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Entries from December 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007


Chalk One Up for the Good Guys: The State of Oregon Defends Students Accused of Pirating

Music gets stolen on college campuses. College students are also poor. And Americans will stop at nothing to pay nothing. Music can easily be obtained through theft. Music pirating happens. Whatever your stance is on pirating music, one thing is unquestionably up: the RIAA is up to no good.

To bring you up to speed, very few people have been sued by the RIAA. Rather the RIAA just bullies people into settling out of court for 1/100th of the amount the RIAA claims that a specific pirate "owes" them. The RIAA banks on citizens freaking out and agreeing to pay a few thousand dollars, without the due process of the court.

Until now. The Oregon attorney general is now pursuing the RIAA:

"In the Fight Over Piracy, a Rare Stand for Privacy" [New York Times]


12 HackCollege Days of Christmas: Seven Hours A-Surfing with Firefox

Firefox. Get it at Now let's move on to the Add-ons.

Seven Must-Have Add-ons for Firefox

  1. Adblock Plus

    Although advertising can arguably be said to run the Internet, Adblock Plus only works for Firefox, and thus only 10% of all Internet users. So I don't feel too bad.

    Select a filter, depending on where you live, and bam. No more ads covering up half your screen.

  2. IE Tab

    Nevertheless, some websites still don't play nicely with Firefox. IE Tab, previously covered here on HackCollege, allows you to switch to Internet Explorer from within Firefox for just that one unruly website.

  3. LeechBlock

    Wasting too much time on the Internet and not completing your essays, projects, etc? Get the LeechBlock Add-on, also previously highlighted here on HackCollege.

  4. FaviconizeTab and Aging Tabs

    Together, these two add-ons are great if you frequently have several tabs open at once. FaviconizeTab will allow you to minimize the width of the tab to simply the icon, and Aging Tabs gives slight color to each of your tabs, depending on when you accessed it last. So, if you need to get back to that one tab you just looked at, go to the darkest color. Nice.

  5. Always Remember Password

    Some websites will not let Firefox remember your password. Get past this with Always Remember Password, a wonderful add-on if you're the sole user for your computer.

  6. BugMeNot, TrackMeNot, and RetailMeNot

    We've previously discussed these here, here, and here. Be sure to get all three.

  7. Tiny Menu

    Want more screen space? Get Tiny Menu and squish everything into one menu.

Along with these, Gina Trapani over at LifeHacker has posted in the past a great set of config tweaks for Firefox, from spellcheck to better RAM usage. I won't attempt to summarize her brilliant work. She's awesome. Go there next.


This post is part of the 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas feature.


12 HackCollege Days of Christmas: Six Hours A-Talking Pt. 2 (Skype Hacking)

We have already covered the utility of Skype as a foreign language instructor and also just previously when not to use Skype. However, from dorm room security to a lie detector to a simple wake up call, Skype has been my Savior for years. And now it will become yours, too. Let's begin.

Introduction and Downloading Skype

From Wikipedia:

Skype (IPA: [ska?p], rhymes with type) is a software program created by the entrepreneurs Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. Skype allows users to make telephone calls from their computer to other Skype users free of charge, or to landlines and cell phones for a fee. Additional features include instant messaging, file transfer, short message service, video conferencing and its ability to circumvent firewalls.

After equipping yourself with a microphone and webcam, download the software at Choose a name. Take a deep breath. You're ready and set. Let's go.

Skype Credit, What?

Right from the download, Skype will let you call any other Skype user for free. Voice, video, file-sharing, instant messaging, and conference calls. Skype also has the ability to call and receive calls from landlines and mobile phones around the world. Not free, but Skype's prices are definitely the cheapest you'll find.

After you get some Skype Credit, you can also set up Call Forwarding from the Tools menu. This will allow others to reach you, even if your computer is turned off.

And now...

Let's Hack!

