You are currently viewing archive for May 2007
05/31 2007 | 12:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
So your university has implemented a new, draconian P2P policy. The IT department now threatens to cut off your arm Internet connection if you even dare to share a single file through Bittorrent or Emule. Repeat offenders are threatened with expulsion. But that's not all: The guy who used to run the local DC++ hub just threw the towel after someone wrote about it on Facebook.

Of course there are many ways to obfuscate P2P usage. Bittorrent clients like Azureus offer protocol encryption, and secure P2P services like Waste may be able to stay under the radar completely.

Unfortunately, the keyword here is may. In most cases, you won't know what exactly your network admins are looking for. Heck, judging from some recent statements, they don't even know themselves. They could be looking at known ports, at protocol headers or even at unusual upload behaviour. So when it comes to swapping some files with your buddies you're pretty much screwed.

Or not. Granted, it's probably the best to stop using P2P software within the campus network for a while. But there are still lost of ways to share the love. Here are just five:

Free remote storage. There are tons of services out there that let you store files on a remote server for free. Some even offer built-in file sharing capabilities. AOL's Xdrive is giving away 5 Gigabytes at no cost.

A basic account just comes with one Gigabyte, but it features a neat Netvibes integration. Hard core users that need more space for their files may even consider using Amazons S3 service via the Firefox plug-in S3Fox. It's not free, but still pretty damn cheap.

Bittorrent. That's right: You don't have to stop using your favourite source for educational public domain downloads as long as you use it outside of the campus network. Just install µTorrent or Azureus on your home PC and access the machine from campus through the software's web interface.

utorrent web ui

Then proceed to download torrents like you used to. The only difference is that the files end up on the hard disk of your off-campus computer. Connect to it securely via Hamachi or another VPN solution and access your media anywhere.

Your own wireless P2P mesh network. Most notebooks come with build-in wireless networking nowadays. You can use it to gain accesss to the official campus Wifi network. Or you just connect directly to other users without using any access point and start swapping files. Wipeer helps Windows users to facilitate file sharing over ad-hoc Wifi networks with a search function, a buddy list and the possibility to play multi-player games.

Original Screenshot (CC):

Ad-hoc networks aren't too secure though, so you might want to look into additional security measures. The next Wipeer version is also supposed to feature WPA and a separate file transfer encryption.

E-Mail. Free E-Mail providers nowadays offer Gigabytes of storage, so why not make use of it? Google now allows to send attachments of up to 20 Megabytes per E-Mail - enough to send and two or three decent-sized MP3s. Google even lets you play MP3 attachments right through their website.

gmail mp3 player

You can also go the unofficial route and use unauthorized enhancements like Peer 2 Mail. Peer 2 Mail makes it possible to store files larger than 20 Megabytes, and it allows you to grant your friends secure, password-protected access to the data you want to share with them.

The good old Sneakernet. Now with bigger shoes: Offline file swapping has been going on for decades. Burning your friends some CDs or DVDs is still a great option to share data. But it's also somewhat wasteful. You know half of those disks are gonna end up as coasters at the next dorm party. So do your part to save some plastic trees by using USB media instead. Thumb drives are only a few dollars nowadays, and portable hard discs are oftentimes on sale for less than a dollar per Gigabyte.


Of course you can also use your iPod to swap files: Just download free tools like Ephpod (Windows) or Senuti (OS X) and browse your roommates music library to pick your favourite tunes.

These are just five ways to reclaim your legally protected fair use rights despite your IT department's law and order policies. Of course there are many more, and some may work even better on your campus. I'd love to hear what you guys are using.

05/30 2007 | 06:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
... and calls it Mahalo. According to Techcrunch it's only gonna take him 19 months to come up with 25.000 search results.

Just as a frame of reference: Wikipedia is growing at a rate of roughly 1700 articles per day. currently gets between 3000 and 6000 posts per hour.


Of course, sometimes a picture says more than a thousand stats ...

05/29 2007 | 04:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers officially relaunched half an hour or so ago. The new client software still isn't officially available, but you can locate yourself through the website now.


