Easily Compare The Latest Cameras With Snapsort

Buying a new camera is like deciding on a single chocolate when you have a bag full of one from every brand. Just like cocoa, sugar, taste, almonds spoil you for choice, so does ISO, shutter speed, aperture, lenses, megapixels and other camera jargon. Snapsort helps you sort your snapping equipment. It helps you compare different models and gives recommendations on what camera you should buy.

Snapsort is build in such a way, that it functions as a rating site as well as a guide. Every camera is given a score, depending on what camera you compare it with. You can browse cameras by type (say, point and shoots, DSLRs, ultra zooms etc.), features, brands and various other parameters. Based on scores, there are also lists of  popular brands, top digicams, top super zooms, top entry-level DSLRs and so on. Another great feature provided by Snapsort is Just tell me!where you enter a price, say like $300 on a point and shoot, and it lists out cameras under that range, neatly categorized into different utilities, like Best compact for under $300and Best travel under $300


Snapsort is certainly a site you should keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for a new camera, a new camera that you’re gonna like.

With Penguspy, Finding Good Linux Games Is Easier Than Ever


While many claim that gaming on Linux is like playing football in mangroves, the gaming scene for Linux has been changing, the past few years, mostly for good. While many popular games are not available for Linux and GNU based systems, many other open source, free or linux-only games have come up.  So if you’re the gamer guy, it makes sense to keep a tab on a few gaming sites catering to linux exclusively, like Penguspu.

Penguspy is like a gallery of linux games. It has a collection of both free and commercial games which can be easily browsed by category, ratings, views or simply alphabetically.

The website covers various genres like action, arcade, strategy, shooters, sports, FPS, RPGs and MMORPGs. Each game has a page where you can find its rating, description, related video or trailer, a link to it’s homepage from where you can download or buy it, a list of similar games and a comments area.

So if you use Linux and would like to try out some new games, go check out Penguspy

[via DownloadSquad and webupd8]

Like Science, or Art, or Fiction? ‘Any New Books’ Will Email You When Books of Your Interests Release

1273665594_poll greenI’m a book lover. Period. I am always on the hunt for new books. I surf Amazon, a few local stores, my school library and find books that might interest me or put simply, increase my knowledge. Finding books that may interest me is not always an easy task. It can be boring, if not annoying at times. So if something makes this task easier for me, I’d totally use it.

If you’re a book lover and you use the internet, you’re going to love Any New Books

Any New Books is a web app or service or whatever you call it. It just makes your life easier. Here’s the gist. You go to Any New Books, enter your interests and email address and each week, you’ll get an email for each interest listing new book releases in that field. So if you like fiction, you’ll know each week what all new fiction books are in the market.

I like these kinds of websites the kind which decrease your effort in the truest sense. Any New Books not only brings notifications of new books to my inbox, but also makes it easier for me to buy them, using links to Amazon (UK and US stores, links to Kindle editions also included)

The website currently has 42 categories to choose from and you can choose as many or as few as you like. The list of books in each category is formulated manually, by humans. The selection process is not automated, because we believe a human editor is better able to pick books that will better appeal to a wide audience. says their about page.


The above is an example of an email that Any New Books will send you each week.

The service is currently free for everyone. Also the Amazon links in the emails are affiliate links, so it helps keep the service running if you make a purchase through those links, just so you know (not that it isn’t mentioned in the footer of each email).

Any New Books?

Install The Ubuntu Font On Windows Or Mac [Free Font Download]


This is gonna be a quickie. If you’ve installed the latest Ubuntu 10.10, loved the new default Ubuntu font and want to have the same font available on your other systems running Windows or Mac, you may look no further. The Ubuntu font, which is actually a family of fonts, is not only royalty free and open source, but also gratis. It is an open-type ttf based font family, designed by renowned font foundry Dalton Maag, which is based in London.

If you’ve come to believe that Ubuntu is bad at typography, this is the moment where you should give it another chance.

