tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

I've been downloading the latest version of Red vs Blue via their Bit Torrent links. Red vs Blue is basically a cartoon made using the Xbox game Halo. The makers set up the in-game characters for the scenes they want, then edit a new voice-over on to what they've recorded. Sounds insanely complicated, but rather easier than animating it all yourself.

Bit Torrent is a way of sharing files, usually very large files, across the internet. If you have something popular, say a new episode of Red vs Blue, but you don't have a large, high bandwidth connection to the internet. Well, if you create a Bit Torrent stream, everyone who downloads the file can share it with other people who want to download it as well. You share the file as long as you keep it open in your Bit Torrent software.

The practical upshot of all this is, when I set the torrent going, it started downloading it from one host, then eventually from 49, giving me a much higher download speed without taking too much bandwidth from any one system. To really help the system out, you need to keep sharing the file with other people, giving back a bit for the benefit you've got.

The system does have a couple of down sides: you can only find the torrent files via the web, or links people send you, which isn't much of a problem; and it does rather swamp your connection, which makes it fine for home use, but I wouldn't want to use it at work and flood the connection for everyone else.

The software for OS X, Windows and other platforms on the Bit Torrent website.
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