The site also features Twitter-style status messages, cool clustered maps, groups and some more goodies. Read the review of a pre-launch beta I did a few days ago or go check it out yourself.

Update: The new Plazer seems to be released now as well.

the new plazer

It's not up on the website yet, but it will be installed as an auto-update to the old Plazer. First impression: Looks good, but still feels buggy.

05/29 2007 | 12:20 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The French Council of State decided last week that record companies can automatically track P2P users that share more than 50 files within 24 hours and keep their records for further legal proceedings.

The decision comes as a blow to the French National Commission for Data protection and the Liberties who ruled in the fall of 2005 that automatic surveillance of P2P networks violates local privacy laws.

French file sharers aren't too happy with the decision either. Some folks have now started a civil disobedience protest called "51 fichiers" (51 files) against the ruling. The website explains:

" calls any France internet user who wants to protest against this decision to share at least 51 files that are freely distributable (e.g.: published under a Creative Commons license, or that are public domain) and keep them on the P2P system until 'something happens'."

Guess France-based P2P internet label Jamendo might see a whole bunch of new users soon ...

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05/25 2007 | 01:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
So you want to send your colleague some MP3s. Problem is, your company discourages file sharing. They don't let you install Allpeers or Pando, and they most definitely don't let you open up directories on your hard drive.


Enter This website is hosting a Java applet that makes it possible to share selected files on your local network. Just point two computers on the same subnet to, allow the site to run the applet - and you are ready to go. also offers the ability to limit the number of downloads of the file in question, so you don't have to worry about accidentally leaving the page open and having your creepy cubicle neighbour browse your files during lunch break. Once the file is downloaded one, two or three times it's not available anymore. is in something of a perpetual alpha stage since late 2005, and somewhere along the line the site's icon set broke, making the whole thing a bit of an eyesore. It also has some ressource issues, so you better don't write blog posts within Firefox while you are sharing files like I did.

It's nevertheless quite useful, especially in restrictive company or college environments. The only real downside is that it won't work if you have some software firewall on your computer that doesn't allow you to open up the necessary port. In that case you're pretty much out of luck, and you should probably just look for a new employer - because this one thinks you're a crook.

05/24 2007 | 10:50 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
According to Microsoft, that is. The software giant recently released a demographics prediction demonstration that lets you check out which gender and age is associated with wich search term. Microsoft does state that this demo does "not provide or display conclusive results; rather, they are designed or produce anecdotal information." Fair enough. It's still interesting to give it a spin and see what it can tell us about the state of the P2P world.


Turns out this world is very, very male. Big surpirse, I guess. There are some significant differences though. For one thing, Limewire really does have a very even audience. 54 percent of all searches for Limewire are done by men, 46 percent by women. Compare that to Bittorrent, which is 77 percent male. The whole Torrent world seems to be very male dominated, at least if we can believe Microsoft's little demo platform. Azureus also gets 77 percent, followed by uTorrent with 73 percent.

One could be tempted to make the case that early adopters and hardcore users are predominately male, whereas more established and well-known file sharing technologies are attracting users of both genders. Kazaa's 54 percent male audience and Morpheus' 57 percent seem to support that. But that doesn't really explain why DC++, which isn't exactly your mom's P2P tool of choice, gets a whopping 48 percent of its searches from female users. And Piolet, a service that also has never been that popular, is even dominated by a slight majority of 51 percent female users.

So why is this relevant? P2P companies like Azureus and Bittorrent will only be able to establish themselves aas legal download platforms if they reach beyond their core audience - unless of course they want to cash in on that audience ...

Finally, and just for fun, I did some searches to figure out who is visiting various P2P news sites. P2P Blog is about 61 percent male, which I can see being the case. P2Pnet ends up with 59 percent. Torrentfreak nets a slightly higher 64 percent, Zeropaid is at 67 percent. But the real frat house if the P2P world is The site gets 89 percent of its search requests from a male audience.

05/23 2007 | 03:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It's been about a year since I first started playing with this blog, so this is a good time for a giant birthday bash relaunch. Actually, it's probably not radical enough to really call this a relaunch, but it still took me an embarassingly long time. So what the heck.

