Monday, May 20, 2013

Install Steam for Linux on openSUSE

Screenshot courtesy: +Marcel K├╝hlhorn

Valve has done a brilliant job by porting their Steam client to Linux. This has not only fostered more Linux gaming communities, but has also opened another option of developers working on developing games for the Linux platform.

There are many resources on the internet for how to get Steam on popular distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint. This post focuses purely on how to get Steam for Linux on openSUSE.

openSUSE has it's very own installer for Steam on the public games repository thanks to all the hard work from the openSUSE community.

The +Open Build Service has the package available and you could use the famous 1-click install process to get Steam for Linux. Click here to go there.

Have fun and enjoy the amazing gaming experience on your openSUSE installation :)

AMD's hUMA and how it can change Parallel Computing forever

Background  High Performance Attached Processors, Handicapped By Architecture

The application of high-performance accelerators, notably GPUs, GPGPUs (APUs in AMD terminology) to a variety of computing problems has blossomed over the last decade, resulting in ever more affordable compute power for both horizon and mundane problems, along with growing revenue streams for a growing industry ecosystem, most recently joined by Intel’s Xeon Phi accelerators which have to potential to speed adoption even further due to hoped-for synergies generated by the immense universe of x86 code that could potentially run on the Xeon Phi cores.
However, despite any potential synergies, GPUs (I will use this term generically to refer to all forms of these attached accelerators as they currently exist on the market) suffer from a fundamental architectural problem — they are very distant, in terms of latency, from the main scalar system memory and are not part of the coherent memory domain. This in turn has major impacts on performance, cost, design of the GPUs, and the structure of the algorithms:
  • Performance — The latency for memory accesses generally dictated by PCIe latencies, which while much improved over previous generations, are a factor of 100 or more longer than latency from coherent cache or local scalar CPU memory. While clever design and programming, such as overlapping and buffering multiple transfers can hide the latency in a series of transfers, it is difficult to hide the latency for an initial block of data. Even AMD’s integrated APUs, in which the GPU elements are on a common die, do not share a common memory space, and explicit transfers are made in and out of the APU memory.
  • Cost  — The necessity for additional buffer memory in the GPU to store the working and prefetched data blocks adds cost to the GPU. In addition, the logic to support high-speed data transfer adds costs.
  • GPU design  — GPU designs have been tending toward increased core count due to the need to operate on ever larger blocks of prefetched data to improve the performance of current algorithms.
  • Algorithms — In a reinforcing cycle with current designs, algorithms for GPUs are written based on the assumptions that there will be a large transfer latency and that they cannot have coherent memory access to the main system memory, reinforcing current design practices.

What’s New

Over the last few months, AMD has been quietly rolling out a new technology, heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access (hUMA), to be implemented on future unannounced AMD products. hUMA will fundamentally alter the relationship of the GPU to the main system CPU by providing the GPU with peer access to the main system memory space along with the scalar processor. The key technical features of hUMA will include:
  • Unified memory with bidirectional coherency and uniform access — This is the truly transformational feature of hUMA if it works as planned. The GPU and the scalar CPU will now share the same uniform memory space, and both can now allocate and operate on common memory with no need for redundant buffering on the GPU, and no need for explicit transfers.
  • Shared coherency domain — hUMA implements a common coherency mechanism, which will open up the potential for multiple GPUs operating on the same shared data and combinations of GPU and CPU in new algorithms, since each will automatically have the latest version of memory served either from cache or through a common cache-miss process. This will certainly change the way GPU-based algorithms are implemented, since developers can now be more flexible in where they perform processing with no penalty for moving data blocks.
  • GPU can take page faults and allocate memory — The GPU can take page faults, allowing it to work out of non-locked memory.
The potential impact on CPU/GPU integration is immense. As an embryonic developer I developed significant code on real-memory systems where a considerable amount of my time was spent juggling overlays of data and code that were locked to physical memory, and the transition to a uniform virtualized memory model transformed programming. While hUMA will still require explicitly exposing parallelism in algorithms, it will remove an unnecessary and inconvenient barrier to its proper exploitation.

Where Are The Products?
Today there are no hUMA products, but with the pacing of AMD’s communications and the expectation of new processor generations from both AMD and Intel, my guess is that we will hear from AMD on the subject of hUMA products before the year is out. Because there is currently also little or no hUMA software IP, we can probably expect that the initial products will be in the server space targeted at lab and HPC users, along with a push to promote hUMA software IP. Since AMD’s server market has fallen to less than 5% according to some observers, AMD has little to lose by trying to shake up the server market again. Consider also that AMD has an architecture license for ARM, so there is also the potential to cook up some interesting mixes of very low power scalar ARM cores hUMA-coupled with GPUs in addition to hUMA-based variations of current AMD APU designs.

What Are The Risks?
As always, with new technologies, there are risks. For hUMA as a catalyst for increasing AMD’s market share, the risks are pretty straightforward:
  • Performance risks — Unified memory architectures took a long time to shake out on PCs and still suffer performance limitations compared to dedicated architectures for some applications. Developers persisted due to potential cost advantages, and they now work well enough to be mainstream. hUMA could suffer from performance teething problems, delaying its acceptance. THre are also likely to be upper limits on the number of GPU cores that can participate in the cache coherency scheme, and while it is hard to predict, this number will probably be well below the current 500 - 1000 cores of the highest end GPUs.
  • Capturing developer mindshare — As I noted above, having gone through a similar technology transformation, it is hard to see that developers will not be all over this one. But, and this is a very big but, when I was developing, nobody paid any attention to the relative market shares of the mainframes we were working on. AMD faces a classic chicken and egg problem — how to attract attention to a transformational technology that will only pay off for some developers if AMD gains market share, and AMD cannot gain market share without the developers in the first place. The likely outcome is incremental acceptance after an early demonstration phase where leading users demonstrate hUMA advantages, and others follow.
  • Intel duplicates hUMA — The advantages of hUMA are not a secret, nor are the difficulties engendered by today’s GPU architectures. If Intel is working on a hUMA equivalent project, even the threat of it could stall acceptance of AMD’s alternative. Currently, Intel is not generating a lot of revenue from its Xeon Phi products, so a change in product architecture might be more embarrassing than expensive if they were to do so quickly. However, regardless of timing, what is certain is that Intel will be forced to react to this move by AMD in some fashion — the potential advantages for hUMA-based computers is too significant to ignore.
From a developer's perspective, hUMA resonates with overtones of Victor Hugo’s “nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come” (this is actually a popular paraphrasing, not a literal translation). If you are even peripherally involved in high-performance computing, this is a development that you should be tracking very closely, and when the products become available, get one and start developing — you could be on the forefront of a major sea change in parallel application development.

Please note: This post was originally written by Technology Blogger - Richard Fichera on the Forrester Blog.
This post has been re-blogged for sharing. All credits go to Richard Fichera and Forrester Blog.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Song of Hope?

I rode up the flight of stairs,
Awaiting my new dawn of days,
Stone hearted I had become,
To the passage of time I had succumbed.

Climbing up, I realized,
One more time why I was here tonight,
Time had finally come to let it go,
For a welcome news now stands at my door.

What I saw, I beheld,
The eyes of the bearer or suspense,
I glimpsed her face, through her hair,
Her smile awoke that mystic flair.

Like the air of mist of people and words,
I care did not, cut them with my sword,
On my path I walked along,
Sweet sound of the lady begetting strong,

I reached the podium, heart beating that sound,
I lift my thoughts that were left forlorn,
I smiled at her, and so did she,
Wondering what she was doing to me,

The time had come to say goodbye,
For the idiot stayed down on his side,
I told her still that I cannot leave,
A beautiful song, she whispered to me.

Now I stand at those crossroads strong,
Forbidding thoughts that have long gone,
Am I just a puppet for the master of time,
Can I pull the strings, take what's mine

These thoughts now, take a toll,
Mystery and Splendour, amidst furore,
What purpose lies in a hopeless fist
That fights for nothing or stands very still,

For hopes and dreams many lives fulfill,
What I have I got to comfort my will,
If I jump in, will she come along,
Or lose her too, to the past, begone!

Tell me now, Oh! Divine Voice,
I don't hear you sing, see you in my sight,
Is she dreaming too, do I have a choice?
Or am I running round in a Fool's Paradise?

