For many years movies have been released onto the Internet, trickling down the so-called ‘piracy pyramid’ from elitist and private sites. Now a new breed of release groups are starting to make waves, bringing media directly to the masses. Today we take a closer look at this scene and speak to groups on the frontline to see what makes them tick.

In our earlier article, BitTorrent Releasers Slice The Top Off Movie Piracy Pyramid, we took a first look at the growing phenomenon of blockbuster movies appearing on the Internet directly via BitTorrent. Traditionally, most movies have trickled down from ‘The Scene’, a network of highly secure servers and individuals with one critical flaw – everything they share privately leaks out to the wider Internet.

However, release groups inhabiting P2P networks such as BitTorrent are now sometimes managing to beat the old-schoolers to the punch, providing movies quicker and increasingly in better quality. So how are they pulling this off?

KoOlWaReZ, the admin of P2PElite, a new site currently under development with the aim of providing a home, profile and a central location for P2P release groups so they can interact with the public, says that while the Scene do a good job on quality and in many previous cases still get material first, times are changing.

“I’d say about two years ago, Scene had a nice grasp on getting things first, but lately anyone who has followed both Scene/P2P equally will know that P2P groups these days have more contacts,” he told TorrentFreak.

By default the super-secret nature of the Scene renders them hard to find. P2P groups, on the other hand, are a lot more accessible, which means that those who have access to movies can get them to these potential distributors a lot more easily. While in the past only the Scene could take credit for putting a first run movie onto the Internet first, increasingly those bragging rights are taken by P2P groups. So what motivates these individuals to do what they do?

Two groups, which asked to remain anonymous, were in agreement with the other groups in citing the overwhelming urge to share and the feelings of achievement associated with seeing tens of thousands of peers on torrents created by them. Others were prepared to speak on the record.

“My main reason aside from any other would be because of my affiliation with a certain community which me and other friends manage and run,” prolific releaser Noir told TorrentFreak.

However, altruism aside, there is another clear attraction for groups to release on P2P – an absolute lack of bureaucracy. Through years of tradition building, some of it well intentioned, some of it verging on the ridiculous, the Scene has accumulated a mind-boggling array of rules and regulations to which all members and releases must adhere. P2P releasers, on the other hand, are free to do whatever they like.

“[We release on P2P] because there are no specific rules to encode to,” release group PrisM told TorrentFreak. “We can encode to a better quality within our own standards, and try and make the best quality the source permits. We can also use all sources available.”

KoOlWaReZ also agreed that some of the grounds used in the Scene for a ‘nuking’ (an action taken against a release to disallow it) or even not nuking a release can affect quality and availability of releases. In the scenario below, a better quality version of a movie would be disallowed not due to lack of availability, but due to Scene rules.

“You pre a CAM [release a camcorder version of a movie], it doesn’t get nuked so the next group who has a much better CAM can’t use it now until they get direct line [for the audio track] to pre [release] a TS [Telesync – a cammed version of a movie with audio from a better quality direct source],” KoOlWaReZ explained. “What about the public? In the meantime we get to watch some funky flickering green tinted shit job.”

Others also agree that Scene rules have the potential to hold back the end product.

“The Scene has specific rules which diminish quality, while in P2P having no rules you see some encoders doing a little less than ‘masterpieces’,” says Noir. “You will see P2P putting in more effort into making a video look the same or better than the source itself with the use of filtering. So generally you will see better quality videos from P2P encoders.”

So does this mean that P2P release groups will eventually beat the Scene at their own game? Our contacts generally believed that over time that possibility definitely exists, but noted that P2P groups have a way to go and still owe a lot to their more exclusive cousins.

“The Scene is quite large, larger then P2P, and I have to say it’s more sophisticated,” notes Noir. “If it weren’t for the Scene, most of us in P2P at this moment would not be here.”

While Noir’s innumerable releases appear on both public and private trackers, PrisM favor private sites with acronyms such as TL, BB, THS, MH, SP, TA, PTF. Those with Google and 5 minutes spare and will find them easily. Other release groups we spoke with weren’t keen to say where they release first, but it’s clear that most releases end up on public trackers soon enough, just like the majority of Scene releases.

