You are currently viewing archive for September 2006
09/29 2006 | 12:01 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have become part of the mainstream net culture during the last couple of years. Everybody is talking about Second Life or World of Warcraft these days. One aspect that gets rarely addressed is how the future if MMOGs will look like. Now if you ask a handfull of Taiwanese computer scientists that call themselves the VAST Development Team, the answer is clear: distibuted.

The team has developed an Open Source P2P framework for MMOGs called VAST, which stands for Voronoi-based Adaptive Scalable Transfer. From their website:

"To reach a truly massive audience and evolve NVE (networked virtual environment) into a global phenomenon, its scale must go up while the cost must go down. Therefore, two important issues are scalability and affordability. Basically, how do we create a NVE that allows millions of users to participate at the same time? And, how can we lower the costs in development and deployment so that NVE may become as commonly and easily accessible as today’s WWW?"

The intersting thing about this apporach is that MMOGs demand a different way of thinking about P2P. Traditional P2P networks try to achieve the biggest network horizon possible. Users who want to find a rare file potentially need to search the whole network, or at least big parts of it.

Players in online games however don't need to know what's going on a different island or continent. To them only their immediate environment matters. Of course this environment is changing all the time, so it needs to be highly flexible. VAST uses a special flavour of neighbour discovery for this that takes into account many aspects of MMOGs: Areas can get crowded, users can be alone on their property and so on.

The whole concept is described in detail on their website, and I encourage you to read it. It's a very interesting way to think about P2P, and it makes you wonder whether such frameworks could be used for P2P-based social networks or even P2P localization.

09/28 2006 | 11:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This just in: Federal judge Stephen Wilson declared Streamcast liable for copyright infringement yesterday. The LA Times reports that Wilson quoted from internal e-mails to prove that the Morpheus maker has based his business on infringement. From the article:

"In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson cited e-mails sent by StreamCast executives, including one that stated that the "goal is to get in trouble with the law and get sued. It's the best way to get in the news."

09/27 2006 | 11:55 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Server-based file sharing technically isn't P2P, but it proves to be a poweful tool in the ongoing transition from mass file swapping to private sharing and collaboration platforms.

Some of the current services try to address the professional crowd, while others are gearing towards Kazaa users the mass market.

Soon there will be another solution for your online file storage and swapping needs: Open Vault allows anyone with a server to set up their own file sharing platform, completely with an Ajax interface and adanced access controls. Open Vault will be free for non-commercial use, meaning that you can't serve ads with it.

A fully functional preview can be tried out here.

09/27 2006 | 11:17 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I had to turn of comments a good week ago due to some technical problems that have since been fixed - but I forgot to turn them back on. Probably because nobody way complaining. Like, in a comment. Oh well. Now the comment option is back, so fire away ...
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09/26 2006 | 03:58 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This year's Wizards of OS conference was struggling with some technical and organisational challenges. Someone forgot to order the DSL line, the wireless network was pretty much nonexeistent, and there were some problems with actually showing some of the presentations and installations.

It was a good event nevertheless. Many familiar faces, some great presentations and lots of interesting discussions.

Wizards of OS

Those who haven't been there can now catch the official program by watching the panel and workshop videos that the fine folks from WOS have made available on their website. My own netlabel panel with John Buckman, Moritz Sauer, Sebastian Redenz and Olivier Schulbaum can be found here. Update: The video Olivier tried to show during his presentation can be found on Google Video.

I'd also very much recommend to watch the Open Spectrum panel, with Colt Telecom founder Robert Horvitz telling us why Telcos won't bring us innovation and Indonesian wireless activist Onno Puerbo explaining how his government was forced to release part of the wireless spectrum for unlicensed use.

09/26 2006 | 10:28 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'm finally back from my extended trip to Europe - first moderating a panel at the Wizards of OZ OS conference, then vacationing in Germany and the UK. Expect regular updates to the site as soon as I have dealt with those 3000 unread stories in my feed reader ...
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09/16 2006 | 10:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This seems to be quite old already, but I just stumbled upon it a few days ago: The fine folks at have built a graphical simulator that shows how data is distributed when people are downloading a file through Bittorrent. Take a peek at an example:

bittorrent simulator

It's a pretty simple simluation, but it clearly shows why Bittorrent works so well. The rarest parts get distributed first, and seeders distribute different parts to different leechers, thus making their upload more effective.

09/11 2006 | 08:35 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
150 posts isn't really anything to brag about - but since I'll be going to Europe this week and posts will be light during the next two weeks I thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the stories of the last couple of months. Think of it as a "best of", if you will.

AT&T & Co. rally consumers against net neutrality - I just got a phone call by a nice lady that tried to persuade me that net neutrality is bad. Because there is an internet price increase coming really really soon, and Google wants me to pay for it.

AllofMP3: IFPI's favoured enemy
- Of course every mention of in the press is driving more customers to the site. So why would the music industry help Allofmp3 with their advertising? Because the Russian website will have to shut down this fall, and IFPI is just waiting to claim this as their victory. Update: Obviously it didn't shut down just yet. More about that later.

German P2P users don't care about lawsuits - A few weeks ago German law enforcement officials launched a massive strike against Edonkey / Emule users. 130 residencies were raided, and a total of 3500 users are under investigation. The average German P2P user couldn't care less, apparently.

Peerthings: Siemens tries to compete with Skype - Siemens demonstrated a SIP-based Skype alternative called "Peerthings" at the last CeBIT.

Redswoosh review - Redswoosh is a P2P service that allows webmasters to distribute files with the help of their users.

P2P Currency Exchange
- First there was MP3 swapping. Then people started to trade CDs and DVDs. What's next? How about exchanging some of that spare money from your last vacation?

