WinMX Tips and Tricks

How to avoid downloading fake files

ASCII nicknames

Copying and Pasting

Smoother bandwidth graphs

Cycling Connections


How to avoid downloading fake files

Here's a fairly good method of ensuring the files you download are what they say they are.


There are quite a lot of fake, spoofed, and incorrectly named files on the network, which most people will want to avoid if possible especially if it's a large file being downloaded.  Luckily it's an easy process to check that the file you're downloading is as it says it is.  Simply right-click your download on the Transfers window and select the 'Find Alternates' option.  This causes WinMX to open a new Search window and automatically search the network for identical files to your own download.  Simply look at the majority of the results returned to be sure that the filename corresponds to your own download.


For instance, if you're downloading 'Björk - Verandi.mp3', then when you right-click and 'Find Alternates' you should expect the majority of the returned search results to contain the words Björk and Verandi.  If the majority of the results returned show as something completely different, then it's likely you're downloading a different file from what you thought it was.


It only takes a short moment to do this, and becomes very useful when downloading large files.  There are many renamed files around nowadays, so it's always worthwhile to take a moment to do this to avoid disappointment.




ASCII nicknames

If you've ever looked at some usernames on WinMX and wondered how people use symbols and spaces in their nicks, read on.


You might have noticed that WinMX doesn't allow spaces when a nick is typed in, as it places an underscore there instead...



To create actual spaces you use ASCII, here's how to do it...

1...  Hold down the ALT key and type 0160 on the numeric keypad.

2...  Release the ALT key and you'll see a space created.


Now you can create spaces in names...

s p a c e s 753_83943


This same method of holding down the ALT key and typing in numbers on the keypad is used to create many other symbols that can be used in nicks.  To see a full list of available ASCII symbols to use go here.


Note: Not every symbol will show correctly in WinMX, most will work fine though.




Copying and Pasting

This is just for the chat rooms really and is well known by most people.


To copy text such as a URL from a chat room, simply select over the text with your mouse so that it's highlighted, then press the CTRL key and C (Control and C).  This copies the text to the Windows clipboard so it can be pasted into your web browser (if it's a URL) or Notepad, Wordpad, etc if its text.


You can also use this method to paste a URL or text into a channel, just copy the address or text in Windows using 'Copy' or 'CTRL and C', then press CTRL and V (Paste) in the chat room.  This just saves all the hassle of typing it, especially when it comes down to long Internet URL's. :-)




Smoother Bandwidth Graphs

By default WinMX sets the function 'BW Graph Rolling Average Duration' in Settings > Bandwidth Throttle to 2 seconds.  This can make the graphing pretty spiky and poor at lower speeds, such as modem speeds.  To get a much more useful graph, one that doesn't spike up and down dramatically you just need to change the 'BW Graph Rolling Average Duration' value to a higher number, this has the effect of averaging out the data flow to produce a smoother graph, which then makes it easier to see what your connection is doing over time, it also makes it particularly useful for fine tuning the limiters if the graphs are not bouncing up an down all the time.


Simply increase the 'BW Graph Rolling Average Duration' value for a better looking graph at low speeds (I use 15 seconds here).


BW Graph Rolling Average Duration - 2 seconds vs 15 seconds




Cycling Connections

OK this is a pretty off the wall tip but a method I use all the time now, so maybe somebody somewhere will find it useful. :-P  This is just a method of repairing the occasional bad connection to the WinMX Peer Network when operating a secondary type connection.


Secondary users connect into primary users to obtain a link into the Peer Network, this means the secondary user is reliant on a decent primary connection in order to search for files and list chat channels, etc.  Occasionally though a secondary user will land themselves a 'bad primary', this can show as a poor uploading of the shared files list from the secondary to the primary user at start-up (only users who share a lot of files will notice this), a bad primary can also cause the secondary users search function to work really slow or not at all, sometimes only a few results will be returned for popular artists where many should normally be returned.  The same goes for listing the chat rooms, normally you would expect to see maybe 120 channels listed in around 15 seconds, a bad primary might only show 10 channels in the same period before stalling completely.


If you share a lot of files then you can often see a bad primary connection as soon as you start WinMX and the network connection goes green, if you flick over to the bandwidth graphs window at this point you can usually gauge whether the primary is good or not, you'll get used to seeing what good versus bad is after a while.  The screenshots below show a good versus bad connection on my 56k modem connection when uploading a 2500 shared file list to the primary user, the 'BW Graph Rolling Average Duration' was set to 15 seconds for these shots.


Uploading the shared files list - Good vs. Not Good Primary connection


The first picture shows a good strong upload of the list, the second shows a bad connection that needs ditching immediately.  When this happens all that's needed is to 'cycle the primary' connection, this is easily done by clicking the 'Refresh' button on the Networks window...


Secondary connection refresh button on Networks window


This is an easy way to check that you don't initially get connected to a bad primary user, that may cause problems later on.


Bare in mind that this isn't a foolproof way of determining a good primary connection or not, there are often times when the initial upload of the shared files list will appear great, and then no search results are returned and the chat rooms won't list, nobody connects into you for upload, etc, this can happen irrespective of the initial connection as shown above, so use it as a guide only.


A time you'll want to 'cycle the primary' connection is when you're searching for files or attempting to list chat rooms and very few or no results show up, this usually indicates a bad connection to the Peer Network, a bad primary, which at the end of the day is just some other users PC, so they may well be overloaded with uploads and downloads that cause your connection through them to be really bad, it could also just be down to bad network conditions between you and the primary user.  Ultimately there are many possible reasons for why sometimes it's bad.  This is the time to click the Refresh button to grab yourself a new connection into the network.


There's something important to note here about this.  If you're in any queues for files and you click the Refresh button to find a new primary connection you will lose your place in any queues that you might be waiting in, causing your position in line to be reset to the back of the queue.  The reason for this is that WinMX appends a numeric string to your username...




...and each time you reconnect to the network you're assigned a new numeric string...




What happens is this.  If you're sat in a queue waiting for a file and you're called fred_bloggs_837_53939, and you then reconnect to a new primary user, then you get a new numeric string appended to your nick, which means the person you're queued into watches fred_bloggs_837_53939 time out, and fred_bloggs_837_17390 arrive at the back of the queue.


This is something you may have noticed before at some point, one minute you're number 5 in line for a file, and the next you're number 196!  This is caused because you're making a secondary connection into the network which is reliant on the primary user that you connect to, and if that primary user closes down WinMX then you're sat without a primary connection to the network, at which point WinMX will automatically seek and establish a new connection into the network (a new primary) which in turn means you get a new numeric string appended to your name.  Hopefully this will make some sense to somebody somewhere. ;-)


Anyway, have a look here for a more in-depth explanation of the WPN which illustrates primary and secondary connections and how they hook up together to create the network.


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