Sunday, November 18, 2007

Desperate Housewives on Miro

I blogged about Miro a couple weeks ago. I'm impressed with Version 1.0 after using it regularly for a while. Previous versions hung regularly and were even resilient enough that Force Quit wouldn't kill them. I've had no hangs what soever with 1.0.

One trick I've learned is how to add first run TV shows to Miro. Since Miro is also a Bit Torrent client, it can download Bit Torrent files. With Bit Torrent, the problem is finding the torrent files that you're interested in. This problem is solved by using RSS feeds for the torrents. If you give Miro an RSS feed, it will download files indicated in that feed. The RSS trick works for YouTube's Top Videos as well as Bit Torrent. But the problem remains, where do I get interesting RSS feeds of torrent files? It turns out there is a site called tvRSS that has organized a large number of torrent files for TV shows.

To get this to work, you find the feed you want from tvRSS by clicking on the show you want to see. You'll see something like the above image. If you right click (or control click for single button Macs) on the link Search-based RSS Feed, you can copy the URL for the RSS feed. It will look something like this:

Next, use the Add Channel menu in Miro and add this URL to for the channel. Miro will then start downloading the newest episode from the RSS feed. You might want to rename the channel with the show name as the default channel name isn't very pretty.

By default Miro will only download the newest show and will delete it if you don't watch it after five days to save disk space. If you want the older episodes you can click on them in the channel view and Miro will download those as well. When new shows appear in the RSS feed, Miro will automatically download them. This works great for new and popular shows. However, the older a show is, the less likely you'll be able to download it. This is just an artifact of how Bit Torrent works. During and after downloading a file from Bit Torrent, your client acts as a server for other folks to download the file. This is great when a file is popular since lots of folks will be downloading it and you'll have a lot of peers that can pass on the data. However, this scheme runs out of steam pretty quickly. If a file is old, it will be difficult to find other peers that are still willing to share it. Think of the five day delete rule in Miro. If you've deleted the file after five days, you're not going to be able to share it with other Bit Torrent clients. In a way, this is a lot like broadcast television. A signal is sent out and it fades away into the distance. Similarly, these torrent files burst out onto the net but fade away over time.