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Odd Lots

  • Does anybody here use true peer-to-peer chat? I don’t use chat much, and when I do it’s with a very small number of people, typically one-to-one. By peer-to-peer I mean via direct connect from one IP to another, without intermediation at the server level, as with things like Trillian, Skype, Jabber, etc. I know that WASTE does this, though I’ve never tried it. What else might work? I don’t want to mount a new server if I can avoid it.
  • New research suggests that low-salt diets increase insulin resistance–and thus propel otherwise healthy people toward diabetes. (Via Fat Head.)
  • More on Amazon’s rumored Android tablet. Print Replica (as I discussed in yesterday’s entry) has almost nothing to do with it.
  • Note well: Sony’s new tablet is not really sideload-able, since the device cannot render content directly from an inserted SD card. You have to copy all material from the card to internal storage. Also, the weird cross-section makes it almost inescapably a landscape machine. No thanks.
  • Interesting short piece on the other Delphi–as in, Oracle of.
  • For those who asked: The 400W power supply I just bought for my Core 2 Quad is the Antec Neo Eco 400C. So far…love it!
  • Having sold out all the TouchPads there were at fire-sale prices, HP now intends to…make some more. Something flaky here: Lose a little money on each sale, and make it up in volume? Doesn’t add up…unless it was a slick and risky attempt to build a demand base.
  • Didn’t know this before: Setting a .jpg to quality setting 7 in Photoshop degrades the image’s quality. Stay at 6–or bump to 8.
  • How about Han Solo Carbonite Slab ice cubes? Brilliant gimmick, though I wonder (given that the product is marked as “unavailable”) if they’re really out of stock or just didn’t close the deal with Lucasfilm.


  1. Nothing common enough that I’ve heard of it. The problem (obviously) is how the chat client is supposed to know your IP address. IMHO, if you really object to having someone else’s server involved, the solution is to run your own Jabber server, probably on the fine unix machine that hosts this site for you. Jabber is widely used (google chat uses Jabber, among others) so your fellow chat-ees will have copies.


  2. Mike Bentley says:

    YIM (Yahoo instant Messenger) supports “server brokering” and routes messages directly between clients if it works; if it doesn’t then the fallback method is to route messages through the server (“server proxying”). They do this to ease the load on the server farm. They apparently can’t do server brokering all the time because direct messaging between clients is more prone to be tangled up by firewalls. I don’t know why that would be yet.

    File transfers are typically handled by server brokering.

  3. Erbo says:

    One of the reasons for server mediation between clients is the problem of NATs. I could set up a program on Protea that would listen for your network connection right now, but you’d never be able to connect to it, because Protea is separated from the Internet by our ASUS wireless router/firewall/NAT system. There’s ways around that (like UPnP, which is what the Xbox uses for setting up multiplayer game communications), but it’s definitely something to overcome.

    Then, too, a central server offers a directory that allows you to find people more easily. We don’t have a DNS entry pointing to our external IP address, and I don’t even know what it is at the moment (though I could find out, in a couple different ways). And, since I get that address via DHCP, it could change without warning next time I restart the router. Not to mention that having the indirection of the central server allows you to find me in the same “place” whether I’m at home, using Comcast’s IP address, at work, using IQNavigator’s, or on the road, using AT&T’s or Verizon’s.

    I would have to agree with Jim; running your own Jabber server would probably be the way to go, if you really wanted to be self-sufficient. And that would allow you to communicate directly with people on other XMPP servers (like Google’s Gtalk server), thanks to server-to-server communication. In effect, that’s like the “peer-to-peer” connection you want, except the “peers” are whole servers. (Disclaimer: I have a natural bias towards Jabber/XMPP, because I used to work for Jabber Inc. in the Elder Days, long before it was absorbed by Cisco.)

  4. Larry N says:

    Completely irrelevant old-time story on the subject of peer to peer chat:

    Thirty years ago I was helping a client find a way to connect to his office system to home over 300 baud (MITS-Altair, 8080 S-100, 2Mhz, 64k, 4 users!). We only had a single phone line to work on and needed to talk about some settings, but didn’t want to break the modem connection.

    Somehow, I got what in retrospect was my first chat going, teletype style between home and office. It was a three line BASIC code loop.

    At the time, my biggest wonder had nothing to do with the technical achievement. It the change on communications style. My client was prone to ramble in person. In the chat he became focused and clear headed. It was the only way I ever wanted to communicate with him again.

  5. Chuck Waggoner says:

    WASTE was over my head, but my (then) high school daughter got it working on both our computers. We used it only to see what music the other had while she was away at school, as AOL’s AIM was still the chat method of choice back then. Not sure why everyone has abandoned AIM; I just realized I have not even had it running for months, and upon firing it up–it was as dead as 10 meters was for you the other day.

    I guess Facebook has delivered the ability for everybody to be a star, and broadcast to the world whatever they once did person-to-person on AIM.

    As to Facebook, Stan Marsh and I share the same feelings:

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