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Thank you Steve Jobs for an inspiring life.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Resurrecting Scatterism

It’s been nearly two years since I last wrote anything public aside from my Twitter timeline. Writing this only reminds me how rusty my fingers and brain are.

What Happened

I could of course cite excuses. Lack of time, excessive driving around the streets of Dubai, clients to keep up with, decreasing interest, or extraterrestrial captivity. But I’ll choose the less common path of admitting negligence.

I’ve never wrote for fame or fortune; that’s what my daily job is for. I’ve started Scatterism back then, before blogging was hip and it’s since been my public dump of thoughts, ideas and opinions. I’ve written with moderate activity since 2003, up until April 2008, which ended with a comment on Pidgin’s support for voice chat. Not a glamourous exit I’d say.

I have neglected this blog for longer than I care for. I’ve even reached the disparate measure of taking down the front page and redirecting to my less formal, more active and trivial Tumblr blog Scatters & Confetti.

Before I get back to blogging and restart Scatterism, I’d like to share with you a few highlights of my past couple of years in Dubai:

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Ticket #34 on Pidgin’s Trac Record

There are three popular messengers that support voice calls: MSN (or Live) Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk. While MSN and Yahoo use proprietary protocols, Google relies on extending a popular messaging protocol called Jabber, which makes it all the more relevant.

Google implemented voice chat in Google Talk and packaged that implementation in a library called Jingle, which was then transformed into a proposed Jabber standard, XEP-0166. Note that Google’s libjingle is not an exact implementation of XEP-0166, it differs slightly in the way it initiates its sessions, but that’s just a minor inconvenience.

Jingle has been introduced back in 2005, and even three years later, while most messengers tried to incorporate it, most still don’t support it. That’s why I got excited when I read Ticket #34 on Pidgin’s Trac. The ticket includes a bunch of patches that link Pidgin with Farsight which already supports Google Talk and Jingle.

Now the ticket isn’t assigned to a milestone, so we won’t be seeing voice support in the next couple of Pidgin version, especially that this code is only a month old. But the ticket’s been there for a year, and somebody has decided to dedicate some time to it, and that’s always a good sign.

I’m glad that the Pidgin team decided not to re-invent the wheel, and use Farsight. Pidgin can now, without much effort, support proprietary protocols as soon as they are implemented in Farsight. Meanwhile, I can stick to Tapioca for when I absolutely need to hear a human voice.

Nanostick: A Portable Nanoweb Server

Nanoweb is a Web server written entirely in PHP. Of course it’s not the kind of server you’d use with YouTube’s traffic, but it’s great for personal use, especially that it only needs a copy of PHP to run.

I needed a portable Dokuwiki that I carry around on my USB stick. Not only carry-in-key-chain portable, but also cross-platform platform portable. Mac OS and most Linuxes come with PHP installed, so I can run my pocket wiki without fiddling with configuration files. The Windows version on the other hand, needs to include PHP and some extensions, which amount to about 5MB extra.

The details are explained in the README file which you’ll find in Nanostick’s package. Nanostick by itself only weighs 250KB; adding PHP and compressing it leaves us with 2.5MB.

Version 0.0.1 includes a copy of PHP 5.2.5 for convenience only. Any subsequent version will not have PHP included.

Let me know if you face any trouble with it, or if there’s anything I can do to improve it.

inetd for Win32

I found a hacked-up inetd.exe bundled with a “cheap” Perl HTTPD server. I couldn’t dig up its origins. This thing’s been written 12 years ago by one S. Freyder, and it kept crashing on XP and Vista

Here’s the source, and recompiled version linked against libcmt.lib instead of MSVCRT, so it will run on its own. Unfortunately it doubled in size, from 20KB to almost 57KB, I hope you don’t run into storage trouble.

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