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Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is "interruptive e-mail", or chat. But you probably already knew that. I've used several of the many clients including Trillain Basic and Pro as well as Pidgin (formerly GAIM) and now Miranda. This focuses on the Miranda instant-messaging client.

If you know me, you know I like to talk. Thus, I chat using instant messaging (IM) with my friends. Unfortunately, every one has a different IM favorite (ICQ, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Google, Skype, Jabber, and IRC -- the original granddaddy of IM).

Tired of running multiple programs to visit with friends, relatives, and business contacts, I searched for a single client to manage all my contacts and protocols. I used the proprietary clients until the late 1990s when I found and used Trillian, including one year in Pro mode. I'm a fan of the FOSS (free open-source software) movement, so during that time I heard about and tried the open-source project Pidgin (formerly GAIM), but wasn't happy with it and never switched although I tried. For non-Windows users Pidgin is certainly a good client. Lately I was turned onto Miranda, and now I'm a devoted convert.

Miranda

Miranda has become my favorite. It supports most all of the popular IM clients and it's an open-source project with a growing, avid community. And it has a solid minimal skin (i hate gross over-utilization of screen real estate).

Miranda Software I use (or have found useful):

Installation and Upgrades

Installation of Miranda on Windows XP is easy. Just run the installer and you're done. You'll have to setup your clients if this is your first time (and when you start the application, you'll automatically be asked to do so), but if you are upgrading, just hang onto the home.dat, and mirandaboot.ini files. Latest versions are all Unicode, but if your older OS doesn't support them, then you will have to use the older non-Unicode versions; I didn't.

Plugins go in the Plugins directory, Themes and Skins in the Skins directory, and Icons in the Icons directory. What could be harder? Note that some of the archives are ready to drop into the installation directory and others require that you move the .dll's into the Plugins directory.

To change to the PeriFerral skin (or skin of your choice), you may need to go into Options | Plugins and choose clist_modern.dll (which will deselect the standard one) [Note in 0.7.x, when I installed it, it automatically took care of all this]. Go ahead and enable tabSRMM at the same time if necessary. You will have to restart Miranda.

Other IM Clients

Trillian

Trillian worked fine overall, but the Pro version didn't add anything that I really needed (it adds additional clients and audio/visual capabilities that I didn't use). If you need that, then you'll need the Pro version to use Trillian. Additionally, I had regular problems with Trillian connecting to services, especially Yahoo and MSN. That was the final reason for moving from Trillian. It's a well-done client. For skins, I liked using minimal compact skin.

Pidgin

Pidgin is a good solid client, too. Formerly known as GAIM, they had to change due to trademark issues with AOL and AIM. GAIM supports more operating systems and clients than Trillian, so is a good alternative as well. I had problems finding a skin, though, that didn't take up much real estate, so ended up abandoning it when Trillian worked well again and then migrated to Miranda. It probably is still worth a good look.


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