December 3rd, 2004


Antics in the P2P zone...

Prior to my new 160GB drive, I spent several months not doing a lot of file trading. Well, now I've got room to burn, so I've been itching to find ways to fill some of it up.

And yes, I know about the RIAA with its stupid lawsuits, but I tend to not download a lot of commercial music anyway, sooo phhhbt!

I turned my back on the latest software for a few months, only to be pleasantly surprised upon my return. Ares Galaxy is the new god... and a faster, more protective one, too. Given how bloated and prone to crashing P2P apps can be, Ares Lite's basic install (with only the required files checked) appears to be the best way to go, especially since NavHelper is a form of spyware. (I do suggest that if you use P2P software, you also have a firewall in place, and check regularly for virii and spyware.)

Currently, Ares doesn't appear to be a target for the RIAA, in part due to its size, and in part because of the protections built into the software. Ares has several security features built-in that make using P2P software feel a little bit less like waiting for the hammer to fall. These additions include a built-in, regularly updated block list of IP addresses known to be used by the RIAA and its cronies. In addition, Ares scans all the media that people share, which helps to accurately identify files and makes it much harder for the powers-that-be to flood the network with phony or corrupted files.

There is both an advantage and potential drawback to this pre-scanning of shared files. It takes a *LONG* time to do, uses a lot of resources to do it, and its default scan for files is rather agressive. This agressive scanning creates a rather generous downloading experience, with a healthy selection of files available, but it also means that if you let it loose on your drives, you might be stuck with a slow system for quite a long time. I recommend defining a given directory or two to share files in by selecting Library > Preferences button > Manual Configure. That way, you can get to know the site a bit better and add new files and directories to be shared gradually, rather than having the application choke on all of your files at once.

So, you have Ares, and it looks (and acts) a lot like Kazaa... so what's the big deal? Probably the most obvious one I've seen is download speed. It seems to function much like BitTorrent, in that download speeds increase with the popularity of the file. BitTorrent is still faster for video, but Ares has some advantages as far as convenience and sometimes even selection. It's nice waking up to find you've now got a serious collection of Invader Zim...

The only tricky part of Ares is making sure that it doesn't crash your system. It probably won't, but it did cause me a few minor headaches (and several complete system freezes and reboots) because of an apparent conflict with my drive backup manager. Really, I suspect Ares doesn't like much of anything which gets on the 'net and tries to do backups or software updating while it's churning away. Guess I'll have to do those backups manually for now...

I'm still kicking Ares around, and I'm not entirely convinced that it doesn't have issues as far as its use of system resources. Despite its initial fast downloads, the speed of the downloads do seem to decrease over time. There could be some potentially good reasons for this behavior, however.

In any case, I have a Ren & Stimpy to watch that I haven't seen in years, so I'm happy for the moment.