Presenting RetroTxt, the ASCII art & NFO browser for Chrome

RetroTxt available on the Chrome Web Store.

Last month I wrote a long post titled ASCII, NFO Art & Text Encodings. That covered the complications and technical difficulties involved in accurately rendering ASCII art and NFO text in modern browsers. It also dealt with how I overcame those difficulties and developed a backend rendering engine to accurately display text files hosted on Defacto2.net in the browser as text.

But the backend implementation was restricted to the site and its code limited to an out of fashion language. So based on that original code I decided to create RetroTxt, an open-source extension for Chrome, that could be used by anyone on any website hosting text files. To stylise plain text, ascii art and nfo text files using various fonts and colours for early 8/16-bit home computers. And as Chrome extensions are HTML/JavaScript/CSS the core code would be more useful to fellow developers.

RetroTxt is a handy little extension that takes old fashioned text files and stylises them in a more pleasing visual format. Despite the web being built on text, web browsers are often incapable of accurately displaying texts written during the pre and early web eras. This is where RetroTxt comes in! It imports the text into a modern format, injects a font that mimics a chosen retro computer, then applies styling to improve the display and readability. It can also double up as a text viewer for your locally stored, off-line files and even serve as an NFO text viewer.

https://github.com/bengarrett/RetroTxt

The best way to explain RetroTxt is to see it in action with this short 54 second muted video. Where I browse a few NFO files hosted on textfiles.com showing both before and after RetroTxt has been applied.

I’ve tried to keep the extension as light and hands off as possible within the confines of the restrictive Chrome extension API. While still giving users the ability to easily customise fonts, colours and other theme settings. It offers a choice of 25 retro fonts, 11 colour themes, text alignment options as well as some presets for MS-DOS, Commodore Amiga, Commodore 64, Apple II and even a DOS font, web hybrid.

RetroTxt options menu
RetroTxt options

RetroTxt works on all operating systems for Chrome and compatible browsers (Chromium, Vivaldi) and can be installed from the Chrome Web Store.
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/retrotxt/gkjkgilckngllkopkogcaiojfajanahn

Future ports are possible for both Firefox and Edge.

The readme, help and further information can be found here.
https://github.com/bengarrett/RetroTxt/blob/master/README.md

The source code can be found on GitHub and is released under a GNU Lesser GPL.
https://github.com/bengarrett/RetroTxt

Any web developers looking to browse the code would probably be interested in functions.js and text.css. As they contain the core functionality of the text character conversions, font colours and CSS styling. The rest of the code is mostly for the extension functionally and UI.

https://github.com/bengarrett/RetroTxt/blob/master/functions.js
https://github.com/bengarrett/RetroTxt/blob/master/text.css

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MindCandy: Volume 2 Amiga Demos Has Sold Out! So It Is Now Available For Free Online.

The Amiga computer was launched in 1985 as an advanced personal and gaming computer. Many hobbyist computer programmers, graphic artists, and musicians took hold of this platform and created spectacular programs to show off their talent and the Amiga’s capabilities. Over the past several decades, many talented individuals created amazing works of art unseen and unknown to world outside the small Amiga computer and demo scene. The Amiga only survived for a decade, but these demonstrations will live on forever.

“MindCandy Volume 2: Amiga Demos” was a DVD project by Hornet, Fusecon, and Blue 7 Media, started in 2003 and completed in late 2006. Free preview discs were given away at the Assembly 2005 demoparty, featuring an Amiga Workbench-style menu (you can still get the preview .ISO, search for “mindcandy” at www.scene.org). The final DVD was officially released on January 16th, 2007.

Over five years later, as of May 1st, 2012, MC2 has officially sold out! To celebrate the occasion, we are releasing both the PAL and NTSC versions under a Creative Commons license. Details of the license are below.

This archive contains the same full dual-layer .ISO image that the retail disc contained, including the layer break in the right place. Also included are the DVD case cover, the full booklet, and even the images we used for our stickers. So if you missed your chance to experience MC2, fret no more! We’ve also thrown in some reviews we got from Amiga Power and c’t magazine.

We had to capture RGB video in as good quality as possible (the video had to come directly from the Amiga RGB port) using 2004-era technology on a small budget, including an uncompressed workflow to avoid any generational artifacts. The NTSC video is 720×480 @ 29.97i (interlaced) while PAL is 720×576 @ 25i (both in 4:3 aspect ratio). MC2 was mastered for CRT tube televisions, but should still look great on any output device.

MindCandy Volume 2 was a very successful release, having sold 3000 copies (1000 NTSC and 2000 PAL). The sales of MC2 provided the seed money to make MindCandy Volume 3, our Blu-ray high-def follow-up to our first PC volume, so the project gave back to the scene community not once but twice. MindCandy Volume 3 is still available – visit http://www.mindcandydvd.com/3 to get your copy!

We hope you enjoy MindCandy Volume 2 as much as we enjoyed making it.

LICENSE:

The work “MindCandy Volume 2: Amiga Demos” (both PAL and NTSC editions, including the print materials in the archive) is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.

This license allows you to freely copy and view the work provided you do not sell it, attempt to transform it, or reference it without attribution. For more details on this license, please visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

Read the release NFO:

http://scene.org/file.php?file=%2Fdemos%2Fcompilations%2Fmindcandy_2_final%2Fmindcandy2.nfo&fileinfo

Download the DVD from:

Legit Torrents: http://www.legittorrents.info/index.php?page=torrent-details&id=a9f35c70b29708bb0af77dad926380aadfad483b

Scene.org: http://scene.org/dir.php?dir=%2Fdemos%2Fcompilations%2Fmindcandy_2_final%2F

MindCandy 3: PC Demos 2003-2010 Blu-Ray+DVD Is Available For Shipping This Week

MindCandy 3 takes these poetic programs of the computer world to the next level: Each of the demos has been optimized scene by scene or even rewritten just for MindCandy (thanks to ryg, Haujobb, Satori, Cubic Team) in order to achieve perfectly smooth 60 frames per second in a mind-blowing “better-than-realtime” visual quality on HD video. It will push the limits of your Blu-ray player and HD(TV) with its spectacular audio-visual effects. MindCandy 3 is a best-of-the-best look at what imaginative amateur programmers, musicians and graphic artists can do with an off-the-shelf personal computer. The demos produced are often shown at parties throughout Europe, and are created to push the PC to its limits while impressing the audience.

The included 3.5 hours playback of demos include…

The Popular Demo [Farbrausch],   Stargazer [Orb & Andromeda],   1995 [Kewlers & mfx],   Wir Sind Einstein [United Force & Digital Dynamite],   Iconoclast [ASD],   Masagin [Farbrausch & Neuro],   Ix [Moppi Productions],   Track One [Fairlight],   Lifeforce [ASD],   Final Audition [Plastic],   Size Antimatters [ASD],   Electric Kool-Aid [Synesthetics],   Theta [Farbrausch],   Deities [mfx],   Passing [Still],   Only One Wish [Fairlight & The Black Lotus],   Bombman [Matt Current],   Nazca [Cocoon],   You Should [Haujobb],   We Cell [Kewlers],   Faded Memories [Farbrausch],   Instant Zen [Synesthetics],   Onwards [Traction],   Metamorphosis [ASD],   Midnight Run [ASD],   Route 1066 [UKScene Allstars],   Agenda Circling Forth [CNCD & Fairlight],   Aether [mfx],   Ferner [Still],   The Beauty [Einklang.net & Extrawelt],   Inflorescence [mfx],   Vokawardoai [Satori],   Chromosphere [SQNY],   Debris [Farbrausch],   Rupture [ASD],   Frameranger [CNCD, Fairlight, & Orange],   Shad 3 [Cocoon],   Into The Pink [Plastic],   Happiness Is Around The Bend [ASD],   Rove [Farbrausch]

In addition the Blu-Ray disc exclusively contains 6.5 hours of extras including these demos …

Frameskool [Equinox],   Heaven Seven (in HD) [Exceed],   Chaos Theory [Conspiracy],   Panic Room [Fairlight],   Elevated [RGBA & TBC]

Both region-free Blu-Ray and DVD discs are sold together in a single package for the introductory price of €16 or around $22 USD. They can be bought from the 16 year-old German online retailer, MAZ Sound Tools. I imagine USA based sellers will be announced soon.

http://www.maz-sound.com/index.php?show=product&id=49

Warez Scene Notice Collection (2006-2010)

Thanks to the efforts of Jason Scott the Warez Scene Notice Collection now has a permanent home on archive.org. You can download a copy of this horribly large 2GB RAR archived collection at http://www.archive.org/details/warez-scene-notices-2006-2010. The collection and others like it (LSD-notices etc.) has been floating around for over a year on various dubious distribution channels so it is great to see it has a more stable home.

The assortment of files contains a hoard of public and private scene notices mainly comprised of audio, video, images and text. To be honest there is not much from the underground scene in there and large tracks of the collection cover notices for foreign language groups, torrent sites, news groups, websites, p2p and the other trickle down distribution means.

It will probably become more of a historical interest in a decade or two.

E-Buzz, gone but never to be forgotten.

This unfortunate news was sent into us on the 16th of April, 2011 by zIPE a friend and former scene colleague of E-Buzz.

One of the real originals (in every aspect) from among others Rebels and Absolute Oktan (Absokt) has left us. Shortly after suffering of a stroke, E-Buzz quietly and in no pain walked over to the other side.

Gone but NEVER to be forgotten.

– zIPE.

You’re Stealing it Wrong: A Presentation About 30 Years Of Digital Piracy.

Preview

In late July Jason Scott producer of ground breaking BBS Documentary and maintainer of textfiles.com conducted an hour presentation at the famed DefCon 18 hacker conference. As the title suggest he used his allocated slot to gloss over three decades of piracy evolution using sources donated to him as a computer historian.

What I found most entertaining of this hour talk was his attacking of the reactionary anti-piracy movement and Jason near-mocking the pirate scene’s aggressive self cannibalisation. It lead me to believe he was attempting to convey a striking similarity, of today’s anti-piracy agendas with those of many decades past where history maybe just repeating itself.

Jason’s hour long talk was recently posted online on his Vimeo account.
http://vimeo.com/15400820

Vimeo, http://vimeo.com/15400820

Jason Scott Of textfiles.com Needs Our Help

Jason Scott, the man behind such legendary projects such as textfiles.com and the BBS Documentary is currently engaged in a Kickstarter fund raiser. Recently he was made unemployed and so he is looking for pledges to reach a goal of $25,000, within a month. Using this money to live off he plans to spend the next number of months working full time on his various computer history projects.

If his past projects are anything to go by then this in itself is worthy of a significant donation. Without Jason’s and his supporters’ work over the past decade hundreds of thousands of historic, computer files and computer related documents would have most certainly been lost to the black hole that is data rot.

Kickstarter, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/textfiles/the-jason-scott-sabbatical