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AOL Blocking Open Source IM Clones ... Again 267

jeremie asks: "AOL has been attempting to block access to AIM via Jabber, GAIM, and other open source projects based on libfaim. Both Jabber.org and Jabber.com have issued statements, and are welcoming AOL to work together with the community in creating an open server to server interoperability solution that meets their FCC Conditions." This kind of crap makes me glad that I never completely made the move away from IRC. Of course, this isn't the first time AOL has tried to pull this off, and it seems that the supposed FCC intervention that was supposed to open the AIM protocol has fallen thru. With all of this back and forth on the issue from AOL, do we really need to use their system at all?
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AOL Blocking Open Source IM Clones...Again

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  • aol still doesn't seem to be blocking TiK, though. a frienf of mine (a windows 2000 user) does have problems with his client, but i can't even remember what its called. i'd imagine you gaim users aren't having any problems, either.
    Brian Voils
    "A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students."
  • ...is still working fine and dandy at 2:34am, EST. toc.oscar.aol.com:21 .
  • by jonfromspace ( 179394 ) <jonwilkins&gmail,com> on Thursday March 22, 2001 @11:35PM (#345486)
    ...we do need to use their system... with the amount of people already locked up by AOL (AIM, and ICQ users), AOL has us by the balls... I need my ICQ.

    AOL needs to be forced to open this up... the FCC failed, the real question is what should be the next course of action.
  • Interoperability is an admirable goal. I want, nay, I need to be able to communicate with my best friends BrittneyFan478 and K0rnRuleZ47 from my X desktop running Enlightenment on Slackware, dammit. And if the FCC can't force AOL to open up their service, perhaps we can just emulate the buffer overruns they use to authenticate the AIM clients using WINE, no?

  • No. We do not need to use their system. Then again, they bought ICQ, added banners to it, but that's easily cracked.

    And some of us are forced to use AIM as a workplace tool. (scary, I know)

    In short, do we need to use AIM? No. Do we want to use it? For most of us, no. Are we stuck using it for lack of alternative? Unfortunately, yes.

    That is why this hurts so badly. They are trying to kill off all chance of a reasonable alternative for those of us that loathe AOL but just can't help but like one of the two chat systems they control.
  • forgive the pun >:). BTW, when I asked aol to let me open source devlop their abandoned java im client they turned me down. I still have the, heh heh, decompiled source files though if anyone is interested.
  • I agree they need to open it up, but how?

    Fight censors!
  • Theoretically, AOL should never block TIK or TNT (the Emacs client for AIM), because they were the originators of both programs. While both are licensed under the GPL and have been taken up by the open source community since AOL decided to stop their development, the code is still copyright AOL corp. It would be an interesting precendent to say the least if AOL were to start blocking access by its own alternative software.
  • They're a business! Somebody explain to me why thay can't block whomever they want to block from interacting with their servers!?!
  • by cheinonen ( 318646 ) <cheinonen@hotmai l . c om> on Thursday March 22, 2001 @11:49PM (#345501)
    When I was in high school, everyone I needed to talk to went to school with me, or was on Prodigy, my online service of choice at that point. Once I started college, ICQ came out and I started using it then, all my friends (who were computer literate) started using it, and I've used it since. However, the internet has changed a lot in those 5 years. Lots of friends who didn't know a thing about computers and what do they use for online chatting? MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, or whatever comes recomended by their mail account or online service.

    I try to convert them to ICQ, but even I admit ICQ is far worse than it was at the beginning - horribly bloated and adding features no one I know gives a damn about. I have ICQ and MSN Messenger running on my system now since it's what friends of mine use. I have two people on MSN, but have to use it to chat with them. If a good friend was using AOL Messenger, I'm sure I'd add that as well.

    We don't need AOL Messenger opened up as much as we need a new standard for everyone to use. If we had to use different mail programs to write to people we would be up in arms, but we put up with this IM isolation because we have to. I've tried alternatives to ICQ a couple years ago and they were all substandard. What will it take until some standards body moves in and gives us a standard that everyone has to adopt to? Maybe it's just a pipe dream, but AOL staying private seems like nothing compared to having different standards in my book.

  • by bconway ( 63464 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @11:50PM (#345503) Homepage
    TiK and other clients that use the TOC protocol are fully supported and allowed by AOL. Those clients that are using libfaim for OSCAR support are violating AOL's terms of service in the same way that MSN Messenger was, and it's fully within their rights to shut them down. On a side note, libfaim clients weren't working this morning, but Gaim and others appear to be working fine now. I think Slashdot jumped the gun slightly, much like the last time this happened.

  • AOL has been attempting to block access to AIM via Jabber, GAIM, and other open source projects based on libfaim. Both Jabber.org and Jabber.com have issued statements, and are welcoming AOL to work together with the community in creating an open server to server interoperability solution that meets their FCC Conditions."
    Fact of the matter is aside from the coding of GAIM, FAIM, and others, these clients all need to connect to AOL's servers which can cost AOL a fortune. Sure those who use the clients (FAIM, GAIM, others) will complain about this, but when AOL created their Instant Messenger, they created it with the intentions of having AOL subscribers use it. After a while they opened it up to outside sources.

    Now these outside sources (people who don't use AOL) who download the AOL IM program are subjected to advertisements and other gimmicks which creates revenue for AOL. These open source clients bypass all that gooey crap (which IMO is a good thing) so one should see clearly why AOL would want them banned.
    With all of this back and forth on the issue from AOL, do we really need to use their system at all?
    I'm hoping this was a sarcastic question.

    NCR Codebreakers [antioffline.com] (Enigma machines)
  • by torinth ( 216077 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @11:52PM (#345505) Homepage
    As mentioned in the slashdot blurb up top, libfaim based clients are broken again. Take note that libfaim is a hacked library. Clients that use TOC/OSCAR to talk to the AIM servers (like Everybuddy [www.everybuddy.org] [everybuddy.org]) continue to work fine.

    Although, in many respects it would be desirable for AIM to open up there protocol, they haven't yet. They don't act out against TOC/OSCAR clients, though, and so that's good enough. TOC/OSCAR does have limitations compared to the full protocol, but it's still more than usable. And rather than go whining about how a library that was just a reverse-engineering job was broken, reverse-engineer it again, or use the library that isn't broken.

    Now stop crying and get Everybuddy. Or Netscape 6. Or use AOL's quickbuddy. Or, god no, something other than *nux.

  • The next course of action is to surplant it with a single standard that everybody can agree on.

    A standard to be run by the ISPs in much the same way that E-mail is run.

    A standard which is opened, and indisputable (yeah, right), and which no one body can control.

    A standard which uses an address convention that is universal to the net, in much the same way email@domain.com is universal.

    Perhaps an OLM* standard could pop up that operated similar to current software... had built in anti-spam measures... was opened and free... and was operated at the expense of ISPs (A value added service that would form by it's self if the software was available.)

    Just think... maybe name*domain.com or some-such address. The replacement for e-mail.

