Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
America Online

AOL/gaim/Jabber Situation Explained 140

Posted by michael
from the the-value-of-non-interoperability dept.
Faceprint writes: "The developers of gaim have posted another article about the blocking of Jabber and gaim by AOL. It answers a lot of questions that repeatedly get asked on slashdot, and explains the situation rather well. Definitely worth a read."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL/gaim/Jabber Situation Explained

Comments Filter:
  • AOL Owns the servers. So why can't they do what they like?
  • by Sc00ter (99550)
    Okay, let me share my (usually unpopular) thoughts on this.

    First: AOL Announces TOC
    This could have never happened at all, without TOC, think of where we would be? The didn't HAVE to release TOC or make TiK, they could have just said screw you linux people. Now, they probably don't make alot of money with ads that run on the official AIM client, but they probably make some, so anybody using TOC isn't going to see the ads, so of course they're going to focus on OSCAR rather then TOC because anybody using a TOC client rather then the official AOL AIM client isn't seeing ads. Also, TOC doesn't provide all the features, again, that's to get people to use an AOL AIM client that shows ads.

    To tell ya the truth, I don't even use any of the other features. If I want a chat room I got to IRC, if I want to transfer files I put them on my web server or email them. I use buddy icons, but that's just because they're there. I would say that most people that use AIM just use it to chat and TOC does this fine.

    Second: AOL Blocks MSN and Odigo
    You bring up a good point. If MSN or Odigo won the battle then the totally closed source protocol would have won and then where would we be? Probably back to reverse engineering protocols every time they change. And they would probably block clients as well as services. That's not much fun.

    Third: AOL and Time/Warner Merge
    All very good points that people don't know about.

    Fourth: AOL Blocks Jabber (and Gaim) Yes, AIM doesn't want any part of sharing networks, and I don't really see a problem with that. They still let open source clients onto AIM, and if OSCAR doesn't work they can always use TOC (just wondering, could jabber use TOC on the servers?)

    Finally:
    Yes, it's not the resources, in fact the way TOC works it seems like it would require more resources. The reason they block is to get you to switch to an AOL AIM client that shows ads because they ads make them some money.
    I don't think TOC was ever suppose to be an alternative to OSCAR. I think it was made to allow basic chat features and that's all, I don't think it was ever planned to expand to all the features of OSCAR.
    You make a great point, AOL doesn't block clients, but they sometimes get caught up in the crossfire. Basically, AOL isn't out to get GAIM, or Everybuddy, they just want to block Jabber and MSN from making the two services work together. Since there are clients that allow you to connect to many at once, I really don't see a problem with that. There's people that won't use AIM because it's owned by AOL, I'm sure the same goes for MSN and MS. That's why people choose Yahoo or whatever for their IM needs. If everybody shared and stuff then there would be people complaining about who controls it and what not.

    I think the bottom line is, be glad we have what we have, they could have given us nothing. If you really think AOL and AIM sucks, why not switch to Jabber or something else... you don't HAVE to use AIM.


    --


  • Its AOL's servers and databases Gaim, Faim, and other 3rd party clients, are connecting to.

    Jabber has their own little niche forming, and they should look to focus on that instead of rambling on about foobar info concerning AOL.

    Either way you look at it SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE THOSE CLIENTS ARE CONNECTING TO AOL's SERVERS.

    Why shouldn't AOL bitch about this, in any form they choose, when they're paying for bandwith, etc. Also note that AOL's version of AIM has banner ads, so these 3rd party versions circumvent those ads, which gives AOL another reason to bitch.

    Maybe folks at Jabber should look into making some form of revenue sharing with AOL in order to hush them up, whatever the case. AOL has the right to do whatever. Its their SERVERS...

    Notably funny is how on their conlusion, they have standby methods to turn to should AOL block them. Now if this doesn't sound like performing an illegal action (theft of services since AOL did not authorize them to use their bandwidth, databases, etc.) then I don't know what is.

    Whomever wrote that is just plain stupid as it gives ammo to AOL should they choose to seek legal action.

    Encryption Saves the Day [antioffline.com]

  • Sorry, perhaps I should back up my argument a bit. AOL makes money off of AIM with ad placement, and if AOL can't guarantee that users have the official ad-enabled client, they can't sell ads. But regardless, it's their service and they can do what they want. I'm so tired of the attitude around here, "Rights apply only to OSS, force all non-OSS to share." Next you're going to be suggesting that we put all non-OSS in camps...

    --

  • buy your own damn servers and pay for your own damn bandwidth

    Alright I will, where can I buy my own AOL server?

  • Well I removed the ads from the windows client, and AOL has way more bandwith than a lot of ISPs out their today they basically have their own backbone Geez they are making millions with the 22 or more million people do they have to try and make money off of something else
  • Really, let's just move on. Instant messaging should be free and open like HTTP and E-mail. Just because some corporations made some closed IM server/clients first does not mean that there is no hope.

    Everyone, please just go try out Jabber [jabber.org]. In the past, people have mentioned that the clients are not quite up to par as other IM clients, but it just might be worth the sacrifice to switch. Who cares if the AIM transport doesn't work? Tell your AIM-using friends to switch also.

    Heck, I've already begun writing my own Jabber client. How's *that* for wanting to get away from these corporate controlled servers?

    -Justin
  • Please read the article before trying for a first post.

    AOL volutarily provided TOC, an open interface to their system for 3rd party clients to use. It's since been left to rot, but until they remove it, they have no "Get orrf moi LAAAAN" argument.

  • The Messenger said:
    If you want your own special little Open Source chat network, buy your own damn servers and pay for your own damn bandwidth
    That's what Jabber does - they have their own servers (Jabber servers) and the server guys pay for their own bandwidth. The AOL servers are only used to talk to... AOL Clients!

    AOL can do whatever they like with their servers, it's true. No amount of crying on 'our' part that "we have no choice, we can't get entire relationship networks to change" will do anything about that. However, it's not fair for AOL to say that the users on their system can't talk to users of other systems (Jabber, for example). Note that they can still do it, but it's not the Right Thing. I know full well that this means nothing to AOL, but I'm pretty sure it means a lot to most of the readers here. Who knows, it may be not only morally correct, but legally correct too.

    I think arguing about this is not really the way to deal with the issue, though. Let's look at this from a different perspective (bear with me):

    If AIM's management keeps playing tricks, then we can't link AIM to other systems (Jabber is a way to do this, even if GAIM isn't). Let's say other messenger services don't pull these tricks, so they get tied together. Now these messenger services have an incentive to use them instead of AIM - the effective increase in the reachable user base. If this is big enough, then people will join up because they will want to talk to their friends. Eventually, people will leave AIM because more of their friends use the other system.

    There are other benefits to this, too; once you can change IM clients without losing all your contacts, you can use the one that annoys you the least and/or provides you with your most desired features, even just picking from "approved" clients! Suddenly, there is competition within the linked IM market (as opposed to the isolate IM market, like AIM will be in) based on something other than user base size (ie, how many of your buddies use it). There will be market pressure to keep ads and other cruft off the clients! Pressure for working features, and robustness, and maybe even decent dedicated proxies for firewalls! Currently, once you have a contact network set up on a system, the owners of that system have you in a headlock much like phone companies would if you could only phone people on that company. Since you can change phone companies (at least for long distance) there's fierce competition in that market. This isn't really any different.

