ralphm's blog

Friday, 27 February 2004

I've been graded

Finishing my Masters'

Today I did my final presentation for finishing my Master's. It went well and I received the grade 7 (out of 10), which I am happy with.

And now: party!

Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Thesis done!


Well, I've pulled it off. As I wrote last saturday, I had to finish my thesis by yesterday morning, which I did. The only things I have to do now is give a presentation on friday, receive a grade and celebrate. If you'd like to attend the presentation, let me know.

Next monday, I'll start my working career at the same university, but in another department as scientific programmer, as I wrote on New Year's eve. Wohoo!

Saturday, 21 February 2004

FOSDEM 2004, day 1

Without me...

Last week, I had to move up my pace in finishing my Master's thesis. I've received comments on an earlier draft from both of my supervisors, and to finish my Master's this month, I have to process these comments and deliver my final version by monday morning. So I am doing that right now. Unfortunately, this means I couldn't join my friends to go to FOSDEM and run the JSF stand.

However, my friends went without me, bringing the JSF table cloth I've had made, and covering for me by running the stand and answering everyone's questions. Thanks online onlineIntosi, offline offlinechrist and offline offlinejorisb. Also, DJ was taking pictures with his phone, and this is one of Intosi behind the JSF stand in action:

The setup of the FOSDEM Jabber server is still a modest success. Occasionally people visit the hallway chatroom, but wireless access is flakey and also wired connectivity is not without problems. Hopefully it is better tomorrow, because I would love to see some live reporting.

Fortunately some people blog about what they've seen throughout the day, like an apparently interesting keynote by Tim O'Reilly, as seen through DJ's eyes.

Wednesday, 18 February 2004


Subscribing to the world

Today I stumbled on PubSub.com, a system that lets you filter over one million weblogs and information streams to find the content you're looking for, in real time. It's like searching the future.

If I understand correctly, they idea is that you can define search parameters to filter out aggregated news items that you might be interested in, presented as a personalised RSS feed. The difference with other weblog news services being that they search in newly aggregated items, instead of some history of past news items. Also, it is supposed to be usable with any kind structured data.

But where does the PubSub from their name come in, then? Well, apparantly, this service is only live for a few weeks now, and they have just added an experimental RESTian interface to notify you of new messages. They call your webserver with a HTML POST request containing the result of a match to your search query.

Bob Wyman weighs in on why PubSub.com is different from *, but I think it doesn't go far enough. As I see it, they like to be a hub for all this data, and I don't know if a centralized service is the way to go here. Like I said earlier I envision a distributed system with news authors publishing news (or any other data) themselves, to which people can subscribe, and having this data spread through hierarchies of pubsub repeaters.

Having such a distributed system gives power to both the publisher as to the subscriber. For example, the publisher needn't be concerned with having their items move slower than others because of commercial interests of the centralized service, and the subscriber can sure that he only receives data he has asked for (no extra stuff added for your convenience).

Still, I'm curious where PubSub.com will go next. It looks like a cool service with potential. I'm holding out for the support of Jabber PubSub.

Monday, 9 February 2004

XMPP IM moves to Proposed Standard

Completing the Dynamic Duo™

Today, the IESG announced approved XMPP IM Internet Draft as IETF Proposed Standard. This follows the recent approval of XMPP Core. Together the two documents form the basis of Jabber, and this approval is a major milestone for the Jabber community, but also for the general IM world. XMPP is the first IETF approved standard for Instant Messaging.

So what is the difference between these two documents? Well, Jabber is much more than IM. It is a generic XML routing platform. The XMPP working group has tried to capture this thought by separating the basis of Jabber in two parts.

XMPP Core defines how to communicate snippets of information using a pair of streaming XML documents. It defines how to do secure communication using TLS and SASL, describes the three basis containers of information (<message>, <iq> and <presence>), and how to extend XMPP Core to carry any kind of data, to support a wide range of applications.

XMPP IM on the other hand, defines basic Instant Messaging and Presence functionality based on XMPP Core. It gives more semantics to the different containers and describes interactions with a server to keep a roster of contacts, and selectively block communications to or from another entity.

On top of these two documents, more enhanced protocols can be build. The Jabber Software Foundation has a system for such enhancements called Jabber Enhancement Proposals, and examples of these are JEP-0045: Multi-User Chat and JEP-0060: Publish/Subscribe.

Again, I want to congratulate anyone involved with getting these documents where they are now! The wait is for the RFC numbers to match.

Jabber rocks, approvedly!

Jabber @ FOSDEM

Educating from within

FOSDEM, the Free and Open Software Developers Europe Meeting, is an annual conference in Brussels. It is really a gathering of people interested in the development of free and open software, with very good talks, and a nice informal atmosphere. This year, the conference takes place on 21 and 22 february.

I've been to the last two editions, and really enjoyed it, but only as a visitor. So, this year I am taking a different approach. I took up the task of promoting Jabber at this year's edition through various means.

Jabber server

First of all, on the 2003 edition, I talked to raphinou, the leading man of the FOSDEM team, to do something with Jabber on this years edition. He agreed that this would be nice. The result so far is the FOSDEM Jabber server: jabber.fosdem.org.

Everyone registered on the FOSDEM website automatically has a Jabber account. With this, or any other Jabber account from elsewhere, you can access the group chat rooms and meet other FOSDEM participants. There is general chat at hallway@conference.jabber.fosdem.org for both before and during the event, and all conversations in the chatrooms are logged for later reference.

Besides the chat room logs, the website has a Getting Started page with a list of Jabber clients, and some contact information. The pages are written in DocBook website and are processed using XSLT into XHTML.

Live reporting

During the two days of the conference, there will be a number of chat rooms, corresponding to the physical rooms where the talks will be held. Using the WiFi access points, this enables people in the same talk to exchange ideas about the talk at hand. Also, it would be great to get live reports from the talks in the chat room, so people that are in another talk, or not even at FOSDEM, can still attend the talk at least virtually.

Other goodies

Time permitting, I will be extending the services with stuff I've been working on the last couple of years. I want to make a local version of the Jabber World Map, so people can publish their location and find others on the conference grounds. Also, I want to make it easy for the FOSDEM team to do announcements using a variant of Mimír.

Furthermore, dj, who did a Jabber talk two years ago at FOSDEM and is attending again this year, suggested to setup something like the Chump. Originally, this is an IRC bot that allows the occupants of a chat room to maintain a simple blog by interacting with the bot. Looking at it, it looks really interesting, and I've contacted Edd Dumbill about the existence of a Jabber variant. It seems the Chump team is working on a version of Chump rewritten in the Twisted Framework. Using the Twisted Jabber stuff from offline offlinedizzyd, it should be easy to make a Jabber Chump bot.

JSF Stand

Besides the FOSDEM Jabber server and its facilities, I'm also busy setting up a Jabber Software Foundation stand on FOSDEM. With a fancy table skirt featuring the JSF logo, and some informational handouts, I hope to draw the attention of even more developers. Seeing the recent approvement by the IETF for XMPP Core, Jabber will get more attention in the market place, and where better to start educating than the people having to build stuff with Jabber.

I am particularly interested in the integration of Jabber into the desktop. For example micke is working on connecting GNOME's DBUS to Jabber. I will definately be talking to micke on FOSDEM. I owe him a beer, too.

Finally, Ulrich will be giving a lightning talk on merging media streaming and Jabber in the Jabber on Helix project.