Monday, October 30, 2006

What Are The Good BitTorrent Search Engines?

As of October 30, 2006, the 5 Best Bit Torrent search engine sites are listed below. This list is selected from hundreds of reader votes, and voted on each week by a small panel of torrent download users.

The criteria used to evaluate these torrent sites: breadth and depth of database, database currency, ease of use and searching, speed of access, general integrity of files, information provided about the files, information provided on the torrent P2P community, price of membership, and readers' comments.
Warning: while P2P file sharing technology is completely legal, many of the files traded through P2P are copyrighted. Unless you live in Canada where citizens are shielded from P2P copyright lawsuits, then downloading P2P files may put you at risk for a civil lawsuit in any other country.

These lawsuits usually take the form of class-action suits, filed against groups of users who are logged as blatantly copying and distributing copyrighted materials. Recently, the MPAA and RIAA, along with the governments of England and Australia, took several thousand users to court, demanding that they pay thousands of dollars in copyright infringement penalties.

Your Internet Service Provider may, at their discretion, release their logs of your downloading activity to potential copyright plaintiffs. The more megabytes you download, the more you risk being sued by the MPAA, RIAA, and other pro-artist groups. Please keep this risk in mind before you use any of the following Torrent search engines below.

    (a search engine that searches torrent search engines)

  2. Torrentspy
    (Recently, this site went through a facelift, and it is winning over many new subscribers.)

  3. Isohunt
    (This Canadian database has managed to stave off the threat of one MPAA law suit. Alas, the site is now again being sued by the MPAA as of February, 2006. The site owner is a true libertarian, and needs financial help mounting a defense against the MPAA. Read the details at the Isohunt home page. This is an outstanding torrent database, and P2P users are cheering for its continued success and operations.)

  4. The Pirate Bay
    (Pirate Bay, by readership size, is the most popular torrent search site today. Like Isohunt, Pirate Bay has an immense database of the latest torrents.)

    (May 31, 2006 update: The Pirate Bay has been temporarily shut down by Swedish authorities. Details are available on the Pirate Bay home page. This is a sad day for torrent users everywhere.)

    (June 2006 update: The Pirate Bay has restarted operations, now that the police have duplicated the PB hard drives for forensic purposes. Enjoy this database while it is still around, folks!)


  6. **Special Mention: Torrentportal
    (Torrentportal has been recommended by many reader emails this May.)

  7. **Special Mention: Seedler
    (was a former member of this list, and has recently become a renewed reader favorite.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Polyphasic sleep for dummies

Some of the biological argument presented in this article may not be entirely suitable and convincing for teenagers, esp. those who slept polyphasically through their biology class. Let's then reword it all in baby language. Experience shows that "for dummies" sections are most popular and most effective in conveying the message. Disclaimer: the models presented below are used for illustration only and are a remote approximation of real processes occurring in sleep

Alarm clock is bad for you

A metaphor that may help you get some sense of what alarm clocks do to sleep is a comparison of NREM-REM cycles to your PC. During the day, while learning and experiencing new things, you store your new data in RAM memory. During the night, while first in NREM, you write the data down to the hard disk. During REM, which follows NREM in the night, you do the disk defragmentation, i.e. you organize data, sort them, build new connections, etc. Overnight, you repeat the write-and-defragment cycle until all RAM data is neatly written to the disk (for long-term use), and your RAM is clear and ready for a new day of learning. At waking up, you reboot the computer. If you reboot early with the use of an alarm clock, you often leave your disk fragmented. Your data access is slow, and your thinking is confused. Even worse, some of the data may not even get written to the disk. It is as if you have never stored it in RAM in the first place. In conclusion, if you use an alarm clock, you endanger your data. If you do not care about your intellectual performance, you may want to know that there are many biological reasons for which using alarm clocks is basically unhealthy. Those run beyond the scope of this article. Many people use alarm clocks and live. Yet this is not much different from smoking, abusing drugs, or indulging in fat-dripping pork. You may abuse your brain with alcohol for years, and still become president. Many of mankind's achievements required interrupted sleep. Many inventions were produced by sleepy brains. But nothing is able to change the future as much as a brain refreshed with a healthy dose of restful sleep.

You cannot sleep polyphasically without an alarm clock

Your whole sleep cycle can be explained with the clock and hourglass model. Deep in your brain, your body clock is running on a 24 hours cycle. Every 24 hours, the clock releases a sleepy potion that puts you to sleep. If you try to sleep at wrong hours, without the sleepy potion, you may find it very hard to fall asleep. All insomniacs suffers from the lack of sleepy potion. If they go to sleep too early, before they get their fix of sleepy potion, they will toss and turn. Often for hours. You need to listen to your body clock to know when it is the right moment to go to sleep.

