I’ve been using IRC for quite a while and have always had one niggling problem: when you lose your network connection, you miss out on everything that happens. This is fundamental to how IRC works; the server doesn’t keep track of what you’re missing, so you never see the missing things when you reconnect. This is a pretty common problem, so a number of solutions have been developed. Some folks run a client like irssi inside screen on a shell account which is always connected. This is great if you like irssi, but I tend to prefer native clients.
So, some enterprising folks have come up with an alternate system, commonly called an IRC bouncer. It’s an IRC proxy, originally used to allow folks without access to common IRC servers a way around the block or to hide the connection point of the user. They work a lot like the irssi + screen solution, in that you have a process running on some constantly connected machine that keeps your connection to the IRC network going. To use one, you set up the software and then connect your IRC client to it. From your IRC client’s perspective, it’s just an IRC server running as normal.
As time has passed, the bouncers have gained the ability to log what’s going on on the server. This is great, because you can connect and disconnect from the bouncer and never miss anything. A number of bouncers have this abilty (including IRSSI), but I’ve always found the implementation lacking. With most you have to manually ask for the log in some way, which makes it a royal PITA. Additionally, this is mostly spare time kick around software, so the configuration tends to be a bit… esoteric.
Well, I finally found one that just plain works. It’s called ZNC. Setup is a breeze, it supports SSL out of the box, and the playback buffers just work. Highly recommended if you’re looking for this kind of thing.