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Unified Instant Messaging Clients?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the would-this-end-the-IM-wars? dept.

The Internet 272

Hynman writes "It's getting silly - I have 4 different types of messaging accounts: ICQ, AOL IM, MS Messenger, Hotmail and regular email clients all run on my computer at the same time, and they all have overlapping capabilities. Is there any effort out there to produce a unified messaging client, that supports all types of accounts, and will respond through the correct medium (i.e. the medium that the message is delivered in). Just plug in the account information for each medium, and it performs messaging functions of all services frome one program and one interface." This is why standards for instant messengers should be created. Something like this would be extremely useful. Comments?

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Everybuddy! (2)

hab136 (30884) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463799)

Everybuddy [everybuddy.com] aims to do just this - one client, multiple services.

Everybuddy... (5)

rongen (103161) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463800)

This is a quote from the "Everybuddy" homepage: As of right now, Everybuddy has support for AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo! chat programs. It also has file transfer between other Everybuddy users, and planned support for file transfer to other users. You can find this at http://www.everybuddy.com/ [everybuddy.com] I've tried the ICQ aspect but I suspect it's still in beat (current stable release is 0.0.6).

standards.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463801)

that's just like asking why Netscape and Microsoft don't work together to keep their browsers compatible. IM clients are mostly commercial tools for those big companies... they want everybody to use THEIR stuff, not share a standard with other companies (unless they buy those companies :) ) Ricardo.

email and biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463802)

What's wrong with email and biff? Am I missing something? Or are folks too "plugged in"?

What happens when you go to the bathoom?

The Silliest Part About It... (3)

try67 (89578) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463803)

Is that most of those IMs are from the same companies:AIM && ICQ belong to AOL, Hotmail && MSIM belong to MS...
I undesrstand if AOL wants to block out MS clients from its service (although i think it's a pretty stupid move...), but why shouldn't they allow their _own_ costumers to use all of their features? This is just plain odd to me, if the purpose is to have a large DB of users as possible, why seperate it into two??

I strongly urge all companies and public interest groups to act in order to enforce a single, safe(!!) and working protocol...

Re:email and biff (1)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463804)

1. Not everyone is a nerd

2. It's nice to see which of your friends are online at a glance (i.e. without having to finger them all, which wouldn't work so well anyway)

3. It's fantastic for file transfers - about the fastest way, in terms of user work

4. Email is a pain for having a realtime conversation on, and the talk command is clunky - you have to open up a new terminal for each person you're talking to, and keep it open during the breaks in conversation, and keep looking to see if they've responded yet

Re:email and biff (2)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463805)

What happens when you go to the bathoom?

If you really need details, check out a good physiology textbook.

Instant messaging mail (3)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463806)

One thing I'd like to see is an instant messaging client that converts messages into email and sends them to you. Then I could just check my inbox rather than inbox plus several messaging programs. Coping with outgoing messages would be more complex, but probably the Reply-To: address on the message would be something like 'icq-4929392@localhost', which the client could then pass on to ICQ.

The beauty of this is that you don't have to write yet another messaging client, even a grand unified one. You just need one wrapper for each protocol, to convert it to and from mail. There wouldn't be any noticeable speed loss, since the mail is being sent locally and outgoing messages are converted into ICQ (or whatever).

(Although I've never seen the point of instant messaging anyway, email seems easily instant enough to me.)

Microsoft backs down from AOL (1)

idoru (101977) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463807)

Quoted from UK mag PCPlus:

"Microsoft has pulled out of the fight claiming that to continue to squabble over standards would constitute an unacceptable security risk"..."[about Microsoft's MSN Messenger] AOL quickly cried foul claiming that Microsoft was hacking into its servers without authority and blocked access"..."[MSN messenger] now makes not attempt to access AOL Instant Messenging accounts"..."Microsoft claims to have 4.5 million using MSN Messenger while AOL has a more substantial 80 million users"

They go on to say that there are moves to establish a universal standard by the IETF, and the standard should be released by the summer of 2000.

IETF et al. (1)

reptilian (75755) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463808)

The question I have is where are all the standards agencies in this battle? I'm curious to know, are any of them working on a standard? Will they even bother? Or are the current [standards] too new and immature still? There are RFCs on just about everything, I know there's one for IRC somewhere, so instant messaging isn't a far shot from IRC, other than the need to have a single large network instead of any number of seperate competing networks.

Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

Re:email and biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463809)

Yeah, but I like to finger all my friends!

And Natalie Portman.

Re:Instant messaging mail (2)

Girf (101378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463810)

Heh, yep everybody sits there clicking the 'Check Email' button, trying to have an IM chat with somebody about if the world should be made flay again, 'Check Email' 'Check Email' 'Check Email' No, the main thing about IM clients is the message is delivered to you, you don't have to retreive it off a server somewhere...

Bah. Who cares? (1)

mwdib (56263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463811)

Instant messaging? . . . An annoyance right on par with telemarketing, spam, junk mail and Geocities/Tripod pop-up screens.

