Tag: Apple

Tip Jar: Pidgim – multi-service Instant Messaging (IM) client

Friends, family and customers frequently wonder which instant messaging client I use. The answer is the free Pidgin. That allows you to connect to multiple services like Yahoo, GMail (Jabber), MSN, AOL, ICQ, IRC, MySpace and more. And is available for the MacOS, Linux and Windows platforms.

There’s even a Skype plug-in for Pidgin but because of the Skype platform model, you also need to have Skype running. Which sort of defeats the purpose of a single IM client? Just use Skype for text, voice and video chats

Yes, some features like voice chat (VoIP) and file transfers are either crippled or plain not available. But I like my all-in-one client which uses fixed system resources. And runs multiple chat sessions via a tabbed pop-up. Instead of multiple clients with their own chat windows. Pidgin connects directly or through a proxy. And you can set each account’s connection individually.

Pidgin is available as a download complete with the GTK runtime. Or you can download a Portable version.

My company has standardized on an internal OpenFire (Jabber platform) chat server for inter-employee communications including file sharing. Doing so has really simplified our LAN configuration since we no longer need to use Active Directory to share files among computers.

And for members of the super-paranoid tribe, you can encrypt communications using Encryption or OTR (Off The Record) add-ins. Once installed you have to setup private and public keys. Then send a chat request with public key to your buddy (also using Pidgin). Who accepts the request and adds the key to their certificate store. Now all chats between you two are encrypted.

A network admin buddy¬† tells me that unlike other IM chats displayed in plain text in server access logs, OTR communications display as hashes. Pretty neat, dontcha’ think?

There are other free clients available like Digsby and Miranda. But my experiences with both haven’t been very good. The open-source Digsby requires that you first register an account with them to use the client. I don’t see why I need to add another gateway with potential access to my buddy lists and private conversations.

Miranda has been very unstable for me. Not only are there frequent crashes; usually in the middle of an important chat. But setting up Miranda isn’t very easy. You need to activate just about every feature. In Pidgin where key features are activated and you only need to disable the ones you don’t need or want.

Free from Google – Snail Mail Holiday Cards

Would you like to send a free Christmas Card through the post to someone you like (or love) in the United States (of America)? Google is offering a free send-a-card-through-snail-mail service at gmail.com/holidaycard. It’s a limited offer on account of “limited Gmail elf availability” and its limited to US addresses only.

The service offers one of 7 card designs. That you can customize with a short (255 character) message.

Way back when Apple too offered a similar free iCard service that let you send customized cards from their collection. Sadly the service was terminated in 2008. Now only Apple users can send cards through their mail program.

Maybe we can blame the downturn for the loss of such free services. But I think its the same infamous ‘bean counter’ at work again. Said counters destroyed the American car industry in Detroit. And paved the way for the rise of Japanese. And Korean. And re-badged Chinese automobiles in the US. And let’s not forget the short-lived Yugo mini car. Maybe the BRIC revenge will continue in the form of the Tata Nano mini car.