Inevitably we asked about security. PrisM told us that they tend to support private sites since they’re “more secure” and Noir told us that that although more open than the Scene, P2P groups take enough precautions to stay safe.

“Security on releasing P2P is at a very high standard now and a lot better than 3 years ago,” says PrisM. “The Scene has good security but it also creates ‘hotspots’ for companies like BREIN to investigate highly used servers which is a high risk.”

Two other groups contacted by TorrentFreak refused point blank to talk about their security and shrugged off suggestions that these days their work is very exposed. Questions about their sources went largely unanswered too, but a general theme was “from all the usual places, from all the usual suspects.” Noir acknowledged that things are getting more difficult, but said releases will continue to flow.

“I have been doing this for over 3 years now, and can gladly say I still enjoy it. P2P in general has changed quite a bit since. Although laws are getting harsher and things are getting harder, I’m still happy I can release a movie to a mass community which can entertain themselves for a few hours with family and friends. I’ll do this until I can’t anymore.”

As with all Scene vs P2P debates during the last decade, the comments below this article will inevitably contain arguments about who was really ‘first’ with a release, who stole what source from who, and who re-encoded someone else’s work, ad infinitum. While a few years ago P2P nearly always ‘stole’ the Scene’s work, these days it’s not unknown for the Scene to ‘steal’ the work of P2P groups. This has happened on a number of notable occasions recently, not least on the releases of Wolverine and the James Cameron blockbuster, Avatar.

But while the Scene always get uppity about this situation, it seems that most P2P groups don’t really care.

“We don’t really mind,” say PrisM. “After all, we do this to share with the world, so anyone is welcome to use what they want for whatever reason. We re-encode Scene releases, so they can feel free to do the same to ours. It’s what were about – sharing!”

It’s also probably fair to say that most BitTorrent downloaders don’t care about the source either, as long as the outcome is good. And two sources, as they say, must be better than one.

This post has been written by enigmax on July 29, 2010 couresy of torrentfreak.com.

Advertisements

TechCrunch reader Saul Lustgarten checks in to tell us he logged on to Facebook this morning and noticed that the list of his friends who are having their birthday today was preceded by a crude message, reading “fuck you bitches”.

Yeah right, we thought. I checked it out on my Facebook profile and didn’t notice anything off.

Then, I followed Saul’s suggestion of switching my main language to Spanish instead of English, and lo and behold (click for full-size image):

We’ve contacted Facebook to see if they really mean it or if their army of volunteer translators simply decided to have some fun.

There are two sides to that shiny crowdsourcing medal, aren’t there?

This post has been written by Robin Wauters on Jul 29, 2010 couresy of techcrunch.com.

A few weeks ago, we got a peek at the (relatively) zippy light tanks in World of Tanks, and now Wargaming.net is ready to show off the next group: Medium tanks.

They’re a bit more versatile than the more specialized light tanks, according to producer Nick Katselapov: "Tanks like T-44 or Panther are jacks-of-all-trades in the game. They are fast, maneuverable and have decent firepower what makes them ideal for performing both defensive and offensive objectives."

The T-44 and Panther are highlighted in the trailer, along with the VK 3002 (DB) units. Follow along after the jump to see for yourself, and visit the World of Tanks site to apply for a closed beta key if you’d like a firsthand look!

This post has been written by Rubi Bayer on Jul 29th 2010 at 12:30PM couresy of massively.com.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneWhat if your phone automatically went silent when you step into the movie theater? Texted your significant other when you finished your long commute? Or automatically turned down the volume when a particularly loud friend called? It can; here’s how.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneAndroid application Tasker gives you total rules-based automation for your Android phone. It’s not free, but it offers a free 14-day trial download. In the Android Market, it’s £3.99 in UK money—a little over $6 U.S. If you grab the trial, or shell out the cost of a Double-Double meal at In-N-Out Burger to buy it in the Market (scan the QR code at left), you’ll discover it’s worth the cost, even if you only have one super-specific use for it.

Since Tasker can do nearly anything on your phone (it’s mostly limited by your imagination), here’s some up-front ideas about what kinds of uses seem particularly attractive:

Set preferences for each application: Give the Kindle app a longer screen time-out. Make Maps or Foursquare automatically turn on GPS, and have a file browser launch when you trade out SD cards. Have your music and other audio apps lower the volume to 50 percent when you plug in headphones, so you never get a way-too-loud moment.