Similar to Firefox's many Add-ons, Skype also has many, what they call, Extras. Feel free to browse them on your own time. But while you're on mine, I'll just give you a quick top 6:

  1. Dorm Security System
    Say you'll be spending the night at your significant other's. Say you don't want your pesky roommate stealing your cds. Get a second Skype account. Now you have Account One (1) and Account Two (2).

    1. On 2, add 1 as your ONLY contact. Log out.

    2. Log back in on 2, go to Tools, Options, and Calls. Be sure to Show Advanced Options. Then check "Automatically answer incoming calls".

    3. Still in Options, underneath Calls, go to Video Settings. Check "Start my video automatically when I am in a call".

    4. Keep 2 online.

    Now when you login on 1 and call 2, you will be able to watch streaming, live video of what's going on in your dorm room. This can be a security measure as well as an act of perversion, so... Use this tip at your own risk.

  2. Speak and Chat in Translation

    Unlike AIM, Skype is around the world. It's likely that you'll receive a chat request from someone who doesn't speak English but who is willing to learn. If you find yourself lost, Speak and Translate Chats will help you. Though only if you're using Windows. Sorry, Mac and Linux users.

  3. Edit Documents Together

    Google Docs is great for this, but if you'd like to talk while you collaborate on a group project in separate dorm rooms, TalkAndWrite is all you need. However, the free version is limited to only 10 minutes. So... Maybe Google Docs is still better, but now you've got another option out there.

  4. Name Announcer

    Skype comes with a set ringtone, but if you'd like it to read aloud the name of the caller each time, AudioID does just that.

  5. Lie Detection

    The KishKish Lie Detector will analyze vocal stress signals. Interesting.

  6. Wake-Up Calls

    This hack requires about five minutes of tweaking. See the full article.

There is also the very popular Pamela for Skype - Standard Version, which for $12.95, gives you an answering machine, call recording, and a lot of other neat features. This did not make the top 6 only because I have not tried it out, myself. Though it does seem very useful.

This post is part of the 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas feature.


12 HackCollege Days of Christmas: Six Hours A-Talking Pt. 1 (Students' VoIP Roundup)

Firstoff, VoIP = Voice over IP. It means calling on normal from your computer. You probably know it as Skype, but we'll be covering a few alternate methods as well. It's day numbero seis of the HackCollege Days of Christmas; here we go.

The Case for VoIP

You have to talk to your parents. Whether your parents are footing your entire college bill or just paying for the occasional Ramen noodles, most students are dependent upon their parents to some degree.

If you've been sleeping for the past two years, you might have not realized that it's possible to make phone calls over the internet. Why would you want to do a silly thing like that? Well, it's cheap and long distance fees doesn't exist. If you want to conserve cell minutes, it might be a good idea to shell out the $20 for a Skype computer-to-phone account for the year.

Or just tell your parents to get Skype on their computers as well and talk free PC-to-PC.

What's a Skype?

Skype is far and away the most popular VoIP client. It's owned by eBay. Get it here.

All students should have Skype installed. I've never called my parents using Skype, but I have done job interviews over Skype. Get it now. It's straightforward; if you've ever used AIM you'll be able to figure it out easily. PC-to-PC calls on Skype are always free, but PC-to-phone calls will cost you $20 for the year.

When to not use Skype

Skype will be good for about 80% of people's VoIP needs. Where does it fail?

  • It's costs money to call phones

  • Quality can be spotty, depending on the Internet connection

Unfortunately, there's no real way around problem number two. We'll try to help you solve problem #1, though. Unless you're German, the standard way to get free PC-to-phone calls is to nab a competing VoIP client's promotion. There will almost always be these promotions going on, so you're in luck.

For example, the one that's still in business right now is called VoipBuster. It will allow you up to 300 minutes of talk time per week. As always when pursuing the freest, ads, spyware, and whatnot will always be a concern. Our recommendation? Pony up the $20 for a Skype account if you've got it. It'll get you a year's worth of PC-to-phone goodness and the software is supported across all platforms.

Otherwise if you're on a mission to be free, google around until you find what a working VoIP client with a company behind it that's still in business.

