Before when I worked from home, keeping a continuous connection to IRC wasn’t that big of a challenge. I was always on a great connection that I controlled. However, since I started my new job, I’ve been struggling for the last 10 months or so to stay as connected on IRC as I had in the past.
See, half the time my laptop is connected to our network through a wired connection when I’m working at my desk. It is extremely fast, and I have all of the access I need to our internal production networks. However, when I go to meetings (which can be a lot), I switch over to the wireless. For whatever reason, the ports to Freenode’s IRC channel are blocked, so I can’t access it. Then switching back and forth every day causes me to connect, drop, etc. Also, when I commute I don’t have my laptop open and connected to the internet.
Long story short: I wasn’t on IRC nearly as often as I’d like, and many times I’d miss out on conversations or messages people tried to send me. This is especially important with the Utah PHP Usergroup.
I had heard of some ways of using Irssi and screen, but I much prefered using my own Mac OS X client of limechat. So after some Googling around, I found my answer: ZNC.
ZNC is an “irc bouncer” which is basically a very sophisticated proxy, and in many ways it is almost a mix between a proxy and a bot. ZNC is a program that you can install on a computer that has continuous connection to the internet that will connect to your IRC channels for you. I have my running on a small cloud server. Then, instead of having my client connect to the IRC server, you connect to your ZNC server.
Some of the immediate benefits are being able to connect from multiple clients and have them use the same “connection.” On the train and want to use your phone, and then continue the conversation when you get to work on your laptop? You don’t have to worry about the connection, ZNC will handle everything for you.
Also, if you’re not connected at all, it can still accept messages and record channel buffers. Then when you re-connect, it can reply what you missed for you.
Best of all, I have my ZNC listening on port 443 as well as 6667, so even if I’m on a locked down network, as long as port 443 works (HTTPS), I can stay connected on IRC.
Little nerdy tool I’ve picked up, but I’m really glad I’ve found it.