Caught In The Web

Fast Gets Faster: Communication At Its Best

Instant Messenger, Webcam, & Voice Chat

by Laura Emery, Associate Editor

Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000

In our ever-increasingly fast-paced world, even the rapid response of e-mail sometimes just isn’t fast enough. With the introduction of instant messaging (IM) and the added bonus of voice microphones and webcams, e-mail might soon become a thing of the past.

Instant messaging services have been discovered by a wide variety of audiences. It has become a prime method of time-effective communication for troops (Armed Forces) overseas to communicate with loved ones because of its immediacy and low bandwidth. E-mail simply can’t provide the same real-time contact as instant messaging does. The growing use of instant messaging is evolving with the use of video and audio communications – an obvious marriage made in Heaven. Using voice microphones allows users to talk to and hear each other at little or no cost.

Instant messaging exploded on the Internet scene in November 1996 when Mirablis, a 

company founded by four Israeli programmers, introduced ICQ, a free instant-messaging utility that anyone could use.

 

Instant messaging services have been discovered by a wide variety of audiences. It has become a prime method of time-effective communication for troops (Armed Forces) overseas to communicate with loved ones because of its immediacy and low bandwidth. E-mail simply can’t provide the same real-time contact as instant messaging does. The growing use of instant messaging is evolving with the use of video and audio communications – an obvious marriage made in Heaven. Using voice microphones allows users to talk to and hear each other at little or no cost.

 

Instant messaging exploded on the Internet scene in November 1996 when Mirablis, a company founded by four Israeli programmers, introduced ICQ, a free instant-messaging utility that anyone could use.

 

Bringing The World Together

 

With an instant messaging program, you can receive instant alerts, send instant messages, join group chat rooms, share photos and pictures, access your buddy list from any computer, enjoy live conversations, chat with friends and family across the country or continent, meet new people, play online games, stay on top of the news and stocks, and more.  The majority of instant messaging services are free.

 

With most instant messaging applications, you enter in a list of “buddies” and will be notified by a sound or visual alert when one of your buddies are online or sends you a message. Also, some of the instant messaging (IM) services allow "voice chats" using a microphone. All you need to get started is access to the Internet and your choice of instant messaging software.

 

While there are a wide variety of instant messaging programs, the most well known instant messaging software programs are Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and MSN Messenger. It is important to choose an instant message service that your friends and family are likely to use. You DO NOT need to be an AOL member to be able to utilize AIM. You can send instant messages to anyone who has signed up for AIM, or anyone who subscribes to America Online. When you sign up for Yahoo Messenger, you are automatically given a Yahoo ID that can be used for an e-mail account as well as instant messenger.

It’s simple to get started with AIM. First, make sure you have a computer with a connection to the Internet by dialing into your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If using a computer at the office, school, or your local library, the computer probably connects to a Local Area Network (LAN). AOL suggests that you have at least a Pentium Processor or PPC Macintosh, Windows 95 or higher or Macintosh System 8.5 or higher, 16MB Ram, 5MB of free hard drive space, a 28.8 modem, an Internet connection that allows full Internet usage, and a full duplex sound card. Don’t let these recommendations discourage or confuse you – you can get by with less.     

First things first, go to www.aol.com/aim/home. After downloading the software, it will prompt you to choose a screen name. This is where you can add a personal touch and pick a name that says something about you. Next, start adding screen names to your buddy list. In order to assist you, AOL and Yahoo provide directories through which IM users may search for friends and family members by name, e-mail address, or similar interests. Then, the next time you connect to the Internet, click on the AIM icon (little yellow man) or Yahoo Messenger icon (yellow smiley face) and check out who’s online, or wait until someone sends you a message.

When signing up for Yahoo Messenger, the download process will take about 16 minutes if you are using a 56k modem, and 25 seconds if you have a high-speed connection. Go to http://messenger.yahoo.com to begin the process. To continue, follow the instructions that appear on your screen. Once the installation is complete, you can start adding buddies and personalizing your list. Other users seeking to add you to their contact list must first get your approval, and you have the option of blocking anyone not already on your contact list. With Yahoo Messenger, you can have conversations with several people at the same time, send files up to 10 megabytes over the Internet, and use voice and video.

Voice Chat

And then there’s voice chat, a modern form of communication used on the Internet. The means of communicating with voice chat is through any of the messengers---mainly Yahoo, AOL or MSN Messenger. Voice chat has led to a significant increase in distant communications where two people from opposite ends of the world can talk almost free of cost.

To start a voice conference, in most cases you need to be using a Windows 95/NT/98 computer that is equipped with computer microphone and speakers (or a dual-function headset). You will also need the latest version of a messenger of your choice that includes the voice chat feature.

For Yahoo voice chat----once on the main instant message screen, you would then click on the “voice” icon on the toolbar. Then click and hold down the green “talk” button to start talking. When you are done talking, release the button.

Wild About Webcam

There’s also use of the webcam with instant messaging where you can talk and see another person live while you're connected via the Internet. Human communication is enhanced with the ability to see the other person’s face – their expressions add to what they say. With this technology, despite being separated by thousands of miles, users can chat as if they were sitting together in a coffe shop.

Products like the Livve, Quickcam, Webcam32, SightSpeed, and Ispy have made it possible for everyone to have a webcam. A webcam is a camera that is in some way connected to the World Wide Web, or Internet. One of the most common types of webcams are personal cameras that are connected to a home PC, which with the help of some software allow the user to share a live image of themselves with others.

This image may be publicly available to the Internet at large if desired, but most of the time the webcam image is only available to the user's friends who know the proper address to connect to. You can use the webcam while using an instant messaging service, or you can use it while talking with voice chat.

 

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