And make sure you call your parents when you get back to school. They'd love to hear from you.


Resolving New Year's Resolutions

As much as I hate to bump down a post on binge drinking, it's time to get serious about that new year's resolution. Here's a goal: a power hour in 20 minutes.

Over at the Keith Ferazzi blog (author of Never Eat Alone), he's come up with some great resolution solutions:

To be a successful goal-getter, you must first define your goal. It will likely fall into one of the seven aspects of what I call our personal success wheel: health & wellness, spirituality, job & career, intellectual & cultural, financial, deep relationships and giving back. Your goal must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

[never eat alone blog



He also recommends picking people who are designated "accountability buddies." If you draw goal-inspiration from this website, they might end up being more like designated drivers.

It's a great idea, though. You pick a small group of friends and you monitor each other's progress -- offering support when things go well and verbal abuse when you stray. He's even setup a little Facebook application called Goal Post, to streamline the whole thing.

If you're into goal-setting and Stasi-style peer support, you might also consider joining 43 Things, who've made a social network out of goal-setting (and perhaps passing them on to


12 HackCollege Days of Christmas: Five Power Hours

For our fifth day in our Christmas series, we're going to cover something oft requested and fundamentally American: the Power Hour. Please don't do five. How could such a simple objective be lifehacked? Well, we've covered it before and it's also one of the more searched for things on HackCollege. We're going to do it the ultimate justice. If you don't know what a Power Hour is, here are the steps:

  • Drink a shot of beer every minute for one hour.

Words to the wise: only experienced drinkers should participate in Power Hour(s) and be prepared to puke. 60 shots of beer equates to 60 ounces, or 5 cans, but the beer-in-shot form does a number on your stomach. It's like running a beer mile whilst not running.

Now let's lifehack it.

Let's face it, standing around methodically drinking booze is boring. So let's spice it up. Pick your favorite shot glass and a few friends. Get a light, cheap and borderline watery beer. A Power Hour with Guiness may be delicious, but around minute 38 you'll be in pain.

Most importantly, you'll want music. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a few programs that automatically advanced your song library every minute so that you knew when to take your next proportion? Why, we have just the thing for you.

For the Windows Drinkers

You're probably drinking because you're running Windows.

Your best friend is going to be iPowerHour, though. It's a Windows-only (damn) plug-in for iTunes. If you're not running iTunes and you don't have an iPod, you're a rarity when it comes to the average college student.

That's okay though, because Rosario also recommends MP3 Trimmer, another Windows-only program. You'll have to do some more heavy lifting, but you'll have the perfect playlist.

For the Mac Drinker

Go grab yourself a simple iTunes plug-in called Power Hour and you'll be good to go.

For the Linux (and Any) Drinker

Linux drinkers are a little out of luck. Thankfully, if you've got an Internet connection, you can stream some 1-minute long songs onto your computer. There is one site from which you can download videos and pre-made playlists:

Or if you're feeling up to the challenge, you can use Wine (the software) and install one of the other Windows power hour programs.

So have fun at the next Power Hour you participate in, and try to remain conscious.

This post is part of the 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas feature.


Four Easy Keystrokes (Quicksilver (Mac) for Students) - 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas



If you read this blog or hang out with a few lifehackers, you might hear this word, “Quicksilver” thrown around a lot. Now is a good time to try to understand it. It’s Christmas break and you have nothing better to do. For now, just take my word for it: this program will completely change the way you use your computer if you’ll give it a chance.

The problem with Quicksilver (the only problem with Quicksilver), is it is so outstanding, that a regular user can’t even explain what it is. It’s like trying to explain what a Swiss Army knife does without explaining all the parts. It’s like the Cliff Notes for Atlas Shrugged. It’s like reading a Wikipedia entry instead of the instruction manual. It’s like everything we do at HackCollege…

I’ll get to the point. Read this, and if you’re not interested, I don’t know what else to do:

Quicksilver is a way of running your entire computer right from the keyboard. Those who appreciate keyboard shortcuts will fall in love. But Quicksilver is also much more. Quicksilver enables you to tell your computer your ultimate goal so that it completes all of the intermediary steps for you. And the language that Quicksilver uses is the most intuitive thing I’ve ever seen -- right when you think of the task you need to do, you can send your processor off and running. It lets your computer truly become an extension of your mind.

