Today, I will share some of the hidden secrets of the Internet with you. Our aim is to tap into the hidden treasures in terms of media/application files. You want music, movies, computer programs, pictures, etc, they're all available online for free. You just gotta know where to look.
Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, etc have been targeted in the past by the recording industry for copyright violations. This is because the authors of these softwares run centralized servers that gather lists of media files available on the computers of individual users. Such claims of copyright violations cannot be made under a decentralized system, because in that case, every computer user must be targeted individually by the recording industry. That is an impossible task today.
So what does centralized and decentralized mean? Let's take napster as an example of a centralized system. A user installs napster's software on his computer, which then gathers the list of mp3 files on the user's computer. The list, along with the user's IP address is then sent to napster's servers for storage. Anybody around the world using napster can then log onto napster's servers and retrieve that list of mp3 files (just the list, not the actual files).|
When a user is ready to download a particular file, he clicks on the file on the list. He's then connected directly to the IP address of the person that has the file. So, essentially, napster's servers are just providing a sort of directory service, since they don't store actual files. But the fact that such list is available at a central point (hence, the word CENTRALIZED), made it easy for the recording industry to go after napster.
Under a decentralized system, there is no intermediate server that stores any lists. You simply search on particular search engines online, then click on a link to begin downloading.
We're going to look at some effective ways of sharing media files that some of us may not be aware of. Among them are: newsgroups (alt.binaries), irc, ftp.
- Go to http://www.ftpfind.com/
- Under Thematic Search, click on the media type you want. For instance, if you're looking for mp3 files, click on Sound.
- Select the type of sound file you want, eg. mp3.
- Type in some keywords, eg. artist name. Click Submit.
Moments later you should get a list of files that you can download. You can be downloading any number of files simultaneously.
Other Online Search Engines
Check out http://www.ftpsearchengines.com/ for similar searches. For a more complete search, go to http://google.com and search for ftp search. In addition, there are programs out there that let you do searches online. See http://shareware.lycos.com/tucows/fileshare95.shtml.
How to participate
You can share files on your computer with the Internet community by doing the following two things:
1. Run an FTP server. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to do this,
2. Submit your ftp server to the www.ftpfind.com search engine. You should also use my URL Submitter to submit to other search engines.
You will be downloading media files directly from your isp. So before you proceed, you should ask your isp if he carries alt.binaries newsgroups. If he doesn't, it'd be worth your while to find another isp that offers such newsgoups.
If you really want to do some heavy duty downloading and you are on broadband connection, you can subscribe to quality newsgroup hosts like www.newshosting.com or www.giganews.com. Subscription cost ranges from $5 to $100s per month.
Newsgroups have been in existence for a very long time, and still going strong. This Internet technology only handles small amounts of text. But if it is true that it only handles text, how is it possible that we'll be able to download music, movies, applications, etc from it? Well, this is possible because people found a way to: 1. split large binary files into many small chunks that newsgroups can accept; 2. encode those small binary chunks into text format.
The encoded chunks in text format are then uploaded to the alt.binary newsgroups for anybody to download. So for instance, if you want to upload a file that is 5MB in size, you could decide to split it into 50 parts of 100K each, then upload the 50 individual parts.
When someone comes to download the encoded files, they must: 1. get all the parts, and 2. decode, and join them to get back the original binary file. Sounds complicated? Not to worry, it's really quite simple.
Fortunately, there are programs out there that automatically does the splitting, encoding, decoding, and joining for you. The program that I've used for a long time is Free Agent.
We've only dealt with mp3 here. You can basically search for anything in the newsgroups. For example, to get newsgroups where you can download music videos, click inside the newsgroups window, then click on the flashlight icon. Type in a keyword, eg. mpeg, asf, videos, etc.
- Go to http://www.forteinc.com/.
- Download and install Free Agent.
- The first time you run Agent, you will be asked for your NEWS and MAIL server. You need to obtain this info from your isp, or you could try something like news.yourISP.tld. So if your isp is mindspring.com, you would try news.mindspring.com. Try same for the mail server, eg. mail.mindspring.com. Leave the other fields blank for now.
- You can also get the same dialog under Options/User and System Profile.
- Agent will now contact your isp and download a list of all newsgroups that the isp carries. This step may take a while depending on how many groups has to be downloaded, and how fast your Internet connection is. This will only be done once, the first time you use Agent.
- Once the list has been downloaded, click on Edit/Find, type mp3, and click on Find First.
- The newsgroup we're looking for is alt.binaries.mp3. So keep clicking on Edit/Find next until it is found. Note: instead of Edit/Find, you could also click on the flashlight icon. If alt.binaries.mp3 is not found, it means your isp does not carry that newsgroup. In that case, find an isp that does.
- Right click on alt.binaries.mp3 and subscribe to it.
- Click on Online/Get New Headers in Subscribed Groups. That will get message headers for alt.binaries.mp3.
- After some delay, a list of files should now appear in the right window, with names of artists. Each file is broken into parts, just as I explained above. So when you see an artist you like, double click on one of the broken files, and Agent will automatically find all the other parts. The file will be decoded, joined and download.
- What if you want to search for a particular artist? In that case, just do a global search by clicking on Edit/Global search.
With a little bit of common sense, and lots of patience, you can download practically anything from the newsgroups ranging from latest music, to latest computer applications, to movies so brand spanking new, they're not yet in the movie theatres!
If there's something in particular you're looking for, and you can't find it, you can post a request in pertinent newsgroups, and someone is sure to post it for you.
How to participate
You should participate in newsgroups you download stuff from, by posting files requested by other people, or files that you feel could be of interest to the group. Goodluck!