Download the Ubuntu Font [Take the link for the zip file, in the second β line]

3 Self-Hosted VoIP Applications You Might Not Have Heard Of…Unless You’re a Gamer


If you’ve seen the 2008 movie WarGames: The Dead Code, you would probably remember how the protagonist of the movie plays multiplayer games with his friend, while simultaneously talking to him online using something that most of us refer to as voice chat. (Note!: I’m not encouraging you to watch that movie! It was a flop. If you really have to check out the story, watch the original WarGames, released in 1983. Classic!)

So, the point is not about gaming here. It’s about the talk. We’re gonna talk about VoIP.

If you’re an average user, who uses the internet everyday you must have heard of, and even used some of the popular VoIP applications in the market such as Skype, Fring on mobile devices and Google Voice. The thing about most of these services is that they are run by third party companies, they limit the number of people that can talk simultaneously aka voice conference and/or they are slow. Apart from these services, however, there are quite a few VoIP applications that are better, let practically any number of people to talk without any additional cost and provide various quality options albeit at a little cost. Cost of running a server.

Gamers who engage in multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft etc, often play in groups, called clans. These clans coordinate their gameplay through such VoIP applications. To put things in perspective, if you need ammo, you just say, Hey Captain, I need ammoand then captain says Already on it’s way soldier!. These clans host or get someone to host servers for these VoIP applications so that they can continue their action in full throttle.

Today, I’m gonna talk about three applications that you can use for this purpose and much more. Their basic idea is that you first install the software on your server, then anyone who needs to join the talk can download the desktop client and connect to the server. On the desktop client, the experience is like IRC, or any other group chat where you can text and speak.


screen_ts3_main_macTeamSpeak is one of the oldest contestants in this category. Available at teamspeak.com, Teamspeak is multiplatform for both the server and desktop clients. VoIP applications when compared, are graded on the base of quality of sound, codecs used, inbuilt noise cancellation capabilities and latency (the time taken for voice to travel through the interwebs to the desired listeners lower is better). The latest TeamSpeak, version 3, improves on all of these and more. In case of TeamSpeak, the codec used is Speex A free, patent/free audio codec. Also, on TeamSpeak 3, is the ability to join more than one servers using tabs something like IRC.

However, TeamSpeak itself isn’t open source. It’s proprietary and comes with a license and licensing cost.

If you’re going to use it for a not-for-profit activity, Teamspeak is free and allows 32 people (or slots) on it. If you register the application and apply for a license (which is also free, as long as you’re doing not-for-profit), the server can house 512 people at a time. The other licenses, such as those for Commercial organizations, need to be registered and the license cost can be anywhere from $25 to $500 yearly depending on how many people are going to use it.

So, if you just need it for talking to a group at college or school, you’re gonna get it free. But then you’d have to host it on some server, either yours or some one else’s. If you can’t or don’t want to set up your own server for it, you can buy specific TeamSpeak hosting from various service providers such as InstantTeamSpeak, TeamSpeakHost and GameServers which begin at around $3 monthly.


ssmac300_1Ventrilo is another old-school application for gamers, launched about 8 years ago. Commonly referred to as Vent, it is known for its low latency and low cpu usage. Also, Ventrilo uses not one but several codecs such as Speex and GSM and you can customize what quality sound you want in and out, depending on your connection speed.

The server software for Ventrilo is cross platform, however, no Linux client is current available for the desktop.

Like TeamSpeak, Ventrilo is proprietary software. It provides two licenses. Public and Pro. The Public license is free, however, I can’t confirm if there’s a limit to the number of people that can connect to a server when it runs on a public license, but some sources say it’s 8 users.

Also, most people around it’s community say that acquiring a Pro license is very difficult, not because it has requirements such as a minimum 1000 slot count, which should continuously increase, but because Ventrilo is just not giving Pro licenses. So the only option left is setting up our own server with the Public version which is free, or buying hosting with a reseller that already has a license.

Popular resellers include GameServers, NationVoice and InstantVentrilo, the cost for which goes around $3 monthly.


Mumble is the last of this list, and arguably my favorite of all. Point one: It’s open source. Point two: It’s free. Point three: No licensing cost. Point four: No limitation on number of users who can connect. Point five: Very low latency. greenshot_2010-10-09_01-33-51

Mumble uses the Speex codec and the audio quality sounded heaps better than Skype. Also, there is no echo, and Mumble does noise cancellation on the fly. The latency is so low, it’s almost telephone-like. It’s like you’re talking to someone in the same room as you.

