AllPeers: New Version

AllPeers LogoAs regular readers will know I have been following the AllPeers release closely. I have as I said removed it from my extensions list. This was mainly due to the fact that no one that I knew was using it and it was slowing the start up of Firefox. But this new version of it might give me cause to have another look.

The AllPeers Road map was released over the last week or so. I have not covered it as it was a projected pace and changes to match. But it appears that they have come good and just released AllPeers v0.51. The key features that they claim to have added and addressed are:

  • A Work-Offline feature
  • The inclusion of a hide toolbar link
  • Better registration process
  • Added an option to create a new group in Add Contact form
  • Various small performance, download and presence improvements
  • Included an option to select the download directory

The last inclusion was one of my previous criticisms in that I did not have a clue where the downloads were going! So that is good to see. I have not installed it yet so I am not sure what the performance improvements would be. But it would not appear that they have addressed the slow start up of Firefox. Which is disappointing.

To be honest the next two versions look a lot more promising. If you are holding off I would recommend that you wait until version 0.60 surfaces as that seems to be when the most significant improvements and bug fixes would have been implemented. I am considering this myself, especially with the lack of people to use it with.

The AllPeers crew still seem to be doing their best to please their user base and are working hard at improving their product. I still believe that users are being very critical of an application that is in beta.

I concur with one suggestion of the inclusion of a simple change log between versions, I am looking forward to where it goes from here.

More AllPeers News: Sylck Response

AllPeers LogoThe guys over at the AllPeers Blog; Peer Pressure have made a very nice, detailed response to some criticisms that a blog has made of their application. It is not often that you see a calm, non-threatening response to some scathing remarks.

Slyck is a P2P blog that “reviewed” AllPeers and according to Peer Pressure was very wong with some of the assessments made. From the Sylick blog I read that they felt some of the claims made by the AllPeers extension were false and miss-leading. I have been following the AllPeers story to some extent; strange thing is that some of the things they claim AllPeers to have said or implied in the lead up to the release I can’t remember reading. Nor did I get the impression that they were making the extension out to be something it is not.

The first paragraph sums up the gist of their review:

“Fast and easy” “Secure file-sharing” “The killer Darknet Application” “It’s P2P without uploading!” “Open source was never easier” “Drag and drop, it’s easy!” One may wonder what the fuss is with AllPeers. AllPeers came onto the scene for both FireFox fans and P2P fans. While looking through reviews may make it look like nothing could come close to something ‘so great’ with this application, it makes sceptics worry. Could the sceptics be right? Slyck dives into the media attention and the application itself to find out what is really going on.

Particularly the statement about being “The killer Darknet Application”, this so far from the truth. AllPeers actually state very strongly in their user agreement that they are not an application for sharing copyrighted material. So beats me where they got that from. Although the statement is very similar to what another prominent blogger said (who’s name escapes me): “… AllPeers will make Firefox a killer app“. Or something to that effect.

I don’t want to get too involved in the mud slinging, although it appears to me that this is coming from one direction at this time. But the response from AllPeers goes onto to talk a little about their encryption, this I found most interesting. I talked to my brother about this and his statement was:

“..unless every user purchases an SSL certificate, then it really is not that secure. Rather secure in name only”

However, this is answered in the response post:

“For the record, part of the AllPeers registration process involves getting a digital certificate and associated key pair, which are used to authenticate and encrypt all (yes, I said all) communication.”

This implies to me that perhaps it might employ some form of open source encryption like PGP. Not sure if that ensures “true” encryption, but it is what I use for email and apparently that is pretty much “uncrackable” for anything short of a super computer. Interesting anyway, thought’s James? I don’t claim to be a guru with this sort of stuff, he is so I’d be interested in what he makes of that.

Peer Pressure also make it very clear that this extension is in the early beta release. This does not equate to a perfect application. The expectation that it should perform as such is strange. I have said before that to believe that it should is miss-guided and setting your expectations too high.

The up-shot of this post is a lesson in how to respond to a negative post and there are some interesting insights into AllPeers. This in my opinion adds tio their integrity and their commitment to making a product better for their user base.

First Impressions of AllPeers

AllPeers LogoI have download and installed AllPeers, the much anticipated P2P file sharing extension for Firefox. While I am still excited about the possibilities I am somewhat disappointed with the application and it does need some work. I know that one of my contacts is removing the extension until it improves.

The application does tend to dominate Firefox in some undesirable ways. Such as when you close Firefox it stays open until you close Firefox from the system tray. This proved especially annoying when we were in a Skype call last night and some annoying music was playing in the background because one of the call participants did not realise Firefox was still open although they had closed it from view.

It would seem that there are some registration and logging on problems in LINUX. The long and the short of that issue is that if you use LINUX you can’t use the application. The other thing is that once you have registered, it would seem that you never have to log on again, nor do you have the ability to change your details or your password.

You are able to close the toolbar that AllPeers installs so it doesn’t take up space on your screen. I found that most of the needed functions are able to be executed via the icon in the top right of the Firefox screen. The fact that to fully interact with the AllPeers interface takes up the entire screen is annoying. Everything could be scaled down in size. The current size on a 19 inch monitor means that some crucial buttons are located a long way from the screen they are associated with. It took me a while to find the “share” key for example.

The interface itself while seeming to be easily navigated, does seem buggy. One transfer we did of a file did not open and might have been corrupted in transit as the second attempt worked.

It would be good to be able to specify a directory where the shared files end up on your computer. I had to search for the files until I found out that from your default download directory it creates a folder for each contact that you have in your AllPeers list. The files are saved in the appropriate directory associated with the user.

I do not like the fact that AllPeers is in an “always connected” state. I would like the option to “switch it off”. As other users have indicated, some of us do not have the bandwidth to spare when doing certain activities. Same goes for me. I don’t want anything else using my bandwidth when I am uploading the podcast for example.

The transfer speeds are what might be expected and better then I thought they would be. Of course the speed is somewhat restricted by your own connection. I was satisfied by the speed.

Many of these issues are known to the developers and they are working on them. The help section has also stated that there are plans for a stand-alone version, which will be nice. The issues as far as it’s integration with Firefox are also being looked at.

That said this application is a beta, it would seem that some users are expecting full-version functionality. It works and there are bugs and things that need to be assessed and modified. This is what I would have expected. Perhaps the quality of beta builds has in the past been high and people now expect a lot more from them. But I always expect the beta status to have issues and if they don’t then I am surprised. The extension and development of it looks exciting. I am sure that with further modification and design it is going to be a valued application/ extension. We just need to give it time and enjoy what we have now, as for me this is better than I had before.

UPDATE: For some reason the comments for this post were turned off. This was not intentinal and I have switched them on. Sorry to those I missed in their travels that wished to leave a comment.

AllPeers is LIVE!

AllPeers LogoNow this is exciting. I have just discovered that AllPeers has gone live and is available for download from the official Mozilla extensions site. You can check out the features of AllPeers by having a look at the All Peers homepage.

AllPeers is a sharing extension for everything! You can share files from your local machine, web-pages and if you don’t want to share the whole page just share a picture; no problem – just drag and drop the picture you want to share to the contact that you want to share it with. Drag and drop goodness.From the screen shots it looks like you have contacts that are easily added with an invite via email. It is cross platform with XP, Mac and LINUX support.

I am keen to try it out. No more huge emails! Maybe email will be used as it is supposed to be used now… for text? They are also touting that it is secure, my only concern is that it is. I have just checked the All Peers FAQ and all transfers are made using SSL. Any app that has access to your files in this manner needs to be.

It would appear that it installs yet another toolbar on Firefox. I am not sure if it is toolbar worthy though, I will have to see. I am very guarded about what toolbars I let Firefox have, one toolbar means a sacrifice of screen real-estate – so the application has to be great for me to be totally in favour. But like most Firefox applications and extensions there the toolbar is usually fully customisable and you decide where it goes if at all. I trust that this is the case with AllPeers.

This really does look like a killer application. The question now is how fast is it? I am assuming that it is going to be quicker than sharing files using IM clients. From reports it would seem that the transfer rate is reasonable, they have been described as “very good”.

“… and I received very good transfer speeds.”

Please remember that this is Beta and the usual rules apply for “beta” stuff. I would stay tuned for this one to be updated rapidly and development to be fast and furious as this exert implies from the AllPeers Official Blog, PeerPressure:

“…this is still a beta and we’re keen to hear about any suggestions you have for improving AllPeers. We’ve built a fabulous foundation (if I may say so myself) so you can expect to see rapid progress from here on out. I’ve seen a lot of questions of various stripes here and around the blogosphere. I’ll get a FAQ out as soon as possible that addresses them all and gives some more insight into our long-term plans.”

No doubt we will review this extension on the next The Global Geek Podcast, it looks like a great application that will solve many, many problems. Myself and my friends are always trying to share large files and constantly sharing web images and URL’s, this is a God-send in my opinion. Can’t wait to see what is next.

I am off to lunch. Don’t know why I am telling you that but I am…