Time of day automation: Make your phone go into airplane mode overnight, but re-connect for a few minutes every 30 minutes to grab messages. Set up your phone to play specific or random songs from your collection as an alarm, back up files from your SD card every day, load up an application at a certain time.

Set up contact rules: If you’ve got a friend who talks too loud, make your call volume go down when they ring. Create a home screen widget that sends an automatic SMS ("In the car," maybe). Set your phone to pop up a more iPhone-style message box, rather than background notifications, when you miss calls or get SMS from certain people. Have your phone always record messages from a certain caller.

•: More fun, crazy-advanced stuff: Encrypt and decrypt data on the SD card based on your rules. Have speaker phone turn on when you lay your phone flat on a table. Change the home screen icons for apps, have your phone get drastically efficient when battery’s below 10 percent, and change your wallpapers to reflect the time of day or the number of messages.

Those use cases barely scratch the surface, really. Take the developer’s tour, and you’ll see there are variables, hundreds of events and triggers, and nearly infinite setups. Want to have Reddit.com launch on your browser if your alarm clock goes off on a Tuesday while Wi-Fi is on? You got it.

We’d need to write a research-paper-length treatise to cover everything Tasker can do for you, so we’ll instead offer up a few examples of app models we’ve found handy.

Task 1: Turn on GPS/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi for Certain Apps Automatically

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneI don’t keep GPS positioning on all the time, both for battery efficiency and a niggling sense of privacy. At the same time, I dislike when Maps, My Tracks, Navigation, or Foursquare ask me to turn on GPS, and I’m required to click "OK," then make the toggle in Settings, then head back. For just those apps, I want my GPS to automatically click on. When I’m done with those applications, the GPS should shut off, too. You can easily pull the same trick for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or most any system function, but we’ll just show how GPS works.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneFrom Tasker’s main screen, hit "New." You’ll be presented with six options, or "Contexts": Application, Time, Day, Location, State, and Event. Think of "Context" as an "If"—"If X is happening …"

In this case, we’re going to choose Application, then pick out the app we want to apply a rule to. You can pick out apps one at a time and apply your "Tasks" to them, but you can also apply Tasks to all applications, or pick out apps you don’t want your Tasks to apply to with the "Not" button at bottom. We’ll just pick out one app, Maps, which I almost always want GPS to be turned on for.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneAfter you pick your Context, now it’s time to add one or more Tasks. Thinking ahead though, we’re going to apply this kind of action—turn GPS on when the app launches, then turn it off when it’s moved away from—to a few different apps after this. So hit the "New" button in the upper-right corner, then type in a name for your Task that you’ll easily grasp later, like "Auto-Launch GPS."

Now it’s time to tell Tasker what Task we want to fire when this Context is happening. As you can see at left, you basically get your whole system to play with. The thing we want, GPS, is under "Misc."

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneIn the bar under the GPS "Set" option, you’ve got three options: On, Off, and Toggle, the last of which just flips the setting the other way, whichever way it is. There’s also a checkbox for an "If," which, if clicked, drops down a box where you can enter in a variable and make it a condition. You could, for example, only have GPS turn on if airplane mode is set to off ("%AIR – Isn’t Set"). Our needs, for now, are simple—just have GPS set "On," no matter what.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneWell, that was pretty easy. Now you’ll see that "GPS Auto-Launch" has just one task: "GPS – Set On." Let’s say you were a little more protective of your GPS chip, though, and you wanted Tasker to ask you about GPS, Wi-Fi, or whatnot. The gear-and-screwdriver logo in the lower-right corner gives you that option. Set your "Task Type" to "Menu," and you’ll get options to set how long the menu stays up, if there’s a default option selected, and even set a background image, if you’re feeling extra-custom. But we’re just having Tasker take care of the GPS switch for us, so get back to the Tasks screen.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneYou could hit "Test" in the lower-right corner to see how Tasker handles launching Maps and turning on GPS automatically, but we’re going to specify one more detail of our auto-launcher. Hit "Done" to get back to the main Tasker menu, then tap on the right-hand side of the process you created, the side with "GPS Auto-Launch" and a green arrow. From the menu that pops up, choose "Add Exit Task." When we told Tasker to do something when Maps launched, we created an "Enter" task. By adding an "Exit" task, we can have something else happen when Maps is closed down or put away. You can add these Exits to all kinds of conditions—when you’re no longer near a certain location, when it’s no longer a certain time, etc.

