Bitstrips Explodes After Mobile Launch

By Aglaia Staff

Has your Facebook resembled the Sunday funnies lately? Is your entire news feed, all of a sudden, inexplicably dominated by personalized comic strips from your friends and family?

263679v2 max 250x250 Bitstrips Explodes After Mobile Launch

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Well, it’s all thanks to an app called Bitstrips, which launched its 1.1.7 version for iPhone, iPod and iOS users this week as well as on Google Play for Android users. And already, the free app has made its way to the No. 1 spot on the top free-apps section of the App Store and Google Play as of Thursday with more than 10 million users.

The app, which claims to be “the most customizable avatar-creation tool on the Web,” allows users to create and share comics of themselves and others with personalized messages. With more than 1,000 customizable templates and new ones added daily, users have endless opportunities to create comics about their day, their friends, pop culture or whatever is on their minds.

But when did Bitstrips, which had 3 million monthly average users as of July, become so popular?

Three months ago, called Bitstrips “the hottest startup you’ve never heard of” after it garnered 10 million users in just seven months after launching for Facebook and its educational tool,Bitstrips for Schools, in the beginning of this year.

According to Bitstrip vp of marketing Shahan Panth, the app, which they consider “the next step in the evolution of social media,” exploded very quickly, with more than 50 million unique cartoons shared as of July.

CEO Jacob Blackstock believes the app will resolve the “frustratingly flat” status of social media today, especially for its target user demographic in the 18-24 age range.

“Bitstrips is hard to categorize because it’s not a game,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a new way to express yourself and interact with your friends. Instead of posting the same things as everyone else, you can create something that relates to your life.”

The most impressive part? The Toronto company is bootstrapped, without any capital or external help, and uses virtually no advertising.

“We’ve done zero advertising, and our acquisition cost so far has been nothing,” Panth told Venturebeat. “We attribute it to striking a chord with people and providing a visual element to online communication that has been missing.”

According to Venturebeat, the next step for Bitstrips, now that it’s landed on mobile devices and grown in regional markets like Mexico City and Lima, is to monetize.

“We’re exploring native ads, and we’re adding premium content and features like premium clothing,” Panth said. “We’ll also be bringing your Bitstrips character into the real world with plush toys … the next big brand is you and your friends. You are the next superhero.”

So how exactly do you create a Bitstrip?

First, download the app to your mobile device or access the app on Facebook.

From there, you will have to create an avatar of yourself based on your appearance with customizable hair, clothes, facial features, body type and more. Then, you can sift through and choose from countless pre-made scenes and scenarios to set your avatar in.

You can also create avatars for friends who haven’t already signed up for Bitstrips, or include those who already play along in your cartoon.

After you’ve chosen the setting and characters, you can add the script by typing in your own dialogue and captions. From there, you can share your Bitstrip with friends on social media.


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Joanne Teh, Bobby Tonelli End 4 Year Romance

By Aglaia Staff

Singapore actress Joanne Peh and actor-deejay Bobby Tonelli have called it quits.

4045455125 06a96182c7 m Joanne Teh, Bobby Tonelli End 4 Year Romance

Visit Joanne Peh (Photo credit: adaphobic)

Peh recently told Singapore entertainment magazine “8 Days” that they have ended their four-year relationship because “we grew apart over the years”.

“It slowly dawned on me that I don’t know him. I don’t know what he’s thinking. I don’t think he knows what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, what I’m going through either.

 Joanne Teh, Bobby Tonelli End 4 Year Romance

Visit English: Joanne Peh at the Star Awards 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I felt like I couldn’t really express myself as genuinely as I can,” Peh was quoted as saying.

“The more time I had to think about it, the clearer it became that we’re not moving in the same direction.”

“I’m scared of being in a lifetime commitment with someone where I have to keep up an appearance.”

The actress, who began dating Tonelli after they met on the set of the 2008 drama “The Little Nyonya“, went on to tell the magazine that she felt “more at peace with myself” after the break up.

Tonelli has declined to comment on their split.

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Punjabi By Nature

By Sunil Kumar

The Jaipur Literature Fest this year had its share of interesting, quirky sessions. Standing in the Google Mughal tent, I listened to Nirupama Dutt elaborating on the virtues of the Punjabis. Featuring Shauna Singh Baldwin, Kishwar Desai, Navtej Serna and Ravinder Singh; the discussion did not dwell much on the real socio-economic problems of the state; Haryana or Himachal Pradesh, all of which comprise erstwhile Eastern Punjab.

