Productivity, piracy and you: Or, how much sense does this make?

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Before I write this gem of a post, let me attempt to absolve myself of all legal responsibility: I’m merely doing what I was told to do. That should hold up in court, no?

My second charge this fine Productivity Week is to teach y’all how to pirate movies, music, video games, etc. more efficiently. On what planet is this type of advice is both approved of and encouraged I don’t know, but here we are.

I’ll divide this into two parts: helping make the most of your BitTorrent experience, and doing that Usenet thing as painlessly as possible… while you still can! Oh, man. The fun, it never stops here.

BitTorrent is for poor people or jerks who either cannot afford to pay for Hollywood works of art like that hilarious Zohan movie, or who think they’re being righteous and thumbing their nose at The Man by downloading. I fall into the first category. I’m not about to pay $30 for the Blu-ray version of Rambo, but I’ll sure as hell download it, watch it and then delete it, then forget I ever watched it.

But how to use it smarter? That’s what everybody (nobody?) wants to know.

You guys want the quickest, least responsible way to BitTorrent like your life depends on it? If you’re using a router, put your computer in the DMZ and make sure any and all firewalls are turned off. Or, if you’re directly plugged into your modem (like me!), just turn off the firewall(s). This 100 percent irresponsible action, for both you and the greater Internet community, will prevent you from having to search esoteric networking forums because you keep getting “ports are closed” errors. What this does is expose your computer to the Internet with nothing getting in between your computer and the computer you’re downloading from. (Oh man, ended a sentence with a preposition!) It’s a sure-fire way to get a virus or trojan or all sorts of malware, but if you want the absolute easiest way to get your torrents up and running, that’s the way to go.

But let’s say that you’re a little more responsible than that, that you can deal with a little port forwarding nonsense. If that’s the case, then check out this site, Port Forward. It’s got tutorials for all makes and models of popular routers on how to open which ports and when. That way, you only open the ports that are necessary for BitTorrent to run smoothly and don’t leave your entire system vulnerable to Internet nasties.

You can also maximize your BitTorrent download speeds by using private trackers like What.cd. I grabbed the new Disturbed album last night in, say, three minutes, and was getting speeds of around 800 kbps. Theoretically, you’re also safe from the likes of the **AA, but with OiNK’s closure (and the subsequent arrests) and the recent threats against What.cd, I wouldn’t feel too confident that The Man isn’t watching your every move on private trackers. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Moving on, let’s talk Usenet, whose days could also be numbered. It’s got a bit of a learning curve, but I explained most of it, including exactly what it is and how to gain access to it, a few months ago. It’s actually a pretty decent post, very thorough, so check it out before you head out of the office today. That said, he’s a brief little recap for how to use Usenet as painlessly as possible. That way, you spend less time trolling strange binary groups and more time downloading The Fifth Element in 1080p. (I’ll be watching that tonight, methinks.)

The way to download Usenet files using zero brain power is to obtain NZB files. Think of them, if you will, as .torrent files. That is, they don’t contain any data per se, but rather “point” to where this data can be found. NZBs tell your news reader—I’ve used Unison for several years now, and it’s one of my favorite Mac apps—where to go to grab the files you’re looking for.

Now, where to get these NZBs? The best location is Newzbin, but as I mentioned a minute ago, its days may be numbered. Right now, you have to be invited to even join the site, which then charges a couple dollars a month to access its NZB index. Seeing as though we’re already in the pirating mindset, I doubt you’re in the mood to pay for anything.

There’s a few free alternatives to Newzbin, that, while not as easy to use, work the same way. I occasionally use NZBIndex.nl. Try it out now. Search for “Weeds,” for example, and up will pop a list of recent posts made to a binary group dedicated to HD. All you have to do is tick the little button and click “create NZB” and the site will make an NZB file. Now, you double click that and, if everything is configured correctly, it’ll start to download all the parts of the rar archive. That’s it. So, literally, in like 10 seconds, you can go to NZBIndex.nl, search for your content, and create the NZB and away you go. It’ll pretty cool, and quite literally shocked Biggs when I showed it to him. He was able to download 27 Dresses—for his wife, he claims—it no time.

Using the Usenet server that’s part of my broadband subscription, I can usually download up to four files simultaneously at around 250kbps each; you’ll max out your connection if you go with a commercial provider. That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

I’ve never had any issues with ports being closed or anything when trying to download from Usenet, either with or without a router, or when hooked up to NYU’s campus network, which I miss dearly.

So there, how to pirate stuff as easily and quickly as possible. Enjoy your weekend. I won’t.

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