Dylan cartoon Bit-Trouble

by Chris Cooper

This is a sad, sorry tale of decline in addiction, of lost hopes and lengthy troubles. An yes guys it has all happened to me, I thought I should make you aware of this sinister drug before you fall foul of it as I have. (one moment whilst I wipe the tears from eyes).

You all know me right? Completist collector of old? Addiction an me, well we are old mates. I should have seen this coming really, but if there is one thing all these years in Psychiatry has taught me, itís that no matter what we may think, we poor humans are only too happy to sit down an make exactly the same mistakes all over. 

It started innocently enough. I was using email fine, happy with the PC. Then various companies start advertising broadband. Instead of downloading things and accessing web pages at a mere 52 k a second I could move up to 512k a second, hyperspeed. Well like most of us there was not enough time to do everything so I took the plunge. Within days I was zooming all over the internet at new dazzling speeds. Then it happened the way it usually does, a well meaning friend, (I know, she knows who she is) told me about it. 

Bit-Torrent (or was that Bit-Torment) 

A brief description of this terrible addiction follows, if you have a weak stomach you may want to miss the next paragraph

When one downloads data from a site you basically transfer it from A to B. Thatís simple enough of course, but it means you can only take the data at the speed the person gives it. This can be very slow. A new system was devised that enables more than one person to download from a person (called a ďseedĒ) So, if A is the seed, B, C, D & E can all download from A at the same time. But here comes the clever bit, If B has more of the data than C, then C can take from A & B at the same time. This means that they can in theory go at much faster downloading than A is allowing. It also means the more the merrier. The more people the faster you can go. So when you load this thing up you usually have two categories Download speed (the rate you take data from people) and Upload speed (the rate people take from you). There is courtesy to this and that is that you upload as much as you download. 

So what was the purpose of all this technology. What was I downloading? Pictures, no. Porno? No? 

It was concerts. 

Some well meaning souls were creating sites that you could visit and join a torrent to download a Cd- worth of audio. Yes there are sites were you can get the latest Kylie album, but of course in my case it was Bob I was looking for. And there they were, sometimes a show could be up there to download when it had happened only a day or so ago, A collectors dream come true. But for people like me there was a catch (isnít there always) Simply these sites did not just contain the latest Dylan shows, they contained any shows that anyone cares to place there, and as if that wasnít enough, and here is the REAL problem, there were lots more shows, of other artists too. 

If you know me you will know that well Dylan is essentially my main man, I am a child of the sixties and a long way from being a musical virgin. I mean I listen to and collect lots of other people, not just rock also. An suddenly there it all is. So, you visit these sites looking innocently enough for a Bob Show, you scan the list, whatís this? An unreleased Jimi Hendrix show from 1968? Hmm lets hear that too. Hey, whatís that? A Miles Davis show I went to iní82! Gotta have that. 

So soon I was downloading things nonĖDylan. At first just a few, but the people at these places were so seductively helpful. Hereís a box set of Cream unreleased material. TWENTY cds long!! Wow bet thatís hot letís go for it. An this here? Soundboard recordings of the last Fillmore shows 15 cds longÖyes please.. 

Before I knew what was happening I was sucked in, Instead of downloading one it was 30. Instead of 15 Dylan cds waiting to play there are 45 cds of other people. 

The downloaded tracks are saved as SHN files, these occupy less space so download quicker, but on average it could take 6-8 hours to download a complete show (2 cds) I soon found I can download up to 4 different things at the same time without affecting download speed too much. That is not the good news it sounds like. It meant if there was Dylan show I wanted, so the PC was going to be on, I might as well take 3 others at the same time. Yet more discs. An if that wasnít enough some people started placing DVDís up there! Bastards!  Dvd files cannot be compressed, so the average Dvd takes about 8 times longer to download than a concert. This meant my PC could take 4-8 days to grab one Dvd. You can see, probably better than me what was happening. Before long the PC is on permanent download. An this slows it up for doing other things, like reading mail, writing FW articles an stuff. 

It was a while before I saw this happening, and now I fear it may be too late for me. I am cutting back to only 20 new discs worth a week at present. Its  a long slow road. 

So be careful, take it easy. If you get broadband watch out for these people. I wonít mention site names to protect the innocent but just be careful. Or you may end up like me. 

Hey what if I bought a second PC? (forget that, an for God sake donít tell Dizzy). 

If you can help, drop me an email, or send me your IP address to download the data fromÖÖ OH GOD DID I SAY THAT