Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Jabber + Punjab + JWChat = almost what I’m looking for

Friday, September 9th, 2005

A couple people commented on my project idea for instant messaging over HTTP. After looking at the open source IM market in more depth I’ve found that the pieces I was looking for are actually all there, mostly.

  • Jabberd 2 – an open source XMMP server implementation. There are also some great extensions (called transports) like PyAIM-t and PyMSNt that allow your server to interface with other IM providers. Any jabber server would probably do, but I liked the looks of Jabberd 2 best. Adopting an already existing IM server will save a bunch of time trying to design and write a backend for my project.
  • Punjab – an open source HTTP jabber client interface. Kind of like a session-intelligent proxy between the statelessness of the HTTP and the statefullness of XMMP. Version 0.6 is is the latest release, but it has a couple problems. I’ve had more success going with the latest code from CVS. Even that has some issues though, mostly that it does not implement JEP-0124 completely, and binding connections simply get turned into polling connections with a very fast (read instantaneous) polling rate. This problem is where I’m currently focusing my efforts.
  • JWChat – an open source browser based chat client. No ActiveX or Java required – 100% Javascript, which is native in all major browsers. Along with Apache on the server side to proxy requests to Punjab it works pretty well. Not really a fan of the appearance currently, but that is easy to change.

So, even though it appears nobody had really ventured into exactly the space I was thinking about, there are enough tools out there that I can pretty much construct my idea out of pre-existing code. Progress is being made, but it isn’t ready for public yet. Punjab seems to be the most important piece of the puzzle to me and it still has a couple show stopping bugs (but I think I know how to fix them – except for the scalability problems). Once I get it patched I’ll release the patches and a guide to build your own HTTP to Jabber to AIM/MSN/Y!/etc setup.

Back up after the move

Sunday, July 24th, 2005

We had a couple of days of downtime (really just 1) because of the move. Like an idiot I didn’t take enough care when shutting Ridcully down and some MySQL tables got corrupted. Hex didn’t wake up right away after the move either. It wouldn’t even power on, and normally it is the DNS server, so it was kind of hard to research how to fix the MySQL problems I was having on Ridcully. Finally after just letting it sit for a little while Hex woke up, and then a quick ‘repair table wp_comments’ later on Ridcully we’re back up and running error free. Just looks like we lost a few comments (probably the last 25 or so).

FCC Broadcast Flag temporarily struck down

Friday, May 6th, 2005

Groklaw reports that the DC Circuit of the US Court of Appeals has ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to impose the Broadcast Flag requirement on digital TV consumers and equipment manufacturers. The Court decided that the FCC had overstepped it’s bounds and that it did not have any authority to make regulations regarding the Broadcast Flag until Congress grants them that power.

The FCC Broadcast Flag was an attempt by the MPAA and other content distributors to limit the legal uses of digital TV broadcasts to initial viewing. This means that recording for later viewing or otherwise archiving the broadcasts would be illegal (at least in their original digital quality), and it would therefore be illegal for manufacturers of consumer electronics and computer equipment to ship devices that allowed recording of content “protected by” the Broadcast Flag. Naturally the Broadcast Flag would really put a damper on the development of innovative technologies like Tivo that actually enhance and improve our lives instead of complicating them.

Of course I’m sure the MPAA and other proponents of the Broadcast Flag will not give up just yet. I expect that they will make every effort to get the ruling overturned by higher courts. If that is not successful I expect that they will return to lobbying Congress for legislation that grants the FCC the power to control what consumers do with content after it has been broadcast. I personally believe that the FCC’s power should only apply to the communication of information, which includes transmission and any interference with transmission. What a consumer does with the signal and the content after their device (which is their personal property) has received the transmission should be up to them (as long as their uses of the content respect the copyright). I do not believe that the FCC’s power should apply to devices that can be used to receive broadcasts (specific purpose consumer electronics or general purpose computer devices), other than regulating their interference with transmission of those broadcasts and other’s receipt of those broadcasts.

If you value your freedom to do what you want with your digital TV signal for your personal use after you have received it into your home please consider writing to your Senator and House Representative to make sure they know it. Because if the Broadcast Flag decision is upheld in higher courts, you can bet the MPAA lobbyists will start in on Congress. You can also contribute to the fight for your freedom in the digital world by supporting the EFF.

Flickr – Yahoo deal

Monday, March 21st, 2005

As pretty much everyone who reads anyones blog knows by now, Yahoo is buying Flickr. I hope this doesn’t change Flickr’s wonderful open philosophy. Their API should be a model for all sites, no matter what service they provide. It is well documented (but not overly verbose), and extremely flexible. Hopefully Yahoo’s $ can help Flickr deal with some of the capacity and stability challenges that have come with their incredible growth. Flickr may also be able to contribute a lot on the usability front to Yahoo’s different sites, some of which haven’t improved in this area for 3-4 years. We’ll just have to see how it all works out.

Oregon DOT pilots program to track and tax mileage

Monday, December 6th, 2004

Living on Earth mentioned an Oregon DOT sponsored project to track the mileage that motorists drive on Oregon roads and use the data to institute a use-based road tax to replace the hefty state gasoline tax. Oregon, like all other states, charges a state tax on every gallon of gasoline sold on top of the $.18 federal tax per gallon. The states use this money to fund the maintenance of roads and bridges. Many states are noticing decreasing revenue with this model due to the increase in hybrid and fuel-efficient car sales.

Oregon DOT has been funding a project at Oregon State University (also mentioned in GPS World) as a potential solution to the decreasing revenue from gasoline taxes. The proposed program uses a combination of existing GPS and radio technology to tax the motorist for the miles driven every time they refill their fuel tank. This is how it works:

  • The GPS receiver and the odometer are used together to determine how many miles were driven inside Oregon’s borders
  • A radio transmitter transmits the mileage data to the gas pump when you fill up
  • The mileage data is used to calculate your usage tax and you are charged the usage tax instead of the flat per gallon state tax

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