Update: Not all Tasker tasks need an Exit task—in general, whatever settings you’ve changed while a task is running will set themselves back when you’re done. In this case, though, we’re getting a little more extra-cautious control over turning the GPS off.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneAfter hitting "Add Exit Task," you’ll run through the same process you used to create the GPS turn-on: create a new name template, add the task GPS from the Misc menu, then set it to Off and hit "Done." Now, back at the main screen, you can see that there’s a Context (Maps launches), an Enter task (GPS Auto-Launch), and an Exit task (GPS Shutdown). Hit the "Apple" button at the very bottom, and now Tasker will be watching for Maps to launch, then do its auto-GPS thing.

This trick worked fairly well on my Nexus One, despite Tasker providing a pop-up note that application exit watching wasn’t as stable on Android 2.0 and later. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t launch GPS, and I do it myself.

Task 2: Create an Ultimate Morning Alarm

The next step, adding multiple tasks to a time condition, isn’t all that different, but it does show off how far Tasker can go in automating your phone. So let’s create Kevin’s Ultimate Alarm.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneHit "New" and choose Time as the Context. I’ll have this alarm go off at 6 a.m. and, if I don’t respond, play for 3 minutes. You could just set 6-6 as your time to run until you take action, but I’ll be nice to my morning self. We’re going to add another context, the days of the week, later, but for now, you’ll be moved into the Tasks section.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneFor my own Ultimate Alarm, I’m having a song play from my collection, make my Remember the Milk tasks load up on the screen, and have my phone say, in text-to-speech, "Good morning, Kevin. It’s going to be a great day." Why? Because, why not? For these pieces, I added three Tasks:

  • MediaMusic PlayMusic Play Dir. After long-clicking on the "Dir" field and choosing my Music folder, I also checked "Audio Only" and "Random." If you wanted a particular song, you could swap "Music Play" for "Music Play Dir."
  • AppLoad AppRemember the Milk. Fairly simple, and I could set a different starting page in Remember the Milk’s own settings, if I liked.
  • MiscSay. Then just fille in the text you want, choose a language, and mess with any other fields you’d like. "Stream" sets the output you’d like the audio to go through, which helps if you’ve got other things, like songs, going too. You can, of course, mess with the pitch and speed of the voice, too.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneWhen you’re all done and hit "Done," tap on the left-hand side of your Ultimate Alarm entry, where the clock is. From the menu, roll down Context and hit "Add," then choose "Date." From the pop-up chooser, you can get very specific about the months, days of the month, days of the week, and other selectors for when your alarm goes off. Mine’s a basic Monday-through-Friday deal.

That’s all there is to that one, but it’s a pretty nice package.

Task 3: Make Your Phone Quiet Down When Face-Down

Now I’m going to create a kind of "Quiet Down" mode for my phone. When I put it face down on a flat surface, like arriving at my desk for work, it should turn off GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth (and, heck, you can turn off EDGE/3G data, if you’d like), and then turn the system, ringer, and media volumes all the way down but keep vibrate on. You could add an Exit task to turn some or all of these back on, but that’s giving a bit too much leeway to the phone’s sensors.

How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated SuperphoneFor our context, choose State, then pick Orientation. You’ll get the options you see at left. I like to stay away from "Face up," "Standing Up," and "Upside Down," because they’re pretty common occurrences. For this example, "Face Down" is a pretty deliberate action you take with your phone.

For the tasks, I added "Bluetooth" and "WiFi" from the Net menu, set to Off, "GPS" from Misc set to Off, and set the volumes for "Media Volume" and "System Volume" to 0 from the Audio menu. "Silent Mode" with Vibrate could simplify your setup, but I like to be sure. Hit Done, and you’re all set.


We’ve only scratched the surface of what Tasker can do, but we know it can do many, many more cool things. If you grab Tasker and give it a try, or just daydream a great if-then combination, by all means—tell us in the comments. We’ll check back in on this post and add some more great Tasker tasks as we find them today (and, possibly, tomorrow). Special thanks goes out to "Bloggerific Himself," who turned us onto Tasker via email.

