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AT&T Re-ignites Instant Messaging War 200

travisd writes "Looks like AT&T Worldnet is trying to play Microsoft - no, not in being a monopoly, but in trying to horn in on AOL's IM turf. The Washington Post has the story. " Yes, it's the return of the IM Wars - we had covered this this past summer. Microsoft was in the right on this one - a standard does need to be made, by an industry-wide group.
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AT&T Re-ignites Instant Messaging War

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  • I guess the battle over access to cable modem networks has spilled out onto other fronts.

    There is a lot of animosity between AT&T/TCI/Exite@Home and AOL right now, and I wouldn't doubt AT&T folks did this simply to show AOL who's "boss."

  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @03:18AM (#1473143) Homepage
    if you couldn't call your friend's house because they were using Microsoft Phone and you had AOL's You've Got A Phone. Sometimes standards are a good thing.

    Apple was supposedly working with AOL to integrate AIM into the system at some level. I wonder whatever came of that...

  • Jabber.

    We have the AIM tranport working, and 0.8 should be aout soon. ICQ transport is coming very soon.
  • Any of the "new" instant messaging services, that is. Currently, the only one I bother to keep up on my desktop is good ol' Yahoo! pager. No, it probably doesn't have all the fancy capabilities of the newer things, but I'm used to it, and it gets me by. Besides, it is what all my Internet contacts use as well.

    Mike Eckardt []
  • Yet another story on compatibility and standards. It's amazing how much mileage these big companies manage to get out of a single reason to bicker.
  • by JohnG ( 93975 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @03:22AM (#1473147)
    There is no doubt that there needs to be standard, MS is right about that, but why does it have to be AOL's standard? IMHO AOL has every right to keep others from using thier protocol if they want and Microsoft shouldn't have kept bypassing the security features, that was just wrong, they wouldn't like it if we bypassed their security features.
    Am I taking AOL's side here? No. I think that if AOL wants to keep the their protocol non-standardized then Yahoo!, MS, and AT+T need to get together and make a standard protocol. Soon people will drop AOL's IM because they can communicate with more people through the new standardized system and AOL will suffer for its wrongdoings.
    MS nor AT+T is accomplishing nothing by keeping this war going on, except maybe for once MS is in the role of the good guy and they don't want to lose that :)

  • It strikes me that instant messaging is one of those areas where _everyone_ needs to either be on the same service, or the services all need to be open to each other.

    Since there is no financial incentive to allow your competitors to access your servers (and you customers), it seems to me that the only way around this is a global service run on a not for profit basis, that allows _anyone_ to use it with any client they like (ie, open the message protocols to the public).

    No company could make money from this (after all, if you can write your own client, you'd leave out the bit that displayed the advertising, wouldn't you?), so it seems to be a prime target for a government funded initiative.

    Now, I don't like the idea of "The Government" being involved in my messaging any more than you do, but it does seem that some sort of international task force, funded by a variety of governments (or the UN) would solve a lot of these kind of problems.

    All critisicms are, of course, gratefully recieved.
  • I think IM needs a standard. Pagers have standards. email has standard (SMTP,POP3)
    web has standards (HTTP,HTTPS)
    Its time to take the IM war out of the hands of coporations who want to make money and into the hands of the users, where it will benefit all.
  • Speaking as the sysadmin in a cyber cafe, I'm really beginning to hate instant messaging. Every time we crank up a computer, it loads yahoo, MS, icq, aim...
    Having seen what people use (and why), I can be fairly confident that AT&T's effort is doomed, if not to failure, then to obscurity.

    MS's version took off like a rat out of an aqueduct, simply because of that big-ass banner on the top of the hotmail page. To people who only use the computer for hotmail, this was an added feature, and one they embraced[1]. Aim, of course, already has godzillions of users.

    So what about worldnet? Its new messenger will appeal only to those who haven't already got an account with one of the biggies. Anyone else'll ignore it.

    [1]hotmail used to have a banner ad for internet telephony. At lest five times a day I had to explain that it was an ad, and not something they could use in hotmail.
  • by Nodatadj ( 28279 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @03:25AM (#1473151) Journal
    ICQ has > 55,000,000 people using it
    AOL has about the same
    Yahoo had 20,000,000 I think the last time I heard

    How many more people can want to keep in touch with people? Or is it going to be a case where we need once client to talk to Dave, and one for Sally and Fred (being the guy who has to have the newest software) we need a 3rd.
  • Yep, a major league pissing match is in the works, alright. With the popularity of IM software becoming more popular everyday, I'm beginning to wonder if a standard will be developed for instant messaging, much like was done for email so many years ago. Who knows; perhaps when Internet 2 opens up, your ISP will assign users an email address and an IM address? :)

  • The article refers to an IETF effort to pruce an instant messageing standard, if anyone is interested here [] is the url to it's chater page.

    For anyone who hasn't been following this issue you have several different messageing programs all backed by one company or another which do not 'talk' to each other. An equivelenet would be if it was imposible to phone somone from your phone because there phone came from a different telco. The situation is completely stupid, all logic dictates that communications systems designed for the same purpose should be able to talk to each other.

    AT&T are doing the right thing in the wrong way, inter operability should be a priority but not by some strange kludge that only works one way. Does anyone else agree that if this carries on for much longer it may be a job for legislation to bring the IM providers into line

    One thing that really impressed me was the success of icq, I never really use it myself but a totaly centralized propriatry system being that big a success is not exactly the norm on the on interent.

  • by Powers ( 118325 )
    Wow, I didn't even realize there was a call for standards in the IM arena. I, for one, agree that standards are a great idea. The key is to make the standards expandable and flexible. There are several features in ICQ that I wouldn't want to give up.

    Granted, ICQ is more than just a simple "IM" program. It's got a lot more than any of the others do, so I'm not sure but what it might be considered a different type of program. However, it does serve IM purposes, so it would be nice to see it included in the standards.

    That's why the standards need to be extensible, so that programs like ICQ can conform to the standards, but keep their added functionality (like file transfers, game matching, multiple types of "away" messages, extensive user info, etc.).


  • Hmmm, isn't this partially what Jabber [] exists for? (Eventually, I mean).


  • Do they really each have 55 million users or 55 million registrations?

    I don't use instant messengers, but I have tried them out from time to time, creating a new account each time. So, although I'm not a user, I do account for a half dozen registrations.