    Someone writes a bunch of opened sourced servers for it, someone writes a bunch of opened sourced clients, and boom... The OLM's replace the IM's with a free alternative that nobody can control.

    This is an idea I've been going over in my head for ages -- and I've even considered working on it myself but I'm not sure where to begin.

    (OLM = On-Line Message. I hate the term IM... it's stupid AOL induced crap. BBS users remember the term OLM from years back. Even ICQ windows clearly state along the top "online message". It's time we replace the IM's with OLMs I say!)

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • I don't know about other people, but I am getting DAMN tired of AOL and their annoying little control games. First they set up their internal browser to force people to use AOL.com as their home page (not a big deal if you use an external browser, but still, Joe Internet User won't think of that, and is helpless). Then they play those games with MSN to squash compatibility there, and here we are with our beloved clones that aren't usable anymore. Does this sound even remotely familiar? I'll give you two hints: Micro, soft.

    Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if AOL didn't control the two most popular IM services. I remember when ICQ was a struggling "beta" service that actually had some quality and usability to it. Now it's laggy, buggy, and filled with security holes beyond belief. And now we have AIM, which is not an altogether powerful system, but it's always worked well for me. Of course, now it doesn't work at all, simply because I'm not willing to use their "official" client. I use Jabber and GAIM, and now I'm cut off from the people I talk to on there on a regular basis.

    With the way this is going, I won't be shocked or saddened if I see AOL/Time Warner in an antitrust case by the government, a la Microsoft. In fact, I look forward to it. This BS has gone on long enough, and it's just not acceptable.

    P.S. If you ask me, we should all use IRC anyway. ;-) Now THERE is the way to communicate...
  • Huh?

    Nobody is locked into AIM and ICQ.

    They can use an IRC client (blech), Yahoo! Messenger (for Win32/Mac/Unix/Java), a web-based app, a Java app (often the same thing as the web-based thing), any number of cheesy open source projects, or -- my favorite -- just plain old talk/ntalk. I don't see what's so bad about talk. Seriously. I type and someone else sees it. That's all I need... well, that and e-mail file attachments.
  • Oh sure you don't need to use AIM. But you won't be able to talk to much of anyone except the geeks who also adopt your new system. Currently I can talk on AIM with every person I know. Even my parents use it. It's going to take an enormous effort to move everyone to a new system, if it's is even possible.

    And as long as everyone I know is using AIM and not another system, I'm afraid no matter how cool a competing system is, it's just not useful, since the entire point is to talk to the people I know.

    But if you do want to attempt this, please make an easy-to-use and easy-to-install Windows client (easy to create new accounts, little to no setup required [intelligent defaults], etc.) or else you'll never get a big enough userbase to make it useful...

  • If you notice the name of the server, it utilises the TOC protocol, which is not the same protocol official AIM clients use. TOC is limited in its ability and does not have the Talk or IM Image capabilities. TOC is what AOL gave out in efforts to stop giving 3rd party clients a reason to reverse-engineer the real protocol. However, with TOC being this crippled, there is still plenty of reason for libfaim to exist.

    MSN Messenger has supposedly surpassed AIM in number of users, so this is possibly a reaction to that. This really isn't all that surprising to me, though. AOL wants to retain their stranglehold on Instant Messaging, Microsoft poses a threat, and the open source clients happen to get trampled between them. Personally, I think it's a good thing. If AIM and MS keep fracturing the IM population, that gives protocols like Jabber a better chance of exposure.

  • Has anyone ever tried to use AIM while logged in to AOL? AOL takes all the messages, even though it has an inferior Buddy List and messaging window. I prefer to use AIM, as it contains many features that AOL doesn't contain, such as Talk, Image transmission, and File Sending. In addition, I don't have to have the junk-filled AOL window occupying my entire screen to send messages.

    The only successful way for me to use AIM on my computer while logged in to AOL is to use AOL version 5.0, and an older version of AIM, with my AOL Privacy Preferences set to block all messages. This is absolutely ridiculous! I also think that it is ridiculous that AIM has ads for AOL, even when you are logged in as a paying AOL customer - why try to market your customer for something that he or she already has?

    While using AOL 6, and the latest version of AIM - the only one AOL 6 allows to run - the only way to use AIM is to log in to AIM under another screen name - that's my only alternative.

    So before we begin to worry about AOL opening its messaging networks to other companies and networks, I think that AOL needs to bring unity to their own software.

    r. ghaffari
  • by bink ( 87998 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:05AM (#345519)
    One of the nice aspects about Jabber being open source is that a solution can be worked out quickly. Within an hour of AOL blocking Jabber a solution presented itself, and so long as enough people are interested in Jabber that will continue to be the case. I think it's a positive step for Jabber that they're finally not below AOL's radar screen, it means they're gaining popularity and are now considered a threat by AOL.

    For those of you who haven't used Jabber yet, you should check it out, it really is the most convenient IM system out there.
  • by jilles ( 20976 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:05AM (#345520) Homepage
    Unfortunately all my friends use icq, so I'm locked into icq. Unless of course I no longer want to communicate with my friends. The problem is not that there are no alternatives because there are and some are quite good actually. However, if you want to use an IM tool to actually communicate with somebody, the person on the other side will need a compatible client. And that's where AOL has us locked in since a great deal of people are using ICQ.

  • by r. ghaffari ( 317820 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:06AM (#345521) Homepage
    It is their service and they have the right to do this, but we, as observers to stupidity, get to comment on the stupidity.
    With the proliferation of many different messenger systems, all those AIMers are going to be cut off from their friends who use MSN/Yahoo/ICQ. The motivation to use AIM diminishes as other messengers take off. So instead of AOL joining the community at large, they are creating a substantial, yet isolated community. It is a stupid mistake in the issue of a greater diverse internet. A smart move in the issue of keeping a captive audience. But in the end, they are just shooting themselves in the foot because if you are using AOL, you really don't need AIM to communicate to other AOLers but you will need another messenger to chat with your friends on MSN.

    AOL just has a large enough ego to think these companies are clamoring to gain access to their herd of people. That may be partially true, but I believe it is more about these other applications trying to give their users as much versatility as possible, something AOL should think about.

    r. ghaffari
  • As I don my asbestos trousers...listen people, AIM is not some fundamental human right. You are not going to die if you can't use it. Your freedoms aren't endangered, your rights are not transgressed. AOL is a business, AIM is one of their products, and if they don't want other companies to connect to it then that is their right.

    Ok, so perhaps it's a little silly on their part, but they have a right to make their own mistakes. Forcing AOL to allow access is on a par, legally, with Microsoft forcing a rejection of the GPL because they whine hard enough about "needing" to do so.

    Use AOL's own software, or stop whinging about it. I mean jeez, if it's that important, dual boot or use the PalmOS version. OR JUST USE AOL'S SOFTWARE.

  • It was my understanding that the "concession" never happened.
  • Because so many moderators are massively retarded beyond comprehension (+3!?), I'm going to expend as little energy as possible, and just say this [slashdot.org].
  • Just send everyone five dozen 1.44MB diskettes with your new, zippy IM software on it.

