Skip to main content

Facebook chat just got chattier

News today is that Facebook have altered their IM service to use XMPP, the Jabber standard, as used by Google Chat, Jabber (obviously) and many, many others. Some of us nerds even run our own private Jabber servers. And some of us even nerdier nerds use irssi and bitlbee to access IM. Now it's possible to use those great programs to chat to your Facebook friends as well as your IRC and IM contacts.

One problem, though, is Bitlbee's annoying trait of displaying usernames, not real names. When your contacts all have names like u364638 it can be hard to see who you're talking to. Thankfully the whois data provides a real name, but it can be a pain doing that for everyone who logs in.

Fortunately, there is a script available to fix it. Download the script (author unknown), stick it in .irssi/scripts and load it. This will detect when a new contact joins, run a whois on them and rename them to their real name. You have to keep it loaded, because it only works when people first come online and so can't see your entire buddy list.

It's not just for Facebook either. If it detects that anyone who joins &bitlbee has the name nick as the username portion of their IM login, it will perform a whois. This means that manually renamed contacts will stay renamed, but new contacts will be updated. The only problem then comes if you want your contact to have the exact same name as their login - it will do the lookup every time they join whether you like it or not. A minor niggle, though.


Popular posts from this blog

Shooting the Enterprise

I was recently asked if I could help out providing an image for a magazine article about stress management. For reasons as yet undiscovered the requested image would be of the USS Enterprise flying through a storm in space. Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time (just a couple of hours), but I did have a very nice model of the Enterprise D I could use to build the image around. Thinking fast, I rigged up a rather slapdash rig consisting of a black reflector backdrop, an umbrella and stand from which dangled the model by a thread, and a couple of strobes. One light above, diffused, to provide the key light, and another, reflected and lower power, to fill some of the very dark shadows. It ended up all looking something like this: Using a fast shutter, f/16 and cunning flash positioning I managed to keep the background black and give the model suitably textured lighting so it didn't have that flat, uniform, shadowless appearance of, well, a model. The narrow aperture obv

Fairy Lights

Street lights at night can be very pretty. For someone who lives close to the centre of a large city, skirting round the edge of the town centre can provide a host of beautiful views at night. One advantage to using a wide open lens when taking these pictures is the capture of bokeh, or creative blur. An extreme example is shown to your right; a mass of coloured circles that roughly represent the city they are part of. A more subtle example, of course, is in the picture of the day at the top of this post. The lights cluster around the top of the leaves like fireflies, obviously part of a cityscape but at the same time abstract. The extreme out of focus image is a blurred version of the picture on the left. A view over Sheffield from Pitsmoor, looking up Netherthorpe Road and up to the university. Even when the buildings are focussed (roughly; I'm still practicing) the lights take on the shape of the lens's aperture. I try to incorporate some foreground focus wh

Another canal walk

The sun has started being a little more present lately, so some mornings are actually quite pleasant. On one such morning I decided to have a wander up the canal. The clouds made everything look a bit Toy Story, and the low sun gave a lovely light and contrast to everything else. Of course, it wasn't sunny everywhere. But even in the darker places, such as right underneath Leeds railway station, the sun had a go at peeking in.