RantsTab (1.2) – A Mini-Hack That’s Cool

I guess I’m biased to the “cool” part, but this is a mini-hack that’s got some very kick-ass potential. As outed by NeoWin back in May, it seems that the released version of MSN’s new Instant Message client (MSN-IM) has been opened up a bit and now allows users to add new tabs to the main IM window. What does this mean? If you run this RantsTab utility (now version 1.2) you can view the ten most recent Rants from this web site. Continue on to read the “fine print”…

There’s a file called ConfigCache.xml that’s stored on your PC, when you install MSN-IM 6. In that XML file, there’s a nifty list of Tabs that are shown in the main IM window. What this mini-application does is add an entry to the list of tabs. This new “Rants” tab points to a particular set of URL’s that are formatted for the IM window, including an image for the tab and a tool tip. This means that if you click on the new “r” tab, you see the same Rants that are on the Rant’s home page.

Pretty freakin’ neat, huh? Sorry that the “accounts” list is all numbers, but that’s how MSN-IM stores passport related information for the released version. In most cases you will only have one anyway, so there’s not much to look at. If you want more information on what gets changed in the XML file or how to roll back the changes, there’s a ReadMe included in the ZIP file that you download with the application. You will also need the 1.1 release of the .NET Framework to run the utility – C# let me crank this out in a couple of hours – but there’s also instructions in the ReadMe that explain how to add the tab by hand if you don’t have it.

1.2 was made to deal with the ConfigCache.xml file and that it will usually update itself every 2 days. When you add the Rants tab, you now have the option of change the refresh value to anything from 0 to 365 days. 0 is supposed to mean “never expires” but that doesn’t seem to work with the released verson of MSN-IM; 365 days should be as good as “never expires” anyway.

Obligatory screen shot:

You can download RantsTab now!

3 thoughts on “RantsTab (1.2) – A Mini-Hack That’s Cool”

  1. @Aaron – it’s easy! Let me know where I can email you at and I can explain in more detail…

    Actually that goes for anyone – drop me an email and I can help with your own tab :)

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