Tag Archives: gchat

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.

My First Rule of GChat

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.

GChat Status Let me start by saying this. If you are still using Hotmail or Yahoo or any other type of web-based (or even worse: non-web based!) program that is not Gmail, finish reading this post and then go SIGN UP!

Google is one of those companies of which I am truly in awe. (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, AIM, are others that come to mind). Google’s products have COMPLETELY revolutionized our lives. Gmail, Google’s web-based mail application, simply BROKE THE MOLD and shifted the way we think about e-mail communications.

The first example of Gmail’s uniqueness I can think of at the moment is the threaded conversation feature, which has made it easier to follow the life of an e-mail. And the second is its chat feature within the mail client.

In fact, GChat is to this second era of the internet what American Online and American Instant Messenger were to the first. (And, as I wrote in October, it has helped bring about the convergence of our offline and online identities.) People you e-mail a certain number of times get added to the list of people you can chat with. And there are different ways to alert those people to your availability: you can be available to talk, idle if you’re away from the computer, ask people not to message you if you are busy and, lastly, you can “go invisible”. This last status allows you to view and message your contacts without allowing them to do the same.

In the past few weeks I’ve had several experiences which have led me to the creation of my first rule for GChat: I do not talk to those who have made themselves invisible. Why, you ask?

To begin, I consider myself to be a compassionate and loyal friend who stands by and supports the people she cares about. And, truly, I expect nothing less from the people that I allow to be a part of my life. Yes, those words were chosen carefully – being a part of my life and commanding my friendship are privileges.

When someone is “invisible” it means that they can contact me if they need me, but I can’t contact them to do the same. It ruins any chance at a reciprocal relationship which makes it inherently selfish. And that’s the sort of thing that I just can’t tolerate from those around me.

Listen, folks, I know it seems like such a trivial thing to get caught up in, but I think it’s a small thing that reflects a person’s general personality and that’s why it bothers me.

But, let me turn it over to you. How do you feel about “invisible” people on GChat? Do you yourself have rules for GChat?

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.

5 iPhone Apps That Rocked My World

If you’re an iPhone owner and I’ve seen you recently, you’ve most likely already heard about my two new favorite applications. I figured it’s about time to spread the love to the rest of the world… So, without further ado, here are two iPhone applications that have rocked my world recently:

1.  Movies by Flixter – With this application, you can check to see all movies that are currently out in theaters, find nearby theaters with address and phone information, find upcoming showtimes (by movie or by theater), see upcoming movie releases or recent DVD releases, get to review sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB with just one click…

In the words of George Gershwin:  Who could ask for anything more? (Interestingly enough, this application was created by a Jeffrey Grossman, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, and it became the first acquired iPhone app when Flixter bought it in August 2008. Read the full story here.)

2. Fring – Fring brings instant messaging to the iPhone – which isn’t that impressive since other applications can do that as well – and do it better, I might add. The IM Plus application allows the user to sign onto MULTIPLE instances of different Instant Messaging platforms like Google Chat and AIM.

But what sets Fring apart is that it enables you to use Skype from your phone and have it count as a (free) computer-to-computer call. This means that Micki in Israel will be getting to hear my voice a lot more frequently now.  Is your best friend studying abroad this semester? Have family overseas? All I’m saying is, you can thank me later.

Back in October,  I made a list of my favorite iPhone applications. I’d like to call out my favorite three that aren’t newly discovered (and therefore don’t qualify for the preceding list) but are now tried-and-true staples that deserve mention just the same.

3. Sportacular. Pro: Allows you to get updated scores for a variety of sports. You can even set it up to see all your favorite teams in one view. Con: Means that I know right away when my Red Sox and Pats aren’t doing so well. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, my friends.

4. Shazam. Pro: Hear a song on the radio, at the gym, during a night out, etc, and don’t know what it is? Shazam will tell you the title/artist and save it for you to view/listen to later. Con: Sometimes it does get stumped. (For example, it didn’t recognize Christina Arguilera’s “Keeps Getting Better”)

5. Twitterfon. Pro: Allows me to update my twitter status from my phone and shows my friends’ statuses. UPDATE: Allows me to see top trending twitter terms, locates nearby users and makes it super easy to reply, retweet and load others’ timelines. Perfection. Con: I’m not convinced that it provides any additional functionality that twitter.com is lacking. Sometimes, my friends remind me that I MUST put my phone away when I’m with others.

So, there’s my five. Now, what have I missed? What’s the iPhone application you just couldn’t live without?