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Napster: A New Killer Internet App (1999) (evolt.org)
190 points by airstrike 48 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 144 comments



Napster is the future of the internet. It will come back. But the world has to evolve on a social level before this can happen.

We saw the same with the printing press: the Powers That Be first banned it, then tried to control it, and eventually had to relent. It will happen with data sharing too, eventually. It might take a century, but it will happen.


> We saw the same with the printing press: the Powers That Be first banned it, then tried to control it, and eventually had to relent.

All of those phases have already happened - banning (RIAA lawsuits), control (iTunes), relent (Spotify). We've reached the endgame - it's streaming.

If you want to store and maintain a personal 128GB collection of MP3 files with incomplete titles and data, that's your prerogative, but you're going to be in a tiny minority.


Must be nice to have a high bandwidth connection with 5 nines uptime, no risk of your account being revoked, or the content licenses abrogated or expired.

It is of the utmost importance to inculcate the newest generation of media consumers that renting is preferred to ownership.


I slogged through keeping a local archive of my carefully-ripped audio collection on a hardware RAID-5 storage server for decades. When I finally gave up in favor of Google Play (and subsequently Apple Music), it was liberating.

At the end of the day, the "content" we're talking about here is purely entertainment. You can live without it. And even if the hammer falls, and the copyright holders go backwards, things like Napster and Limewire and eDonkey will rise again.

At 10 years old, I never understood the line in SW EPIV, where Leia says, "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers." (Seriously, the line haunted me for years.) But it's a perfect allegory for this situation.

Of course, I'm still waiting for the blowback against Facebook, so...


> At the end of the day, the "content" we're talking about here is purely entertainment. You can live without it.

You can live without a lot of things, including drinkable tap water and flushable toilets, however that is not necessarily a reasonable standard to judge things by.

I use music not just to 'entertain' myself, but to focus as well. Besides, why is entertainment and relaxation always treated as somehow secondary/not necessary? I realize many people find purpose in being work bees, but some strive for a healthy work-life balance.


> Besides, why is entertainment and relaxation always treated as somehow secondary/not necessary? I realize many people find purpose in being work bees, but some strive for a healthy work-life balance.

It's not that it's unnecessary, but it's easier to replace. I have my nephew at home for a week, and his mother didn't let him take his console with him. Uh oh. No entertainment then? Well, guess what, we played good old board and card games.

OTOH, not having tap water or flushable toilets would have been a much bigger PITA for him. (For both of us, to be honest).


Don’t take him camping. ;)


I had the exact same experience, but then about 2 weeks ago, one of my favourite albums got deleted of All Music. So I had to search the disc, rip it, and then upload it to my account, which works for now but certainly put a dent in the experience.

Let's see how it plays out on the future.


>Let's see how it plays out on the future.

Exactly as you'd expect. Aphex Twin had a CD that included the video on the data portion of the CD (I think it was Windowlicker, circa 1999) - but you had to unlock the video online. After a couple of years, the server shut down, and you no longer had access to the video.

Of course, someone released a crack, and eventually the advent of YouTube negated that particular problem.

I still keep local copies of my music. Part of this is because I have a not insignificant amount of music that I listen to that is not and might never be part of a subscription service. Part of it is because I've experienced early attempts at controlling access to music and video that I purchased, and saw how that failed, and I don't plan on risking that loss again.


Me too. My favorite band has 3 albums that aren't in print any more, and which aren't available anywhere. Like, you can't even get the CD's from Amazon. I've ripped them and put them in my library.

But the freedom of finding NEW stuff, when you have access to (just about) EVERYTHING... THAT has been the real eye-opener for me. I've discovered a lot of acts that I would never have otherwise heard of.


> I slogged through keeping a local archive of my carefully-ripped audio collection on a hardware RAID-5 storage server for decades. When I finally gave up in favor of Google Play (and subsequently Apple Music), it was liberating.

That was my (similar - I never went to RAID 5) experience as well. I moved it all up into Google Play and haven't looked back. No more worries about a hard drive taking down my collection (in hindsight RAID 5 may have helped), no more duplicate copies or tracks that were badly ripped so they skipped, no more worrying about keeping a pile of CD's "just in case", just the music I wanted to listen to when I wanted to listen to it.


What do you mean "moved it all up into Google Play"? Are they hosting mp3s now?



When Google Play came out, that was all that they started with, and once enough people started using it, they started selling music on it as well.

