Timely reality check
Even BitTorrent, an advanced P2P network long seen by movie and record executives as an irksome successor to Napster and Kazaa, is going mainstream. The company announced early this month that it had raised $20 million in a second round of venture-capital funding and acquired competitor ?Torrent (pronounced "microtorrent"), maker of a compact version of the BitTorrent software meant to be suitable for set-top boxes and other non-PC devices. BitTorrent--which speeds up downloads by grabbing and reassembling file fragments from the most accessible peers on the network, rather than by transferring whole files from one peer to another--is still one of the best tools for locating and procuring Internet video. That's in part because it's free and in part because so many people use it and have built a worldwide archive of digital files.