Gaim evolves into Pidgin 2.0

The free instant-messaging client Gaim (GDK+ AOL Instant Messenger) has become popular in recent years because of its ability to connect with a wide range of IM networks (Yahoo, MSN, IRC, Jabber/Google Talk/XMPP, AIM, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, and others) and its extensibility in the form of user-created plug-ins.

The name Gaim came about due to complaints from AOL about the name GDK+ AOL Instant Messenger. However, as AOL Instant Messenger became more popular, AOL trademarked the acronym "AIM," leading to further legal struggles with the Gaim developers. After a series of negotations, the developers agreed to change the name of the 2.0 version of Gaim to Pidgin, based on the word for simplified speech between people who do not share a common language.

The big change in Pidgin 2.0 is the new look. The interface has been redesigned, with the option to view your Buddy List in Basic or Advanced view. Important facets like plug-ins and status availability have been broken out of the Preferences dialog and into areas of their own. Plug-ins have their own dialog available from the Tools menu, and status is now set by a drop-down menu at the bottom of your buddy list.… Read more

Chatting 'bout an IM generation

LOS ANGELES--Power is in the hands of the IM set.

A buzzword here at the OnHollywood conference this week is the "IM generation"--a young age group that has adopted instant messaging and texting more than any other form of digital communication.

Tony Perkins, founder of OnHollywood and organizer of the AlwaysOn Network, launched the event on Tuesday night by saying that the IM generation is driving innovation.

Perkins' statement was followed by a Thursday discussion led, in part, by a group of young panelists. It focused on how teenagers tend to not look at their gadgets and … Read more

One IM to rule them all?

Editor's note: This is Part One of a two-part series on multinetwork IM clients. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about all-in-one Web and mobile chatting.

There's a lot to chat about in the multiprotocol IM universe. Pidgin just debuted as a full-fledged version 2.0, replacing the much-loved Gaim. Trillian is gearing up to wow us all with its gleaming browser-based Astra version, and every day more and more plug-ins pop up to make this breed of protocol-bridging IM clients more extensible and functional.

If you're still logging into three separate chat services to contact your friends, it's time to consider these consolidated options.… Read more

Yahoo Messenger is now Webware

Yahoo has launched a Web-based version of its instant messaging client, at ( story). It's a slick Flash-based app, and it's a comfortable messaging environment for people used to the downloadable app. The Web version doesn't give you access to all the bells and whistles of the app, such as access to the plug-ins and integrated voice chat, but it handles the basics well enough.

Like Google and AOL's Web-based instant messaging services, the big advantage is that Web-based chat apps don't require a download, so you can chat on locked-down … Read more

AOL: We do too innovate

At the Mix '07 developers' conference tomorrow, AOL will show off its new Vista sidebar widget built with Silverlight technology. Called the "social e-mail gadget," this new tool will let you know when your personal A-list of contacts sends you an e-mail or IM, or posts a photo or video on an AOL service.

New and different

I kind of like the idea. E-mail is too cumbersome to monitor in a widget, unless you are rigorous about creating and maintaining filters, and even standard IM buddy lists have become visually overwhelming, due to the number of contacts most … Read more

Meshly: Another Twitter? Kinda

Meshly is a new nanoblogging platform that's built around publishing via instant messages. Users can create and publish posts in AIM, Google Talk, or Windows Live Messenger using IM bots. Creating posts is like having a conversation with someone. Type "post" to the IM robot and it will ask you to fill out the post title, body, links, and tags, before it publishes the content to Meshly's post queue.

Once post are there, other Meshly users can vote to decide which ones are interesting. Stories that have piqued enough user interest will be promoted to the … Read more

I don't need 8hands to reach my friends

If more than one-fifth of Web startups are social networking sites, as the Webware 100 indicates, then a service pooling together your various online identities should be pretty handy, just like Trillian is for instant messaging. 8hands is one of the latest services designed to coordinate social networking contacts (see YoName too). It grabs your buddies from Flickr, Blogger, Twitter, TypePad, YouTube, MySpace, WordPress, and LiveJournal and displays them in a floating, IM-sized window. This free, 8.5MB alpha app took about five minutes to download on Windows XP.

8hands is supposed to rank your pals according to how often … Read more

News roundup: Martha 2.0, Xbox does IM, Salesforce buys Koral

Martha Stewart goes 2.0. Martha Stewart's Web site has undergone a massive overhaul, combining photos, videos, and user forums to give it more of a community draw. Site creators apparently went through 15 years of archived content to re-index it for searching. Also updated are recipe pages, which now give you both the recipe for a dish and a video demonstrating how to prepare it.

Xbox Live and Windows Messenger buddies to merge. In next month's Xbox 360 system software update, Microsoft plans to add chat integration with Windows Live Messenger. It's the first real step … Read more

Google Talk widget gets better

Google pushed out a nice update to the Web version of their Talk application earlier this week. Users can now have more than four conversations at once, embed Flickr slide shows into chat, and my personal favorite, pop out the chat list as its own window.

The Flickr slide show implementation is pretty slick, although I got a little confused trying to paste in the slide show URL, only to get a dead-end. Users need only paste in an album URL, and Google Talk will automatically convert it into a slide show for you. You can shuffle back-and-forth between photos, … Read more