Re:Instant messaging mail (2)

idoru (101977) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463812)

We have to bear in mind that many people use webmail or POP mailboxes, and therefore do not instantly get messages. (Yes, POP can be collected at regular intervals, but not exactly the same thing.) This is the market the the instant messaging programs cater for. Also, the IMs usually have a feature that allow you to see who is currently online from your contact list. Yes, this feature is available on irc (notify), but there are many irc networks out there, also irc requires you to log on, while the IMs log on automatically.

Re:The Silliest Part About It... (3)

pen (7191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463813)

Well, you see, AOL's AIM clients have ads on them. When a user uses someone else's AIM client, the ads are no longer displayed, and AOL loses its investment, while the user is still taking up bandwidth and server space (however little). Furthermore, whoever made the AIM client actually makes a profit from their own ads.

It's AOL's servers, and they may choose to block out whoever they want. You wouldn't blame someone for restricting access to their HTTP or FTP server, right?

--

There is a standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463814)

It's known as IRC, Internet Relay Chat. There is nothing an IM application can do that an IRC client cannot.

Plus there's the *NIX WHO command, which lets you know who's online, the ECHO command to send them instant messages, and the TALK command to chat with them.

Re:The Silliest Part About It... (2)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463815)

The purpose isn't to have a large database of users. The purpose...

1) ...for AOL is to get as many people subscribing to their service as possible; with ad revenues as a consolation for people who do AIM or ICQ, but don't get suckered into AOL.

2) ...for Microsoft is to boost the overall brand strength, and thus gain more corporate sales, through convincing people that Microsoft can provide solutions for any computing need. Picking up ad revenues is a nice backup as well, should government action mess with the core business.

Re:Microsoft backs down from AOL (3)

pen (7191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463816)

(A bit off-topic.)

Although Microsoft is said to have "lost" the IM "war", and AOL is said to have "won" the IM "war", open-source is a definite loser here?

Ever since the "war" started, AOL has pulled all of the open-source clients from its page, including TiK, Laim, and TNT. The gaim developers have also been not-so-politely asked to pull the AIM logo from their client.

The "war" is long over, but the open-source clients are still missing, and AOL has removed every trace of them that was remaining.

On another topic, has anyone noticed that both AOL and Microsoft are terrible hypocrites when it comes to open standards? Microsoft, the closed-source company is whining about open standards when it isn't at an advantage, and AOL, who has recently taken steps to seem pro-OSS is... well, the facts speak for themselves.

I guess this is to be expected from large corporations...

--

Re:There is a standard (1)

Girf (101378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463817)

"There is nothing an IM application can do that an IRC client cannot

Some of my friends hang out on Efnet, others on DalNet.. To see if they are online I have to log on to both servers. With an IM, it is right there, in a nice colourful list.

Re:IETF et al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463818)

The IETF is working on something, but... I wouldn't expect much from them for a while. Your best bet for something that will work, and be guided by technical and not political motives, is probably Jabber [jabber.org] .

Re:IT'S CALLED IRC (1)

Girf (101378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463819)

IRC is for chating.. IMs are the *NIX WHO, ECHO, and TALK commands all rolled into one nice colourful package

Re:There is a standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463820)

Some of my friends use ICQ, others AIM. To see if they're online I have to use both clients.

What's your point?

Mozilla-IM (2)

Girf (101378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463821)

And if anyone wants to help building a decent IM, one that doesn't take 11 megs of memory, check out the Mozilla-IM newsgroup netscape.public.mozilla.rt-messaging on news.mozilla.org

Tricky issue (4)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463822)

As a person of libertarian bent; real-time messaging poses a difficult problem.

The natural solution, for a grand public good such as this, is to let the government set the protocol, and run the server. For the US, this wouldn't even be a wild stretch of the constitution; for it's just a natural extension of the Post Office. Except for the inevitable DOS attacks, and the manpower and hardware needed to overcome them, I don't see it as being too expensive, compared to the trillions the government spends every year anyway.

But, the major powers fighting over this (AT&T, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc) are never going to propose that. They stand to make too much money off of advertising, to settle for something like that. And your average Republican member of Congress isn't going to know enough about computers to see how easy it would be; they're more likely to do nothing than to approve $25 million or whatever to set up the system. And, in turn, this will lead to a push by your average Democratic members of Congress, who on average know just as little about the internet, to force somebody to open up their servers. And, unlike the Cable TV connectivity, it'd be impossible to set up a way for Company A to reimburse Company B; so the Company running the servers would have to either A) incur a loss or B) shut down the system.

If it can be made to work, Jabber would make an excellent compromise. If ISPs ran Jabber servers, interconnecting in the same way an IRC network or SMTP servers work, everyone would benefit, but nobody could get a free ride (as MS, AOL, AT&T are all trying to get on each other).

I got a bunch of immature, hostile replys (fortunately no emails) for taking a strong, but unpopular, position yesterday. Should this posting be just as unpopular, I hope the discussion is a bit more mature, than just calling me a w4r3z d00d or something.

