Can We Chat?
Updated May 2003
One of the many popular methods of communicating over the Internet is Internet Relay Chat. It had its roots in the BBS era, and was brought to the Internet from Finland in 1988. It quickly grew in popularity, and today there are documented mental illnesses describing the fascination some people acquire for this high-tech social outlet.
Chat is a text-based conferencing system where anyone can connect to a system where people are discussing a topic, launch a special program that handles the text messages, and read the messages of the participants immediately or send immediate messages to the group. Like verbal conversations, once a statement is made, it soon scrolls off the screens of the participants and is gone forever unless one of them is recording it. You watch the discussion on your screen, and type in your own messages whenever you feel like it. It's like a big party-line telephone system. Whoa! Actually it's like a party!
OS/2 has a variety of programs you can use to join the chats. A good place to start is the Center of the OS/2 Chat Universe, the Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education, or VOICE. They are an organized club with dues-paying members and a newsletter, which includes interviews with such luminaries as our own Randell and Rollin, and are our benefactors for the #SCOUG channel we'll be using for SCOUG meetings. Their web site at http://www.os2voice.org has more information, including an excellent tutorial on IRC in the Sep 98 issue. Details can be found in RFC 1459 at http://www.rfc-editor.org/.
You can download software from VOICE or go to Hobbes or BMT Micro to download any of several programs available for Warp, from simple text based shell programs to full graphical programs with address books and help files and all the bells and whistles you can imagine. There are even pure Java versions! Download some and try them out. Most are free or inexpensive shareware.
Now, all you do is browse chat servers and find groups you like, and chat with them. If you tire of them, say goodbye and go do something else. It's just about that simple. You need an address, of course. You can find a listing on the web of the sites that carry VOICE at http://irc.fyrelizard.com/. One of the nearest ones is right here in California -- enter irc.ca.fyrelizard.com:6667 in your chat program, or click irc://irc.ca.fyrelizard.com:6667/ if you use Mozilla.
Connecting is easy. Here's the short version: Get a chat client such as EZIRC from Hobbes. Unzip it to a directory. Start it. Connect to the internet. In EZIRC, connect to irc.ca.fyrelizard.com:6667. For VOICE meetings, you join the #VIOCE channel. SCOUG also holds IRC Chat meetings -- you just connect to a Webbnet server at the appointed time and join the #SCOUG channel.
You'll be seeing and hearing a lot more about this exciting topic. Try other chat clients, and other channels. Get on board now, and join the fun! See the OS/2 Chat page for info on these and other IRC forums.
And remember, if you feel you are becoming adicted to this facinating activity, check out the cyber counseling entries at Yahoo! or your favorite search engine!
May 24, 1999 (Updated May 2003)
Email: Dave (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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