For instance, I want to eject my thumbdrive. Instead of opening a new Finder window or hitting an active corner to reveal the desktop or dragging and dropping or hitting obscure shortcuts – you just type in what you want to do: eject the thumbdrive.

Another example: if I need to send an email to a friend, I’d usually have to open a browser, dig up the contact information, open Gmail, open a new message, copy/paste my friend’s information and then type up the email. Instead, with Quicksilver, you literally tell your computer what your ultimate goal is: to send an email to Albert. Moments later, a Gmail window opens up with Albert’s email address right where it should be.

Hopefully that sucked you in if you've never heard of Quicksilver. If you gave up on Quicksilver once before, follow my lead, because I think you'll like it after this. And, even if you're a regular user, scroll through to the end. I think there's some things you'd be interested in configuring. First, I’ll explain the installation, then, how it basically works, and finally, a few things especially for students.



Go to Blacktree’s website and download “Quicksilver.”

When you open the program for the first time, the setup is self-explanatory. The first thing you might have a question about are the “Recommended Plug-ins.” Well, of the recommended plug-ins, I recommend: Address Book, Firefox/Safari (whichever you use), and iTunes. The second thing you want to pay attention to is the activation hotkey. It’s really important that you remember what you set this to. Make it something easy that won’t trigger shortcuts in any other application. Mine is: ctrl+option+spacebar. Leave everything else as-is.

Now, pull up the Preferences (Quicksilver > Preferences…). In the Applications section: check “Start at login,” and “Enable advanced features.” In the Command section: uncheck “Reset search after.”

This is the last part, just bear with me. [Note to experienced users: I just do this part so that I have full control over the folder-depth that QS searches.] We're going to expand your Catalog to cover more data. Move over to the Catalog tab in the same window (upper-right). Highlight the User section in the left sidebar. Uncheck: Documents and Desktop.

Next, move to the Custom section of the sidebar. I'll go through this for your Documents folder, but you need to do it with at least your Pictures, Movies and Desktop folders, as well as any other major folder that you access frequently, but isn't encompassed by those.

Click on the plus symbol at the bottom of the window and select File & Folder Scanner. Browse to your Documents folder and click Open. If a Documents folder doesn't appear in the main window, then select the file in the main window that says File & Folder Scanner. Open the Info pane by clicking the icon in the bottom-right corner (if it isn't open already). Verify that under Path, the Documents folder is indeed selected. If not, you know what to do.

Change the pulldown menu just below so that it reads: Include Contents: Folder Contents. Then, move the slider under Depth all the way to the infinity symbol.

Remember, you need to do that whole thing until all of your major folders are pulled up in that main Sources window. For me, that's four: Documents, Desktop, Pictures, Movies.

These settings will ensure success as you play around with Quicksilver.


How it Works


First, I’ll run you through an example. We’ll eject the Quicksilver volume that got mounted to your desktop once you did the installation.

Invoke Quicksilver by hitting your hotkey. Now, start typing “Quicksilver” – but you don’t have to type the whole thing. Watch as the list shrinks for every letter you enter, narrowing down the possibilities, just like Spotlight. Whenever you’re ready, arrow down to highlight the Quicksilver volume. We’ve told Quicksilver what we want.

Press Tab, which moves us to the other pane. Start typing again, but this time, our verb: Eject. It should come up quickly. Make sure it’s highlighted. We’ve told Quicksilver what we want to do.

Finally, press enter, which will execute the whole shebang.

