iChat: Not very clever with Address Book entries

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 20th, 2004 • 1:22 am

iChat is integrated with Address Book in Mac OS X, which means that it uses the contact information included in Address Book entries to determine your list of potential iChat interlocutors.

If you click on the “+” button at the bottom of the “Buddy List” window in iChat, a dialog sheet will slide out with a mini version of your Address Book, showing people’s names and their instant messaging nickname if they have one.

Today, I was scanning through this dialog sheet when I noticed that my entry for an employee at MostlyMac.com (a Canadian retailer of mostly Mac stuff) appeared to include an instant messaging nickname. The nickname was actually this person’s email address.

I figured that I had entered this person’s email address in the wrong field in Address Book, which is easy to do by accident as I’ve reported before. So I switch to the Address Book application to rectify the error.

Much to my surprise, however, it turns out that this person’s email address is in the correct field, and that there is absolutely nothing in the instant messaging fields for this person in the Address Book record.

How come the email address of this person appeared as his instant messaging nickname in iChat, then? Well, simply because his email address ends with “@mostlymac.com“. What is happening is that iChat probably uses a not-so-clever algorithm to detect people with a “mac.com” address, i.e. .Mac subscribers, whose .Mac address is also automatically used as an iChat nickname.

The trouble is that Apple forgot to include the “@” symbol in the algorithm, which means that iChat matches any address ending in “mac.com“, regardless of what comes immediately before the “mac“.


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