I initially started using it as a way to easily sync music onto my phone, since it has a LRU of all your played songs, as well as any albums you mark explicitly for download.


Do you remember mp3.com’s Beam It service?

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/case-missing-copyright-l...

How times have changed.


I had the same experience. It is very liberating.

Piracy is increasing again because media companies are trying to silo their titles. Consumers want a diverse source of entertainment every month, but can't afford to buy the titles or subscribe to all streaming services. A Netflix subscription can be 1-3x the price of a popular TV series bought directly. I would argue that Netflix has devalued media in general.


I had the realization that I may lose some specific music one day, but I'll always have access to new music


There's 100 million paying Spotify subscribers that don't meet your "requirements". Ease of convenience trumps free (stealing).


These are not mutually exclusive.


Ownership, funny. You mean how you own your electricity, clean water, shelter and food? You're in complete control, nobody can come and take any of those away at any point in time right?

The solution to dumb infrastructure decisions, is better infrastructure decisions via communication and thought, not trying to hang on to your tiny scrap of stuff via guns, files on a computer or building a bunker.


Digital "ownership" is just as temporary, and when "buying" digital products online (or, technically, even physical copies of media), you're only paying for a license that can be revoked at any point. Just because they don't hunt you down doesn't mean you properly own something.

There's a reason SaaS took off, just like media streaming took off. Convenience is higher on the list of priorities than ownership. If they take my stuff away, I'll just switch to media that isn't barred from public use.


> If they take my stuff away, I'll just switch to media that isn't barred from public use.

That's if you treat your media/services as substitutable goods. I don't understand this view. For me, the vast majority of books, songs, movies and games I peruse are not substitutable. SaaS services maybe - but then, they do their damnest to be not substitutable - that's called "having a competitive advantage".

So when a company decides to stop serving some media I used (or paid for directly), I see something of value being lost.


Exactly this.


If my concern is losing access to my music, a hard disk failure is more likely than getting banned from Spotify.


The "endgame" would have to include something that Napster had, and spotify etc don't: guaranteed, unlimited, non-regulated access to everything from everywhere, any time.

I recognize that is the ideal spotify is striving for, and they're on the right trajectory. But they rest within the boundaries set by (inter)national copyright law, and that just goes counter to some of those features.

In that sense, we may be in an endgame-like situation, but I don't see this game being over before copyright is severely reformed or just outright destroyed by technological means.


> If you want to store and maintain a personal 128GB collection of MP3 files.

Actually, it annoys me how it's widely accepted that MP3 is an acceptable format to pay the same price for as CDs, while you could rip lossless FLACs from CDs. Either MP3s should be cheaper, or switching to FLAC should be an option, (like Bandcamp does it).


Nobody but audiophiles care about FLAC. Most people out there don't have the ears nor the hardware to tell the difference between 192K MP3 and anything higher, and anybody that claims they can tell the difference between 320K and FLAC is probably trying to sell you something at best.

So it's a format that takes tons of disk space for no perceptible benefit. Why would it be popular? It's a niche format for niche uses.


I use FLAC and I wouldn't call myself an audiophile. However, I am a bit of an archivist or collector. Storage is so cheap that I figure I might as well store the highest quality version of my media.

I'd agree that in general you can't tell the difference between a well encoded MP3 and FLAC, but there are songs in which it makes a difference! To test myself I've run a few simple ABX tests; I'd encourage to try it out! It's worth noting that this is only at home with a DAC/amplifier and some decent headphones, but if I'm out and about then I have no qualms about streaming.


I have a pretty nice stereo/production setup at home. I even did the work to get my desk positioned as best I could to avoid weird reflections (luckily the room isn't close to square).

My collection of music is all wav/aiff or 320kbps mp3. I'd love to say I can tell the difference, but I can't.


A significant benefit of owning a FLAC for me is so that I can convert it to any format I may want to for end consumption.


This is kinda like trying to tell someone that png is a waste of space, just use jpg, you can't tell the difference.

It's not just about being able to tell the difference. Remixing is another example of things that require losslessness. Archiving as well.


> Nobody but audiophiles care about FLAC

Perhaps. However my contention is that if am paying the same price for supposedly an 'identical' product, then make sure it's actually identical.

At least ebooks generally are a tad cheaper than paperbacks, even if not by much, but not MP3s? Why? Simply because they can get away with it, I suppose.


