Sunday, February 27, 2011

Downloading TV Shows Automagically With uTorrent

Bit Torrent is a wonderful peer to peer network.  It's easily an order of magnitude above the previous generation of networks.  In many ways it's like the step from Napster to Kazaa.  If you remember, Kazaa allowed you to transfer any file type, not just music.  It also showed multiple sources for identical files, and I believe it allowed resume.  After Kazaa the next generation of peer to peer was bit torrent.  Yet for some reason, many people went to some nonsense called Limewire (aka Virus Downoader Pro).  I've excluded Aimster and DC++, but will mention them just for the memories.

I won't bother with a guide on how to use bit torrent in general, as there are many already.  However, I'd like to go over a feature I find very useful: downloading tv shows automatically when they come out.  Before getting into the specifics, I think it's necessary to clarify some ways bit torrent differs from previous peer to peer networks.  Unlike other networks, where you just needed a program (client), with bit torrent you not only need a client, but a tracker and a search.  Often the tracker and search are the same.  However, there are times when the search site doesn't run its own tracker at all.  You don't need to worry about the tracker so much, but you'll need to find a client program and a search site.  µTorrent is a good client, and btjunkie is a good search site.  However, when you are looking for specific content types there are often better choices than a catch all like btjunkie.  In the case of TV shows, EZTV is a good source.  Lastly, let me mention RSS feeds.  If you don't know, RSS feeds are simple text news feeds.  In the case of a torrent site, they would list each new torrent that gets added to the site.  If the site is setup correctly you can filter the feed to show the newest torrents for a particular TV show, which is how we will download them automatically.

There are many ways to set this up.  And both the RSS feeds, and uTorrent's handling of them change from time to time, requiring tinkering.  This is currently how I have it setup, and I feel it works well.

To begin, head over to EZTV's RSS feed search, and set up a search that only shows the TV show you want.  Look at the list and make sure that it only displays the show you actually want, and that it only displays one version of each episode.  For example, a simple search for Top Gear lists two different quality versions of each episode.  You'll have to mess with the search options to get it right.  In this specfic case I used "HDTV" with the exact option to exclude the 720P|HDTV versions.  When your search is right you have to get the true RSS version of it.  This means click the link at the top of the results for the "Search-based RSS Feed".  Here's the one for the Top Gear search.

You need to copy the URL of the RSS feed version of your search.  Now, open up uTorrent and choose add new RSS feed (either in File menu or the RSS button on toolbar).  The dialog that comes up is pretty self explanatory.  Put the URL in for feed URL.  If you want add a custom alias (name), and then select download automatically.

Here's where my current method differs from my previous, and probably many others' methods.  uTorrent has a built in RSS downloader, which lets you parse a full RSS feed of all TV shows from any site and only download ones matching whatever filters you set up.  It has a "smart episode filter" which attempts to look at episode number in the file names and remember which ones it has already downloaded to avoid downloading them again.  This is useful when you use a general feed like the Pirate Bay's that will have multiple copies of the same show uploaded by different users.  However, by only using EZTV's feed you ensure there is only one version (after you filter it that way on their site), and that it is good quality/not a fake.  To be honest, TPB will often beat EZTV to have the episode up.  If you are looking to download a show as soon as possible, then I recommend you just go to a site a refresh the page until you see it and download it manually.  RSS feeds are nice for just not having to remember to download shows and have them just be ready in the morning after a show airs.

Finishing Up:
Back to the guide though.  Since we set up the filters on EZTV's site, there isn't much to do in uTorrent.  After adding the feed, you should see it get listed in uTorrent.  Clicking on it shows the last 20 or so episodes that are in the feed.  Here's where there is one important thing to note.  Upon adding a new feed uTorrent will attempt to download every new item in the feed (if you have download automatically selected).  Since the feed itself is new, as far as uTorrent is concerned, every item in it is new, and it will download all the episodes listed.  There are ways to prevent this, but as it only happens the first time you add a feed I prefer to just be aware it will happen and wait for them to show up in the download list and just delete them (it sometimes takes a few minutes).  Once you've done that, uTorrent calls them all "previously downloaded" and won't attempt to download them again.

