Today I want to present to you my unified instant messaging setup, which enables me to communicate from any of my computers and also any of my mobile devices (Android, iPhone, iPad). Goal for me was to provide a setup where I have single client per platform with a centralized history I can search if I need to. I want one – and only one – client for my communication. I only care about text instant messages, actually; I hardly ever use voice or video services when communicating online. I really like the asynchronous nature of instant messages. At the moment, I have integrated IRC, ICQ, Google-Talk/Jabber/XMPP (which could potentially also include Facebook), and Skype. The current setup also gives me push notifications to my iOS devices on messages directed at me. Today’s posting is only intended to give you a very high level overview. I will add detailed descriptions of individual setups of the individual components in later posts.
Continue reading “A geek’s unified instant messaging setup”
To emphasize my demurs against URL shortening services which I have mentioned before, here comes the prove that my thesis is correct: the URL shortening service tr.im is going to be shut down by end of this year. As Robert Scoble put it, this is a “shortcoming” of the Twitter platform, where the shutdown most likely will be felt most.
This is the first time I am aware of actual knowledge/data-loss which will occur due to the shutdown of such a service.
Update: tr.im announced that they will stay in business, due to an overwhelming response. But still, the final shutdown of such a service sooner or latter can and will happen. And even worse would be the continuation of such a service where all the URLs would be redirected somewhere else…
I have already written about my opinion about the problems of URL shortening back in 2005. Yesterday, Jeff Atwood pointed out other issues like commercialization. Today, another threat has come true: hackers have manipulated the URLs of shortening service cli.gs.
Given the huge amount of information hidden behind such shortened URLs, and given the popularity and number of these links, especially nowadays on Twitter, these services could see themselves being under permanent siege of hackers/crackers. Being able to manipulate hundred of thousands if not even more vastly distributed and popular URLs to point to a given site could be used for both, generating (lots of?) ad-revenue, or as a new form of DDoS-attack.
At the moment there seems to be no way around using these services (especially with services like Twitter), but in the medium/long run a solution has to be found if we don’t want to lose lots of valuable information.
Just played around with Google Chrome. First impression: Wow! This is definitely going to encourage development of other browsers as well!
Each tab runs within its own process and Chrome offers a “Task Manager” (Shift-Esc), which will display memory usage, CPU usage and bandwidth consumption for each tab, which I consider very handy.
Chrome is available for Windows only at the moment, but is expected to be released for MacOS X and Linux as well. I am really curious how this is going to develop and if this is going to really affect “the Internet as a whole” (I really believe Google has gained enough market power to push their products).
I normally try to avoid the “me too” blog posts, but this video is simply hilarious, especially if you or your job are somehow related to the “Web 2.0” hype. Have fun!
Update 2007-12-16: as of today, the video has been taken down due to a copyright sue. What a pity! Read more on TechCrunch.
Update 2007-12-20: a new version without the pictures in question has been published. I changed the video link below to point to the new version, called “Here Comes Another Bubble 1.1”. (via TechCrunch)
(via Scobleizer and TechCrunch)
Amazon announced that they are going to offer S3 storage service inside Europe.
This for sure will provide a great boost in speed for my JungleDisk backup. I am now checking out what I have to do to get my data moved to the European data centers. I suppose I have to re-upload everything because you have to specify for each bucket if it is located in the USA or in Europe. JungleDisk at the moment does not provide support for this. I opened a topic regarding asking if they’ll support this in the near future (article1, article2).
It’s also interesting to notice that storing data in Europe is more expensive. It costs $0.18/GB/month as compared to $0.15 in the US. Bandwidth at the moment do not differ based on location. So I’d only switch if the upload/download speed is significantly higher than to/from the USA.
I am currently evaluating BlogDesk, a Windows-only software for offline blog editing, supporting a wide range of different blogging systems, including WordPress (the system this blog is running on).
The main reason, why I am trying to switch from using the integrated online-editor of WordPress to a dedicated software, is speed and offline availablity. Lately I tend to work offline again, because I got a nice little notebook which is able to run on battery for quite some time. I now tend to use the time I’ve got for instance when riding a train. And I want to be able to use this time and publish some posts. BlogDesk online editor is very speedy, it is more responsive than using the online editor. One also tends to concentrate more on the content and less on the layout, because there is no preview possibility.
Additionally, BlogDesk encourages using images in your blog posts, because it makes it easy to incorparte them. It warns you if your images are going to be too big and it provides some ncie effects like the drop shadow used in the screenshot above. Images can be inserted from an URL, a file or the clipboard. They will be uploaded when publishing your article.
Unfortunately, BlogDesk does not support tags in WordPress 2.3+ yet. But I am sure they will come.
BlogDesk is free, but the source code is not available. As mentioned, it is Windows only, but it works very well. I’d recommend you to give it a try it if you are using Windows and are contributing to a blog.
Recently I featured Mozy, a tool for automated online backup on Windows and Mac. I finally got round to using a different solution: JungleDisk, a WebDAV frontend for Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3).
What I really like about the software and the company is that they don’t claim that their data will be safe forever at their location. They confess it is possible for a company to vanish. In order to prevent you from being locked out they have outsourced the storage to Amazon, which provides cheap storage on a “pay what you need” basis.
JungleDisk provides encryption of the documents using AES and only you can decrypt them. To be on the safe side you’ll always be able to retrieve your data, they have released parts of the code covering filename-mangling and encryption under GPL.
JungleDisk is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. As said, they provide a WebDAV frontend so any WebDAV client can interact with it. It also features a local cache to prevent needing to download a file on every access. There is also an automated backup routine.
Costs are reasonably. At the time of writing, JungleDisk costs 20 US-$ once, with promised life-long updates and patches. All you need to pay for is Amazon fees for your usage, which are at 0.15$/GB/month, 0.10$/GB inbound traffic, and 0.18$/GB outbound traffic. You see, you can store lots of data for around 10$ per month.
One big minus-side of this is that Amazon’s data-centers are very slow from Europe, I was able to achieve around 700-800kbit/s (90-100kB/s) from our office connection. On the pro-side, due to the caching and background transfer, you don’t notice that the transfers are so slow, unless you need to download something. As I am using it for automated backup, I hope to never have to download anything.
So if you are searching for an offsite backup solution, you should definitely consider JungleDisk.
How could I miss this so long? Google Browser Sync keeps Firefox‘ bookmarks, sessions, cookies, tabs and even passwords (if you really want to) in sync. As I constantly switch between multiple computers, this is really a nice thing to have. You need to have a Google account, but as I already use Google Reader and Calendar, I already have one. In order to hide your data from Google (as if this mattered due the amount they are already collecting about us) you can protect the information by a password (PIN).
I’m currently trying it out and up to now I am very pleased with it. One more reason to stick with Firefox 🙂
Today, German news-site Golem.de covered OpenStreetMap in a rather long article. OpenStreetMap is a project I have been watching for some time now as I think the availability of free maps is very important. I’d like to participate in the project but unfortunately I have got little time and no adequate GPS receiver.
Maybe anyone in the area of Linz, Austria would be interested in a little mapping party one day? The data in this area seems to be rather sparse 🙂 Anyways, I think the project or any similar project is definitely important and should be supported with all means. Anybody knows someone at a Austrian government body which could contribute data to such a project?