That's because nobody knows what FLAC is. Why does nobody knows what FLAC is ? Because 192kbps MP3 quality is acceptable enough to most. If people don't have a problem, they don't expect a fix.

I'm not saying you're technically or auditively wrong, I'm saying that's not how the market has ever worked.


There are places that provide the option, such as Bandcamp, 7digital, HDTracks etc. so it doesn't seem to be a completely deserted market.

What I don't understand about iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and many others is that they're likely getting the tracks lossless anyway, they're then taking than and downsampling it to their common MP3 encoder settings for all tracks. It seems to me it would be trivial to add a 'FORMAT:' option, (that defaults to MP3), but allows for FLAC for these who know what it is.

Am aware there are specialist lossless streaming services, but I just don't understand the block of making this an option everywhere, including the iTunes Store, which has a massive catalog and Spotify, where the curated playlists etc. are.


Tidal offers exactly this, see e.g. https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000397069-TID... and Tidal HIFI.

If there's sufficient market interest in this (Tidal HIFI is twice the cost of normal Tidal) then the enthusiasts will rally around the service.

It doesn't look like the market cares that much, and I couldn't really hear a significant difference between's Spotify 320k stream and Tidal's masters (using HD800S + Mojo Chord as DAC).


I know about Tidal, there's also Deezer HiFi and Qobuz. I like to store my music locally, but I'd sign up for one of these if they weren't twice the price.

This is my problem, why pay significantly more when the streaming services get the lossless version from the label? I get the extra storage requirements, but that can't be a significant factor for the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google.

As for selling music, Amazon, Apple and Google refuse to even sell you a lossless album, yet charge the same as you'd pay for a CD.


For me the endgame is Bandcamp. The music I want, in the format I want (and often even for the price I want) and I can stream it as much as I want before I buy it.

Though I realize that doesn't work for people into main stream music.


I'd much rather have my own mp3 collection, and do, of thousands of tracks. All legally purchased, I don't steal music.

I don't want to rely on a song being on a particular streaming service.


> We've reached the endgame - it's streaming

The last line from the article hit it home - "I mean, where else are you going to get a copy of The Mr. Belvedere Show theme song?". Today, you don't need P2P for that, YouTube has it. Along with the video.


For now. Check again in a year, there's a good chance it won't be there anymore.


I support decentralization and do agree with you in principal (and I youtube-dl any video I care about), but in practice I've actually seen the breadth of content expand. You can even find clips of The Simpsons on there now. (of course there are the high-profile examples of political content being taken down)


I do not disagree. I've seen both, really - on the one hand, I find recently uploaded clips of old things; on the other hand, I recently scrolled through my "likes" list on YouTube, and something like 1/4 of it points to removed videos.


Same here. While it's not a system I'd like to trust the future to, I see it continuing to pass the "I mean, where else are you going to get a copy of The Mr. Belvedere Show theme song?" test for the foreseeable future.


In which case, running youtube-dl when you discover something you want to keep around for good is going to be a better solution than Napster.


Audiogalaxy (RIP) is still superior to any currently available streaming service and had a vastly more diverse palette on content.


That and Scour were where I found the really good, obscure (or properly titled) tracks. I used them to locate some of the biggest FTP archives of MP3s I liked, then I'd just grab as many as I could (while uploading other obscure tracks from other sources to keep my ratio up).


I pay Apple $35 a year for iTunes Match. That puts my "ripped" music into their cloud. Years later they introduced streaming and I got hooked on an Apple Music Subscription.

The biggest issue I have these days is that Apple's smart home stuff is overpriced so now I also pay for an Amazon music subscription to us with the Echo hardware.

That all said I am so uninspired by the Apple hardware offerings these days. The high end Macbook Pro 10 years ago was around $3K and these days its over $7k. 10 years ago it had an expansion slot (ExpressCard) and now it doesn't even have magsafe.


Apple Music works on Echo hardware as of December 2018


You could actually go even further and draw more parallels between newspapers and streaming (especially podcasts). Yeah, you could store huge archives of old newspapers that are difficult to organize and look after. But it was fundamentally ephemeral, printed on cheap paper and all. And, that nature lent itself to a business model that lasted many decades. (Newspaper companies would have had a hard time surviving, after all, if you just kept reading the same twenty papers from your bookshelf)


>>> We've reached the endgame - it's streaming

Good analysis. Implicit in this, is that the same fault that ultimately drew users from Napster, the lack of end user anonymity, is inherent in modern services.

