Sunday, April 30, 2017

Skytorrents: A Refreshing Ad-free and Privacy Focused Torrent Site | TorrentFreak

Many file-sharing fans see torrent site operators as like Robin Hood, serving free goods to the public at great risk with minimal financial incentive.

Copyright holders, on the other hand, portray the same people as greedy criminals who are exploiting their work for financial gain, subjecting the public to malicious ads.

While there is no standard torrent site owner, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle. Many site owners make money but not the millions that are sometimes claimed. And yes most sites have shady ads, but that’s often because these are pushed by the advertising networks they use.

A torrent site without ads is rare, but a few months ago a newcomer appeared that promised just that.

When Skytorrents first showed up, advertising an ad-free and privacy-focused service, we were skeptical. They wouldn’t be the first to start this way but change their tune when visitors started coming in.

However, months later the site is still around, so we decided to ask why they do what they do and how they are able to survive.

“We will NEVER place any ads. The site will remain ad-free or it will shut down. When our funds dry up, we will go for donations. We can also handover to someone with similar intent, interests, and the goal of a private and ad-free world,” Skytorrents’ operator informed us.

“The main motivation is to showcase an ad-free experience to users. We are giving something good back to society.”

Setting up a torrent site without ads isn’t hard, but the privacy element is trickier. To achieve this Skytorrents has had to make a lot of concessions, both in design and the general functioning of the site.

Skytorrents

Users will not be able to create an account, for example, as that created a weak spot. The same is true for Javascript, which isn’t used at all.

“For example, using a CDN breaches user privacy. As far as complete privacy is concerned, either there is complete privacy or zero privacy. For maintaining complete privacy, we do not use cookies, java scripts or user logins. We also do not have any moderators,” Skytorrents informed us.

The result is a surprisingly fast and clean search engine, that runs from a CentOS operated server with a bunch of C code, but without common tools such as PHP or MySQL.

As for the torrents, these are all collected from BitTorrent’s DHT network. Before they are listed all torrents have to pass through two spam detection algorithms which get better and better every day.

In addition, there is also a separate tool that “confirms” torrents to be genuine. While 99% of the torrents are spam-free already, for “genuine” torrents this goes up to nearly 100%.

“We also have another algorithm which validates and marks genuine torrents. However, note that 99% of listed torrents are spam free. A genuine marked torrent can be assured 99.99 % of the time,” Skytorrents’ operator says.

At the time of writing, Skytorrents lists 12,645,486 torrents and the site’s operators plan to keep expanding their database, as well as the number of users while keeping their ad-free and privacy oriented values.

Whether they will be able to pull this off has yet to be seen, but over the past few months they’ve kept their promise.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Premier League Asks Google to Take Down Facebook’s Homepage | TorrentFreak

Removing search results is nothing new for Google. The company has been cleaning up its search index for years, in response to complaints from copyright holders.

Every week the search engine processes millions of requests. In most cases these claims are legitimate, but every now and then innocent web pages are mistakenly targeted.

This week we stumbled upon a takedown notice that’s clearly not right. The request was sent by NetResult on behalf of the Premier League, and targets a wide variety of sports streaming related sites.

“The reported URLs are offering unauthored live streams of Premier League content,” it reads, listing the homepages of sites such as streamsarena.eu, letsfooty.com, tvlink.in and sportcategory.com.

While targeting the homepages of these sites is already quite broad, it also lists the main Facebook.com URL among the infringing domains, asking Google to remove it from the search engine entirely.

Premier League Takedown Notice

Google has investigated the claims, including the Facebook one, but decided not to comply with the notice in question, leaving Facebook’s homepage in search results.

In situations like this, we can see how easy erroneous takedown claims can easily lead to over-blocking. It’s good to know that, despite receiving millions of requests per day, the search engine is still able to spot most of these flaws.

Unfortunately, however, not all mistakes are easily caught, especially when they concern smaller sites.