    By this measure, Pointcast has 10 or 20 million users. Ha!

  • I doubt those figures. With any free system you can never trust the user counts. I have at least 3 ICQ numbers and I don't use any of them anymore

  • I guess AOL has already coutnered AT&T's attempt:

    AOL blocks AT&T WorldNet instant messages []

  • Nice to see the HTML comment-posting code working so well. *sigh*
  • Why AOL? Because there are more people using AIM than any other instant messaging protocol. In addition to the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people using the AIM client, there are also the (what is it) 18 million people on AOL? Granted it might not be the best protocol, but it certainly is the most widely used one.

    I'm sure other protocols are better, and I'm sure one that is far superior could be developed. But if history serves us correctly, the best technology is never the one which becomes the standard (Read: Beta VS VHS, Amiga VS everything else ;-)

    The only complaint I have about AIM is that everything goes through the server. What the optimal protocol should be doing is using the server for finding people, and then (at the user's discretion) making direct connections. It would partially lift the guilt of putting all of this on AOL's servers, but would also reduce some traffic.

    I don't care about Yahoo! Pager, I don't care about MICROS~1 pager, and I haven't used ICQ in a while (slow piece of steaming...) .. AIM is the popular one, it will probably be the standard.


  • That's like saying "We had a gate, but no fences, and no one came through the gate"

    Security, by definition, can't be bypassed. Maybe AOL did have the right to stop MS using it's servers, but that should have been defined in the licence, and enforced using real security measures. "Security by obscurity" is not security.

    You expect the occasional bug in a product, but just not telling people how it operates is not a viable security method.

  • I've found this wonderful new technology. Its called email. It allows you to send a message to a person, and they can reply to it too. Unfortunately it's completely open and every program works pretty much the same.

    Why on earth do people need these things? What is wrong with an email. If you need to contact someone really quickly, why not use that other piece of incredibly useful technology. We call it a phone.

  • This is exactly the same as the HTML standard. These companies should agree on one standard and stick to it. Imagine some company trying to make a server and browser that did not comply to the standard on purpose... oh, wait.

  • URL: []
  • Unfortunately, as AOL own both AIM and ICQ (the two real biggies), they pretty much control the majority.

    As a result, any standard is unlikely to have such a high take-up unless AOL can be persuaded to be less arsey about it all.

    Now, if Microsoft and Apple both integrated compatible messaging products into their next versions, *that* would be a different matter (and most likely, a whole new lawsuit)
  • Maybe AOL did have the right to stop MS using it's servers, but that should have been defined in the licence, and enforced using real security measures.

    License? What license? The servers are their property just as my flat (en-US: appartment) is my property. I wasn't aware I had to stick a license on all the doors and windows making it clear that I don't want people trespassing.

  • Oh jeez, I would hate to see MS (a company currently being de-monopolized in the courts) & AT&T (a company that has already been through court ordered de-monopolization). I wonder what kind of terrible things they would attempt to bestow upon the idiot masses. Just think, if we got IBM in on this thing, we could have the crappiest proprietary protocol and software ever. (shudder)
  • The IETF [] has an Instant Message and Presence Protocol Working Group [] which is looking at this.
  • Security, by definition, can't be bypassed. So your saying that because the US Navy Seals or a group of Elite Uber-Ninjas could get past the gate of a POW Camp that said camp is not secure?
    Security is defined by Websters as the condition of feeling safe It doesn't say the justified condition of feeling safe. Security is a relative term, every system on the face of the planet could probably be cracked, does that mean that we can't say Linux is secure, or FreeBSD, HP?
    I think though that maybe I used the term security out of it's traditional computer context, I mean that AOL tryed to block MS intentionally and MS should have respected that. After all you don't see them rushing to support Linux, they try to squash it. That's what they need to do here, create a new standard that combines AT+T, MS, and Yahoo! and whoever else wants to jump on board and squash AOL

  • It's not standards, although that will help.

    IM is very compariable to IRC. That is, your client sends data to a server, and the server does the appropriate broadcasting to other clients that are intended to recieve the message. However, the difference here is that IRC is generally a distributed server that is run by a non-commercial entity, while the IM server is a single server that is being run by a corporate entity. Additionally, there is some degree of anonymousity on IRC, while IM has a nice little database of usernames, emails, and *potental* surfing/chatting habits. This means that any non-AOL request to the AOL server may be accessing a personal info database that AOL has built up , and they don't want that, unless they are getting paid for it.

    The solution is to redevelop the IM application, using a predefinied standard, and then setting a large number of good-faith servers around the globe that can be used to store the necessary IM info. This would all be open-sourced, and thus there would be no problems with commercial interests coming into play. The servers can be linked in an IRC-like fashion, with appropriate broadcast messages sent out among servers when a new user is added or similar events.

  • Well, to communicate with people far away, using the phone costs money (long distance charges) and, if you are at work, adds to the general noise level in the office... IM doesn't cost money (at least, no more than having internet access to begin with), and is as quiet as typing.

    Not going to argue with email, but as a user of both email and AIM for communicating, I have found that I typically get a more rapid response from IMs than from emails, YMMV...

  • True, but then again if the Yahoo! AT+T and MS userbase powers were combined (they would form Captaaiiinn Planet! hehe sorry that phrase reminded me of that old tv show.)
    But seriously if AT+T MS and Yahoo! and ICQ I have been leaving them out. were to combine their userbase the AOL wouldn't be the biggest userbase. 18 million AOL users could still use another IM if they wanted I am sure, unless AOL blocked that but that would be Anti-Trust and they would be on the hotseat with the DOJ.
    Besides since when has MS ever backed down to competition? I think this is the first time they haven't tried to destroy something with thier own products since the 90's began. And I think this is the one time that they need to do just that.

  • I wonder what AOL hope to achieve in the long run. Their actions to date basically state that no-one other than an AOL user may send a message to AOL. In other words, no consumer choice.

    Consumer choice is key - I want the choice between a number of different programs that do vaguely the same thing so that I can pick one that I like, or so that I can avoid the one owned by the company I don't like. To date, I would have avoided Microsoft's IM offering simply because it was owned by Microsoft, but now that AOL are behaving in this way, I'm not sure I want to use it at all.

    They are also restricting their own users who have to install a variety of programs to communicate with people both inside and outside the AOL network, since obviously the ICQ and IM systems run by AOL will not send messages to Microsoft subscribers.