There is a broader ethical issue at play as well. Can you fund and develop technology that is in the present moment operating in a legal grey area. Betting that in some possible future, culture and the laws will change?


You’ve missed my point.

Those are technical trivialities specific to music, which were being slowly solved through services like Musicbrainz.

My point was more general: in the future, everyone will eventually be free to share any data with anyone. It’s just too easy not to happen, and too hard to police indefinitely. Exactly like printing books - even easier, in fact!


I don't disagree with you, but the two are not mutually exclusive. I tend to use streaming for some music but when I really love something I like to have it. It's also not that hard to organize music files and 128gb of storage is peanuts. (Am I the only one who doesn't hate iTunes? It's not a bad organizer.)


XKCD - Steal This Comic

https://xkcd.com/488/


Where I live Direct Connect (mainly the open source client DC++) was the most popular P2P network after Napster. One big difference is that you can share any kind of file, not just music. It even had hashing, so you could find copies of files with different names, and download from multiple sources at once.

It's still around, but I never hear about anyone using it even though it's more flexible than Napster.

A major feature and downside, depending on who you are, is that you can browse all files a user is sharing. This is great for discovering new things, but also means that copyright holders could sue you for all shared files, not just one at a time like with Bittorrent.

Thinking about it, Kazaa was also more flexible than Napster and maybe a stronger household name than DC++.

http://dcplusplus.sourceforge.net/


Direct Connect was very popular in the dorm networks of my university.

Back in the days (around 2005) I mostly used Soul Seek and IRC.


I believe I used the same thing in college (also 2005); something that let you share and download files from other people's Itunes libraries. I was blown away by it the first time I used it; totally seamless.

Thank the lord that Slsk is still running. There is simply soo much material out there Spotify and the like will never have because they were unofficial live bootlegs, weird studio outtakes and obscure EPs and singles.

Case in point: anybody ever listened to "Towering over the Rest?" It's a 20+ track compilation of Radiohead's B-sides and live cuts from 1993-2000. Never officially released, since the tracks were always available inside of individual singles, EPs and 7"s. Listening to it gave me a completely different perspective on the band's output, which I mostly knew through full albums.

Discoveries like that now have to happen via Spotify playlists, and even then you couldn't reproduce that entire compilation simply because Spotify wouldn't have the license for some of those releases, which came out 25 years ago and on labels that no longer exist.


Same at my uni. The networks inside each student housing complex were fast, but each complex was only connected to the school through 100 MBit lines, so everyone would add the name of their complex to their username, and you'd avoid downloading from outside your local network unless strictly necessary.

Eventually the school stopped providing internet to the student housing and we got put on the municipal power company open commercial fiber network and got to choose from an array of commercial ISPs; got massive speed upgrades but it removed the community.


I think people are starting to realize that openness is the only way to really control your content. At least in today's world.

If you put your music up on Youtube for free then you become the main source that everyone links to because it's available. You gain control back of your data, rather than having someone pirate it.

There's a number of musicians I see on Youtube who release everything they put out for free, but then have optional links to buy it on various music platforms. A lot of them are happy with the set up because they can make a living doing what they love.

The same strategy applies to writing apps and open source in general, and it's even more beneficial because unlike a personally developed music track, an application greatly benefits from having multiple people work on it.


I often wonder how long the artificial scarcity facade can hold. We need to find better monetization schemes than DRM. I'd gladly pay artists directly for their work rather than on a per-disc/media or stream basis. Of course I'm sure thats exactly what the record industry doesn't want.


When people realize how copyright actually came to be [1], it won't take that long. The question is, will they?

[1] https://questioncopyright.org/promise


Did it ever really leave? What.cd only shutdown a couple years ago, I assumed something else replaced it and I'm just not hip enough anymore to get an invite.


deezloader and clones


> " had to relent "

You mean they totally embraced, rebranded and used it and it as a tool of mass control.


> Napster is the future of the internet.

The "Napster" brand still exists. Its now a streaming service and competitor to spotify.


If it solves problems nobody (for the little to moderate values of nobody) has it will not happen.


Why wouldn't you want free access to all media ever produced at no cost except your internet subscription. The streaming video services are really terrible by comparison and the only reason that music piracy no longer exists to a large degree is due to the fact that youtube has a legal form of piracy build in. You can download any song you like and strip the irrelevant video.