    • Why shouldn't AOL bitch about this, in any form they choose, when they're paying for bandwith, etc

    What's with all the cognitive dissonance? AOL voluntarily have provided TOC for 3rd party clients to use. They've explicitely OK'd 3rd party clients. I don't understand where the confusion is coming from.

  • I thought it was bad when people who did _not_ read the damn link posted a moronic comment, but normally I would moderate it down and move on. But now you have moderators not reading the story and moderating people up! When I read this story (default browsing setting of +2), there were two comments at +2, both had not read the _very_ short article posted.

    Please moderators -- at least _you_ should read the damned links.

    I am off to Meta Moderate!

    (Hopefully this gets moderated as off topic!)
  • by Trinition (114758) on Monday April 23, 2001 @02:23AM (#273047) Homepage
    Why shouldn't AOL bitch about this, in any form they choose, when they're paying for bandwith, etc.

    OK, did you even read the article? Consider the alternative, TOC. If Jabber, GAIM, and every other AIM client used TOC to connect to AOL's servers (sacrificing some functionality), would AOL be able to bitch about the bandwidth?

    That would be like complaining that you left your front door unlocked and put out a sign inviting everyone in to eat your food and drink your drink.

    If anything, the metaphor for using OSCAR changes to some extra people coming in through your backdoor and using your toilet too.

    So, yes, it is using AOLs resources, but so is TOC -- and TOC is sanctioned. The argument can't be about resources then. It has to be about whether or not its a use sanctioned by thw owner of those resources.

    Now if this doesn't sound like performing an illegal action ... then I don't know what is.

    Having standby methods does not maqking something illegal. It is no more illegal than their present solution to steal, as you put it, AOL's resources. Here's another example of something that sound illegal that really isn't:

    Covering your two-year-old kid in vast quantities of dihydrogen monoxide as he screams bloody murder.

    Of course, no two-year-old wants to take a bath.

  • they never really gave anything back to the community they shamelessly exploited in their formative days

    So? Arguing that companies have moral duties is totally pointless. When they get something for free, they don't count it as something they have to repay at a later date!

  • Really, let's just move on. Instant messaging should be free and open like HTTP and E-mail. Just because some corporations made some closed IM server/clients first does not mean that there is no hope.

    Sure instant messaging should be free, and in essence it is. Facts remain in this case, Jabber is using resources from AOL who doesn't want them to.

    Facts:

    AOL pays for their servers

    AOL pays for their bandwidth

    AOL has not authorized anyone to use their services

    Jabber is outstanding as an IM protocol

    Clients like Jabber take away from AOL's revenue

    Jabber has the right notion so what's so hard about them going the same route as AOL, by throwing up hundreds of servers and assess their OWN users without having to fsck with AOL?

    Personally at this point I think they're just trolling for attention on a David versus Goliath basis. They can set up their own shit without dealing with AOL entirely.

  • Really it's all up to AOL if they would like to keep their service (server + client) a closed system.

    If I came up with some sweet file sharing service which made all legal factions happy and looked to make a lot of money on it I would probaly make it a closed system. And I would work hard to block clients written by some hackers. IM is adverted in AOL commercials! It's supposed to be a stapple service. They don't want other closed source developers to gain that edge they have in the messaging market (they own ICQ right).

    Although AOL doesn't seem to be like MS; which goes to far efforts to block file types which can be used between platforms - AOL seems [seems again] to be friendly to it's open source friends.

    They just don't want to loose their service to MS or that other company which I truly never heard of. IM is sweet in my view, wish the Linux clients were as robust as the windows one and I hope MS doesn't tackle it.

    Final Thought: AOL bought Netscape, Winamp, and ICQ... oh and some tv, radio, cable stations [not to mention all the means of delievering these services], newspapers and magazines: BUT THEY WERE LITIGANTS AGAINST MS?!?!

    I know AOL sucks, and I support open source - but how does someone protect their idea (a money making one) but help the open source community.

    Ask MS to let us view the code a few times for WINE... yeah right
  • i hope aol doesn't block out the linux clients in the future. if they do, where will overweight linux users with no social skills meet young girls?
  • I just threw away an old 486 last week, if I had known you wanted to setup an AOL server I could have saved it for you. I suppose you could use something newer and faster, but you would lose the authentic AOL "slowness".
  • I just started using Gabber and I was thrilled to find that I had a single friend that used msn instead of icq. This way I could convince myself that I actually gained from using gabber instead of icq. On the onther hand I cannot remember ever meating an aim user.

    What is the number of aim users in the world. Does it really matter what these guys do or don't? (Please don't flame me for my ignorance, I just wanted to pose a question )

  • Ok, yea, is would be nice if the let us access OSCAR, but they are not, so boopah, they get to, at least they have given us OSCAR which provides us with a way to chat to AIM users, that is a lot more than MSN/Yahoo and ICQ have done.

    As for TOC not being powerful enough, eh, it is IM, you can message people and see that people are online/offline/away, what more do you need. That is like complaining that your e-mail server will not let you send HTML e-mail!

    As for this being illegal, I am not sure about the US, but he in the UK it would be, you are accessing their servers and using that servers services without consent, that is illegal, yea, they gave us toc to access oscar, we have right to access toc, this does not allow us to access the oscar machine directly though!

    Plug time, if you want a chat client that you can rely on and that uses the wonderful open source service, Jabber and that will let you access MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and Zephyr then visit the Everybuddy [everybuddy.com] website.

    Take care - Robert Lazzurs - Everybuddy Maintainer
  • by scotpurl (28825) on Monday April 23, 2001 @03:24AM (#273055)
    Lotus's product, SameTime (http://www.lotus.com/sametime) legally connects to AIM servers because Lotus paid a licensing fee to AOL to allow it to happen. So far they've licensed just the chat module (no file transfer), but it's a start.

    GAIM and Jabber could do the same. Free, unless you want to connect to an AIM server, then it's $5/year, or something like that. Then connections are legal, and the GAIM and Jabber teams don't have to spend time re-reverse engineering things every time AOL makes a change.
  • So if I set up a new phone company, I should not allow my customers to connect to those of any other company? For a communication medium like phones, email or instant messaging to be globally useful, users of different providers must be able to connect to each other. While AOL are within their legal rights to make it difficult for other IM systems to link to theirs, they are are being shortsighted. At some point, there will be a global IM system, possibly a network that allows users to connect accross different systems. By keeping itself to itself, AOL is in danager of being left out of this system. Would you use a phone company that didnt allow you to speak to the majority of other phone users while other companies did?
  • Every time there's and AOL vs GAIM article the same comments arise. Mod this down if you want but AOL has no oligation of playing nice with the OSS community.

    While software can be free (beer) hardware seldom is. Someone has to pay for it, and in this case is the ads in the AIM client. Now imagine: AOL says, ok go and write an open source client. Someone makes it and puts de ad routine in the code, e.g. show_ad_banner();
    Nothing can stop me from nuking that code away and remove the banner in the client.

    On the other hand you may argue that the number of linux/bsd users compared to Windows users is really small, so AOL might well allow linux/bsd users in their servers. If you ask me I don't think ther resource drain is that big, but as I said before AOL has no obligation at all to provide a service for free. They could allow it if you were inside their network, but how many unix users connect to the net with AOL? Guess not many.

