Friday, 15 April 2011

Humble Bundles

Over the past year there has been a collection of games released under the name "humble ...... bundle". they have been released in the donation format, you can pay what you want in order to receive a pack of 4-6 games. The first pack included:
  • World of Goo
  • Aquira
  • Gish
  • Lugura
  • Penumbra (overture)
The second pack included the following:
  • Braid
  • Machinarium
  • Cortex Command
  • Revenge of the Titans
The current collection called the Humble Frostebyte Bundle includes:
  • Trine
  • Shadowgrounds
  • Shadowgrounds: survivor
  • Jack Claw
  • Splot
The continuing arguement is that Linux users will not pay for anything. Well lets look at the facts: over the last three bundles: the average Windows user has donated $6 whilst the average Linux user has donated over $11, almost twice as much. The fact that the average Linux users pay double shows that there is a market out there for Linux gamers. Hopefully this will get some of the established companies taking note that games are important to Linux users. The sad fact is that we are treated as second class. We need native Linux games to be a success in order to promote growth. With the recent expansion of independent gaming companies, this is becoming more of a realistic challenge daily. OK we may never have even close to the number of windoze and xbox gamers on Linux, however the fact that companies are taking note of the needs of Linux gamers is a step in the right direction.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Flattr: a brief introduction

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while you may have noticed that recently each post now concludes with a Flattr button. Following my recent Wikileaks and Flattr design followed by a few discussions with other users on, I suddenly became aware that Flattr isn't perhaps as well known as I first thought. Several users asked how the system worked, given that this is very difficult to do in 140 characters or less, I decided to write a blog post about it.

Flattr is a Swedish based micro payments system, which allows users to donate funds to a project or cause of their choice. But is this simply PayPal with another badge and colour scheme? NO. Flattr is done in a way that is probably new to most of us.

Once you've signed up you are required to set your monthly amount; this is what you will pay into your account each month. This is done via MoneyBookers or PayPal and can range from Two Euro to one hundred Euro and is refered to as 'Means'. Now you've got the funds into the account you can start donating (flattring).

To donate simply click on the green Flattr button; these can be in three types:

Every time you click then each donation will become less. Your monthly amount (means) is divided by the number of clicks within each month. For example if your means is set to ten Euro and throughout your first month you click on five Flattr buttons, at the end of the month each thing you've flattred will receive two Euro. However, if in the next month you start to Flattr a few more things that you like, say you've clicked on twenty items: in your second month each thing that you Flattr will only receive 50 cents.

The best way that I've found to describe Flattr to a newcomer is to think of the month as a child's party, the flattred projects as the children and your means as the cake. The cake doesn't get cut and dished out until everybody has arrived (the month's over), once all the children have arrived then all receive a slice of cake. The more children in attendance, then the smaller each slice will be.

If you do not Flattr anything in a particular month, maybe your on an extended holiday or some circumstances arise where Flattr is low on your list of priorities, then Flattr donates your means to a charity of it's choice. A more detailed explanation of the process and the charities involved can be found here.

However this is not the only way to donate using Flattr, there is a one off payment option, similar to the PayPal or bank transfer style. This will allow you to donate up to fifty Euro to the cause or project of your choice.

But we are still not done; what if your work is outside in the real world and not in the virtual world? No problem, Flattr has that area covered too. The user is given the option to print out a QR Code which can then be scanned using a smartphone, this scan has the same effect as clicking on the green Flattr buttons.

This feature is the one thing that gives Flattr huge potential. In today's world, people are increasingly carrying less hard cash and paying by electronic means. This could prove to be a potential problem with people who rely on tips and donations as a major part of their income. However Flattr fills this role nicely, as this busker is proving:

Think of the range, potentially limitless. Going along to an art gallery or museum, seeing something you like and click, you've flattred the creator directly. Scanning a name-badge of a person that served you in a cafe or bar, porters, taxi drivers, the list is potentially endless.