    What's interesting is that they are in a clear position to take a responsible leadership position in the IM market, but instead have chosen to win the race by excluding all others from playing. This is what their actions will achieve because with the lead they have, nobody will be able to gather a sufficient customer base to get critical mass in the IM market.

    Nothing good will come of this. Either for AOL or for any of the others. You don't try to create a monopoly market in this way, it's consumer-unfriendly.

  • Well, if you don't use 'em, they must be useless. Pity those millions who don't have your insight, and imagine that they're using something beneficial.

    It's a far-fetched scenario that'll probably never happen, but it's possible that someone, someday will want to hold a conversation with someone who isn't within range of a local call.
  • IM in MacOS?
    Good lord, I hope not!
    IM's the first thing I ditch when I install Netscape. No use for it.

    The phone analogy is partly flawed, if only for the fact that AT&T in the U.S. had a phone monopoly for the nation-wide rollout of phone service.
    Personally, I never saw the big deal about IM software, until I worked at an ad agency that used it to communicate between the creative dept (3rd floor) and the 'net dept (ground floor).
    Not everyone had a phone at their desk/cubicle, but they all had a computer, so ICQ was a company standard. You logged in when you came in, and logged out when you left. You could also see who was at work that day, and not have to play voice jail tag.
    It seemed to work pretty OK.

    'Course with xDSL and Cable Modems becoming more available, "always on" net connections definitely lend themselves to IM.
    I'll stick with email :)

  • Why on earth do people need these things? What is wrong with an email. If you need to contact someone really quickly, why not use that other piece of incredibly useful technology. We call it a phone.

    Why? hmm.. lessee, Long distance rates maybe? Not all the people I chat with are on the same continent. I am but a poor starving student, I can't affort to pay all these long distance charges on top of my internet access, tuition, etc...
  • Why on earth do people need these things? What is wrong with an email. If you need to contact someone really quickly, why not use that other piece of incredibly useful technology. We call it a phone.

    Well, gee, let's see...

    1. Telephone calls outside of your local calling area cost mucho dinero, particularly international calls.
    2. Most people still use modems to access the Internet, and many of those don't have a second phone line.
    3. Instant Messaging is often much quicker than e-mail. E-mail can often take a long time to arrive, mostly thanks to slow e-mail servers on one end or the other. That said, I will admit that e-mail remains a better solution for longer messages, but it's less appropriate for short conversations back-and-forth.

  • The fundemental principle underlying instant messaging schemes is identical to that underlying office productivity software. The software is *inherently* worthless and becomes worthwhile if and only if there is a critical mass of people who use it. Once the population using a particular incompatible with anything else software reaches this level, new users will tend to use this service as well, establishing a de facto standard that other providers must comply with if they want to reach the majority of users.
    Treat this as flamebait if you will, but I do not believe that establishing Yet Another Standard for Instant Messaging is the solution to these problems. As long as users have the freedom to switch from service to service, as they do now, the relative popularity of each service will fluctuate with respect to it's utility to the user. The real issue is not whether standards are neccesary (they aren't at this point and won't be beneficial until the technology matures) but whether companies have the right to use the networks of other companies. As I see it, creating artificial boundaries splinters the community and benefits nobody, neither the company that does the restriction, nor anybody else benefits. With bandwidth availability skyrocketing and new communications technologies being developed almost daily, does it truly make any sense to lock in an IM standard that will be obselete practically as it is approved? I would much rather have a de facto standard that is flexible than a rigid actual standard.

    Flames? Think I'm a karma whore?
  • Well the way I see it MS has no business asking for open standards in instant messeging protocals if they have closed protocals in other forms of networking. In particular SMB, thats the protocal network neighborhood runs on. The Samba team has reverse engineered most of it, but the last time I checked Samba still couldn't be a Primary Domain Controller you have to buy NT if you want that. I haven't followed all this HTML stuff, but those MS extensions are they an open standard, I don't think so, someone correct me if I'm wrong. And their file formats for Office. MS thinks its of deathly importance that all IM clients should be able to talk to each other, but they don't think I should be able to read spreadsheets, databases, word-processing documents, etc on anything except their platforms. Really which is more important? Fscking hypocrits!!!
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @04:00AM (#1473183) Homepage
    From the recently posted C|Net article about AT&T being blocked by AOL []:

    Despite warning signs, AT&T executives had been hopeful AOL would cooperate, especially given the online leader's recent push for so-called open access to cable networks.

    It took nearly everything I had to not break out in a fit of laughter upon reading this. AOL is desperate to get direct access to *some* form of high speed gateway, to the point where they dumped a couple hundred million into *satellite* technology(DirectPC, to be specific. Great for rural areas, but rather horrific to scale--and one way, too).

    So here you have AOL, banging on the doors, trying to get the law (very very justifiably!) twisted so that, gee whiz, there can actually *be* ISPs that don't own the direct lines of communication.

    Meanwhile, at the very same time, Microsoft is banging on their door, trying to be an IMSP(Internet Messaging Service Provider) that doesn't own all of the direct communication servers.

    The communications architectures are publically supported(guess whose land all that fiber's going over!), while the Instant Messanging systems *aren't*, but those are just *details*. On one hand, AOL wants open access to AT&T's property, and on the other, AOL wants closed access when it's their own damn network!

    Oh, what a brilliant gambit on the part of AT&T, calling them on an apparent contradiction! I honestly would not be surprised if the only reason AT&T ever partnered with Tribal Voice in the first place was because they realized AOL Just Couldn't Win Both Battles--and either way, their "enemy" would be weakened by either loss.

    AOL's counter should be interesting. I know some of the guys at AOL--hell, one of 'em is probably the single smartest networking guy I've ever met. We're talking about a company that, in response to Microsoft's attempts at circumventing their network security, consistently and repeatedly exploited security holes in Microsoft's AIM client, and likely threatened to announce exploits for their client unless Microsoft caved in. (They did.)

    AOL is bound to have a truly fascinating response to all this. I, for one, am going to be watching, popcorn in hand.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • Why do we have fax machines when we have the post office? Why do we have email when we have fax machines? Why do we have IMs when we have email? Each one does something slightly different. Email doesn't tell wether or not my friend is sitting at his computer right NOW or not, and while email is fast, IMs are fastER.