    To finish, a quote from the article: "It's not the resources that are the issue; and if it were, TOC would be blocked out"

    I don't agree, maybe they want someone using and old client to be able to still use the service.

    Just my 2c
  • > So why shouldn't they block unofficial clients?
    It's bad PR...
    Legally it is ok...

    > and since OSS doesn't make any money,

    Nither do free services [yahoo.com]

    Free ISPs are going down, banner ads aren't paying for websites anymore, Where is AoL going to make money off it's AiM clients?

    AiM is only good for PR...
    Blocking open clients is bad PR.
  • Would you use a phone company that didnt allow you to speak to the majority of other phone users while other companies did?

    Its not a matter of whether I would choose that phone company (which the answer is no) rephrased you should have asked is it smart for that phone company to partake a policy of "our service only"

    Many will post about little tidbits here and there, and no one can legitimately give a fruitful answer to facts. Sure we could all throw in suggestions, thoughts, etc., but no one seems to want to post a fact in relevance to this story.

    So again I reiterate this notion, at this point I truly feel that Jabber, Gaim, are both trolling and trying to gain popularity by concocting a David (Jabber/Gaim) versus Goliath (AOL) based story.

  • > However, it's not fair for AOL to say that the
    > users on their system can't talk to users
    > of other systems (Jabber, for example).

    Yes it is. Its their software. If they decide to change to a completely new protocol, that's THEIR decission. I think what makes this so appealing is the challenge on getting around it.

    I don't know how it is for the WINE people. They can't possibly like the fact tha tthe windows api keeps changing. Can the WINE group go to MS and say "stop it"? Sure. Will they care? Who knows.

    ---
  • Lets face it, instant messengers are here to stay. I, for one, need mine! I recently migrated from ICQ to Jabber - I run my own jabber server, why? Well, in short, because I can.
    But I've managed to "migrate" a few of my friends too. It really wasn't too hard, since ICQ started forcing big ugly banners upon their users. I still have a few friends that use MSN messenger, because it's intuitive and easy. I showed them JabberIM, and I think they'll be switching soon... I really do think that Jabber is the future for IMs... XML based instant messaging. Jabber has just recently gotten nice clients, Gabber, WinJab and JabberIM are really good. Gabber and JabberIM are my favorites, but if you want to know what's going on (developing or such), WinJab is the best.
    What I'm trying to say, is that users don't want to see huge ads just to send a short message. In a business, you certainly don't want to be distracted by ads like that. Jabber offers a stable, rapidly developing IM platform.
    Uhm, ok, just my two cents.

    • AOL has not authorized anyone to use their services

    Er, TOC? The protocol AOL published expliticly for 3rd party clients to use?

    From the GAIM [sourceforge.net] site.

    • TOC was created by AOL to allow unofficial clients to connect to the AIM service

    Does anyone have a link to the actual TOC specification so that we can check this? There used to be info at http://www.aim.aol.com/tik , but that's vanished (quelle surprise).

  • Resources are not the issue, it is the banner ad's thing prob, or the fact that they just don't want you using OSCAR, they have been very nice in giving us TOC, I think we should say thanks by using TOC and not by saying fsck you and using OSCAR.

    cat /dev/brain > slashdot

    Take care - Robert Lazzurs, Everybuddy [everybuddy.com] Maintainer
  • I see one small problem with the article:

    The assertion is that, since AOL has released TOC to general use, that obviates their claim on their server resources. It states that, until AOL removes TOC, they cannot claim they are simply restricting access to "authorized users" since they have implicitly authorized everybody.

    Yet, the article continues by pointing out that TOC has lost features. The only way this can happen is if AOL removes those features from the TOC servers.

    Now, if AOL wished to remove TOC, they would have to do this by disabling capabilites at the server. Is this not what they have already done?

    I'm not defending AOL's actions: they have a monopoly and are moving to preserve and extend it. It seems to me they are perilously close to violating the Sherman act. Are there any lawyers who which to comment?
  • Does your 486 already contain the AOL server code, or will I need to download that from somewhere? If so, from where?

    Oh, I can't download it? Thought so.

  • MS to buy AOL? Remember that AOL is the biggest company in the world. MS doesn't want to buy AOL, they just want to put AOL out of business, which is just as unlikely, imho.
  • I stand by my intended point. If I started a phone company, other companies would be required to allow me to connect to their systems and would not be suprised by my desire to do so. This makes the phone system more useful than having a bunch of separate systems.

    My point about whether you would choose a phone company that "closed its doors" was simply to illustate that such a company would not be viable in the long term.

  • If I started a phone company, other companies would be required to allow me to connect to their systems and would not be suprised by my desire to do so. This makes the phone system more useful than having a bunch of separate systems.

    Utility companies are regulated, and since now your comparing apples with oranges anyway so I'll skip the whole rambling.

    My point about whether you would choose a phone company that "closed its doors" was simply to illustate that such a company would not be viable in the long term.

    Again your missing the meat and potatoes of this all. AOL's IM was created for their own personal use, there is no one in this world that can force them to allow others to intermix with their own private property (their servers, their databases, their bandwidth)

    Secondly unless you _still_ haven't gotten the issues straight. Now since you continued with an assinine telco example here goes... IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT I WOULD CHOOSE (I wouldn't choose a phone company that solely used themselves and no one else) REGARDING THIS ISSUE. AOL HAS MADE THEIR POLICY AND IT IS STICKING TO IT, REGARDLESS IF IT SUITS ANYONE.

    Which part of that did you not register?

    Aside from that:
    According to the FCC conditions, AOL only needs to open AIM to at least one would-be competitor if they add "advanced, IM-based high speed services", specifically, video conferencing. Until they add video conferencing, they are allowed to keep it as closed as they want.
    They don't have to open anything, and to close this up one last time. As you state "using x or y company for yadda yadda", well the solution is to simply find another "telco" now isn't it? Which means if AOL is so rotten, incompatible, you know what? No one is forcing anyone to use, let Jabber, Gaim, Faim, whatever make their own servers and stop bitching
  • Use Jabber for its own IM system, not for the transports (like AIM). It's a common misconception that Jabber only supports other IM services. Jabber has it's *own* IM specification, as a distributed server system, much like how email works.

    I was actually saying the same thing you are saying: Let's do our own thing rather than relying on AIM/ICQ/etc. That would be like everyone only having @hotmail.com email addresses.

    -Justin
  • I have read about the problems with opensource clients and AIM the times it comes up on slashdot. All the times something is said about competing IM systems, but almost never anything about ICQ.

    So I wonder why? Everyone I talk to on the internet is using ICQ, I have never "met" an online person who doesn't use ICQ. Another advantage is that there are functioning open source clients for ICQ which work very well.

    Conclusion: there isn't an IM war going on, and it has never been. ICQ is the only IM system to use. But I might have missed something.

  • where are my mod points where i need them?!? this is the best response i've seen in a long time to the trolls that always flood this topic...
  • Except the analogy is wrong. It should be:

    I started a phone company, and did allow other phone companies to route phone calls to my system, but didn't allow regular phones to talk to our new custom holographic 3-d videoconferencing system.

