So you have a brand new, super-powerful, web-enabled device that could easily run 3rd party software – if only the manufacturer hadn’t spent millions locking the device down so it can’t. Luckily, there are third party services that make it possible to put these gadgets to further use.
TorrentFreak spoke with Kevin Kowalewski of TorrentRelay, which is designed to bring BitTorrent functionality to platforms that don’t support a native torrent client, such as the PlayStation 3, Wii or iPhone.
As we had an iPhone to hand, we decided to give this system a go, choosing the easy mininova option (detailed below) and downloading a single .jpg image from a wallpaper pack. In just a few seconds the image appeared in Safari as promised, but due to limitations in the current version of Safari, it wasn’t directly possible to save the image. I know there is an addon somewhere that already provides this functionality, if only I could find it…but the file transfer component worked fine.
TF: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background.
KK: My name is Kevin Kowalewski and i’m a student at Seneca College’s Computer Systems Technology program. I’ve always been interested in computers, Perl, PHP, Python etc and wanted to make a project over the summer.
TF: Could you give tell us a bit more about history about the project?
KK: A lot of work needed to be done in reverse engineering the BitTorrent protocol – my original plans were to have it completely “stream” the download from peers into a browser. Over time the project evolved, from this simple goal to download pieces in order and to get them to the browser, to the user friendly and stable code base you see today.
TF: What technical challenges have you faced?
KK: There were many hurdles to overcome while on this project, Perl’s handling of memory for one, interfacing with the core downloader, managing all these users requests in a timely manner and allowing it to seed as well.
TF: So how does the system work exactly?
KK: The system itself is really straightforward. Simply visit the TorrentRelay site and there you’ll be presented with three ways to get your torrent:
1.) The most common way is “Browse and select”, which allows you to choose a torrent from your local file system.
2.)The URL method which allows you to simply copy the URL of where the torrent is online.
3.)The third option, my personal favorite, is by Mininova ID. Just jot down the short 7 digit code found on Mininova torrents, and hit ‘Get ID’. You can easily find the corresponding Mininova ID from the download link, just hover over it and you’ll see it in the bottom of your browser.
Next you’ll be presented with a list of the files within the torrent.
Leaving the “Load only when complete” checkbox ensures your browser won’t timeout when downloading. The server will temporarily buffer the entire contents of the file prior to sending it to you. On desktop browsers, unchecking this produces amazing results. As the torrent downloads the data is sent to your ‘Save as’ dialog, improving overall download time to you.
Leaving the “Ajax” checkbox lets you see updates in real-time. Most browsers (including the PS3) support Ajax, so leaving it checked it recommended. On smaller browsers (like the Nokia N95), un-checking this is a good idea. The constant Ajax requests are too much for its browser to handle. You’ll get the same updates, just in a list style.
Just click on the file you want, opening it in a new tab (or window) is recommended. Here you’ll see your torrents progress.
As it downloads you’ll get regular updates. If you unchecked the ‘Load only when complete’ box, you’ll get a save as shortly after it starts to download. Otherwise you’ll get the ‘Save-as’ when its complete.
TF: What are your plans for future development?
KK: Hardware-wise, plans for the future include getting a new server! The demand has been great and we’re in the process of getting a new dual Xeon, if anyone could donate it would be great, since I’m but a poor engineering student.
From a software perspective we’re planning on allowing users to run and view their torrent progress side-by-side, in a nice list format. Also, they’d be able to come back later and use the same previously downloaded data again. This way they can setup their torrents, close their browser and can come back at a later time to get them!
TF: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and good luck with the rest of the project!