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Tuesday March 31, 2015
Memoir of a Part-time Knight - comic about girls and gaming
Sweet one-off biographical comic about a 12yr old girl who finds her escape in video games.
It's part of a collection of such comics in an anthology that was successfully kickstarted.
Wednesday March 25, 2015
Astonishing comics that 'save your game' when you turn the page
This is a nice article about Jason Shiga, who was inspired by the choose-your-own-adventure books, where every page has some choices you can make that instruct you to turn to different pages which alter the storyline. Jason has been stretching the idea to introduce some more complex ways of interacting with comic stories.. One even has a kind of "inventory" system.
Every page is sliced in half, separating the comic into two parts. The top half is where the story unfolds, while the bottom half displays the contents of your suitcase. The two sides are connected by an intricate system of page-turning: When you see a number inside a square, you flip to a page in the top half of the comic, advancing the story; when you see a number inside a circle, you flip to a page on the bottom, adding and removing items from your suitcase.
Very cool stuff -- seems like these comics would make great mind-expanding gifts for young kids.
Monday March 23, 2015
The 2015 10th Anniversary DonationCoder.com Fundraiser has begun
In march of 2005 -- 10 years ago this month -- I set up the DonationCoder.com website and forum -- without much expectation that it would survive the year. Mainly I was interested in being able to share the software I had written, and in seeing if anyone would donate to support it. In the year before I had released a program and asked casually for donations and postcards -- and though the response was minimal -- the pleasure of meeting and having contact with a stranger who enjoyed the software was undeniable. That was really the simple idea behind this site -- nothing very ambitious, just a way to connect programmer and user.
Fast forward 10 years.. The large numbers of downloads of our software, and the high traffic of our forum mean that our hosting costs are substantial -- currently $367/month just for server costs -- paid for entirely by small, optional donations from regular users like you.
The last time we had a fundraiser was in 3 years ago, in 2011 -- when we raised $14,239 from about 600 individuals. For our 10th anniversary, I've set the goal at $10,000 -- a fairly modest amount I hope -- enough to pay for the next two and a half years of web hosting.
I set the fundraiser goal to less than what we raised in 2011 in recognition of the changing software landscape.. In the 10 years since we started. Mobile and web apps are becoming ubiquitous, and the notion of free software has become almost dominant -- with consequences good and bad (constant advertisements and crapware). But if you like what we do -- our software, our forum, our special projects -- it's really more important than ever that we have your financial support. It's humbling to have to ask, but that's part of what this site is about -- being willing to ask for your financial support.
Having said that -- one thing I made clear when I wrote my article on the first year of DonationCoder.com, is that this website, the software and the forum, will not be going anywhere -- regardless of the money raised. We're in it for the long haul and our software will always be maintained and free for home users without adware or unwanted junk. But your donations help keep this site vibrant and active, make it more rewarding to improve, and I think help us to be an example to others.
In the coming weeks I will be writing more of my thoughts on the website -- both where I think we could have done better over the last 10 years, and some possible future ideas we might pursue together -- and I'll be asking for your feedback.
And lastly -- for today at least -- thank you all for 10 amazing years so far! Here's to many more!
March 23, 2015
Click here to discuss the fundraiser.
Please visit our Donation Page to make a donation now.
Note: Anyone who donates during the fundraiser will receive a permanent license key for all of our current and future software.
Sunday March 22, 2015
A collection of programming and algorithm tutorials, with embedded interactive visualizations that you can play with to better get a feel for what's being explained. Some very cool stuff.
Friday March 20, 2015
The conflict of interest that is Google
'We've always suspected that Google might tweak its search algorithms to gain an advantage over its rivals — and, according to an FTC investigation inadvertently shared with the Wall Street Journal, it did. Quoting: "In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC's bureau of competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking criteria and "scraping" content from other sites. It also deliberately demoted rivals. For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even though Google offered fewer flight options. Google's shopping results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even though users didn't click on them at the same rate, the staff found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not been previously disclosed.'