Oh yeah, and this is a US-centric post. International issues make it even trickier...

Standards...so many to choose from! (1)

Leghorn (44886) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463823)

Hell, I'd be happy with a good standard for authenticated SMTP...

I like the idea of "instant messaging", but all the implementations are so clunky...

I want unification, but it is a bigger problem. (2)

Mr. Buckaroo (75837) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463824)

The problem with standards creation is that there is no economic incentive for AOL or MS to create them. If I am AOL and you are MS or an open source project, what incentive do I have to let you access my system. The entire point of offering IM is to control its users. For example if I'm AOL I may want to start selling advertisements on ICQ. This doesn't work to well for me if other organizations or companies can tap into my network and let people run a program that doesn't use the adds. If I allow this to happen I potentially run the risk of paying to maintain servers and support, but no revenue.

As I see it this problem can be solved in one of two ways. Some authoritative force can require companies to allow open access to their systems. This will force companies to either shut down their IM's or come up with an alternative way to justify their expense.

The other way is some independent group coming up with a standard and creating good IM clients to support it. The problem with this will be that it faces an uphill battle with existing services, which is precisely the annoyance that brought this question.

It is late, but I'll happily follow any elegant solution to this problem. I'd just rather see a permanent fix than having a client that gets its access blocked every couple of months.

Re:Bah. Who cares? (1)

Darchmare (5387) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463825)

...but it's solicited, therein lies the difference.

I've actually benefitted a great deal from instant messaging. I telecommute (I live in Wash. State, my coworkers mostly live in California), and this is how I collaborate with my counterparts. There are tons of ICQ clients out there you can choose from, for whatever OS or features you want.



- Jeff A. Campbell
- VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com] )

Standard on the way, but that won't cut it (2)

Trinition (114758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463826)

The IETF is currently organizaing a standard, and I believe MS and AOL are in on it, amazingly.

But who cares if they do have a standard? It doesn't mean anyone's going to use it. If none of the big guys implement it, or implement it strictly to the standard, we'll be stuck with clients that don't intercommunicate.

Now, if someone started an open source project, following the IETF developments, and there was a public effort to convince everyone to use these open clients rather than AIM, MSNMessenger, etc.

I for one, would certainly use it, and promote it to my friends and co-workers. I'd keep AIM on until enough of my "buddies" were phased over.

Gimmick (3)

katsumi (127638) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463827)

Well, the BeOS camp has had a project in the works for a while now and it's called Gimmick ( http://www.gimmick.org/ ). They've been releasing neat betas, and hopefully it could become a nice tool.

IETF is developing IMPP (5)

magnus.ihse (41120) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463828)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (http://www.ietf.org [ietf.org] ) is working on an instant messaging standard, known as IMPP (Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol). The Working Group has a few Internet-Drafts available at http://www.ietf.org/html.charte rs/impp-charter.html [ietf.org] , but no RFCs yet.

My impression is that the design of this protocol (in opposite to e.g. ICQ) is good, and I think this will be _the_ IM protocol to use, when IETF's work is finished. AFAIK, at least Microsoft is going to use IMPP (this is the "open standard" referred to during the IM war with AOL).

IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (3)

David Jao (2759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463829)

Instant Messaging in its current form was designed by companies like AOL and Mirabilis for business purposes. While this corporate backing has made Instant Messaging popular, we must remember that corporations serve their own interests, not their users' interests. Just because AIM and ICQ are popular doesn't mean that they're the Right Thing from the user point of view.

The current Instant Messaging model suffers from several glaring problems stemming mostly from the reliance on centrally controlled messaging servers (that double as ad servers). Major issues with the current IM model include:

  • Reliability: Does the whole world want to count on one company's servers to stay up 24/7?
  • Security: What if someone breaks into the server that has your passwords? What if (hypothetically of course) an employee of AOL doesn't like you?
  • Privacy: Isn't it a warm feeling knowing that all your text goes through some other company's messaging servers?
  • Authentication: How the hell do you know who's on the other end of the line?
In light of these concerns it astounds me that bosses in some companies use ICQ to talk to their employees on the job. ICQ may be a fun toy but do you really want to bet your company's next product (or for that matter your company) on it?

In order to achieve IM nirvana the best route is always to take the least broken existing solution and try to fix it. In this case the least broken solution is not AIM or ICQ. I nominate Unix talk and IRC as candidates for the least broken existing solution.

Either of the old Unix standbys offers decentralized communication independent of any master company. A decentralized protocol right away eliminates the reliability issue, and at least gives you a fighting chance to address security, privacy, and authentication. While security is never easy on the plaintext internet, many of the same techniques that are used to secure telnet (e.g. ssh, IPsec) apply equally well to messaging as long as the protocol is decentralized.

