Monthly Archives: August 2010

Answers to Common Questions About Gchat

Below, I’ve done my best to answer some common questions about Gchat, Google’s free-of-charge Windows web-based application for instant messaging and voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

Scroll down to see all the answers or click on a specific question:

How are contacts added to Gchat?

Contacts are automatically added based on the number of times e-mail messages are exchanged. Contacts must be using Gmail as their e-mail provider.

Is there a way to receive an alert when a contact signs on to Gchat or becomes “available”?

Unfortunately, there currently is no way to receive an alert when a contact signs on to Gchat or becomes available.

Can my employer (my boss or my company) read my Gchats?

The short answer here is ‘maybe’. It depends on what/how your company is monitoring your computer use. One way to make it a bit harder for someone to track your Gchat conversation is to sign onto Gmail securely which will encrypt any data within (include Gchat). Here’s how to change the setting to make sure you are always signing in securely: Sign in to Gmail. Click Settings at the top of any Gmail page. Set ‘Browser Connection’ to ‘Always use https.’ Click Save Changes. (Note that “Always use https’ is now the default setting in Gmail but it is good to double check this.)

Changing the HTTPS setting in Gmail

However, companies can monitor every keystroke made and even take screenshots of what you are doing on your computer, so it’s best to be careful about how you use your computer at work!

Can I be invisible to some people on Gchat and available to others?

No. The status that you set – Available, Busy or Invisible – will be shown to all your contacts. Currently, there is no way to have different statuses for different contacts. If there are a few people that you’d to not be able to know when you are online, the best alternative is to block them.

Can you recommend an app for signing onto Gchat from an iPhone?

I think Fring and IM+ both work well for this, but I personally use Meebo. All three do the same. (I’ve just had a Meebo account for a few years so I liked that I could easily extend it onto my iPhone.

I have other questions about Gchat that you haven’t answered. Where can I learn more?

Simply leave your question in the form of a comment below and I will do my best to help you.

A Few Thoughts on Facebook Places

Tonight, Facebook unveiled its new geo-location feature: Facebook Places. Here’s a quick video the company has put out to explain the new feature.

Now, for my thoughts:

  • I’m pretty excited for the unveiling of Facebook places. I’ve used Foursquare, a niche geo-location social network since March 2009 and I’ve definitely found it useful and fun. I think that many more people will be exposed to the concept of sharing their physical locations with their online social networks which will only add richness and value to all users.
  • I do think that there will be a backlash regarding privacy concerns. I don’t think that the general population is really ready to embrace this type of online/offline interaction. I give Facebook kudos by being proactive and explaining the privacy settings up front. Clearly, the company has learned its mistake of being too open with users’ data.
  • A huge win for Facebook places is its ability to also check users into Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp. This helps ensure that the early adopters who have built a community on those sites can migrate to Facebook and know that they will still be able to engage with those services.
  • Where are the women project managers in the video above? The video makes sure that the Facebook spokespeople are all culturally diverse but gender equality seems to be missing…

So, what do you think? Are you excited to try out Facebook Places? Concerned about how it may erode privacy?

Day 695: Avenue Q

I finally got to see Avenue Q last night at the Lansburgh Theatre! It’s been on my to-experience list for quite sometime and I’m feeling pretty lucky that I was able to see it on the last night of its month-long run here in DC! I highly recommend it for twenty-somethings and beyond.

PS For a pre-show dinner I headed to Momiji (read my Yelp review), a sushi place in Chinatown, followed by a free sample of Rita’s Italian Ice as part of the Grand Opening of its 1012 H Street, NW location.