At the Hadrian Hotel

At the Hadrian Hotel

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Google Talk is Now Reachable

As detailed in this post on the official Google Blog, Google Talk is now reachable from any jabber server around the world. As you might have guessed from my previous blog entry, I've been tracking this pretty much since Google Talk went online. Yesterday morning (on the east coast), I found that the service was almost open and updated my entry. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't online when they decided on the west coast to make the final change that got everything working. The announcement from the engineer who actually got to enable this can be found here. So much for getting the scoop....

I haven't yet read any of the other posts linked to the official announcement, but I did do some testing this morning and found that both presence messages and IMs appear to be going through nicely. I guess that now I can stop logging into both Google Talk and my local jabber server and cross-polinate my contact lists. That way, it won't matter which service I use, I'll still be able to get to everybody. Just the way it should work....

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Gtalk Online Status Display

Jon Burrows has written a Gtalk Online Status Display 'bot that you can use to show your current presence status on a web page. Just add to your contacts and then add an IMG tag to your web page with a SRC of
where "???" is replaced by your Google Talk ID.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

Google Talk is Almost Reachable

As of a few months ago, there were no DNS SRV records for XMPP server-to-server connections to the domain. Then there was one pointing to TCP port 5269 on Unfortunately, that port was unreachable. Then, a few weeks ago (I think) SRV records were added for 2 more servers, but all three were still unreachable. Yesterday I checked again, and all three servers were still unreachable. Today, I decided to write a little perl script to more easily check the status of server-to-server reachability for JID domains. Naturally, the first one I wanted to check was I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that all three servers were reachable on port 5269! It turns out that you get an immediate disconnect when you do try to connect, but there is definitely something listening today that wasn't there yesterday.

What this means is that Google Talk users are one step closer to being reachable by people using other jabber servers out on the greater Internet. Goole Talkers will no longer be trapped in their current walled garden. Instant Messaging for the masses is getting closer and closer to the EMail model, where it doesn't matter who your provider is - you can still communicate with everybody else.

You can bet that I'll be checking this at least daily to see when they go live with server-to-server connectivity. I'll also be watching the IM Federation's networks page to see when Google Talk gets out of the "Pending" column.

This is going to be fun!

UPDATE: As of around 10:30 AM EST (UTC -05:00) on 17 Jan, all 3 of the servers advertised in's SRV records are (apparently) running web servers that send out "302" messages re-directing you to when you connect to port 5269. However, it's actually not just a web server running there. Whatever is running there does seem to understand XML streams. It just doesn't currently support urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:xmpp-streams stanzas, so messages and presence information don't currently make it from my jabber server into theirs. However, the initial server-to-server connection does appear to come up. It looks like we're one step closer!

UPDATE: As everybody knows by now from this post and this post (and this post ;-) ), Google Talk users can now "jabber" with the rest of the world. Note that this update is mostly a shameless act of self-promotion, wherein I'm attempting to show that I was there, trying to make it work, just before it went live.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Google Local and Talk for the Blackberry

On the Google Blog today the announced: Google Talkabout: YT?...Google Talk for BlackBerry which, unfortunately, won't really be available until the spring, according to the press release on the RIM site. What I did find out about there, but hadn't heard about before, was the availability of Google Local for the Blackberry. Just browse over to from your Blackberry and download it.

I had a little time to play around with this, and I'm impressed. Even with the relatively low rate data connection I get from Cingular, the maps loaded, panned, and zoomed at a pretty reasonable speed. However, while it's a cool that you can switch to the satellite view, don't bother unless you feel like waiting (and waiting, and waiting...).

The program starts up with the pointer in the middle of a US map. Click on the wheel to bring up a menu. From here, you can search for a location, get directions, move the map to one of your recently visited places, clear the map, or learn how to pan and zoom. As for the latter 2 items, the clickwheel can be used to pan up and down, and if you hold down the "moon" key, the wheel will pan left and right as well. For the clickwheel-impaired, "u" and "j" move you up and down, and "h" and "k" go left and right. Oh, and you use "i" to zoom in and (you guessed it) "o" to zoom out.

Search strings are the same as for the Google Local web site (as you would expect), but you use numeric keys to bring the various hits to the front. Fortunately, you don't need to use the moon key to get the numbers - the app is smart enough to know that "w" is 1, "e" is 2, etc. I'll need to play around with this a bit more to see if there are any shortcut keys available (or I could always read the help screen).

All-in-all, this looks like a nice little application, especially when you need that pizza fix when you're on the road.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Google Earth for the Mac!