What changed? I needed some more space - hence the new width - and decided to let go of some things that weren't really all that necessary (categories really are overrated). Fans of tag clouds will like the new archives section, and social bookmarking afficionados will hopefully make good use of the new Bookmark and Digg buttons.

I'll be implementing a few more features whenever I find the time. In the meantime, pleae let me know if something doesn't quite work the way it should.

05/22 2007 | 02:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ever wondered why the downloads charts of your average Torrent tracker site are so remarkably similar to box office and DVD sales? Sure, everyone likes Spidey. But the truth is that it's awfully hard to find niche content on P2P networks.

The Dutch BitTorrent client Tribler aims to solve this problem with personalization. Tribler suggests new media based on your downloading history. Version 4.0 of the client got released this week. It combines collaborative filters with YouTube browsing - features that have caught the eye of European public broadcasters. Continue reading at

05/18 2007 | 06:10 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers is about to roll out version 3.0 of their website next week. Right now they are doing some closed beta testing with a few hundred invited guests, and there are still some kinks here and there - but overall I must say I'm really impressed.

plazes 3.0 start page

Plazes is a location-based social network / location enabler that allows you to publish your current location to the world, share it with friends and look who is or has been at a certain place. It started back in summer 2005 and has really evolved since then.

Originally the idea seemed to be to enable other services with location information, which is why Plazes always just offered a bare minimum of services itself, but helped to get things going elsewhere. Plazes offered one of the first methods to post geotagged photos to Flickr, and it made it possible early on to publish your current location on iChat and Skype. The most recent incarnation of the Plazes website relied heavily on Google Maps, and they even built a Netvibes module.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much it. The Plazes API hasn't been used for too many interesting mashups, the developer site has been down for months and the Plazes website itself didn't invite for much interaction. Users simply didn't many incentives to play around - something that I already mentioned when I reviewed the service back in July last year.

As a result Plazes hasn't seen as much growth as it could have. People instead flocked to Twitter and Jaiku, where interaction is key. The Plazes team obviously learned from this and incorporated a bunch of social components into their new platform.

plazes 3.0 chatter

Users can now set a status message any time to describe what they are doing at certain place. You can track the status messages of your friends as well as take a look at the raw feed to see what everyone is up to. They also have groups, which can be organized around existing social networks, locations, conferences, hobbies - you get the idea. You can track status messages from your group as well as explore the group's places, which is a great feature to make yourself familiar with, say, the restaurants in the neighbourhood of a conference you are attending.

plazes 3.0 groups

In a way, the new Plazes is a bit like Jaiku, combining social networking and messaging with your status. The difference is that Jaiku treats locations only as a part of your status message. You are asleep at home, working in the office, or vice versa. Plazes actually gives you a chance to explore all those places, making it a much more rewarding experience.

There's also some more nifty new features:

You can plaze yourself via the web interface
. Plazes originally was dependent on an application that used your router's MAC ID to uniquely identify your location. Now you can just use the web interface to select where you are. I still think the Plazer was a great idea, and I'll continue to use it once the new version is available.

You can add past Plazes. Nice to add a more social component to Plazes that already exist. Just tell the system that you have visited this Plaze in the past with a single mouse click.

plazes 3.0 clustered maps

Maps are now clustered. Now that's awesome. Many services that are built on top of Google Maps have struggled with infromation overload. What do you do when there are so many pins in the map that you can't even see the map anymore? Plazes clusters them based on proximity, making it possible to zoom in until you are at a level where you can differentiate between the different locations. There are still some kinks, but the idea itself is great.

You can add future Plazes. Again, great for conferences and other meeting spots. Sure, Eventful and Upcoming give you an idea of who will attend which conference - but wouldn't it be great if you knew who stays at which hotel as well? Would love to see this mashed up with with calendaring. Plazes SMS already does some text parsing to extract locations, so I don't see why this can't be done with your iCal / Google Calendar / Eventful feed.

There are still lots of smaller things that could be improved, some of which surely will find their way into the official beta release next week. But the overall direction Plazes has taken with this new release is very, very promising. I hope they are getting some new server power soon, because they might need it once the Twitter renegades get fed up with Jaiku as well.