Just a few days ago we noticed that a page from the copyright troll blog DieTrollDie was removed from Google’s search results because it mentioned a torrent hash of a Lionsgate film, and another blog had several court filings removed from the results for the same reason.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

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Certain Songs #864: The Kinks – “Lola” | Medialoper

Album: Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
Year: 1970

The Kinks recorded better songs. The Kinks recorded more popular songs. But The Kinks never recorded a more iconic song.

Not “You Really Got Me,” which got co-opted by Van Halen for better and worse. Not “Celluloid Heroes,” even if I sing it to myself every time I walk down Hollywood Blvd. Not even “Waterloo Sunset,” no matter how beautiful it was.

No, it’s “Lola.” “El-oh-el-Ay, Lola.” From the percussive riff that anchors it to the sing-along fade out, “Lola” was the song that — more than any other — would forever be associated with The Kinks. Its unexpected popularity — their first top ten hit in the U.S. in 5 years (and their last one for 13) — was credited by Dave Davies for saving the band.

And in fact, while it didn’t really fit the concept album that Ray was working on about the evils of the music industry, it was so popular that not only did they slot “Lola” on the album, they made sure to put Lola in the album title, as well. Thus the sublimely silly Lola Versus Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part One, the last of their four-of-the-greatest-albums-ever run.

And why not? At its heart, “Lola” is a massive folk-rock singalong that showcases just how clever of a songwriter Ray Davies had become. “See-Oh-El-Ay, Cola” in the first verse was just the beginning, as Ray mixes just the right amount of ambiguity, enthusiasm and confusion describing a night that probably didn’t go the way his character might have imagined.

Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy
But when she squeezed me tight
She nearly broke my spine
Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola

Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man
Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola

By this point, the quiet opening guitar has given way to the full band, Dave’s leads searing between nearly every line, and his high harmonies right there in the mix during the more rockier parts, and down in the mix during the quieter parts as “Lola” continued to keep you the dark where it was going musically, as well.

And so one iconic set of lyrics would be set to a quieter part:

Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
Except for Lola
Lo lo lo lo Lola

And another iconic set of lyrics would be set to a noisier part:

Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man
But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man
And so is Lola
Lo lo lo lo Lola
Lo lo lo lo Lola

And the exact meaning of both sets of lyrics could be debated until the end of time, and probably will be. But one thing was absolutely sure: “Lola,” both the song and the character, was a rousing good time, which is why we will all sing “Lo lo lo lo Lola” for the rest of our lives.

“Lola”

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Certain Songs #863: The Kinks – “Mindless Child of Motherhood” | Medialoper

Album: The Kink Kronikles
Year: 1969

I know that I’m spending over a month writing about the amazing oeuvre of The Kinks, because the songwriting of Raymond Douglas Davies has spoken so clearly to me for most of my life, but the irony is that my favorite Kinks song might not be “Till The End of The Day” or “Shangri-La” or “Waterloo Sunset” but rather this b-side written by David Russell Gordon Davies.

And I swear that I’m not even being contrary: that’s how beautiful, how powerful and how wonderful I think “Mindless Child of Motherhood” is. It can stand with pop songs that are universally acclaimed as being among the greatest ones ever written.

When he was 15, Dave Davies got a girl pregnant, followed by his mother lying to him by telling him that the girl wanted nothing to do with him, so he never saw his daughter. It was clearly a key incident in his life, as it came out in more than one song, notably “Funny Face,” from Something Else by The Kinks, the solo single “Susannah’s Still Alive” and finally, the crashing, cathartic “Mindless Child of Motherhood.”

Starting off with a rolling bass, rumbling guitar and delicate harpsichord, “Mindless Child of Motherhood” suddenly crashes into drum rolls and power chords as Dave pulls no punches about his pain, with his lead guitar — which will never abandon him! — echoing nearly every line.

I know that it’s not fair
To bear a bastard son
But why do you hide there
When we could have shared a love?

