some people freelancing is their main source of livelihood and blocking the payment gateways hurts them all.

The Razer Switchblade Concept PC Will Blow Your Mind

At the Baskerville estate, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have a rather curious conversation:

Watson, how do you play your High Def games on the go?

Well Holmes, you must know that I use my Alienware M15x. It’s huge, it’s bulky, but it delivers near the wild Dartmoors and keeps that wretched Hound at bay!

An Alienware? Come now, Watson if you really want to game on the go, you should use the Razer Switchblade portable PC.

Ha but that is still a mere concept! How will I ever use it?

Elementary, my dear Watson; all you have to do is write sufficient blog posts to generate enough buzz about the platform and you’ll have the hardware in no time.

You are right, Holmes, as always!

Alright, it got strained towards the end, but the Razer Switchblade is probably one of the most ambitious projects to come up in the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) platform in ages. It was made specifically to cater to the correct form of gaming: PC gaming.


You see, Razer is a company that strives to perfect the PC gaming experience, and makes boatloads of cash while doing so. Their equipment is extremely expensive, but satisfyingly awesome. I have no doubt that their foldable UMPC, the Switchblade will be the same.

The Switchblade concept features a multi-touch ultra-precise touchscreen, a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port. What sets it apart from any other UMPC (or laptop, for that matter) is the beautiful, adaptive keyboard. Now, it’s hard to describe just how beautiful this keyboard concept is, and while it has been done before it’s never been done this well. You see, each key of the keyboard has a tiny color LCD screen at the head of the keyboard. These can change to show the normal QWERTY layout, or (as in the case of the Switchblade) show tiny icons of shortcuts for the game that you are playing. Like the icon of a gun in Quake, or a spell in World of Warcraft.


I’ll let the pseudo-solemnly-epic video do the major part of the talking here:-


If implemented, the Switchblade will feature an Intel processor and a dedicated graphics card (obviously). The hands on preview is available at CES South Hall #30754. Since it’s still a concept code, the name is bound to change to a predatory animal’s as soon as the device is in production.

Recettear Sells a Hundred Thousand Copies. Follow Up Hinted

It’s no secret that I adore the little pseudo JRPG called Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. I call it pseudo because it is not, in fact, a total JRPG. Instead it has this incredible idea of what if the player was an NPC?. More accurately, what if the player was the shopkeeper to whom the heroes of JRPG games came to buy swords, shields, magical amulet and pink toffees from?. Yes, that is exactly what Recettear allows you to do, and while the idea itself may sound half-baked and prone to cause easy boredom, the game is not. It’s been the darling of many reviews, coming from the Japanese stock and westernized by Carpe Fulgur.


So when a recent Steam sale pushed up their sales to a hundred thousand copies, they are bound to be so happy that they would have stopped developing and gone on a collective vacation, right?

The head business dudeof Carpe Fulgur does not think so. Andrew Dice explains in a blog post about what the sales mean, what they do not mean and what ramifications these figures would have in the future. One of the most important points raised was that the sale was done at an extremely low price. Recettear was sold in a pack for about $1 (five games for $5). Since Valve prefers developers more than publishers, the lion’s share of the profit went to the Japanese developer EasyGameStation. Not that Carpe Fulgur is struggling right now (they are doing very well, but they need to release another game within the next year).

Lastly, Dice very cheekily hints at the next game that would be released by Carpe Fulgur for the world: Another EasyGameStation title called Chantelise.

In all the future of westernized JRPGs looks bright indeed! Yayifications!

Review: Angry Birds for PSP

The Finn folks at Rovio Mobile have had quite the blast with their superstar physics-based puzzle game Angry Birds. Taking cue from simple castle destruction games of old (and other flash-based games), the developers at Rovio put together a bunch of really angry birds at war with egg-stealing gluttonous green pigs, added special powers to some birds and some great level design throughout the game and published it to the iOS. The rest is, well, the adoption. According to an interview with Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, the game became a bestseller almost overnight in the home country of Finland and thus began its conquest of all the major mobile operating systems.

So, after the iOS, Android, Symbian^3 and the WebOS, the game headed towards its first major gaming console entry: as a PlayStation Mini for the PlayStation Portable handheld console and the PlayStation 3 home console. The game’s 63 playable levels are available on the PSP/PS3 for a sum of $3.99.

angry birds

The main game is pretty simple: you have a catapult and a lot of gung-ho kamikaze birds at your disposal. You have to aim these birds at pig fortresses and kill all the pigs on a level because they stole the birds’ eggs. Those pigs are evil. If that did not make much sense, this video will.

There are five types of birds available as you progress with various powers available to them. The birds’ launch order is pre-determined, so you have to use some strategic thought to get through many of the higher levels.

The game has been ported well into the PS system. The controls are rock solid (unlike wonky touch controls that were especially fidgety on my phone), and the gameplay is (for the most part) buttery smooth. There were lag issues when a lot of destruction happened on screen at the same time, especially when the blue birds hit ice barriers and the like. Although they were minor, I really hope they don’t spoil the fun later with the black birds (aka the bomb birds) and the flying chickens. The sound is crisp, just as expected.

But is there a really good reason for buying this game on the PlayStation Store, especially when you can get the exact same experience on your mobile phone for much less (read: free on the Android)?

This is exactly the same experience that you get on your mobile phones. Nothing extra added (as far as I could tell; it has been a while since I’ve played episode 1’s levels) and nothing extra promised as yet. While the load times are a pain (as with all PSP games), the [almost] no-lag gameplay on a larger and brighter screen might hold appeal for fanboys.

As for me, I had $4.03 left in my PSN wallet, and did not know anything better to spend the money on. Do let me know of your thoughts in the comments!