Think about what this could be like once you’re “trained” with Quicksilver. You typed something like: [hotkey], q, u, i, c, arrow down, tab, e, j, enter. If you did that with videogame-combo-move-like speed, you could perform that whole action within a moment of thinking about it – then move on to better things (like learning Quicksilver).

So, the basic equation is Subject (Quicksilver volume) and Predicate (Eject). In some cases, you can add a direct object – we’ll call it a “detail.” Think of things you can do with your computer now. Here are some examples and below, I’ll cover some of them in more detail:

iCal (subject); open (predicate)
“Macarena” (subject); play in iTunes (predicate)
Wikipedia (subject); search for (predicate); “longe” (detail) (subject); open in Firefox (predicate)
HackCollege team (subject); compose email (predicate); “hello, friends” (detail)
Junk folder (subject); move to (predicate); trash (detail)


The Training Period


It will probably take you about a week to become fully adjusted to using Quicksilver instead of your typical way of doing things. You should immediately implement the stuff below, but to get you started on using Quicksilver for everything else, you should force yourself to perform basic tasks.


Opening an Application


Don’t even use your dock anymore. Change the settings to put it on the side of your screen and make the icons really small. This will force you to use Quicksilver.

Press the hotkey to invoke Quicksilver. Start typing the application name until it gets highlighted. Press enter. That’s it!


Finding and Opening a File


This is simple too. Press your hotkey for Quicksilver and then start typing the first thing you remember about a file: maybe it’s part of the title or one of the concentric folders it’s in (unfortunately, Quicksilver can’t look for text inside the file like Spotlight does). Now, use your arrow keys to drill down to the specific file, if you need to. You’ve highlighted a file as the “subject.” The default “predicate” will be Open. No need to change that, just press enter (like with the application).

A common problem would be something like opening a picture. Typically, you’d open it with Spotlight by clicking on it, or just through Finder. But on a Mac, it’ll usually encourage you to open it with iPhoto, which is a big pain in the ass.

If you open it through Quicksilver you can find the file, tab over and make your predicate “Open with…,” tab again and then search for the program you want to use (probably Preview), in the detail portion.


Quicksilver for Students



The Web Search Function




Quick – you need a definition. You need a stock quote, stat. Your usual method for doing this isn’t fast enough; trust me. By the time you’ve opened the browser and loaded your homepage, Facebook has already distracted you and then after a few minutes you’ve forgotten why you opened the browser in the first place.




Like many things in Quicksilver, first, you need to install a new module. It’s really easy though. Open Quicksilver – the actual program, not just the hotkey – and go to: Quicksilver > Plug-ins. Browse through here for “Web Search Module.” You might have to open up the “All Plug-ins” section. Check the box next to it and it’ll install itself.

Since Quicksilver indexes all of your bookmarks, the Web Search Module sucks its essentials right from there. Open the browser you use (you should have installed the plug-in for your browser already – that’s important) and create a new folder. If Firefox came with a “Quick Searches” folder for you, then use that one. It’ll give you a head start. In this folder, you will place bookmarks for all of the websites with which you frequently use the search function.

We’ll setup Google as an example. Bring up Google and search for three asterisks (“***”). Bookmark the results page and make sure you rename it to something clear, like… “Google.” Here’s what that did. You saved a bookmark for this URL:*** CODE (or something like that). When you try to perform a web search with Quicksilver, it will simply replace those three stars with whatever search query you enter. So, this function will not work with searches that are in complex coding languages.


Using it


Try it out. Do your hotkey. Start typing “google” until that bookmark comes to the top. Now, tab over and start typing “search” until “Search For…” is highlighted. Press tab again and then type in your search. Press enter and you’ll send Google on its way. So, that’s the equation: [bookmark title], tab, Search For…, tab, [your search], enter. Quicksilver will do whatever necessary to blend in with what you’re doing. It’ll open a new tab if your browser’s already launched or launch it if it isn’t.

Unfortunately, this takes some getting used to since searching for something sometimes takes the opposite path (like in the dictionary, above) – where you enter the thing you’re searching for and the program you’d like to use for the searching is like your predicate.