"WASHINGTON—Officials at the Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2012 that Google Inc. used anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and rivals, a far harsher analysis of Google’s business than was previously known."
Sunday March 15, 2015
DC member Twinbee writes about a new app he just released:
Most of you reading a forum dedicated to software (such as this one) will probably have heard about F.lux, and how it 'warms' the screen so you can sleep better at night, or at least have a screen which doesn't glare as much.
Cue SunsetScreen which is like F.lux but improved. In fact SunsetScreen is the only app of its type to allow you to precisely change the hue, saturation and brightness to allow you to match the screen's colour to the indoor lighting. This makes the screen look more appropriate whilst still encouraging the production of melatonin for a good night's sleep.
But perhaps a bigger advantage of SunsetScreen over any other program is the ability to set the sunset and sunrise times to match your sleep pattern, and not the whim of the seasons. For example, in winter, we only get a short day, and programs like F.lux would have the day colour too late, and the night colour too early. SunsetScreen fixes this so that you get a consistent colour changing cycle, whatever time of year it is.
So if you want to maximize seratonin production during the day, and melatonin at night, download SunsetScreen from here:
(btw, I'm the same guy who created SonicPhoto and OpalCalc. Like those two, I'm the developer of SunsetScreen).
Sunday March 08, 2015
Vivaldi, the new Web browser for power users
Interesting development in the desktop browser world, a new web browser from some Opera folks. I'm not exactly sold on this, and I was never a huge fan of Opera, but I do agree that I don't like this trend towards making the browser feel and look more and more invisible -- removing menubars, addressbars, statusbars, etc..
Desktop browsers have largely followed this overall trend of slipping into the background. Every new release sees them simplifying their interfaces and removing features that their data collection tools indicate are only used by a small handful. RSS icons disappear, toolbars get hidden away, the URL bar will likely disappear soon for many...
There is, however, still that five percent that actually did use the RSS icon, liked their status bar, and will most likely abandon any browser that hides away the address bar. The power users may be the minority, but they still exist. Exactly what constitutes a power user is up for debate, but looking at the recent history of Web browser "advances" one thing seems clear, the power user is not the target audience. The person who wants to be in control of their experience and customize it to their liking has been left behind by most browsers.
The power user's current solution to the simplification, arguably the infantilization, of the Web browser interface is to get all those missing features back with add-ons. This works to a degree, but it introduces a ton of extra code, some of it written by programmers far less capable than those contributing to the code of Firefox or Chromium. This inevitably means add-ons slow things down. The problem is bad enough that a future version of Firefox will even have a feature dedicated to letting you know which of your add-ons is slowing you down.
uTorrent has gone rogue
I was surprised when I installed a recent OS X update and it hi-jacked two browsers without user consent. Some looking around showed that there were others complaining about malware too. I rolled back to an older version, warned whoever I could and vowed never to trust the company again.
And today, there's this little gem on TorrentFreak:
Many users of the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent are complaining about it silently installing a cryptocurrency miner with a recent update. The Epic Scale tool, which slows down host computers, is reportedly being installed without consent and for some is particularly hard to remove.
uTorrent had two things going for it: a no-nonsense, lightweight app and street cred among people like me who have used and loved the app for years. Looks like they traded both in for some $$$.
Wednesday March 04, 2015
Super-sized Newsletter for Mar 2, 2015 - Codename: Freezing Feathers
1. Newsletter Editorial
Hello and welcome to other edition of the DonationCoder newsletter. It's been a whopping 127 days since the last newsletter, and in that time.. New threads started: 861; new posts: 8,995 (number of those deleted as spam: 242); new members who joined: 10,133; new donors: 609.