05/18 2007 | 06:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
YouTube could get some unusual competition soon: The operators of infamous Swedish Torrent site The Pirate Bay have announced that they are going to start their own streaming video platform soon. A short message on doesn't really reveal any details, but promises that there will be "a bit of Pirate Bay mentality behind every project we do."

We'll have to wait and see what that means until the site launches, but first glimpses on the new service sure look like rightsholders won't be too happy about it. A test server of the new destination is currently used to stream unlicensed music videos and midget porn - just the kind of combination you'd expect from raunchy pirates. Continue reading at

05/18 2007 | 11:24 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Actvity has been sow on the Joost invite chain lately, both in terms of people signing up and people actually getting an invite. The second point of course is more of an issue, because it would indicate that the chain doesn't work as well as I thought.

I still think the whole magic number formula was a good idea - and if you don' have any idea what I'm talking about, please go and read the original posting. It had one weak link though: The invite chain is basically a black box. No one really has any idea about the current status, except for the last few people who got an invite.

Luckily, P2P Blog reader Sharad was so nice to set up a Wiki to open up the box a bit by tracking the invite status. I'd encourage everyone who has taken part in the invite chain to go to the Wiki page and enter the necessary information. That way we'll have an iddea who got an invite and who still needs one, whcih makes it much easier to restart the whole thing.

Also, when inviting people - please remind them of this blog and the Wiki page. Some folks apparently have applied on numerous websites for an invite, which might explain why some of the forgot to keep the chain going.

05/16 2007 | 11:42 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The saga around Ohio University blocking all P2P traffic continues this week with an exremely confusing interview over at Slyck asked OU CIO Bruce Bible to explain the details of the new policy, and he had this to say:

"We are detecting and only blocking known illegal P2P protocols. In the event that a legitimate P2P activity would be blocked because it is using a primarily illegal protocol, we have provided an exception process."

So what's an "illegal protocol", you might ask? Slyck and its readers wanted to know the same. The article was updated with the following lines:

"We asked, "... let's assume a student wishes to download a creative commons work that is freely distributed from an artist using BitTorrent. Would that student have to follow the exception process or would it be business as usual?"

Bruce Bible responded by stating that for the purposes we described, BitTorrent is 'permitted and does not require an exception.'"

Now, just as a quick reminder: This is the list of programs that "have the potential to trigger" a block, as published by OU:

"Ares, Azureus, BitComet, BitLord, BitTornado, BitTorrent, FlashGet, Gnutella, KaZaA, LimeWire, Morpheus, Shareaza, uTorrent."

I guess this means students don't need an exception for legal Bittorrent downloads. Unless they use any Bittorrent client to facilitate this download, that is, in which case there is an exception process. Welcome to Kafka's world Ohio University.

05/15 2007 | 11:05 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Social music darling announced this week that they are going to start a video service any minute now. Some folks apparently couldn't wait and just developed their own mashups in the mean time.

Take Lasttube for example. It's a great web-based video player combining and Youtube, glued together with Yahoo Pipes and Adobe Flex 2. It's been whipped up by one lone programmer in Colombia of all places, who by his own account only needed one day to complete this project, including "coding, testing, googling and lunch time."

If mashup programmers can do stuff like this in no time - what does that mean for start-ups like For one thing, they really have to try harder. Continue reading at

Update: Terrence Russell wrote a response to this article over a Epicenter blog. He says:

"In many ways Roettgers is right - the content and capabilities are floating around out there. But, in fact it's the quality that's missing. Although tools like Yahoo Pipes can reveal chinks in the financial solvency of startups, I have more vested in Last.FM's claim to secure the rights to every music video ever produced than in the hopes that Youtube's user-generated content will offer the same."

That's a tough one. The quality of a mashup obviously depends the data it gets from some other place - and you can justifiably argue that this is the weak link of any mashup. Many unauthorized music videos could soon disappear from Youtube.

At the same time I have some serious doubts about's ability to actually come thrugh and "secure the rights to every music video ever produced". Don't forget, iTunes has been trying that with music for years, and they still don't even have the Beatles.

