Connect Google Talk with MSN, Yahoo and AIM

Just saw this on Digg and since I’m already on a Jabber frenzy due to my previous posts, I thought I should share.

Looks quite cool, though I haven’t tried it yet.

I’m using GAIM so I got everything all up in one client. I’m just waiting to get a build of GAIM that works with libjingle so I would be able to chat with my friends using Google Talk’s voice features.

If I only had a bit more free time to actually code on GAIM that would be even better… oh well… back to the salt mines.

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Company-Wide Instant Messaging with Jabberd

Continuing my current fixation about Jabber and Jabber related stuff (it all started with this post about how Google is openning up Google Talk to talk with other Jabber based servers), there is a good article up on O’Relly’s OnLamp.com about the pros and cons of a Company-Wide Instant Messaging solutions as well as how to setup Jabberd 2.x to do just that.

It’s really worth the read for people that are trying to figure out how to utilize an IM solution in their company while still retaining a high degree of security.

Go. Read. Implement.

Jabber Servers Supporting the DialBack Protocol

I promised in the previous post about Google Talk’s support for federation to check what open source Jabber servers supports the DialBack protocol described in RFC 3920 used by Google Talk server to talk to other Jabber server.

Well… it seems that the dialback protocol is supported by all server listed here and a bunch of other non open source servers not listed there.

This is a good thing, but it seems the dialback protocol is not encrypted like the other TLS and SASL server-to-server protocols. On the other hand all other IMs today are not encrypted by default so privacy issues regarding this are legitimate as to the rest of the IMs available.

The main advnatage of the Jabber Protocol (besides it being an open source specification and a standard) is that it is federated like the Email system is, meaning, if I send an Email to another friend who is on the same server, that Email will never leave the server.
If I send an Email to a friend in a different server (domain) that Email can go through 1 or more other servers until it reaches its destination.

This is a great oppertunity for business who are afraid of putting instant messaging software inside the organization due to security issues since all internal IMs will be kept internal and will not travel outside the network of the company/office/department/group. Only when IMs will go to a user on a different network they will be sent to a differnet server.

In addition to that, and as I talked a bit in an earlier post, Jabber has support in the protocol for cross-protocol communications, which means that upon installing a bridge to a different IM system (MSN, Yahoo, AOL, ICQ) you can use your internal Jabber client, see other IM users from your corporate as and users from other Jabber servers as well as users from other networks such as MSN, Yahoo, AOL and ICQ.

Now all we have left to do is promote the proposed standards for Jingle (JEP-0166) and Jingle-Audio (JEP-0167) (and perhaps the open source libjingle library) so we will finally bridge all the gaps between the various IM systems we have today.

Someone heard my call – Google Talk support federation

A while back I posted a request/hope that Google Talk will open up to AOL using one of the Jabber bridges.

I also secretly hoped (meaning, I forgot to blog about it) that since Google Talk uses Jabber, they will open up its federation abilities and enable everying Google Talk user to communicate with any other Jabber user (providing that that user supports the necessary XMPP spec that Google Talk uses, which I still don’t know if it is one of the common ones, but I’ll check that up).

Well… Yesterday one of the Google Talk team members announced it on the Google Talk blog and it was also announced in the official Google blog.

Way to go Google!

Now almost everyone with a Jabber account will be able to talk to any other Google Talk user.

Check back here for a summary of all Jabber server that supports the dialback protocol (RFC 3920) so you’ll know which Jabber server will be able to talk to Google Talk.

Google Talk and AIM talks

I’m sure you all have heard by now that Google and AOL have signed a deal in which part of it is to enable Google Talk and AIM users to communicate with each other.

Google Talk is based on the open XMPP (Jabber) standard which has built in abilities to work with gateways that enables this protocol to communicate with other protocols.

I just hope Google will use some of the Jabber/AIM bridges such as AIM/ICQ-Transport to make this thing work.

Google Talk Log Abilities

As my good friend Dudu pointed out (and I forgot to tell you), Google Talk’s log abilities are very limited.

It only saves the last 20 lines of chat (and only if the window was closed properly, otherwise it will NOT save the log).

Since Google Talk currently lack any normal API (heck, its just one executable file ;-) ), I thought about writing a small up that would listen to file changes in the log directory, parse them and accumelate them in one file per converstaion with a person (similar to what the log is doing now).

This will allow me to save the complete log of the chat.

I was also fiddling around with making my small app, a Google SideBar add-on. All I can say is that its not that nice to make one :-).
Actually, I didn’t have enough time (I think a hour should do it) to mess around with it too much.

Anyhow, I’ll update all of you on how my Google Talk mods are coming along.

Google Talk Chat Log Viewer

After discovering the Google Talk Chat Log format and seeing that its not human readable, I’ve decided to write a log viewer so I can check out and read my logs whenever I want to.

You can download the Google Talk Chat Log Viewer v0.1 from here .