Have mercy now, will you heed my call,
Have I done something wrong, you've made me fall,
Stone hearted you've made me become,
In this passage of time to which I've succumbed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keep Calm and Install Debian 7.0 Wheezy

Finally, after two years of being in development, the Debian development team announced that Debian 7.0 "Wheezy" is now out for people to download, try and install.

The Debian distribution has been known for its unwavering stability and rock-solid performance for many years.

Firstly, it is important to let you know that Debian Wheezy is based on the older and stable Linux 3.2 kernel. The latest version out is the 3.9 kernel used in other bleeding-edge distros like Fedora.

What's new on Wheezy?

Number 1 - Multiarch Support
One of the core foundations of Wheezy's development has been the Multiarch support. Technically, what this means is you can install 32-bit applications on your 64-bit installation of Debian Linux.

In their vision of building a true universal operating system, the Multiarch support allows cross building and better support for legacy 32-bit applications.

This will also enable live migrations from a 32-bit to a 64-bit application.

Number 2 - Deploying personal Clouds
Debian is a driving force for "freedom" and with that in mind, they've added additional tools that allow users to deploy their own personal clouds and services. In technicality, a full "Software as a Service" offering.

Wheezy will feature ready-to-use packages that can use with OpenStack and Xen Cloud Platform (XCP).

More on this can be read here.

Number 3 -Software-Speech Installation
For visually impaired users, who don't use a Braille device, this is possibly a blessing. The installation system is now available in 73 different languages out of which around a dozen of them are available for software speech synthesis.

Number 4 - UEFI Supported Boot
Although the developer community hasn't added support for "Secure Boot"* yet, Wheezy adds support for installation and booting using the UEFI for new 64-bit computers.

* - If your computer came with Windows 8 pre-installed, you'll have to disable secure boot and then use your system's UEFI menu to install Wheezy.

New Updates
Image Courtesy: Debian ;)

  • Apache 2.2.22
  • Asterisk
  • GIMP 2.8.2
  • an updated version of the GNOME desktop environment 3.4
  • GNU Compiler Collection 4.7.2
  • Icedove 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird)
  • Iceweasel 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox)
  • KDE Plasma Workspaces and KDE Applications 4.8.4
  • kFreeBSD kernel 8.3 and 9.0
  • LibreOffice 3.5.4
  • Linux 3.2
  • MySQL 5.5.30
  • Nagios 3.4.1
  • OpenJDK 6b27 and 7u3
  • Perl 5.14.2
  • PHP 5.4.4
  • PostgreSQL 9.1
  • Python 2.7.3 and 3.2.3
  • Samba 3.6.6
  • Tomcat 6.0.35 and 7.0.28
  • Xen Hypervisor 4.1.4
  • the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment
  • X.Org 7.7
  • more than 36,000 other ready-to-use software packages, built from nearly 17,500 source packages
Getting Debian 7.0 Wheezy

Head over to the Debian Project page for download methods, installation instructions and more.

There are more features on Debian 7.0 that I have not elaborated here. You can find all the missing information here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fix Missing Security Signatures OR Cannot install applications on Fedora 18 (F18)

Problem: PackageKit cannot install unsigned packages.

If you've just installed Fedora 18 or upgraded to Fedora 18, you may have noticed that you are unable to install 3rd party applications like Dropbox, Opera, Google Chrome, Skype and many others on your computer.

The installation exits with a message "Missing Security Signatures" whether it's installed directly or via a Terminal.

Why is this happening?

I was seeing the same issue on my fresh install of Fedora 18. Ideally, PackageKit-based tools allowed the installation of 3rd-party software by requesting root authentication.

After some searching and reading on the Internet, I found that this issue was caused by a bug that didn't allow PackageKit-based tools on Fedora 18 to install unsigned third-party packages anymore.

This bug did not affect the installation of official packages as they were signed with a trusted key anyway.

How to fix this?

The PackageKit maintainer released an update (PackageKit-0.8.7-1.fc18)

Update your computer as you would normally do to fix the problem.

