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Last night I finally downloaded a version of Soulseek that works after months of being unable to connect to the main site, Every client I downloaded since this fall's 149c, you see, has worked like crap—their updates, like this last Sygate Personal Firewall Pro "update," have largely turned out to work worse than what I had beforehand. Without the updates, though, you couldn't connect to their servers at all. By no means was I the only person having massive trouble with this program, which suddenly needed an unprecedented amount of semi-expert advice to even get it running, much less working well. Their forums have been flooded with complaints and desperate queries, many of which have been met with derision and scorn. Good filesharing software, at least, which is designed to work for the masses shouldn't have to be tweaked, patched, and prodded to work correctly—yet the developers have insisted that it's not their problem if thousands of users are shut out due to "configuration problems" on end-user computers.

I visited the forums, though, and tried to find threads that addressed the connection problems I was having. I wasn't getting much more than 10 search results for any given search—and that's when I got results at all—nor could I browse other users' files. I reinstalled the thing several times, to no avail. (Part of the problem may have been that in the past few months, a lot of people dropped Soulseek in favor of things that worked.) At one point, I added entries to my hosts file that the Soulseek forum moderators said were supposed to help Soulseek run by defining the correct IP for each server, since their old server had been taken over by a renegade German spyware company.

Well, it sure didn't work—what it did do was make it so I couldn't even ping the server or connect to at all. I asked about this and was literally cursed out by indignant forum moderators, who said it was obviously a problem on my end, then asked (in a private message, of course) if I knew how to type an address into a web browser. Sure, it turned out that it was in fact a problem on my end, as I now know, and I suspected that at the time, anyway—I just didn't know what the problem was. Their comments didn't help me figure that out.

The utter condescension I got, though, from people running a filesharing service that caters to the dumb masses was amazing. [shakes head] I know Soulseek purports to be for users of more discerning taste, those who are looking for eclectic things...but that's not how these things work out. Discerning tastes don't guarantee that one has vast technical knowledge or "power user" status. Further, I don't see a whole lot of people queueing to download Famoudou Konate, taiko drumming, or Blue Öyster Cult from me. Most people I get are looking for Weezer, Ayumi Hamasaki, or the Foo Fighters, to give a few examples of how commonplace the stuff people want is.

On with the story, though. All the while, over the past few months, I was reading, via the Soulseek blog, about new release candidate builds provided for download that I couldn't get, since I couldn't get to Unfortunately, I'd forgotten about the reconfigured hosts file, or I could've fixed that problem right off. The hosts file problem finally clarified itself in my mind as I fell asleep last night, so this morning I fixed it and saw the front page of for the first time in months.

The real breakthrough, though, occurred last night, as I realized that I could probably find an alternate download location for these new builds. Sure enough, a German site had the 153 release candidate and an experimental 154 build. I installed version 153 and, lo and behold, it works! My much-cherished Soulseek works again, no thanks to the Soulseek forum moderators.

Edit: Here's an interesting article I found when looking to see if Soulseek had yet become an RIAA target. The author discusses Soulseek's status as a haven for nonmainstream music, asking mainstream music aficionados to find someplace else to look, lest they incur the wrath of the music industry. Right on.

12:49 pm, March 28, 2004 :: the jablog years

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