Yet the sleepy potion produced by the body clock is not enough to put you to sleep. The brain also uses the hourglass of mental energy that gives you some time every day that you can devote to intellectual work. When you wake up, the hourglass is full and starts being emptied. With every waking moment, with everything your brain absorbs, with every mental effort, the hourglass is less and less full. Only when the hourglass of mental energy is empty, will you able to quickly fall asleep.

To get a good night sleep, you need to combine two factors:

  • your body clock must be saying "time to sleep"
  • your hourglass of power must be saying "no more mental work"

If your sleepy potion tries to put you to sleep but your hourglass is full, you will be very groggy, tired, but you will not fall asleep.

If, on the other hand, you try to sleep without the sleepy potion while the hourglass of power is empty, you may succeed, but you will wake up very fast with your hourglass full again. That will make sleeping again nearly impossible.

Insomniacs go to sleep before the body clock releases the sleepy potion. When you wake up early with an alarm clock, you can hardly get to your feet because your body is full of sleepy potion, which begs you to go back to sleep. When you are drowsy in the afternoon, your hourglass of mental power might be almost empty. A quick nap will then help you fill it up again and be very productive in the evening. If you drink coffee in the morning, it helps you charge the hourglass and add some extra mental energy. But coffee combined with the sleepy potion produce a poisonous mix that engulfs your brain in sickly miasma. If you try to drink coffee to stay up in the night, you will feel like a horse kicked you in the stomach. That's the acme of a criminal attack on your brain's health.

Here is why polyphasic sleep will never work naturally:

  • in the morning, if you are fresh and rested, your sleepy potion is cleared and your hourglass is full of mental energy, you are not likely to fall asleep. Trying to take a nap at that time is a waste of time. You will waste time for nap preparations. You will waste time trying to fall asleep
  • in the afternoon, if you hourglass is getting empty, you may be able to take a nap. That's ok. Your nap will be short because the sleepy potion is not there
  • in the evening, your sleepy potion is still not there. If you took an afternoon nap, your hourglass is almost full of energy. If you try to take another nap, you will be staring at the ceiling. You will waste your time again
  • in the night, your sleepy potion is released. Napping should be easy, but if you fall asleep, you will not wake up. Not naturally. You will need an alarm clock. You may manage to recharge your hourglass fast, but the sleepy potion will make you groggy and tired. You may need a double alarm or a loud alarm, or some help from your Mom (if she ever agreed to this polyphasic insanity). You will fight and struggle. You will never wake up naturally. Not while the sleepy potion is in action

If you decide to sleep polyphasically. You will have to use an alarm clock. Otherwise you will not wake up in the night. Once you use the alarm clock, you will be sleep deprived. That will make your hourglass conveniently drained of energy. Empty hourglass will make napping easier indeed. But it is the hourglass that determines your mental powers. With the hourglass empty, you will be nothing more than an empty-headed zombie.

To generate naps at equal intervals, you would have to kill the 24-h circadian component of sleepiness. You would have to kill your body clock, and prevent the release of the sleepy potion. That is not possible. The sleepy potion will be released every 24 hour and make you sleepy; however, much you fight it. The shortest natural night sleep rarely goes beneath 3 hours. Many biphasic sleepers can do well on 4 hours. Yet most adolescents may need 7 or 8 hours of night sleep to function optimally.

In healthy sleep, daytime naps are either impossible or very short. If you track your sleep with SleepChart freeware, you will see it on your own. You will see how naps tend to cluster at night time (which may be midday for you). That's exactly what polyphasic guru Dr Stampi observed with solo sailors. Remember, that for the picture to be true, you should avoid alarm clock, which naturally, is not possible in polyphasic sleep. Yet even on a forced schedule you will see regular patterns of naps being longer and more frequent at nighttime (each time your relax your discipline, oversleep, etc.). The daytime naps will be shorter, esp. at subjective evening hours (which may be midnight for you).