Sunil Dutt cropped face Punjabi By Nature

English: Sunil Dutt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Admittedly, they were proud of the language and the rich culture of the state, but it seemed to be more of a marketing event for the authors. I doubt whether most people conform to the strait-jacketed view of the place, as each individual is remarkably different. Nirupama Dutt started to remember her conversations with the great actor Sunil Dutt and his wife Nargis. She also rightly pointed out the great pride communities including but not limited to the Bengalis and the Keralites have in their own tongue; which sometimes translates into regionalism of the worst kind.

300px Knighthood close up Punjabi By Nature

Kabir Bedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of the audience was also unabashedly discussing the pros and cons of the state’s influence on the country’s psyche. As practically everybody in India is aware; most songs feature a smattering of the language, resulting in an “instant noodle” version of Punjabiyat; delivered in your mindspace by the consistent smorgasbord of Bollywood’s semi-urbane population. It sometimes reduces the genuinely rich folk traditions of the state to a pale reflection; dumbed down to appeal to every Ram, Rahim and Anthony.

A lady in the crowd stood up to proudly announce that she was the daughter-in-law of the main event sponsor, DSC. She again emphasized the lack of pride Punjabis have in their own culture vis-a-vis others, as one of the world’s major literary and intellectual events was being sponsored by a majorly Punjabi firm. Kabir Bedi stood up to interject that even though the Punjabi Sikhs and the Hindus appear to have a tough exterior, they have a heart of gold. (Something to that effect)Valid point, Mr. Bedi; I partially agree with you.

Ravinder Singh dwelled more on his fascination with music including Honey Singh, and experiments with atheism. The most erudite of the lot seemed to be Navtej Serna; who was a little more measured than the others. With the kind of cultural influence the state has wielded on the country’s mindscape; it would be great if the Prime Minister and the Central Government did something constructive to improve the lot of citizens in Punjab, Haryana, HP and across the country. “Punjabi By Nature” could mean a true generosity of spirit; something that is preached a lot by everybody across the country and the world, but seldom practiced.





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JLF: Day 1

300px Dalai Lama 1430 Luca Galuzzi 2007crop JLF: Day 1

By Sunil Kumar

In the land of the maharajas, once again. This year’s edition lacked the energy and the hype of the previous incarnation; but it is not short on boombastic value. After listening to the holiest man alive possibly; I had an opportunity to meet some of the country’s most erudite and wise opinion-makers.

The festival is surreal; a landscape of words. Despite the reminders of earthly existence, frail egos and commercial savvy in nearly every nook and cranny, ideas are an uncanny escape from the drudgery and boredom of daily life. As I set out in this landscape; it seems very different from the urban bustle and noisy existence of Mumbai.

The Dalai Lama gives sincere, rational advice. He is a sincere ‘disciple’ ( a chela) of India and its great masters, he says; and preaches age-old virtues of non-violence, rational dialectic, truth and simplicity. It is sad that a country of our size can only seethe with meaningless rage, and not do anything.

Two days have passed. More updates from me: Information: I am a descendant from a royal family; once referred to as “blue blood” in school, all those years ago. Thought I’d share that in this space; after listening to countless stories of a million people.


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The 2013 CES

By Sunil Kumar

One of the biggest fairs in the consumer electronics industry; the CES kicks off on Tuesday in Las Vegas. This is the forum where big guns such as Samsung, Sony, Intel, and more show off their latest and greatest technologies. In the past, electronics such as the CD player, camcorder, and VCR made their stateside debuts at CES. More recently, HDTV, tablets, and the Microsoft Xbox have been unveiled at the conference.

A few announcements this year: ultra-high definition televisions with large screens, evolution in smartphone glass technology, a new version of the Optimus and the Galaxy S4. Intel is going to introduce a new processor; the Bay Trail-T to take on Nvidia‘s Tegra and Qualcomm‘s S4. With CEA estimates that factory-installed automotive technology will generate $8.7 billion dollars in 2013, so it’s no wonder seven major car companies will be on the show floor.

The launch of a corresponding ecosystem means that companies from over 150 countries will be on display.



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Individualism And Perseverance Key Success Indicators

300px NegishiCouplingMechanism Individualism And Perseverance Key Success Indicators

Visit English: Negishi Coupling Mechanism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Sunil Kumar

Striving for recognition is intrinsic in any human endeavor. Nobel Prize Winners exemplify achievements in diverse fields such as sciences, humanities and the arts. In an exclusive chat with; Ei-ichi Negishi; the 2010 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry outlined individualism, perseverance, optimism and dreaming big as some criteria for success.

