BitTorrent Apps, download speeds and Port Forwarding

Mac BitTorrent Apps

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a little new to BitTorrent. I’ve known about it for a long time, but I never really used it until the other day. I didn’t really know what to expect.

In my last post I also mentioned a great article over at Allforces.com that has a nice introduction to what BitTorrent is, so I won’t go over that again here. I will concentrate on BitTorrent applications, download rate, and a good lesson I learned about Port Forwarding.

Applications
There are several BitTorrent applications out there for the Mac. In my testing I looked at Transmission, Bits on Wheels, and the “official” BitTorrent application… simply called, BitTorrent.

First, there’s Transmission. It is by far the simplest of the three. It’s very straight forward, with no frills what so ever. I actually found it to be a little too simplistic, lacking some of the basic features, like the ability to differentiate between peers, and seeds. I would recommend not using Transmission until it progresses a little further.

The second is BitTorrent (the official app). If you are looking for a basic application, that has all the functions that most users will need, without a lot of clutter and confusing extras… this is the app for you. It has one feature that I like that is missing from the other two, the ability to specify the amount of time that you continue to seed after your download is complete.

The third, and by far the most feature packed, is Bit’s on Wheels. Although I personally like all the extras, and variety of ways of viewing the data, this one may be a little overwhelming for the casual user. It’s definitely geared a little more towards the geeks out there.

All three apps performed about the same when it came to speed. I didn’t see a noticeable difference between them. Choosing between them really come down to features and ease of use. I personally am torn between BitTorrent, and Bits on Wheels. I like the different views provided by Bits on Wheels, but I really like the timed seeding feature of BitTorrent.

Port Forwarding
This next bit is for anyone who has their computer hooked to a router. When I downloaded my first BitTorrent files, they were INCREDIBLY slow. I knew that the speed was partially dictated by how many seeds and peers there were, but it seemed like something was wrong. I was correct. Because my computer accesses the internet through a router, my BitTorrent application was not communicating very well with other peers. I needed to activate port forwarding on my router. The two bits of information you’ll need to do this are the port your app is using (many default to 6881, but check your apps preferences to make sure), and the IP address of your computer (you can find this in your network system preference).

Most routers are configured either through software that came with the router, or through a web interface (browser). Since they are all a bit different, I can’t tell you exactly how to access the feature. But basically you need to login to your router, then look for an item called “Port Forwarding”. Once in that section you should see a field for what port you want to forward (enter the port your app is using), and what IP address you want to forward it to (the IP address of your computer). What you are doing here, is basically telling the router that any requests that come in for that port, should be redirected to your computer… allowing for better (and faster) communication. This may sound a little complicated, but if you are comfortable tweaking your routers configuration, it should be a snap to do. You should notice a sizable bump in speed, considering you are connected to enough seeds and peers.

PODTROPOLIS: iPod specific BitTorrent tracker

Podtropoils

Last week I came across Podtropolis. I’ve downloaded a few files, and for the most part things seem pretty reliable, but it’s a new site, so they are still trying to work things out. They have a request on their homepage for someone to help them develop a more robust backend.

“Podtropolis is the first and best BitTorrent tracker dedicated to the Apple iPod. We bring you all the best TV shows, movies, music videos and music all in iPod compatible formats.”

As much as I like to think of myself as an early adopter, I have to admit… I’m a bit of a newcomer to BitTorrent. I plan to write up a post outlining what I have learned. But until then, Melvin at Allforces.com put together a nice introduction back in April.

Save $40 on 60GB 5G iPod at Target.com

iPod Box

Are you in the market for a new 60GB iPod (5G with video)? If you buy it from Target.com you can save $40, without even having to send in one of those annoying rebates. Target.com is offering it for $399.99, but if you add coupon code “TCADVJAB” to your cart the price will be cut to $359.99. Shipping and handling will add another $9.99, and sales tax is added where applicable. The coupon code expires December 31st, 2005.

Found via dealmac

Take clean screenshots without clearing off your desktop

backdrop.app

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to keep my desktop clean, it inevitably becomes littered with files. Normally this isn’t a big deal. It’s only really annoying when I need to take a screen-shot, and I don’t want to take the time to clean off all the files. I tend to take a lot of screen-shots to use as graphic support for the stories I write, and I don’t want all that clutter in the background.

Fortunately, there is an awesome little utility, called Backdrop, made for just these occasions. Backdrop is essentially a desktop cover. It allows to to overlay a color or an image on top of your desktop, temporarily hiding everything on it. Best of all… it’s free!

iCal: Unable to find events created prior to 10.4.2 update

iCal search field

In addition to the bug listed in the last post, I was also having trouble with the built in search field. I was searching for events that I knew existed, but iCal was giving me no results. Fortunately, this bug is fixable.

I came across an Apple support article entitled “iCal: Unable to find events created prior to 10.4.2 update“. It outlines how to force iCal to re-index all events in your calendar. It’s a simple procedure, and it fixed the problem.

