~ An Opera/IRC essay ~
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published at searchlores in July 2004

An Opera/IRC essay
by Vvf

Published at http://www.searchlores.org in July 2004

It is unbelievable how many files you can find and download using Opera, once you start using that "chat" menu in the latest Opera release. Setting-up accounts is childishly simple, finding proper channels is a matter of basic searching and common sense.

Here's a brief account for those of you who never wandered in there.

My target was an mp3 file of "Volare" in its original form, sung by Domenico Modugno (1958). In fact, the proper name of the song is "Nel Blu, Dipinto Di Blu". Needless to say it has several other versions by other artists, like the Gypsy Kings.

My Opera is 7.51, which means it has an extra menu at the right of "mail", called "chat". Ignoring IRC as a means of communication, I wasn't too interested in this new browser facility at first. Still, it can have a dramatic impact when you're fishing for files.

In "chat" I selected "new account", defined a disposable identity & nick, and selected the "Undernet" on the list proposed by Opera. The Undernet is a huge IRC net. Inside it there are countless channels, some transitory and some more 'permanent', moderated by humans or, very often, served by bots.

Once the account is set up, I only need to go back to "chat" and press "list rooms...", then select "Undernet North America" (or Undernet Europe) and press "join". The interesting part starts here; you have to enter a channel. If you know it already (as from a web search), enter it. If you don't, you can just use your best guess(es) and you might get lucky. E.g. a good channel for books is #bookz, but if you need programming books or technical info, you might give a try to #ebooks-tech - just an example.

The #bookz channel, a more or less permanent one, is hosted by a bot. Here's what it says when I join:

"Joining chat room... Started talking in bookz on Room topic is: A place for knowledge, culture & enjoyment! |!rules !help !list @find @booksearch | You are advised to use common sense. | Enjoy your stay!"

If you are familiar with IRC commands (which I'm just starting to be) you might type "@find YOURTARGET" in the bottom part of the window to see if your target is there somewhere. However, the bot is helpful and tells us that @booksearch is available as a command. Actually, this command is quicker and much more practical. In case of doubt, type !rules, or !help, or !list, which will make the bot send you a file containing, say, help instructions. The bot ALWAYS ask before sending anything, as do any of the servers you send file requests to. Use your common sense, as the bot says, and do not accept anything from anybody that you did not ask for in the first place. Be aware that there are indeed live people out there, but that you are dealing mostly with bots - no use typing "thank you!" after a download :)

In Opera you basically deal with 3 tabs/windows when on an irc channel: 1) the main window, that's where you see all the communications going on and the list of people present; that's where you enter your commands/messages too; 2) the bot window, which is opened by the bot after your first command and where you see all bot/fileserver answers; 3) Opera's download window, of course.

Searching (if this can still be called 'searching') goes like this:

Type "@booksearch kipling book jungle"

Then wait. Answers start coming in (sent by the room bot as one zip file or else sent by individual users - automated). They might look like this:

anon !anon Kipling, Rudyard - The Two Jungle Books.zip
------------------------------------ 549.72 KB

Copy only this string "!anon Kipling, Rudyard - The Two Jungle Books.zip", starting from the "!" sign and until the file extension included, and then paste it in the first window. Hit enter. Wait. "anon" notifies you that you're on his list, let's say in position no. 5, and some time later proposes to send you the file. Click ok and wait for the download to complete. That's all.

Now back to Volare. I didn't know on what channel to start looking, so I could have searched the web first for that purpose. But no, I thought my target was common enough to be found on more than a handful of places. Thus I went to the Undernet and joined #mp3z (common sense guess). "@find volare" returns Gypsy Kings. However, "@find dipinto" gives me the original Italian song, plus a few other versions by Sinatra etc. Got the files in minutes.

This is fast. Yes, results tend to change every time. Yes, it's unreliable. Channels rise and disappear in quantum-like fashion, but when it works, it works.

Next, I found this IRC tutorial that I thought you might want to read too (http://users.gloryroad.net/~whitemask/dnd/getmp3s.htm), because it keeps things short and on topic.


Whitemask's Guide To MP3s on IRC Commands, Summarized

So you like MP3s, huh? You've tried Napster and FTp sites galore. Well, there is an easier way to find mp3s and that is on IRC.

But where to start? Simple. First, get mIRC. If you already have it, make sure you have the most recent version.