New to Linux? - Read below

On a fresh install
Option 1: Just type "Software" in the Gnome search, open the tool and run an update. Let the update go through it's process.
Option 2: Open a terminal and type
yum update
This should run an update on your computer which will automatically update PackageKit.

Now that your Fedora 18 is updated, try installing anything, it should work fine :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

IceCrown's new Track - Darius and the Kyrus on Soundcloud and YouTube

I've finished working on my new track - "Darius and the Kyrus." Actually, it's been a while since I finished the track and uploaded it. This post comes late.

What's with the name "Darius and the Kyrus" you may ask. Good question, I don't know. Naming music is really difficult for me. When I compose or improvise, I try expressing feelings build around the mood of the song.

After I finished this track, it somehow made me think of a fusion between the old and the new, man and nature, architecture and glory.

I was reading about the Achaemenid Empire while listening to the track. The Kyrus is a river next to which the magnificient city of Persepolis was built by Emperor Darius. I just had to name it Darius and the Kyrus.

Anyway, here it is :)

Follow me on SoundCloud and YouTube for more!
I'd love to listen to your comments/feedback. Thanks for listening!


IceCrown - Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd Cover)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy of India and the REAL truth of involvement

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy - What happened?

Child Victim of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy
On the night of the 2-3rd December 1984, Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh in India, bore witness to one of the most horrifying Industrial disasters referred to as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy or the Bhopal Disaster.

This happened due to a toxic gas leak at the Union Carbide India Limited's (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal killing over 3,000 people immediately and has continued to claim close to 20,000 lives till date. 

And according to wikipedia, "causing 5,58,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries"

This deadly methyl isocyanate poison gas leak at the plant in 1984 continues to bring suffering, health hazards, dangerous environmental conditions over three decades!

The company in question, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), is a subsidary of the U.S.A-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and company ownership reports show that the UCC owned 51% stake in the UCIL.

UCIL's setting up of the Plant and involved parties

According to the latest set of cables (Kissinger Cables) released by WikiLeaks, the United States had lobbied hard (under UCC requests) during the 1970s to setup operations of UCIL in India. The USA sought exceptional terms from the Indian Government to help the company setup its plant in Bhopal.

The UCIL managers in India were in touch with US Diplomats and sought their intervention to secure terms for UCC's investment in India. According to a Times of India news report, both the US Officials and UCIL personnel had lobbied hard to ease the norms for the company under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) in the 70s.

The FERA, passed during the leadership of Indira Gandhi, limited equity participation of Foreign Firms in India. The FERA was basically passed to ensure conservation of Foreign Exchange and prevent leakage.

In 1973, the UCIL head requested US Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan to request the visiting US Deputy Secretary to State to lobby with the Indian Finance Minister on behalf of the UCIL to ease norms elaborated by the FERA. This would mean that the UCC would get a free passage for its investment in India.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, the UCIL continued to seek the help of the US Government to get exemptions in the FERA. Also, another cable reveals that the US Embassy asked the state department to help the Indian Company secure a loan from the US Exim Bank.

In September 1975, the US Lobbying in the Indian Government allowed great results for the UCC in India. The UCIL secured a full manufacturing licence for 5000 tonnes of MIC-based pesticides. Despite this, the lobbying still continued to ease norms under the FERA act even after the UCIL was granted some concession already by the Indian Government.

By this time, the UCIL had secured the loan and was well on its way to set up the Pesticide Plant.

Documents also reveal that in the same year, the UCC decided to install unproven MIC technology in the Bhopal plant. While they were doing this, they were making it quite clear that they would not agree to any condition that would reduce their equity in the Indian unit below 51%. UCC was on now planted firmly in the Indian system and stayed on top of any intervention by authorities.

How and Why did the Leak Happen?

UCIL's plant in India was to develop the pesticide/insecticide Carbaryl under UCC's brand called "Sevin" using MIC (methyl isocynate) as an intermediate. The MIC is a flammable, dangerous and toxic substance also used in the manufacture of Rubber and other materials. MIC is an extremely hazardous substance for Human health.

Companies like Bayer also manufactured Carbaryl however, they did it without the use of MIC at an extra manufacturing cost. Bayer and other companies however, still use the UCC process for making Carbaryl in certain areas.

