Asus The Latest To Recognize That BitTorrent Is Quite Useful

from the it-ain't-evil dept

To hear some in the entertainment industry tell the story, you'd think that BitTorrent was an evil technology designed with no redeeming value whatsoever. But, of course, there are tons of legitimate uses for it in a more efficient and economic way to distribute files by spreading the burden out. It's great for Linux distributions, for example. And now it's nice to see more and more companies recognizing that there's value in using BitTorrent technology to their advantage. Apparently, the latest is computer maker Asus, which is using BitTorrent for many software downloads. As the article points out, this is hardly revolutionary, but it is nice to see large corporations recognizing the usefulness of the technology.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Nick, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Blizzard World of Warcraft patches

    You may have posted about this when they started doing it, but "patch days" used to bring Blizzard's WoW infrastucture to its knees as they tried to push the patch out to all of their players.

    A couple of years (or so) ago they switched to pushing patches out slowly in the days leading up to a patch day using their own builtin BitTorrent client and while patch days can still be a bit sluggish, they are nothing like the unplayable mess they used to be.

     

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  2.  
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    fogbugzd, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 8:07pm

    ASUS downloads

    Asus downloads can be a real pain. Anything that gets them out there better is welcome.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    They are just finding out that they can lower their website connectivity costs by sponging off of others. Too bad it means that getting a patch could take hours unless there are enough seeders.

    Plus honestly, would you install anything mission critical to your system that you downloaded off of a torrent site? You would have to be seriously into taking risks.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Re:

    Careful! Reality is not a welcome commodity to many of those who comment on techdirt articles.

    Let me see...I can go to a dedicated server and download a GB file at about 700 KB/sec, or I can use a torrent to get the same download at a speed dependent upon how many "torrent-ers" are online.

    BTW, it is nice to see how many torrents are misleadingly labeled, so what you unwittingly end up with is a nice piece of malware.

     

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  5.  
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    Dan, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 8:56pm

    Oh look, two cowards who didn't actually read the article.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Re:

    What's to read? You won't get your files from Asus, you will get it from other users who have already downloaded them. The potential for the files to be corrupted is high as a result, as you are using data from unsecure sources.

    What did I miss there Dan?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 9:26pm

    Re:

    This "coward" read the article and felt is just might be useful to interject a bit of perspective for the possible benefit of those who seem inclined to pray at the altar or bit torrent.

    Of course it can be a useful tool, but not necessarily the best one to use at any particular moment. Personally, I prefer that my downloads come from an identifiable source so that I have someone to "blast" if he/she screws things up. It is kinda hard to do this in a bit torrent environment.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Re:

    Okay someone seems to not understand how BitTorrent works and should stop trying to download software/books/movies/music it seems.

    You go to Asus.com and go to their tracker. That tracker tells you what other Peers have the files you need and you connect to them to download it. Now here's the part you seem to be missing: BitTorrent (the protocol) works in a way so tha if any of the information you download is corrupt or missing or different it will go back to the Tracker and download from a different source.

    In short, the only way you can get malware via BitTorrent is the same as always: entirely dependent on the user not doing things the right way and, usually, going to "bad" sites. The flip side is its a great way to maintain file accuracy so long as you keep the application running all the time.

     

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  9.  
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    Nick, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 10:15pm

    Tracker seeds

    Legit tracker providers (such as Blizzard or ASUS) also provide their own high speed seeds that stay up permanently. So a lot of users will still get the bulk of their file from the vendor directly - the beauty of BitTorrent is that as the vendor-provided seeds come under heavy load, some of that load is automatically distributed to occur between the peers downloading the file rather than crippling the main download server the way direct downloads will.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 10:20pm

    Re: ASUS downloads

    I have to ask. Was the pain doing the actual download or navigating their site to get to link with the actual download?

    I checked out the asus site. Clicking on the P2P icon will bring up a window which installs their "BitTorrent DNA" program. Only see this icon for downloads >5mb.