    They're implicitly saying, "we're allowing basic transport to work OK, but still want to offer an incentive to use our service directly." Whether that's good or bad is up to you, but don't try to change the argument into something it isn't. It's not about AOL denying service. It's only about offering extras to their customers.

  • And it serves the Jabber IM protocol.

    An added bonus of Jabber is that it can communicate with other IM networks, but this is not something you have to use.

    Please see my other response to one of your postings.
  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday April 23, 2001 @04:16AM (#273074) Homepage
    Despite Toc's "shortcomings" (none important that I can see), it works, and AOL has provided it for everybody to connect to *THEIR* servers.

    What is the problem here? I can use everybuddy just fine to talk to people I need to talk to. That's what IM is for. What else do you need?

    If you don't like that TOC doesn't do what you want, then don't use AOL servers. Force your friends to use IRC. Run your own IRC server. Just stop Whining!

  • I understand it entirely... Maybe I conveyed it wrongly but its pretty much the same thing I'm trying to state. Oh well I need sleep (up since 2am SATURDAY!!) ;)

    I agree with your point entirely, which is why I stated that I felt Gaim people were trolling... If AOL doesn't wanna open up shop, fuck em, move on and do your own thing, they have the capabilities so there should be no "issues" for them to bitch about. (yet they do... riding the AOL bandwagon at this point.)
  • I'll ignore the overall tone of your posts and assume that we simply have is a misunderstanding here.

    If you look at my posts, you will notice that I am not disagreeing with your points so there is no need to start a flame war. (not every reply in /. is in opposition to a post)

    I was merely making the point that AOLs attitude will not be sustainable forever. Sorry if there was confusion about what I was saying.

    You will find no bitching coming from me. I have no axes to grind. I'm just interested in an emerging communication medium.
  • Perhaps AOL could fix the incompatibilities between different AIM clients?

    The IM that comes with Netscape isn't 100% compatible with the members' AIM (yes, even with the eeeeeeeeeasy version 6)

    It would be really nice if there could *just once* be a program or a format or something that was released and remained unchanged for a couple of years, and continued to work because it didn't change. sigh...
  • We appreciate your comments. Please leave your pet troll at the door.
  • Yeah, sorry , I did oversimply things a bit. I wasnt trying to deliberatly change the argument.

    I stil think that AOL is going to have to integrate with other services at some point so it might as well be sooner rather than later. I thought that was what they were doing when they opened up part of their functionality.

    I suppose it does all come down to what functionality is considered neccessary for the system to work.
  • Phone companies pay other phone companies, if that call originates within my network and terminates within your network. THATS why your example doesnt apply here. Jabber isnt paying AOL (reimbursing) for the resources that Jabber clients utilize.
  • ...if this were truly an issue of resources. but it's not. AOL is in business here. AIM attemptes to make money through the ads in the official client. If you're not running the official client, then you have no ads and they have no revenue. TOC is a compromise whereby they'll let you run an unofficial client, but the price you pay for that is loss of some functionality.

    A lot of people seem to think that this is an evil and terrible thing. AOL probably thinks those people are just plain crazy and don't understand a thing about business. From their point of view, they're trying to "play nice" while still trying to keep their source of revenue - AOL is not in this for the principle of the thing, and anyone who thinks they should be needs a new opinion.

    And just think about it for a moment - if AIM opened up the protocol, how long do you think people would continue to use the official client that makes them watch advertisements in the window? Answer: about as long as it would take them to download a client that didn't have ads. And as has been pointed out, no ads=no revenue for AIM. No revenue for AIM=defunct service. This is why they do things like "break" unofficial clients with checksumming.

    Now I posted on this a few days ago when there was an article about it, and I'll repeat what I said there: the way to get AOL to open up is not to reverse-engineer their protocol and give people clients that make their service unprofitable; that will make AOL want to squish you like a bug. Rather, what is needed is lots of people going to other services (can you say Jabber?) - then they're losing their competitive edge and they're motivated to fix it. And what's the best way to be competitive in the IM market? Being interoperable with the other services, of course...

    So rather than coming up with a clever hack so you can keep using the OSCAR protocol and a client that can't take advantage of the features, out of some sense of open-source spite, forget AOL and get Jabber...it'll do more to make AOL open up than ten thousand gaim users checksumming away ever will.

  • Except your argument is faulty. They don't make money off of the official Linux AIM client with ad placement since there are no ad's in the official Linux client.

    Dinivin
  • It is sad to say but after reading the article and many comments, I think a lot of Open Source and Free Software proponents have this whole issue of closed sources & systems a little bit confused. The fact is that for-profit corporations don't care about people, standards, or anything which costs them a larger profit margin. Although this is nothing new, we shouldn't be expecting them to invest money in setting up services which we then latch onto and leech off of.

    We are here to help promote and provide choice, and choice isn't always easy, but it's often worth it even if the people actually making choices are a small minority of those involved.

    I don't think most of the people involved with Open Source software and Free Software respectively, are here to compete (aside from the few companies that are trying to do so, although it never was the original intent.) So let's just keep up supporting, creating, developing and learning. It is really our only weapon against human nature.

    Geez, all that tear gas in Quebec city must have gone to my brain?


    yoink
  • Now, if AOL wished to remove TOC, they would have to do this by disabling capabilites at the server. Is this not what they have already done?

    Eh. Not quite. They've removed a lot of functionality, but not the core functionality. Buddy lists and messaging still works. You can still connect and be seen by normal AIM users as being online. But there's a lot more to AIM than just that. That's why TOC isn't something you'd want as a permanent solution. It's not a replacement for Oscar. But at least it works.

    Actually I'm kind of curious why AOL doesn't drop TOC completely, take the servers offline. They're not making money off of it. It's only costing them money, having to run and maintain the servers (which they do rather poorly, btw; the TOC servers go down for days at a time on a regular basis). But I'm not going to question it too much; I wouldn't want to give anyone any ideas. (It would *really* suck if in addition to the Oscar blocks TOC wasn't even opeartional - every unofficial AIM client would be dead in the water.)

    -----

  • I still don't understand why it is that official clients have been bumped as well. I have had it with AOL and their IM crap. I can't connect no matter what client I am using. And, in the off chance that I do connect, I am promptly disconnected. I will be quite happy when Jabber really takes off. I have tried to use Jabber in the past, but I have yet to have it run smoothly (I know it is beta-ish software, but I am looking to leave the realm of AIM). Anyway, I most likely will just set up a private irc room.
  • Did IETF ever make a standard? The last thing I read was they were fighting endlessly over three proposals [cnn.com]. If they would make a standard, this whole thing would be moot. You'd have 20 or 30 client programs all talking to each other, and eventually AOL would start losing market share.
  • I think the bottom line is, be glad we have what we have, they could have given us nothing. If you really think AOL and AIM sucks, why not switch to Jabber or something else... you don't HAVE to use AIM.

    Did someone confuse linus torvald with the dalai lama? Why on earth should we be glad with what we have? We owe AOL nothing. It is a public company, and all its decisions are based on maximizing profits. Whatever they gave us, they did it because it payed them to do so. Open source developer can do everything legal in their country to get access to AOL customers. If you don't like it, complain at a local police station near you.