As for graphical interfaces, WinTalk and mIRC already deliver the required windowing interface to these protocols. Buddy lists can be implemented by

  1. Packaging a finger daemon with the chat client, so that people can use finger to see who's logged on,
  2. Packaging a finger client with the chat client, so people can see which friends of theirs are logged on,
  3. Anyone have any idea how to fix the problem of dynamic IPs?
It's not a perfect solution and there are still points that need to be worked out but I feel that the old Unix programs provide a much more solid foundation for achieving a 90% useful solution than the new breed of corporation-serving adware Instant Messaging programs.

Re:Instant messaging mail (1)

cheese63 (74259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463830)

then it wouldn't be instant messaging, would it?

Re:Instant messaging mail (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463831)

Sounds like there needs to be an extention to POP or IMAP that says: "When I get email, send me a message ip#.#.#.#:## and then the popclient wakes up and fetches the mail. Polling is not the best way to do things like this.

IETF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463832)

http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/impp-charter.htm l
N.

Instant messaging on top of IRC (2)

majere (82696) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463833)

Could this not all be implemented on top of the
existing IRC protocol?
I'm sorry if I'm all wrong about IM's, I haven't really had much
experience other than "Hrrm, someone's been touching
*my* work computer, in *my* cubicle, hrrm, what's
this funny thing in the task bar, AAAAAAAAAAARGH!! AOL!! KILL IT, KILL IT!!! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE!!!!"
(yes we run win9x, it's company policy, I have no choice)
but enough digressing.
Could not a slightly modified network of IRC servers essentially
duplicate all the features of an IM? For instance
seeing if they are online, file transfer, video conferencing could
easily be added via DCC or something like that. Why
must we reinvent the wheel when we already have
a protocol which can be modified to suit?
of course I could be completely wrong, so flame away.
----------------------

There are several.... (2)

Max Planck (36538) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463834)

There are severak IM clients that are attempting this, even if still in the beta stage. I'm surprised no one has mentioned AT&T's "I M Here" client. It was on Slashdot just a week or so ago. It already has support for AIM and MSN Messanger, with support for ICQ and Yahoo! pager in the works. Problem is, of course, that Tribal Voice developed it, and their apps for AT&T have been less than impressive. Oh, yeah, it's only good at work, since it only works with Windows 95/98 or NT. Wait a minute, maybe that's why no one posted it...

Re:Everybuddy... (1)

Brama (80257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463835)

Why would a program that bundles all other chat alike programs together *also* contain its own protocol (like the filetransfer you mentioned) ?
IMHO, this only makes matters worse. It should use file transfer from another protocol like ICQ to do this, not its own protocol so that other all-in-one programs don't have to incorporate the 'everybuddy' protocol as well.
Obviously, this is not an issue when this 'everybuddy filetransfer' is actually an ICQ/AIM/whatever filetransfer with its own interface..

www.everybuddy.com (1)

JuddMaltin (15539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463836)

www.everybuddy.com

It works pretty darn well already.

Nuff Said.

Re:Instant messaging mail (1)

ghazban (28784) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463837)

I'm pretty sure that you can do this with a licq plugin. I've seen it done before.. icq -> email gateway, and because it's email, it can also allow you to read messages on a pager.

but, popularity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463838)

the thing is, it needs to be used by all your friends, and their friends need to use it if they use it, and it doesnt work out. If everyone (AOL, MS, ICQ) just agreed to merge into AIM, then you would have what you wanted....but for now, all you're going to get is comments like "____ is an open-source messaging system" and crap like that. peace d

Re:Instant messaging on top of IRC (1)

majere (82696) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463839)

err, of course, for the IM/ICQQ user, this
would require a modified GUI client with lots
of pretty buttons and so forth, oops

Gimmick (2)

Cosmo_The_K_Man (106302) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463840)

Gimmick [gimmick.org] is a client being developed for the BeOS that can understand as many IM protocols as there is plug-ins for it. Drop an AIM plug-in into a folder, and you can get AIM messages. Drop an ICQ plug-in into a folder, and you can get ICQ messages. There is talk of a Jabber plug-in too. If there is anyone interested in it, please e-mail the guys who are working on it. They can use all the development help they can, and might be interested in helping port it to other platforms.

Re:Instant messaging mail (0)

C.Lee (1190) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463841)

>One thing I'd like to see is an instant messaging client that converts
>messages into email and sends them to you. Then I could just check my
>inbox rather than inbox plus several messaging programs. Coping with
>outgoing messages would be more complex, but probably the Reply-To:
>address on the message would be something like
>'icq-4929392@localhost', which the client could then pass on to ICQ.

Just Great. Just what the world needs. A new tool for you spammer WannaBe's

moderators have no sense of humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463842)

That's the funniest thing I've ever read. I can't believe you haven't gotten any points for it.

Further proof that Signal 11 is running a conspiracy to steal all the karma points.

Re:Instant messaging on top of IRC (1)

Trinition (114758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463843)

I hear ya. It doesn't sound like bad idea to me. The protocol would be find. As long as the client and UI is completely different.

But doesn't IRC have the problem of a slew of isolated networks. i.e. if you're on one, and your friend is on the other, you can't chat until one of you switches to a server in the other's network?