Music Piracy absolutely still exists although WhatCD going down hurt it a bunch. However, the real trick of music streaming sites is to build in all of the scrobbly/suggestion/organisation features in.

Piracy grows when it is more convenient than legal consumption. I'd rather download a torrent of a DvD I own than go and fetch it, put it in a cd tray, play it with shitty un-skippable intro etc. However - I'd rather spin a film up on Netflix than go hunting through a shitty folder structure of my own idiotic devising. I'd rather watch a series on netflix, which remembers where I am in the series and auto-plays next than manually load up episodes on the odd evening when I've got time.

Admittedly Netflix seems to be going out of its way to make the UI intolerably aggravating, but at some points it seemed pretty well done.


> However - I'd rather spin a film up on Netflix than go hunting through a shitty folder structure of my own idiotic devising. I'd rather watch a series on netflix, which remembers where I am in the series and auto-plays next than manually load up episodes on the odd evening when I've got time.

There is desktop software that does all of this locally, including auto-play, intro skipping, remembering where you were in a media file, even auto-downloading subtitles and displaying them. Nor do you have to navigate through your own 'idiotic' folder structure as you put it, because software like Everything exists.

Just because you never bothered to set it up doesn't mean this functionality doesn't exist.


Netflix's selection of films is also so atrocious as to be dangerous for the Bildung of our youth.


uPNP is pretty cool.


1. $10/month is not an issue for me financially.

2. I want to support the artists who make my media financially, and doing that on an individual basis would be too inconvenient.

3. I know what I’m getting, P2P was always a gamble.

4. Current streaming services (movies and videos) have a significantly better UX that isnaccessible to anyone.


Just wait for a year or two. All the content big creators(HBO, Disney, etc) have become jealous of Netflix and are preparing to silo their content to their exclusive streaming services for all that sweet cash.

Once this process is compete and the silos are created Napster will rise again.


I know it's not the same from a technical standpoint but BitTorrent is still alive and well. Being peer-to-peer it could be considered a spiritual successor to Napster. I'm not ashamed to admit that I still use it to download movies or foreign TV shows that aren't legally available on the streaming services I use (at least in my region).

In my case it's strictly a case of availability - I happily pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify as well as whatever software I use. I wish the content creators would wise up to this - Steam solved this issue for gaming years ago.


> Being peer-to-peer it could be considered a spiritual successor to Napster.

Napster's popularity was not because of P2P or something else. The only reason Napster succeeded was convenience. Bittorrent cannot be the successor because it is not as convenient.

> In my case it's strictly a case of availability - I happily pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify as well as whatever software I use.

Everyone pays now because it is convenient to pay at 2-3 places for all your needs. Once you have to start paying at a separate place for every different series/movie you want, you will stop paying. It is not only about availability. It is about availability AND convenience

And Steam is facing the same issues as Netflix with Epic Store and Origin breaking away because EA and Tim wanted more money.


Convenience and price both play a role. Like it or not, streaming music has most content on each of the major services, is fairly cheap, and is very convenient. It's not a shift I'm entirely happy with and I keep a foot in each world (owning and streaming) at least in part because I already have a big music collection.

Video and other content is much more of a mixed bag with very fractured availability and simple lack of availability under a subscription for a lot of content.


Netflix selection has been dwindling in my country while prices keep going up...

I think the TV and movie industries haven't felt the effects of piracy like the music industry did in the heyday of P2P, there's a big difference between the behavior of the music industry who'll sign a contract with any reasonable streaming provider and that of say, HBO or Disney who want full control of their content.


I dont think so, IF Roku, Amazon, and Apple make it easy to 1) manage subscriptions and billing in once central place and 2) give you the option to open each channel/app specifically OR allow you to search AND browse across all of them at once. It's that last browse part thats important. If I can click "all available movies" and see my movies from CBS, FX, HBO, Disney, Paramount, Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and Apple (without Amazons way of not showing you if it costs money until you click) I think the platforms (Roku, Amazon, Apple) will keep people away from more complicated piracy. As long as the platform abstracts away the silos, making them an optional way to browse, people wont go running.


> I want to support the artists ..

That is like eating in McDonnalds to support the workers there.

You mean you want to support the big media corporations that make good artists available to you...