According to this article on the Official Google Blog, Google Earth is now available for the Mac. Also, the PC version has finally come out of beta. I just downloaded the official Mac version and will probably be wasting quite a bit of time with it this evening.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Migrating Yourself (and your friends) Away From AIM/MSN/Yahoo!/etc

Are you tired of "AIM Today" popping onto your screen every time you get onto the computer, in spite of your preference settings? Or, how about random movie ads playing through your speakers with a little postage-stamp size image in your IM client window? Would you like to be able to treat IM addresses more like EMail addresses? Would you like to play with cool 'net toys that use your presence information to put images on maps (see my earlier post)? Me too!

So, here's the deal: There are other applications available on the Internet that will speak multiple proprietary IM protocols, such as those used by AIM and MSN, as well as a newer, non-proprietary protocol known as XMPP. This is the protocol known popularly as Jabber (which was its name before it was formalized in RFCs and recognized by the IETF).

For MS-Windows and Linux I use a program known as gaim. For the Mac, I prefer adium. Both programs support AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, and a few others. So, if you have accounts on any of those proprietary systems, you can now run just one program and chat with all of your "buddies." You can also add new friends on Google Talk as well as any public Jabber server anywhere in the world.

If you're a Linux or MS-Windows user, go get the latest version of gaim, install it, and fire it up. You'll be greeted by a 'Login' window and the 'Accounts' window. Bring the Accounts window to the front and click on the 'Add' button. Pick a protocol and type in your screen name and password. Check the 'Remember password' and 'Auto-login' boxes and click on 'Save' button Then, in the Accounts window, check the 'Online' box. Once your buddy list comes up, you can close the Accounts window. Next time you start gaim, you'll be logged in automatically.

Now, if you have a GMail account, you can use gaim for that as well. Click on the 'Tools' menu bar entry and then click on the 'Accounts' entry. In the Accounts window, click on the 'Add' button and select Jabber as the protocol. Enter your GMail username as the Screen Name and "" as the server. Enter your GMail password in the appropriate place and check the 'Remember password' and 'Auto-login' boxes. Now, click on the '+' next to 'Show More Options.' Enter "" in the 'Connect server' box and click on 'Save.' Back in the Accounts window, check the 'Online' box for the new account and then close the Accounts window.

A neat feature of gaim is the ability to group buddies. So, if you have a friend who has multiple IM accounts, you can group all of them under one entry in your buddy list. Find the entry you want to be the top of the group and right-click on it. Select "expand" from the menu and then drag the other buddy entries for this person under the expanded entry. You can arrange the grouped buddy entries in any order you want. Click on the minus sign to collapse the list. Normally, hovering over a "grouped" buddy will expand the list temporarily, so you can select which entry to IM. Or, you can just double click on the group entry which will send a message to (I believe) the top online address in the group.

Adium is a somewhat different beast. First off, it is a native Mac OSX application, and is nicely integrated with the Mac Address Book application. Second, it understands Apple's Bonjour protocols, so you can easily find other Mac users on your local network who might be interested in chatting, whether they are running adium or iChat.

The first time you start Adium, you will be greeted by the 'Preferences' window, ready for you to set up an account. Click on the '+' sign and then on the protocol you wish to configure. What you do next depends on the protocol you've chosen. If you've chosen "AOL Instant Messenger" then all you need to do is enter your Screen Name, your Password, and then check the 'Automatically connect on launch' box before you click on the 'OK' button.

Let's say that you're going to add your Google Talk account, so you selected the Jabber protocol. Enter your GMail address as the 'Jabber ID' and your GMail password as the Password. Click on 'Options' in the top of the window and enter "" as the 'Connect Server.' Then check the 'Use TLS...' and 'Automatically connect...' check boxes and click on the 'OK' button.

Provided that you got the Screen Name (/Jabber ID) and the Password correct, you will now be connected to the IM server for the protocol you've just configured. Since the 'Preferences : Accounts' window is still open, you can add any other accounts you might have. Note that for Bonjour, you can put pretty much whatever you want in for the 'User Name' and the program won't care. You're probably best off putting your name, if you want your friends to be able to find you.

That ought to be enough to get you started. Now you can get your friends to switch over too, and you'll all be well on your way to leaving the proprietary IM systems behind. If you don't have a GMail/Google Talk account, get one! Pretty soon, Google should be allowing connections from other Jabber servers on the Internet, opening up literally a whole world of people for you to chat with.

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