Keeping up with P2P

Back in the day, (all of 2 years ago), I found good stuff on Napster. The concerns over copyright weren’t significant in regard to my interests, as I was mostly looking for obscure tracks (B-sides, concert bootlegs, etc.) from obscure bands (NoMeansNo, Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, Steroid Maximus, etc.) – not the kind of stuff that’s going to hurt anybody’s record sales. (Rather than fighting new technology like most of the music industry, has embraced it, and they’re making a bundle, but that’s another topic…).

There were two reasons Napster had such a huge library: 1. it was the only significant online P2P system around at the time, and 2. it got a huge amount of free publicity from the news media. Now we have a number of different P2P networks and a variety of client software packages to choose from. Venturing into this world, I stumbled around for a while before figuring out the best approach. There are a lot of client software options: Morpheus, Limewire, BearShare, Xolox, Phex, neoNapster, Shareaza, and more. There are also different networks you can connect to: Gnutella1, Gnutella2, the eDonkey network, bitTorrent, and probably more.

I started out with Morpheus but it was a huge resource hog. It also came with spyware. I then tried LimeWire, which was much nicer to my PC and did not contain spyware. But my searches would not persist. What I mean is this: I’d enter a search, and it would chug away for 10-15 minutes, and then it would essentially forget about. My search would continue to display, but if I didn’t get any results right away, then I would never get any at all. I’d have to keep re-running the search to keep up with changes on the network. I’ve now settled on using Shareaza, which runs nicely, has no spyware, connects to all the major networks, and diligently runs my searches continuously.

The eDonkey network is better at finding what you’re looking for and has sophisticated handling for large files, which means a lot of the action, especially for movies, has moved there. The downside is that the queues on eDonkey can be mighty long (I often get a queue position over 1,000) so you have to be willing to leave your PC on continuously (and hope your network connection doesn’t go down, which will force you out of your queue position if you can’t get back online quickly). Out of curiosity I downloaded a couple of movies. I found the quality to be poor: really major compression artifacts were always a problem, and some of the movies were just recorded by someone in a theater with a camera, so you sometimes get people walking in front of the camera, ambient noise, etc. But given the ever-increasing bandwidth capacity of networks, and the ever-improving compression technologies, I imagine Hollywood is soon going to fully join up with the music industry in its war against filesharing.

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