    "God does not play dice with the universe." -Albert Einstein

  • by Zagato-sama ( 79044 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @04:06AM (#1473186) Homepage
    First off, it is very thoughtful of Slashdot editors to tell us who is right and who is wrong, without their expertise we might actually have to form our own opinions on the matter.

    This is quite simple in my opinion, AOL provides the IM message service which it AFAIK created. In return for this free service AOL recieves money from the advertising banner it flashes across the screen. The key issue here is this. This is _AOL'S_ software. Other companies want to walk in, grab a hold of their large userbase, and walk away with it. Now if these companies were half as inventive as they were greedy, they'd create their own chat network. But of course not. The scream of "Open standards" quickly rallies slashdotters into a frenzy before they look at the issue here. AOL _created and maintain AIM_ it is _theirs_ nobody has the right to tell them what standards they should and shouldn't use. Now if these companies wish to make an open standard for their _own_ chat network, heck, more power to them. Personally I must say that AIM is one of the best pieces of software I've ever seen, it's fast, it's not filled with useless options, the advertisemens aren't annoying popups, etc.
  • NO! No www! Jer insists upon
  • That's why I said You expect bugs in computer progams

    Security flaws found by Hackers are bugs, pure and simple.

    AOL's messaging system worked the way it was designed - and the only way they could stop the MS client is to exploit the buffer-overflow bug in their own client.

    As for MS should have respected that - Why? Do the Samba people respect the fact the MS doesn't particulaly want unix to be able to access MS Networks? How is that different?

    I've got no arguement that there should be a standard messageing format, though.

  • by |DaBuzz| ( 33869 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @04:15AM (#1473189)
    Microsoft was in the right on this one - a standard does need to be made, by an industry-wide group.

    When did hacking into a network and leeching it's resources for your own gain become a valid action when striving for industry wide standards?

    I'd like to see standardized IM as much as anyone, but saying Microsoft is right is a bit far fetched. Microsoft is wrong for hacking into AOL's IM infrastructure after access was denied and AOL is wrong for exploiting their own client software to keep MS out ... they should have found a better way to do it.

    What if I wanted to get in on this exploding new technology called ... email, but instead of setting up my own mail server, I hacked into yours and pointed all my users to it, then when you fixed your server so I couldn't get in, I hacked into it again to give my users free use of a resource I don't own, maintain, or hold accountability for?

    And don't respond back with "email is an open standard, while IM is not" because that's not my point, my point is MSN HAS their own IM infrastructure and could have used it, but they decided to leech on the resources and investment of another company and when they were asked/told/forced to stop, they hacked it again. They are FAR from right in this case.
  • "...but it does seem that some sort of international task force, funded by a variety of governments (or the UN) would solve a lot of these kind of problems."

    I'm more of the idea that some sort of task force by the people for the people is what is needed. And not just for IM issues. Each day there is a New & Improved something for the internet. There needs to be standards adopted somewhere or it will be necessary to have 1 of everything just to keep in touch.

    I personally have been known to run AIM, ICQ, mIRC, my base e-mail, and my secondary e-mail concurrently just to keep in touch and get the decisions and deals made in a timely manner. I can multi-task with the best of them, but that doesn't mean I want to have to if the issues are important.

  • Who is it helping?
    Businesses should battle on the grounds of their tool's design and their service to customers.
    All data communication should be



    Except maybe those people still in the "Cold War"...
  • by Dacta ( 24628 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @04:21AM (#1473193)

    That isn't a valid comparison.

    Why not?

    You are running a clone of the AOL computer on your computer, and using the servers in the way they were designed. Saying that just because AOL owns the servers they shouldn't need to specify they can only be used with AOL clients is like saying Netscape should expect only Netscape browsers to hit just because they made the first commercially successful web browser.

    As for your property thing - sure, you are right there, but if you owned a large patch of countyside in the middle of a national park, and you didn't put fences around it you shouldn't be surprised if people trespass - and infact they would probably have a good case in court.

    Here in Australia, the is an item of common law (inherited from England) that if an area of private property is used for public purposes continuously for a long period of time, a "right of way" is formed, and the owners can no longer stop people from using that area.

    That is why places like Adelaide University, which has a large "public" throughfare through the middle close the gates once a year - to stop the public use. Apparently they didn't once, and the final year law students tried (in court) to get a right-of-way.

    To get back to the point - perhaps something like this might (or should) apply on the 'Net - and with one netyear = 3realyears... do the sums for yourself.

    I'm not really serious about the right-of-way on the Internet, but it does make you think, hey!

  • Quick Question: What if I am a broke college student in the US and want to talk to my sister in the UK who I haven't seen in a year do I a.) Pay for an expensive phone call everytime I want to talk to her. b.) Send her an email with a bunch of questions on it, wait for her to check her email, then finally respond to me or c.) Carry on a real-time conversation using an instant messaging service.

    I don't know about you, but my kid sister and I tried option B and it sucked and we are now pretty happy with option C especially since Yahoo got Voice Chat and i can thus literally talk to my sister for free.

    Bad Command Or File Name
  • I certainly agree that there needs to be a standard. And I applaud Microsoft for saying so considering all of their media coverage, no matter what Microsoft's real perverted intentions were. And, lo-and-behold, there is an industry group workign on the standard as we speak. Let's just hope they adopt it. But, I do have a list of complaints I've seen with current IM-like products that I think should be addressed so they don't get worked into a standard. Stock/News/Weather tickers: There is a time and a place for these. I simply don't want special features cluttering my screen, memroy and disk when I'd rather use a third-party stock-ticker from elsewhere. Just don't put it in the protocol. Let the indvidual IM client software add what they want, btu keep it out of the protocol. Advertisements: Again, keep them out of the protocol. Names: OK, this really has to do with client-sofwtare only, but I'd sure like to be able to put aliases on the names in my buddy list. I can never remember who GoldenFry77 is. I'd rather see an alias as "John Smith from Work" and have the client software use GoldenFry77 in the background.
  • IETF's IMPP Working group (charter) [] Maybe this was mentioned deeper in someones thread, but all the same i figured I would point out that there is a standard being developed. Last I heard the group was getting fairly close to having a spec.
  • I'm beginning to wonder if a standard will be developed for instant messaging, much like was done for email so many years ago.

