Jabber transport stability

Peter Saint-Andre has published issue #22 of the Jabber Journal and lists what he thinks need to be priorities over the next 12 months.

I certainly agree with his first two (friendler clients, easy-install/config servers) but the others I could probably take or leave. For me a more important issue would be maintaining stable transports in the wild.

Most people using a Jabber client for the first time probably have at least one account on another IM system (for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s an MSN Messenger account). The first thing they’re going to want to be able to do, having been seduced, encouraged or forced to use this Jabber client and having heard of its abilities, is to connect to their MSN account. Let’s skip over the difficulty of browsing services on different servers (entered manually btw) to find a suitable transport that actually works, and skip over the barrage of authentication messages they’ll get when they sign in for the first time, not knowing what to do with them. They’ve got a transport, it works, and they’re chatting to their friends when one day – no response. No chatting for them that day! Or the next! Or the next! And typically this will persist until someone running the server notices and restarts the service, except of course it will go down again at some unspecified point in the future for an indefinite period of time. But with their new knowledge of browsing for services, the intrepid user has already gone off and found a new working transport, and signed up for that. Until that one goes down. Let’s not even talk about what happens when they’ve signed up for another but haven’t deleted the first transport from their roster and it finally comes back online.

I’ve not really been using Jabber clients that long – a bit more than three years I guess, and in all that time I’ve probably used about ten different MSN transports, switching as each one proves itself to be unreliable. I have two MSN accounts, one on anywise.com and another on admin-networks.org – they’re both pretty good and have very low periods of downtime, but there are other problems, like when I close my Jabber client, I’m not logged out of my MSN accounts. It’s all such a trial.

Hopefully we’ll start to see not only much more reliable transports in the near future, spearheaded by PyMSN-t and the other Python-based transports (which I’d be running myself on jabbernet.org if I could figure out how to get Python 2.3 running on Debian stable, I’m more of a RedHat guy), but also better detection, configuration and a great end-user experience.

Bigger back button extension for Firefox

A little while ago I wrote some CSS that applied Fitt’s Law to make the back button in Firefox bigger.

At the time, someone said I should make it an extension, and I did (based on Chu Yeow’s “making unred tabs obvious” extension), but forgot all about it.

It wasn’t until my Firefox installation got corrupted and I had to do a clean re-install that I realise how utterly vital it is, and I became really glad that I had made it an extension. Jeez – how do people cope with that insanely small back button? It’s crazy!

So, here it is: Install Fitts’ Back Button.

Microsoft: powered by aliens

Dear weirdos,

Next time I’m sitting alone, in one of fifty empty chairs in a public building, waiting to be served by the helpful staff, please don’t come and sit next to me and start telling me that the reason for Microsoft’s prodigous output, and all the technological advances of the past thirty years, is because industry is doing deals with aliens.

You probably seem totally sane until you start talking, and really, I’m happy for it to stay that way. Don’t shatter my illusions, let’s leave our relationship there: both mute, but blissfully happy in our silence.



Allconsuming.net was cracked

Although I’d stopped using it in the main part, I noticed the other day that allconsuming.net was down. As Erik Benson explains, his server was broken into and he was locked out.

One excellent outcome of this is the following information:

I’m in the process of re-writing All Consuming so it’s really not worth the time to get it all working in its current state. I […] think that this will be a good reason to get off my butt (as soon as I get back from Brazil) and finally All Consuming from its 2 year coma.

Cool stuff! If you didn’t know already, one of Erik’s recent projects was 43 Things which was written in Ruby on Rails, so perhaps that’s what we’ll see the rewrite of All Consuming in.

All Consuming-as-was was a great app brought low by being slightly ahead of its time, poor server performance and Erik’s likely need to do something that actually pays. Hopefully the rewrite will see it become the web goliath it deserves to be.

Add background colours to bugs in FogBugz3 using Greasemonkey

As always, let’s get the script out of the way: Add background colours to bugs in FogBugz 3.

When in Grid View, active cases are coloured from Priority 1 = red; Priority 2 = pink; Priority 3 = yellow. Resolved cases are coloured with different shades of grey – the darker the grey, the higher the priority. This makes FogBugz look like this (but without the blurring and fat red bar, obviously 🙂

My installation of FogBugz only has three priorities and I believe that FogBugz 3 ships with eight or so, so if you want more, you’ll have to edit the script, but it should be self-explanatory.

This script won’t work in FogBugz 4. It’s possible to do, but I haven’t really made the move quite yet. It should be easy enough to do though.