Rocket.Chat – the ultimate self-hosted open source chat platform

Chat is becoming more and more important for team communication and collaboration (what is ChatOps?).  Old school applications like Skype are being replaced with modern, web-based chat platforms, that provide group/room and one-on-one chats, file uploads, screen sharing, voice and video communications, API integration and more.  There are plenty of solutions to choose from too.

Traditionally, self-hosted solutions were difficult to setup and maintain, and were lacking in integration options.  So many teams choose to go for the third-party hosted approach.  This is not very exciting for companies that deal with sensitive data though.

As mentioned before, at work, we are using HipChat.  It’s nice, it’s free, and it integrates nicely.  Lately, there has been a lot of hype about Slack, which I tried, but didn’t particularly like.

Today, however, I came across a very nice option, which seems to be a breeze to self-host and maintain – Rocket.Chat.  It’s modern – written in JavaScript, it has a long list of features, and there is a vibrant community around it.

You can try the live demo, or deploy it to your infrastructure via a gadzillion different methods, or read the beautiful documentation.  And there’s a rumor of HipChat and Slack import tool, so you won’t have to start from scratch…

Let me know what you think.

WhatsApp introduces end-to-end encryption for everything

WhatsApp introduces end-to-end encryption for all communications – chats, pictures, videos, etc.  I’m sure it’ll help them get more individuals and businesses on the network, as well as probably ban the app in a handful of countries.

WhatsApp has always prioritized making your data and communication as secure as possible. And today, we’re proud to announce that we’ve completed a technological development that makes WhatsApp a leader in protecting your private communication: full end-to-end encryption. From now on when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats.

The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation. – your friendly Skype replacement

Every day some new super hyped web service is born, and every other day some old web service is decommissioned. It’s been going on for so long, that rarely do I pay much attention to these things.  I need a few recommendations. I want to hear excitement. I want to hear why and how this can be useful to me.  A mere press release doesn’t cut it.

Today, I was recommended a service that is so easy and useful that it blew my mind.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you .  Think of the all the good things Skype is, without all the bad things that come with it.  Video, voice, and text chat, screen sharing, free, multiple participants (up to 8), private and public conversations, excellent voice and video quality, and no installation of software necessary – works right out of the browser, even on the mobile.

It’s so easy and fun to use that I’ve spent most of the day chatting to my colleagues even when they were in the same room.  We had two and three way conversations with screen sharing and text messages (handy for the URLs) and it worked really well.

Come to think of it, the only thing that I didn’t see (maybe it’s there and maybe it’s not) is file transfer.  But there are so many different ways these days to send a file that I don’t worry about that too much.  A quality video chat with screen sharing is a different ball game altogether.


WhatsApp passes 800,000,000 active users


TechCrunch is reporting on WhatsApp passing the 800,000,000 active users mark.  Almost exactly a year ago, it was at 500 million active users.  I don’t care much about WhatsApp’s business or service, but from the technical point of view this is quite significant.  That’s almost a million active users acquired every day for the last year.  That’d be a challenge for anyone to handle.  Thinking that this growth might have been not too linear gives me digital goose bumps.

I haven’t seen anything recent describing their infrastructure, but this article from last year provides a starting point for the imagination:  Erland + FreeBSD + 550 servers, with preference for larger box with loads of RAM and cores.  I’m sure that have grown quite a bit in a year too.

HipChat releases the new web interface to the world

HipChat – the greatest team communication tool since IRC – released its updated web interface to the world.



I’ve seen it before, as I opted into the beta testing, and I’m glad they’ve finally pushed it out to all users.  It’s awesome, slick, and completely out of the way.

And if you haven’t tried HipChat for your team yet, I urge you to do so.  Here are some of the awesome things about it:

  • Unlimited rooms.  You can have rooms by subject, by project, by group, and so on.
  • Direct messaging.  You can do groups on one-on-ones.
  • Integrations!  This is one of the major reasons to use it.  We have it integration with GitHub and Nagios currently.  And a gadzillion of other services are available in just a few clicks.  Super awesome!
  • History.  HipChat preserves history of conversations, so introducing new members into a team is so much easier – they can read, scroll through, or search the previous room messages.
  • Clients for any operating system, including Linux, smartphones, and just web.
  • Flexible notifications.  You can configure when, if at all, you want to be notified of the new messages.  You even have an option to alert you with SMS, if you are offline.  Which is especially handy if you are using Nagios integration or similar.
  • Files, links, previews, emoticons, and a tonne of other goodies.
  • Free!  Yes, that’s right.  HipChat is free.  You only pay for premium features, which include video chat and screen sharing.  And even then it’s only $2 per user per month, which still qualifies as free.

This tool is truly indispensable!

Tox – secure instant messaging, video conferencing, and more

Tox – secure instant messaging, video conferencing, and more.


With the rise of government monitoring programs, Tox provides an easy to use application that allows you to connect with friends and family without anyone else listening in. While other big-name services require you to pay for features, Tox is totally free, and comes without advertising.

Useful Skype commands, roles, and emoticons

Just by accident I came across this list of Skype commands and roles.  I only knew two or three.  Apparently, there is much more.  For those of us who use Skype on multiple devices, checkout /showplaces and /remotelogout :

  • /showplaces – Lists other instances where this Skype name is currently signed in.
  • /remotelogout – Sign out all other instances except the current one. This will also stop push notifications on all other instances.

And while we are on the subject of not so well-known Skype features, have a look a the complete list of emoticons (smileys) that you can use in the chat.  These include some more additional icons and country flags.