Definitions

representing oneself

Voodoo Chat

Voodoo Chat, opened in very late December 2001 and created by Mike Parniak, is a text-based chat program with voice-chat features created in the wake of Excite's loss of its rights to Virtual Places.

Creation

With the closing of the Virtual Places' version of "Excite Chat" in late 2001, and the only other Virtual Places system, Halsoft, being subscription-based, thousands of chatters were hunting for a place to chat.

How the System Works

Originally, Voodoo Chat was run in a server hierarchy within an overlay network.

  • "The Hub Server", also known as "The King" but technically a supernode, organizes all the other servers, decides where to create rooms and put new users, verifies logins and deals with private messages.
  • "The Login Server", also known as "The Rook", is the guard for The King, but better known as a computer-based firewall. The Rook is many servers comprised together to forward login details to The King, and when The King gives the a-ok, The Rook forwards the user to a chat server.
  • "The Chat Server", also known as "The Pawn", are the many servers you interact with beyond the login process, less private messages. These control the chat process and distribution of avatar graphics. If a Pawn disconnects from the internet, a Rook would gather all the users from said server and transfer them to a new Pawn.

Today, the service works a little differently.

  • "The Chat Server" is now run and administrated by the server operator. The server operator controls all the day-to-day actions of the server and no longer requires the Hub to function in the case that the hub goes down for any reason. If The Chat Server were to go down, however, and the administrator did not declare a new server to jump to, the users would all be kicked off the server and that would be the end of their chatting experience until the server returned or they chose a different server.

Avatars

Voodoo Chat, apart from its text-based chatting system, also has avatars, images representing oneself, displayed on the top of the screen on the foreground of a web page. Said images can be any size width or height, though the programs defaults are set at 150x150, and the file size limit is 15KB. Images also have effects supported in-house such as flipping, rotating, turning black and white, inverting, pixelating, blur, grow and shrink.

Voice Chat

On October 9 2007, voice chat has come into the current version of Voodoo. "Sequenced Voice Chat" works by sending clips up to 20 seconds of your voice out to the users in your chat room, non-real-time. "Even streamed voice chat is not 'realtime' given the high latency typically encountered - it just 'seems' it. Likewise, nobody in any of our tests expressed a feeling that things were 'out of sync' in any problematic way."

Security

Voodoo Chat uses two methods of security. The first is encryption. The second is the use of system hashes.

Voodoo's method of encryption encrypts all transfers of data from the program to increase privacy and deter hackers. So far, according to their website, "none have [cracked the protocol], and plenty have tried."

Voodoo's client generates a set of system hashes from pieces of serial numbers within the hardware of the users computer. These are gathered as the program starts and are transmitted when the user attempts to log in. The users hashes are checked against the global hash ban list on "The King", then checked against the banned hash list on the specific server they're logging on to. If their system hash matches either ban list, the user is barred from the service.

References

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