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chat host needs to return online status - remoting(?)

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Simple chat app where the chat host listens for requests and creates
rooms/engages users as necessary. Visitor to, say, enters her name
and clicks 'go' to request a live chat. Right now she gets a time out if the
host is not listening, but I'd like to show her a status message before she
bothers trying, e.g. host is currently online/offline.

So, I need a way to ping my chat host app to see if the host for
that particular site is listening, which I could call on page load of and update the status message. I know the host is listening based
on a static hashtable of the hosts that are logged in, so it should be simple
to ping that list, but I'm not sure the best way. Web service? Remoting?
POST? Any thoughts are appreciated.


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