MSN “Kahuna” Beta doesn’t work with Firefox

According to CNet:

Downside: Getting used to the new layout may be hard for die-hard fans of Hotmail. Kahuna works with Internet Explorer 5.5 and up, but not with Firefox….

I’m a bit concerned about that, and wonder what Microsoft’s plans are regarding Firefox and other non-IE browsers. Will they be stuck with the old interface and begged to upgrade? Will future beta’s of the new layout be fixed so they work with other browsers? It’s clearly possible as Google has done it.

If anyone at Microsoft wants to clarify the plans for other browsers, I’d of course welcome that dialog.

Katrina Relief Online

I’ve been compiling a little list of some ways you can help online. There is a lot going on, so if you find one I haven’t mentioned, leave a comment so I can add it.

  • Flickr Auction – the popular photo sharing site is holding an auction for prints of some donated photo’s. There’s quite a few reflecting some very talented people. If you’ve got some space for a photo and want to help out, this is a great way.
  • eBay is using PayPals to collect money for United Way.
  • Amazon is collecting through it’s “Honor System” making it easy to donate to the Red Cross through your Amazon.com account. Google is pointing to this.
  • Yahoo is also collecting for the Red Cross through it’s website.
  • MSN (Microsoft) is collecting money for the Red Cross.
  • Apple made it easy to donate through it’s iTunes service (link opens in iTunes).
  • Comcast notes a dozen charities which you can donate to (some accept online, some don’t).
  • WritersCafe.net has been pushed rather extensively by Fark.com
  • Major League Baseball (MLB) will be holding collections on September 7th (or a day of a teams choosing for teams away on that day).
  • AOL is linking to a bunch of charities through NetworkForGood.com.

Feel free to add.

Switching to Gaim

I’m not exactly a big Instant Messaging fan, but it seems life forces you to use it these days. The majority of use on AIM, some MSN, Yahoo, and sometimes my favorite Skype. All those clients are clutter. So I don’t use Yahoo much, and keep that one closed. I’ve complained several times about how AOL dropped the ball with AIM. It’s client is about as bloated as Real Player. It’s gotten progressively worse after each release, to get a new feature, or security fix, you need to sacrifice more of your computer. I personally don’t like that concept.

I’m now using Gaim full time, and it seems to work rather well for me, minus a few caveats. Anyone who can help me would be requested to leave a comment:

  • Gaim won’t load with cygwin in the PATH, crashing with no clear error. No clue how to fix this without killing cygwin yet.
  • I could really use a S/MIME encryption plugin so that I’m compatible with those using the official AIM client with security enabled (they use SSL and S/MIME I believe). Anyone know of such a plugin?
  • Way to enforce a minimum font size (windows users tend to use rather small font sizes for things like AIM profiles, I’d love to simply +1 a few off the smaller ones).
  • Not that I use it often, but AIM has somewhat unstable file transfer. Some improvements in that area would be welcome.

Overall, I’m rather satisfied. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than AIM is at the moment. Perhaps Triton will shape up at some point. Until then I think Gaim is the best solution.

Note: Yes, I’ve tried Trillian. It’s a good product, but not good enough to pay for. Sorry Trillian fans. It’s rather ugly (haven’t seen a skin yet that doesn’t fix that), it’s UI is just strange, and it’s just not featured enough for the money. Adium is bliss on my Mac.

No more Spam!

Google, MSN, and Yahoo… plus a ton of blog developers sat down and came up with a fix. And there talking about rapid rollout on this one. Google Blog has the details.

Basically you need to have your blogging product of choice ad

<a href="URL" rel="nofollow">LINK</a>

to any link a visitor can add themselves (trackback, comments, etc). That will tell the search engines not to boost their rank based upon the linking. As a result spamming weblogs will serve no purpose. There will no longer be a page rank increase.

I’ve already hacked WordPress to cover part of this. It won’t do within comment fields, but will do so when you enter a website into the URL field when filing a comment.

Sorry spammers, the world decided: GO AWAY. We don’t like you, never have, never will. Your a bunch of “businesses” with unethical business plans (I have business in quotes since most aren’t even businesses, they are just people trying to scam someone out of some cash).

Thanks to:

Google, Yahoo, MSN, LiveJournal, Scripting News, Six Apart (MovableType), Blogger, WordPress, Flickr, Buzznet, blojsom, Blosxom .

It’s good to see widespread coordination.

Now what about email spam? When will they come up with a DomainKeys, SPF, solution.

It’s time for an international standard on Instant Messaging

Well, actually it’s well past time. Instant Messaging has all the earmarks to be the communications of the future, and it royally stinks.

Problems today:

  • Networks don’t communicate together, hence locking users in (MSN, AIM, Yahoo!)
  • Phones don’t Text Message (same as IM essentially) across networks. Barely from net to phone.
  • Each has proprietary ‘extras’ (file transfer method, voice chat, web cam, pictures, etc). Far from standardized.

I think it’s time for the IETF to write up an official recommendation for Instant Messaging.

Here’s my wish list:

  • UTF8 encoding for all messages
  • XML messages. Adds capabilities to easily integrate with other systems (since XML is the way of the future). Stylesheets define how it appears.
  • MathML support – for those wanting to get geeky.
  • SVG Graphics – why not? Slim, clean, XML. This could be used for multiple things: Emoticons 🙂 for example could be sent via SVG. Things like whiteboard (which allow you to draw and have the other party see what you draw) could be done in SVG.
  • Of course, an open standard, like Email. Cross platform, many clients, no licensing restrictions. So everyone can enjoy it.

With this, there’s a lot of flexibility. Using XML as a message format, rather than HTML, allows for a stylesheet to render it pretty. A person with a vision impairment could have a product read the XML directly. You could honor a stylesheet provided by the person you are talking too, download them online, or create your own. Big text? Small text? Color contrast? All in your control. And with SVG emoticons, they can resize appropriately without losing quality. Phones can resize as necessary thanks to custom stylesheets.

It’s a real shame it hasn’t happened yet. There’s no great IM clients. The protocols all have their limitations (AOL stinks behind firewalls, Yahoo’s got minimal users, MSN is spam ridden). All the current systems stink. Their clients are even worse. AOL’s adware, MSN’s buggy client (and terrible Mac client), Yahoo’s terribly slow development.

Look at all the IRC clients available. So many, each with their own features, toys, ehancements. All working together.

Yes, I do hate IM’s as of today. But imagine what could be done? It could be as universal as email. Secure, fast, flexible framework. But instead, we’ve got garbage to date.

The time for standards in IM is now. It’s only going to get more proprietary from here on out. And lock users into their networks.

Oh… spam prevention built into the protocol would be nice. Lets avoid another Email like spam attack.

Just my $0.02