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First: Can you download magnet files from Piratebay?
Second: When I try to do so I get the message that a magnet link was given to apex but didn't contain a valid file hash for use on the direct connect network. No action will be taken.
Third: Is there a recommended complete tutorial anyone can link me too?
Thanks and my apologies for my incompetence.
Magnet links are a universal format, they can contain multiple different types of content hashes or source references.
To answer your question no, ApexDC cannot download magnets with hashes for the bittorrent "network" because bittorrent operates on collections of files and the hashes in those types of magnets represent such a collection. Direct Connect clients work with individual files meaning the hash has to represent a single file (specifically it has to be a merkle tree hash using the Tiger hash algorithm.)
The much shorter and simple answer is: ApexDC can only work with magnets created for very specific subset of, aging, P2P technologies (in practice magnets generated by other DC clients). Realistically speaking Direct Connect is a IM or chat protocol. not unlike IRC, that happens to support sharing of personal files between users (anecdotally, originally the concept of DC was loosely based on IRC with the goal of adding easier file sharing).