Chat and talk (I)

Almost every day, a new chat (Instant Messenger or I.M.) or talk (VOIP) -or a combination of both- application hits the market. I have 5 of them installed on my computer: MSN Messenger, VoipBuster, Google Talk, Skype and the Gizmo Project.

To be sure: this is not a tutorial. I want to talk about the way I use these applications and explain why I use them. Most of the time, the reason is very personal and may not be applicable to you (well, I’m even quiet sure it isn’t).

So, let’s start with the applications I use to chat.

It was the year 2000, when I installed Odigo. The company I was working for back then, rebranded it to “Yucom Messenger” and all the employees were encouraged to use it (no probs for me :-)). I liked Odigo because of the simple and effective profiling: they called it the “find like-minded people”. I would search on Belgium or Dutch. Five years later, 7 of my Odigo contacts (3 ex-colleagues included) are still active chat friends. Unfortunately “profiling” became the equivalent for “looking for a date” or even “child abuse”. I met some cool folks thanks to this application and I regret the general abuse of “profiling” in other chat applications.

One moment in time, all my Odigo contacts moved to MSN Messenger, and so did I. MSN is a webportal of Microsoft offering a bunch of services. An important service is MSN Messenger. I took a snapshot of my MSN screen, hiding almost all my 32 contacts (just in case they didn’t like me publishing their contact names).

I use MSN because all my friends use it. On the functionality side, I appreciate the personal message your contacts see (here “Vooruit met de geit”), the effective way of sending files, the emoticons and the winks (some people hate it, but I really like it). Sometimes it’s also fun to have someone using the webcam. I tried the audio (talk) option, but it never satisfied me. A big improvement was the day they allowed to login with an emailadres other then their own hotmail address. Something I really miss, is the option to change your status for a set of people. Today, you’re online or offline for the whole list.

The personal message may sound something stupid, but I see it as another level of communication within MSN. I had set the personal message to “don’t disturb!” this week, and at least 3 contacts asked me what was happening. No, it wasn’t effective. If you don’t want to disturbed, you better close the application.

I didn’t discuss VoipBuster, Google Talk, Skype and the Gizmo Project yet. I use all of them to talk with friends via VOIP, only Google Talk is used for chat reasons as well. The screen shot is taken from Google Talk’s website.

I received 4 Google Talk invitations before I even installed it. After using the application for a few weeks now, I decided to keep MSN as my main chat application for the moment. Only 3 contacts are left in my Google Talk contact list. There are a few reasons: I like MSN better for chat purposes (Google Talk is too basic for me, but I know that other people just like it because of that), only 10% of my MSN accounts offered to switch and I’m using the application now if I want to be visible for just a small list op people (or another way to realize the option I miss in MSN).

It’s possible to set a personal message in GT, but I really miss the emoticons and the winks. In the text box, MSN will repeat your name every time you add text (eg. “Smetty says:”). In GT, all you say just comes beneath each other, but I prefer the way MSN handles the conversation.

Today I use MSN as my main chat application and Google Talk for just a subset of contacts. In my next posting, I will explain how I use these 5 applications for voice purposes.

U zegt?

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