Passing messages between Google Talk and ICQ

Recently Google announced that GTalk users can now communicate with AIM users.  I didn’t mention it here and, in fact, didn’t pay it much attention since I don’t use AOL Instant Messenger.  Why do I suddenly come back to this announcement?  Well, because my memory played a Grand Failure Play on me.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia page about ICQ:

ICQ was developed in 1996 by Mirabilis. The company was founded by four young Israelis: Yair Goldfinger, Arik Vardi, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir. After AOL bought it, it was managed by Ariel Yarnitsky and Avi Shechter.
America Online acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998

This was almost 10 years ago.  ICQ is still popular among a few million users.  AIM is also popular among a few million users.  Isn’t two popular instant messaging protocols just a little bit too much for one company?  Well, it’s not too much, if these two protocols share a lot in common.  Do they?
Yes, they do.  That’s why you can go to your Gmail right now, navigate to Chat section of the Settings, and login into AIM with your ICQ credentials.  It’ll just work.  You’ll get all your contacts from the ICQ server populating buddy list of your GTalk.  You’ll see who is online and who is not.  You’ll be able to send and receive messages to your ICQ contacts from GTalk. And you’ll have the history of your communications saved in your Gmail in exactly the same way as you have it with GTalk.  Wow!

(Note that there this functionality is still very young and there are a few issues here and there, but I’m sure they will be ironed out in the nearest future.  One of the annoyances for now though is encoding problem when receiving ICQ messages in Russian, and possibly some other languages too.)

I’m really glad to see such integration.  I do use Gmail for a lot of communications and contact related work, and having ICQ/AIM integrated with it helps me to keep it all together.  Hopefully, there will be more and better integrations with  other communication tools – Yahoo Messenger, Skype, Twitter…

IM interface idea

For this or that reason, I’m chatting (ICQ/Google Talk) to a lot of people recently.  Often I do a few chats simultaneously.  It’s easy to get used to after some time.  But one thing I noticed that annoys me, is that chat windows take a lot of screen space and a lot of time on switching between them.  I tried a few ICQ clients before, but all of them seem to offer similar interface.  One chat window per conversation.  Some group those windows into tabs of the same window, but it’s still the same concept.

This concept works pretty well for one, two, three, or maybe even four simultaneous discussions.  The more it gets, the harder it becomes to manage.  Taskbar window captions get smaller, it is not clear anymore who sent you the message.  You just know that you have an unread message to which you need to switch to…

Instead, I think an IRC-like interface could do better.  In most IRC clients you have this one huge area for messages (think channel discussions now), a simple input area, and a lit of people on the channel.   When talking in the room with a lot of people, one is usually required to precede the message with the name of the person to who he speaks.  Also, there is a notion of operators, who kind of look after the order in the room.  They can kick someone out, silence him, warn, change topic of the discussion, and so on.

I think the same concepts could work very well for an ICQ or Google Talk interface.  The user can be an admin of his own channel.  People in his contact list could be shown as a list of people in the channel (fonts, colors and icons can indicate the status of each, with some sorting options).  All messages from all contacts would end up in the same message area.  But that’s only a presentation thing, the actual discussion will still be between two people.  When sending messages, the user would type the name of the person to who he wants to send it.  This should of course support Tab completions, like in most IRC clients…

I do understand that such interface won’t work very well for all sorts of users (especially beginners), but I can see that there would a large number of people who could be interested in it.  Maybe even it was implemented somewhere and I just don’t know or don’t remember seeing it.  Any reminders?

Sim bug cleared up

I’ve been enjoying my Sim ride for some time now. With more confidence in it, I explore the menus and look for more features and configuration options. One of the things that I noticed is support for Yahoo! Messenger. It’s not on the list of features, but it is in the menu (Connections » Connection Manager » New Connection » Protocols » Yahoo!).

I don’t use any other protocols except ICQ much. But I do have a Yahoo! ID, so I thought I’d configure it just in case. I tried to create a new connection, but there was some strange problem. Whenever I would put my Yahoo! ID and password and try to connect, Sim would complain that ‘Login failed’.

Continue reading Sim bug cleared up

Trying out Sim

During the last few days I’ve been trying out Sim. Sim is yet another open source Instant Messaging (IM) client that supports a variety of protocols (ICQ, Jabber, AIM, and MSN). I am currently interested only in ICQ though.

Before Sim I’ve been using Licq for a long time and centericq before that.

I switched from centericq to Licq because I wanted to have annoying notifications on new messages while in graphical mode. Otherwise I was constantly forgetting that centericq was running in one my konsoles and it stayed there abandoned for weeks.

Licq is almost perfect for my needs. And I wasn’t looking forward to jumping of off it. It’s just that a few people suggested that Sim is a better client in general, and that is solves a few of those issues that I have with Licq.

Continue reading Trying out Sim