tiistai 24. marraskuuta 2009

Windows Messenger (MSN)

So, when I heard the N900 would support most IM protocols out of the box, it never even crossed my mind that that wouldn't include MSN. I do almost 90% of my IM stuff over MSN and if that holds true for me, then by extension it must hold true for the rest of humanity as well, right? That's just how the human mind works.

Anyway, to be fair, MSN is a pretty well known protocol, so I still feel like it should've been included. Luckily, the whole integration of plugins into the "Conversations" application, where both SMS:es and IM messages are sent, is done through a well thought out plugin architecture, so people could just create new plugins for additional protocols. Awesome!

And there actually is an MSN plugin available. It's called account-plugin-butterfly. The catch, because there always is one, is that it isn't actually stable yet. Well, Maemo is based on Debian and Debianites are famous for dividing into two camps: Those who run only stable stuff and those who embrace chaos by running unstable stuff. Both parties have their well-reasoned arguments for their own point of view, but let's focus on the benefits and dangers of running unstable stuff.

If we run unstable stuff on our N900, we can get MSN through account-plugin-butterfly. The dangers of doing so, on the other hand, is that the applications are marked unstable for a reason. Your N900 might become slower, freeze altogether, or it might run just fine. New updates might make things better, but they might also break the application.

I installed the plugin, since I rely heavily on MSN and since the alternatives weren't integrated into Conversations and were described as horribly slow and ugly.

To install butterfly, you need to add a repository called extras-testing to your Application Manager. I won't tell you exactly how to do that, but if you know what you are doing, you should be able to find it out all by yourself. If you do, you're on your own: no one's going to get you a new N900 if you wreck it, so be careful and use your brain. Don't install other random apps and preferably remove extras-testing when you have what you came for.

The kinks
When you boot the phone and log on to MSN, everything works quite well. But if you are at all like me, you will alternate between MSN on your phone and MSN on your desktop throughout the day. This is where the difficulties start: When you log on with your desktop, your N900 is disconnected, since MSN can only be logged on to from one location at a time. When you want your N900 to get back on MSN, how do you do it? Log off your computer and then what? My point exactly, since the IM plugins don't have any visible "reconnect" or even "connect" function.

I've found three solutions:
  1. Reboot your phone. This almost always works.
  2. Disable your wlan (or package data) and re-enable it. It's easy to do from the status bar at the top.
  3. Disable just your MSN account by clicking the status bar at the top and then the availability -button. Click your MSN account and choose "disable". Then reverse the above and you might have yourself a working MSN account.

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