Erstwhile Muse

Mar 10, 2007

DJing without a clutch: Deluxe Edition

or Christ I'm gonna need some more disk space soon....

Now, normally I tend to be a bit of an MP3 snob, I'll admit. I just really don't like to listen to anything of lesser quality than --alt -preset standard LAME VBR files—although apparently even that has been supplanted somewhat as a standard by the audiorati, but I'll be damned if I'm going to try and recode everything at this point—as I can notice a difference when using the Headphones O' Doom. As such, it would take something of extreme interest for me to recommend to someone else that they should go and download a hoard of 128kb CBR MP3s, but trust me, I think this one is worth it.

I'd actually heard about this a couple of years back when the first one was released, but I never got off my butt and did anything about it, so my loss will hopefully be your gain. What I'm referring to is the South By Southwest Festival's annual BitTorrent download of MP3s showcasing bands playing at that years festival. I was reminded of it last night while listening—well, falling asleep—to one of the TWiT netcasts (see sidebar) featuring the dulcet tones of Leo LaPorte. I seem to remember call-ins being involved, so it was likely to be The Tech Guy.

Since I was listening to someone talk about it, and not directly reading the information from a website which could conveniently link to the torrent file in question, I went through a few rounds of searching before I gave up and went to the engine I should have used in the first place , Torrent Scan. Don't get me wrong, I likes me my Google, but when trying to track down a particular torrent file I've found Torrent Scan to be the easiest route most times, especially since it can search some of the better torrent aggregators I've used before such as Torrentspy and isoHunt (these two tend to be my favorites). I was able to find most of the past years files that way, and with the current year's file easily available on the SXSW page (conveniently linked for your pleasure above), I was ready to assault my recently cleared-of-space hard drive with countless more gigs of music files.

So far it looks promising. Some of the more interesting finds from a quick and incomplete survey:

  • A few acts I've heard of before such as Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Flogging Molly and The Dresden Dolls.
  • Ride on Shooting Star by The Pillows, a.k.a the FLCL theme song.
  • Yuppie Pricks, a group who could be the spiritual successors to the Dead Kennedys, with a lead singer that sounds a lot like Jello Biafra after a few singing lessons, and as far as I'm aware of not yet seen as sellouts.
  • A weird Japanese band whose name I have forgotten at the moment—I've several thousand files to wade through here, pardon me for losing track of one—that has some very Queen like moments in the instrumentation and pacing of their songs. Case in point, I left the song on loop for several plays, and I rapidly lost track of which part was the end, middle and beginning. Entertaining stuff though….

So how does one go about procuring this massive slab o' musical goodies? It has come to my attention recently that some folks seem to find the whole technology behind BitTorrent a tad intimidating, or they have not yet come across it apart from occasional oblique references in their daily surfing. All of which is terribly confusing to me as I've been using BitTorrent now for quite some time, and it really is a terribly simple thing to use, but I have also recently been reminded how different the world and the internet can look from my rather techno-geeky persepective compared to the average user. So, as a guide for my gentle readers who may not yet have had opportunity to acquaint themselves with the modern method of P2P sharing, I shall put forth the following simple list of appropriate links and tips.

  1. Acquire a BitTorrent client. My personal favorite at the moment is µTorrent (pronounced microTorrent), particularly the standalone version as it can be made portable.
  2. Start up µTorrent to set up a few options. Particularly, I would suggest turning on DHT by going to Preferences>BitTorrent>Additional BitTorrent Features and click the boxes here to enable these features. I have found having DHT on can help with torrents that have wonky trackers (feel free to ignore the technobabble, but trust me, it helps).
  3. Download some .torrent files. You can find links above for the SXSW torrent for this year as well as a search engine specifically dedicated to finding torrents. I'm bored at the moment, so I'll give you a few links for the SXSW files I have found thus far:
  4. Start downloading, either by opening the .torrent files in the client, or by telling your browser to open it directly using the client. Make sure you have plenty of space free in whatever drive/directory you choose as the download location, as the totality of these files is around 9.5 gigs of music files.

So there you go, all you need to start clogging up your disk space with an astounding array of music, movies, tv shows, etc. Just don't come complaining to me when you run out of room on your hard drive.

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