Forgive me if I am off here -- when I used IRC, I never got heavily into it.

Re:IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (2)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463844)

> In light of these concerns it astounds me
> that bosses in some companies use ICQ to
> talk to their employees on the job. ICQ
> may be a fun toy but do you really want
> to bet your company's next product (or
> for that matter your company) on it?

Of course, Mirabilis's whole point was to sell servers to companies that want to have instant messaging in the office. The original idea was to have your *own* ICQ server at work.

> 1. Packaging a finger daemon with the
> chat client, so that people can use
> finger to see who's logged on, ...

if security is a concern, finger is probably not the best way to do this, as it is one of the first things a lot of administrators turn off...

But you're right, it would be good to see a nice, open, and *secure* instant message protocol. I think the Jabber [jabber.org] project seems to be on the right track.

Re:email and biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463845)

So you learn to use ytalk instead. Or irc. Big deal. This is a tempest in a teapot. We've had "instant messaging" on Unix for twenty years, usually through SMTP hacks, sometimes with the others I just named.

Re:email and biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463846)

"Not everyone is a nerd" -- say what? What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

Re:IT'S CALLED IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463847)

echo "have a nice day" | rwrite user@host.com

Then write the rwrited daemon at the other side. Make it a combo comsat/talkd thingie. This is trivial stuff. Nothing to get a hard-on over.

If a standard was created... (2)

kevlar (13509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463848)

... then MS would just come in and load an IM client on every WindowsXX box and drive AIM out of business... as well as ICQ, etc.

Therefore I'm against a standard, although I think it'd be great to see one implemented.

Fuck the Spamvertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463849)

Anything and everything we can do to extirpate ubiquitous push-style advertising from our lives is a good thing. Captive advertising is supremely evil and deeply wrong. Fuck the advertisers. We want our minds back, and we want our children's minds back.

Re:Instant messaging on top of IRC (1)

majere (82696) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463850)

You are right, that could be a problem. Perhaps
having a seperate IRC network for the IM, or
having the client connect to whichever IRC networks
you wish and do a WHOIS on the person you are
looking for, or just always be on one IRC network.
there should be tons of people to talk to on a
decent IRC net anyhow. Anyway, those are the only
ideas I can think of right now, I'm rather tired and
my brain is giving out, so pleaase forgive me.

Re:Tricky issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463851)

This force-fed advertising crap is super evil. We must fight for our minds. It's the most important battle we have.

Whither Zephyr? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463852)

What ever happened to the Zephyr project's technology? Didn't it handle most of these issues?

This `instant messaging` crud the peecee weenies keep having spamgasms over really seems like a poor reworking of known solutions. Who are they trying to fool -- purely numeric ID numbers? Blech.

I guess I start to believe the stories about this all being an advertising gimmick. Starts to make you sick.

It's also strange to see consumerist reworkings of the old standard BSD networking utilities. The scary thing is that even the oldest versions of these were better than this wintel junk. Didn't these people pay attention to existing technology? Or is the problem that these provided no vehicle for their obsessive advert crap?

Re:email and biff (1)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463853)

I have 16 people on my ICQ list, and not one of them would go anywhere near a unix shell, much less finger or ytalk.

Should have co-opted fingerd (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463854)

The finger protocol could easily be used here. And should have been. All you do is have a version of a finger daemon that has an opt-in policy. If you don't have, say, a ~/.fingerable file, or whatever, it won't even look at you.

more like www.every*nixbuddy.com (2)

swerdloff (16397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463855)

Right, so some of us don't work on *nix boxes.

everybuddy doesn't support us.

AOL hasn't folded ICQ into their messaging system for two reasons: 1) their internal instant message client has been around since AOL 1.0 or before and those that haven't upgraded to more recent versions could be out of luck 2) they sell virtual real estate at the top of their standalone app.

While theoretically, AOL could translate ICQ messages on their way through, even the naming conventions are radically different.

Sure, standards would be great, but don't look to AOL to implement them anytime soon.

Re:email and biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463856)

So they're idiots, you're saying, or Old Testament criminals who've had their hands cut off for thievery. Fine. So be it. (You've got weird friends.)

Just make a clicky-wicky version of these essential protocols. The RFCs for the talk and finger protocols say nothing about what precise programs each side employs.

It's not about standards, but servers. (1)

color of static (16129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463857)

Even if there is a standard, the real problem is the fact that you have to use one or two controlled servers. It's the only way any of these IMs will work. Who controls the servers then has your friends and family list for marketing purposes. I'm sure the privacy issues are more then trivial.
What is needed is a serverless IM. Tragic looks to be a good starting place, but needs a little help making it more robust and figuring out a better naming convetion. Once it really is peer to peer then privacy is only a matter of encryption, and the single point of failure in the server is gone.

Re:more like www.every*nixbuddy.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463858)

Just because not all life forms have advanced to the point of using Unix and discarding their rodent fetishes doesn't mean that the standing RFCs should have been ignored. NIH sucks.

