Posts

Happy 4th Birthday!

I’m just scraping in with about an hour to spare here – I planned a much bigger post, with lots of reflection about where we’ve been and where we’re going. A summary of some notable events maybe … but today turned out to be really busy and lots of work happened instead. Anyway, today marks four years of Chinwag’s XMPP service being up, and next month we’re coming up on two years of our Mastodon instance being live.

Three Years of Chinwag!

This is just a really quick post because it’d suck to not post this on May 13, and there’s only three hours of that left where I’m sitting. Happy Birthday, Chinwag! It’s been three whole years since the final part of the “How to set up a public XMPP server” series of articles that Chinwag was the example for was published, and it went live. We gained a few users quite rapidly, and kept updating and adding features to stay on top of developing standards and keeping the best chat clients as well supported as possible.

Chinwag in 2018

Happy New Year, for a start! Hope you’re having a good one so far! In a couple of months, it’ll be three years since Chinwag went live. It started out as a tutorial on how to set up your own XMPP server, and I nearly shut it down at the end of writing that. Instead, I left it running and it started attracting users almost immediately. I got a lot of positive feedback as I don’t do things that lead to a lot of downtime, even if I do occasionally reboot things to enable a feature that really should go through some kind of testing first …

Getting Strict

When Chinwag first went live, we made the decision to be as current with our use of standard XMPP features as possible. We still do this. Your experience when using a Chinwag account for communication should give you the best experience possible with whatever client software you chose. However, we also recognised that not the whole federated network of servers out there in the world was totally up to date in the same way and there’s not a lot we could do about that.

Current Chinwag Services

A few updates, and some new features have been added to the Chinwag stable. We’re always looking for new ways to communicate with people, and we’ll deploy anything that looks promising in that regard to have a bit of a play around with. As of now we’ve got the following services freely available to anyone to use. Chinwag Messaging: our instant messaging service is the primary reason we’re here and isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.

ChinWag Will Obey the Laws of Mathematics

Despite our Prime Minister’s recent comments that “the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia” and that they believe that it’s apparently possible override the mathematical principles behind encryption with legislation, we at ChinWag would like to assure our users that we will continue to be bound by reality. ChinWag exists to provide free and open communication tools for Australians, hosted and maintained in Australia. As such we may at some point be subject to theoretical future legislation that compels us to provide access to any messages that transit through our servers.

Mastodon Deployed

About two months ago, there was a big buzz that built up around Mastodon, a decentralised social network. I was really busy with the Melbourne Comedy Festival at the time, and didn’t get to take a look. I’ve had a look now, and taken advantage of the recent ChinWag server upgrade and extra resources to deploy an instance of it. You can sign up and start using it here: https://social.

Inactive Account Purges

ChinWag is coming up on two years old now, so there are a few “I’ll worry about that later” jobs that I now need to start worrying about. Inactive account handling is one that’ll need to be settled soon. I originally thought about never expiring accounts, simply on the basis that it avoids potential impersonation issues whereby someone re-registering an expired ID can potentially receive messages not intended for them. I’m coming around to believing that that’s a pretty marginal and unlikely case and as long as all server-side data for deleted accounts is cleared on deletion we’ll be OK allowing reuse of usernames.

Swift IM Beta

A great little chat client, Swift, has a new beta of its upcoming 4.0 release available and I’d encourage all ChinWag users to check it out if you’re looking for a reliable and uncomplicated desktop chat client. Version 4 adds support for message carbons, making it easy to switch between multiple desktop or mobile chats and just picking up where you left off. Swift does not, unfortunately, have support for OTR or OMEMO encryption at this time, which I’d really love to see in the future.