    No doubt about that. A real multi-vendor IM protocol is needed. Unfortunately, AOL's IM protocols aren't, and other companies should stop making it sound like it is. Until there is a true multi-vendor protocol, if companies what to interoperate with AOL, the answer is simple. Go to AOL, talk, work out a licensing agreement, chuck over any cash agreed on. It sounds like AT&T has followed licensing agreements. We'll have to see what AOL has to say. Microsoft, OTOH, did not.

    Who knows; perhaps when Internet 2 opens up, your ISP will assign users an email address and an IM address?

    I see this happening. For IM to be truly open, each ISP would have to run their own server, and give each user their own account.

  • Standards... Lets flash back to 1993... HTML 1.0... (kinda like, let's say, Messaging RFC XXX.a) And everything worked just fine, until someone got this nifty idea for tables that were outside of the standard spec. (Like let's say AT&T MP3 Broadcast for ATTIM (AT&T Instant Messenger))... So everything will work fine if you have the right messenger... Unless you try to contact the MS Support Messenger with the AOL Messenger, and someone tries something unsupported by the other... ooh, segfault? blue-screen?

    Standards are not the only answer. Good luck hitting the M$ MSDN web pages with Netscape. Ooh, lookit that, some ASP error. Hmm, IE has no problem with the same page.

    Standards will help for about 6 months till someone gets cute and tries to get a larger share of the market with some funky idea or improperly implemented new 'feature'. If you are going to try to 'fix' this issue with a blind standard, good luck.

  • You want to legislate a computer standard?

    Oh man... read your history books!

    I totally, absolutly disagree with you. I understand the comparison with telephones, but the Internet is a new game.

    Let the market work it out - if one company loses a couple of $mil on the wrong standard, that's no big deal. It's not like they were rolling out incompatible telephone wiring.

    It is a little annoying for consumers, but it doesn't cost them anything except convenience, and it allows new products and protocols to develop in ways a legislated standard wouldn't.

    Anyway.. what country would you legislate in? What's to stop the non-compliant messageing servers moving to somewhere that has a concept of intellectual freedom?

  • The key issue here is this. This is _AOL'S_ software. Other companies want to walk in, grab a hold of their large userbase, and walk away with it. Now if these companies were half as inventive as they were greedy, they'd create their own chat network. But of course not. The scream of "Open standards" quickly rallies slashdotters into a frenzy before they look at the issue here. AOL _created and maintain AIM_ it is _theirs_ nobody has the right to tell them what standards they should and shouldn't use.

    The key issue here is this. This is _AT&T's_ fibre. Other companies want to walk in, grab a hold of their large broadband base, and walk away with it. Now if these companies were half as inventive as they were greedy, they'd create their own broadband network. But of course not. The scream of "high bandwidth for everyone" quickly rallies slashdotters into a frenzy before they look at the issue here. AT&T _created and maintain their broadband network _ it is _theirs_ nobody has the right to tell them what they should and shouldn't do.

    Just playing devil's advocate...feels funny when the shoe's on the other foot doesn't it AOL?

    Bad Command Or File Name
  • The service in any incarnation speeds communication, but no current service excels in all functions. I just cannot imagine that any of these companies share the common goal of developing the best product. It really irks me, though, that big companies like Msft and AT&T try and piggy back on AOL's service while ICQ strive to create its own brand/standard. Standing on the shoulders of giants...
  • If there were an open standard, then Microsoft would "innovate" and build the client into Windows as part of the operating system. In the fullness of time, just as with browsers, competing clients would be driven out. At that point Microsoft would be free to "enhance" the product making it incompatible with non-Windows systems. AOL is certainly aware of this possibility and that is why they (rightly) will not go to an open standard.
  • Exunckly! My thoughts eaxctly. There are already lots of dedicated programs for chatting to other people in real time. I use them regularly myself to speak to friends in the US (I'm in the UK). But the thought of having people knowing when I'm at my machine (well, actually when I have the program running - just because its running doesn't mean I'm at the keyboard) really doesn't appeal to me. During working hours I don't have the time to talk to friends every five minutes, and at home I can't afford to due to the phone bills.
  • ...and it's called "IRC". Internet Relay Chat already provides all of the features of the various IM clients and web-based chat pages. You can share files; you can be notified when certain people leave/join channel(s); etc. Too bad there's no cutesy flower icon, or "bing-bong" every time someone /messages you, otherwise it'd be the Next Killer App(tm).

    And there's even an experimental RFC (1459 []) that describes the protocol! You can't get more standard than the IETF!!

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • I guess you've got a point there about Samba. It just seems like alot of hassle to me to keep the battle going. It's great that MS wants to team up to make a standard but they should pick a partner that WANTS to be their partner. Imagine if something horrible were to happen and only one man and 5 women were left living. MS is the man. AOL, ICQ, Yahoo!, and AT+T are the women. MS goes up to AOL and says "Hey Baby! We got to repopulate the earth so let's like... do it and stuff" Then AOL says "NO!" MS should leave AOL alone and go fornicate with one of the other women. Why does AOL have to have sex with MS if they don't want to. When all the other women do and the whole world is populated by little AT+T's and MS's and Yahoo!'s and ICQ's then those families will live on, but once AOL dies she has left no lineage.
    I know AOL (the company not the girl. hehe) isn't going to die anytime soon, but it would surely be outnumbered (maybe not now, but some day) if it refuses to accept the standard.

  • It is not clear that AOL has a right to decide who should and should not have access to their servers for purposes of sending messages to their clients. For legal purposes, AOL should be treated as if it is a "common carrier" of telecommunications services. In many ways AOL is the modern equivalent of a local telephone service provider and should have the same duties and responsibilites. Many other posters have analogized this dispute as one where one phone system cannot talk to another. They are more right than they may know. Your local Bell may "own" the circuit switching equipment, but that doesn't mean they can deny access to the that equipment by AT&T or MCI/Sprint.
  • I just recieved the newest beta version of Millenium here at work, (4.90.2419 for those out there that are keeping count) and something very interesting installed itself by default. You got it: MSN instant messanger.

    Now, let me pose this question: If it comes with the computer, why download another application? Seems to me that, standards or no standards (or anti-trust lawsuit or otherwise), MS is back to it's old, dirty tricks. Think: Internet Explorer.

  • The Post article (and others I have seen) say that the there is(was) documentation on the AOL site which details how IM works. AT&T and MS both used this info to make their clients compatible. Anybody have the URL for this page? Or know if it was taken down?

