Exploring multiple account IM

Written by James
29
Jan

Thanks to everyone who suggested different multi-id IM tools (for XP) yesterday, have had a chance (in between regular Saturday stuff :o) to play around with a few of them and have some initial thoughts on the four different possibilities: , Jabber (using psi as a client), Miranda and Gaim.

Trillian IMTrillian (which I mentioned yesterday) has definitely been the smoothest & slickest of the bunch, also the simplest (along with Miranda to get my user IDs working with (here AIM, ICQ, Yahoo & MSN). I can understand the attraction with this one although there are two fairly major problems… firstly there is ‘limited’ (to a degree) functionality here… you have to pay for any video as far as I can tell… but that just reminds you of how much you’re in the hands of a proprietary tool and that might not suit the context I’ve got in my head for this (more on that in a minute). Secondly you can’t (I think) use a Jabber ID through it… which could also be a problem.

However, if I had to choose a system for simply personal use which I felt good about straightaway I reckon this would win hands down (bear in mind I haven’t really used it yet though!)

Jabber & PSI IMJabber (using psi as a client was certainly a little more tricky to set up with all my accounts but started rolling pretty successfully after that. Certainly not as slick as Trillian but seemingly robust and effective. The big bonus for this of course is that it’s based around Jabber which allows you your own IM server (behind firewall if appropriate) and like Jabber, the psi client is completely open, free and will be yours… so if you’ve got, say, a University where you want to have each employee set-up with IM that can be auto-populated with their work group through secure connections as well as allowing for connections outside the Uni and through other IM applications (other than the Uni’s official ones)… you get where I’m coming from no, perhaps :o)

Miranda IMBut while Jabber is immensely appealing for that purpose I don’t think you necessarily need a dedicated Jabber client running on desktops and in many ways the ease of use that I got through Miranda in setting up accounts had me sold from the start. Like the Jabber client psi this is open source released, under the GPL license and links into Jabber (so that could be your secure connections I guess). Looks worth a good look!

Gaim IMFinally had a look at Gaim which while being a bit swishier than psi and Miranda doesn’t seem to be much different to them. I’ve had a few problems logging in with this one too but that could well be down to me having tested all the others first and my various IM accounts getting a little suspicious of the fact that I keep logging in and out (and hence blocking me hmmm…) However, looks like it’s worth a shot too.

So where to from here? Well, what I’d really like to do is, over the next week or two, try out each of these a bit more thoroughly (features, operations etc. etc. etc.) and also continue exploring the secure Jabber server option to see how much potential there is there and what the relevant costs / issues might be. I’m going to try and rope a load of colleagues into this with me but you could really help by adding me as a contact and joining in for the odd chat / mess around, please do… I’ll publish what comes up in a few weeks.

So, if you could add me as a ‘buddy’ or whatever then that’d be really cool (you can always tell me to bugger off as soon as I’m done with this :D Here are my details:

MSN : jamesnfarmer@REMOVETHIShotmail.com
ICQ: 226997956
Yahoo: jamesnfarmer
AIM: jamesnifarmer
Jabber: jamesnfarmer@im.flosoft.biz

Speak to ya soon!

  1. Trejkaz

    Trillian can do Jabber, but I’m pretty sure it’s still only in the commercial version which seems ironic to me.

    As for Jabber clients on desktops, I think that the more desktops you use, the quicker it pays off to use Jabber to provide the multiple accounts. For one thing, you only have to sign into the server, and then all your other accounts come online at the same time… unlike Miranda and others, where you would need to configure each client separately.

    Some Jabber clients like Exodus go all out and store a large chunk of the configuration on the server as well, so that you don’t need to configure each client separately. :-)

    But the other reason it’s good is the way you can sign in from all desktops at once. :-)

  2. That is a bit bizarre.

    What about server reliability / security? Are you at any particular risk if you’re not using a server you / your organisation run?

    That’s true for Miranda and the others… am learning this stuff slowly. I’ll hav ea look at Exodus too.

    Thanks for the heads up, useful info. I s’pose there haven’t been any web-based Jabber cleintes developed yet?

    Do you reckon there’s any point in web-based IM?

    This could be another post couldn’t it!

    Cheers, James

  3. Trejkaz

    You’re right about security issues.

    If you use a server which isn’t run by you, there is a chance that it will log your conversations.

    This is especially the case if you use MSN or AIM, and you can’t avoid it with any particular client since the risk is always there. I remember reading news a while back about the US government getting chat logs from AIM to use as evidence against some IM user. :-/

    Jabber gives you a bit of defence against this, since you can just run your own server, or if you really want the privacy, you can use a client with Psi with built-in support for end-to-end crypto. :-)

  4. When I was on Windows Gaim worked the best for me. Now that I’m on OSX, it’s all about the Adium.

    I added you to my contacts for Jabber and MSN.

  5. I meant to post about this earlier. Now that they just announced a new version, it makes for a better pointer:
    http://nowhere.2entwine.com/archives/000414.html

    What is it? Gush, a Flash-based, cross-platform, desktop news reader/IM client/picture sharing “thing”. You would have to run a local Jabber server in order to get cross IM support, but it has some really interesting capabilities.