Tag Archives: Software

Miranda IM

At my office we are required to be on an IM client for the entire work day. This is partly due to the company having multiple offices and partly due to some people working from home. In any case I did not much care for the client they had installed for me (Trillian Basic 31) and I had seen several articles around the web about other IM clients. A few weeks back I decided to take the plug and start trying out some of those other clients.

Pidgin

This was the first alternate IM client I looked at. It got bonus points for being multi-platform and open source, but was ultimately rejected as their website for it is so poor I couldn’t figure out if it supports sending/receiving files via the various IM protocols I use. To be perfectly fair, I probably should have worked with Pidgin a bit more to see if it could do what I wanted. However I also knew I couldn’t be offline too much while playing around with different clients and since they didn’t make the bits I needed obvious; I quickly moved on.

Miranda

Miranda was the second IM client I looked at and is the one I currently use. Like Pidgin, it got bonus points for being open-source2 and as an added plus, Miranda’s site was simple enough for me to navigate and find the information I needed. Unfortunately, a fresh install of Miranda is very basic and is missing a number of features I wanted/needed. However Miranda appears to have an extensive community and there are many add-ons which brought it up to snuff.

  • tabSRMM: By default, Miranda displays all new IM chats in different windows; tabSRMM lets you group those chats into a single window. I configured my copy to only group together chats from users in the same group of contacts. It makes it easier for me to keep track of who/where I’m talking to. And yes, those of my co-workers who have seen my IM client do say I’m rather anal in how detailed it is organized.
  • Updater: Automagically checks for and installs any updates to Miranda and supported plugins.
  • Modern Contact List: This plugin gives you more control over the look&feel of the contact list, including theme support.
  • GnuPG: Enables OpenPGP/GnuPG encryption support.
  • SecureIM: In theory this plugin enables Miranda to use the various encryption methods of the various IM protocols but I’ve not yet gotten it to work. Then again I’ve not tried that hard to get it working either.
  • MetaContacts: Several people I know have multiple IM accounts and will send me messages using different accounts at different times. Since I only very rarely remove anybody from my contact list; this can get confusing remember which contact is which. MetaContacts lets me combine various screen names into 1 “metacontact”. So if I have 3 screen names in my contact list for the same person, I can group them together under the same metacontact. Basically it keeps my contact list a bit cleaner and makes it easier for me to contact people without having to remember which screen name to send to.
  • History++: Makes viewing/searching through my IM chat logs easier.
  • UserInfoEx: Gives you more fields to store more data about your contacts. It can import/export vCard files and even remind you when a contact’s birthday is coming up.
  • StartupStatus: Miranda IM supports multiple IM protocols. There is only one IM protocol I need to connect to for work, but there are several others I like to connect for personal reasons. But I also don’t want to be showing up as available/online/free for chat on those other protocols. This plugin lets me setup profiles for what statuses I want set for each protocol and can trigger that profile on startup or after a specific keystroke. Mostly I use it to show up as online on the “work” IM protocol and invisible on everything else.
  • SmileyAdd: What fun would IM be without graphical smilies? Exactly and that’s why I’ve got this addon installed. I use the MSN Tango Smileys with it.

1It always felt very buggy. It had high memory usage and couldn’t handle be shifted to my 2nd monitor very well. I use MultiMon to help organize the stuff I am working on/with and Trillian didn’t like it.
2Besides what Firefly fan could turn down an IM client named Miranda! *grin*

Installing new, quirky apps under Linux

First off, you need to go through a bit of a cultural shift. When you’re looking for/at quirky, little apps; you should be for the Linux version.Secondly, installing and maintaining all your apps under Linux tends to be easier than under Windows. Yes, I said easier. In Windows, you find application “XYZ” on a website. You download a ZIP file and extract it to find an EXE. You run the EXE and it installs, but the program doesn’t run. Why? You’re missing something. It might be Microsoft’s .NET, Java, DirectX, etc…. Only it’s highly unlikely XYZ will tell you in plain English what went wrong. More likely, the app will just die without reporting an error. Then you’re off to Google to figure out what went wrong. Or if XYZ will run, it has no way of knowing when a new version is available or at best it can check their website for updates and when one comes out; you have to download, unzip and install the new version of XYZ (possibly uninstalling the old version first). Since you’re used to this, it doesn’t seem like much but it’s actually a complex operation.