Born in Hsingking, Manchukuo; now in China; Mr. Ei-ichi Negishi was educated at the University of Tokyo and Pennsylvania. Best known for the Negishi coupling; Ei-ichi Negishi’s lecture was an informative description of his many decades of work on organic synthesis. He summed up his presentation briefly mentioning d-block transition elements as core drivers in continual global economic growth.

India and its leaders suffer from chronic anxiety,” noted Negishi. According to him; dedication, focus and aiming to be the best in any field could be key takeaways for the nation’s youth. He praised the country’s intellectual prowess; but repeatedly emphasized on mentoring, tenacity, serendipity and a need to discover something new as the hallmarks of an ardent researcher.

The Techfest; India’s largest science fest at the IIT, Bombay saw a footfall of around 92,000 this year. With around 50 exhibits from 20 different countries; the event also showcased innovative products such as MIT Media Lab’s Netra, Advertron; India’s newest advertising and marketing robot and the SOINN based HIRO robot from Hasegawa Labs, Tokyo that adapts to situations based on Artifical Intelligence.


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Microsoft Acquires id8

By Sunil Kumar

Microsoft Corp bought start-up id8 Group R2 Studios Inc as it looks to expand further in technology focused on the home and entertainment, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

id8 Group R2 Studios was started in 2011 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Blake Krikorian. It recently launched a Google Android application to allow users to control home heating and lighting systems from smartphones.

Krikorian’s Sling Media – which was sold to EchoStar Communications in 2007 – made the ” Slingbox” for watching TV on computers.

Krikorian will join Microsoft with a small team, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the acquisition earlier on Wednesday. Microsoft also purchased some patents owned by the start-up related to controlling electronic devices, the newspaper added.

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Krikorian and a Microsoft spokesman declined to comment. Krikorian resigned from Inc‘s board in late December after about a year and a half as a director at the company, the Internet‘s largest retailer.


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Internet Industry Irked By Government Interference

300px James L. Connaughton  Internet Industry Irked By Government Interference

Visit James L. Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environment Quality, The White House, addressed Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) members at a meeting in New Delhi, August 22, 2006. (Image For James L. Connaughton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Sunil Kumar


India‘s supportive vote for International Telecom Union’s proposals to a UN-backed body to regulate internet has irked the stakeholders in local internet industry, which has warned government to refrain from voting in ITU on issues other than telecom.


Earlier this month, ITU, a body under United Nations for the first time introduced proposals seeking to define spam, and cyber fraud in a way that would have brought the some aspects of regulating the ‘international network‘ under its ambit. While India is yet to sign off on the proposals, the state’s public posturing indicated a supportive stand.


“ITU should only focus on telecom sector and not get into information and communication technology as they have tried to do through the Dubai convention last week,” said Subho Ray President of Internet and Mobile Association of India. IAMAI has Indian arms of multinational internet firms such as Ebay, Google, Facebook and Yahoo! as members.


The proposals have also created an international stand-off with US, UK and other large European economies rejecting the need for such UN-backed regulation of the internet, while Russia, China and United Arab Emirates found it useful to have such control. Some analysts have even called it the new cold war.


The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Cellular Operators Association of India have also asked the government not to support ITU proposals, as it fears it would put curbs on internet usage.


“It is now well recognised that law enforcement agencies can misinterpret language even when it is not intended – Mumbai arrest of the two girls being a case in point,” FICCI and COAI said in a joint submission. The proposals, they said, would create new binding legal obligations on member states that may be in conflict with national sovereignty.


“Defining spam requires making content-based determinations; a treaty-based obligation could lead to India having to cooperate with other countries on controlling political or commercial speech,” the associations cautioned.


Industry is also not enthused about ITU’s proposals to bring regional internet exchanges under its ambit as it would give the UN body a role in overseeing commercial agreements for Internet traffic exchanges, according to Rajan S Mathews, director general at COAI, which counts AirtelBSE 2.78 %, Vodafone, and Reliance CommunicationsBSE 1.30 %.


The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) says any UN body on internet governance, even if formed, should completely keep itself out of content-related matters.


“I think a UN body should be formed only if it involves multiple stakeholders including private sector, and not only governments as has been the case with UN bodies,” said Rajesh Chharia, ISPAI president.



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Northeast Celebrates Guru Nanak’s Birthday

By Sunil Kumar

The 544th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated across the northeast on Wednesday focussing on his teachings and tenets of universal brotherhood.

