Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stoners, Vegans and a Junky Elephant Conquer BitTorrent

wikipedia englishA reviewer at The Times called it a “misanthropic and foul-mouthed movie” containing “the first graphic depiction of sexual intercourse between two CGI cartoon characters”. Hmmm, maybe not the first, but nevertheless the reviewer concludes “Like everything else in the film, a British-Norwegian co-production, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.”

And that was one of the kind reviews. It’s fair to say that “Free Jimmy” hasn’t been well received by the British press reviewers, even though it features voice-overs from the likes of Woody Harrelson and Simon Pegg. So, does this mean that the movie has to fade away into obscurity? Not at all.

‘Free Jimmy’ was released previously in Norwegian language and features four stoners, five vegans, three mobsters and four hunters competing to free a malnourished and circus-enslaved Russian junkie elephant. Which element the British press objected to most is debatable but what is clear, though, is that even if Fleet Street’s finest think the movie is dire, not everyone does. Time Out called it “undeniably touching, poignant” and Internet pirates seems to like the prospect of animated sex, drugs and violence too. Quite a bit in fact.

The producer of the movie, Lars Hellebust, told Dagbladet that the UK distributor, in contrast to his own feelings, was pretty upset that the movie was being heartily pirated on the Internet: “The distributor in England called and was despairing over the fact that thousands of people had downloaded it, but I just said ‘Great!’”

It seems that Lars appreciates that, even though the critics have been a bit sniffy, there are other avenues to be explored when trying to get exposure. Lars says that the more people discuss the movie, the greater its potential audience and in this case, file-sharing really can be a useful promotional tool. So just how much exposure is this movie getting on BitTorrent?

Although ‘Free Jimmy’ only came out officially in the UK on October 17th 2008, it has been available on the trackers in DVDRIP form for roughly 500 days (16 months) already, clocking up very nearly 500,000 downloads. Clearly the presence of stoners, four letter words or even vegans in a movie isn’t enough to put pirates off. Hell no. The most popular pirate version of the movie came from the one and only aXXo, and those releases are always hot, no matter what the critics say.

However, Lars is still optimistic that people will dig deep. “If they really like it they won’t be satisfied just owning a computer file, they will also buy the DVD,” he said with his fingers crossed, hoping that any of the early downloaders can remember the movie from more than 16 months ago.

An official DVD will be released in time for Christmas. Just don’t send one to the kids.

Spare a thought for ‘Anne‘, the last remaining circus elephant kept captive in the UK, and forced to work in grim conditions for the last 50 years.

The Ultimate Windows Desktop/Mac Notebook Alliance

When it comes to computers, you want it all: the portability of a laptop, the extensibility of a desktop, as well as the sleekness of Mac OS X and the wide selection of software for Windows. After virtualizing and dual-booting Windows on my MacBook Pro for well over a year, I'm done—done with slow virtual machines and "your hard drive is low on space" messages, done with having to switch gears to move from one OS to another. There's software and hardware I'm invested in that simply works better on a PC over a Mac (and vice versa) and I want it all at my fingertips every day. When you want to move between the two operating systems fluidly and get the full benefit of both a laptop and a desktop, a few techniques can marry your Mac notebook and PC desktop to live and work in harmony. Here's my current setup.

Share a Single Keyboard and Mouse Between Two Computers with Synergy

Adam's already run down how to control multiple computers using the Synergy KVM software, which is a fabulous way to save space on your physical desktop by only using one keyboard and mouse for your notebook and desktop. With Synergy you can also share your clipboard between machines, and seamlessly move your pointer from one screen to the other. One update to that article: The SynergyKM download for Mac is now here (the original host is MIA). In the Mac notebook/PC desktop scenario, you also only need one computer monitor, because your laptop screen serves as the second monitor.

Share Your Speakers Between Computers

Once you're committed to having two computers up and running, you've got to decide which gets your speaker hookup, right? Not necessarily. With a $5 audio splitter and a male to female stero cable, you can hear the sound from both your Mac and PC out of the same speakers. I've got the splitter plugging into my Mac's audio out jack, and my speakers plugged into one input, with the stereo cable plugged into the other—and into my PC's sound card.

Set Up a Fast IP-Over-FireWire Network Connection

Since you're going to be sharing your mouse and keyboard—as well as your data—over the network between your computers, you want the fastest connection possible. If your Mac and PC both have FireWire ports and you're running Windows XP, you can set up a fast, one-wire IP over FireWire network between them. This is totally optional, of course, because most likely both machines are on the same local network. But IP over FireWire will offer a much more stable, wired, and speedy connection for working with files on the other computer than a wireless connection.

Decide Where Your Data Lives—Then Map Your Drives

The tricky part about running two machines at once is figuring out where your data should live (unless you have a NAS or central server, but that's beyond the scope of this setup, which is simply one tower and one notebook). Much of this has to do with how much hard drive space you have where, and what files you want to be able to take with you when you go. The big space hoggers for me are my music collection and my photo collection. My music I want to take with me when I travel, so that stays on the Mac notebook. My photo archive can stay at home, under my desk, so that's going on my PC tower's hard drive. (I also greatly prefer Picasa for photo management than anything I've seen on OS X.) It should go without saying that both machines should have automated local and remote backups going on. (I'm using Time Machine on the Mac, SyncBack on Windows, and Mozy Home on both).

Once you've figured out what data lives where, share your drives between computers so you can work with what you've got from either machine. Here's how to access your Mac's files on your PC, and your Windows files on your Mac.

What's Better on OS X versus Windows and Vice Versa

One can't make a holy-war-starting, controversial statement like "some software and hardware is better on the PC or Mac" without backing it up. The following is just my opinion, plus a few software licenses and gadgets I invested money in on either platform. Your reasons for wanting both Mac and Windows may differ from mine, but here's what I'm using on each.

On the Mac: NetNewsWire, Quicken (purchased a license), Quicksilver, Time Machine, GeekTool, and DevonThink (purchased a license) are all superior pieces of software to their Windows counterparts, as far as I'm concerned. My Fujitsu ScanSnap for Mac and the built-in iSight are also two peripherals I'll only use with the Mac.

On Windows: I greatly prefer Digsby, Picasa, Chrome, SnagIt (purchased a license), and EditPlus (purchased a license) to their counterparts on my Mac. Preferences aside, there are also scads of Windows-only software you see day in and day out on these pages, including Windows-only portable apps (like the Firefox 3.1 beta portable version) that makes having Windows access a must.

On both Mac and Windows: Obviously Synergy is required to share the keyboard and mouse between systems, so it's installed on each. I'm also using the same KeePass database (stored on the Mac, accessed on the PC), and todo.txt file from both systems.

With a notebook/tower setup like this, you can travel and have all your files with you, but still get the horsepower and extensibility you need at your desk. If your job requires that you use Windows (like mine), but you still want your Mac, this alliance is also a great option.