Since there are no licensing cost and the application for both server and desktop is free as is, hosting Mumble on your own server won’t cost you anything in the form of licensing, even if you host for your entire school or college. However, the limitations come down to how powerful your server is. Similarly, if you plan to buy hosting for Mumble from a third-party, the cost of it will be considerably lower than the other two counterparts mentioned above, but you’ll be limited by the number of slots or connections. You can choose your hosting plan accordingly.

Another plus point for Mumble is that it can be used for podcasting and general interviews. The upcoming (currently in beta) version of Mumble’s server side app (it’s actually called Murmur the server app, but I prefer to keep it simple) will support recording. Although recording   has nothing to do with the server, it’s the desktop client’s capability, but the developers of Mumble are designing the record feature in such a way that whenever someone starts to record, all the participants of the talk are alerted. This needs the server’s connection. So podcasters, wait a few weeks until Mumble desktop/client 1.2.3 is   released, and then you’d have the option of selecting a competent alternative to Skype that gives better quality recordings!

Hosting your own Mumble presents no limits, however, third-party hosts such as MumbleSlots, VoipServers, GameServers and Sabrienix will limit your usage by slots, that is, they will limit how many people can talk at a time. For example, I got a 10 slot package from Mumbleslots. It usually costs $15 yearly. But they had this offer going on which gave me a flat 50% discount (the offer is still on). So in short, I got an account where 10 people can simultaneously voice chat, for $7 a year and the quality is badass! Literally. Nevertheless, I got it because I wanted the record feature. Native record feature for Interviews for the win!

If you’re interested in trying Mumble out, you can connect to my server and chat up with whoever is there (I may not be present at all times). Just install Mumble and then click this link: Connect to Keshav’s Mumble server Login using a username of your choice.

All these applications were inherently developed for gamers, however, these are just software and technology that you can use with anything you find it suitable for. For example, organizations can host these on their intranet and then everybody in the office building can talk in different channels or rooms for different departments. And yes, these applications support password protected channels, so nobody will be able to peek into the conversations of the HR department!

Happy talking.

Image Credit: jayraz

Create And Host Your Own Mixtapes With Opentape

About two years ago, Muxtape, a service that would allow anyone to search for, and create playlists and share songs with friends was shut down after running into legal troubles with the music industry and RIAA. It came up later, but nothing like before. The most unique feature of Muxtape was it’s clear, clutter free design and usability. But then it shut down…and well, so did the mixtapes.

Enter OpenTape. A Muxtape style application, that you can host on your own server and create as many mixtapes with it as you like. 

Setting it up is pretty easy actually. You download the open source package, extract it and then upload it to your server. Then upload a few tracks and voila! Your mixtape is ready. A totally personal, muxtape styled experience at your disposal. You can now share the link of the Opentape powered mixtape with all your friends.

Opentape works with most major browsers and requires Apache and Php at its backend to work .


Podcasting for Beginners: Recording, Mixing, Software and Tips

PodcastingNot a very long time ago, people would sit together in their rooms, stare at their television sets and wait for their favorite programs to start. They would often put on hold other chores, rush through the traffic or hastily put their kids to sleep so as to catch their favorite television show in time.

What you read above may be said for years gone by, and for some, may stand true today itself. But the truth is, not many people now have the time to wait for the shows they want to watch or listen to. Some people have completely abandoned watching TV and usually resort to downloading their entertainment dose through the internet and enjoying them at a time of their choice.

Now if the new media consumers are getting ready, how can the producers be left unprepared?

Ever since Apple added support for podcasts in iTunes, in about 2005, their popularity has soared unceasingly. When RSS aka news feeds had popularized, they were thought of as a quick and intuitive way to read articles and follow up news updates and several other texts in a short span of time. Instead of going to the news, people now had news coming to them. After text, media followed. With the advent of the media-in-newsfeeds idea, podcasts took birth. Now instead of going to their shows, people could now get, and watch them whenever they wanted. Several podcast popularized, iTunes had a platform where everyone wanted to be.