After that, you are done.  Just wait for the show to air and make sure everything works right.  There are a few other options you can mess with.  For example, you can right click a feed and open the RSS downloader.  In there you can set up certain things to do for any particular show.  The most useful likely being to save a show in a different folder.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spent Nuclear Fuel Is Anything but Waste
Compared to other fuels used in the production of electricity, the energy density of uranium is remarkable, Klein said, noting that 95 percent of the energy value in a bundle of spent nuclear fuel rods remains available to be re-used.
"The once-through nuclear fuel cycle, which is our practice in the U.S., is an enormous waste of potential energy," he said
While the U.S. has sat on the sidelines, other countries, including France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, India, and China have dedicated significant resources toward their reprocessing programs, Klein added.
"U.S. leadership in this area has been lost, and the underlying technological capability and intellectual capital needed to compete internationally have diminished to near irrelevance."
Reprocessing not only recovers significant energy value from spent fuel, it substantially reduces the volume and radiotoxicity of high-level nuclear waste.
Hardly news, but whatever.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The only resonable way to solve anything
George Roden had dug up the casket of Anna Hughes from the Davidian cemetery and had challenged Howell to a resurrection contest to prove who was the rightful heir to the leadership.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My god, it's full of stars!

This is the kind of stuff I do instead of going to sleep.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crossing the Congo in a Landcruiser
We did not even drive for a full kilometer or we were stopped again by the police..

This time it was a jolly fat guy. He laughed when he stopped us, gave us a friendly hello and without skipping a beat continued that we had to pay a fine. "Malchargé" (badly loaded) he claimed. At the same time a truck passed with a dozen people hanging of the back.

That was the funniest thing we heard all day and we burst out laughing. He too joined in the laughing. Anyhow, back to reality so we just said goodbye and started to drive of. He jumped onto the driving boards and asked for "un jus" (cold drink) in a final attempt before letting go.
Edit: I took me two days to read through this entire 80 page thread.  I can't possibly recommend you read it enough.  Here's another quote from near the end, that describes this story as just one chapter in a much larger story.
I think some people think the Congo story is a stand-alone event where we flew in and when it was done flew back out again. An impulsive plan just for the sake of adventure. It wasn't.

in 2006 we sold all our belongings (literally: ALL), quit our jobs, took all of our saving money and decided to go on a little trip. We had done our homework during the many months/years we had saved up for it and bought and prepared a Landcruiser. (I will go into further detail on the preperations later on). We planned to travel for 1 year. People who have done this too will certainly remember the moment when you say goodbye to all your family and friends knowing you will not see them for an entire year. That is a big decision to make. We travelled overland, 25.000km down Africa (west route) and after 9 months found ourselves in South Africa. We liked the travelling so much and found it such a pitty that we had such little time left to drive back that we started counting our money: Lo-and-behold, if we didn't do crazy stuff we could extend our 1 year trip with another year. We shipped our car to Japan and from there drove trough Siberian Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia (all the *stan countries), the middle east back to Africa. Once there, we really longed to visit the East side of Africa and while we were at it we could visit DRC, a country that I have dreamed and read about for so long. So that is what we did. After the traverse of DRC we would find ourselves back on the westcoast and we would drive back north as central as possible (via Niger-Algeria) which was a pretty daunty route in 2008. We travelled for 715 days non-stop. 100.000km. We never went home or even set foot on the European continent during that time. In fact, we did not have a 'home' apart from our car. We had crossed dozens of remote deserts, driven trough some of the most barren mountain ranges in the world, hacked ourway trough many jungles. Returned on our paths many times when we though we were risking it too much. Always unsupported. Always with the two of us. Always with the same car.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Khan Academy
Salman Khan is a Bangladeshi American born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father is from Barisal, Bangladesh and his mother was born in Kolkata, India. Khan holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a BS in mathematics, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and an MS in electrical engineering and computer science. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought his tutorial, he decided it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube. Their popularity there and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job in finance in 2009 and focus on the Academy full-time. Bill Gates once said that "I'd say we've moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job."

As of December 2009, Khan's YouTube-hosted tutorials receive a total of more than 35,000 views per day. Each video runs for approximately ten minutes. Drawings are made with SmoothDraw, which are recorded and produced using video capture from Camtasia Studio. Khan eschewed a format that would involve a person standing by a whiteboard, desiring instead to present the content in a way akin to sitting next to someone and working out a problem on a sheet of paper: "If you're watching a guy do a problem [while] thinking out loud, I think people find that more valuable and not as daunting."
I could have sworn I had already posted about Khan Academy, but as I've been using it more and more I wanted to do a more thorough recommendation.  A quick search shows I haven't posted about it yet though.

Either way, it is a great website that covers math and science from a beginning level up to undergrad.  His videos are quite good, better than most standard videos out there of this nature.  I won't spend a lot of time describing the style, just watch some of them.  Even if you are already learning this stuff in a real school, it is always nice to have a second explanation for new concepts.  In addition, it's nice to be able to just jump to subjects that may interest you.

