I just moved to Shanghgai and I have encountered a problem when downloading files from overseas websites — everything is really, really slow! I know Shanghai’s connections are famously unpredictable, but is there anything I can do? F.G., Shanghai
First, let us say that if these “files” you are downloading are illegal, shame on you, F.G. Shanghaiist would surely never do something like that.
But if we did, we would likely choose Bit Torrent as our peer-to-peer platform of choice to share and download movies, music and TV shows that remind us of home. Perhaps you’re already using BT. Still, we’ve heard, some large files can be insufferably slow as they make their way, drip by drip, across an ocean or Eurasia. For the best connections and highest speeds, Shanghaiist might head over to BT China, the site all the Chinese kids use.
If you didn’t know, Bit Torrent is a form of cooperative downloading that makes all the old systems like Kazaa, Napster, etc., all but obsolete. With no advertising pop-ups or spyware, your computer and your privacy will be safe so long as you don’t download any dodgy files. First you’ll need a Bit Torrent client: BitComet, we’ve been told, is the best for PC; probably Azureus for Mac. To watch movies, Windows users will want to install the DivX and AC3 codecs.
Over at BT China, users are mostly in Mainland China. That means much faster download speeds than overseas peers can offer, because you’re sharing with your neighbor. It also means downloaded videos often come with Chinese subtitles which can be useful for language study, and entertaining friends … or so Shanghaiist hears.
BT China tends to stay in the mainstream, however — mostly carrying titles that are availble, in one form or another, on Shanghai’s streets. A search for Batman Begins turns up lots of results, while a query for Crash comes up empty. Also, BT China appears not to agree with Apple’s Safari web browser.
So you might still need to search for films, whole seasons of television shows, or albums and albums of music in other places. When downloaded content becomes your primary means of home entertainment, sources tell Shanghaiist that you’ll want to buy an extra hard-drive and connect the “TV out” video jack from your computer to your television. We hear the best deals on computer accessories are found at the cyber-mart at Qiujiang Lu and Sichuan Lu.
If all this is too much for you, we’re told there are always plenty of MP3s floating around at Baidu.com. Otherwise, just head to the new location of Ka De Club like everyone else.
Need answers? Advice? Ask Shanghaiist! Email shanghaiist(@)gmail.com.