  • The ONLY reason why MS is saying that there needs
    to be an open standard is because they want AOL's IM users. PERIOD. By saying that they want everyone to be able to communicate no matter what software they are using, they were trying to get a movement going so that AOL would open it's IM protocol. You know as well as I do (AOL knows this too, no doubt) that as soon as AOL opens up it's IM protocol, MS will "embrace and extend" it so that the users will only use the MS IM Client and IM server. There is no doubt that MS has the user base through it's OS and browser to achieve this rather quickly and easily.

    I'm not a fan of AOL, but I'm glad that they're keeping their protocol proprietary. It keeps yet another "market" out of MS's reach.

    I agree that their needs to be and should be an open IM protocol, but currently, there isn't a way to do this without MS taking advantage of their monopoly and using the open protocol to steer users into the MS realm of control.
  • As was pointed out in other posts we have millions of users using each of the IM packages that are already available. If we tried to combine ICQ,AIM,yahoo, etc... into one big messenger service it would be huge and unwieldy. Gone would be the days of picking a meaningful name on AIM or having a number you can actually memorize on ICQ...

    Sure it would be nice to unite all the people who only stick to one IM program or another but I personally have settled on AIM based on who I talk to the most and I kind of like that it isn't as huge and crowded as something like ICQ

  • The fundemental principle underlying instant messaging schemes is identical to that underlying office productivity software. The software is *inherently* worthless and becomes worthwhile if and only if there is a critical mass of people who use it.

    You can say the same thing about the telephone.

    The real issue is not whether standards are neccesary (they aren't at this point and won't be beneficial until the technology matures) but whether companies have the right to use the networks of other companies.

    Standards are beneficial, and if we waited until the technology matures we would never get anywhere. Heck, the Internet wouldn't exist because the standards are still immature and need serious improvement. Creating a standard does not mean there will be lock in. Standards, particularly well-developed ones that are inherently extensible, can evolve and develop (HTML 1.0 --> 4.0 --> XHTML).

    On your second point, it is not clear what the limits should be on one company "using" the networks of other companies. What does "using" mean anyway? When I make a long distance call with AT&T from home I am "using" SNET's local switching equipment. SNET has no right to prevent that even though SNET "owns" the network. AOL (and other ISPs) are in a similar position. AOL and ISPs in general should have very strict limitations on what traffic they can be permitted to restrict. I favor a common carrier model, of course.

  • ...wouldn't it be wonderful if there was some open-source, open-server, non-commercialized community for chatting, where anyone could use any client or roll their own, which was compatible with any machine because it effectively worked on a pre-existing port (say telnet?) that allowed file transers, private and public chats, notifications when friends join, use of name and domain instead of random numbers...

    Oh, wait, it's IRC!

    Seriously, tho--what about an ueberclient that incorporated/stole from/abused the other clients and enabled just one client to talk on all different networks (like Orac and other IRC bots linking different IRCnets)?
  • d) use a decent, open chat protocol like IRC, which has been around since 1990 and, if you're both on the same server, suffers none of the lag and other crap that ICQ et al seem to, since there's a few hundred people connected during the worst of times instead of a thousands upon thousands. Plus the clients have been around long enough that there's not much chance of finding nice backdoors in them. Remember when you could change ICQ users' passwords without their knowledge? You can still spoof UINs, if I'm not mistaken. The cute little personal webserver that they include with it lets you read any file on a user's hard disk too. Good stuff.

    I'll stick with what works for me for real-time chat.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • It is too soon to tell, but perhaps AT&T has wised up and realizes that the ISP market is a commodity business, and as such not terribly profitable. Profit margins for ISPs are razor thin and not likely to get any bigger. By opening their high bandwidth channel to multiple vendors (which is what AT&T seems to be doing), they are helping to assure this.

    AOL is basically just a fancy ISP; without proprietary standards, there is very little ability for AOL to differentiate themselves from the rest of the ISP market (although more ISPs should follow AOL's model and make installation easier for non-techs). This is why what AT&T is doing is brilliant.

  • People use them because they like their life interrupted by something other than what they're curently doing.

    For the same reason that mom calls instead of writing a letter, they use instant messaging.

    For the same reason you don't turn the ringer off on your phone (or do you) They use instant messaging.

    Because deep down inside, we like to think we are important enough to be contactable instantly while we are sitting at our terminals.

  • Wow. 50+ million users jump onto other IM programs and the IETF is "fairly close" to having a public spec for an IM protocol. The IETF may be a lot of things, but they're certainly not slow!
  • By opening their high bandwidth channel to multiple vendors (which is what AT&T seems to be doing), they are helping to assure this.

    What do you mean? They're doing everything they can to *not* open their high bandwidth channels. That way, all the ISPs go out of business because they can't meet the demand for inexpensive but high speed net access, and AT&T becomes a single point of failure in the infamously rerouting internet.

    IP communication freedom would be hijaacked at a remarkably ridiculous speed if we didn't have the vast quantity of ISPs we have today. The ability to go to another provider is *critical* to maintaining this freedom.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • Actually, a nit-picky point of clarification... Instant Messenger was created by MCIWorldCom (not sure if it was pre-merger or not) and is exclusively licensed to AOL.
    Editor, ScowlZine
  • if you couldn't call your friend's house because they were using Microsoft Phone and you had AOL's You've Got A Phone. Sometimes standards are a good thing.

    Interesting you use the phone analogy; this [] is a little ditty I wrote some long night over the summer.
  • The group has existed for about a year, maybe a little more. Design takes time.
  • weren't they or mozilla working on a messeger that could connect to any of the other systems out there?
  • There's still a couple differences here.
    AOL only used the buffer overflow exploit as a last resort, after allready trying twice to use normal identification methods to determine what client was connecting and block the appropriate one. It was only after MS started bypassing AOL's security features that they resorted to the buffer overflow.

    Two: AOL had and still has a public and open method of talking to their servers using the TIC protocol. This is what MS should have been using in the first place, instead they reverse engineered AOL's Oscar protocol to gain direct access to the centeral servers whereas the TIC servers would be considered a safe firewall by AOL.

    As far as Samba goes, yes maybe MS doesn't particularly want Unix clients to be able to talk to their networks but when I implement my own network using my own equiptment and money then I dont care what Server OS's I'm running I want them to be able to communicate. Samba lets me as an end user or system administrator define my network the way I want it. Now if I was to continually try to get my samba client to connect to an internal microsoft server over the internet that had an "obscure" windows share, then I could fully expect a police officer knocking on my door.