    I suppose if no one is seeding the file, asus can do the seeding.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 21st, 2009 @ 10:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Let me see...I can go to a dedicated server and download a GB file at about 700 KB/sec, or I can use a torrent to get the same download at a speed dependent upon how many "torrent-ers" are online.

    BTW, it is nice to see how many torrents are misleadingly labeled, so what you unwittingly end up with is a nice piece of malware.


    That is incorrect. There is no "misleading" problem here. The tracker is from Asus, the file is legit. I'm not sure what you are saying here, other than showing you don't understand the technology you're commenting on.

    Reality is not a welcome commodity to many of those who comment on techdirt articles.

    Very funny considering how far apart your comment was from reality.

    From your tone... I'm pretty sure I know who wrote this comment too. Is that you? The lawyer who stops by to mock us for supposedly not understanding the law? Pretty funny...

     

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  12.  
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    washii (profile), Jul 21st, 2009 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't know, only BitTorrent's rigorous integrity checks? Hard to get a corrupt file from other users when you get the describing .torrent/BTDNA-equivalent directly from ASUS, which will make sure you get nothing but a 'pristine' copy.

    Use BitTorrent much? No? Didn't think so.

    Unfortunately, the main failing with this and ASUS is that they aren't using vanilla BitTorrent. BitTorrent DNA is closed-source.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I was referring to torrents in a generic sense, and not that which tracks its lineage to ASUS or other reputable source.

    I happen to agree that bit torrent can be a quite useful tool, but when placed in the hands of certain people who could care less about the law its utility is readily drawn into question.

     

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  14.  
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    Tek'a R (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: in the hands of certain people..

    The same "complaint" can be made of forks, spoons, cars, pencils and Anonymous Coward blog posts.

    I happen to agree that X can be quite a useful tool, but when placed in the hands of certain people who care less about the law utility is readily drawn into question.

    While you may have had user-end mistakes, perhaps due to reading torrent information as much as you have read this article, the back-end protocol to BT is clean and surprisingly reliable.

    Its great to see one more, of the Many, wholly legitimate and unassailable use to this overly demonized tech.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If it was possible to remotely corrupt the files that people was downloading,
    it would have been an obvious avenue of attack from certain organizations.

    If this was actually effective in preventing good downloads, they would
    certainly be doing this instead of using lawyers.


    How does the integrity check work anyways? I'm guessing that each client does
    a checksum after it receives each chunk.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:47am

    Re: Tracker seeds

    Very well put Nick.

    What I would like to add is that this is not some new experiment from Asus. The p2p download link has been available for about a year now and in my experience it works significantly better than the direct download links for anything larger than 20 MB (video drivers for example).

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:51am

    Re: Re:

    You are missing the point of the article here.

    There is nothing stopping you from going to a dedicated server and downloading something that is a fake and full of malware.
    The whole point of bit torrent is to allow large amounts of data to be distributed with as little cost of bandwidth as possible. ASUS pay for less bandwidth, people get their files, everyone is happy.

    Also, if you are going to get something from the ASUS website then you would either get the torrent file or magnet link from them, making it impossible to get malware from it.

     

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  18.  
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    Paul-G, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 2:10am

    Microsoft include Peer-toPeeer

    Have a look at the Networking Services that come as options with XP (Add/Remove Programs, Windows Components)and there it is.

    A Google shows a top result from MS which includes the following

    Q: What is the Windows Peer-to-Peer Networking Infrastructure?

    A: Windows Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Networking is a developer platform to create P2P applications for computers running Windows XP. Windows P2P networking allows application developers to utilize powerful personal computers that exist at the edge of the Internet, to create exciting new distributed applications. P2P technology provides an opportunity to make existing applications work together in new and useful ways. For more information see: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/p2p.

    Asus, WoW, Microsoft all recognise the benefit of P2P. It's just those dumb dinosaurs that understand feck all and just want to bury their heads in the sand that get all freaky about this.