That’s probably enough of history you would want to know about this thing called podcasts. For more, see Wikipedia.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a combination of a media file audio or video combined with a RSS newsfeed. The name itself is a compound of the words broadcast’ and iPod’, even though Apple didn’t invent the term. Think of it this way. If you subscribe to a podcast, whenever the person who publishes it wants to broadcast a media file audio or video you will get hold of the file as soon as he publishes it. Now that you have the broadcast file in your possession, you can access it whenever you want. This is just a non-geeky explanation, feel like digging more? Go here. Now, that media file you just downloaded, could be a comedy show, a drama, a DJ music show, a talk show, an interview, a science piece, or anything on politics, movies or technology. It’s just radio. But better.

How is it different from other forms of media?

They’re live. This is not. You can miss TV or radio shows if you don’t listen or watch them when they air, you can’t do that with podcasts. You can listen or watch them anytime!

How to create your own podcast?

Now think of it. Creating your own podcast can be both easy and difficult. Easy if you think of yourself as a common Joe who wants to get his word out. It’s just about speaking and recording right? Or think of yourself as a competition to the real media guys, the TV. Then you’d have to push some skills up your sleeve. Podcasting can be done in two ways: Audio or video. Most things discussed in this guide are for the audio podcast producer, however, many may apply to the video producer too.

This guide will be divided in two parts. Beginner and Skilled. Take the Beginner option if you just want a podcast out there, or choose Skilled if you’re willing to put some extra time to go the extra mile. Also, there are some things common, that you will have to take care of no matter what route you take.

With IndiaBookStore.Net, You Get The Best Deals From Online Indian Book Stores

Whenever I need to get a new book, I usually look for it online. In fact, I prefer online book stores to real ones unless I’ve got the whole evening on my hands and a friend to give me company, in which case, a real book store is like a night club where everyone is your friend, friends called books. But alas, who has the time. Look for it online, check the price, read the reviews, order. Done. That’s what I do, and I’m pretty sure most of you reading this take the same route.

However, in India, we don’t have a one-stop-shop like Amazon, where you can almost always get good deals and where probably everything you need is available except nasty things. Ha! Anyway, in here in India, we have a few, quite a few to say, online book stores. A few of these online book stores are excellent. They have a large library of books available, prices are good too. Some others, have great deals, but have horrible website navigation and user interface, which not only makes it difficult to find the book you want, but also takes a lot of time. Everyone I know of who buys books online, does this: Search for the book in one store, find it, see the price; open new tab, search for book in another store, find it, see the price and it goes on until they find a good deal.

However, the fallible state of some book stores make our job difficult. Why not one search engine that searches all of the, if not the most popular stores at once?

Animesh Jain (co-founder of iTasveer), a programmer entrepreneur, realized the problem and built IndiaBookStore.net, a book search engine that searches across various online vendors.

IndiaBookStore Animesh Jain calls the development of IndiaBookStore a work in progressbut I already see some shine in it. Here are the features of IndiaBookStore.net that he has highlighted on his blog:

  • Speed the results should come up atleast as fast as searching on the book vendors site directly. No slower. They’ll mostly come up faster.
  • Concurrency – results from all vendors should arrive concurrently, not serially. If a vendor’s site is running slow, then it should not affect any other results. The search engine will handle failures gracefully.
  • Relevance – the best results should be at the top. This is a little tricky because of the way I am implementing things and also depends on how good the relevance is at the vendors’ end.
  • UI and user experience A minimalist UI to focus on the search results and no unnecessary elements/clutter.
  • Scalability – scalability is needed in a couple of ways. One, on handling the traffic, and two, on the UI end, so that I can add about 10 or so book vendors.

Currently, IndiaBookStore supports 4 popular online book stores: Flipkart, Infibeam, Pustak and Indiaplaza.

The books are sorted by relevance and ISBN, and the best deals are marked. From what I noticed, the site marked   the best deals for both paperback and hardcover versions of the book. Personally, I’d love to see IndiaBookStore grow. I’ve had enough of the hard time figuring out different prices, discounts, user interfaces and comparing them and I’m very sure the average smart shopper has had it too. Since the service is still in development, I’ll reserve my critical judgement. Let’s see what the developer comes up with.

