The Null Device
Facebook are adding a XMPP gateway to their instant messaging service, which has, until now, been tied to their web site, running in the browser frame. (Sure, there have been unsupported hacks, like the Adium/Pidgin driver, which pretended to be a web browser, but they were unsupported and less than ideal; there was, for example, no way to shut down IM in the browser whilst staying online in your chat client.) Anyway, this should be a pretty big boost for XMPP (also known as Jabber), an open instant messaging protocol also used by Google Talk and the chat services of various other sites (such as LiveJournal).
I wonder whether Facebook will use XMPP to provide additional functionality, such as allowing status updates by instant message, or sending notifications to users' messaging clients.
The street finds its own uses for things yet again: a hacktivist group calling itself the Electronic Disturbance Theater has hacked a cheap GPS-enabled mobile phone into a device for helping Mexican immigrants across the US border:
We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway—things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.
We’re at the end of the alpha stage, in terms of the technology, so the next level, which will be the most difficult, is interfacing with communities south of the border: NGOs, churches, and other communities that deal with people preparing to cross the border. How can we train them to use this? What is the proper methodology? Those are really going to be the most nuanced and difficult elements with, let’s call it, the sociological aspect of the project.Of course, once the militias capture one of these (and presumably they'll start searching captured immigrants for them), they will know where the water is stashed. I wonder whether the Electronic Disturbance Theater has put in any sort of self-destruct mechanism.
(via Boing Boing)