We’re a little over a week from the Jamboree on the Air / Jamboree on the Internet. Held the third weekend in October every year, JOTA/JOTI connect Scouts & Guides from all over the world together.

2010 will be my fourth JOTI. My son & I have participated since he was a Wolf Scout. This year I look forward to both of my sons (my youngest is a Tiger this year) participating with me. We’re also going to try our first time on JOTA by visiting the HAM radio operators who will be set up at the Centennial Scoutopoly event.

I’ve found this to be both exciting and fun for the boys. It has been a well run and safe event, and I encourage lots of our Fox River Scouts to join us this year online and check it out!

JOTI is based on the IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, service. IRC can be a pretty “rough” place. As a service it dates back to the late 1980s, older than the concept of websites themselves, and long before most users had access to “the net.” But unlike normal IRC services, JOTI is run on private Scout-owned IRC servers called Scoutlink. This is very important – Scoutlink is a very heavily moderated & controlled safe environment. IRC itself running on other networks, like EFNet, is NOT.

Below are two methods for connecting to JOTI.

  1. The first uses a java based web client. You simply visit a website, log in and go. Because so many Scouts will connect over this weekend, this is not the preferred way to go as it will be SLOW. This will give you a taste of JOTI, but you will likely encounter frequent disconnections and may lag behind in fast moving conversations. A Scoutlink controlled client can be found here: http://www.scoutlink.ch/ and alternate web clients can be found on the Scoutlink website at http://www.scoutlink.net/node/48
  2. The second method uses a client application that gets loaded on your computer, and communicates with Scoutlink servers. I like the mIRC (ß download) application. Scoutlink has very easy to follow directions on configuring mIRC, complete with pictures. When you reach the page that asks you to enter a server name, please use:

    Networkname: ScoutLink
    Port: 6667

    Server: chat.scoutlink.net

    The example uses a server in Germany. By using these settings instead, you will be directed to a random server that still has available capacity.

OK! You are now connected to JOTI but you’re not quite done yet. We still have to choose a nick name, join a chat room, and take a look at the rules.

A good part of the FUN of JOTI is not just chatting with Scouts from around the world, but it is also exchanging vcards (verification cards) that you made contact. To do this, you’re going to have to choose a nick name and register it. My nickname is “vdub144” and you should see me online throughout the weekend. Start by visiting http://www.jotajoti.org

Don’t forget this website! You’re going to use it A LOT this weekend!

Follow the link to “create a new account.” Choose a password that you don’t use for anything else. It will be sent unencrypted across the Internet and could be potentially intercepted. Not a big worry for JOTI, but you don’t want a third party to accidentally get your banking login if you use the same userID and password you use for that service.

Once you have created a new account & filled out all of your details, you will receive a message stating that when you log in to Scoutlink, you have one minute to log in to nickserv and let it know who you are. In other words, nobody else is allowed to log in to the JOTI servers with your username. As soon as you connect you need to type the following text:

/nickserv identify <your password>

If you haven’t guessed it already, “commands” are sent to the server with the “/” character. If you don’t include that, the text that you type will be visible to everyone. So make sure you include that before you send your password out to the group!

Although the website & IRC server will share your login details, you must log in to both separately. As you meet & chat with folks in IRC, you’ll go back over to the website to both send vcards and check the cards that you have received.

Our next step is going to be to join a channel. Here are some popular ones:

  • /join #english
  • /join #leaders
  • /join #youth

If you want a list of all of the channels in use, type /list

Finally, throughout the weekend you’re going to notice that many folks come & go very quickly. JOTI is very heavily moderated by volunteer operators who strictly enforce a number of rules, including how long you can “idle” online without contributing to the conversation. Some of these operators are even “bots” – automated scripts that will “kick” users based on key words, idle time, etc.

Check out the rules and FAQ sections of the Scoutlink website for more background!

Once you have participated, don’t forget to use your participation toward the requirements of the International Activities Award!

Happy Jamboree!