So you did see my Email!

A while back Google added a feature to Gmail so that you can see which of your friends is online and chat with them.
While this might look cool there is another side to this story, people can actually see when you are reading your Emails on your Gmail account.

I, for example, use GAIM as my main IM client and since Google Talk (GTalk) uses Jabber as its underlying protocol, it means that every Jabber supported client can connect to GTalk. Jabber has built in support to show your status and the client you are using and most Jabber clients (besides GTalk) allow you to see this text.

Google Talk’s integration within Gmail is implemented in such a way that Gmail is converted into a Jabber client. The engineers at Google Talk used the client text and it clearly shows “gmail” in it (as opposed to Talk.vXXXX that is shown for GTalk clients).
Since the option for having the Chat integration is turned by default, if you use a client that is different than GTalk (like GAIM) one can see exactly when his/her friend is inside Gmail.

What do you do when you are in Gmail? Probably reading (or at least seeing) Emails.
A bit annoying isn’t it? I don’t want anyone to know when I’m actually logging into my Gmail account and read/see my Emails.

Luckily you can turn this off. There is an option at the end of the page after you login into Gmail that says “Gmail view:”. In there you can select “standard without chat” which will turn off the GTalk integration.

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.

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.

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.

Google Talk – Let the IM revolution begin

I just installed Google Talk (talk.google.com). Its REALLY cool.
It’s a basic IM and its in Beta but the Voice has a really good quality.

I really liked the fact that they use an open standard, the Jabber/XMPP (www.xmpp.org) which is always good. This means that you can use any Jabber/XMPP supported client like iChat (for MacOS), GAIM (For Windows and Linux), etc.

Read their developer manifesto here, to see that they mean business and I do hope that they will use the built-in federation ability of the Jabber/XMPP protocol to federate messages to other IMs such as Yahoo, AIM/ICQ and MSN.

In addition to that, it seems they are also planning to take on VoIP to standard phone which means they will take on Skype and the rest.

Having a big, money full player in this market is a good thing for everyone and even more so if they are willing to open up everything and inter-connect to the other players.

This is a great day for SIP/VoIP/IM. Mark it in your calendar.

LET THE IM REVOLUTION BEGIN!