The first thing to talk about is the 2015 NANY (New Apps for the New Year) event, which wrapped up at the beginning of the year. It's where we ask the coders who hang out on DonationCoder to create some new piece of free software and share it with the world. We had a lot of fun as always, and there were some notable new tools created. I tried my hand coding an Android app and I'm interested in making some more -- if you have a good idea for an Android app, let me know. Follow the link below to browse the NANY 2015 entries from this year.
The next thing to mention is a call for help from Martin Brinkmann, who runs the Ghacks software blog. He's asking for donations to help run Ghacks. Ghacks has always been a friend to DonationCoder, writing about our new software releases and events. So I'm hoping you will join us in helping out a friend of small independent coders. See the link below to read more.
Last on the agenda is a teaser for our big upcoming 10th anniversary fundraiser. March 23, 2015 will mark the tenth year of DonationCoder (hard to believe it's been that long isn't it?). After ten years, it's time for some real changes on the site, and we are going to need your help figuring out which direction to go in. There's a link below to a thread for discussing the upcoming anniversary, but I'll be sending out a special mailing when the fundraiser starts, asking not just for your financial help but also your input on the future direction of the site. I hope you'll join us while we chart our path forward.
Source 2 (Engine by Valve) will be free for content developers
And now an announcement by Valve that the next version of their game engine, Source 2, will be free for developers:
Valve’s sudden entry into the engine race, with an official announcement of Source 2, seems to have put them right up front alongside frenzied rivals Unity and Unreal. (Poor old Crytek, eh?) Meeting with studio founder Erik Johnson today, I learned that when they say Source 2 is “free”, they mean it. Unlike Unity’s (much lowered) subscription rates (for larger teams), and Epic’s revenue cut of successful projects, Valve won’t be asking for any money at all. Well, sort of… They just require that the game be launched on Steam, along with anywhere else you might want to sell it.
That’s pretty huge. But it’s important to point out it’s also pretty smart. In real-terms, it does mean Valve are going to be getting – in fact – 30% of your revenue, as is standard for anything sold on Steam. However, and crucially, developers are going to be free to also sell their game anywhere else, which means you can also use stores that take far lower cuts. Use Source 2, put your game on Steam and take advantage of Steamworks, the community features, and so on, but direct all your customers to your Humble store where only see 5% won’t reach you.
from Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Tuesday March 03, 2015
Unity 5 now free for everyone!
Unity has had a model of a free version vs. a Pro version where many of the nicer features of the engine were available only to folks who owned a license for the Pro version. But today Unity has announced the launch of the latest version of their engine, Unity 5, along with a new license.
The free version is now being called the Personal edition, but all Unity 5 engine features are available for free until you make over $100,000, at which point you must buy a Professional license ($75/mo subscription or $1,500 (about 1.5% of $100,000)) but never any royalties.
More details can be found here:
Unreal Engine 4 is now free* for everyone!
Unreal announced yesterday that Unreal Engine 4 is now free* for everyone. What this means is that you can download and use the software to make a game for free. The only time you have to pay them money is if you are successful, paying 5% gross if you make more than $3,000 per quarter.
Quote from: https://www.unrealengine.com/blog/ue4-is-free
Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free!
You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.
This is the complete technology we use at Epic when building our own games. It scales from indie projects to high-end blockbusters; it supports all the major platforms; and it includes 100% of the C++ source code. Our goal is to give you absolutely everything, so that you can do anything and be in control of your schedule and your destiny. Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can find it in UE4, source it in the Marketplace, or build it yourself – and then share it with others.
Read more about it here:
Nice essay on the Prisoner's Dilemma Tournaments
I remember one of the first things that got me truly interested in artificial intelligence as a young kid was talking with my father about a Scientific American article on the "Prisoner's Dilemma" with my father.
It's a wonderfully rich and accessible mathematical/game-theory problem, made all the more exciting by the idea of having these tournaments that pit different strategies against each other.
And another more recent interesting discussion: http://www.scientificamer...operation-into-question1/
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