  • There are a lot of reasons to use AIM over IRC; one of the main reasons, the primary benefit of Instant Messeging in general, is presense notification. How many people on IRC change their nick from person to person_Asleep when they go to bed? Nearly everyone that actually *uses* IRC? How many other tricks to people have on IRC to try and emulate an AIM buddy list?

    The point of IRC was never the same as the point of AIM. IRC is a collaboration tool. It's not very useful beyond chat rooms, though it's *very* useful for that. AIM isn't very useful for chat rooms, but it's incredibly useful for knowing when your friends are online, when they're available to talk to you, for actually talking to them in a "private" setting (most people are blissfully unaware that AOL has the right to monitor your conversation), etc.

    IRC has its uses, and so does Instant Messaging. Now if only everyone would use Jabber (and Jabber's IRC transport) instead of AIM....

    -----

  • allows you to connect to Oscar (rather than TOC), which means that you get the ability to read AWAY messages, a feature that does not work on the TOC servers.

  • Every time there's and AOL vs GAIM article the same comments arise. Mod this down if you want but AOL has no oligation of playing nice with the OSS community.

    You are damn right. And the OSS community has no obligation to play it nice with AOL either. It's called competition, so whose side are you on?

  • Why nobody speaks about ICQ ?

    • It was the pioneer of IM
    • It has a very big user base. More than 100 million registered users.
    • It has many features. File transfer. Chat. Conference. Url transfer. Voice messages. A good user search interface.
    • Many OpenSource clients. Licq, KXicq, gnomeicu (see The Linux ICQ Page [portup.com])
    • The Protocol has not been published, but it is well understood (see The ICQ Protocol Site [d.kth.se])
    • As far as I know, has never blocked OpenSource clients.

    Why so much talk about AIM, MSM and YM ?

  • AOL voluntarily have provided TOC for 3rd party clients to use. They've explicitely OK'd 3rd party clients.

    Except some important features (file transfer, retrieve away message, buddy search, buddy icon) are entirely absent from TOC.

  • Well, to embrace and extend the analogy you made in your article:
    <Devil's Advocate>
    What AOL did was to create a spa, and unlock their back door (TOC), and allow the neighborhood kids in to use the bathroom, the phone, and maybe get a little sugarwater to drink. The front door (OSCAR) was for paying guests.

    You argue that, since they've left the back door open, you ought to be allowed to use the front door, the microwave, and the bigscreen TV as well.

    Now, AOL's stopped putting sugarwater out, they've turned off the phone, and once in a while the toilet won't flush. They are focusing on the paying guests to the detriment of the neighborhood kids. You argue that this merely increases your right to use the front door.
    </Devil's Advocate>
    I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here: I dislike what AOL is doing, and I'm just trying to make sure that your arguements for them allowing OSCAR access to all are as sound as possible. The arguement you made in your article, to me, seems a little shaky, and I just wish to help strengthen it.
    <Op-ed>
    I dislike AOL's tactics. Like many other companies, they have managed to create a monopoly de facto if not de jure, and are moving to extend it. This is really dumb on their part: making IM work for all increases the value of their network under Metcalfe's law, as well as making them less likely to attract the DOJ's attention.
    </Op-ed>
    I guess they feel the DOJ is a toothless tiger...
  • No one on a different phone company could talk to a person on another phone company's system. Then the FCC stepped in and created standards, and mandated interconnection.

    No they didn't. AT&T was established as a regulated monopoly. There could have been an FCC mandated interoperability but there was not and we got the monopoly instead.

  • Somehow, I don't think this would work too well, since Gaim and Jabber are both GPL (Jabber is dual-licensed). AOL probably wouldn't be too keen on us redistributing the code that we'd have licensed. If the were to provide it under the GPL, then we'd be more than happy to use it. But if they won't allow that, then we won't be able to use it.

    -----
  • I started a phone company, and did allow other phone companies to route phone calls to my system, but didn't allow regular phones to talk to our new custom holographic 3-d videoconferencing system.

    And the routing from other providers introduces (unpleasant but bearable) lags in the conversation. And this routing often goes down for days at a time. I would not want to use such a service.

  • So lets see, TOC can't retrive away messages, file transfers, buddy icons, direct IM, voice chat, etc. So in reverse order:
    Voice chat: is a pain in the ass anyway. Try playing with H323 with NAT. Thankfully there's Roger Wilco.
    Direct IM: Ok, this is major. But when you use jabber, all your AOL, ICQ, MSN messages pass through your Jabber server anyway.
    buddy icons: I don't need the blinky icons, in most cases they're just bottled self expression anyway. I know a few users who have created their own however.
    file transfers: I haven't sent or recived a file through any IM client for a long time. See e-mail, ftp, http, and scp...
    away message: Oh, so I can't tell why my friend isn't at their machine. Oh well. Would be nice.
    Overall, I don't feel like I'm missing anything if I have to use TOC instead of Oscar. But that's just me.
  • They released a client you could use, so that you could speak to them.

    This client (TiK) and its derivatives connect to toc.oscar.aol.com. So why is the server down for days at a time?

  • Yeah, it is shaky :)

    If AOL had a client for Linux, *BSD, Solaris, AIX, etc., etc., that could support all of the features the Windows client supports, then I don't think that any of this would really be a big deal; we wouldn't be able to claim as much to it. But in all honesty, the only way they can really provide a client for every OS Gaim (and other open-source AIM clients) supports is by providing source - something I'm sure AOL isn't about to do.

    I think AOL is actually benefiting from our (open source AIM clients') existence; we're increasing their userbase. I bet a rather large percentage of our users are people who use Unix but wouldn't use AIM if it weren't for their parents/siblings/spouse/children/friends. So they're not going to get rid of us until they know there's alternatives. And it isn't economically viable to provide alternatives themselves.

    So yes. It is a shaky argument, that we should be able to use Oscar because they let us use TOC. But I don't think AOL is going to argue the point when it's just an AIM client. When it's a server, though, that's personal :)

    -----

  • >and since OSS doesn't make any money, you'll be paying for it out of your own pocket.

    And neither does Closed Source [yahoo.com] if we go by your Yahoo tells all link.

  • AOL's IM was created for their own personal use, there is no one in this world that can force them to allow others to intermix with their own private property (their servers, their databases, their bandwidth)

    This is, of course, true. BUT there are a couple of points that you are missing.

    • AOL does allow access to their "private property" - through the TOC protocol, which is arguably MORE resource intensive than Oscar, due to it's nature.
    • The "official" AIM client for linux doesn't display any banners (I've used the Windows one sparingly, and only ever saw ads for AOL itself there - maybe they've changed since then) - so they're not making any money off ads being shown to linux users of their "official" client.

    IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT I WOULD CHOOSE (I wouldn't choose a phone company that solely used themselves and no one else) REGARDING THIS ISSUE. AOL HAS MADE THEIR POLICY AND IT IS STICKING TO IT, REGARDLESS IF IT SUITS ANYONE.

    Again, true, but it is extremely poor business practice to ignore the preferences of your clients. While it is entirely within AOL's rights to run a closed-doors IM service (until such time as they add videoconferencing, re: the FTC AOL/TW agreement, blah, blah blah) , it's extremely poor foresight for them to do this.