I’ve also written there the Google Talk Chat Log format if anyone else is interested.

Enjoy!

How to edit/delete Google Talk custom messages

Google Talk stored all of your custom messages that you have entered in a file in your user profile directory.

The file is located at “%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Talk\status”

Inside you will find a file named in the format [userid]-history.txt.
So if your Gmail account is John.Dow@gmail.com the filename will be john.dow_gmail.com-history.txt (besides, there is usually only one file there anyway ;-) ).

The file format is very easy. It start with a first line which has the character “1” in it. I’m not sure what it stands for and what it do but you can disregard it.
All of the other lines are your custom message.

There are two statuses that can have custom messages that you can set for them. The “Available” status and the “Busy” (reffered internally as dnd – Do Not Disturbe).

Each two lines represent one custom message. The first line of each one of them represents one of the two statuses that this custome message refers to (available or dnd). The second line is your custom message.

There is no way of delete your previous custom messages in the current Google Talk GUI (Its currently true for the versions I’ve worked with 1.0.0.64 and 1.0.0.66 but may be irrelevant for future versions).

In order to delete these unnecessary custom messages do the following things:

  1. Close Google Talk
  2. Open the file (the location and name are mentioned above)
  3. Find the message text
  4. Delete that line and the line above it.
  5. Save the file
  6. Start Google Talk

That’s it, you won’t see it.

Of course, instead of deleting the line you can also edit it to change it.

Hope this helps someone.

How to disable Google Talk Auto Update

If you every wondered how to disable Google Talk’s auto update feature, I found an easy way of doing this which, at least for now, seems to work.

NOTE:
Be sure to backup the registry entries before using the registry’s Export feature when standing on the Google Talk AutoUpdate key.

  1. Close Google Talk
  2. Open the registry (using regedit.exe)
  3. Go to My Machine\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Talk\Autoupdate
  4. Change the value of UpdateURL to something in valid (or empty)
  5. Start Google Talk

That’s it.

Very simple and seems to work (at least for now).

IM Wars – And I’m not the only one thinking about it

It seems that there are more than a few people (well, at least 2) that have some other thoughts about Google.

I must admit that at first I was also inside the Google Talk frenzy, submersed in all the hype, but after reading Nuggest’s post and Drunken Batman’s post I started to ponder a bit about their thoughts and I must say that have some really good points.
Although Google Talk is still in v1.0 (or v0.1, depends on how you look at it) and it lacks a lot of the client features that its competitors have, we should also assume that their server software (even though based on the open XMPP standard that Jabber uses) is at v1.0 (or v0.1, as I said about the client).

Most people that only use one IM don’t know/want/take time to understand how Jabber server to server (S2S) works and how its similar to Email. Heck, I doubt most of them know how Email works, they just know that entering an Email address will usually get the message to that address.

This leads two a few things:
a) If people don’t know how Email works and they already know that entering an address will carry the message to its destination most of the time, using it in Google Talk shouldn’t be that much of a problem. So this means that either Google didn’t want to have S2S at the momet and wanted to test and establish Google Talk using their own user pool that they have in Gmail or Google is planning on doing so but still didn’t activate their servers to support it.

b) Using Email address can get users a bit confued. Why does my Email addres of foo@somewhere.com can’t be used? I don’t care there is no Jabber server at somewhere.com. I just want to put the Email address of my friend and use it, much the same I use my friend’s telephone number.
Since Google are very user scenario oriented I can only assume they didn’t want to confuse the users which found Gmail very slick and intuitve and didn’t expect anything else from Google, that can be a good enough reason not to do it.

Technology – My favorite part of any post ;-)
All of the above is without contemplating on the technology side, which has its own merits invovled but I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on that subject as well. NOTE: If you are not so technically literate you can safely skip this part.

Most of the Jabber servers I know (either commercial or open sourced) support an LDAP back-end of users. This means that if Google wanted to save a lot of development efforts they probably took an existing Jabber server implemenetation.

This means one of two things:

  1. Gmail’s backend authentication system is LDAP based or have an LDAP interface.
  2. Google had to break open the code of the Jabber server they used and implement the authentication part on top of their Gmail/Google Account authentication system.

If that is the case, Google could easily add S2S or it might even already be implemented in the Jabber server they use which makes Nuggest’s point even more serious. They have the technology but have disabled or excluded it.

The most annoying thing is that by using the Gmail account and limiting Google Talk to access only the Google Talk network, Google acted much the same as the company they just don’t want to be, Microsoft.

Microsoft did the same thing with Passport/Hotmail and MSN Messenger.

What happend to the “We are not evil!” motto? Declaring freedom of choice is not enough. Act must be made.

I’m calling everyone that reads this entry (all 5 of you ;-) ) to act now and make your voice heard. Email a nice a polite email to federation@google.com

Yell a bit so that everyone in Google Talk will hear us.