Setting up More Searches


You should setup the Web Search Module with every single search function that you use. Just search for the three stars and bookmark the results page. Note that the name of the bookmark is important because this is what you’ll have to type right when you get the impulse to do a search.

Here are all of mine (the links are linked and what I name them are the titles) to give you some ideas. You might just bookmark these right from here if they interest you:

Google Search Look-Up Word Slang Look-Up
Wikipedia Search
IMDB Search Synonym Search

LMU Website Search [my university’s website]
HackCollege Search Movie Search
Reverse Phone Number Look-Up
YouTube Video Search


Feeling Lackadaisical?


If you’re too lazy to do that, Blacktree has a way of installing a whole shit-ton of searches and the ones you use are bound to be on the list (there’s 604 of them). To enable them go to Quicksilver > Catalog > Modules > Web Searches (from Check the box next to it. To see the actual list (and perhaps widdle it down to the 200 or 300 searches you actually use) press the Get Info button in the lower right corner and open the “Contents” tab. Here, you can uncheck searches that are useless to you.


The Funky iTunes plug-in




The iTunes plug-in is great, it’s just not the best. That’s why I’m calling it funky. It’s definitely still one of my most-used Quicksilver functions. I use it along with another great app that you’ll find out about before these 12 days of Christmas are up.

The search within iTunes is great, so rather than screw with the already-flashy iTunes indexing, the creators of this plug-in just use the same index. (You’ll notice, if you go into the Quicksilver Catalog, that none of your music is indexed.) So, it takes a little finagling.


The Simple Setup


The iTunes plug-in should have already been installed when you first opened the program. If you didn’t do that, you can catch up by installing it the same way the Web Search Module was installed.

I like the Spotlight-like function of this plug-in, but if all you really want is a simple way to browse your music (sort of like you would on an iPod), then there’s no reason to set up all of this fancy stuff below. Just invoke Quicksilver like you’ve learned to, and start typing “browse” – you can take it from there with the arrow keys.


The Better Setup


For whatever reason, we have to setup a separate hotkey for searching iTunes. That’s just how this one works. So, go to: Quicksilver > Triggers > iTunes. Check the box next to “Search iTunes,” then hit that Info button again in the bottom-right corner. Under Settings, choose your hotkey. Mine is: option+command+s.


Using it


Even when I’m in iTunes, I still use this. Trigger the plug-in with your hotkey and then start typing the name of anything in your iTunes. Tab over and in the “predicate” section of the window, you’ll have four options: Play, and then 3 Party Shuffle operations. Since Play is the default, you can effectively type: [your iTunes hotkey], [name of song], enter – and the song will start playing.

You can also easily browse your albums and artists using the arrow keys. The right arrow will let you go inside the highlighted album or artist.


That’s all for now


I really hope you'll give Quicksilver a legitimate whirl. Me and a million other lifehackers completely endorse it, so give it a solid chance for a little while over the Christmas break. This trial period will not end up being a waste of time.

Also -- keep checking with us. Now that I’ve made an introductory post on Quicksilver, you can expect for plenty more student-centric uses to be posted.

This post is part of the 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas feature.


Three Sweet Functions in One for TV on Your Computer French Hens (Miro) - 12 HackCollege Days of Christmas

This is an easy pitch: imagine having an over-the-internet DVR (Tivo) on your computer for free.

This is Miro (formerly known as the Democracy Player), which combines an RSS aggregator, a Bit Torrent client and a robust media player -- that's three sweet programs in one. When they all operate together, it's like having a bunch of little men inside your computer who do all sorts of work for you. Yes, believe it or not, even TV-watching can be made easier. Oh yeah, I almost forgot -- there's no commercials either.

For me, Miro is like iTunes, but for video. All the organizing, playing and downloading (perhaps pirating) are all in one place.