That brings us to the most challenging of them all, the IRC (Internet Relay Chat). It is also the most resourceful.
Just like newsgroups, you can download anything from irc. irc differs from newsgroups however, in that, all downloads will be from individual users, not from your isp.
IRC is challenging because everything happens live, and sometimes extremely fast. This is in contrast to newsgroups that is basically static. In addition, you must be a bit comfortable with typing commands on the commandline, something some people don't care for.
Anyway, since you're still here, it means you're prepared to brave it. Don't worry too much though. With a little perspiration in the beginning, you'll be a pro in no time.
Just as we used Free Agent as client for the newsgroups, you also need a client for IRC. The client I've used for years is mIRC.
- Download and install mirc from http://www.mirc.com/.
- After installation, run it. You may be presented with info about the author. Just close out of that. mIRC Options window pops up. Enter a Name (for security reasons, never give out your real name), enter an email address (it doesn't have to be a valid email). Finally, type a nickname and click OK.
- irc has many large networks such as Dalnet, EFnet, Undernet, IRCnet, etc. It doesn't really matter which network you choose. I use them all. Each network has servers running on it, which in turn carries thousands of channels. A channel is like a chat room, where dozens of people with similar interests group together to chat and share files. The largest server is by far EFnet. See the full list.
- mirc will now connect to a server. This may take a minute, so be patient. When connected, information will be displayed in the Status window.
- The next step is to connect to a channel on the server. At the bottom of the Status window is a blinking cursor. This is where you type your irc commands or your chat dialogs. If you want to join a channel, the command is
/join #[name of the channel]
So let's say you want to join a channel called mp3 where users share mp3, you will type
How would you know what a channel is called? That's a good question. The best way is to do a search by keyword.
- If you place your mouse cursor on the irc icons, some text appears telling you what it is. Click on the icon that says List channels.
- Under Match text, type in a keyword, eg. if you want to download movies ripped from dvd's, type the keyword dvd.
- Clicking on Get list will return all channels containing the keyword dvd in its title, ordered by the number of users. Note: if you leave Match text blank, you will get a list of all the channels on that server.
- Join any of the channels by right-clicking, and clicking on Join.
- You can join several channels at once.
When you join a channel, a new window opens up, placing you in that channel. Note that the new channel window will cover up the Status window. So if at any time you need the Status window, click on the icon.
You can see all irc commands by clicking on Help, then Search from the menu.
There are rules to observe while in irc channels. Each channel has its own rules. If you don't follow a channel's rules, you may be kicked, or even banned from gaining access to a channel in future. To prevent this from happening, the first thing you wanna do when you join a channel is read the MOTD (message of the day). The motd will be the first thing to scroll through when you join, so if you miss it, just use the scrollbar to go back up.
Anatomy of a channel
A channel has two panes within a window. The left pane scrolls the messages, while the right pane shows users currently in the channel. Some users have @ in front of their names. These users are channel operators (Ops). They have the power to moderate your activities in the channel, inluding ban you! Some users have + in front of their names. These users are running irc servers from which you can download stuff. When such users have served in the channel for some time, the operators may elevate them to Op status.
If a channel is extremely busy, the messages may scroll by too quickly. In that case, just use the scrollbar to scroll up, and scrolling will stop. To see new messages, use your scrollbar to scroll down.
You can quickly locate what you want by searching for it. The command for searching is @find or @locator. Both commands work in some channels, while only one of them may work in some channels. To know what works in your current channel, you can just observe the scrolling messages for a couple of minutes and see what people are using to search. So if you want to search for say, christina aguilera, you would type
@locator christina aguilera
Browsing a server
To download a file, first you browse the user's directory to see what he has. Every person running a server has his own way letting you browse. To begin, you type in the trigger inside the channel. Here's an example. In the left pane of a channel, you may see something like this:
<Fantasy1> *** For My List (4508files:20271MB) and DCC Status, type @Fantasy1 and @fantasy1-stats.
The above user is called Fantasy1. To browse his server, you type @Fantasy1 and wait. One of two things will then happen. Either you will be sent a list of the files he has and how to download them, or a window will pop up (DCC) for you to browse directories.
To get a list of files and directories, type dir.
Use CD subdir to get in and out of directories.
CD .. should take you back one step in the directory tree.
CD \ puts you in the home directory.
When you browse to a file you want to download, type get filename to begin the download. So if a file is called Apache Moon - Sleepin' Like A Baby.mp3, to download that file, you would type get Apache Moon - Sleepin' Like A Baby.mp3.
Creating a channel
You can create your own channel.
- Go to the Status window
- Type /join #channel. That puts you in the new channel. Assuming you want to start a channel called movieExchange, you will type /join #movieExchange. Note: movieExchange must not currently exist.
- A new window opens, and you will be the only user in that channel, with your nickname beginning with @ sign. If you keep that channel up long enough, people will begin to visit it.
- Your new channel does not have a topic yet. Use /topic #movieExchange The Title of your channel.
Controlling a channel
Once your channel is created, you have full control over it. You can give users Operator status, ban users, limit number of users in the channel, etc.
To learn how to do this stuff, type /help inside the Status window. Also, see http://www.newircusers.com/opsguide.html.
Running a Server
You can run a server, so that people can connect to your computer and download files from it. Tread carefully here, since any mistake may give users undue access to your machine.
This is an advanced topic, so I'll let you do your homework thoroughly before attempting to run a server.
- In the Status window type /help.
- Click on Other Features.
- Click on File Server.
This is also a good reading http://www.newircusers.com/fserve.html
irc is a sophisticated system. You can write your own programs to control its behavior and make it do things you never even thought possible.
Read the RFC's on IRC: