Category Archives: bittorrent

BitTorrent Sync 1.3 Now Supports Windows Phones

BitTorent sync-infographicBitTorrent Sync is an app that allows you to easily share your data through synced folders. It gives you an easy way to send important data from your computer or smartphone in a way that enables a client to access it. As a podcaster, I can see how BitTorrent Sync would be useful for sharing raw audio files that were recorded as part of a podcast with the person who will be doing the editing.

BitTorrent Sync previously offered an enhanced mobile experience for Android and iOS. Now, it has expanded to Windows Phone. This means those that use Windows Phone can now use BitTorrent 1.3. It also means that those who use Android or iOS can share their files through BitTorrent 1.3 with a person who is using Windows Phone.

You can download and use BitTorrent Sync for free. There are no size limits or caps on how much you can share through it. BitTorrent Sync skips the cloud, so your files are delivered at lightning speed.

Another great thing about BitTorrent Sync is the big idea behind it. The Official BitTorrent Blog explains it well:

Your data belongs to you. Not to advertisers. Not the NSA. Not the cloud. Sync lets you share information freely; direct to the people (and devices) you choose. Your information stays with you. Wherever you are.

Buffalo LS-421 Diskless NAS Review

Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo LinkStation LS-421 Diskless NAS represents a small departure from the norm for Buffalo in that this is the first consumer-oriented unit to be offered as an enclosure without drives. While replacing drives in the previous generation of LinkStations was easy, it’s good to see this being offered as an option from the start. GNC has reviewed several Buffalo units in the past and many have been no slouch in the speed department. The LS-421 features the new generation Marvell ARMADA 370, 1.2GHz ARMv7 CPU core and DDR3 512MB RAM so let’s see if it stands up to the claims of “up to 80 MB/s” .

Buffalo LS-420 Box

From the outside, the LS-421 hasn’t significantly changed since the previous version with a slightly front rounded surface. The previous iteration of the product had blue LEDs on a black fascia; this time it’s white LEDs on silvery-grey which looks good when they’re flickering away. Overall, it’s not going to win any design awards, but it’s not going to offend either. There are two USB ports, a USB 3 one on the front and a USB 2 on the rear. These can be used for additional storage or printers.

Buffalo LS-420 NAS


Buffalo LS-421 rear

Installing the disks is straightforward, needing only a screwdriver to screen the hard drives into plastic frames which then guide the drives into place in the NAS. The front of the unit simply pops on and off. Once the two drives are in place, the network cable can be connected and the power plugged in. For those interested, it’s an external PSU.

Buffalo LS-421 with disks

On power-up for the first time, there’s about ten minutes of activity while the LS-421 sorts itself out. While that’s happening, the supplied Buffalo NAS Navigator 2 software can be installed on the PC or laptop. It’s much improved over the previous version, but it’s not essential software as the NAS is largely configured via a web client. However, it is useful for troubleshooting and finding the IP address of the LS-421 for the first time.


Those used to the old tabbed style of web interface will discover that Buffalo has gone all Metro with a tile-based UI, albeit without the Microsoft colours. All the usual configuration features are present and correct – disk format, share administration, users, groups, RAID 0 / 1 and so on. Buffalo also gets brownie points for prompting to change the administrator password whenever the web client starts.

Buffalo LS-421 Tile Interface

The LS-421 isn’t only a network NAS, as it has Bittorrent and DLNA services built-in. Having a NAS-based Bittorrent client is useful as you don’t need to leave your PC on for large downloads and once downloaded, the server with contribute back to others downloading the same file. The DLNA server worked fine too, letting me play mp3s via the Roku.

Apps are available for iOS and Android to access files on smartphones and tablets, and it’s possible to configure access to the NAS across the Internet so that you can upload and download files while out and about. Obviously the speed is going to be limited by the network or broadband connection but it’s a useful to have the facility in case you need it.

With all of that out the way, how fast is it? I tested using Totusoft’s LAN Speed Test from a fairly old laptop running Windows 8.1 and also with dd and bonnie++ from a newer SuSE 12.1 Linux desktop. All tests were run at least three times and both computers were connected into the same gigabit switch that the LS-421 was connected into.

From the laptop, LAN Speed Test gave an average over a couple of a runs around 33 MB/s for writes and 22.5 MB/s.
On the desktop, dd gave a write speed of 63 MB/s, and bonnie++ wrote at 45 MB/s and read at 68 MB/s. Remember these figures reflect the performance of the LS-421 in my environment and YMMV as they say. Certainly, the bonnie++ read of 68 MB/s isn’t very far away from Buffalo’s claims of 80 MB/s.

Overall, the LS-421 is a tidy NAS unit and with an online price of GB£85 (without drives), it’s definitely one of the cheaper NAS enclosures. It’s nippy and with a total capacity potential of 8 TB, it can grow as your needs require.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the review unit.

Windows 8 Release Preview Leaks

Poor Microsoft just can’t keep anything secret.  Today the Release Preview version of Windows 8, which will be released in the coming days, has leaked out to P2P.  The build, which is labeled 8400, hit bit torrent and is spreading quickly.  Numerous sites have already posted screenshots of the next version of the operating system.

The build, which is offically 8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_CLIENT_ZH-CN-HRC_CCSA_X64FRE_ZH-CN_DV5, contains 3 new Metro-style apps from Microsoft – News, Sports, and Travel – as well as built-in support for Adobe Flash.  The web site Winunleaked confirmed the legitimacy of the leaked copy and also provides links if you are so inclined to try it out.  I recommend extreme caution with any such download.

Windows 8 Release Preview is expected to be released in early June and will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  If you can’t wait another week then check your P2P client, but make sure you install it on a PC that you don’t mind experimenting with and is insulated from the rest of your network.  Better yet, just wait a few days and get it directly from Microsoft.

The Counting Crows Bring Their Music to BitTorrent

Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation)

The popular rock band Counting Crows are going BitTorrent.  The band has made four songs off of their latest release available for free download in an effort to attract new fans.  The album, titled Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation), was released last month and features15 tracks.  In a departure from their past, the Crows have made this CD a collection of all cover songs.

The BitTorrent release features not only the audio files, but also liner notes, and artwork from the album.  Frontman Adam Duritz, during an interview with Mashable,  said “I don’t know how I didn’t think of this earlier — it’s the most obvious thing in the world since BitTorrent has such a huge global reach.  It’s not just about getting music to the people who would buy it anyway — even though that is, of course, very good — the hardest thing to do is make new fans.”

Kudos to the Counting Crows for taking this route and seeing the benefits that many, or most, artists and labels seem to be clueless about.  Getting their music out there for people to hear is the first step towards gaining new avenues of revenue.  Some fans may elect to buy the CD’s, but even those who don’t will perhaps spend money on a concert ticket or, at the least, promote the band to other listeners.

This approach may seem like a no-brainer for established stars who already have fans looking for their material, but it is a bit tougher for the unknown artists who want to get noticed.  However, this may generate the publicity to get more bands to take this approach, and there are some great success stories from those who have taken the free approach early – just ask Jonathan Coulton or the guys from OK Go.

Buffalo Updates NAS with LinkStation Pro and Pro Duo

Buffalo Technology has announced updates to its LinkStation range of NAS devices in the shape of the LinkStation Pro and LinkStation Pro Duo.  Part of the new V-series, these offer additional features that will be of interest to business users.

LinkStation ProThe LinkStation Pro (LS-VL) retains the familiar LinkStation and DriveStation shape but the addition of a faster processor boosts file transfers when compared to the previous model. Aimed at the prosumer and small businesses, the LinkStation Pro can serve photos, music and video from the built-in DLNA media player. There’s also a BitTorrent client for downloading large files such as podcasts or Linux distros. Available from mid-November in 1 TB (RRP £160)  and 2 TB (RRP £240) flavours.

LinkStation Pro DuoThe big brother of the Pro is the LinkStation Pro Duo (LS-WVL), offering double the storage with dual disk drives in a RAID 0/1 configuration. Although having a similar built-in software, small businesses will be interested in the RAID redundancy for protecting their data and the quick swap hard drives. (Readers are reminded that RAID is no substitute for regular backups). Available in 2 TB and 4 TB variants with list prices of £230 and £360 respectively, also from mid-November.

Where the V-series has additional benefits to business users is in the integration with ActiveDirectory, thus avoiding lengthy setup and configuration of the NAS with users and permissions.