    What I do with my servers is my business. Trying to "force" a connection with other peoples servers is against the law.

    Remember that AOL's main servers (that use Oscar) for their own clients have "never" been public use servers. They were desinged strictly for their own aol client interface. They do have a public use system that interacts with their internal servers that by all right MS, AT&T etc should be freely able to use. In the case of MS at least they didn't use the public system, instead they purposlly bypassed security and other measures to get their own way. As far as I can see while I dont even like AOL I can find no fault or blame with them for protecting their systems.
  • The issue may seem simple, but it is not. While libertarianism may seem an attractive solution, it ignores the economic realities of the IM market. Like telephone services, network effects play a big role. The more people use a single IM service, the more valuable that IM service becomes. IM is a classic example of a protocol that will, of practical necessity, coalesce around a single standard. It is economically inefficient for there to be multiple standards, and the lsoing standards will not last long (or if they do, will be only marginal players). That being the case, it is not clear at all that a proper legal regime should permit a single corporation to monopolize the resulting stndard. Nor is it clear that AOL can keep the standard proprietary, having made it freely available on the Internet for anyone to use (and not just AOL subscribers).
  • I agree that MS hacking into the AOL IM network was wrong. I believe, however, that the statement "Microsoft was in the right on this one
    " refers only to the need for a standard. The actions MS took were wrong. The statement they made was right.

  • The only complaint I have about AIM is that everything goes through the server. What the optimal protocol should be doing is using the server for finding people, and then (at the user's discretion) making direct connections. It would partially lift the guilt of putting all of this on AOL's servers, but would also reduce some traffic.

    This is the classic battle in network design, between centralized and decentralized configurations. If you have a problem with all message traffic passing through AOL's servers, perhaps you should try Ding! [], which uses the Ding server only as a mechanism for finding other users currently logged in, then makes a direct connection between the 2 parties having a conversation. Come to think of it, Microsoft's NetMeeting does this too (IIRC). Of course, that won't work for faked IPs or behind firewalls.

    IRC can already be used as an effective decentralized network of servers (EFnet, undernet, etc.). All it needs is stronger identity checking.

    I envision a future where an email address will allow you to contact a person via phone (cell?), email, IM, IM voice, and even physical post.

    - Richie

  • impp.. se the message about it.
  • I wouldn't mind giving up the terrible security that ICQ has :(

    The number of people I know who've had their ICQ accounts 'liberated' from them, with almost no response from the ICQ 'developers'.
  • So use a chat program. They are used for chatting, are they not?
    At the risk of defending a technology I hate...
    Who wants to spend time and emails arranging to meet in a certain chat room on a certain server at a certain time, hoping against hope that the server isn't full or down or infested with alien parasites or something? It's easier to leave a little box in the corner of the screen, and when it lights up, you start typing. Think of it as the mobile phone compared to the land line that is IRC.
  • They at least need to be open to talking to external sources, plain and simple. I can understand if they don;t want a client directly talking to their server, No problem there, but there needs to be a gateway for other service to message into and out of their system.

    Jabber is an open source project working on this currently, and is actually nearing 1.0 release. It's an open source initiative to create an expandable IM system, with no primary control, as it's DNS based, simular to email..
  • What's needed is a way for IM systems to 'interoperate' with other IM systems. It's understable if AOL doesn;t want AT&T users using it's servers. But their server should be able to talk to OTHER servers. Once we have that level, they can do whatever they want with their system, just allow basic messaging capability to and from other systems..

    Jabber attempts to address this by creating a non centralized IM system, that can be extended to ones hearts content.. Check it out at
  • ( is working on just such a thing. We're one of the *ONLY* IM systems out there that already has plugin support for ANY IM system, including the IMPP standard once it's released..

    And the best part is, it's non centralized, and Open Source.
  • Eventually means a few monmths more.. ;-P 1.0 Very soon, with luck..
  • They are still working on incorperation of IRC and Jabber, which is an Open Source instant messaging system which can support nearly ANY other IM system out there..
  • You're talking about Jabber ( It's an Open Source IM system that is NON-DISTRIBUTED, and allows anyone to setup a server to talk to any other servers, simply by addressing the DNS of the target host, just like email.

    It's also build on a modular system, so 'gateways' can be created into IRC, AIM, ICQ, MSIM, Yahoo, etc..

    Check it out.
  • I envision a future where an email address will allow you to contact a person via phone (cell?), email, IM, IM voice, and even physical post

    Well, I may get a redundant for saying this several times now, but this is *EXACTLY* what the Jabber project,, is working on. Central user ID's, with 'resources' that can be your Cell phone, you're IM client, your email box, etc..

    And the server architecture is non centralized, which leads to an open system where anyone can setup a server that can automatically talk to anyone elses, and even, if the administrator allows, use gateways of other systems, such as AIM, ICQ, MSIM, Yahoo, and yes, even good old IRC..

    Check it out..
  • Standards CAN be bad, but a good system isn't necesarily based on a standard. It's based on a modular system that can adapt to different standards.

    Jabber does something simular to this,
  • Actually, a nit-picky point of clarification... Instant Messenger was created by MCIWorldCom (not sure if it was pre-merger or not) and is exclusively licensed to AOL.

    I think this would be a great surprise to all the AIM developers down the hall from me. AIM was conceived, designed and developed at AOL.
  • That works for the IM part, but I suspect there is a scaling problem when you have a few million simultaneous users, and every server has to send login/logout data to every other server for buddy lists. That gets into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of messages per second per server pair. That's tough with the latencies on a worldwide network.

    Er, It wouldn't work that way. Ever server doesn't send login messages to every other server. The only server a given user logs into is his own. At this point, his home server sends an announcement that he is online only to the servers that have subscribed to his/her/its presence. Servers are decentralized in that they do not know of eachothers existence untill they attempt to send a message to it.

    As far as I can tell from the FAQ, Jabber doesn't really decentralize the back end. It seems to be a "middleware" server that sits between the Jabber client and all the proprietary back-end servers. To your client, it must seem to be the server, and to the real IM servers, it appears to be just another client. I'm not sure how it gets all the buddy data from the servers, but it's possible that at high volumes it runs into the same problem.