    Just be patient for a few more years and they will be as extinkt as T-Rex and his buddies.

     

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  19.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 2:49am

    Stop IT!!!

    All of you BT lovers, quit talking your crazy reality fact talk. We don't need fact and rational argument; we need more uninformed fear mongering

    Anyone who knows anything knows that BitTorrent is ILLEGAL!!! along with any other protocol the entertainment industry and it's lawyers don't like

    You can get viruses just by thinking about BitTorrent; seriously I recently saw a BitTorrent from Mexico and now they have swine flu, think about it...

    As soon as you click on any torrent anywhere you automatically become infected and hand over all your passwords to crazy guys in Russia because that's just the way it's designed, and why anybody who has ever downloaded anything has since had their computer catch fire

    If that doesn't convince you, think of the children - without everyone continuing to buy shiny plastic discs Madonna won't have enough money to adopt them all; somehow an IT company doing BitTorrent downloads does that

    Even if BitTorrent weren't safe and legal (which obviously it isn't); if Asus start using BitTorrent then some people might download the Asus torrent from a stupid location and get something they weren't intending, which is obviously totally different to if they make the entire file available and people instead download that from a stupid location

    Oooh is that the time? Gotta go or I’ll be at the back of the medication queue again

     

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  20.  
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    Ilfar, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 3:31am

    BT is neat, but...

    Once again, bandwidth limited connection. I don't want to sit there throwing data at everyone else while I'm downloading it.

    Or if I go to download the larger files via a public library and it's free wireless connection... Oh look, they've blocked torrents completely.

    It works for most people, but I dread the day this is the only way to get files because I won't be able to get them anymore.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    SunKing, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Re:

    I wonder, could you next explain how that mouse thing attached to my computer works? You do such a good job at unravelling technology. If only more 'experts' explained things so clearly!

    LMFAO.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    ..., Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re:

    Oh, you mean FUD
    Ok

     

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  23.  
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    Christopher (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:18am

    Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    If Asus posts MD5/ SHA hashes on their site for their packages, you can run your own checksum on the end results to ensure you have the right drivers. The weak link might be if someone hacked the Asus webpage to change the hash values, but the hash values can be stored inside the downloaded archive and compared. You can verify your packages.

    I would probably prefer to see Asus using public methods of torrent seeding, but whatever gets an Asus download to me quicker is fine with me. Direct links are always hit or miss and I'm a "set it and forget it" kind of guy.

    -C

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    ..., Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:21am

    Re: Stop IT!!!

    Also, if you torrent - you are supporting terrorism

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:23am

    Re: BT is neat, but...

    "I don't want to sit there throwing data at everyone else while I'm downloading it."

    No, you want everyone to throw data at you while you do fuck all. Wait, are you a musician signed to a big label?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:28am

    Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    Geez, wake up - support files are often for average to ignorant end users, not for the upper 1% who have a clue. Ask the average persona what a hash is, and they will think it is either something that goes with breakfast or something you smoke. Don't expect that your knowledge is average, it isn't.

     

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  27.  
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    Bram Cohen, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 5:53am

    Bit Torrent is Throttled by ISPs.

    Works fine, no way. The problem is that the ISP vendors are throttling Bit Torrent downloads to a crawl during normal hours (daytime peak and 4PM to 2AM) so they take far longer than lining up for a direct download.

    When WoW started using it, I contacted them and told them that if they expect me to take six hours for a download because they switched, either give me the site for a direct download or send me update CDs, else I am quitting. They sent CDs.