    Eventually (maybe not within 5 years, but certainly within 20) I think IM will be a service quite similar to today's telco system. Multiple providers inter-operating to provide communications. Noone's forcing this to happen - but I think it will. If AOL doesn't change their tune before then, they will *probably* be left out in the cold, as far as IM goes.

    The sick thing is that even if they remain a closed-doors IM during that time, if they do open it up, they'll probably become dominant (or at least a key player) simply due to their size and focus (on giving their particular flavor of access to the clueless who don't know any better).

    As you state "using x or y company for yadda yadda", well the solution is to simply find another "telco" now isn't it? Which means if AOL is so rotten, incompatible, you know what? No one is forcing anyone to use, let Jabber, Gaim, Faim, whatever make their own servers and stop bitching

    Agreed that there is noone forcing anyone to use AIM (well, other than AOL themselves, if you use them for a provider -- MS is nearly as bad by "integrating" MSN Messenger with OE in WinMe/WinXP -- removing the "choice" as to whether or not to run a given IM program). BUT - in order to talk to a clueless friend/relative who uses AOL and doesn't have the expertise to install another client (or is too stubborn/thickheaded/clueless to see that there is a whole world outside of AOL's blinders) you don't have much choice BUT to use an AIM client (for IM -- phone is always an option - email less so due to the large ammount of spam on AOL). This is what AOL counts on, as far as a force to drive users to use THEIR IM over someone else's -- "all your clueless relatives are belong to AOL".

  • Because I like talking to people more than saving resources, and because I know a variety of people, I have (for now) conceded the fight of getting everybody on one system, and consequently run three IM clients: MSN, AIM, and ICQ.

    For the record, here's the breakdown of my lists:

    MSN: 26 people

    AOL: 10 people

    ICQ: 4 people

    Oddly enough, three of the people on my ICQ list also run another IM client, but I keep it because the remaining guy only runs ICQ, and I haven't yet convinced him to switch.

    I installed Jabber last week, been playing with it, as it could replace my MSN and ICQ, not sure if I'm going to stick with it.

    My $.02

  • Utility companies are regulated, and since now your comparing apples with oranges anyway so I'll skip the whole rambling.

    It IS a valid analogy? Why? Utility companies were regulated because they are... monopolies. Not 100% monopolies, but enough to require regulation.

    Now AOL has a VERY sizable chunk of the IM market between AOL, ICQ, etc. They are trying to force people to use their stuff and only their stuff (remember when you had to rent a phone from Ma Bell?) So many people use IM, that AOls insistence in locking down their network is a) a disservice to their users and b) excludes other users who frely choose to use other services.

    Normally you'd say - that's business and hte most popular devices wins (think VHS) But in this case you have a company who is flexing its muscle to rule the Internet.

    Remember how CNN, TIme Managzine and others always had live chats via their websites with various folks? Notice how those chats are now exclusively on AOL? I'm not saying they shouldn't be able to do this, but it really does exclude many people. I've read TIME maagzine for decades - but I'll never get an AOL account just to use their exclusive online services! Scary part is I'm sure many other people will.

    --

  • I don't believe this is about ad revenues at all. AOL makes money off its subscribers. AIM is a service to those people, which if it's going to be of any value is going to need to allow non-subscribers to use it as well. The volume of non-subscribers who use AIM at any level is probably not a large consideration. I seriously doubt their ad rates add much to their revenues as far as AIM goes. Yes, they may well be discouraging the use of non-AOL OSCAR clients, but I'd guess that's for technical and/or bandwidth reasons moreso than some huge financial concern. Heck, the added developer time and other human resource costs are probably quite a bit more than any internet advertising can bring in. Actually, if they can get middle of the road MSN or Qwest or other large ISP subscribers to use their official client and see how nice it is, they may be able to more easily convince people to switch to AOL.
  • Zeinfeld wrote:

    AT&T was established as a regulated monopoly. There could have been an FCC mandated interoperability but there was not and we got the monopoly instead.

    No it wasn't. AT&T was the direct descendant of the Bell system. Bell was *the* phone company for decades. You even got the phone from them (because they mandated that you do so). Bell wasn't established as a regulated anything, it was just the phone company that grew fastest and eventually absorbed whatever other companies' territory there was.

    Unless you literally mean "the establishment of AT&T as a separate descendant of Bell from the local-service Baby Bells", in which case my apologies. Most people who spout off about the "AT&T breakup" don't realize that prior to the Bell breakup, there was no AT&T as a separate entity, so I've come to assume that anyone who talks about AT&T and early telco history is saying "AT&T" when they mean "Bell".

    Phone service is now considered a natural monopoly, along with power, gas and cable, because the infrastructure requirements are so high. Because they all require expensive and/or widespread infrastructure to compete on an equal footing with existing players, it's hard to break into a locked-up market. We as a society have determined that competition in essential services is a good thing, even if it means imposing a burden on a company judged to be a monopoly (read: forced granting of infrastructure access to potential competitors).

    Now, although I work in the industry and consider Internet access an essential service for me, I don't think in general it should be government-regulated as a "utility". I think ultimately it's pointless for AOL to try to keep OSCAR fully closed, but it's their right to do so as long as they are technologically able to.

  • I read the article, he claims that GAIM has a right to connect to AOL servers because AOL released something called TOC.

    But then he says TOC doesn't work anyway, at least not well.

    Maybe AOL isn't worried about trying to block TOC because they realize nobody is bothering to use it?

    That has got to be one of the strangest justification articles I've seen in a long time. I can't help thinking "Buddy, get a hair cut and get a real job." :)
  • You'd be amazed how big a deal getting away messages are. The two most often requested features for Gaim before it was able to use Oscar? Getting away messages and file transfer, in that order. It's a really big deal to a lot of people - and often times, away messages are important.

    The whole point of Instant Messeging is presense notification, including when a buddy is available to be talked to (basically whether they're online and not away). People put all kinds of information in their away messages, from song quotes, to what they're doing, to messages that say "I'm not really away" (I have seen an away message that said this, literally). Why have an away message without being away? It's like Occ. or DND in ICQ; to let your friends know you're there, but don't really have time for chit-chat, only important stuff.

    As for file transfer.... Yeah, it's kinda pointless, but it's a convenience thing. You've already got AIM open, and you're talking about this MP3, might as well send it over. It ends up being really convenient sometimes, too, especially for people that don't want to set up an ftp/http server, or want to send files to Windows users (who probably don't have scp installed), and who use Yahoo and so can't send/receive that 6.1 MB MP3 (since Yahoo limits mailbox size to 6 MB).

    So, once again, while TOC has the basics down, it's missing "important" things :)

    -----

  • by signe (64498) on Monday April 23, 2001 @06:30AM (#273108) Homepage
    His opening argument, about how AOL giving away TOC negates any argument about third-party clients having no right to use the system, is invalid. It's like arguing that because the bank allows you access to the money in the vault via a teller, you have the right to go in the vault and muck around as you like. Hey, it's less resource intensive, because they don't need this proxy (teller) to service your requests, right?

    The fact of the matter is that the general public starts off with absolutely ZERO rights to use AOL's servers. AOL then allows specific forms of access. If they only want to allow certain people certain types of access (via TOC versus OSCAR), it's well within their rights. As much as you would like to think it is, instant messaging is NOT a public accommodation.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Maybe AOL isn't worried about trying to block TOC because they realize nobody is bothering to use it?