According to Wikipedia, "The chemical process employed in the Bhopal plant had methylamine reacting with phosgene to form MIC, which was then reacted with 1-naphthol to form the final product, carbaryl." 

This "route" differed from the MIC-free routes used elsewhere, in which the same raw materials were combined in a different manufacturing order, with phosgene first reacting with naphthol to form a chloroformate ester, which was then reacted with methylamine."

During the early 1980s, the demand for pesticides had fallen considerably. However, UCIL continued to manufacture Carbaryl and this also led to a build-up in the MIC stock.

The complaints started in 1976 when two workers complained about pollution inside the plant. Following this, in 1981, a worker was splashed with phosgene. When he removed his mask in panic, he ended up inhaling large amounts of phosphene gas. He died 72 hours later.

American experts visited the plant in 1981 and warned the UCC about a "runaway reaction" in the MIC storage tank. Local Indian Authorities also warned UCIL about the same problem however, no constructive and preventive measures were implemented by UCIL. Nothing from UCC either.

Jan 1982 - 24 workers were exposed to Phosgene leak. They were admitted in the hospital because the company had not regulated the wearing of safety masks.
Feb 1982 - MIC leak affects 18 workers
Aug 1982 - A Chemical Engineer sustains burns on 30% of his body after coming in contact with MIC.
Oct 1982 - In an attempt to stop another MIC leak, the MIC Supervisor suffered severe chemical burns and two other workers were severely exposed to the gases.

This continued in 1983 and 1984 - chemicals of different proportions leaked and continued to cause damage to workers and people around them.

The company also filled and stored MIC beyond recommended levels with poor maintenance after they stopped producing MIC, failure of safety systems due to poor maintenance and shockingly, the SWITCHING OFF of safety systems to save money.
The MIC tank refrigeration system could have drastically mitigated the adversity of the gas leak.

There were heavy attempts to cut down expenses in the plant. During the event of a pipe cut, the employees were told not to replace it. Apparently, the UCIL thought the workers could do without much training. They halted promotions that hurt the worker's morale and in turn drove the skilled workers to other places.
Workers were asked to use English manuals though they had very little understanding of English.

By the year 1984, only 6 of the 12 operators were working with MIC and the number of supervisory personnel was cut by half. There was no maintenance supervisor in the night shift and instrument readings were taken every 2 hours instead of the previously 1 hour readings.

Although the workers made complaints via the Union, they were ignored by the company. In fact, the company fired a worker who went on a 15-day hunger strike.

The UCIL also fined 70% of the employees for refusal to deviate from the regular safety norms under management pressure.

The MIC tank alarms had not been working for 4 years and there was just a single back up system compared to the 4-stage backup process that UCC had in the USA.
The Flare tower and vent gas scrubbers were out of service for 5 months before the disaster. Since just one gas scrubber was operating, it could treat the high amounts of MIC.
Also, the flare of the tower could only handle a quarter of the gas that leaked in 1984. Also, it was out of order during the time of the incident.

The Steam boiler, intended to clean the pipers was in operational. Despite this, more equipment was either in operational or not working.

Shockingly, Carbon Steel valves were used in the factory although it is known to corrode when exposed to Acids.

The MIC gas was supposed to be kept at 4.5 degrees C. However, the temperature was 20 degrees C.

After the inquiry was commissioned, they found that the UCIL was using a very dangerous pesticide manufacturing method to save on development cost, used large-scale MIC storage, undersized safety devices among other critical reasons.

Plant management deficiencies also included factors like Reduction of safety management, lack of skilled operators, insufficient maintenance, inadequate emergency plans.

Who stands responsible?

In both India and the USA, lawsuits were filed against both UCC and it's India subsidary UCIL. The litigation in the US ended when the district court of New York ruled that it had no  jurisdiction on the cases and mentioned that the appropriate venue to carry this litigation was in the Indian courts/ Indian Law System.

The New York Court had come to this conclusion after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in the first place. Now, all legal proceedings against both UCC and UCIL had to be held in India according to the US court.

In India, there was no procedure to represent an enormous number of Plaintiffs and hence, the government of India brought in a Statute, "Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act, 1985" that enabled, by essence of the law, the Indian Government to represent the vast majority of victims and plaintiffs and carry on the litigation against UCC and UCIL.