Then, during the pre-chorus Ray comes in, singing the low harmony — he knows what’s coming, and he just wants to be supportive of his little brother, who is clearly working through some issues.

How long must I travel on
To be just where you are?
How long must I travel on
To be just where you arrrrrrrrre?

And then, with a quick build, “Mindless Child of Motherhood” completely explodes into its chorus, with Mick Avory trying to talk Dave down of the ledge with crash cymbals, but failing at every turn.

And then there’s the eerie high-pitched harmony vocal on the chorus. Who is it? Is it Ray? Is it Rasa? Is it an overdubbed Dave? It’s so weird and incongruous that you almost get distracted from utter despair that Dave is venting on the harrowingly glorious chorus. Almost.

I was your friend
I was a fool
I feel for you, though we’re far apart
I see your face
Lost without trace
I see your mind, just an empty space

Mindless child of motherhood
You have lost the thing that’s good
Mindless child of motherhood
You have lost the thing that’s good

This is followed up with the most sublime music The Kinks have ever created — Dave’s guitars swirling in and around a keyboard (unless it’s another guitar) and Mick Avory stop-timing with his snare and crash and the whole thing is haunting and lovely and uplifting.

That’s what’s so amazing about “Mindless Child of Motherhood:” the vocals and lyrics are one long scream from hell, but the music sounds like the chimes of heaven itself. It’s that tension that makes “Mindless Child of Motherhood” infinitely listenable, sad and uplifting at the same time, and an absolute peak for one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever.

P.S. Wikipedia tells me that Dave finally met his daughter in 1993.

“Mindless Child of Motherhood”

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Certain Songs #862: The Kinks – “Arthur” | Medialoper

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Year: 1969

After a whole album that basically spanned the history of the U.K., the Kinks finish the album that they started off exhorting her majesty Queen Victoria with a paean to the titular character, about whom they’re worrying way more than the Queen.

Musically, “Arthur” is the simplest, least-cluttered song on the record — no keyboards, no horns, driven mostly a Dave Davies’ 12-string guitar riff that barely kept from tripping over itself.

But that was all they needed, of course, because “Arthur” is one last summing up of the story and themes of the rest of the album.

If only life were easy it would be such fun
Things would be more equal
And be plenty for everyone
Arthur the world’s gone and passed you by
Don’t you know it, don’t you know it
You can cry, cry all night but it won’t make it right
Don’t ya know it
Don’t ya know it

Of course, Ray Davies having sympathy for someone for whom the world has passed by is basically his sweet spot, so while at first, it might seem that he’s making fun of poor Arthur — like just about any any of his peers would be, if they even deigned to include someone like Arthur in their songs about decadence and pinball — he soon makes his feelings clear, bringing the entire band in on the chorus.

Arthur we know and we sympathize
Don’t ya know it, don’t ya know it
Arthur we like you and want to help you
Somebody loves you don’t you know it

And they hammer that point, asking Arthur “don’t you know it?” over and over and over, making sure that he gets it — The Kinks are on his side.

But not just his side. During the coda — over handclaps!! — first Ray, and eventually, the rest of the Kinks start chanting over the ringing guitars and rolling drums.

Oh! we love you and want to help you
Oh! we love you and want to help you
Oh! we love you and want to help you
Somebody loves you, don’t you know it?

By the third or fourth time around, it seems like it changes to “All, we love you and want to help you.” In other words, not just Arthur, but you and me, as well. And while I’m no doubt reading too much into this, I choose to believe the coda of “Arthur” turns into the most positive statement of love and support for their fanbase that The Kinks ever recorded.

“Arthur”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Getting It Done: The Week In D.I.Y. & Indie Music | hypebot

 6a00d83451b36c69e201b8d1b7a6b9970c-150wiIn this edition of our tips and advice section we share industry navigation guidance for songwriters, the best way to convert interested fans into show attendees, how to build a visually appealing email, and much, much, more.

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