Mashup programmers on the other hand could just switch to another platform if Youtube ever actually implements their filtering sysytem. My money is with user generated bootlegs on this one.

05/09 2007 | 10:46 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Granted, Bittorent tracker statistics aren't exactly a precise way to measure the size of the P2P phenomenon - if only for the fact that users tend to download more then one torrent at the same time. Obviously these numbers don't get more accurate if you just aggregate them.

The stats of the new Bittorrent aggregation platform are still somewhat impressive:


Kind of makes you want to stroke your cat, doesn't it?

05/08 2007 | 02:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ohio Univeristy tried to stop file sharing by announcing a complete ban of all P2P traffic late April. Users of P2P applications face a suspension of their internet access as well as disciplinary measures.

ohio dc++

Students were quick to find a loophole though: The university apparently only monitors connections to outside IP addresses. Intranet swapping is alive and well, according to the Ohio Post.

Students are using a DirectConnect++ hub to share between 1.5 and three terabyte of data at any given time. There's even a flier that advertises the hub as an alternative to other swapping methods that have been banned. From the article:

"Because files are shared within the OU network, sharers get higher transfer speeds than peer-to-peer networks that extend outside the university. This also protects DC++ users from copyright enforcement companies hired by the movie and music industries, which cannot access OU's DC++ hub."


05/08 2007 | 12:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ed Felten has an amusing follow-up to the AACS debacle. He published a random integer generator that makes it possible to get your own, personalized access key. Only in this case it's not for HD DVD content, but for a Haiku Felten wrote:

We own integers,
You can own one too.

The headline of course is my very own integer, so better don't publish it on Digg! :)

05/07 2007 | 12:51 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Please don't email me anymore about Joost invites. I'll be clearing my backlog and invite everyone who previously answered, but I also got a life ... :)

Of course I understand that you all are curious - which is why I came up with the ultimate Joost invite thread. Just read on, follow all the instructions carefully - and you should have your invite in no time.

Update: It would be great if you could aslo track the progress of the chain on this Wiki page (password: "joost"). Click here for more information.

Here's what to do to get an invite:

1. Write a comment to this entry including the following information:

First Name:
Last Name:
Magic number:

Also, put your email address in the "E-mail/HTTP" field of the comment form.

2. Come back to this entry once you got your invite and invite everyone with the three consecutive higher magic numbers than yours. So if your magic number is 14 you'll invite number 15, 16 and 17. Update: Please mention that you are part of this chain in your invite.

3. Please consider subscribing to the P2P Blog RSS feed or linking to this site on your weblog. Update: Also, please go to this Wiki page and let us know how it worked out for you.

What's this magic number thing?

Good question. The magic number is actually just a comment count. Just browse to the end of this page and look at the last comment to figure out which number is yours. If the last comment is numbered 13, then your number is 14. Easy, right?

What if someone commented at the same time than I did and now we have the same magic number?

Don't worry about small inaccuracies. People are advised to invite everyone with the next three numbers, so if two people have number 14 they still should get their invite eventually.

You want me to publish my email address? What about spam?

No worries. This blog uses a email obfuscation script that makes it close to impossible for any bot to even recognize your email address as long as you put it in the right form field. Of course, people could just grab your address manually, so you still might want to give out a less important address. Or use a one-time email address and then invite yourself.

What about comments without magic numbers?

Those folks obviously didn't read this posting. They will be breaking the chain, which is why you should just skip them. Or invite them anyway if you are having a good day, as long as you still invite the persons with the three consecutive magic numbers following yours.

I did everything you said, but I still haven't gotten my invite!

People need to download and install Joost to invite others, so this might take some time. Be patient. But feel free to come back and leave a comment if three or four days go by and you still haven't gotten anything.

Okay then, how do we get started?

Just go through steps 1 to three as described above. I'll be personally inviting the first three commenters.

Great! Any final words?

Don't. break. The chain. Seriously. Don't do it.

Update 2: Joost is now open to everyone, so you don't need any invites anymore. Some 125 people used this thread, but I decided to erase all comments to make sure people don't get spammed ...

