Justin has answered the questions you posted, plus a few of my own. Until the issues over at jabber.org are resolved the interview will be here. So without further ado, here he is.
How did you get your nickname?
Infinity is a simple way to express God in math terms. Not that I consider myself God, mind you; using the nickname is an appreciation. I derived the misspelled variation from the video game “Breath of Fire 2″, just because I thought it looked cool. And yes, I’m aware there’s a line of Nissan cars with that spelling also, but that is not where I got it. :)
What initially brought you to Jabber?
I was an old school ICQ user, and I used the official Mirabilis client for years until I switched to Linux/KDE and started using Licq. A couple of years later, sometime in early 2001, I suddenly realized that ICQ was a centralized IM system. And you might say, “well duh.” But the fact is that for many of us IM is so ingrained into our lives that this detail seems to get lost. So of course the first thing I did was look to see if there was any effort to fix the system, and I immediately found Jabber. However, I didn’t find a client to my liking, and that’s where my adventure began.
You are best known as the creator of Psi, what has that project taught you?
Above all, I’ve learned that a lot can be accomplished by a few. Dedication is all it takes to make something good. The experience also exposed me to the diverse international open source community. I’ve worked with people outside of the country via the Internet in the past, but never this many. It’s quite amazing.
What happened to the Jabber/AV project you were (Ulrich and you) working on?
Both Ulrich and I, as well as RealNetworks, underestimated the requirements of the project. The Helix SDK is not ready for desktop-to-desktop streaming use, although it is very close. With more work on Helix, some licensing changes, and of course more funds, the project could perhaps be completed someday. In other words, don’t expect anything for a long time, if ever.
I do look forward to the day that it could be done. Psi and Helix really are the best tools for the job. Open-source cross-platform voice/video is not a common thing. It would be a tremendous breakthrough. But more resources are needed.
You have recently joined Coversant (previously known as Winfessor), can you tell us what you are doing there?
Right now I’m doing specification design.
You were a c++/qt developer, you are now working for a .net company, what has the transition been like?
Well, I still am a C++/Qt developer. :) And actually, I have not yet written a line of code for Coversant yet. However, I don’t expect the transition to be too challenging. Qt and C# are both quite high-level, and similar in many respects I’m sure.
What are you currently working on, outside of your job at Coversant?
I attend college, hoping to eventually get a teaching credential. I’m also still actively working on the libraries that Psi uses, to get them into a state such that I can hand them off (as I’ve done with the client itself).
What music do you code by?
I don’t have any code-specific music, and so I just run whatever I normally listen to, which is kind of a random mix of things. A Perfect Circle, Garbage, the Goo Goo Dolls, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Weird Al seem to be the staples of my playlist. Tori’s a recent addition; her 18-track Scarlet’s Walk is very well done. I should mention that coding to Weird Al won’t result in much code.
Do you have a website or blog?
Sometime ago my website went down and I didn’t care to put it back together at a new location. I used to post news items about what I was doing, but I figured it just wasn’t interesting enough. I really should bring it back though, at least to restore the homes of the various programs that I had hosted there.
The closest thing to a personal page I have is the Delta project website (http://delta.affinix.com/), which holds my collection of notes and things for Jabber. And you only care about Jabber anyway, right? So this should be fine. :)
What do you think are the most important strengths of Jabber? What are some of the weaknesses you think need to be addressed?
The best thing about Jabber is that it can be used to transport generic data easily. It could be the new TCP that tomorrow’s protocols are made with. Security is one of the best reasons to use Jabber, but it is also a weakness at the same time. We’ve got some security, but we need to take this further with things like file transfer and groupchat. Protocol-wise, Jabber covers the basics and then some which will keep people coding for years to come. So I’d say we’re nearly there. Future enhancements are likely to be extremely high-level operations.
As an IM system, Jabber lacks the extras that are commonplace in other IM technologies, like avatars, voice chat, and other, more frilly, things. We need to address these before we can begin to capture existing IM users.
What cool applications would you like to see built using Jabber technologies?
A digital wallet would be cool, and we could even use that <payment-required> XMPP Stanza error. :) Single-signon to websites. Otherwise, I have no great Jabber innovations to talk about. I mainly want to see Jabber succeed as the dominant IM system.
What’s your perspective on the health of the Jabber community? What can we do to improve?
The users are restless. :) They’ve been waiting and waiting, and frankly they’ve been waiting long enough. They want Jabber to take over IM. They really do. The problem is that the software just isn’t there. It easily could be though. We need to improve our software.
Jabber is often compared to the Linux movement — an impossible uphill battle against whatever is mainstream. Maybe there are some comparisons to draw, but really, if Jabber is Linux, then I’m RedHat. We’re working on a completely different scale. It is going to be many years before Linux is comparable to Windows on the desktop. But Jabber? We could have a client comparable to MSN with no problem given the resources. And probably one or two guys could do it.
Granted, getting the software up to speed is only half the battle. We also need strong marketing. Getting a major player to push Jabber to consumers in the USA would be very useful. Even so, I do think the grass roots effort could be successful enough. But it eventually comes down to the software. Right now we’re overselling Jabber when it comes to home users. It should not be that way. There’s a logical sequence to winning here, and it means finishing our stuff before we talk.
Where would you like Jabber to be two (or more) years from now?
Done. For IM, at least. If you look at what the Big Four have done to their IM offerings lately you’ll see that they are scraping for something to do. There are no more ideas. And that’s good for us, because it means we can easily catch up functionality-wise.
Of course I’d also like to see Jabber make more headway on the home and corporate/organizational fronts, but this is second to getting the home user software complete.
Whats hindering Jabber at the moment to get to your above vision?
Resources and dedication. There are a lot of people involved with Jabber, but few are targetting (and working towards!) my above vision. Of course, there are logical explanations for this. Free server software is not profitable, existing client software is good enough for business, and there’s no money in home users. This is why companies generally put resources into just commercial servers. Since only the community seems to be interested in my vision, it is going to be a long and slow process. With more resources and dedication we could get there easily, but right now we’re running on fumes.