    Sad that you can make a file available on the web for free, yet no one will download it. Give them a hard copy via junk mail, and they actually give it a shot.
    Hmmm... maybe you meant that as a joke, but on the chance that it's not: AOL does not distribute AIM via hard copy. And really, only about 10% of the people I intereact with on AIM use AOL. The reason AIM is a success over other IM products is that

    (1) It has a very simple, friendly, interface. There's nothing that keeps people using a product than a pretty interface. Believe it or not, people who aren't geeks like you prefer comfort over functionality.

    (2) It was almost first to market. And then it bought out the one (ICQ) that actually was. The big thing about any communication protocol is saturing the terminal points with it. If IRC, or even ICQ met the requirement (1) above, either of those would have grown enormously, and would be in the position AIM is now.


    P.S. And don't respond if you can't figure out my point. I'm piss drunk. I don't need to have a point.
  • I'm not so sure...AIM was never mailed on on disks, yet it's now nearly ubiquitous.

    AOL software was what was mailed out on disks, and while it's popular, it's not as ubiquitous as AIM - even a large portion of the millions of people who don't use AOL have gone out and downloaded AIM, to the point where a huge percentage of internet users use AIM.
  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:20AM (#345535) Journal
    Did I just see someone with a Slashdot UID admit to using AOL as an ISP? What's this world coming to? Pretty soon we'll "Ask Slashdot: Windows ME vs Windows XP?" on the main page..... The world is truly going to hell....
  • You can go to www.imunified.org [imunified.org] for some early information on it. The members include AT&T, Excite@home, MSN, Odigo, Phone.com, Prodigy, and Yahoo! AOL's been battling this all the way.

    As for AOL, I think they should be able to do whatever they want with AIM/ICQ, since it's their product. Knock off the calls for regulation by government members who don't know anything about these technologies. BTW, this doesn't violate anything that they agreed to in order to merge with Time-Warner. The IM thing they agreed to was a very narrow clause about IM and high-speed networks, I believe. Possibly about high-speed wireless, I forget.

    Really, though, I know that down the road they're going to want badly to interop with the clients above — they're only going to screw their own users once the other ones get popular, especially since MSN now has more people using their IM than are using AIM. The same thing's going to eventually happen to ICQ if they wall themselves off from everyone else.

    Here's the really ironic thing about this particular situation, though. They were just complaining to the DoJ last Friday about the possibility of them being shut out by Microsoft's HailStorm initiative (which right now is planning to interop with IMUnified -- MS wants traffic through their system more than they care about whose client/OS you access it with, hence the recent talk about .NET stuff on other platforms). After AOL started up with this talk, AOL's blocking of non-AIM/ICQ users was brought up, and lo and behold, by Monday they come out with this hilarious rationalization: "AOL suggested that its efforts to open its instant-messaging system to rivals could be affected by Microsoft's attempt to incorporate the messaging service into its Web-based programs." AOL Executive VP Kenneth B. Lerer even says, "We are working toward interoperability with conviction and expect to be in a position to begin testing this summer." This latest move sure clears that up, don't it? :)


  • The problem is that people aren't going from AIM to MSN. They are going from MSN to AIM, because all their friends use AIM or AOL. The userbase for AIM isn't shrinking. At all. And until it starts to, or actually indicates that it will, AOL has no business reason to officially (TOC/OSCAR still works) open access to AIM. So they aren't being stupid. It's just probably disadvantageous to the consumer in the long run. But certainly not AOL.

  • by RobFlynn ( 127703 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:26AM (#345542)
    For those of you experiencing problems signing on via GAIM using OSCAR, please update to the most recenty CVS copy. There will be a pre8 release of Gaim tomorrow reflecting the changes, as well.

    The problem basically lies with AOL trying to block Jabber. This has been going on for several days -- since Monday, I believe. We just sort of caught a stray bullet this time, so to speak.

    Good luck to the Jabber guys. I would like to see some communications with AOL as well.


    Rob Flynn
  • by warmenhoven ( 69215 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:28AM (#345543)
    > Clients that use TOC/OSCAR to talk to the AIM servers (like Everybuddy [www.everybuddy.org]) continue to work fine.

    Actually, TOC and Oscar are two very separate protocols. And Gaim can do them both, actually :) Which is good for Gaim; if one of them ever stops working (which happens more than AOL would probably like to admit) you can easily switch to the other one. Gaim's the only client that lets you choose between the two protocols.

    > And rather than go whining about how a library that was just a reverse-engineering job was broken, reverse-engineer it again, or use the library that isn't broken.

    Actually, the library got it comletely right, it's the clients using it that got it wrong. There's a particular string that the client decides that AOL is filtering on.

  • But if you do want to attempt this, please make an easy-to-use and easy-to-install Windows client

    MSN Messenger.

    easy to create new accounts

    Just sign up for a Passport at hotmail.com and you have an MSN Messenger account.

    little to no setup required [intelligent defaults], etc.) or else you'll never get a big enough userbase to make it useful...

    Jabber's MSN transport still works. Isn't MSN almost beating AIM now in user base?

  • I've used Jabber, and it doesn't quite do what I'm suggesting, at least, it didn't appear to.

    Besides, support for the other networks only insures it will never become the standard.

    The idea I'm suggesting would work like a hybrid of both current day e-mail and Instant-Crap software.

    In a perfect situation...

    * Each ISP hosts a server for their customers (and other servers would of course exist, much as it does with E-mail).
    * Messaging would of course Peer to Peer, not requiring the servers after Login has taken place. (Login is only there to validate online status and present requesting clients with the last known IP of the user).
    * Anti-Spam, Encrytion, and other such features could be designed in from the ground up, rather than horribly shoehorned in later on.

    But unfortunately, I know this vision will never be realized.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • by JamesKPolk ( 13313 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @12:57AM (#345554) Homepage
    People have asked me why I don't move Kit [sourceforge.net] to OSCAR. This is why.

    While AOL has gone and changed/broken the TOC standard, it doesn't happen often, and the changes are easily circumvented (since they always keep TiK, TNT, and QuickBuddy working).

    AOL never even made a pretense of documenting OSCAR, though, so they can break it whenever they want. And when they break it, we don't have the source to their older OSCAR clients for comparison.

    AOL will do what it wants with AIM. Like it, or start moving to Jabber, as I'm doing.
  • Wrong subject in the earlier post, but you figured that out.
  • 1) As somebody else noted, MSN's servers are not nearly up to par with AOL's servers. AOL's servers are never down. I haven't been unable to connect to AIM for more than a 5-minute period at any time in the past three or so years. An IM service must always be up to be useful (i.e. have fail-over servers so the service itself is never down even if some servers fail).

    2) Unless the people I interact with are significantly different from the average person, MSN is nowhere close. Two of my "in real life" friends/acquaintances use MSN, while every single one of them uses AIM (even the two who also use MSN). I can talk to everyone on AIM, but very few people on MSN (ICQ is a little better - 6 or 7 of my friends use it...but compare to the 109 who use AIM).
  • The problem with proprietary, binary-only clients is that you never know what they're doing behind your back. A lot of clients have been found to collect information on their users for marketing purposes; given that they're paid for by the company and free to you, they have to earn their keep somehow.