So why is it not in our day to day lives yet? Well people and companies have to adopt it: it's all very well saying you want to Flattr 'Children in Need', however if they do not have a Flattr account then this is not an option. More users have to embrace the technology if Flattr is going to grow to it's potential. Growth will come with demand, if you like it tell your friends and work colleagues, spread the word about Flattr.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Teefury: 24 hours only

We often see the signs in various shops, magazines, TV advertisements etc that sales and prices are 'one day only' in a bid to get you to rush out the product. Most of the time if you check back in another month the 'once in a lifetime' offer is repeated. However once in a while you may be told that something is one day only and TeeFury is one such company that delivers on that promise.

TeeFury offers t-shirts for 24 hours only; once the time has gone, the t-shirt is removed from the site. I hear you ask "What makes this site even worth a mention? there must be thousands of t-shirt sellers online." Well the t-shirts for sale are not ones that are usually bought off the rails at the local clothing retailer; rather they have been designed and submitted by the users of the site. All that you need to do is sign up for a free account and you can submit as many designs as you like. The submission process really is simple:

If your more into manual graphics then they will also accommodate you: create your picture, scan it and send in the scanned image. For every t-shirt sold the creator gets $1.

The t-shirts themselves are priced at $10 plus postage and packaging. Now before you switch off here when I start mentioning US dollars: they do post worldwide. The total cost for a buyer in the UK is $19, for a rare t-shirt that isn't too bad a price.

The t-shirt designs change every 24 hours, as mentioned earlier in the post, so if you don't like today's simply check the site again tomorrow for the new design. Most of the time the designs incorporate two themes, but this is not always the case.

Being a child of the 80s I opted for a Back to the Future themed shirt for my first purchase:

The parcel arrived two and a half weeks after ordering it; not rapid, but I've had longer waiting periods for international packages. The quality of the shirts themselves is good, a nice cotton t-shirt; fairly thick but not heavy. However the one thing that caught my attention was the quality of the print: it really was very good. After two weeks and several washes the print is still as good and colourful as when it arrived. From past experience I have found that custom printed shirts fade very quickly after a few washes, but so far this has exceeded my expectations.

The site has a gallery section showing the t-shirts that were previously available. Whilst it is interesting to look back, this is a feature I wish that the site didn't have. It clearly states that once the 24 hours are passed they are not available: why tease the customer by showing us some really cool designs that we have no chance of getting. I looked back and saw this shirt, as mentioned before, I'm an 80s child: Guns n Roses and He Man were two of my favourite things from my childhood, why oh why did I have to miss this one? I still cry myself to sleep and have dreams about chasing the t-shirt but it's always just out of reach. Well no, I'm really not that sad. But I am gutted that I missed that one; now do you see my side of the argument as to why the gallery is not necessarily a good idea?

To be honest, I thought for $10 plus postage that these would be cheap, low quality t-shirts that you may wear a few times and then keep for sentimental purposes. I've been very surprised at the good quality of both the t-shirt and the print. If you see a design you like I would have no hesitation in recommending purchasing from TeeFury.

Flattr-Wikileaks logo

A while back I was asked by Marie Axelsson (@maloki on to come up with a logo for a blog post that combined two things she was going to write about: Flattr and Wikileaks. This was mainly in response to the knee jerk reaction from Paypal and the major credit card companies Visa and Mastercard along with a bank in Switzerland that froze Julian Assange's funds. Flattr has continued to allow support for Wikileaks, you can view the profile here.

But the challenge was to create a logo that would incorporate the two companies. After a good few hours developing roughs and then tweaking the idea, the final logo is shown below:

The image has been created using Inkscape and is made entirely from scratch. Although both logos are widely available on the internet, the beauty of creating it from scratch as an svg (scale vector graphics) file is that it can be blown up to the size of huge banners without any distortion or pixelation. For viewing purposes the files on display in this post and flattrchattr's are png files, these will distort when stretched.

The article in question is located on, you can view it directly here

If you like the logo then you can make a flattr donation by either clicking on the flattr button at the bottom of this post or by clicking on the image itself within the flattrchattr post.