Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Geeky Friday: Complaints about gaim (and sourceforge)

I've been using gaim as my primary instant messenger program for around five years now. With one program running, I can connect to AIM, MSN, icq, Y!, IRC, and more -- and yes, I have used all of these, although I use Yahoo chat mostly for notifications of new Yahoo mail. Additionally, it logs all conversations so that I can use my desktop search tool (currently X1) to find that code example sent by a co-worker or the phone number I need to call to order something. It doesn't handle voice or video chatting, but that's ok. I use those rarely enough that I'll just launch Skype or Google Talk when I need something like that.

Gaim works well most of the time, but once every 2-3 months, one of the major IM services will tweak something and non-official clients (such as gaim) will not work. If such a tweak is persistent, the gaim team will usually push out a fix within a few days.

Just some thoughts. My complaints all revolve around communication about what's going on. I'm ranting today because I've not been able to log in to AIM for the past couple days -- with an exception late last night. Maybe AIM changed something, maybe the server I connect to is overloaded (and gaim doesn't know how to switch), maybe it's something else. I'd like to know more.

The gaim team could post something on the blog-style front page of their site. But, perhaps I'm in a small minority of gaim users who are experiencing this problem. It would be nice to communicate with other members of this small minority to discuss. There's a gaim forum on the sourceforge project page but it's slow and the user interface is severely dated. I could file a bug report, but similarly, the user interface is lousy and I have a difficult time getting a sourceforge login cookie to stick around from the time I log in to the time I get to the page to file a ticket. (I would try to tell sourceforge about this problem, but that would involve filing a bug report using the same system).

It would be relatively easy for the gaim team to address these sort of problems with freely available services. There are many options for improved forum software any one of which would be easy for the gaim team to install. But forumer offers "100% free hosting" for IPB and phpBB -- I'm not familiar with IPB, but I know that phpBB would be a significant improvement over the sourceforge forum.

For bug tracking, I've been pleased with Atlassian's JIRA. Atlassian has a nice progressive view towards open source projects -- providing their software at no cost and, in some cases, hosting or maintaining the software for the project.

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