    How do you know that the 8Mb (or whatever) executable doesn't send back (over its proprietary, no-user-serviceable-parts-inside protocol) information they may be interested in? Like what hardware/software you have, or even what MP3 files are on your system (remember, AOL Time Warner is a big chunk of the recording racket). Or, once UCITA is law in your state, are you so sure that AOLTW's latest client won't take summary action and delete MP3s by Warner artists on your system? The possibilities are limitless.

    The key point is that proprietary software doesn't serve you but its creator; you benefit where your interests align with theirs, but where they don't, you know who will prevail.
  • by Basalisk ( 215292 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @01:37AM (#345566) Homepage
    Well, it doesn't surprise me that AOL is doing this. They are a business. They need as many 'Official' aim clients out there, so that they can change the protocol at will to include things like advertising. It makes good business sense to ensure that the users of it's IM service are running a client that AOL can manipulate, to sell the 'eyeballs'. If they can't be sure that all x number of people will see the adverts, then they can't make as much money. Simple business decision. It sucks for consumers, but it's the best thing AOL can do for itself.

    This is good for AOL, but bad for the internet. The problem with the internet at the moment is that it has major applications that do not have simple, open, commodity protocols accepted by the majority of users of that service.

    What lets email work so well is RFC821 and PFC822, defining the transport and the format of email so that clients and servers need not be tied to each other.

    Now instant messaging in it's current state is horrible. We have a disjoint set of non-structured namespaces (BigMan200 anybody?), We have a single centralised server. And the protocol is closed.

    Of course, most IM issues were solved by email years ago. Unless I'm being very dense, it wouldn't be too hard to make IM id's similar to email addresses (I have a sneaking suspicion that Jabber does this, but I haven't looked at it close enough).

    I think AIM needs to be confiscated from AOL. While I think they do have a right to make a very nice looking client, and a server that can deal with huge loads, and use them to make a profit, they should not be allowed to lock up the protocol between the two. This is the major strength of the internet, the openness, simplicity and strict focus of the protocols employed by most internet clients. For all but a few protocols, the communication can be done by a clueful individual with a telnet client. (I have done this, and it is a lot of fun. EHLO everyone!) If the AIM protocol remains closed and binary, it will stay linked with AOL. We don't need another propriety protocol polluting pathways with packets parsable by 'proper' programs.

    So, what I'm saying is: The client can stay AOL's. The server can stay AOL's. But the protocol should be open and hacker friendly. Please AOL, let the Internet do the right thing. It may be bad for your monopoly on the technology, but it will be good for avoiding the scrutiny of the anti-trust lawyers in years to come. Write some RFCs. Asciify your protocol. Amaze people with your Clue.

    Now remember, this is an opinion. Yours may be different, and I like to change mine if I see one that looks good.

  • This kind of crap makes me glad that I never completely made the move away from IRC. Of course, this isn't the first time AOL has tried to pull this off,

    Taco, what the HELL are you talking about!? "This kind of crap"? "tried to pull this off"? IT'S THEIR NETWORK! I use GAIM myself, and I did find myself shut out this afternoon, but I don't blame AOL. It's their network, and they can do as they please with it.

    You act like you have some sort of right to use stuff other people maintain, and you expect to have it free. What the hell? Yes, AOL makes money through those banner ads, and they use them to support the service. If the ads aren't showing up on your screen, then they aren't making money off of you, and THEY DON'T OWE YOU ANYTHING!

    and it seems that the supposed FCC intervention that was supposed to open the AIM protocol has fallen thru.

    That whole thing was exaggerated. I work at an IM company (none you've ever heard of), and while I'm not clear on the details, I have been told that the FCC thing does not apply to AIM itself, or the OSCAR protocol. You still aren't allowed to use it without AOL's permission.

    With all of this back and forth on the issue from AOL, do we really need to use their system at all?

    If you don't like their system, don't use it! I don't understand... You complain about something you get for free. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT SOMETHING YOU GET FOR FREE! If you don't like it, don't fucking use it.

    OTOH, you could always do what I did: Switch to TOC. Voila, GAIM works again. You can't check people's away messages, but it works.


  • Yo, chill dude. One can only wonder why the really mean people post as ACs.
  • That seemed like such a Taco-esque statement. Doh. Well, call me stupid.

  • This is quite amusing, since AOL owns Netscape, Netscape is basing its new browser on Mozilla, and Mozilla has a plugin called 'Jabberzilla'. Thus they're probably blocking their own client !

    Also for more amusement, try loading www.aol.com in Mozilla - it tells you to upgrade to Internet Explorer !!

  • by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @02:26AM (#345581)
    I have to admit the current Windows clients all have some limitations but I'd recommend WinJab [sourceforge.net]. Under Linux Gabber is a great client (requires GNOME tho :( so may not be suitable for everyone). You're not stuck to a central server and not to a single platform. If you encourage ISPs to use Jabber then you can have a jabber ID the same as your email address. If you run your own domain consider setting up your own Jabber server.

    The Jabber protocol is open, the server is open source and the clients can be open source, closed source freeware, commercial or whatever you want to licence them under.

    Under development is JabberZilla [mozdev.org] which is going to be a cross platform mozilla based client that will offer similar functionality to the AIM with Netscape 6. Opera currently supports ICQ in their version 5 windows browser, there are people who want them to change to Jabber support. Voice your views in the opera.wishlist [opera.no] newsgroup (on news.opera.no).

  • The next course of action is to surplant it with a single standard that everybody can agree on.
    A standard to be run by the ISPs in much the same way that E-mail is run.
    A standard which is opened, and indisputable (yeah, right), and which no one body can control.
    A standard which uses an address convention that is universal to the net, in much the same way email@domain.com is universal.
    How about piggybacking on an existing system? Say, SMTP/POP?

    Let's imagine a chat PTP app that runs BESIDES SMTP/POP. Let's say it uses the NTALK protocol to keep things clean.

    The problem with dynamic IP is to keep track of your buddies' IP addresses. No sweat:

    You connect. The chat app E-MAILS all your buddies a short message: "Yo! I'm online at 247.308.133.32 @ 12:33+06".

    It also LOOKS regularly at your inbox for exactly such messages from your buddies telling you their IP addresses.

    Now, the chat app updates your buddies list with their "new" (improved?) IP addresses.

    It also checks each of those addresses to see who is STILL online since they sent their last "yo!" message, and updates the list accordingly.

    Wanna chat? Just double-click on your buddy's name in the "online" list, and voilà, pops opens a window of PTP chat/file exchange/whatever with your buddy. CUCKOO!!!

    There, it's simple, clean, **STANDARD**, and, most importantly, **ISN'T CENTRALIZED**, so it can't be tapped into nor shut-down.

    Freechat anyone?


  • by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @02:54AM (#345587) Homepage
    I have pretty undeniable proof that AIM taps into the MIC and listens to conversations, then encodes them using some proprietary format and sends it off to the NSA.

