The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Idea: Poor man’s conference

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The Yahoo! Messenger protocol has “conferences” / “group chats” / “synchronous realtime multiuser text transfer” / “multiplayer notepad” / whatever you call it. Google Talk doesn’t (yet?). This is one of the things that (some) people sorely miss in Google Talk. So people who primarily use their Google accounts for IM are forced to use alternative protocols, such as YMSG or Skype, if they want to group chat…

In a “sudden flash of inspiration”, I realised how easy it would be to create a bot that would make it work even on one-to-one-only services like Google Talk. It could work like this:

  • Suppose Alice Bob Carol and Dave want to have a conference.
  • They each have the bot (“Trent”, say) on their buddy list (“contacts”).
  • The bot is given the list of the four users
  • Each person sends his/her messages to the bot (buddy Trent).
  • The bot sends all messages from user X to all other users, prefixing X: to the messages.

Would work well, AFAICS.

Note that the way the above is constructed, all that the above bot is good for is for exactly Alice Bob Carol Dave to chat… (of course, we could reset this and give the bot new instructions). Having one account for every conference doesn’t seem a feasible idea :-)
Actually, it could easily support multiple conferences as long as they have disjoint sets of members — it would forward the messages of user X only to other users in the conference X is in.
We can also get around the disjointness restriction by making users who are in multiple conferences somehow specify which one they want the current message sent to, in each message…

Another annoyance is what names are displayed… what name the bot shows you a message as coming from might well be different from the alias you have for that person :)

There could be insane security problems, so not considering “rolling it out”, but maybe I can code up something for three-four of my friends (and I) to use…

Update: A few seconds of searching (and the many minutes of debugging/installing!) can save a few hours (or days?) of coding. And to think I was actually trying to write a Jabber client in Python :)
Here it is: Google Talk: Conference Bot.

Sigh. All the good ideas have already been thought of.

Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before him.

said Mark Twain.

Am having some problems installing it, though.

Things that needed fixing:
Update: Nvm, ignore this list below. Just remember to give not username@gmail.com, but just username, the first time it asks.
* Manually change confbot.ini so that the server is talk.google.com, not gmail.com
* Get the newer jabber.py libraries (and put them in this directory, because for some reason they won’t install)
* Try changing the port from 5223 to 5222 or something. Actually, no: get rid of the extra options in the second line
* Change debug=False to debug=[]
* In the confbot.py file from SVN, change the “13” to “4”

This page also seems to be important.

Someone has made a plugin for Google Desktop… listed here too.

Come to think of it, considering that a bot for Google has already been written, what I should write is a sort-of cross-protocol bot… use libpurple and write it in C? :-)

Written by S

Wed, 2007-04-25 at 00:42:51

Posted in compknow

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