     

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  28.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    Geez, wake up - support files are often for average to ignorant end users, not for the upper 1% who have a clue.

    wow. so we went from "i don't trust BT for mission critical things":

    Plus honestly, would you install anything mission critical to your system that you downloaded off of a torrent site? You would have to be seriously into taking risks.

    to "people are too stupid to use BT effectively".

    have either of you worked for an IT department before? have you heard of this mystical activity known as "testing"?

    see, when you work for a an IT department, you test things before you deploy them. you run new software on something that is not mission critical and see what happens before you apply it to something important.

    it doesn't matter if the software in question was downloaded via bit torrent or hand delivered to you by bill gates himself; you have to test stuff to see if it is reliable before you can rely on it.

    if you put *anything* into production without testing it properly, not only do you risk getting yourself and the people you report to fired, but there is also small but significant chance that you will get your ass kicked.

     

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  29.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Stop IT!!!

    Well obviously - that's a given. It's a well know fact that terrorists buy guns to kill western children by charging your visa card on a per byte basis

    If all the bytes in a download come from terrorist PCs they get special loyalty club rewards to claim free suicide diapers

    Recently though an increase in leachers has led terrorists to take extreme actions, Al-QuedaBay (the torrent tracker of choice for Jihadis everywhere) have adopted their own 3 strikes rule, and when you're out, you're OUT!!

    Oh the humanity

     

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  30.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How does the integrity check work anyways? I'm guessing that each client does
    a checksum after it receives each chunk.


    per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_(protocol)

    By convention, the name of a torrent file has the suffix .torrent. Torrent files have an "announce" section, which specifies the URL of the tracker, and an "info" section, containing (suggested) names for the files, their lengths, the piece length used, and a SHA-1 hash code for each piece, all of which are used by clients to verify the integrity of the data they receive.

    md5 has been proven to produce collisions under certain circumstances and has been largely deprecated for important stuff like ssl certs in favor of sha1.

    so it's pretty tough to inject bad stuff into good torrents. you can totally put up bad torents, but those just don't get seeded, and someone always identifies them as bad in the comments.

    in all the terabytes of stuff i have downloaded, authorized and otherwise, the only "malware" i have found has been false positives from AV software over cracked binaries.

     

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  31.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    "it doesn't matter if the software in question was downloaded via bit torrent or hand delivered to you by bill gates himself; you have to test stuff to see if it is reliable before you can rely on it."

    Noooo - you don't get this do you? Once you change the way you download a file you change EVERYTHING!!!!

    If a file comes from a different source you must bypass all normal controls, forget all your processes and disregard any and all testing

    Obviously you also completely ignore the fact that to inject malicious code that will actually run into a file when different pieces come at random from different sources via a tool which already does a basic hash check on each chunk is even less likely than a man in the middle attack on a download site

    Did I mention that you have to run around shouting "PANIC!!" No? Well you do, it's true

     

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  32.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: in the hands of certain people..

    "The same "complaint" can be made of forks, spoons, cars, pencils and Anonymous Coward blog posts."

    And cheese, thong panties, icicles, and hope!

     

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  33.  
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    Xanthir, FCD (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How does the integrity check work anyways? I'm guessing that each client does
    a checksum after it receives each chunk.

    Each chunk is hashed using SHA-1, and the hash value is transmitted in the .torrent file. When you receive a chunk, your client will hash it and compare the value it gets with the value the .torrent file says it's *supposed* to get. If they don't match the chunk is thrown out and downloaded again (and some clients will blacklist the source that you got the bad chunk from).

     

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  34.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:21am

    Re: BT is neat, but...

    That's a pretty ignorant comment, and illustrates exactly how little you know about this technology.

    The clients are configurable, meaning if you get a good one (and there are plenty to choose from) you'll be able to set a limit on how much bandwidth you use seeding (throwing data at everyone else) and even how many people you seed to (so you can only throw data to one person, and not everyone).

    If you'll do your part, by doing some research about the ACTUAL benefits, and stop spreading your misinformed "faults" of the protocol, you'll be able to help us let the industry in on the secret that it's not going away, and should not be blocked, therefore eliminating all of your problems.

    And FYI - those problems will be long resolved before the day that it's the only way to get files, so really, you should be excited for that day, not dreading it.

     

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  35.  
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    Xyro TR1 (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:48am

    I haven't looked into it much, but I assume they're offering a torrent as an option, not exclusively requiring users to run a torrent to get the files they need. I hope they don't start moving toward the latter.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    No, please learn to read.

    Support files are for average (and often ignorant) end users, who follow the support directions to accomplish something, without understanding the underlying actions. These people are "end users" who often need support to configure mail, set the home pages on their browsers, etc. These are the same people tricked into running trojans and get their banking infomation stolen on fake bank security sites.

    "see, when you work for a an IT department, you test things before you deploy them. you run new software on something that is not mission critical and see what happens before you apply it to something important."

    See, 99.9999% of end users don't work in an IT department, don't know about testings, and don't have a clue what you are even talking about. Don't take your personal experience and intelligence and map it onto the rest of the public, they ain't that brilliant.

    Honestly, if BT clients weren't download and turn on, most people couldn't even get a torrent file. Just go read the support boards where people try desperately to explain how to stitch file parts together or to install a multi-part RAR file. It's comedy at it's finest.

    So expecting these people to know how to check a hash or a checksum on a file is a joke - and even expecting them to know the difference between "downloaded from the Asus seed" and taken from TPB is a pretty big leap.

    (oh and yeah, I did tech support for a while... ask me one day about the guy who got the 25 pin serial cable on upside down and actually made it fit!).

     

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  37.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Stop IT!!!

    He also forgot
    ....supporting child Slavery
    ....supporting blood diamonds
    ....supporting Drug dealers
    ....supporting Saudi child marages

     

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  38.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 3:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    "So expecting these people to know how to check a hash or a checksum on a file is a joke - and even expecting them to know the difference between "downloaded from the Asus seed" and taken from TPB is a pretty big leap."

    Fuddy fud fud FUD!! (Did I mention FUD?)

    You truly aren't getting this, if you download a torrent and decide you want to you have the extra *option* (note the groovy way I kinda highlighted that bit) to double check the file using a hash check, to absolutly 100% confirm and reassure yourself that what you ended up with was the exact same file as the one requested

    It's an *option* - you don't need to

    Most BT clients (probably all but I stand ready for nerdy correction) do this anyway on a per chunk basis as a built in standard data integrity check by design as they go along

    So as long as you download the torrent tracker itself (which has all the hashes in) from the Asus site you'll be sweet and happy and all will be fine; Asus get to offer a download method which doesn't rely 100% on their bandwidth which increases resilience, on average you get a faster download speed per unit of investment on their part (yes dedicated download servers, spread out on a distribution network can match or exceed BT speeds but thats expensive and costs are passed on), and no puppies have to die

    OK I lied about the last bit - obviously puppies have to die otherwise what would be the point of Mr Cohen's evil plan?

    If the BT download is not for you (nasty ISP, lack of tech skills, scaredy fraidy cat) then go for the normal download option but accept that it might not be as fast and that you'll not get that groovy feeling as you help fellow downloaders

    But to instead go all postal about the other option and spread falsehood and fud about a file transfer methodology seems an odd response

    Of course we could all be wrong and there could indeed be problems - if you can point to a single documented instance of malware being injected into a torrent at any stage other than prior to torrent correction then I promise to wander around with a shamed, worried look all day

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Tracker seeds

    Or more to the point: the heavier the load "should" be on the official servers, the more "unofficial" seeds and peers that will be there to help with the uploading.

    So, if two people download, they'll barely see each other but their servers don't get clogged up. If a million people download, all of those people will just get bits from the other people that are downloading.

     

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  40.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 24th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Lineage, verifiable files, etc

    No, please learn to read.

    i see what you did there. we hate on BT because professionals can't trust it, and we hate in BT because non-professionals are too stupid to use it.

    yet, somehow it persists. this must be the setup for "all BT is good for is letting people steal shit from hollywood" argument, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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