    Then, all of the most vile and evil things said by users who don't know they are actually being listened to through their microphones are force-fed back into the minds of the general public (via thought-controlling microwaves) and this is what's contributing to the downfall of America's Youth (see recent school shootings), not to mention global warming, the spread of AIDS, Bush as US President, and the California Energy Crisis. fnord

    I beg of you, my fellow slashdotters! UNINSTALL your AIM clients and wrap aluminum foil around your heads!

    It's the only way we can survive as a race of multicellular-semi-humanoid-bipedal-lifeforms!

    And I mean it.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • You don't have access to email or a phone then?
  • But JabberZilla [mozdev.org] is not part of the Netscape distribution of Mozilla, it's a separate downloadable add-on. Chatzilla does work in Netscape 6 but is not part of it. No Netscape people were involved in writing Jabberzilla.

    People who are not connected with Netscape can get involved in Mozilla it doesn't mean that Netscape will include it in their browser releases!

    As for AOL.com telling people to upgrade to IE, well I thought it was funny, I hope they do plan to use Mozilla once their contract with MS runs out.

    If I were AOL I'd sure not trust the future of my browser on MS.

  • After haning out in the JDev conference room on Jabber.org, some of the somebodies in there states that AOL was blocking Jabber.org's server by IP. That being the case, combined with GAIMs response that the latest libfaim does connecto to AIM, its not the library to blame. It's a blatant smack in the face by AOL.

    Congratulations to Jabber.org on reaching this milestone.

  • I'd be more than happy to drop AIM and start using Jabber (what with various clients with PGP support, etc.). Unfortunately, a lot of people I know still use AIM and with AOL blocking Jabber, Jabber has hardly any use for me. Furthermore, at work, they refuse to open the firewall to allow Jabber connections through.
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @03:56AM (#345595) Homepage
    Perhaps someone actually requires an instant message type service. So where are the open source solutions? Of course, I understand they probably exist, but they haven't propogated as well as the commercial ones have.

    Here's the answer. We create such a system. Don't make ANY effort to be compatible with the AOL systems. This is designed to replace, not to coexist with those systems. Create it to be bug free and cross platform, of course. Then... add THE feature. Whatever feature will draw in the 90% of the users for whom it is a challenge locating the start button, like most MCSE's.

    Now...here's the trick. If this system were to become extremely popular, such that it actually rivaled the other services, they would probably add in support for it (being an open protocol, they certainly could). The trick would be forcing open their system as well in the process, although I don't think the GPL can reach THAT far. :)

    Wishful thinking, yes yes I know. :)

  • Yes, AOL are in their rights here - just like your local phone company would be completely justified in requiring you to buy its phones only, and to prevent anyone with an 'unauthorised' phone from calling you.

    Instant messaging is currently hobbled by islands of proprietary protocols, and AOL's efforts to stop the tide of interoperability are as pointless as Canute's.
  • Why should AOL let a bunch of freeloaders use their system when it costs them hundreds of millions dollars a year to run it?

    Perhaps AOL might be more amenable to 3rd party companies piggybacking their service if they put some money on the table?

  • OSCAR is AOL's low level protocol, which they do not support for 3rd part clients. TOC is a different high level protocol that sits on top of OSCAR and provides a slightly limited subset of the functionality. AOL *DO* support use of TOC - they even (used?) to provide source of a Java-based TOC client, as well as the Tk/Tcl Tik-TOC client.

  • TiK and other clients that use the TOC protocol are fully supported and allowed by AOL.

    TOC is *not* a fully-supported protocol. A lot of the features are missing, plus it's only half-implemented. Furthermore, the FCC has *mandated* that AOL open up their servers to any compatible clients.

    AOL's terms of service are meaningless here...the FCC has told AOL that they must allow any clients, not just their own. That was one of the conditions of their buyout^H^H^H^H^H^Hmerger with Time Warner.

  • If you want Jabber or some other open source IM protocol to be able to interoperate with AOL clients, that requires that you use AOL servers to talk to them.

    Assuming AOL is willing to consider this as a business case, how much are YOU as a user willing to pay for this use of AOL's servers?

    If your answer is zero, then shut the fuck up.
  • crikey. I didn't realise it was so bad whereever-you-are. The mindcontrol people, the armed mobs, the large men with sticks who must be standing around forcing you to use AIM. the massive policestate needed to ensure everyone uses AOL as an ISP.

    We must stop the repression! How dare AOL stop people who aren't AOL subscribers from using their services? What Nazis! Not wanting you to use their servers because you refuse to use their client? What scum!

    Fight back people! We shall have a revolution! (someone call Katz)

  • We run our own internal Jabber server simply so as to prevent confidential material passing through an untrusted third party's server; it works fine for us. In principle if we wanted to jabber with people outside the company we could open it up, but so far we haven't wanted to.

  • by Bren ( 153085 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @05:23AM (#345611)
    IM is a way for people to communicate with one another, just like a telephone. Imagine if telephone companies were all incompatible with one another! It would really suck to learn that you use company A and half your family uses company B, and thus you can not communicate with them via phone.

    Of course, AIM is free, so a better analogy would be: If company B gives free calls to all other members of company B, and half your family uses company B, but you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere and you can not get access to company B's services, then you're still out of luck if you have phone services, but they are not company B's.

    Open is a good thing. Telephone companies are still able to gain profits, while having open standards for communicating with one another.


  • It's THEIR system, they paid money to develop it, so why SHOULDN'T they be allowed to control who gets access to it?

    The government has NO business intervening here, and no one has a god-given right to their code.
  • I don't know about other people, but I am getting DAMN tired of AOL and their annoying little control games...

    Hmm. You should probably stop using AOL, then. I mean, if you're not satisfied with the service that they provide, you really just stop using their service completely. Then, their zany shenanigans won't even matter to you.

    Oh, you're under the impression that you're not using AOL when you use the AIM and ICQ networks, aren't you?

    At the risk of sounding like a total ass, cry me a friggin' river. Don't like the fact that AOL changes things on services that they own and they maintain? Don't use them! How, exactly, did you get it in your head that AOL is somehow duty bound to let you use their free service with whatever software you want?

    Cut off from the people you talk to? Well, looks like you have two choices, then: swallow your pride (careful not to choke) and use the evil, nasty, icky AIM client, or convince all your friends to join you on #AOheLl5uX0rZrocks for great justice.

    My, but I've overlooked a third option: bitch an moan about it and propagate the idea that we need yet another antitrust lawsuit setting yet another Really, Really Bad Precedent in the tech industry. Brilliant idea. Do you like the idea of companies (and OS projects) not being free to make changes to their own systems without first going through some n-month-long review and notice period? Because that's what you're talking about. A successful antitrust case would hurt AOL directly, but it would also set a really, really unpleasant precedent for anyone else looking to create an IM network.