Four years later, in 1989, the Indian Supreme Court approved a settlement between the Central Government and UCC/ UCIL.

UCC, as the parent company of UCIL, agreed to pay 500 million US Dollars in damages. This money was to be placed in a trust, and administered and distributed to the victims as the Madhya Pradesh government saw fit.
Since the UCC/ UCIL finished the settlement, in consideration, they wanted their officers, directors and employees to be relieved of all criminal charges and any liability.

After widespread protests against the settlement, 2 months later, the Indian Supreme Court reconsidered it's approval and announced that the settlement is confirmed, but mentioned that the UCC/UCIL and respective officers, directors involved will remain subject to criminal prosecution.

The Indian Supreme Court conducts cases against UCC and former-CEO Warren Anderson till date.

Although the settlements were made, NGOs and victims groups, families have not been satisfied mentioning that the trust money was not distributed adequately, mismanaged and misappropriated by the State and Central Government.

Also, the accident area till this day remains highly toxic because it has not been cleaned up. Since there has been no "Environmental Protection Act" in place, there was no regulatory plan or legal mechanism to clear up the affected area and remedy the site.

Surprisingly, neither the Courts nor the Government bodies mentioned about who would actually take responsibility for cleaning up the area, bear the costs involved.

9 years later, in September 1994, The Federal UCC sold it's entire stake in UCIL to Eveready Industries India Ltd (EIIL). Actually, the UCC owned 51% of EIIL and called it Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). It had just sold it back to EIIL.

Also, a US Court rejected the lawsuit blaming UCC for causing Soil and Water Pollution around the site of the plant and ruled that responsibility for remedial measures lay with the respective state government and not the UCC.

During this time, another chemical company "Dow Chemical Company" expressed interest in purchasing UCC. It believed that since the UCC had sold UCIL to Everready Industries, it would bear no liabilities to the problems in Bhopal. Many Dow share holders opposed the acquisition and threatened to block transactions claiming that the Bhopal disaster would attach itself to Dow and that the company would have to carry the Bhopal-baggage and be subject to liability.

Dow already had headquarters in Mumbai. People started protesting against Dow's plans of acquisition. After all the shareholder suits were dismissed, the Federal Trade Commission allowed Dow to acquire UCC in Feb 2001.

Looking at the nature of developments, the protests intensified with people coming together to form different NGO groups and social activist groups. Some of these solidified into the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) which was spearheaded by Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Activists and Protestors hold Dow accountable and want them to pay for all the remedial activities and accuse Dow of "shielding the UCC" after acquisition.

Dow stands as the 2nd largest manufacturer of chemicals in the world and currently stands immune to everything that India has to charge against them.

Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Srikant Kumar Jena had filed an affidavit asking the court to look into Dow, UCC, UCIL and Everready India to pay for environmental damage cleanup of the affected area.

However, almost immediately, Jena mentioned that India is going "soft" on the US Corporation because of immense pressure from the US. Also, India was warned by the US after National Security Advisor Michael Froman linked US investments in India with India's stand on Dow Chemical.

Since this issue was turning out to be huge, the government had to take a step back and go smooth on Dow.

Dow Chemical Company currently runs a two manufacturing units from Mumbai, one from Lote, one from Pune and one from Chennai with branch offices and other offices elsewhere across these locations and Noida. Although Dow faces threats and opposition from Bhopal Tragedy NGOs, it seems to have the backing of a powerful USA that can possibly threaten India into doing what it wants to do anyway.

Meanwhile, the Ex-CEO of UCC, Warren Anderson lives happily in the USA immune to everything while the people of Bhopal still struggle from the horrors of poor management and facilities in the UCIL plant.

The idea of writing this post is to make people be aware of history as it happened and also to understand the different elements involved. Firstly, it has to come to the awareness of many people that unless this cable was released by the WikiLeaks, there would have been no possible way to know about other sources of involvement in the setting up of UCIL operations.

Secondly, it is our duty to be more responsible to observe, report and speak-up against any unethical behavior/ attitudes by corporations.