    Nope. Jabber is an IM system in and of itself, serving as the entire backend for Jabber users. It supports another tier when using gateways to other which point it is serving as a middle tier, but only for the gateways, and these are run as a seperate service entirely. This is made possible by it's modular nature, and transports can serve whatever purpose they need, be it a gateway to an external system, a news ticker, a chat server, or a news ticker.

  • It isn't a standards problem. AOL published the protocol, which is why open-source groups, Yahoo, and Microsoft were able to write AIM-compatible applications in the first place.

    There is a difference between protocol standardization and free access. Just because Telnet is a standard does not give you the right to log into any Telnet-speaking computer and use it however you like -- you must conform to the administrative policies of the computer's owner.

    Similarly, being able to speak the AIM protocol does not give you the right to log on to AOL's server network and use it without conforming to the administrative policies of the server owner. The server owner is AOL, and its policy is you cannot use the MS client on its network.

    Microsoft wants people using its client and AIM to be able to talk to each other? Then Microsoft can set up a network of AIM-compatible computers and publish the address. AIM, after all, allows you to specify the address of the server you wish to log into.

    This has plenty of precedent. The Realtime Blackhole List is a prime example of standards-compliant messages being blocked from servers because the servers' owners do not want to accept the messgaes. Password-restricted FTP is another. Just because something is connected to the Internet does not mean you have the right to access it.
  • Talk is very nice, but doesn't do quite what instant messaging does. Talkd runs on a machine and allows logged in users to receive 'instant' messages in text. By contrast, an instant messaging service is a server 'out there' that you contact, by means of which you 'advertise' your presence. The difference is important, because in this day and age, most people connect their machine to the 'net directly, they don't log into a mainframe. Not to mention that anonymity is possible in a proper implementation of an instant-message server but not so much in a traditional talkd. This is not to say that a talk-compatible server would be a bad thing. ;) Just modify the talk-daemon so that instead of using 'logged in users' it uses 'connected users' and instead of writing to terminals it writes to sockets...
    Of course, this doesn't allow for file-exchange possibilities. It might be better to run an 'instant communication' service that essentially ip-forwards talk, ftp, and speak-freely protocols along with its own management-information connection.

    Or, the short version: instant messaging does more than talk, but it sure would be nice if they'd build on what we already have. ;)

  • The structure that AT&T is trying to setup, of allowing connections to other servers, is very much like the free, open alternative that the Jabber [] team is creating. Although we are not creating a client only solution. We have a server based around a XML stream protocol that allows pluggable transports for different protocols, with clients for almost every platform. This allows for an extremely extensible system. Currently we have betas for AIM (libfaim has not been blocked throughout this entire ordeal of blocked clients), ICQ, and MSN is in the works. I have just completed a group chat (similar to ICQ) module as well.

    Although the side of having an IM client that can connect to a lot of others is appealing, Jabber [] is much much more. We have plans to jabberify many programs (CVS, Abiword, Bugzilla, and more). By doing so the power of these programs increases in many orders of magnitude. Just imagine multiple working on a document in Abiword at the exact same time, or CVS automagically pushing you updates, or Bugzilla yelling at you when you get a new urgent bug? It all sounds really appealing to me.

    Being free and open source, Jabber [] has the potential to be so much to the internet, and help settle some of these annoying arguments that a lot of the corporate players are having. Come visit us on IRC in #jabber on openprojects network or just visit the web site [].
  • AOL has control of two major "standards" today. AIM (I still don't know why you'd use it), and ICQ. AOL, wanting its own monopoly, has gone and tweaked both protocols all they could. However, the ICQ protocol is still open because of the older v3 and v4 connection clients. However, I've noticed recently that Licq and ICQ 98 (which don't have the latest weird byte-swapping techniques that ICQ 99b uses) seem to have trouble connecting to the network.

    Would it be so hard to take the most flexible protocl (ICQ v5), change it around a bit (ie: make it easier to impliment), and produce that as a standard? I'd certainly like to see that RFC. Then we can be free to choose our own clients, ala choice for browsers (well, none for MS users, see "Millenium" installing MSN Messenger by default).

    Anyone willing to write an RFC about this?
  • You would also need to have some way for all the independant servers to communicate who is online/offline.

    It's really not a big deal. The username could be like an e-mail address. For instance, my IM address could be Now you would have my ID on your IM client list. When you went on, it would grab the IP for, and then query the server for my status. It would then repeat this for each user on your list. In this way, each ISP could have their own IM server, and/or users could get accounts from 3rd party services, like they do for e-mail now. To make it even better, companies could require a certain client to use their service, just like e-mail. That way, if you used an ISP's server, you could choose any client you want, since you'd be paying for the service. But AOL could still offer it to anyone for free, but you'd have to use their client. (Like Juno does with e-mail.)

  • ICQ does not have 'lag' as you put it, because messages are sent via peer to peer TCP connections. Same as DCC chat on irc.

    ...which is all well and good if you can actually connect to the ICQ server. Before I gave up in disgust a year or so ago, I found that a daunting task in and of itself.

    As far as spoofing messages.. do you even _use_ irc? its called /nick . ever have nick wars on irc? channel wars? people stealing channels via server splits

    How often do *you* use IRC? As far as I know, EFnet is the only network that *doesn't* let you register channels. I haven't seen a channel takeover in about 4 years now. Every network but EFnet and Undernet also let you register nicknames. That gets "message spoofing" out of the way, and even the dimmest of people would recognize that a person might not be who they say they are and use "/whois" to make sure.

    AFAIK no IRC server in existance can support more than about 1500 clients

    Most servers on major networks *routinely* handle over 1000 clients, and there are dozens that handle thousands.

    *** Connecting to port 6667 of server
    *** There are 4842 users and 47781 invisible on 37 servers
    *** 163 : operator(s) online
    *** 21825 : channels formed
    *** I have 10340 clients and 1 servers
    *** Highest connection count: 12849 (12848 clients)

    Yes, that's twelve thousand clients.

    I want to talk to people, I don't want 14 year old script kiddies portscanning my IP, ping flooding me, etc.

    You'd rather they spoofed UINs, changed your ICQ passwords, hacked peoples' Personal Webservers, etc.


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • What I meant, was, when I hook up to the net,
    I'm assigned a dynamic IP by my provider.
    As far as the internet is concerned, I have
    no hostname, only an IP address.
    We'd need a proxy-daemon on
    so people could talk to
    instead of parity@012.345.678.901


Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.