This year, the celebration of the Guru’s birthday was aimed at fostering the spirit of brotherhood and spreading communal harmony among people, especially when some parts in the state are afflicted with ethnic strife. It was in Assam that Guru Nanak met Sankaradeva and spoke on the importance of universal brotherhood.

Guru Nanak is not only as known as the guru of the Sikhs but for the entire world as well and hence his title Jagat Guru. The special day began with kirtan and we had singers from Punjab. It was followed by geet mala. Assam has a special reverence for the Guru because it was here that he met Sankaradeva and emphasized on the importance of universal brotherhood. This year, the state had witnessed ethnic strife and we need to look into his teachings to learn more about the spirit of universal brotherhood,” said a member of Fancy Bazaar Sikh Temple in Guwahati.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki wished people on Guru Nanak Jayanti, extensively celebrated as Gurpurab across India and the world.

“Guru Nanak Jayanti is about reliving the teachings that are quoted in the sacred Sikh scripture Guru Grant Sahib, the holy book in which hymns of Sikh Gurus are quoted. I believe the celebration would not only be an inspiration for the followers of Sikhism but also to others as teachings of Guru Nanak are universal,” Tuki said in a statement.

Guru Nanak Jayanti is one of the several auspicious religious festivals in Sikhism celebrated to commemorate and remember the birth and philosophy of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru and founder of Sikhism (1469 AD – 1539 AD). Tuki expressed hope that the occasion would strengthen the bond between all religious communities and foster peace and tranquility.

Arunachal Pradesh governor General (Retd) JJ Singh on Wednesday called upon the Sikhs to imbibe righteous values of Sikhism and stay rooted to their cultural heritage and tradition. Attending the 544th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak at Gurudwara Saheb, Naharlagun near here, Singh exhorted them to maintain the spirit of sacrifice and community service and help people.

300px Sikh Gurus with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana Northeast Celebrates Guru Nanaks Birthday

Visit English: A rare Tanjore style painting (*Oviyam) bumboifrom the late 19th century depicting the ten Sikh Gurus and Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Joined by a large number of people from the Sikh community and other communities, the governor participated in the Shabad Kirtan and Anand Saheb Path organized on the occasion,” a Raj Bhawan comminique said.



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Sunil Gangopadhyay Is No More

300px SatyajitRay Sunil Gangopadhyay Is No More

English: Portrait of Satyajit Ray created by me in 1997 and edited in 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Sunil Kumar


A prolific writer, Gangopadhyay authored more than 200 books over six decades, with his magnificent range of creations touching upon diverse segments like novels, children’s fiction, poetry, literary criticism, travelogue and essays.

Gangopadhyay was born in Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, in 1934, and his family shifted before the partition to Kolkata – a city that saw the flowering of his talent shaped by a passion for reading and endless informal chat sessions with literary and other cultural geniuses and even the ordinary people from all walks of life.


“After my school final examination, my father – to keep me engaged – asked me to translate Tennyson. After translating some of the poems, I thought why don’t I try out my hand in writing some poems of my own? I liked what I wrote”. His first poem “Ekti Chithi” (A letter) was published in 1950.

In the 1950s, Gangopadhyay and some of his friends brought out a seminal poetry magazine “Krittibas“, which published poems of only young writers and became a platform for young talents experimenting with various forms. Gangopadhyay was the founder editor.

His first novel, “Atmaprakash” (Emergence), published in 1965 in the prestigious magazine “Desh”, was critically acclaimed though it triggered a controversy, with some calling it “obscene”.

Among his well-known poems are ‘Kavita Sangraha’, ‘Shada Pristha Tomar Sangay’ and ‘Amar Swapna’.

In 1985, Gangopadhyay got the Sahitya Akademi award for his historical fiction “Sei Somoy” (“Those Days”).

Among his other works are “Pratham Alo” (“First Light”), and “Purbo-Paschim”, a novel on the partition and its effect depicted through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere.


Several of his novels were made into films by acclaimed directors. While Satyajit Ray did “Pratidwandi” and “Aranyer Dinratri“, Tapan Sinha made “Sobuj Dwiper Raja”, and Goutam Ghose directed the much-awarded “Moner Manush” based on the life of Baul singer Lalan Fakir.

Gangopadhyay got a chance to put his vast knowledge of literature, particularly Indian literature, to good use. Indian literature is one, written in many languages. Writers in the Naga and Manipuri languages should not feel isolated because of their location. We are thinking of ways to remove their sense of isolation,” Gangopadhyay said, giving a peek into his philosophy




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