Re:It's not about standards, but servers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463859)

Let there be no doubt: Big Brother is not the government. Big Brother is corporate greed.

Unified IM for BeOS, Gimmick (2)

Klamy (6828) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463860)

I haven't managed to try this out yet (BeOS doesn't support CHAP, but that's another story), but it looks really promising.

They support ICQ, Jabber and AOL IM, so far they've released the ICQ part for testing and the rest is upcoming, although how upcoming is another matter - the last update on the site was August 2nd.
Gimmick [gimmick.org]

Undergraduate senior project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463861)

This whole system sounds like something that even an compsci undergraduate senior project would have been expected to do better. Really, I can't see what's so hard that it couldn't be put together in one day of rapid prototyping.

Re:Should have co-opted fingerd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463862)

The Wintel crowd has always been big on kludgy hacks ignorant of the past. And the corporate advertising mavens have been quick to cater to such.

Just say no. To both.

Re:Whither Zephyr? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463863)

I'm sure that the corporate cost-centers that get all the spamming advert money rejected existing free solutions, since these would have also been free of abusive advertising.

Re:IT'S CALLED IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463864)

Sounds like a weekend's work for any decent Unix hacker. So how come it's so screwed up?

Re:IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463865)

if security is a concern, finger is probably not the best way to do this, as it is one of the first things a lot of administrators turn off...
That's an idiotic excuse. They should address the issues instead.

Re:standards are great . . . (1)

Money__ (87045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463866)

Sure, standards would be great, but don't look to AOL to implement them anytime soon.

Sure, standards would be great, everyone should have one. :)

dumbass! icq sends messages DIRECTLY! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463867)

all the ICQ servers do is tell you the IP and the PORT of the people on ICQ. you send instant messenges DIRECTLY with a TCP connection. which is ideal, in my opinion.

Re:dumbass! icq sends messages DIRECTLY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463868)

As I already know the port and ip address to send messages to joeblow@anywhere.com, thank you very much, I certainly don't need any wanking AOL servers.

Re:dumbass! icq sends messages DIRECTLY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463869)

That's your mistake. You don't know port and ip for AOL LUSER #9123849102378408912734.

Standards ARE great, theres so many to choose from (1)

kobaz (107760) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463870)

My dad has always liked that quote. As for me, I hope somewhere out there or some groups of people out there would be nice enough to put in the time and effort to make an all-in-one "im" client and possibly have ports to most of the popular os's

Re:Mozilla-IM (2)

EverCode (60025) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463871)

One is on its way, a Mozilla client of Jabber.

We should be able to put it together relatively quickly, we have just been waiting for the Mozilla code to stabilize.

It will be used in the sidebar of the browser, but we also hope to have the option of having a window.open() to let it float in a separate window.

Also, there is an API for the "throbber", thus allowing it to be an indicator for an incoming message, we have not looked into it yet.

We should have something useable by mid-January at the latest.

Eric Murphy

P.S. See the first post on the main thread for more info on Jabber.

New millenium post office (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463872)

As much as I generally dislike government meddling, any universal solution is inherently monopolistic and should be government run or heavily regulated. Somehow the Post Office seems a better choice than the FCC. Of course, there is always anarchy, but MS, AOL, AT&T will always use too much muscle. Interesting times we live in.

Mac OS X/ Openstep has a unified client too (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463873)

www.epicware.com/fire.html. Fire has been around for the last 6-8 months. It currently supports AIM, ICQ and Yahoo. Is open sourced, based on open source protocols (libfaim, libicq, libyahoo), could be ported to Windows (if apple would release cocoa), has been ported to openstep, coul be ported to Linux (By way of GNUStep). It's pretty mature and has a nice UI.

Re:New millenium post office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463874)

miLLeNNium is like centeNNial, aNNiverary, pereNNial, and aNNual -- not like aNal. anus != annum.

Re:There is a standard (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463875)

I agree with this completely, I think there must be a way of creating a "tallbar" interface for IRC which would simulate an ICQ/AIM/whatever environment. The "tallbar" can represent a series of different channels. You would have your work channel on your work IRC server where all your coworkers hang out... then on undernet you have that hidden channel where your friends hang out. Almost all the "IM" aspects of it could be done with DCC chat and file transfers... while you would also have the advantage of not having to build a contact list... you just create a hidden, password protected channel, and invite people to it.

The only problem I can see with this interface are the problems with IRC in general.. But the protocol, infrastructure and servers are already there. It sounds like all we need is a IM GUI.

(Off-topic though because it neglects the cross-protcol client question...)