Body clock training has its limits

I hear it again and again that all biological reasoning is of no consequence because the body can always adapt to training and pressure, and that science has not yet studied successful polyphasic sleepers. Here is a reply based on the clock&hourglass model:

  • body clock is controlled by genes, and we do not know pharmacological factors that could significantly affect body clock period. Polyphasic sleep would require shortening the body clock period six-fold!
  • body clock phase can be shifted with light, activity, melatonin and other factors, but the length of the period in which sleepy potion is released is hard to control. Drugs can reduce the impact of sleepy potion, but this should be avoided, as this affects the sleep stage cycles (i.e. not all your PC data may get written to the hard disk and get defragmented)
  • the speed with which the hourglass of energy is emptied can be affected by drugs (e.g. caffeine); however, faster hourglass would produce more sleep (instead of less), while slower hourglass would make multiple naps even less possible
  • science have not studied successful polyphasic sleepers because they do not exist (although there are as many claimants to the title as there are UFO spotters)
  • polyphasic sleep in laboratory conditions is possible if the alarm clock is used to interrupt natural sleep. Entrained free-running polyphasic sleep is not possible in healthy individuals


Healthy body clock runs a 24 hour cycle. This cycle will make you sleepy during the subjective night (which can be midday too). This is why you won't be able to wake up from your nap in your subjective night without an alarm clock. Alarm clocks are unhealthy. They prevent sleep from fulfilling its function. The choice is yours: either (1) sleep polyphasically or (2) sleep naturally and let your brain develop its full intellectual potential.

If someone tells you he is doing naps every four hours, and that the naps last 20 min. and that he wakes up naturally, you can safely fire back: "I have seen Loch Ness monster too". That will bring it home.

Disclaimer: before you offend anyone, be sure you are not dealing with someone who is affected by a sleep disorder. For example, narcoleptics fall asleep many times during a day. But that is a result of a damage to their sleep control system. It is a disease and it badly affects their productivity and their life. Narcoleptics are always sleepy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top 10 Headphones Reviewed

Here is a list I have compiled of headphones that I have used over the past two years. I have owned at one point or another all of these headphones at one time. As most web designers know it is very very important to have good headphones seeing as more often than not it’s just you and your laptop plugging away with html, php, flash, etc. So without further adieu here is what I have experienced with each of these bad boys.

Bose Triport

Price: $149.99

Bose TriportsI’ll confess when I first saw these headphones I thought, how could these cone looking headphones produce good sound at all. However, I decided against my first instinct and bought a pair. Along with being Bose, as most audio gurus will tell you is slightly overrated in terms of sound, I had my own doubts. However I was pleasantly surprised. First off they are ultra comfortable on your ears because they are so lightweight and the padding they use is soft and not too suction-like. Secondly, unless you have unusually large ears, they earphones should fit around your entire ear which blocks out quite a bit of sound and produces very good sound quality.

Sound Quality:

On the Alicia Keys song that I used, if you’ve never heard her sing she has a very rich voice that covers a tremendous range, these headphones performed excellent against her raspy voice, trebles were good, bass was good, mid-range was sweet sounding. I’d say you can’t go wrong with these headphones at all.


If I had to point out one design flaw with these headphones I would say that the plastic ring connecting the two earphones is not extremely durable. Bose did make an improvement over their first Triport which just had cheapo plastic, and added a nice neoprene sleeve over this new edition Triport which gives a more quality feel and increases durability.

Dorkiness Factor:

I’m not sure these headphones would exactly get you girls but you won’t be made fun of either. I mean if Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat can sport them on national TV why can’t you (oh, wait I’m not in the NBA and shoot I’m not famous either, crud).


For all the reasons I listed above, I do believe that for the money these are a great pick and you can’t go wrong with these headphones. If you want to be blown away with the sound I’d recommend listening to Brian McKnight with this pair of phones.

Bang & Olufson A8

Price: $159.99

Bang and Olufson !8Perhaps my favourite headphones of all time these are the perfect low profile headphones that fit easily into your pocket with amazing sound quality. Trust me I’ve owned all of these headphones and this one is by far the one I would take with me if I could only take one. The best song to listen to with these headphones is “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice, first of all this song is one of the best songs of all time, second you can even hear the background studio noise because the headphones are THAT good. I would venture to say that Bang & Olufson makes the best sounding headphones. If they ever came out with a noice canceling headphone it would blow the water out of everything out in the industry right now.


I’d say they are more durable than most headphones because of the metaal earbands with the rubber lining. The only problem that I have had with them is I once dropped them in water and they stopped working for awhile, so as long as you don’t do something like that I think you’ll be fine.

Design Aesthetics:

The A8’s are low profile so no worries there. I’d say the only time I felt most like a dork was when I kept telling people to listen to my headphones and compare them to their stock ipod headphones.


One of the two pairs of headphones that I use pretty much everyday, the A8’s are perfect for my walk to work (through downtown San Francisco) and are perform just as well at home. If you want a high performing, great sounding, durable campanion to your IPOD I would get these hand’s down.