05/06 2007 | 12:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Hollywood execs reportedly got all giddy when they heard about the P2P-powered Vudu box. The jury is still out on Vudu's actual chances in the market place, but the device is a good example for a growing trend of P2P leaving the safe and boring world of the desktop P2P.

There are tons of non-PC devices out there that offer media swapping and P2P streaming capabilities. Some of these features are part of a commercial offering, others are the result of some good old tinkering. Some of this stuff is still in early development, other solutions have been in use for years. Some implementations are pretty obvious, others might surprise you. Continue reading at

05/04 2007 | 06:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Today's a tough day to be a pirate in Sweden. First, a local prosecutor announces to charge The Pirate Bay's admins for copyright infringement and "for helping others to break copyright law and conspiring to break copyright law". And then there is this article on the website of the German Der Spiegel magazine that connects The Pirate Bay and affiliated organizations to the well-known Swedish neo-fascist Carl Lundstrom.


Rumours about Lundstrom's connections to the Torrent website have been making news in Sweden for months now, but until today the whole affair hasn't gotten much attention from the rest of the world. The general public in Sweden first learned about these accousations when a representative of The Pirate Bay was grilled on local television about it in March. There is a recording of the show up on Youtube, complete with English subtitles.

The clip shows Tobias Andersson of The Pirate Bay saying that Lundstrom sponsored the Torrent website with servers and free bandwidth. Der Spiegel reports that Andersson went on stating that the site couldn't have started their operations without Lundstrom's help. The magazine also makes it look like Lundstrom is still supporting the site financially, but doesn't present any evidence supporting these claims.

German copyleft blogger Julian Finn tried to get the story straight today by asking the other side. He interviewed Magnus Eriksson of the Swedish Piratbyran, an organization that is closely affiliated with The Pirate Bay. Eriksson insists that there was no direct financial support:

"Carl Lundström was the CEO and is still the largest shareholder of Rix Telecom, a large provider in Sweden. Frederik from The Pirate Bay also worked there. At that time Rix supplied bandwidth and server space for The Pirate Bay. In the mean time TPB has left Rix and also Frederik left the company. The Pirate Bay received neither servers nor money from Rix. Only bandwidth and server space."

The story doesn't seem to be over though. The German IT news website reports that The Pirate Bay is now hosted by PRQ, a company started by the site's adminstrators that uses a Rix-owned datacenter for their operation. Lundstrom isn't CEO of Rix anymore, but still is a significant shareholder of the company, according to heise.

The Pirate Bay is famous for mocking it's critics with amusing counter-notices. At the same time the organisational and financial structure of the site and it's affiliated organizations have been very opaque. Some of this is obviously due to legal threats. But it would probably be a good idea for The Pirate Bay team to respond to this controversy with a little more transparency and seriousness.

05/03 2007 | 01:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Pirate Bay team is apparently working on an online music website that will feature free, ad-supported downloads as well as a donation-based subscription model. The project is called Playble and was first mentioned by the LA Times a few days ago.


The Times article described the project with these words:

"The group's next venture is a music sharing site called, where users will have the option of paying whatever monthly subscription fee they can afford. Every time a user downloads a song, the artist gets a portion of his fee."

The site is currently featuring a place holder with a slightly different description:

"This innovative music site will allow users to download music by artists for free and still support them financially. will give companies with strong brands the opportunity to support music and artists directly."

There is no word yet on when Playble will start, but users interested in the service can subscribe to an email newsletter.

(via Listening Post)

05/02 2007 | 04:15 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Joost just opened up their beta to anyone who knows anyone with a Joost account, meaning that everyone got an unlimited number of invites

I've been getting lots of email lately from people asking for accounts. I had to delete most of them because I ddin't have anymore invites, but I'll be doing a 24 hour Joost inviteathon starting right now (2pm Wednesday).

Shoot me a message including your first and last name as well as your email address during that time if you want an invite. Also, if you a reader of this blog, feel free to comment on what you enjoy, what you dislike and what you would like to read more about.

Here for the first time? Don't worry, you'll still get your invite, but I'd appreciate if you would subscribe to the P2P Blog RSS feed in return.

Update: I started a new Joost invite thread here.