Re:New milleNNium post office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463876)

Are those the best words you can think of? :-)
% egrep 'annua|ennia' /usr/dict/words | fmt
annual annualist annualize annually annuals annuary antemillennial Avicennia Avicenniaceae biannual biannually bicentennial biennia biennial biennially centennial centennially Cevennian decennia decenniad decennial decennially duodecennial millennia millennial millennialism millennialist millennially millennian millenniarism millenniary novennial octennial octennially octocentennial pennia perennial perenniality perennialize perennially Planipennia plurennial postmillennial postmillennialism postmillennialist postmillennian premillennial premillennialism premillennialist premillennialize premillennially premillennian quadrennia quadrennial quadrennially quadricentennial quadriennial quincentennial quindecennial quinquennia quinquenniad quinquennial quinquennialist quinquennially quintennial quotennial semiannual semiannually semicentennial semperannual septendecennial septennia septenniad septennial septennialist septenniality septennially sesquicentennial sexennial sexennially sextennial superannuate superannuation tercentennial tercentennials triannual tricennial tricentennial triennia triennial trienniality triennially trigintennial undecennial unsuperannuated

Re:standards.... (2)

pyr0 (120990) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463877)

Just in case you didn't know, icq is owned by AOL now. So, I think it would be in AOL's best interest to somehow combine the two.

Re:Bah. Who cares? (1)

Betcour (50623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463878)

I use it too for work... sometimes I use it to communicate with coworkers that are 10 meters from my desk !!

Re:New milleNNium post office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463879)

I vote for "quinquenniad" as the quulist. :-)

Re:New milleNNium post office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463880)

There's more where that came from:
% look quinqu | fmt
quinquagenarian quinquagenary Quinquagesima quinquagesimal quinquarticular Quinquatria Quinquatrus quinquecapsular quinquecentenaries quinquecentenary quinquecostate quinquedentate quinquedentated quinquefarious quinquefid quinquefoliate quinquefoliated quinquefoliolate quinquegrade quinquejugous quinquelateral quinqueliteral quinquelobate quinquelobated quinquelobed quinquelocular quinqueloculine quinquenary quinquenerval quinquenerved quinquennalia quinquennia quinquenniad quinquennial quinquennialist quinquennially quinquennium quinquepartite quinquepedal quinquepedalian quinquepetaloid quinquepunctal quinquepunctate quinqueradial quinqueradiate quinquereme quinquertium quinquesect quinquesection quinqueseptate quinqueserial quinqueseriate quinquesyllabic quinquesyllable quinquetubercular quinquetuberculate quinquevalence quinquevalency quinquevalent quinquevalve quinquevalvous quinquevalvular quinqueverbal quinqueverbial quinquevir quinquevirate quinquiliteral quinquina quinquino
I've acquired the queer notion that we quaintly adopt an icquinquevalent protocol. :-)

Re:moderators have no sense of humor (1)

Narc (126887) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463881)

Quite amusing yeah, I have to agree. But what you have to remember, is that everybody has a different sense of humour and mood swings. Ugh, sounds like I'm sticking up for them here (perish the thought) but I just want to point out that everyone is different, and they will have different opinions. Okay, enough said. I'll shut up now.

Re:Instant messaging on top of IRC (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463882)

I've given this a bit of thought over the past month, and I've been thinking of a tallbar interface with multiple collapsing groups of people. In other words, you can have multiple channels on multiple servers in your tallbar at the same time. All your friends/coworkers can exist in password protected hidden channels. I think it is a great idea.

Anybody out there an IRC client author who is willing to rip up their UI? It shouldn't be hard to do this sort of thing.

Hmmm... I really have to learn X programming... maybe ripping up another Opensource IRC client GUI is the way to do it. hmm...

Re:It's not about standards, but servers. (1)

TimTr (124434) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463883)

You're right it is about servers. But c'mon people, computers are where they are based on corporate greed. They would be back in the punchcard area still without the corporate influence. And, thinking of that, why would a company invest huge amounts of money to provide a messaging server that you can access without paying them any homage. Yahoo, AIM and the rest provide instant messaging capabilities because they can lure people to their services. If they let you write your own client that can subscribe and work without ever visiting their site they are essentially spending real money for no real benefit. As much as people may wish that computers were part of a socialist state, you might as well face the fact that you wouldn't HAVE any computer at all to use if that's the way things got done.

I'd like to see the companies get together and form a standard. They could each get 25% of the advert time on the client they distribute or something to make their investments pay off. But, if the client is open, then people will pull out the ads. If people pull out the ads, then the instant messenger people will stop investing in their servers.

I've heard people argue about this as if there weren't many thousands of dollars in servers running out there to serve their chatting needs. Like somehow AOL has found these servers growing in a field and simply put them in a cage.

I like the idea of peer-to-peer, but that only limits the need for servers, it doesn't eliminate it. You still need a central server for name resolution. Sure, I have a fixed IP I could give to my friends, but most people don't. So, even if the communication is peer to peer (which is still very tough to do if both people are behind proxies) the naming requires a server. Maybe an open source group like VA or RedHat would sponsor it, but I doubt ANY company with enough money to do it would want to do it if they couldn't control having their adds on the client.

Re:Tricky issue (2)

Jay Carlson (28733) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463884)

The natural solution, for a grand public good such as this, is to let the government set the protocol, and run the server. For the US, this wouldn't even be a wild stretch of the constitution; for it's just a natural extension of the Post Office.