    The road to victory for Open Source is not paved with lawsuits and anti-trust cases. That struggle will ultimately be won by the side that can pump more money and better lawyers into the legal system. The Open Source movement will win, if it does, by producing better, faster and cheaper software than Closed Source can. Instead of complaining about your inability to run free in a Closed IM network, focus instead on contributing to an Open one. Then you won't ever need to worry about being on the receiving end of cheap tricks.

  • The worst part of what happened to ICQ is what they have done to the servers. If you logon with 2000b, then logoff, and log on with another program (IE Licq), it wont let you log on. You have to play server swap bingo, and put an actual IP address in the server list, and hope it hasnt locked you into icq 2000b (The LICQ homepage has info on it). The ads suck, but complete reconfiguration on AOL's whim sucks even more
  • Yes it's about control. AOL makes money from the free AIM by putting adverts in it and from the full AOL service from subscription. They don't want their extremely expensive hardware, support and bandwidth to be gotten for free by third parties who complain bitterly about access but don't want to pay for the privilege.

    I can sympathize with GAIM users since that's a grassroots kind of thing and perhaps AOL should make allowances for that kind of product. It certainly shouldn't make allowances for money making ventures such as Jabber.com.

  • > AOL *DO* support use of TOC

    AOL does let people use TOC, yes, but that doesn't mean they support it. Over time TOC has steadily drifted away from what the original protocol spec says. Little changes here and there that have managed to break nearly every TOC client other than TiK at one point or another. Also, TOC keeps losing features. It used to have things like toc_dir_search to search by directory info and email address, but this only works in Oscar now. Also, there are things that will *only ever* work in Oscar - such as getting away messages or making File Transfer requests. AOL has stopped developing TOC, and left it in a rather sorry state. So while AOL *lets* us use TOC, they don't *support* TOC.

  • First off, it's just OSCAR-based clients that are broken. TOC-based clients work fine. And frankly, everyone should be using TOC, since that's the protocol that AOL "opened" for clone clients.

    However, the major point of this post is that I honestly don't understand why everyone gets so worked up about what AOL does with AIM. Let's look at this logically. While we've always had things like talk/ntalk, AOL really pioneered the instant messaging field with AIM and ICQ (yes, I count ICQ as AOL's because they bought it, so any innovations by Mirabilis belong to AOL now). It's their servers, their network, their software, and their innovations. So basically, why can't they do whatever they want with it?

    You don't like it? Write your own. Lots of people have, and there are open standards projects. If the open standards are good enough and enough people adopt them, then AOL will have to join or fade away. But noone really has a place to tell AOL what to do or not to do with AIM. It's theirs, completely. And if they don't want to let MSN or Yahoo play in their sandbox, it's their decision. And if they want to keep the OSCAR protocol for the "official" clients and only let everyone else use TOC, it's their choice as well.

    Let's remember, folks, having a monopoly on something is not illegal. It's how you use that monopoly. AOL isn't trying to squash the open standards projects for IMs, and they're not trying to run MSN and Yahoo and the rest of the people who have developed IM clients out of business. They're just running their own IM system as best they can, getting new signups, and trying to enforce their rules about how the system is used. Which is all perfectly legal, and well within their rights.
  • > the FCC has told AOL that they must allow any clients, not just their own

    Actually, that's only partly true (look, I previewed this time! Yay!). temas (one of the Jabber developers) and I went through the document stating all the rules and regulations that AOL has to follow as a result of the merger. The part about IM has been greatly misread by a lot of people. AIM only has to make new "advanced, IM-based high speed services ('AIHS')" open. AIHS services include things such as video conferencing (which is pretty much the only example the document gives). So basically as long as AOL doesn't add video conferencing to AIM, they don't need to tell Jabber squat about how it works, or make any offer of interoperability. However, the moment they have a working implementation of video conferencing, they have to call Jabber and ask where they should send the protocol spec.

    You can read a copy of the deal at http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/Public_Notices/20 01/fcc01011.pdf [fcc.gov]. Note especially page 3-4, where it talks about the IM service. It's one long sentence so beware.

  • Now instant messaging in it's current state is horrible. We have a disjoint set of non-structured namespaces (BigMan200 anybody?), We have a single centralised server. And the protocol is closed.

    No. We have a bunch of separate namespaces, each with their own centralized server. And each one has it's own protocol, which is either open or closed. But it doesn't matter, because they don't talk to each other.

    I think AIM needs to be confiscated from AOL. While I think they do have a right to make a very nice looking client, and a server that can deal with huge loads, and use them to make a profit, they should not be allowed to lock up the protocol between the two.

    Again, no. They should not be allowed to lock up the idea, but they can do whatever they want with the protocol. They wrote it. Don't like it? Write your own protocol. Noone's stopping you, least of all AOL.

    So, what I'm saying is: The client can stay AOL's. The server can stay AOL's. But the protocol should be open and hacker friendly. Please AOL, let the Internet do the right thing. It may be bad for your monopoly on the technology, but it will be good for avoiding the scrutiny of the anti-trust lawyers in years to come. Write some RFCs. Asciify your protocol. Amaze people with your Clue.

    And once again, no. If AOL wants to run a private system, it's their right. How would you like it if you developed a huge intranet with a nice customer database or such, email, and all kinds of other services, gave access to it to a few people (friends and coworkers) and the government came along and said "Oh, this is nice. Now you have to run this service and let everyone in the world access it as much as they like." Cause that's what you're saying they should do to AOL.

    I would agree with you wholeheartedly if AOL was trying to prevent everyone else from developing their own IM protocols and systems, but they're not. They're just keeping their own system private. Go work on the open standards protocols. If one gets developed that is so great, and everyone starts adopting it as the standard, then maybe you'll take some AIM customers away from AOL, or force them to be compatible.

    Think about it like MS Exchange, or Groupwise, or CC:Mail. All of these have their own private protocol that they use to talk to their own kind. However, SMTP is so overwhelmingly popular on the Internet, that they all have SMTP gateway applications so that they can talk the standard. But it's not illegal for them to have their own private protocols and not open them up, and if they wanted to not talk SMTP, then they could, but they wouldn't be able to email very many people.

    And this is not to mention that AOL *does* have a semi-open protocol, TOC. It's not open to changes from the tech community, but it is open so that 3rd party clients can be written and used.


  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @07:27AM (#345639)
    AIM isn't just a "protocol", kids. It's a bunch of servers owned, run and paid for by AOL. AOL spends millions of dollars on Sybase licenses and support contracts alone to run AIM. Do you think it's peer-to-peer? That they track connection status in real time for millions of concurrent users without big, expensive databases running on big, expensive hardware?

    Even if the Jabber team ever comes out with a stable, robust release, it's not going to be able to support even half as many users as Yahoo instant messaging without someone footing the bill for millions of dollars in servers and fiber-channel storage arrays, commercial database software, and tens of thousands of dollars a month in hosting and connectivity services.

    Do you really think a multi-million concurrent-user instant messaging system can run on one rack of Postgres servers on a T1? Phooey.

    You want free communication without ads or service charges? Buy a CB radio and talk to your neighbors. That's peer-to-peer.

