Frequently Asked Questions

I want to send you a message/a picture/a link/an article

Great! Send me an e-mail to I read them several times a day, and try to reply quickly.

But writing an e-mail is so much work

I would agree with this one. To make it easier:

  • If you want to send a very short message, just put it in the subject and followed by EOM (end-of-message).

  • It is not required to start the message with a greeting “Hi!”, nor ask about our recent exploits, nor finish with a nice salutation (though, if you do, it is much appreciated).

I want to chat with you

Your communications provider X might not allow you to chat with non-X customers. But don’t despair, there are many other options.

Chat from a computer/mobile device with an account using XMPP

XMPP is a communication system in which everyone can participate, without being a customer of any particular company. Just like e-mail, but snappier.

The experience is quite close to that offered by modern messenger apps.

  1. Download an XMPP client:

  1. Choose an XMPP provider. For example,, who are behind the DuckDuckGo privacy-minded search engine, but there are [many others][others].

    Also, choose a username. It can be anything you want, as long as no one else using the same XMPP provider is also using it. To keep it safe, restrict yourself to digits and the English alphabet.

  2. Register an account from your chosen XMPP client.

    • Username: ⟨a nickname⟩
    • Password: ⟨a password of you will remember⟩
    • Check the box “Create an account on the server”

    For the sake of example, if you chose the nickname misterx, the username will be

    Some programs have separate fields for username and server. In that case, you would use ⟨a nickname⟩ for the username, and for the server.

  3. (Optional) Add as a contact.

  4. Chat until you drop.

    You don’t need to do anything else. However, if you forget your password, it will be impossible to access your account unless your e-mail address is linked to it.

    If your using, you can go to your profile page and add an e-mail address.

Some notes:

  • Sending pictures can be slow or not work at all (esp. for group chats). As an alternative, you can upload the images to a hosting service (e.g., Dropbox) and send the URL in the chat.

  • A Jabber address (JID) is not necessarily an e-mail address, despite having a similar format. It is possible to have a custom e-mail address that is also a JID, but that is a whole other matter.

Chat from the browser without registering using IRC

A very quick way is to use Freenode’s IRC webchat.

  1. Go to
  2. Pick a nickname.
  3. Type /query vlopez in the chat window. A new window will open.
  4. Say Hi!

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Typing is too tiring. We should talk!


However, I haven’t gotten around to setting up a away to consistently receive calls over the Internet.

You can send me your phone number by e-mail/chat and I’ll be happy to call you (as long as you’re not in a very expensive place). As a reference, OECD members all have reasonable rates for both mobile phones and landlines.

If you want to see my mug, we can use something like I would not mind chatting using XMPP or SIP, but I have not managed to get them to work reliably across NAT.

I want to keep you up to date on my latest pictures

The service X that you use might not allow you to share things with non-X customers. But not everything is lost. Depending on X, some of the following might work:

  • If you send me a link to your profile, I might be able to see your public posts.
  • If your posts are private, or only visible to friends-of-friends, there’s not much I can do about it. If you can be made to reconsider, bear in mind that friends-of-friends is quite a lot of people.

I want to invite you to this group/event

Neat-o! But company X might not allow you invite non-X customers to groups or events. Perhaps we can find a solution.

  • If the group/event is public, I can check it out every once in a while, or even subscribe to it myself. I just need the URL.

  • If the group is private, or only visible to friends-of-friends, there’s not much I can do. However, you can use group-to-rss to generate an RSS feed, and give me the link. Then I can get notified about comments and changes, even if I cannot respond.

    For a one-off event, you can just tell me about it by some other means.

Why don’t you use X?

The same reason I might not use your favorite operating system, phone company, e-mail provider, or laundry detergent brand: we value different things.

But everyone uses X!

God, I really hope not. Having company X handle the communications of everyone on Earth sounds like a nightmarish distopia.

This is all antiquated

I agree. I also believe that moving around using cars is antiquated, but no one has invented a usable jet-pack yet.

On a more serious note, while the “jet-pack” analogue of e-mail/IRC/XMPP might have been invented, its drawbacks are significant enough that I still consider the older interoperable standards to be a better option.

This is all very complicated

I know. It would be easier if company X and others actually used their know-how to help people across different services work together, instead of creating their own islands.

If you have suggestions on how I can make it easier for people to reach me, or the explanations here are unclear, I’m all ears.