    I can name at least 5 clients off the top of my head that use TOC, not counting Gaim. Kaim, EveryBuddy, TiK, Kit, and jaim. People are trying to use it, because it's what they've been given. It works, marginally. It doesn't have features you'd expect from a "real" AIM client, like the ability to request file transfers or the ability to get users' away messages (both of which are a *really* big deal to some people).

    I'm not saying we have a right to the servers; it is a priviledge. What I'm saying is, it's not the resources that are the issue. If the resources were the issue, they wouldn't allow TOC at all.

    I can't help thinking "Buddy, get a hair cut and get a real job." :)

    Funny, my dad said the same thing just yesterday. :)

    -----

  • Read it again, closer this time. I'm not saying we have a right to use it; never did I say that it was ours or that AOL couldn't stop us or anything like that. I'm saying that resources are not an issue. AOL does not block clients because it is a drain on the resources; that's all I'm saying.

    -----
  • Fire can do AIM just fine because it uses the libfaim library, which is GPL.

    RTFP (http://www.epicware.com/fire-features.html [epicware.com])

    Avi

  • Perhaps you should reread what you wrote again. I quote: AOL giving us TOC negates any argument about us not having any right to use their servers.

    It doesn't. It renders any arguments on the subject based on resources moot, but it does not give you any sort of right to use the servers.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Sorry, I misspoke. When I said "it does not give you any sort of right to use the servers" I meant that it doesn't give you any right to use the servers outside of the TOC protocol. Based on my previous statements, this could be assumed, but it's worth clarifying what I said.

    -Todd

    ---
  • by Mike Schiraldi (18296) on Monday April 23, 2001 @07:06AM (#273117) Homepage Journal
    AOL to Protect Its Servers
    From Unauthorized Use

    DULLES, VA

    America Online announced today that, in keeping with its recent instant messaging policy, it will no longer allow outside users to send email to any address within the @aol.com domain.

    A corporate spokesperson said, "We run these mail servers. It costs us money to do so. Why should we allow outsiders, non-customers, to send mail to our servers?"

    Another plan, to disallow any TCP/IP packets to pass through AOL's routers if the source or destination are not both AOL customers, was in the works....

    --

  • > What, you mean like the open-source AOLserver?

    No, I mean their Instant messaging server (you know, "Instant Messaging", as mentioned in the article [sourceforge.net]). AOLserver does not do that, it is just a web server!

    > Now please shut the fuck up already and stop posting your bullshit with a +1 bonus.

    Now please read the article, and stop recommending products which don't address the problem at hand.

  • I did read in context. It still sounds like you're justifying using OSCAR by the fact that they gave away TOC. You'd like to sit here and say "Oh, we're doing them a *favor* by using the less resource-laden protocol. They should be thanking us!". You know what? Let AOL worry about their own resource issues. They've got a lot of people paid to worry about it on a daily basis, and they do a pretty good job of managing it.

    And if I'm wrong, then exactly how do you justify using OSCAR when you yourself agree that you have no right to use the OSCAR servers? And remember, resources aren't an argument. You said that yourself.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Absolutely. Go ahead and use it if they leave it open to everyone. That's really not my point. My main point in all of this is that everyone (not claiming it was neccesasarily you) should stop bitching every time AOL changes the protocol or the checksum and blocks everyone.

    Yes, by the fact that the server is semi-public you probably do have some rights to access it. But if they go and change the access mechanism, all of a sudden everyone starts shouting "Oh, this isn't fair!" You know what? Deal with it. You can either figure out the new mechanism quietly and "fix" your client, or switch to TOC. But I'll repeat it again (not for your benefit, but everyone else's): instant messaging is not a public accommodation.

    Now, I do give you credit for coming out and trying to answer some of the questions. However, I think you could reword it and be a little clearer as to what you believe your rights to use the system are. You've cleared things up a little in this thread already. Unfortunately, I doubt it will have a serious impact on the community. We're still gonna get everyone shouting that AOL isn't playing fair they shouldn't be allowed to change their access mechanisms on OSCAR.

    On the topic of reverse engineering, I really don't want to get into it either. However, I will say that you may get into trouble if you go the route of a "checksum server". I'm definitely no expert, but it seems that cleanroom solutions to something like this tend to be accepted, while doing a checksum server that bases itself around the AIM binary may bring up some problems between AOL and you guys based on the DMCA. Regardless of whether the legal challenge is valid or not, or even if the DMCA is good or bad, I would guess that you probably don't have the resources to fight AOL in court, and even if you did you might not want to. It's just something else to consider.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Distributing a binary that's a plug-in that provides licensed AIM support is what comes to mind right away. They hit a menu, the program asks for a credit card number, the plug-in is downloaded and installed in the correct location, and licensed AIM support is off and running. You could probably even compile in, realtime, the AIM name of the user that the plug-in was meant for. Then the plug-in can be shifted between multiple computers, but pirated less easily. (Note I didn't say it couldn't be pirated.)

    My real point is, I think that the open-source brain trust is better used for creation and innovation, rather than licensing circumvention. :-)
  • Remember how CNN, TIme Managzine and others always had live chats via their websites with various folks? Notice how those chats are now exclusively on AOL?

    Likely has something to do with AOL and Time Warner having merged. Time Warner owned (among other things) CNN and Time. Now AOL-Time Warner owns AOL, CNN, and Time, and a whole lot more.

  • Me: instant messaging is not a public accommodation

    You: No, but it should be :) Enter Jabber.

    I really don't think it should be. As you as you get to something like that, you end up having government regulation and problems like we see with the Bells and even the power providers.

    Open and accessible, yes. Public accommodation? No... it just carries too many negative aspects. But that's just my opinion.

    -Todd


    ---
  • Sounds like AOL started using the DUL [mail-abuse.org] on their incoming mail servers. I really can't say I blame them. I use the DUL on my servers, basically because a good bit of spam these days is done via Direct-to-MX (ie. spammer dials up and uses a proggie to send mail directly from their computer to their victim's mail server). Blocking dialups is a quick way to deal with this problem that doesn't block too much legitimate mail.

    There's always a tradeoff when you use a list like this for blocking spam. Obviously AOL decided that the spam that would be blocked outweighed the legit mail that would be blocked. And I'm fairly certain that it was a very small percent of legit mail, because I know firsthand the process that this type of decision would have had to go through before being implemented. However, I really don't think it makes them a bad Internet citizen. It's a business decision, plain and simple.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Yeah, I agree that it's funny. But I think that the underlying truth is that AOL could do this, and they'd be well within their rights. Sure, it would be a stupid decision. But that doesn't mean they couldn't do it.

    Fact of the matter is, if they did it, AOL customers would have to decide if it was important enough to them to cause them to cancel their account or not. Same as the decision that AIM users have to make now... is it important enough to you that AOL isn't working towards an open system, and that they don't interoperate with other IM systems? If it is, then stop using AIM, and try to convince your friends to use something else as well.

    -Todd

    ---
  • A monopoly of what, the information feed available to the 25 million idiots willing to pay for their hanging gardens. That's like saying my landlord has a monopoly on the living arrangements of the forty people living in my building. Snap out of it.