If desired, it’s also possible to access these devices across the Internet, using either the BuffaloNAS on-line portal service or the WebAccess i app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

I’ve always been a fan of the LinkStation range so I look forward to doing a hands-on review in the not-too-distant future.

Illegal Downloaders Do Spend More Money on Music

The London-based think tank Demos has concluded that illegal downloaders spend more money on music. The headline figure, based on the survey of over 1000 people between 16 and 65, is that the average spend per annum on CDs or vinyl was £75 (GBP) for file-sharers compared with only £51 for all surveyed.

The notion that illegal downloaders actually spend more money on music has always had its supporters but it’s good to see that this can now be backed up with some hard data, at least for the UK. However, there’s some much more juicy information, but remember that this is representative sample of the online population, not the whole population and not just music aficionados or games players.

69% of those questioned had used official or legal sources for music such as iTunes or YouTube. Physical media still dominates purchasing with 65% having bought CDs or vinyl against 33% who purchased downloadable music.

A third had used peer-to-peer technology or search engines to find free music but only 9% actually confessed to illegal downloading. Almost everyone knew that sharing purchased music was not “fair use” but 81% of people who had purchased their music thought that “fair use” should include the ability to move the music between different players easily.

47% would be interested in a monthly subscription service with the optimum price point being £5 per month but it would have to be simple and convenient to use.

There is only a slight male bias of 57%:43% in illegal music downloading (which is far less than I would have expected) and 46% gave “because I can” as a reason for doing it. (I think in the old days, this would’ve been known as “troughing”).  Unsurprisingly, two thirds of this group also engaged in the illegal downloading of movies, games and other software.

The full “Digital Music Survey” is available to download from the Demos website and it’s a fascinating read into the state of music consumption.  Recommended.

Note for readers – as far as I’m aware and I’m not a lawyer, the UK does not currently have a “fair use” provision in its copyright legislation.

Who is really to Blame for BitTorrent Record Usage?

2009-drmWe all know that BitTorrent is great way for distributing all kinds of media, and that there are a lot of legitimate uses. Sadly there is not a lot of that media that is legally shared, but have we examined why BitTorrent is as popular as ever?

On my last podcast I received a email from a person living in Australia who is beyond frustrated at being treated as a second class citizen. I think it is worth sharing his email with all of you. I will preface this with

Mate, love your podcast. It’s kept me sane everywhere from Azerbaijan to Georgia (the county, not the state) to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and beyond.

My gripe is DRM. I am a writer, so I definitely believe people should be paid for their work. But I am also a consumer, who expects that when I buy a product it will work.

I buy a book or magazine, it will work anywhere in the world.

On DVDs and regions. I move around the world a lot. Coded regionalised DVDs are a disgrace. I can’t keep changing my region on my Mac because I get only 5 chances. I used to buy legal, original DVDs. Now I will ONLY buy pirated copies. At least they work. I now refuse on principle to ever buy a legal DVD again.

Likewise my iPod. I’ve lost three laptops in three years. Afghanistan is not a kind place for computers. But Apple has now made it impossible to restore legitimately bought music from my iPod to my new laptop.  I have had to buy third party software which does not always work.

My iPhone: I had to pay an extra $100 to get that hacked in Qatar, which is a country where it is supposed to legally work. (Why the heck should a handphone be restricted these days anyway?).

I also can’t buy half the iPhone apps or iTunes progs because my credit card is Australian.  Why is that?

And the prices for the pathetically tiny choice you can get on the Australian iTunes store are much higher than the US store – and that’s not because of tax or exchange rates. And why is the App store choice so much smaller?

Sorry for the rant.

Bottom line: I am treated as a criminal by these companies so much that they have actually turned me into one.

Which means they are shooting themselves in the foot, and actually losing themselves money. Great business model.

2009-dvd-regionsSo the question that has to be asked is who is to blame for the rising utilization of BitTorrent. Is it the foreign consumer who is locked out of American Products and Services or silly DVD region code rules.  Even ISP’s in foreign countries are fed up and are offering torrent seeds to there users.

I think part of the answer lays in the frustration of the above email. Folks I get these types of email’s every day. With a faltering economy you would think that media conglomerates would be looking to open up and earn dollars globally versus just the American marketplace.

Tags: DRM, Consumers