Just making sure that you know what you are doing.


And like in today's thread about Instacart stealing tips, make sure the company you're paying actually supports the artists.


Your #1 does not really help your #2.


I've never pirated music. I did torrent few movies and shows . when there was no easy legal way to get them. A couple of apps too. Never music though. And I had no bittorrent client for a few years now. Why… That's a good question. First of all I am not interested in hoarding all the media ever produced. Most of it would not even be interesting to me. Second, I want so show some appreciation to the artist I like even if they get only a small percentage of what I pay. I may be outlier in my relationship with the music though. I do not get the urge to have it in my ears for 24/7. It is something I listen to not just a background or the way to drone out my own thoughts. So the smaller collections of the stuff I really like is enough.


Streaming services make one to pay over and over, more and more for the same content while actively pursuing new ways to limit the accessibility to the content and to sneak in advertisements. It's a doomed industry.


I use several streaming services and I've never had to pay over and over for the same content. Hell, more often than not, I don't have to pay anything for the content I actually want to see, as long as I'm willing to tolerate advertising, which is fine by me as long as it isn't too intrusive.

I understand this is a Napster thread and as a result the most enthusiastically pro-piracy, anti-capitalist contingent of HN is going to show up and wave the black flag but at least try to be honest about the pros and cons for both. Streaming services do have their dark patterns and anti-consumer practices but they still offer something of value to the consumer, and despite what people want to believe, are more convenient than piracy for many people.


I'm not who you replied to but I believe "over and over" was a reference to recurrent subscription fees.


> I'm not who you replied to but I believe "over and over" was a reference to recurrent subscription fees.

I mean that with subscription services one is unable to backup, or even "come back" repeatedly to the content. Let's say watching the same movie from time to time - it's not possible because service providers go out of business, copyright deals change, markets become more/less prioritized, different platforms are supported, the repertoire within the subscription changes over time. Thus watching the same movie requires buying it over and over again.


Internet Economy today is based on solving problems people do not have...


technically music doesnt solve any problems


I was the author of MP3 Fiend, which was doing really well back in 1999 (CNET 5-star Editor's Choice). Then Napster came along.

While I appreciate that its 1999 interface was just as ugly as mine, what I didn't have was P2P. And obviously, that was the "killer technology".


Interface looks great to me. I know what every single piece of the UI does immediately.


> killer technology

Though technically nobody died from it


Napster. Worked there in 2000 and 2001. It was surreal (at least for me) to work at a place that was always in the news at the time. I can understand how employees at Faang must feel at times. Not a total distraction but it’s there. Napster was an interesting place.


How good a job did Justin Timberlake do in portraying Sean Parker?


Only saw Sean Parker in a meeting once (and I don’t believe I was ever introduced) so, difficult to comment on that. My sense is that he was more involved at the beginning of the service. I got involved around the time Bertelsmann made the investment in the company.


I guess technically it was a ‘convertible loan’. Whatever.


Do you have any interesting stories about your time there?


We were working on the new commercial services in both client and server components. So perhaps the most interesting aspect was the general tension between those who felt strongly about the original intent and purpose of the service, and those who felt that it needed a commercial function that would appease the music industry rights holders. That said, I met many great engineers there , many who have gone on to their own fame and fortune. From a technical perspective it was quite enlightening also. I had never even heard of non-blocking io before I worked on that stuff. The scale was nothing I had ever seen before. Largely taken for granted today. Most of what we understand and experience today about consumption of music was really determined by what happened there both from legal and technical perspectives.


> I've used it mostly for finding obscure or impossible-to-find music. I mean, where else are you going to get a copy of The Mr. Belvedere Show theme song?

This is a nice reminder of just how much things have advanced in a short 20 years.

In four mouse clicks and under 5 seconds, I was watching the video for it.

Select -> Right click -> Search with Google -> Click.


YouTube solved the problem of piracy enablers getting sued out of existence.


I wish Mesh Networks were a bigger thing. I wish that casual P2P over them was a thing. Music. Books. Pictures. News. All spread by just walking around, gathering content that matches tags you subscribe to.


there are a lot of people working on various aspects of this. hopefully something usable will be available in the next couple of years.

https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/

https://www.open-mesh.org/projects/batman-adv/wiki

https://heropunch.io/Tracker


I remember launching Napster for the first time. Millions of popular and obscure songs at your fingertips. It was exhilerating to experience the power of peer-to-peer.

The genie was out of the bottle.


Tooth paste out of the tube is what Gene Kan tried to coin for it.


"if the recording industry knew about this, they'd probably shut it down."


Well Lars must had read the article.


Since my genre of choice is dance music, I use Soulseek, which I think has done a great job of carrying Napster's torch.

The trouble is that many of the tracks I'm into come from the personal collections of assorted DJs or diggers on Youtube, so obscure tracks are often in poor quality: I've had to resort to using Discogs to purchase the original vinyls and recording them through a sound card. I am not yet a pro at digitally cleaning up some of the minute crackling that occurs, and buying a brush to clean the records hasn't helped much...


>> I've had to resort to using Discogs to purchase the original vinyls and recording them through a sound card. I am not yet a pro at digitally cleaning up some of the minute crackling that occurs, and buying a brush to clean the records hasn't helped much...

Source: vinyl junkie, vinyl DJ, professional audio engineer and girl who presses her own vinyl here in Toronto - You really have to acetate wash your records and only use the highest quality gear. There's little you can do beyond that. If a record is messed after you acetone it, unfortunately removing the crackle sounds is kinda going in and modifying the original sound itself. You don't really know what else you're getting rid of.

I use a Pioneer PLX-500 which has a built-in USB. I generally get an extremely low level of noise especially off of new LP's.


> There's little you can do beyond that.

Depending on how much you want to spend, some flavor of iZotope RX will let you de-crackle and perform other types of audio restoration in a very transparent way.


I love Soulseek. I love that it's basically identical to Napster and still works great.


The nostalgia for this UI/UX is astounding. These were truly golden days of a sort.


This seems like something that would be held up as an example of why programmers shouldn't do the UI but I think I'd hold it up as an example of why they should.

Those buttons along the top look like an early implementation of tabs or a stack switcher that are common today. The search interface doesn't infantalize the user. I bet if you changed the windows theme it would match as well.


Reminds me a little bit of Battle.net...


> It's a true community sharing all their music.

That's the point. Sharing is caring. Also this is what culture is about... not about the pop shit we get shoved in our face all the time. If anything, mp3 sharing made me buy more records (12" vinyl), not less.


Counterpoint: I hate having to track files on a hard drive, love pop music, and could never be bothered to buy a physical piece of media ever again. Don't yuck my yum, I think that's a better point.


Can anyone explain the T1, T2, T3 classification of internet speed? Back in the day, I don’t remember it being used where I lived.


I remember seeing them a bit, but not knowing what they meant. I've found this which explains it a bit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-carrier

> The most common legacy of this system is the line rate speeds. "T1" now means any data circuit that runs at the original 1.544 Mbit/s line rate. Originally the T1 format carried 24 pulse-code modulated, time-division multiplexed speech signals each encoded in 64 kbit/s streams, leaving 8 kbit/s of framing information which facilitates the synchronization and demultiplexing at the receiver. The T2 and T3 circuit channels carry multiple T1 channels multiplexed, resulting in transmission rates of 6.312 and 44.736 Mbit/s, respectively. A T3 line comprises 28 T1 lines, each operating at total signaling rate of 1.544 Mbit/s. It is possible to get a fractional T3 line, meaning a T3 line with some of the 28 lines turned off, resulting in a slower transfer rate but typically at reduced cost.


The T1 users were like internet royalty to us dialup users back in the Napster days. I often pondered where they must be to get such an amazing connection (Universities, I assume). Now even in rural England I get a reliable connection that's over 50x faster. Even mobile is faster than that. How times change.


I remember being on dial-up as a kid back then and being insanely jealous that kids in college got T1 connections in their dorms. One of the reasons why I wanted to go to college as a kid was the blazing fast internet speed. Downloads that took hours for me, took seconds for them. It sounded like heaven to me back then.


I went to a state school that hadn't completed networking their dorms. Even at school, I had to use dial-up to get my email (using Pine through a VMS). My girlfriend at a different school had high-speed access in the dorms.

I remember making the 2 hour trip to visit her, and half of my excitement was all the music I could download once I got there.

I show up, and find out she hadn't connected her computer yet! First priority of that day was going to the campus bookstore to buy an ISA network card and 10Base2 terminators and connectors.


AHH, if only I lived in the countryside, rather than in a London suburb where my maximum ADSL speed has for at least the last decade been barely better than a T1 downstream, and hardly better than dialup upstream!


I'm stuck in Putney grrrr.


Unfortunately in the parts of the rural US where my employer frequently operates we still have difficulty getting a connection on par with a T1.


I learned what T1, T2, T3, OC-3, OC-12, and OC-48 meant back when counter-strike servers were adding it to their server names. However now that I think about it, most of the OC-3+ servers were straight up lying through their teeth. Still got me to join though.


OC-3/STM-1 155.52 Mb/s can carry 63 T1s OC-12/STM-4 622.04 Mb/s OC-48/STM-16 2488.16 Mb/s


     OC-3/STM-1   155.52 Mb/s can carry 63 T1s 
    OC-12/STM-4   622.04 Mb/s
    OC-48/STM-16 2488.16 Mb/s
I think that's 63 E1s. An OC-3 can carry 84 T1s (3 x 28)


d'oh. you are correct, sir.


Back in 1995 my friend and I ordered a T1 with the intention of starting up a web hosting company. The startup didn't work, but we did end up with blazingly fast (for the time) internet access. I still remember downloading the first version of Netscape and it took just a few seconds. I almost fell out of my chair!

Long story short, things must have been so crazy and disorganized at the vendor (I guess) that even though we never paid a single invoice for the T1, they took over a year to shut us off.


> I still remember downloading the first version of Netscape and it took just a few seconds. I almost fell out of my chair!

This is still how I feel everytime I download a large file in seconds. I guess I spent so long accessing the internet over dialup this rapid (and relatively recent) explosion of speed at the edges is truly impressive. It's a little ironic that our most popular protocols and services these days reject p2p so thoroughly.


Wikipedia is your friend: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-carrier


Take a look at ISDN, too. Family friend had that in their home.


'Only' 64k and 128k speeds. However, it was 'always on' compared to dialup over POTS lines. 4-5x faster for uploads and 2-4 times faster for downloads, so most dial-up users would have coveted it.


and the monthly cost kept it out of greater adoption.

I believe it was also used for high fidelity, low latency audio for interviews and music production.


Don't forget video games.

In a game with good network code such as Quake 2 / 3, you could expect at best a 150ms ping time with a 56k modem in ideal scenarios but on ISDN you could get half that which made a world of a difference.

I never had ISDN but I knew a few people with it. It was like you were playing a completely different game. Then cable came and it blew everything away with getting 20-30ms ping times even in the early 2000s.


Ah, I was only playing original Quake with a direct dial-up to a friend’s modem, for 1-on-1, but we did have it working in the computer lab on 10-baseT.

If somebody went to turn their desktop slightly, the coax would pop out of the t-connector and those further down the chain would be at a severe disadvantage.


Got to remember mp3. THAT was the killer tech that enabled everything.


Before that we used real audio files. I remember downloading so much music via .ra files on IRC via XDCC. Back then it was a great choice because we were still using modems. The quality was basically AM radio level, but the files were tiny so the trade off was worth it.


On my 28k modem with my Win 3.1 machine, I relied pretty heavily on MIDI files. I had a good collection Greenday, Nirvana, and movie theme songs (Ghost busters, Jaws, Jurrasic Park, Spaceballs, etc..) Oh, and I recently discovered that browsers no longer even support MIDI files.... yes, I _recently_ tried to create a webpage that would play music on load, don't ask me why...I'm just an awful person sometimes.


I'm hugely nostalgic for the early web, I don't blame you at all.

If you've never seen it, this is worth scrolling through: https://www.cameronsworld.net/


Thank you. That was amazing. The dancing girls especially made me reminisce (of my 13 y/o days). My parents never knew that I installed some secret dancing-girl thinger on the home-computer. I constantly wonder, and struggle with, how the internet impacts my 14 y/o stepdaughter in ways of which I'm unaware.... and how to approach it.


written by metafilter founder mathowie


About Napster and on evolt, the whole thing was a nostalgia bomb as soon as I clicked the link.


What an application. I will download right away and try too.


“I could go on and on about how I feel mp3's promote the sales of CDs, but that's an argument for another day.”

Yeah. That worked out. ;)


I was always amazed by the old jazz recordings that were never released on CD but were on Napster. Somebody cared enough to convert vinyl to mp3.


'killer app.' I heard that was the term 'Bill Gates' was also asked about during his hearing in the Gates vs USA case.




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