This post has been written by Kevin Purdy on Jul 29, 2010 09:00 AM couresy of lifehacker.com.

Runes Of Magic Brings Fashion And Metal To Gamescom Runes of Magic publisher Frogster brings the spectacle to Gamescom in Germany next month, with a Runes-themed fashion show, a costume contest judged by model Gina-Lisa Lohfink, and a performance by a cappella metal band Van Canto.

Frogster’s Gamescom plans feature enough entertainment to warrant its own separate show. First they’ve got a Runes of Magic fashion show, featuring designs from Berlin-based design studio Textilzelle, interpreting the free-to-play MMO’s seven different character classes. The event, presented by Florian Kamolz (formerly of German gaming TV channel GIGA) and German Playboy cover model Gina-Lisa Lohfink, will run on Friday August 20 and Saturday August 21.

Here’s a shot of Gina-Lisa, for those unacquainted.

Runes Of Magic Brings Fashion And Metal To Gamescom

The fashion show will also feature a Runes of Magic costume contest, with Gina-Lisa acting as one of the judges. The best fan-made costumes will score RoM-theme Casemod PCs, seen below.

Runes Of Magic Brings Fashion And Metal To Gamescom

Rounding out the event will be a performance by Van Canto, one of the most interesting a capella groups I’ve ever seen. They perform metal music using only their voices and a drum kit. It’s extremely impressive to watch.



They’ll be debuting the video for Runes of Magic song "Magic Taborea," along with other tunes from their catalog.

Gamescom 2010 runs August 18-22. We’ve already started packing.

This post has been written by Mike Fahey on Jul 29, 2010 09:40 AM couresy of kotaku.com.

Longest Pinhole Exposure Ever Is Also Most BeautifulI love pinhole photography. The fact that people will take a gamble on a piece of film for months—or even years—strikes me as almost romantic, like a time capsule. This longest-ever exposure shows 34months of New York life.

It was captured by the German artist Michael Wesely, who worked with New York’s Museum of Modern Art to photograph the destruction (and subsequent construction) of their building. The shots are ever so ghostly, and are such a terrific souvenir of the MoMA’s heritage. Take a look at the gallery below for more of his work, and if you are already considering pressing "cmd p" on them, why not buy his book instead? [Michael Wesely via Itchyi via Dudecraft via Neatorama]

This post has been written by Kat Hannaford on Jul 29, 2010 12:00 PM couresy of gizmodo.com.

Sony Corp Swings To Profit, PlayStation Biz Slashes Losses

Profit remains just out of reach for Sony’s PlayStation business, but the division continues to cut losses — whereas last year it was 36.7 billion yen ($422.1 million) in the red, this year’s fiscal first quarter sees Sony’s game segment report a smaller 3.8 billion yen ($43 million) loss.

Sales in the Networked Products and Services division, which houses PlayStation and PC products, saw sales up 32 percent thanks largely to the lower-cost, higher value PlayStation Slim. PS3 unit sales more than doubled year over year, with 2.4 million units sold in the quarter as compared to 1.1 million units the previous year. Sony’s fiscal first quarter ends June 30.

Explaining its results by segment, Sony suggested it might have been profitable if not for the strong yen and the higher administrative and business costs that come with more unit sales.

The company saw PS3 software gains too, up 10 million units year over year to 24.8 million units. PSP software also rose to 9.2 million units, a 900,000 unit year over year increase. PlayStation 2 software declined severely, from 8.5 million to 3.4 million year over year — even while sales of the hardware remained exactly the same, at 1.6 million units sold.

Conversely, the gain in software on Sony’s portable didn’t correlate to an increase in the hardware userbase; PSP unit sales declined slightly from 1.3 million units to 1.2 million units year over year.

As many analysts predicted, Sony overall as a corporation saw a return to profitability following on a 41 billion-yen ($440.33 million) loss for its most recent fiscal year, and a 25.7 billion-yen loss in its first quarter last year. Sony Corp saw a net profit of 25.7 billion yen ($289 million) for the quarter, with sales up 3.8 percent to 1.6 trillion yen ($18.7 billion).

This post has been written by Leigh Alexander on July 29, 2010 couresy of gamasutra.com.