June 27, 2016 1:19 pm

BitTorrent has been on the tech scene for a while now, and is seen by many as the go-to for peer-to-peer file-sharing. Users download a BitTorrent client (µTorrent, Vuze, Transmission, etc.), which are programs that use the BitTorrent protocol, to allow sharing of files over the internet and between users. 

Since the launch of the software in 2001, BitTorrent has vastly expanded its functionality. The development of tools like Sync, Bleep, BitTorrent Live and the upcoming Project Maelstrom have helped BitTorrent evolve. Now BitTorrent protocols “move as much as 40% of the world’s Internet traffic on a daily basis.” – BitTorrent.


BitTorrent is adding a new function to their roster with BitTorrent Now. The platform is a music streaming service that allows content creators to distribute their music and art. By signing up to be a BitTorrent Now Publisher, users can put their own music on the platform and then tag it with artists’ names to attract more traffic to their own pages. 

The BitTorrent Now main web page features several categories including collections that are ‘currently trending,’ ‘recently added’ and ‘featured.’ The site draws on the BitTorrent Bundle, a new approach to file-sharing which allows creators to offer some content for free as well as the option to purchase additional media at a price that the artist designates.

BitTorrent Now is ad-supported, similar to music streaming websites like Pandora, and users will have the option to skip the ads by paying a fee. According to BitTorrent, this is a step towards creating a “people-powered platform, in which creators can distribute content on their own terms and make some coin in the process.

We believe we can help artists harness a powerful medium – the Internet – in a meaningful way. In a way that they can profit from distributing their work. In a way that empowers creators with data ownership and transparency. –BitTorrent 

Given that BitTorrent Now was launched just a couple days ago on June 23, the program hasn’t had much of an opportunity to gain traction in the indie music and tech communities. Regardless, BitTorrent Now is certainly a step in a new direction when it comes to self-distribution and online music streaming platforms. 

The BitTorrent Now App is available for Android in the Google Play store, with iOS and Apple TV availability following soon.

March 10, 2016 12:10 pm

The next revolution will not conspire in a dingy tavern. The jury’s out on whether or not the next revolution will be televised. More than likely though, the next mass protest will be orchestrated via text message.

Open Garden is an innovative little tech firm based in San Francisco that are tinkering with our very preconceived notions of the internet.

Their flagship product FireChat is a mobile application that allows you to communicate without access to the internet or a mobile network.

FireChat uses the radio inside your phone to connect directly with adjoining phones within a 210 foot radius, otherwise known as an off-the-grid mesh network. The more devices that are connected to the network, the larger the web gets. This makes it easy to build ad hoc networks to get the buzz going at conventions and music festivals like Burning Man and SXSW. But perhaps where FireChat has the most impact are in isolated areas where internet is limited, such as the tropical paradise of Tahiti, or situations in which conversations are being heavily monitored, such as the pro-democracy protests in Honk Kong.

Open Garden was founded by a group of renegade technologists, and ex-engineers of the file-sharing tool BitTorrent. CEO Micha Benoliel was instrumental in creating telecommunications mainstay Skype. The company has been backed by a handful of high-profile investors, including Mark Cuban. In total their investment capital amounts to over $12.8 million.

So you’re the one at the party that likes to share. You know who you are. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing you. Now you can share your internet access with outsiders as well. FireChat lets you dictate how much data you are willing to share, and with whom you are sharing it with.

For the most part accessing this app is fairly simple, just find it at the App Store or Google Play and download.

Next it’s time to create a profile: pick a username, add a photo and a short bio, you know the drill. Don’t fret too much over this step–you have the option of keeping your identity anonymous when you join a network. Once you’re up and running it’s time to join a chatroom. Like Twitter and Instagram, FireChat utilizes hashtags to denote various chatroom categories (#AtypicalBeasts). This also makes it a lot easier to share your chatroom or a chatroom you’re participating in with friends online.

Lastly, a few additional features to keep in mind. You can block nuisances or creeps. You can also disperse photos. You can even send private messages if you don’t want to engage the entire surround community into your conversation. it’s a simple tool with a lot of flexibility.

Open Garden has already inspired a host of new internet services. An emerging market abound with buzz on the blogosphere these days is the so-called Internet of Things, commonplace items like light bulbs and thermostats that will soon be part of our internet ecosystem. These items might run more efficiently and more cost-effectively if they could periodically key into a network emitted from a nearby device rather than have to constantly be connected to WiFi.

Another area of interest are emerging markets, such as Africa. Off-the-grid networks could be particularly useful in markets where cellular coverage and internet access is scarce, or where it might be more economical to share a single cellular service. Open Garden wants to help connect the next 1 billion devices to the internet and are actively seeking partners to help them deploy their FireChat MeshKits.

Open Garden is certainly proving to be a force in the telecommunications game and it seems the possibilities are endless.