Wrttn.in Is A Simple But Feature Rich Online Notepad/Pastebin

When it comes to putting text on the internet, you’d think a pastebin would be the best bet. Of course, it is. Pastebins have been around since 2002, when pastebin.com came out probably one of the first paste bins around. Now, a pastebin is a simple thing. You put text. You get a url. The page at that url shows the text you put into it. Simple. However, with time, pastebins have evolved too, both on the feature-side and appearance-side.

Recently, I found Wrttn.in (you can call it written, I suppose) I think it’s the best pastebin ever built.

The thing about most other pastebins that I don’t like is usually the design of the output page or the dearth of text formatting options, code formatting (or lack of), prominence of ads on the output page and the inability to set font size. Basically, I want my text to look good and have it published in the least time.

Wrttn solves all those problems, and does a lot more.


  • Clean layout non distracting from the real text.
  • Custom CSS if you want to customize your content, this is the way to go.
  • No Ads no advertisements, branding, logo, no nothing except your content on the output page.
  • API available fetch your content from another app through an api. The content arrives in clean html.
  • Media ready Put a link to a YouTube video and Wrttn will automatically embed it. Neat. 

Demo of the output page: http://wrttn.in/fa2b56

The best part is that when you send the link to somebody, only your text is visible on the page. Nothing else. You have to check the url to see if you’re on a wrttn page. And there’s also formatting with Textile and Markdown markup systems. That’s basically the same formatting system used in Gmail Chat. *bold* _emphasized_ .

When you save a wrrtn document and get the public url, you also get an admin url. You can save this admin url if you wish to delete or edit your wrttn post later.

Wrrtn is developed by Joel Monegro from Florida, US.

Before wrttn.in, my favorite pastebin was txtb.in.

How to Convert Flac files to MP3

[Windows] Among committed audiophiles, the flac file format is a pretty popular one when it comes to audio file storage. There is a significant difference between a flac audio file and a conventional mp3 file — the standard for audio players these days, and that is sound quality. However, one can only detect that difference when using powerful audio gear, the likes of which music producers and DJs use. In contrast, an mp3 file is a compressed, small-size file that is convenient to store and carry but for which they compromise quality. Also, Flac files have a huge file-size difference, for they aren’t compressed and have a higher bitrate.

If you have downloaded or just gotten a cd full of flac music tracks and find it inconvenient to store such huge files, or want to transfer them to an audio player compatible with mp3 files but not flac, this is your guide to follow. Also note, that the method used here applies only to Windows users.

We’ll be using the free Foobar2000 media player and the LAME encoder for the conversion process.

After you have installed Foobar2000, and have it running, open the flac file(s) which you want to convert. Then right click on those tracks and select Convert → Convert to.. You’ll get a box like this:

Converter Setup

Now this is the place where you can select what conversion properties you would like to apply to the selected files. From the Output Format box, select Mp3. Then click the box beside it with three dots. Over here, you can further customize the quality of the mp3s obtained.

MP3 Settings

Slide the bar to select the quality and bitrate of the soon-to-be obtained mp3 files. Evidently, if you move the slider to the left, the file size will be lesser, comprising the quality and if you move it to the right, the files will have better quality compromising with a high file size. Make your choice. Then click OK.

Now you should be back to the Converter Setup window. Here, select an output folder and decide the file naming structure. You can also create a music mix by checking the Merge all tracks into one output file checkbox. When you’re done, click the OK button.

Now, Foobar2000 in order to convert the flac files, needs an encoder. This is where the LAME encoder we downloaded before comes into action. Whichever mirror you used to download, make sure it has a lame.exe in it (or something like lame_xx_xxx.exe) Right here, we only need the lame.exe file. Extract it from the download, and save it somewhere you will remember — the desktop for instance.

Just when you click the OK button, Foobar2000 will ask you where you have the lame.exe file stored. An explorer browser will open, through which you must find the required lame.exe file and proceed. The conversion process will then start and you will see a window like this:


Note: Playing the files while the conversion is in process can cause problems.

Further Information: Converting files from the flac format to the mp3 format will decrease the size phenomenally, but it may also cause reduction in quality. So make sure you are satisfied with the resulting files before disposing off the original flacs.