[Well, I don’t proport to be an expert in any of the following discussion, but I’ll go ahead anyway. This article is generally for the benefit of people who’ve asked me over the last little while, ‘what the heck is that program?’]
One thing that we do everyday is surf the net…with some sort of browser, most likely Internet Explorer. However, because Microsoft has a lion’s share of most computer applications, we generally just use their products without question. Over the past few years, groups of internet users unhappy with the reliance on Microsoft have started developing their own applications, that are open source, meaning that they are a community type of creation and generally for non-profit. Communities of internet users will thus work together to create applications for people to use, that offer less of the problems associated to using Microsoft products. Perhaps the biggest example of open source applications that rival Microsoft is Linux.
People that create and ultimately use ‘open source’ programs have concerns about the security, privacy, efficiency and the usability of their programs, and are unsatisfied what the ‘corporate’ internet field (Microsoft) has to offer. (I’m sure a programmer could rhyme off dozens more reasons for open-source alternatives.) And for others, open-source can have a real political-type debate in the internet circles. A few of my internet saavy friends usually suggest new applications that I might try…and a year ago, a friend suggested I check out Mozilla related products for my internet usage. So over the past year or so, I’ve been using Firefox as an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Mozilla’s Firefox is great — it blocks popup ads, has excellent security and protection (you’ll likely never get a worm using Firefox), built in search engine toolbars, tabbing (so you don’t have to have multiple windows open for each site you visit)…just a few things that I notice. Of course, others again would reem off a ton of usuable features in Firefox, but these are really the ones I know and find are applicable to me. So, after picking it up, I’ve pretty much gotten rid of as much reference to Internet Explorer as I can on my computer. Open source programs are professional, well constructed and an excellent alternative to what’s currently offered.
Well, pretty much everyone has heard of file-sharing…and at some point in time, everyone has either heard of ‘Napster’ or used it or varations of it in the past. Along with Napster come all the debates with copyright infringement, freedoms of proprietary materials — basically, the debate whether copying and sharing music, movies, videos, games, applications and other things is acceptable or not. I’m not going to get into the debate as it’s been well discussed in the media for several years now. For those that do use file sharing programs, there’s newer ones that have arisen and today it seems, the file sharing world has moved well-past the original ‘Napster’ and into much faster and efficient mediums. For some who share music, Kazaa is probably one of the more popular ‘for profit’ programs.
However, a significantly faster and more efficient program has emerged over the last few years, Bittorrent. As I understand it, Bittorrent is less centralized, allowing for quicker file sharing — in pieces or packets of files shared among people, rather than whole files from singular users. Bittorrent is also decentralized, which (for now) avoids many of the legal problems that got Napster into trouble. (There is no central location for files to be accessed or stored.) A few people have developed easy to use programs (or clients) for acesssing and using Bittorrent file sharing such as ABC.
The way Bittorrent works is, you download the original program (Bittorrent or ABC or others). Then you go to a site that lists files you want (for instance Suprnova) and click the links. The file is downloaded from numerous users and is generally VERY fast. As an example, half hour TV shows could be received in an hour (that’s 700megs of data). Bittorrent file sharing is a great way to find stuff you probably wouldn’t find elsewhere — like that TV Show you missed last week. I use it as a VCR of sorts, seeing that shift workers sometimes miss the good shows. =)
A few sites to browse for popular TV shows: http://www.tvtorrents.net/
Anyway, that’s a bit of a discussion on internet use…as always, any comments [and corrections] are welcome.