Like many of you, I have a voracious appetite for
technical information, but was until recently
prevented from fully satisfying it by several factors,
chief of which was my unreliable, slow dialup
connection to the Internet. That's fixed as of two
months ago, when I got my DSL connection, which allows
me to think about the other problems to be overcome.
Basically, file sharing requires two channels, one for
alerting possible beneficiaries that certain files are
available, and the other for delivery of the files
These free egroups are a very good way to alert people
with similar interests that certain files are
available, but limited storage in Files makes them
less than ideal for conveying the files themselves.
When I started the Information without Borders (IwB)
group on Yahoogroups, I even found it necessary to
reserve the Files section for *lists* of files offered
and wanted, leaving to the users the task of
establishing a channel for conveying the files
The missing link - that for data transfer - is pretty
clearly the emerging peer-to-peer filesharing
networks. Not only is storage limitation not a
problem, the file transfer mechanism is able to
accomodate both low- and high-bandwidth connections,
and both reliable and intermittent connections. A file
that is in high demand soon has multiple sources, as
participants typically make downloaded files available
to others. This prevents the traffic congestion that
typically occurs when a popular file is made available
on a single Web site. What is more, a large file can
be assembled from "chunks" downloaded out of order.
That capability is latent in the Internet protocol,
which divides files and data streams into "packets,"
yet even the fairly fast FTP service will only
assemble files seriatim, start to finish - no skipping
allowed! Finally, the "history" feature of P2P
software allows files to be assembled over several
separate sessions without loss of data or continuity.
The two objections to P2P are security and content.
Typically, P2P networks have been used for sharing
content that most of us have little interest in -
audio and video files, many of dubious legal status.
What is more, in addition to the malware that is
sometimes made available under false colors for the
innocent to download, the P2P software itself was
often vulnerable to crackers.
For a little over a month, I have been testing a free
P2P software package called eMule, with excellent
results. There have been no security problems with the
software itself (of course, I have been careful not to
download executables or scripts over the network).
What is more, the networks to which eMule connects,
called Kademlia and eDonkey, have a fair number of
users with technical interests, so that the network is
not the intellectual desert you would expect from an
MP3-head hangout. In fact, over the last month I have
downloaded nearly a gigabyte of documents in various
fields of interest - technical, military, crafts...
My motive in writing this, obviously, is to inspire
others with similar interests to try out this channel.
The immediate incentive is that I am currently sharing
about 70% of my technical files, and intend to share
more, including all my LTA files.
My identifier on emule is "piolenc," by the way.
Please let me know yours when you start using eMule,
so I can add you to my "friends" list, which allows
you access to a list of all my shared files, among
First step is to visit:
to download the
Marc de Piolenc
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