    And another goddam thing, IM cannot survive without the self-same idiots? Cannot we consider this a Darwinian moment? Call it one of those periodic, catastrophic cleansings of the icology. If you're on AOL, your contribution to the icosystem is almost certainly negligible. You are the weakest link.
  • Look for a program called DeadAim. It replaces the AIM binary, works fine and removes all the banner ads. You can find it here [jdennis.net]

    SealBeater
  • AOL has no oligation of playing nice with the OSS community.

    Nobody does, but the smart companies are playing nice. We have long memories, and it will take AOL far longer to rebuild their reputation than it is currently taking to destroy it.

    Given a choice, do we:

    (a) create messaging systems that interoperate seamlessly with AOL's

    (b) rebuild the whole network presence infrastructure from the bottom up, get our own open protocols in place, lean on every ISP to run our servers, and turn AOL's messaging system into a second-class citizen

    tough decision huh?
    --

  • You know, Back when AOL first created TiK and the TOC protocol, they published the specifications. You could even download them from their website. It wasn't until the whole MSN ordeal that they took them down. Now, if AOL didn't want us to use TOC why would they provide it to us? And why would certain people there have told me it was ok? Very interesting .. hmmm :)

    ---
    Rob Flynn
  • Yeah, that should be about as easy as convincing your friends to stop using Windows.

    --

  • Every time there's and AOL vs GAIM article the same comments arise.

    Interesting remark. No, I think every time this comes up we get more PO'd and more motivated to do something about it. OK, here's an idea: how do we hit AOL where it hurts? Lets route their traffic for them. We write routers that run on the client machines (yes, somebody has to put on their toxic waste suit and write some Windows code) and these routers put the normal ICQ/AIM OSCAR traffic through our own P2P network of servers. We write it so it's more reliable and provides smoother connectivity than AOL's servers (should not be hard) and in return for our network carrying their traffic, the user lets us use their client as a proxy for doing things like searching AOL's user list. We could, for example, shadow AOL's entire user base on a global P2P network, and I bet we could cut average search times down to the sub-second level.

    What happens next is pretty obvious isn't it? AOL has to start worrying about *us* pulling the plug.
    --

  • The issue is not whether or not AOL actually has to pay for extra bandwidth or servers. I'm sure that AOL/Timewarner could add servers/bandwidth at will and have it be a blip on their bottom line.

    The issue is that AOL gets to do whatever it wants with it's own bandwidth. That means that when they released the TOC protocol and provided servers for it, all they did was imply that it is ok to use the TOC protocol. This has NO bearing on the oscar protocol or servers. Even if it doesn't actually cost AOL an extra nickel for people to use oscar servers, it is still AOL's bandwidth to use (or not) as they see fit.

    The author of this article made a ridiculous statement that TOC is not an acceptable substitute for access because you can't get buddy icons or files. Since when are buddy icons a necessity for instant messenging? I have been using various toc clients for a long time and I never even noticed any problems, because I can freely chat with all of my friends.

    The author also indicates that AOL never (intentionally) tried to shut down 3rd party clients, only 3rd party SERVICES (like the msn/yahoo SERVERS) from accessing their systems. I have no problems with this strategy, nowhere is it written that you have to give your competitors access to any of your computing resources. Even if such access is "free of cost."

  • No it's called theft of service No it isn't called that way. Just because you call it that way doesn't make it so. I call it providing interoperability, now what? There is no settled law in this area. And only a court can call an unprecedent event theft. As long as it is not settled law, developers can do what they believe bona fide to be right. So please, if you think it is theft, call the police.

  • If the OSS community don't want to play nice with AOL and acknowledges AOLs right to not play nice with the OSS community, why is it that everyone screaming when AOL blocks another client?

    Non Sequitor, you have a right to vote for Bush and I have a right to scream that you're an idiot, and you have the right to scream back. How is all this relevant?

    OSS developers want to co-operate with AOL. They have a right to scream that AOL is playing dirty. They even have the right to complain to the anti-trust division of the DOJ. AOL has the right to not co-operate ( until a judge says othewise ). AOL has the right to scream that OSS developers are playing dirty. And OSS developers have the right to deafeat AOL obstruction of inter-operability( until a judge says otherwise).

    Satisfied that everybody got their rights?

  • No it wasn't. AT&T was the direct descendant of the Bell system. Bell was *the* phone company for decades.

    If you are going to be pedantic, at least get it right before you correct others. According to the oficial history [att.com] of American Telegraph and Telephone:

    AT&T's roots stretch back to 1875 with founder Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone. During the 19th century, AT&T became the parent company of the Bell System, the American telephone monopoly.

    It is not surprising that people get confused between the Bell System and AT&T since AT&T was the holding company for the Bell system as well as the long distance arm since being founded in 1885.

    Besides which the correction was entirely irelevant to the point made. The United States government accepted the idea that AT&T be a monopoly utility initially in a 1913 agreement known as the Kingsbury Commitment. As part of this agreement, AT&T agreed to connect non-competing independent telephone companies to its network and divest its controlling interest in Western Union telegraph.

    The key phrase being 'non competing'. That in effect meant that the vast majority of operators were frozen out since they were 'competing' against Bell system companies. If the Bell system offered a customer service there was no obligation to interconnect a rival telco even if they were already established.

  • The value of an IM system lies in the size of the customer base. Jabber is largely worthless without the ability to talk to AIM/ICQ users, and equally AOL would be less valuable if they provide the ability for existing users to abandon AIM/ICQ by providing Jabber interopability.

    The only incentive for AOL to allow Jabber interop. is going to be if the Jabber parent company (Webb somthing?) is willing to pay for that - and one would expect that the price is going to be VERY high.

  • In reference to instant messaging being a public accomodation you say:

    I really don't think it should be. As you as you get to something like that, you end up having government regulation and problems like we see with the Bells and even the power providers.

    Why do you think that? Email is a public accomodation. Ok, so email isn't the same thing as power and phone service. But in the scope of the internet, why shouldn't IM be as public as email? There don't appear to be any government regulation problems with email.

    Personally, I think that jabber will eventually win the day rendering the discussion moot. I remember when I was sending email on a WANG VS system. This system was so foreign to SMTP, that I think it prohibited the use of S, M, T, or P in any email. It was as proprietary as they come. But no one uses it now. Not because it wasn't popular at the time. It was very popular. But an open standard (meaning anyone was allowed to implement it) was just more attractive. It allowed everyone to be able to communicate to everyone else. It was proprietary and had a ton more features, but it lost because it had a self imposed limitation on how much it could grow.

    I think (hope?) that eventually Jabber will do the same.

  • He says that AOL has never blocked clients, they're always trying to block servers.

    Yet right now at this very moment, I get this:

    (09:26:27) AOL Instant Messenger: You have been disconnected from the AOL Instant Message Service (SM) for accessing the AOL network using unauthorized software. You can download a FREE, fully featured, and authorized client, here http://www.aol.com/aim/download2.html .

    It doesn't say "for using an unauthorized server", and it's telling me to download a different client.

    I find it difficult to believe that it's only doing this to me. It seems more likely that it's doing it to everyone.

    This, BTW, is with a GAIM RPM I downloaded from the main project page about a hour ago.


    -

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

Working...