Email works without a central point of control, aside from DNS. Why should instant messaging and presence be any different?

Re:It's not about standards, but servers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463885)

This is very easy. You use a RBL-style DNS hack. So a DNS reverse who.you.are.ICQNAME.ORG returns the proper address, dynamically, of where you are. There are, of course, update authentication issues, but there's no reason to abandon the notion.

Re:IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463886)

It is YOU who knows nothing about the subject. Have you ever been the administrator of a server and tried to secure it??? The reason finger is a security risk is that it gives out account information, especially username. As a system administrator you want to make a cracker's job as difficult as possible. This means turning off finger. If you don't it is like saying, "Please click here for account information of all users on this server".

Re:Instant messaging on top of IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463887)

The easiest way to learn X is using Tk-- especially if you don't use tee cee hell to get to it. :-( Perl/Tk runs on Unix and Microsoft, so you might look at that.

Re:IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463888)

I don't know what this "server" nonsense is, but I've adminned about 15,000 users on mulutiuser Unix systems. How 'bout you?

If knowing an account name is a problem, then you shouldn't use the same name for mail as for logging in. Duh.

If your host isn't secure with people knowing who uses it, then you've fundamentally fucked things up.

Re:IM, while popular, is not The Right Thing (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463889)

My God, child, I can see that nobody ever taught you about security through obscurity. Please post your real name so nobody ever hires you in an SA role.

Re:It's not about standards, but servers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463890)

Ooooo! Clever! I can see a few things to work out, but this could certainly do the job. Nifty!

History repeats itself.... (1)

BMIComp (87596) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463891)

Seeing that there are multiple projects going on, (jabber, everybuddy, i've seen a few others....) in attempt to merge current instant messaging protocols... err software... but anyway, won't this create the same thing, people having to use multiple instant messaging software to be able to communicate with people? oh well.

Client-Server is dead as feudalism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463892)

The feudal "client-server" mentality of lords and serfs is dead. A healthier, peer-to-peer relationship between equally respected and empowered freemen (well, free computers) is the only scalable system. Why do you think Linux already comes complete as a full computer, with inetd well populated? We don't need no stinking servers. We have our own daemons, and don't need AOL or anybody else to babysit our dumb terminals.

Re:The Silliest Part About It... (1)

BMIComp (87596) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463893)

I use aim to communicate with other people i know who are on AOL, and i regularly get the newest betas, and recently they added an "offline" list. This is new to AIM, and I feel it is a step towards integrating the features of ICQ, if not one day... they may be both integrated togethether.

Re:If a standard was created... (1)

TimTr (124434) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463894)

"If a standard was created then MS would just come in and load an IM client on every WindowsXX box" - this is a reason to be AGAINST a standard? What? So what you're basically saying is that you'd like for everyone to be able to talk to everyone else, but if Microsoft helped make that possible it would somehow be a BAD thing? Geez, not everything Microsoft does is bad! If my mom and girlfriend that don't have the ability to go out and find an open source tool were still able to chat with me that would be a "good" thing. If it were by a standard, you could always go get your open sourced version, what difference does it make?

I've heard this crap before for why people don't want to use some of the XML standards. Who cares if MS uses the standard too!? Its published, can't be closed back up, and interportable. If you don't want to use MS products, that's fine. That's great actually - I'm moving away from it too. But why is it bad if MS wants to support the standard too? It just makes it more quickly adopted so the rest of us can get more use of our standards implementations too. Might as well face it, standards are good and once they are set, MS has the same right as everyone else to use them.

Re:Client-Server is dead as feudalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463895)

What are you trying to do, put both Sun and Microsoft out of business?

Re:IETF et al. (1)

swett (118535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463896)

There is an RFC on instant messaging, #753. It is very general, but a good starting point for Instant Messaging(and any offshoots) to grow. Also, the RFC is still in the development stage, so there's probably still a chance for improvement.

Re:The Silliest Part About It... (3)

Surak (18578) | more than 14 years ago | (#1463897)

I understand what you're saying but some things still don't make any sense:

Why does AOL continue to maintain the TOC server? TOC is an ASCII-based protocol for interfacing to OSCAR, the "native" AIM server. TOC was created to interface to TiK, AOL's former TCL/TK based client meant to run on Linux as an alternative to the Java client. AOL no longer has TiK available for download and FWIU no longer maintains the client. Clients on TOC (such as gAIM [freshmeat.net] and TiK) don't display ads because they don't talk to OSCAR, which feeds them.

AOL bought Mirabillis, and thus ICQ. I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to add advertising to ICQ clients.

Why was AOL interested in developing Linux-based AIM clients in the first place, considering that AOL's main interest is in gaining users to their online service? Note that there is no AOL client for Linux. Yes, TCL/TK and Java are platform-independent but the obvious uses are for Linux since Windoze users will use the native clients which are MUCH faster and require no external software (JDK or TCL/TK).

Re:Client-Server is dead as feudalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1463898)

And this would be a bad thing?
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