Miro will basically download a superb copy of your favorite video content (sometimes even in HD), every time it gets released. When you watch the show, it automatically expires a few days later clearing space for more shows. If you fall a few episodes behind, they'll be waiting there for you. Or, if you miss a whole season (studying abroad) and find yourself with a bunch of free time on your hands (Christmas break), you can install a show and download all of the episodes as you like.



I'll stick with my "rule of threes" and do the setup for one show in three steps. Repeat it with all of your favorite stuff. In fact, if you want to practice this with a podcast feed instead of a TV one, you can use the one for the splendid podcast linked here, but the following will walk you through the process for a typical cable/network television show.


  1. Start by Installing Miro.


    It's free, open source and it works with platforms I didn't even know existed.

    First-thing after it's installed and running, you'll want to remove all the clutter in the sidebar. Select all of the "channels" that come pre-installed in Miro, and it'll give you an option in the big window to delete them all in one fell swoop. Some of the feeds are neat though, so give them a peek.

    Next, you need to setup your scratch disc -- where all of the video files will be stored. A single half-hour episode will typically run you about 350MB, so take that into consideration. Go to Miro > Preferences... and under the Downloads tab, is the option to setup your downloads destination. Like iTunes, Miro will keep everything organized for you by creating separate folders for each show.

  2. Go to TVrss and find your show's feed -- though, feeds can be found elsewhere.


    Now comes the questionable part. You have to install RSS feeds that syndicate downloads of your TV shows. This usually involves piracy. Ideally, someday, the networks will man-up and make feeds of their TV shows regularly available -- in which case you can still follow this tutorial, obtaining the feed from a legal resource.

    Until then, this method is about as legal as recording a show on VHS, but a whole hell of a lot easier. This ain't your typical torrenting experience. No abrasive pictures promising singles in your area and no silhouettes in the audience standing up in the way of a camera smuggled into a theater. It's clean, simple and the quality is pristine.

    At TVrss, click "Shows" and browse the index for your desired title. Clicking on the show (do it) will bring up all of the feeds -- but we want to limit it to just one Distribution Group. So, in the pull down menu in the search box, select a group. I suggest VTV since they tend to update their feeds faster. Click search.

    Now, we need to get a link for this feed on to the clipboard for transport over to Miro. The URL will be linked to "Search-based RSS Feed", which you need to copy -- so either follow the link and copy it out of the location bar, right-click and select Copy Link Location or pull up the properties and write down all 6,000 characters. This is your ticket to a show's season pass.

  3. Create a new "Channel" in Miro that refers to your new feed.


    First off, the jargon here is a little botched. A "Channel" in Miro is not like a television channel. So, by adding a channel, you aren't adding everything Fox or CBS puts out, just one "feed" of one program. This works with any feed URL, including a podcast feed. They just call it a "Channel" instead.

    Hit Command+N or go: Channels > Add Channel.... A window pops up and Oh my goodness Miro, has clairvoyant powers! -- your clipboard-ed link will automatically appear in the field. Paste it in anyway, to be sure, and click Ok.

    Just to keep it all organized, you can change the name of the feed in the side bar by control+clicking and selecting Rename Channel.


As awesome as that is, Miro still does more, so don't stop there. The mysterious built-in media player is actually VLC (which Kelly covered thoroughly), if you're running Windows. For Mac users, it's still quite robust: Quicktime. So, you can play almost all of your video content right from here. To reduce confusion, I don't even have another torrenting program. I just drag and drop any other torrent instructions (other movies and videos) into Miro -- it'll download the file without adding a feed or anything -- and deposit the final thing into the same organized media folder where my TV shows go.

For Mac users, here's a quickie hack to make that a bit easier. Open a Finder window and go to: View > Customize Toolbar... -- with this open, you can now drag any program shortcut into your Finder toolbar. If you do that with Miro, it stays nice and available while you're browsing for the .torrent or video files, and it only takes a mini drag to pull it up in Miro.

Get the feed for the HackCollege Podcast right here. Add it as a Channel in Miro! It's a torrent feed, for fast and automated downloads.