    I'd like to see a show of hands: how many of the people here calling for free access to AIM servers aren't (a) MSN and Yahoo employees or (b) people who have never had a job besides maybe cleaning trays in a dorm cafeteria?
  • Remember MessengerA2Z (http://slashdot.org/articles/01/01/02/1540205.sht ml [slashdot.org])? I wrote to them asking to see the source, seeing as it was based on GPLed code. They replied on 7th Jan indicating that it would be available in aproximately 10 days at http://sourceforge.net/projects/messengera2z/ [sourceforge.net]. It looks like v0.1 finally appeared 8th March.
  • P.S. If you ask me, we should all use IRC anyway. ;-) Now THERE is the way to communicate...

    oh whatever. You are complaining that ICQ is laggy? What about IRC? Little assholes feeling the need to shutdown EFnet for no reason, hard to find servers to connect to anymore, etc.

    I use AIM on a regular basis to communicate w/friends.. Most haven't a god damn clue how to use AIM as it is, you really think that they are going to remember (or what to even think about learning IRC?) get real pal, that's why they have AIM.

    Just my worthless whining :)
  • You were on a roll there, at least, for a while. But then you lost me with the "confiscate AIM from AOL" idea. How would you like it if the government came in, took your shirt, and told you it was for the good of the state? Not too good. So stop bitching about AOL - they're just in it for money.

    The real concern is, why does AOL have a stranglehold on the IM market? Because no one has written a reasonable open-source client - and GAIM, et. al. do not count - that's just piggybacking off of AOL's protocol. How about writing a good, open-source IM client without a centralized server? Another /. reader and myself have been looking into the possibility of such a thing. Only open-source can make IP a thing of the past, so go out and claim as much for the open-source world as you can!

  • As someone else said here [slashdot.org], there's nothing wrong with the phone company only letting people who buy their phones call their customers, either.

    The internet is all about communication. People & products that impede communication have no place on the net

  • Yes, wishful thinking. Because all the technologically superior wizz-bang of open source can't out market the most blindingly obvious tactic of AIM (and while we're at it, I.E.): Bundling. AIM is #1 because it was included with every version of netscape (at the time, the number one browser) since version 3.something, maybe even 2.x (my memory is fading). Similarly, its the only IM for AOL users (all xx MILLION of them). They would rather keep things simple (that's why they're on AOL in the first place, right), so they continue to use AIM (and the same accounts) even when they are connected to the 'net by a real service.

    You are NEVER going to be able to replace that. All the open-source in the world can't beat that. If I want to talk to my friends, I have to use AIM protocols (gaim w/ TOC, b.t.w.). I don't have a choice. I (and nobody I personally know) don't have enough clout to suddenly tell 95 of my friends and family that they need to switch to something else just to talk to me.

    If I were to say "talk to me via jabber; its a better service anyways", I would get a lot of email. And next to no messages.

  • >Or, god no, something other than *nux

    I think it should be:

    Or, god no, something other than (*n?x | *BSD)

    But what's the big deal? I purposely don't run GAIM or any of the others so that I can avoid having to provide my mother tech support on a regular basis (unfortunately, she can use AIM).

  • You'll never see a question that intelligent on a front page "Ask Slashdot". That space is reserved for "Hi. I can't figure out how to use google. Can you help me search for cool (hardware, software, people, etc.)?"

  • Okay, here's how I did it:

    First of all make sure you set up all your computers to have static ip addresses, dynamic won't work. You'll need to set the gateway and DNS on each computer yourself since DHCP won't be doing it for you anymore but it's not that hard.

    Now, say you've given your computers the ip addresses: -> (keep the gateway computer on

    In your firewall settings simply tell it that any traffic coming in on ports say, 30000-30019 gets automatically sent to, 30020-30039 goes to and so on.

    Now in icq in the connection settings tell it you're not using a proxy, but you are using a firewall and it should use ports 300xx-300yy for incoming events.

    That fix file transfers and allow people to read your away/dnd/etc messages again

    Hope this helps!
  • Just FYI Netscape 3.x and below didn't have AIM bundled, 4.0 didn't either but the AIM bundling did come before the AOL takeover of Netscape. I think version 4.05 was the first to have it. Anyway the whole purpose of jabber is that you can talk to people on other networks almost transparently and therefore you can still receive messages off other users. Most people I know are on the ICQ list so I've not suffered the problems with AIM that others have. However I don't give a fuck whether AOL block their service or not. I'll let people on my contact list know why they can't contact me and they can always just use email, there's no way I'm going to have a separate client for each messaging system that people happen to use. Jabber is providing an open solution that is very extensible. Remember how MS was pushing for such a thing? Microsoft should really be supporting the efforts of jabber and using it as the base for the next MSN messenger.
  • I think jabber [jabber.org] actually solves this problem perfectly in a much more elegant manner; the connection code is running remotely, not in the client, meaning changes don't need to be propigated-- the jabber server is the only thing you need to change.

    This is why halfway through yesterday, Fire (the sole *real* method for i, a Mac OS X user, to connect to AIM and thus contact quite a few people i want to talk to..) and Gaim were still blocked from AOL, but Jabber peoples could connect just fine-- only, though, if they were on the jabber.org server, because that was the only one that had been fixed with the entry hack. That's the good thing about this approach, you have one small client and it can adapt to whatever happens. THe problem with this, of course, is that AOL can IP-block the jabber server, meaning everyone is simply screwed.. not sure how to get around that.

    Note: don't feel *too* sorry for me. Fire has been updated, but requires OS X Final, which comes out tomorrow; there's a mac os x jabber client that i'm having trouble with compiling, but which binaries will be available for starting tomorrow; and OS X Final will have working java support, so i can run QuickBuddy (*shudder*) if i need to. So i'm locked into using micq in Terminal until tomorrow, which is unfortunate, and i may be forced to use *ugh* a telephone if i want to talk to some of the people i really do need to contact today.. but i'll survive. Still, this really sucks..
  • The downside to this is that suddenly it becomes Oh so easy for SPAMmers to throw messages to email that, not only clogs your mail-box, but also gets thrown up on your screan (ala an instant message).

    On the plus side, maybe it would also allow people to create a ISBHL (Instant Spam Black-Hole List) of those addresses that have been marked as SPAMmers, so that you could easily filter the messages out of your mailbox once its hit the first 2 or 3 people. Might just make the SPAM even less effective.
  • Michael, Is this using the latest pre7 release? If so, let me know and I may have another fix for this. Also, when trying to sign on are you using: 'username' or 'username@hotmail.com' Thanks, Rob

    Rob Flynn
  • You're not listening. If I drop icq I have to convince about 20 or so people to drop it too AND adopt the same im client as me . Since the whole point of having an icq client is to communicate with my friends I have no other option than to keep using icq (or compatible clients).

    It's the same reason windows is still popular and it's the same reason linux on the desktop is going nowhere.
  • by joshwa ( 24288 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @09:46AM (#345678) Homepage Journal

    I've been waiting to hear this "You ungrateful bastards/you must be viewing ads to use AIM" argument...AOL alomst certainly loses money on AIM and those ads, mostly because they don't SELL any!