There are about 2,000 videos of about 10 mins each, which works out to about 330 hours.  There are also about a 100 sets of 75 problems each for you to work out.  If you log in it keeps track of what you've done and watched.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price
The code to be added was an HTTP beacon that linked to a free website Barr had set up on Blogspot. He wanted a copy of the altered source and a compiled executable. His programmer, fearing Anonymous, balked.
On January 20, the coder wrote back, "I'm not compiling that shit on my box!" He even refused to grab a copy of the source code from message boards or other IRC users, because "I ain't touchin' any of that shit as those are already monitored."
"Dude," responded Barr. "Anonymous is a reckless organization. C'mon I know u and I both understand and believe generally in their principles but they are not a focused and considerate group, the[y] attack at will and do not care of their effects. Do u actually like this group?"
The coder said he didn't support all they did, but that Anonymous had its moments. Besides, "I enjoy the LULZ."

This story is really good.  It's three pages, I really recommend you read through it all.

Army Creates Fleet of Robots On Segways


The Most Efficient Gas Powered Clock Radio Ever
They submitted to EnergyStar, and got approved, specs for a gasoline powered alarm clock. Sadly, they did not build a prototype, but they described their envisioned device as being 18” x 15” x 10” in size. “Gas-powered clock radio is sleek, durable, easy on your electric bill, and surprisingly quiet.” Of course, if the clock next to your bed produces enough carbon monoxide you won’t care how noisy it is.
To be fair, it should be pointed out that the GAO’s gas powered alarm clock was no doubt the most fuel efficient gas powered alarm clock ever submitted to EnergyStar.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paradox of the Court


Charts: The Movie

Some time ago, I used to go to Newegg once a month and find the price of flash in the various sizes, then figure out the price per gig for each.  I was paid by the government to do this (this sentence is technically not a lie).  After the grant money ran out I knew I couldn't keep up the literally minutes per month it took to maintain this spreadsheet.

After a while, I decided to revive this practice but automate it this time.  I wrote a perl script to scrape Newegg and find the prices.  It ran every day, and kept the full html pages, so the data is much more complete.  As I'm sure most people know, you can get these daily flash price updates on my site.  While I keep the full record of data on my computer, the only data available on my site is the current price of flash.  For a while, I've been planning on coming up with some way to present the history data in some form other than a .csv file.

In not-entirely-unrelated news, I downloaded a program called gnuplot.  I was tired of how annoying OpenOffice's LibreOffice's chart generation is to use.  Gnuplot is a pretty straight forward plotting program.  It's programing based, command line, and opensource. I suppose it's sort of like a Matlab/Octave dedicated to charts.  As with most serious programs, the learning curve was a bit steep, but not too bad if you are just looking to do simple stuff (I downloaded the program for the first time less than 24 hours ago).

To tie these two story lines together, I plotted the newegg data using gnuplot.  With this new command line plotting ability I could generate a daily chart of the flash prices, as I had been wanting to do for a while.  Well, fast forward a few hours and a few new perl scripts and three charts are now generated every morning when the newegg script runs.  There's a total history chart starting in Feb 2009, a past year chart, and a past 3 months chart.  I played around with the possible charting options for a while before I settled on those as the most readable.  They are all capped at $5/GB to increase the relevant info.

The hodgepodge of  scripts that make this happen every day is getting pretty good.  I spent exactly 0 seconds debugging the new scripts.  Also, I may make changes as I see how it goes.  In other words, don't be surprised if it doesn't work.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bombay High Court Rules Astrology To Be a Science
"In India, the Bombay High Court recently ruled astrology to be 'a time tested science more than 4000 years old.' Not only does this stretch the definition of science, it also reaffirms people's faith in pseudosciences at a broader level." At least we can know for certain the people trying to get creationism taught as science in our schools have equally wacky friends around the globe.
Remind me to never move to India.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Soviet Black Sea Nuclear HQ – Ukraine
We were travelling back to Simferopol that evening, and we had no private transport. Nervously we asked the taxi driver “Can you drive us here” pointing to a ring we’d drawn in the middle of the forest.  “…Then wait outside for three hours…then drive us the remaining 80K’s to Simferopol?”…  “No Problems!” he replied in a thick Russian accent. Can you imagine asking that of a British cabbie?!

The road to the complex had been blocked to vehicles by a very new looking padlocked gate. This filled me with dread as the complex is now run by the Russian mafia for…well, whatever they need an underground complex for…

A Stick Figure Guide to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

Addendum:  I just spent about 2 hours reading other posts on this guy's blog.  They're pretty great, I recommend exploring what else is there.

Camden County College: Founded On A Tradition Of Arson
Camden County College was established in 1967 when James Ford purchased what had been Mother of the Savior Seminary along with the 320 acre (1.3 km²) tract of land surrounding it. By September of that year, Ford had effectively cleared the land of all trees and wildlife through a series of "accidental" wildfires.