Bose Quiet Comfort 2 - Acoustic Noice Canceling

Price: $349.99

Bose Quiet ComfortsBefore I go onto my review of these headphones and everyone goes on to talk about how great these headphones are I must say that I too think they are GOOD headphones as well. Here is a statement that I’ll standby 100%, the Bose Triports that only cost half the price of the Quiet Comforts have a much better sound than these headphones. Most people will contest that these phones sound better but the way to actually test the sound quality is to sit in a quiet place and listen to both the Triports and the Quiet Comforts, the difference is staggering. From the trebles to the bass the Triport is just able to produce a crisper sound, you can just feel the singer’s voice and the vebratto.


These headphones will stand the test of time. They are much better constructed than the triports and will be able to take a beating. The head band that connects the two earphones is about 3/4 of an inch wide and very very durable, you definitely get the same tough/industrial feel that you get with the Sony DJ headphones reviewed here as well. The only part you will be changing out is the batteries most likely.

Sound Quality:

As discussed before, for the price, the sound quality is a bit lower than expected. I believe that people often confuse good quality sound with the noise canceling that the Quiet Comforts provides. The Quiet Comforts do provide excellent noise canceling, I can testify to this, as I wore them on an airplan and couldn’t hear the engine or that typical airplane buzz at all. If I were looking into the market to buy a pair of noise canceling headphones I would definitely go with these bad boys.


Don’t get me wrong I like these headphones for noise canceling I just have a hard time recommending the Quiet Comforts just based on sound quality. I would say if you are traveling in airplanes, trains, or on a whole in noisy environments a lot then these are actually really good headphones to buy because of their effectiveness blocking out sound. I would say if you are a consultant that hops on a plane more more than 4x a month this would be my pick for headphones.

Shure E3C - Sound Isolating

Price: $179.99

ShureThe two pairs of in-ear headphones that I bought were the Shure E3C’s and the Ultimate Ear 5 Pro’s and though I don’t like to bash another product I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the Ultimate Ear’s and miles better than the Shure’s. There is definitely a reason that 90% of the professional music community uses the Ultimate Ear headphones. Though I’m not a huge fan of in-ear headphones if I had to recommend a pair of headphones it would be the Ultimate Ears. Ok, ok but this is a review of the Shure E3C’s, they are cheap. Quite simply, these headphones, at the E3C level, are Sony Fontopia’s for a higher price with a better in ear foam bud, and I might argue that the Fontopias are better. I once again used the Alicia Key’s song “If I ain’t got you” as a good song to test these headphones out. What I found was that the when her pitch got higher the E3C’s sounded very tinny and almost hurt my ear from the badly balanced treble. I chose a song with a lot of range because on a whole it is unfair to judge in-ear headphones on their bass performance, it’s just not going to be there with any of them.


If you work out don’t buy these headphones. The main reason I say this is because when you’re running if you hit that wire at all it will reverberate back into your headphones and will be very disturbing. Though this is true with most in-ear headphones, in fact if you’re working out just buy cheapo headphones or if you want better sound go buy the Bang and Olufson’s they will work perfect. In fact I can’t recommend these headphones at all in light that the Ultimate Ears are available and are exponentially better in my opinion.

Sony MDR-EX71SL Fontopia Headphones

Price: $49.99

Sony FontopiaIf you’re looking for the most bang out of your buck and a good trooper of a pair of headphones these are it. For in-ear headphones they are very good. These headphones aren’t tinny and handle bass very well when I tried playing some 50 cent on them while working out. Probably the second most important characteristic about in-ear headphones asides from sound quality is the foam earbuds that come with the earphones. The Sony Fontopia’s come with 6 pairs and they should fit most people’s ears comfortably, if you can handle in-ear headphones without headaches. Sidenote: check to make sure that you can handle in-ear headphones before you buy them, it is a very different feel than regular headphones you may be used to. Most people that don’t like in-ear headphones either get headaches when they wear them or the ear foam buds don’t fit in their ears.


Buy if you are looking for those headphones to get your from point A to point B. Perfect for the train ride commute that is less than an hour. Don’t buy if you are planning on using these guys for hours on end while doing homework or web designing it’ll give you a headache or your ears will start throbbing…ok yours might not but mine did. This isn’t a Fontopia thing, it’s an in-ear headphone thing, though like I said in-ear works for some people just not me and I’ve owned some pretty good in-ear phones which right now my sister is enjoying (she loves in-ear headphones and CAN wear them for hours on end). Good buy if you like in-ear headphones, not super expensive and provide good value.

Sony MDR-700DJ Studio Monitor Series

Price: $149.99

This is a pair of headphones I hold near and dear to my heart. Always by my side, the MDR DJ700’s were made famous by the 1000’s of DJ’s that swear by these headphones. Don’t believe me, go out this weekend to your nearby club and see what headphones the DJ is sporting, it’s the 700’s guarnteed. These headphones are quite simply a perfect balance of sound quality, durability, design aesthetics, comfort, and overall feel.

Sony DJ

Sound Quality:

This time I gave these headphones the full test. When I first bought these headphones it was because of the incredible hype around them that existed, but still I waited awhile, a long while. Finally after a particular hard day at work I broke down and ordered them off of Amazon ($83 bucks right now) and I wasn’t disappointed. The sound is incredibly rich. When I say rich I mean the bass is complete, soft when the drums are lower, crisp when it’s a cymbol, just nice and balanced. You will never flinch because the sound is too high-pitched or uncomfortable with these phones. I guess I can’t say more than these headphones are just balanced, however if you do buy them make sure to use the extra adapter and listen to them through your receiver. Oh, now that is amazing, the extra power that using the 8mm brings is such off the hook.


By far the most durable of all the headphones reviewed. Double enforced head band, metal components, half the reason that DJ’s use these headphones is because they are soo durable. You can throw them around (did that), sit on them (that too), and overall do everything you aren’t supposed to do to them and they will keep on ticking.


For anyone that will be listening to music for longer than an hour at a time. That’s calling all you engineering students out there, web designers, programmers, and anyone else that spends more time on their computer than they should. As far as design aesthetics these headphones are beautiful, we’re talking the Jessica Alba of headphones. I know that there are now more expensive new generations of this headphones and better DJ headphones out there, but there is a reason these headphones have become a classic.

Ultimate Ears 5 Pro

Price: $249.99

Ulitmate EatBest in-ear quality headphone brand out there. Great fit with the foam pads (very important with in-ear headphones), great sound quality. I love the range of the 5 Pro’s and would definitley recommend giving a bit more money to but this version over the cheaper version. I know easier said than done, I had to skip a few meals and eat to ramen for the month of September, but I can now say it was worth it. Ultimate Ears was a brand started by a sound engineer in the music industry and it shows in pretty much the entire product. If you are into heavy bass or trebles these headphones will cover the range of music easily and well. To test the bass out I listened to a lot of down tempo, drum and bass, stuff and can say I could easily pick out snare drums and different bass drums. Surprisingly, also, after wearing these headphones I didn’t have a headaches because the fit with the foam pads was so secure.


Yep, I recommend these headphones as an alternative to noise canceling headphones and as the best in-ear headphones around for the money. If you are debating between Shure and Ultimate Ears I would recommend the Pro 5’s, or just Ultimate Ears in general.

Apple In-Ear Headphones

Price: $39.00

apple in earDon’t buy these headphones. Ok now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let me tell you why. I bought these headphones so that I could use them to work out but they performed so terribly that I had to return them the day after. First off the ear buds don’t fit correctly, and though I did manage to get them to fit for a second of two they will definitely fall out during a short run. In addition the sound quality is no better than your typical Apple Ipod stock headphones and realistically I wouldn’t even accept these headphones as a gift.

Bang and Olufson Form 2

Price: $99.99

Bang and OlufsonAesthetically I’m not sure about these headphones at al as they are black and someone spaceship like, however musically they perform very well. Since you can try these out at the apple store, to test the sound quality, I would first listen to the Alicia Keys song “If I ain’t got you” any of the other headphones and then listen to these headphones. Eventhough they may not block out the sound very well because of their ear phone design the quality is top notch.


I’m not sure I can recommend this as a buy because for $100 this is a bit over priced. I see this pair of headphones as a tweener between a really good pair of headphones and your stock headphones. I would suggest you save your money and buy the Bang and Olufson A8’s or the Bose Triport’s if you are thinking of spending this kind of money on headphones.

Apple Ipod Ear Phones

Price: $29.00

The stock ear phones that come with ipod are actually probably the best stock ear phones that you will ever get. They are stylish durable, produce decent sound, and overall are a good pair of headphones if you don’t want to spend anymore money. They will however not block out any sound and if you do ride the train or are in an airplane your music will be competing with the outside noise and airplane engine.

And that concludes my headphone review (I swear I thought this article would never end, I just about wore out my keyboard). If you found this article helpful I’d be much appreciated if you would digg this article.