    All the ads are for AOL services or AOL-owned companies [zdnet.com] !!

    AOL puts the service out to lure people into subscribing to AOL, not to make money off ads. And no one can say that AOL is hurting for customers right now...they are still the largest ISP in the world.

    So, yes, we can complain, especially when we depend on features AOL clients don't supply -- interoperability, alternate platforms, logging, etc...

  • TOC is limited in its ability and does not have the Talk or IM Image capabilities.

    In other words, TOC gives you instant messaging without the bloat. What's the problem?


  • And does that mean they don't make money from them? Of course they do.
  • Email is provided by your ISP. You've already paid for it. When ISPs implement IM gateways you'll pay for that too.

    In the meantime AOL is free to block whoever it likes from its service. If you're not a subscriber and you're not using their AIM client, what's in it for them? If Microsoft, Yahoo! and Jabber etc. all gained access it would cost AOL millions.

  • All joking aside, it's pretty obvious that the federales want an IM monopoly (or at worst, an oligopoly with AOL and MSN), for one excellent reason - every "buddy list" is available at a central location. Even if the messages don't transit AOL's servers themselves, it's the buddy list that's important anyhow.

    I've brought this example up before, but here goes: say one of your AIM buddies, unknown to you, commits or comes under suspicion of having committed some hot-button computer crime (DoS, whatever). At roughly the same time, you were online, with this user in your buddy list (or vice versa).

    Now, you're drawn into the investigation. All your electronics are confiscated as potential evidence. At best, you might get them back in a year. At worst, the investigation of your friend will go to trial, and it could be several years. Or perhaps that copy of Office97 isn't licensed to you, or you've got napster installed, and the feds start pressuring you to testify, using this as leverage. "You were online at the same time, and on his buddy list! What do you mean you don't know anything?! C'mon, just spill it and we'll forget about this whole copyright infringement thing."

    IMs have their place, but we shouldn't be naive about how these technologies will be (ab)used by authorities.


  • Then am I correct in assuming that GAIM still works properly, despite what was mentioned in the ./ article?

    (Note: I just looged onto aolim using GAIM and it seems to work fine. Yay TOC!)
  • AOL owes me, and will continue to owe me, until the September that never ended ends.

  • When AOL got a connection to the same Internet the rest of us are connected to, I'm sure someone explained to them:

    There is no support for per-connection billing and accounting, a la X.25, built into IP. When you are on an IP network, anyone else on the network can communicate with you, unless you explicitly firewall them. When you run a service on this public IP network, you accept and agree that anybody can interact with that service, unless you specifically disallow it.

    Of course, people are allowed to build identification and accounting into their protocols to support anything they want. If they want to charge me for using their AIM service, they have the right to. Simply require authenticated logins (as they already do) and don't give those logins out for free any more.

    Now, the point: there is a difference between using or complaining about AIM the network service, and using or complaining about AIM the executable program for Windows.

    AOL gives AIM service for free to everyone else. I paid my bandwidth bill for the month too.

    I'm sure AOL understands that some people will try to use their network service with non-AOL-provided software.

    What AOL has done recently is attempt to tie AOL the network service to AOL the Windows executable.

    It is within AOL's rights to try to do this.

    It is within my rights to try to undo this, by publishing software that is compatible with the new version of their network protocol.

    Would you mind re-explaining what we don't have a right to do again, as it relates to network services and applications being different things?
  • There's a difference. In the free software community, we have mostly given up on the concept of ownership. For us, its a community effort. We do what we do to get along.

    But your perspective is different. AOL owns the network and therefore controls anything that uses it. I don't believe in that. I think that if an entity puts a server out their for public use, it should be publicly usable.

    That's the thing. You can't own a publicly accessible service. That is, you can't control it. You can try...but that is like violating a social contract. Its implied.

    Thats what Jabber is trying to do in part--provide a service that has no owners.

    Also...people have the right to complain about anything they please. So quit telling people to shut up.
  • Yes, AOL is within their rights, just as Time Warner was within it's rights to shut ABC/Disney off of it's cable networks -

    Wait, they weren't within their rights. The FCC fined them, and aren't AOL and Time Warner the same fucking company now?
  • Because they provide the service. If it weren't for them, it would not be there. Therefore, they have the right to put any access restrictions they want on it.

    I don't understand you people. Isn't it intuitively obvious to you that if someone makes something, they should have control over it? Why should they be giving you access to their service when you haven't given them anything?

    BTW, AOL provides AIM executables for Mac and Linux as well. Why do you keep talking about their "Windows executable"?


    1. AOL makes money off the ads when people sign up for the service. Duh.
    2. I don't understand your argument. How does the fact that AOL only shows ads for itself mean that you have the right to use their service? It's still free to you, god damnit. THEY are providing YOU with a service, and YOU have not given them ANYTHING. How can you complain? You can make suggestions that they do various things, but you have no right to complain if they don't.

  • The IMX Architecture [aol.com]

    This is AOL's proposal for an open architecture that allows competing IM services to exchange instant messages. If implemented, this would allow AIM users to communicate with users of Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Jabber et al.


  • The downside to this is that suddenly it becomes Oh so easy for SPAMmers to throw messages to email that, not only clogs your mail-box, but also gets thrown up on your screan (ala an instant message).
    Not at all. The e-mails to say where you are only go to your buddies' mailboxes, and the instant messages go through the NTALK protocol.


  • IRC is all fine and well, but is very often (rightfully) blocked by croporate firewalls. Besides, IRC is not exactly a serious medium to conduct business instant communications, especially when the servers are heavily DoSed...

    The idea is to yield the convenience of ICQ without a central chat server, simply by using the most widespread protocols.


  • If AOL can't force you to use thier client, AOL can't force you to see their ads. If AOL can't force you to see their ads, AOL can't make money off of AIM. If AOL can't make money off of AIM, AOL will stop providing AIM as a free service. Would you prefer that AOL charge access fees for AIM?

    What part of capitolism don't you understand?


  • They don't HAVE an official client for AOL (Not that I want that service from them) or for ICQ proper (which I DO want). Free access in my case is in the sense of asking them to support my OS- to either help out with someone under Linux to provide support or to release that nifty official client they made for their appliance device to the community in varying flavors for the different machine architechtures.

    And don't tell me to run Windows. I don't do Windows.
  • I'm working on this now, there really isn't much to it. It's actually easier to code than SOCKS support.

    The 'right' way to solve this problem is to put a Jabber server on your corporate extranet, allow only inside users to connect to the server on 5222/5223, and allow outbound connections to other jabber servers (and dialback from them on 5269).

  • There are some amazingly irony-impaired people around... My original post was actually criticising AOL by analogy to the more obviously broken *hypothetical* situation of non-interoperable phone standards. This situation never happened BTW - the worst that happened was that you needed a Ma Bell phone to plug into AT&T lines, but you could still call someone in the UK.

    The second paragraph also stated how pointless AOL's restrictions were, but I guess you both replied before reading that.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle