Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Watch PPStream In English On Windows

PPStream is a streaming video player popular with users in mainland China. The technology PPStream uses is a combination of YouTube and BitTorrent. Users can stream video instantly, storing the data on their computers, and then upstream this data to other users.

What is unique about PPStream is how centralised and organised this content is made available to users. The range is phenomenal - it includes DVDs, camcorders of current films in cinemas, Asian dramas (from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan), and most importantly, a gigantic range of American and British movies and TV shows. Almost all of the content is moderated with care, and most sources include subtitles in Chinese (Simplified). For example, the entirety of Lost seasons 1-6 can be streamed, as can Battlestar Galactica (dual subtitled in English and Chinese), Mad Men, True Blood, The Simpsons, Firefly, as well as more obscure things like British snooker games, pro StarCraft II matches, Little Britain, Australian Top Gear, The IT Crowd, the British rebooted Sherlock Holmes series, etc.

For this reason, I believe that PPStream is the most ridiculously, blatant and well organised wholesale infringement of copyright that has ever occurred on the internet. The content streams are very fast, the software and website is centralised and user friendly, and the breadth and range of content is staggering.

This thing has a hell of a lot of Western content.
The downsides for the average video watcher from the West are twofold. Firstly, the type of streams are not exactly high definition, but appear to be medium-quality .rmvb compressed files. There are no 'HD' rips to speak of, the quality itself is less than your average 700mb movie rip (around BBC iPlayer quality). Secondly, to access this software you will have to sign up to an account and use a client that is written for the Chinese market only, which makes it slightly challenging for the English speaker. This guide will address the second concern, and show you how to navigate the software, create an account and to make the service usable on English operating systems.

Step 1) Unless you want to make the software look like gibberish like the above picture, you will have to change your Windows location settings to Chinese for the software to install properly. Go to Control Panel, and then go to Region and Language, select the Administrative tab, and then select Change system locale to Chinese (Simplified, PRC).

Advanced Technique
Changing your locale will not change the language of your operating system, but may change the language in certain programs such as iTunes and Deluge. To avoid this, you should use AppLocale from Microsoft which allows an app to run in a specific locale in a specific instance. To make this work you have to run the AppLocale installer and subsequent program as an administrator (the easiest way to do this is by running the applocal.msi installer through WIN+R, and then run the file through a cmd box). Once you have everything setup, you can create a shortcut for PPStream to run through AppLocale with the Chinese (Simplified) locale every time you boot it up.

Step 2) Download and install PPStream using this link. There are also mirrors to be found on their download page here. Run the installer. The option for 'next' is the one higlight with the pointer '>'.

Select the drive with the largest space. I would advise unchecking all options.
Uncheck all the options.
No need to install Chinese Google Toolbar.
Step 3) Register a new account by visiting this page.

You can follow these options precisely if you like, except add your own USERNAME, NICKNAME and EMAIL@ADDRESS. There is also a CAPCHA style code that you have to enter twice (it will change once you enter the first 4 digits).
The account itself does not require verifying one's email address. You have to login for all the videos with a small green person icon (all of the Western TV shows).

Step 4) Run PPStream, and then find the folder for Western TV in the left hand bar. Click on it to expand the file list.

Double click the first episode of a show and then start watching immediately. Enjoy!

Tips For Using PPStream

The service is invaluable for anyone who understands Chinese, because it has a library of virtually every Chinese drama that has ever existed. If content is offered in a 'foreign' language, it is often subtitled or dubbed into Chinese.

It's perfect for students of Chinese looking to osmosis some Chinese (simplified) written language whilst they watch their favourite shows in English.

The numbers that are on the right appear to be the number of 'seeders'. However, I have not really seen a correlation between the numbers and the speed, as even videos with numbers in the single digits seem to stream very quickly.

You can also do a search in the top left corner of the software. However it seems to be buggy when typing in English search terms. For example, if I typed in 'battlestar' it would not turn up any results, however Battlestar Galactica exists in the Western TV shows folder.

If anyone has any more tips please leave them in the comments. I would particularly appreciate help with anything that makes the software easier and simpler to use. I would try to translate more of the user interface, but my Chinese is not good enough.