Now let’s compare that to installing/maintaining apps under Linux (specifically Ubuntu). First off, you should enable the extra repositories and after doing so you suddenly have thousands of apps you can install with a few clicks in Synaptic. With the added bonus of Ubuntu automatically checking for updates to every single one you install and then enabling you to update all of them with a couple of clicks. And if some app you want to install requires other packages, then Synaptic will download and install those for you automatically. For the occassional app that is not include in the extra repositories, many 3rd party developers who work on Linux will provide their own repositories which you can add to your sources.list in Synaptic, which gives you all the same benefits as apps in the official repositories. True, there are still other 3rd party developers who don’t provide repositories but for some of these there are sites like Get Deb which offer pre-compiled DEB files for you to use in installing a given app. DEB files serve the same purpose as the installation EXE you download for Windows apps. Lastly, there are those developers where all they provide is the source code. For these, you can generally find detailed instructions on how to compile the app to use it. Though, I’ve been using Linux full-time for about 5 years now and I’ve yet to find a must-have app which was only provided in source code form that I had to compile.

In reply to More Linux at Desperados Under the Eaves.

Finally Upgrading

Ever since I heard WordPress was going to release 2.0.x; I’ve been planning my upgrade. Unfortunately RL kept interferring. Once I got my RL mostly settled down, I started working on those upgrade plans again. But then so many new/cool/wowser themes and plugins were coming out that I ended up scrapping and restarting my plans multiple times. I’ve finally decided to stop scrapping my plans and implement one of them, though this means all my faithful readers will be treated to some sort of blog insanity as I get everything upload, altered, activated, tweaked, upgraded and running the way I want it. After the disruption, I look forward to sharing some new features on this site with you.

And yes, that’s a teaser to make sure you come back once the dust settles around here.

Sweet New Job

While it is CB.Net’s policy to not talk about work issues; I do feel the need to pass along a bit of good news today. I received an offer for employment with a new company. In two weeks, I will hold the position of Data Analyst rather than that of a Software Tester. It’s a really exciting opportunity, but if you want to know more…. Well, you’ll have to know me in person and maybe even buy me a drink. 😀

Trying to lose my business? (Part 2)

Perhaps I am old-fashioned but I feel when you say you are going to do something, then you should do it. Case in point, this morning I dropped the car off at the dealership to get that shifting problem fixed. I dropped it off at approximately 7:45 AM CST (-06:00 GMT). My appointment to have them look at my car was for 9:30 AM CST (-06:00 GMT). When I dropped the car off, they told me they would call me back when the car was done or if it would require parts/maintenance not covered by the warranty.

It is now after 4:00 PM CST (-06:00 GMT) and have I heard one peep out of them? Nope. Feeling more than a little indignant at this turn of events, I tried calling them. I got a hold of a receptionist who asked me a couple of questions; presumably to route my call to the correct portion of their service dept. Then I was put on hold…

For all of 60 seconds. *Grrrr* After which I got transferred to some nameless persons voicemail. *Grrrr^2*

I was polite and left a message simply asking them to call me back with an update. I even went so far as to give them both my work and home numbers again. And to tell them when I would be leaving work, so they would have a better chance of catching me. Not that I have seen any sign that they’ve tried calling, but I am still trying to be nice and give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I’m waiting again for them to call me back.

Update: About 10 minutes after I called the dealership, they called me back to say the car was fixed. All the repairs fell under the warranty, so I didn’t have to pay a dime. For those curious as to what was wrong:

  • The brake light switch (what they call the sensor for the ASL) was bad.
  • Additionally when they checked the car with their diagnostic software; it reported there was a problem with one of the engine coolant temperature sensors. So they replaced that as well (again this was under warranty).

Am I pleased with the customer service I received? Not especially but now that we have the car back (and particularly since they didn’t charge us for any of the parts/labor); I’m not quite as upset about it as I had been. Would I buy another VW from this dealer? It’s a bit too early to say. Their sales and finance departments are great, but the so-so treatment from the service department makes me feel hesistant to say yes.

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