Thirdly, we have to be more responsible and educate ourselves about what is happening around us to really understand the dynamics of any situation.

Our collective voice will force and push information to people who don't have it. Our first objective is to give true information to those people who need it and fight alongside them for our collective rights.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My cover of Pink Floyd's "Echoes"

I finally finished covering Pink Floyd's Echoes. It took me about 4 days between everything else to finish the song - learning the small stuff to enhancing the audio quality.

Echoes was the last song on their 1971 album Meddle. When I started off, I felt this was a very ambitious cover considering the fact that Echoes is a 23 minute construction of some brilliant sound-scapes. I might in no way do justice to their original work, but I wanted to give it a try nevertheless.

This was also my first attempt at "mastering" a song. I've never done it before and the track required mastering because the volume was too low.

How I did this?
- Desktop PC (Powered by an AMD processor ;-) )
- Behringer UC6102 Guitar USB interface
- Razer Carcharias Gaming Headset with Mic (for the lack of a better mic for vocals)
- Ableton Live 8 DAW with
  - AC Combo Guitar VST for guitar sounds
  - Izotope Ozone 5 VST for final mastering

For those of you who're not into Pink Floyd (eek!), I strongly advise you start listening to them. They're one of the finest "progressive, psychedelic" musicians possible. Although I wouldn't want to categorize them, I hope it gives you a fair idea of what to expect.

Friday, March 29, 2013

IceCrown - My New Solo Music Project is now Live

I was always fascinated with the idea of generating sound scapes because, that's how I wanted to listen to something. I always felt that music is also about involvement, immersion, emotion and expression apart from the other "tags" that go around music in general.

I grew up listening to early Rock N' Roll coming from AC/DC, Guns N' Roses and then progressed to Nirvana, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and the likes. I had this phase where Metal was my staple food. At the Gates, Opeth, Amon Amarth, Eluveitie and so on. But, I grew up musically. When I look back, I'm happy for all that I've listened to.

I still remember how I was inducted into my liking for learning music - Echoes by Pink Floyd. Echoes sent a chill down my spine that I still vividly remember. It felt different, it felt as though a whole new world was just conjured in my mind, a world that was built by the listener and then shaped accordingly by Music. It felt as though music had a voice beyond all those lyrical compositions. This WAS music. It was calling me and I had to answer it. I discovered Pink Floyd when I was in college. Since then, I've not stopped listening to them.

So, today, after years of struggling and trying to learn music, I have to admit, I haven't gotten that far. But, I have been able to use my knowledge to playing covers and adding some of my own style to music that I have been listening to.

Apart from all the karaoke shows and the unplugged sessions that helped me learn more about music in general, I've always had a deeper affection for improvised, Avant-Garde music. This was a territory I never really had the time to get into. Finally, I've somehow managed the time to get involved in it all. It was indeed high time ;)

Thus, began my solo project Ice Crown. My fascination for ambient, psychedelic music took me to this area and I wanted to see how I could bring Ambient and Psychedelic soundscapes to music that I loved listening to.

Check out  some of the stuff I've done so far,

Thanks for listening!
If you like what I'm doing, please join me on Google+ and Facebook.

By the way, I miss percussion and drums. I'm still trying to learn how to program drums effectively on the many VSTs available online, but if you are a drummer or a drum programmer, I'd love to collaborate. I'd also love to learn more and share what I've learnt so far. I'd also want help on programming drums for some of my covers. Please write to me :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SuperGiant Games' upcoming release "Transistor" in Action

The creators of 2011's super-award winning indie game "Bastion" are working on a new game that they're calling "Transistor."
The creators I'm talking about is this small indie game studio - SuperGiant Games. These guys rose to critical acclaim after their extremely polished work with Bastion. (JUMP TO GAMEPLAY VIDEO BELOW)

If you haven't seen or played Bastion, I'd recommend you stop right here. Please check out Bastion to understand why "Transistor" is an exciting prospect for gamers and the studio.

Popular Video Games VBlogger Total Biscuit had the chance to speak with Greg Kasavin from SuperGiant Games about Transistor. What was also more interesting is the fact that he got his hands on a what I suppose could be a "pre-alpha PAX only" build which looked gorgeously stunning!