Former Limewire programmer starts new P2P venture - first product combines SIP with file sharing and social networking
- Adam Fisk used to be a senior software engineer at Limewire until Jaunuary 2004. Now he has started blogging - and in turn dropping hints on what he's up to now.

Swedish Pirate Party launches VPN service, calls it "World's First Commercial Darknet" - The Swedish pirates seem to have learned their first lesson in politics: It's all about the spin. Today the Pirate Party announced the launch of the "World's First Commercial Darknet" through a Swedish company called Relakks.

Allpeers review
- Allpeers is a Firefox plugin that enables private sharing with groups and individuals.

Allofmp3 vows to continue despite tougher copyright laws - A few weeks ago I proclaimed that would give up it's current business model by September 1st. Turns out I was wrong - for now, at least. But things are changing in Russia, at least when it comes to the letter of the law. Russia toughened it's copyright law back in 2004, but a few key amendments were delayed to take effect today.

09/09 2006 | 01:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is a good weekend read: John Defore tried out dubious bootleg DVD online stores - and writes about his best finds on Slate. What do you get when you buy possibly illegal DVDs with questionable picture quality? Well, this, for example:

"Men vomit eels, a flying sorceress decomposes into tiny tuft-haired dinosaurs, and an army of animated crocodile skulls munch their way across the floor."

Santee Alley really can't compete with that.

(via Eselkult)

09/08 2006 | 01:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is neat: Some Austrian scientists have built a Tsnuami warning system by interconnecting hard disk shock monitoring data in a P2P fashion. Networkworld reports:

"As part of their operation, hard disks measure vibrations in order to keep the read-write head of the disk on track. These measurements can be read from some hard disks. The Tsunami Harddisk Detector captures this vibration data and shares it with computers in other locations connected via a peer-to-peer network to determine whether an earth tremor is occurring."

Of course the idea of using PCs for gathering seismographic data isn't entirely new. SeisMac uses the Macboook's motion sensors to display seismographic data on your screen. But turning this into a distributed application is actually pretty clever.

The Tsunami Harddisk Detector website is down right now - but it will be interesting to see how accurate the system is after all those Slashdot readers have installed it on their PCs.

(via /.)

09/06 2006 | 07:28 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Private file sharing is becoming incrasingly popular. Web-based services like Dropsend compete with P2P approaches like Allpeers and hybrid solutions like Foldershare.

Companies that want to succeed in this space don't just need good technology, but also a good story. Allpeers definitely found it's rapidly expanding niche within the Firefox community. Civil Netizen seems to address a slightly different crowd: People who still think of the post office first when someone mentions mail.

The East Coast company is doing a great job at working with simple metaphors to deal with technical complex subjects. Users of the service are packing their files into parcels and then send their recipient a "pickup slip", which is essentially the equivalent to a download link or a Torrent file. People can then transfer the data through the Civil Netizen application, track the status of their packets and finally unpack the sent data. It's like Fedex for file sharing.

I'm not sure if Civil Netizen is actually the best way to privately share files, or if there is even one single best way. But it's definitely a unique approach - one even your mom would understand.

09/05 2006 | 08:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A new site called is jumping on the podcast aggregator bandwagon with a dead-simple approach: Everyone can podcast media hosted anywhere by simply adding it to a personal feed. Things can be added to your feed through a dashboard or a bookmarklet.

Podchains looks a little like a more polished yet less social version of Webjay - until you realize that you don't actually have to podcast audio or video. You might just as well add PDFs, MIDI files or whatever file format makes sense to you and the subscribers of your feed. Think of it as a way of broadcasting meets file sharing. From the site:

"Podcasting isn't just about great music and funny videos, you can use a podcast feed to transmit files you'll use in everyday work. If you need to share documents a lot at work, simply upload them to your server, add the item to your podchain and keep your workmates updated everytime there's a new document available for them."

I could see this work really well for decentralized workgroups, school or university classes or even fans of a certain author who get snippets of his upcoming book automatically delivered to their desktop.

The only remaining question is: Which aggregator software is the right solution for these kinds of feeds? iTunes can handle PDF downloads, but doesn't do that well with a lot of other types of media. Any ideas?

09/04 2006 | 01:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Plazes founder Felix Petersen is blogging about Flickr's new ability to geo-tag pictures, arguing that this will be first kind of widely adopted location-based content:

"The location-based future won´t come to you in the form of Starbucks coupons. It will be pictures."

Great quote. Almost worth an own slide.

09/02 2006 | 02:16 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Not every Russian download store seems to take the Allofmp3 approach: Slyck reader WildHeart noticed that scaled down its offerings dramatically to comply with the new Russian copyright laws.

Many western mainstream artists are completely missing, others have just one or two albums left up - probably because those albums didn't get released on major record labels. A search for Madonna only results in a karaoke CD. Metallica isn't avalable at all. Searching for Eminem gets you a song called "Better than Eminem", but that's about it.

WildHeart used to frequent the site before and reports that these aren't the only changes:

"The first thing I noticed when I visited the site was that the pricing - and my balance - was now in rubles instead of US dollars. I can't claim to be proficient in converting rubles to dollars, but the prices appear to be about double what they were yesterday."

It will be interesting to see how other Russian download sites will deal with the new situation.

09/01 2006 | 01:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A few weeks ago I proclaimed that would give up it's current business model by September 1st. Turns out I was wrong - for now, at least. But things are changing in Russia, at least when it comes to the letter of the law. Russia toughened it's copyright law back in 2004, but a few key amendments were delayed to take effect today.

These amendments deal with the protection of ponorecordings on the internet - an area that was before left unaddressed, allowing and similiar sites to use collective licensing provisions similiar to those a radio station would use for music licensing. Now what exactly is changing today, and which effect will this have on music download platforms? Actually, it's pretty complicated - which is why I asked an expert.

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