Monthly Archives: March, 2005

AOL To Modify AIM Terms of Service

John and I haven’t been the only ones concerned about AIM’s new Terms of Service. Apparently, enough people have been upset that they’re going to change them.

Thanks to Dave Hill for the link

More on AIM & iChat

Follow-on from yesterday’s post

This topic has been ranted about on Slashdot, discussed rather more intelligently on MacSlash and brought up on several other blogs. The key points seem to me to be:

  • It is possible to establish direct peer-to-peer connections between AIM clients for chatting. iChat attempts to do this whenever you send a file, picture etc. It remains in direct-connection mode afterwards. You can also ask it to establish a direct connection using the ‘Buddies’ menu. After establishing such a connection, AOL would be unable to snoop on the data, though, legally, they probably still have right to it if you send it using an AOL product. iChat, Adium, etc are not AOL’s, though the initial connection would have been established using their services. Mmm…
  • If you hang on for a couple more months, the version of iChat that comes with Tiger will have some new features. It supports the Jabber protocol, making it easy for you to set up your own server for sensitive communications, and the new Mac OS X Server edition includes such a server.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from downloading and using Skype, MSN messenger or a Jabber client now. It’s just that, if you’re like me, far fewer of your friends can be found on those systems, and the software is generally inferior from a user-interface point of view.

Time to abandon AIM and iChat?

I’ve just read in John’s blog the rather worrying news that AOL have changed the Terms of Service for their instant messaging service, in a way which basically gives them carte blanche to do what they like with any content sent over AIM (and hence over iChat, which uses the same service).
The terms of service can be found here and does contain the rather blunt phrasing about content you post:

AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.

This will stop a lot of people from using AIM, including me, which is a real pain. The logical alternative is Skype, and while it has better audio facilities than iChat, it’s markedly inferior for chatting. I really miss iChat when I use anything else.

This can’t be allowed to slip by unnoticed. If it gets enough publicity, AOL may be persuaded to change their minds. Tell your friends – bring it up with Apple, etc and see what we can do. Until then, I don’t think I can continue to exchange draft documents with my colleagues using iChat… or at least, I’ll have to be very careful that I’ve got a direct connection rather than one going via AOL’s servers.

See follow-up

Chalk Mug

Do you use water softeners or a filter jug to take all the calcium out of your drinking water? Here’s how to put it back again!

This comes from the “let’s put two random things together in one new product” school of invention, but I think it’s rather fun.

Nokia 6680

The upcoming Nokia 6680. What? Your phone only has one camera in it? Oh, my dear, that’s so passé!

Why There’s No Escaping the Blog

FORTUNE’s take on blogging.

E-mail is for old people, says Irving; kids prefer to communicate by phone and IM, and, now, by keeping blogs.

Recommending WordPress

It’s nearly three months now since I moved Status-Q from Radio to WordPress and I have no regrets at all. One of the nicest things about WordPress is that, since it’s entirely web-based, I don’t need to run any separate software if I want to make a quick post. I always have a browser running, and everything I need is on my bookmark bar:

Installing it on your web server is pretty simple, if you’re a bit of a geek and not phased by things like MySQL databases. If not, a Google search will turn up a large number of sites offering WordPress hosting.

Since I moved, the frequency of my posts has definitely gone up, and since I helped John make the change, so has his.

In my case, as the quantity has gone up, the quality may have gone down, but that’s because I’m spending all my time writing patents at the moment and it has a numbing effect on the brain.

The battle for your photos

Picasa 2
looks as if it may be competing with Flickr to be the e-shoebox of choice….

The Comedy of the Commons

There’s a great talk by Larry Lessig over at IT Conversations. If you can afford a full hour and a half (and I recommend it), it’s also well worth listening to the questions & answers at the end. As I’ve mentioned before, IT Conversations is a site worth pointing your iPodder at, and especially since they have AAC versions available – a big advantage for this kind of audio.

One thing Larry talks about is the end-to-end nature of the internet, what that has enabled, and how service-providers are trying to subvert it. I was reminded of this when reading this post about how the FCC have stopped one North Carolina broadband provider from blocking VoIP ports.

Those who forget…

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

So said the American philosopher George Santayana about 100 years ago. But hang on – did he? Actually, this is one of those oft-misquoted sayings – a Google search will turn up several versions, in particular using “…are doomed to repeat it”.

In The Life of Reason (1905-1906), the actual quote is:

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

which is an interesting but subtle difference; the ‘forget’ version implies a careless abandon whereas ‘not to remember’ implies, perhaps, an unfortunate mistake. Of course, he may not have intended any such distinction and he may also have used several versions himself, but it does prompt me to write my own little homage to Santayana:

Those who forget the quote are condemned to reword it!

Against My Better Judgement…

The dangers of buying a PC from WalMart

Mac hints for the day

Navigating the file system.

You may know that the icon in the title bar of a document or Finder window represents the file or folder itself. You can drag a document straight to the trash by dragging this icon, for example, or drop it on another app in your dock.
Dragging from the title bar

What I hadn’t realised was that another trick I’ve used in the Finder also works in document windows. Cmd-Click on the icon, and it shows you its position in the folder hierarchy.

You can select one of those folders and it will open in the finder for you. This is really handy if you’re working in a document and want a quick way to jump to something in the same directory.

A thing I sometimes miss when I’m working in the Finder is the ability quickly to create a new file of a particular type. In Windows you right-click and select “New>Word document” or similar. I don’t know why the Mac doesn’t do this, but one way to add it is using this handy Applescript in the Finder toolbar. (It was written by someone whose name I can’t find but who goes under the pseudonym of PCheese.)

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser