October 16, 2009

Mind Control

Filed under: collabora, facebook — Tags: , , , , , , , , — alsuren @ 5:35 pm

My echo bot has received a bit of attention since my last post.

Add to your jabber/gtalk friends, and you can see what I mean.

Note that it currently doesn’t automatically restart itself when it goes down. This is so that I can try to debug crashes rather than leaving them unnoticed. If seems unresponsive, try for now, and send me an email. I will try to add a watchdog bot soon, so that we can have a more reliable service, but I’m dancing all this weekend.



  1. I tried to play with the echo-bot on an F11 system, but wasn’t able to. I had a DBus “noReply” message. Do I need the absolute latest telepathy/empathy/GStreamer to make this work?

    Comment by Jon Steer — October 26, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

    • Hey. It’s more likely to be a problem on my end. Either come into #telepathy on freenode or add me on jabber and I can help you debug.

      Comment by alsuren — October 26, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  2. Hey Alsuren,

    This is (or was or will be) a very useful service. Thanks for building and running it! I sent an invite (to both echo@ and gabble.echo@) but have not received a buddy confirmation. Thoughts? I’m using a Gtalk XMPP account (through a Google Apps domain) via Pidgin 2.6.3 on Ubuntu Karmic. Thoughts?


    Comment by poser — October 31, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  3. Works great. This is an essential service, please keep it running. Do you know of any other echo test numbers for Google Talk (audio)?

    A suggestion: could the bot say something at the beginning of each audio call (“this is an echo test, anything you say will be echoed back to you”)

    Another (more complicated) suggestion: during audio conversations could the bot give a report (every 5 seconds for example) on the audio packets received? How many packets received and what percentage of them contain silence? I don’t hear anything when I talk to the bot and and I’m not sure if the bot is getting packets or whether they contain silence.


    Comment by Stuart Pook — February 23, 2010 @ 10:32 am

    • @stuart: The echo bot was written using Telepathy + Farsight/GStreamer as a simple testing program. The nice thing about these frameworks is that (for simple applications) you don’t really need to touch the media-streaming code to make it work. For things like mixing in extra audio and doing audio analysis, it’s a bit more complicated. I’d love to get into the GStreamer side of things (and actually make use of my signal processing degree), but it might be another few months before I get a chance to improve my GStreamer-fu. I think that getting echo cancellation support into pulseaudio/gstreamer/empathy is a higher priority than adding signal processing magic to the echobot.

      I think the “This is an echo test, anything you say will be echoed back to you.” message could probably be implemented by just sending an IM when you start a call. If you submit a feature request on freedesktop bugzilla then I won’t forget about it when I next go on an echobot bug fixing spree.

      For debugging whether it’s sending or receiving that’s broken, have you tried using the !playsong command? This will play music at you without waiting for any media from you. I think this is going to be a lot easier than the echobot analysing the incoming data and spamming you with confusing debug information.

      @poser: The echo bot was probably having a strop when you tried to use it. It has recently been fitted with a better watchdog to restart it when it locks up, so it should work better now. Sorry for the confusion.

      Comment by alsuren — February 23, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

      • I have tried !playsong, it works some of the time. Well it works all of the time for me but for the friend I want to talk to (audio) it only works some of the time. She is in another country and is not a VoIP (or computer) expert so debugging this is rather hard. She says that !callme or ringing the bot always gives silence. I don’t know if this is because she is sending silence, not sending anything, not receiving anything or receiving silence. I guess that because !playsong works she can receive packets but I don’t know how to tell the difference between her packets getting filtered and her microphone not working. Her microphone works with Skype so I wonder if there might be some UDP packet filtering happening somewhere. This is why I need some simple audio analysis.

        I hope that I was clear regarding the message “This is an echo test, anything you say will be echoed back to you.” I’d like to hear it in the headphones so that I can check that the back audio channel is working.

        once again, thanks for this great Google Talk audio tester

        Comment by Stuart Pook — February 23, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

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  6. If is yours, mind telling me why it’s flooding me with contact requests today?

    (my given mail is xmpp address)

    Comment by Joe — June 17, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    • We have just moved our xmpp server over to prosody (ejabberd wasn’t able to cope with the echobot’s roster size), so the echo bot is back online again. There is a peculiarity in how some clients/servers deal with the publish/subscribe lists that I still haven’t figured out an elegant solution to. I’ve temporarily disabled an old hack, so you shouldn’t get any more contact requests from us (but some clients may fail to become properly subscribed). If you get any more subscription spam from the echobot, please comment on here again and I’ll look into it further.

      Comment by alsuren — June 17, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

      • Yup, still getting the contact requests. Not 20-30 at once as a few hours ago, but one every few minutes.

        What I don’t understand is – I don’t even know that echo address or use it. I run my own jabber server. I have no clue why your system should contact me at all.

        Comment by Joe — June 17, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

      • Since commenting I’ve received around 20 requests to be added to your addressbook.

        Connection Incoming Incoming
        Remote server IP / Hostname: /

        If this goes on I have to blacklist you, but I’d like to get this resolved so if I can supply you with information just ask.

        Comment by Joe — June 17, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

      • Still happening. Blacklisting now.

        What I find a bit sad is that you haven’t replied to this anymore. I don’t suppose I’m the only one your server harassing, you’ll need to resolve this.

        Comment by Joe — June 21, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

      • Sorry for not replying. I should probably have warned you about the changes I was making.

        I took the service down over the weekend and on Monday while I was working out a fix for your problem. I believe I have found a solution (If you are not subscribed to the echobot when it signs in, it will remove you). I tested it using my other (low-traffic) echobot account in an attempt to reduce the amount of spam that you received, but there was no way to disable that one last subscription request (when the echo bot signed on and retrieved its contact list to check who it needed to remove without taking the entire server off the network. There may possibly have been a second, because the bot crashed when I tried to unsubscribe from so many contacts at the same time and I had to try again in batches.

        I will ask the XMPP server sysadmin to make sure you are no longer being spammed, but you are no longer on the echobot’s contact list, so if you are still being spammed (apart from on Monday night) then I’m gonna blame prosody. I also plan to double-check that h.264 video calls work with Google Talk, and then bring it up and blog about it again.This should happen by the end of the week.

        Comment by alsuren — June 21, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

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