Ever since i started using iChat in OS X, people would complain that when i send them links that i've copied and pasted that the link is dead or doesn't work. Almost always they will simply come back to me and say the link doesn't work and are too lazy to copy and paste the link from their aim window to their browser.
So tonight, with the participation of a seemingly willing person on the other end of the conversation i attempted to diagnose the problem. I thought perhaps it was the way OS X handles urls in the clipboard, that perhaps they are treated differently and there was meta data attached to the link that isn't displayed. By running ethereal, i was able to capture the information that is sent, as it is sent, to see if iChat was adding special characters/formatting to the link (which it does when you copy/paste RTF from one app to another) or if the problem is with AIM.
Typical message as it is sent by iChat:<html> <body ichatballooncolor="#EBEBEB" ichattextcolor="#000000"> <font face="Helvetica" ABSZ=12 color="#000000"><a href="http://www.google.com">http://www.google.com</a></font> </body> </html>
So, obviously there isn't anything that could be distorting the link in iChats side, unless the ichat* attributes are what fucks it up, or maybe it's the ABSZ=12, neither of which AIM sends me. Unless it's because of those extraneous nonstandard tags which don't seem like they would have any effect on the links at all, it's AIM that is at fault here. But the question i can't seem to answer is why people seem to have a problem with only me. there's never a problem with others and AIM to AIM or me with iChat to iChat or even AIM to iChat. It only happens with iChat to aim, which doesn't make any sense at all, none whatsoever, but... because i'm on a mac and they are on windows and because aim /windows doesn't interpret anchor tags properly, it's my fault because i'm the one using iChat, and that really bugs me. My standard response from here on out will be to just copy and paste the damn link, i don't know why it doesn't work.
Though, after doing this, i tend to think that AOL is doing this bass-ackwards. Sending HTML just seems like a bad idea. The least they could do is exchange CSS stylesheets at the beginning of each chat session instead of having these non-standard non-consistent html attributes. The ideal way to handle it would be (like jabber) to send XML according to a standardized AIM schema with stylesheets to specify formatting details.
Something else noteworthy, iChat seems to simply serialize the chat session when it wants to save a chat session, instead of exporting it to plain-text as a typical chat log. It does this, i suppose, so it can easily restore actual chat sessions instead of serving as a way of keeping logs of chats.
Either way, i seem to have learned something, even if i haven't really solved the riddle of why people can't use the links i send them. At least now i can blame windows guilt-free.