Now we need to configure it because people will try to send you viruses and other nasty things like that on IRC. Go to File>Options and then to DCC>Folders. Then Make sure Ignore File Types is checked and make sure all these filetypes are entered: *.exe,*.com,*.bat,*.dll,*.ini,*.vbs,*.pif,*.js,*.shs ; now, if you know what you're doing and you might want to download a .exe in the future, for instance, don't put it, but if all you're going to be downloading is mp3s, put .exe in the Ignore list. You'll be better off for it. Go to Sounds>Requests and make sure the send !nick as private message is NOTchecked.

Now that we're configured, you're going to want to connect to a server. I suggest trying Undernet,for reasons I'll get to in a little bit. DALnet is also a very good group to try. Lots of people are on DALnet and the selection is different from Undernet.

Next, you need to find an mp3 channel. A good channel on Undernet is #mp3_collective. So, type /join #mp3_collective to join. I'm not a part of them, but they have a lot of traffic and a lot of people serving (and one other reason discussed below). I can't begin to list all of the mp3 channels on IRC and I'm not even going to try. Channels spring up and disappear all the time. Type in /list mp3 and you'll get a list of all channels with mp3 in the title. A word of warning: it's going to take some time to find and list all of those channels.

Ok, so you've joined a channel and you're ready to download. What to do? You see all these people posting junk like type: !MyNick mp3_file.mp3 to get it. That's not the file you want. Here's what to do:

If you're looking for something in particular, type @find KEYWORD(S) (e.g., @find Weird Al to find out who has what files with Weird Al in it). You can also format it @find*Weird*Al if you so desire. I haven't found any difference, but there might be one I don't know of. Messages will pop up, telling you, I have the following matches: If that's what you want, copy from the ! through .mp3 and type it in the channel. Also, most channels employ @locator as well, which does the same thing. Some channels, however, do not allow these commands, so be wary of the rules wherever you go.

Suppose this one person had too many file matches to your @find or you're curious to see what else they have. You want to get their list. Type @Nick to get their list. For instance, my name is Whitemask and if I was serving, you would type @Whitemask and my list of mp3s would be sent to you. But how do you know who to get lists from? Usually, they'll have an @ or a + in front of their names.

Well now you have the list and you've decided you want to get this file. How do you get it? As I said above, copy from the ! through .mp3 and type it in the channel. For example, !Whitemask 3 Doors Down - Kryptonite.mp3 should be posted in the channel. You'll then have the file, 3 Doors Down - Kryptonite.mp3, sent to you or you'll be put on a que. You'll have to wait, in that case. Stay in the channel you're in. Do not leave it, unless you don't want to get the file.

Well, you've been waiting for 30 minutes and you haven't received the file yet. Want to check your que status? Type @Nick-que, like @Whitemask-que, to see where you currently stand (and usually, how much longer you have to wait).

Getting mp3s isn't much more difficult than that. They're hard to find sometimes, but IMNSHO, that's part of the fun. But, there is a reason I use Undernet, and #mp3_collective, in particular. That reason is the Collective Search Engine, or CSE.
Basically, the CSE is a collection of all the lists of mp3s people have. The CSE is somewhat unique in that when you type @CSE, you don't get a list, but a chat request. Chat with it. Read the instructions if you need to, but I'm going to tell you all you need to know here.
!search KEYWORD is the same thing as @find, except it gives you a listing from the CSE that tells you who has the mp3 and is currently ONLINE and where to find them. If noone has the file that is online, use !searchall KEYWORD. This gives you a listing of people both ONLINE and OFFLINE. If anyone on Undernet has it, this is where you will find out, more than likely.
DALnet has nothing like this, AFAIK. My suggestion is that if a person has your mp3, but is currently offline, put them in your notify list to be sure to find them next time they're on.

Well, I suppose that's about it. All that's left for me to do is sum it all up.

Commands, Summarized

!Nick filename.mp3 - basic structure for get mp3 commands. Post in channel.
@find KEYWORD - use to find people in a channel that have the keyword you're looking for.
@locator KEYWORD - same as @find.
@Nick - use to get a person's mp3 list from that person. @Nick-que - use to find position in que.
/join #channel - Use to join channels on IRC.
/list mp3 - Use to list channels on IRC whose name contains mp3. @CSE - use to chat with the Collective Search Engine and search for mp3s on it.
!search KEYWORD - use to find ONLINE mp3s on the Collective Search Engine.
!searchall KEYWORD - use to find both ONLINE and OFFLINE mp3s on the CSE.


A few more things:

- CSE - Collective Search Engine. This sounds good, unfortunately I was unable to initiate a chat with it through Opera, for proxo or other reasons.

- Note this nice Undernet channel for music: #mp3_collective

- You end an IRC session by typing the command /quit

Good luck & be careful.


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