  1. From the iCal File menu, choose Backup Database.
  2. Quit iCal.
  3. Navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/iCal/Sources.
  4. Open each folder in the Sources folder and remove the file named “Index.”
  5. Open iCal; it will re-index your events.

iCal repeating event bug

iCal - February

The other day I came across a little bug in Apple’s iCal application. I had a repeating event on the 29th of each month. I was scrolling through the months and I happened to notice that the event wasn’t listed in February (it only has 28 days). I would think that iCal would be smart enough to put the event on the 28th for February, but instead it just omits the event all together… and picks it back up in March. What the hell Apple? Didn’t anyone think of that?

Also, why can’t I set an event to repeat on the last day of each month? Entourage will do that.

In loving memory

Emmitt's Ashes

Yesterday I picked up Emmitt’s ashes. It was much harder to do than I thought it would be. While waiting at the animal hospital, I could see into the room where Emmitt spent his last moments of life. A woman came from behind a closed door and said “I’m sorry to give Emmitt to you this way”, as she handed me the box. I almost lost it.

The box came with a card that had a poem in it. Although the poem was pretty cheesy, it had a big impact on me. I cried.

“Just this side of Heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge

When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes friends with other animals and frolics over rolling hills and peaceful, lush meadows of green.

Our pets do not thirst or hunger. The old and sick are made young once more; the maimed and the ill become healed and strong. They are as healthy and playful as we remember them in the days gone by.

Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.

Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance… bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous reunion. You will never again separate. Happy tears and kisses are warm and plenty; your hands caress the face you missed. You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and know you never really parted. You realize that though out of site, your love had been remembered.

And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together…”

See, I told you it was cheesy, but it still made me shed more tears as I typed it in to this post.

I’m sure there are some of you out there saying… it was just a dog, get over it. But, the animal lovers out there will understand. Emmitt was much more then just a dog, he was a beloved member of our family. His presence is profoundly missed.

It’s been especially hard not having an office to go to. I work from home, so I often spent almost 24 hrs a day with Emmitt. Now, I’m home alone most of the day. I am reminded of him often, like when I’m eating lunch, and a small piece of my sandwich falls to the floor. For just a moment I think… Emmitt will get it, but then realize he isn’t here. It’s been a difficult adjustment.

Life is slowly getting back to normal. I want to thank everyone who has left comments on the site, or emailed their condolences to us. We appreciate it very much. I haven’t felt like writing much, but I think it’s about time I get back to it. I’m hoping to get some new posts up later today.

Rest in Peace Emmitt

Emmitt

The last few days have been pretty rough for us. Our beloved dog, Emmitt, passed away Wednesday night. He was only eight years old.

Last week he developed what we thought was a minor illness. He was drinking a lot of water and was slightly bloated, but other than that he seemed pretty normal. The first round of tests that the vet performed revealed nothing. He went into the vet again on Wednesday morning for an ultrasound, it revealed that the bloating was blood. Emmitt was bleeding internally from cancerous tumors that had ruptured. He underwent emergency surgery, but it was unsuccessful.

We spent Wednesday night at the animal hospital, holding and comforting him until the end came. Our only comfort is that he did not suffer, the end came quickly.

Just two years ago, I lost my other dog, Booger. His passing was from old age, and was slow and painful. I remember thinking that it would be much better if it was from a single event, and happened quickly. I was wrong. Emmitt’s death came so suddenly, and unexpectedly, that we were totally unprepared. It’s been a devastating blow for both of us. I’m fighting back the tears as I write this.

Emmitt was a wonderful dog, and a treasured friend for many years. We loved him dearly. He will be missed.

Class Action Lawsuit over Nano Scratches?

iPod Nano

I’ve been following this for a while, and every time I hear about it, I get a little more pissed off. If you haven’t heard about this, the attourneys at David P. Meyer & Associates Co. LPA, herein referred to as the dumb-asses, have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple because people have scratched their iPod Nanos. Give me a freakin break!

The dumb-asses have claimed that the Nano is a “defective product” because “…if users were to put their Nanos in their pockets with common items such as coins, keys, a money clip, or a credit card, the device would likely be scratched”. No shit sherlock! As cool as the nano is, in the end it’s just a small piece of plastic. It’s going to get scratched if you put it in the same pocket as your keys. This isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense!

The dumb-asses further claim that Apple has mislead consumers by marketing the nano “as being impossibly small and durable”. Ummm… I remember the “Impossibly Small” tagline, but I’ve never seen that last bit about durability?!? The dumb-asses site the Steve Jobs keynote, that they mistakenly refer to as a national TV commercial, where Jobs pulls the nano out of his pocket to introduce the new Nano as proof that Apple is stating the Nano’s durability. Ummm…. no, that’s what called a dramatic introduction to illustrate the Nano’s size.

As compensation for their scratched Nano’s, the dumb-asses want “(a) an order certifying the action to be maintained as a class action and ordering
Plaintiff and his counsel to represent the class; (b) restitution and/or disgorgement of profits; (c) compensatory and consequential damages; (d) punitive damages; (d) attorneys’ fees; (f) costs of this suit; (g) pre and post judgment interest; and (h) such other and further relief as this Court may deem necessary or proper.”

I can’t decide if these people are really this stupid, or just incredibly greedy. Either way I’m thoroughly disgusted

If you are interested, you can read the full court document, in PDF format, here.