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  1.    #1  
    I wanted to post some updated information about Chatter, since I've been getting a fair amount of mail about it...

    STATUS

    Chatter is being alpha-tested now by six people (two from this board). By the weekend, I hope to get that number up to ten or so (the additional four from this board). For testing purposes, the early versions of Chatter handle only Instant Messaging ,with eMail to follow.

    As I mentioned in the earlier release, the user interface is very different than that of traditional IM or eMail clients, being more contact-oriented and medium-independent rather than session-based.

    Here are the major features of the actual alpha release:

    INSTANT MESSAGING

    1) Support for AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, and MSN

    2) Support for 24 contacts, plus the ability to handle "anonymous" (i.e. non-contact) IM's.

    3) Asynchronous operation (sending and receiving while you are doing other things - no waiting for connections to open, messages to be sent, etc...)

    4) Background operation, including sending and receiving IM's and keeping track of presence information (so you don't have to re-login) without the use of SMS.

    5) Data connection maintenance (automatic re-connecting of broken data connections)

    SIZE

    The Chatter package itself is about 75k. FontBucket, which provides additional fonts (without "hacks"), is required and comes in at 120k.

    BUGS

    Provided free.

    COST

    I have stated previously that I intend the product to be free, including service. While the service part will definitely be free, I am considering asking for a small donation to my favorite charity from Treo 300 users (the Kids Center of Bend, Oregon) and may decide to charge for other versions (e.g. Treo 270, Samsung i330), simply to defray my cost of getting the appropriate hardware and service.

    CONTACT INFO

    I can be reached at: chatsw@mailcan.com.

    Marc
  2. #2  
    Similar concept, different execution:

    http://www.imforwards.com

    Support for AIM now, MSN next and Yahoo shortly after that (according to tech support). Send/receive IMs from any wireless device or email account. Auto on, etc. Works pretty good, completely free. Just another option.
  3.    #3  
    It seems like it couldn't be MORE different!

    What IMFORWARDS does is to take your IM's (AOL only at the moment) and forward them as either SMS or eMail messages. Yuck! SMS is limited to 160 characters and is notoriously unreliable. eMail is slow and chunky to use - in NO way is it conducive to chatting.

    What's more, there's no program or interface, just a service. Chatter (and VeriChat, for that matter) are real, honest-to-goodness IM programs.

    So, other than the fact that it's 100% different, I'd say it's exactly the same!

    - Marc
  4. #4  
    Well, for me, the end result is the same. IM on my phone. The thing is, I hate having to load a program, run it, and manually log on to it in order to get IMs on my phone. And we all know you have to be connected 24/7

    Thing with imforwards is it automatically sees when I shut down at my desk and immediately starts forwarding for me.

    I agree, character limitation on SMS is annoying sometimes. Thank goodness Sprint fixed that "from" issue on SMS!! For me, I like getting instantly notified that I got an IM, can read the first few lines, and if I want to respond or read more I just open up multimail and check my email. I'm constantly up to date on all my emails so it works really well for me.

    I bugged the guys running this other service a bit about features and it seems like they already have a lot of things in the works, like breaking up large messages, support for other platforms, issuing commands to manage buddies or logging on/off from the phone.

    Anyway, I think your program is sweet, and I want to check it out for doing real time communications with people, but 90% of the time I just want to be able to receive IMs from people without having to do anything on the phone. Right now I go and start up Palm AIM when I want to have a conversation with someone who sent me an IM through that forwards service.

    When do you think a beta will be available for us to take a peak at?
  5. #5  
    BTW - are you having reliability problems with SMS? Because I receive all my mission critical pages for system statuses from work via SMS and I haven't missed a one so far. They seem to come through in a matter of seconds. Can you elaborate on the "notoriously unreliable"? I've never experienced that in 3 years as a Sprint customer.
  6.    #6  
    I meant to say that SMS problems, when they've occurred (i.e. hours-delayed messages), are notorious on this particular board - I read about them every day. I didn't mean to say that SMS has frequent problems. Sorry about that!
  7. #7  
    Ok, that makes sense! I was very very pleasantly surprised the other day when my inbound SMS messages started having the "from" address prepended to them. But up to that point I was beginning to be dissapointed with the SMS on my new treo!

    Looking forward to seeing your application. I like the concept you have developed behind managing contacts through multiple IM platforms. I hope it will pull my existing contacts into the program since I have a lot of IM contacts that I'd hate to have to manually re-enter.
  8. #8  
    I have been fortunate enough to have been selected as one of the alpha testers for Chatter and I am extremely impressed. This program will be awesome when it is officially launched. It is awesome already. I love being able to focus on a contact -vs.- a service. I can setup my regular contacts and then I am able to reach them on yahoo, ICQ, AIM or MSN. But the thing to note here is that all contact with this individual is logged by contact, regardless of which service you are using. I find this focus very handy. Some of us use several services and it is distracting, to say the least, to have to hop from one to the other to send messages. With Chatter you don't have to.

    I am looking forward to the email portion of the program to see how that integrates with IMing. It's shaping up to be terrific!

  9. #9  
    What if you have the same contact opn two different IMs?


    Originally posted by Llynx
    I have been fortunate enough to have been selected as one of the alpha testers for Chatter and I am extremely impressed. This program will be awesome when it is officially launched. It is awesome already. I love being able to focus on a contact -vs.- a service. I can setup my regular contacts and then I am able to reach them on yahoo, ICQ, AIM or MSN. But the thing to note here is that all contact with this individual is logged by contact, regardless of which service you are using. I find this focus very handy. Some of us use several services and it is distracting, to say the least, to have to hop from one to the other to send messages. With Chatter you don't have to.

    I am looking forward to the email portion of the program to see how that integrates with IMing. It's shaping up to be terrific!

    My life is in my Treo... Where is yours?
  10.    #10  
    You can have a contact on all four IM systems (plus eMail) - all of their communication appears in the same dialog. In addition, you will defaultly reply to the system from whom the last message appeared, or you can select the routing (if you like). The idea is to make communication as simple and transparent as possible.

    - Marc
  11. #11  
    whe you gonna release?
  12.    #12  
    You can have a contact on all four IM systems (plus eMail) - all of their communication appears in the same dialog. In addition, you will defaultly reply to the system from whom the last message appeared, or you can select the routing (if you like). The idea is to make communication as simple and transparent as possible.

    - Marc
  13.    #13  
    (Sorry for the double post above, btw)

    I'm still in alpha test (with six testers, a few more to be added this weekend). I'd suspect that Beta would start in about a week to 10 days.

    - Marc
  14. #14  
    mblank -- please explain the difference between Chatter and Verichat (which I currently use and like a lot), besides the price which is obvious (haha).
    Thanks, m00se
  15.    #15  
    Basically...

    STRUCTURE

    VeriChat is a multi-IM client in which a "chat" is a dialog with an individual over one IM network. For example, if my friend Phil has accounts with Yahoo IM, AIM, MSN Messenger, and ICQ, I could potentially have four different sessions with him during the day, as he moves from place to place.

    With Chatter, all of my interactions with an individual appear in the same place (i.e. with all four IM networks, plus eMail). So my dialog with him is continuous and independent of the medium through which the message travelled.

    INTERFACE

    In terms of style, they are very, very different. You'd have to decide which you like better.

    One thing I really love about Chatter is that (virtually) all communications takes place asynchronously, which means that you can be sending and receiving eMail and IM's while you are reading other messages or typing replies. The program simply doesn't STOP to communicate. Among other things, there's no such thing as having the program stop and wait to connect to various servers.

    BACKGROUND OPERATION

    VeriChat and Chatter work very differently in the background.

    VeriChat uses SMS for incoming messages and regular net (TCP) connections for outgoing messages (sending an outgoing message in the background requires time to connect and send the message). This requires the use of their own server, for which they (rightly) charge. You are at the mercy of Sprint's SMS system and PDAApps' server.

    Chatter uses regular net connections for incoming and outgoing messages, and both are handled asynchronously (i.e. you don't need to wait for a connection to be made on outgoing messages, etc). Chatter also reconnects data connections in the background (and even reconnects the IM server in the background). All of this requires the use of a third-party server; fortunately, there are a number of reliable and free servers around that can host Chatter's IM services. But you are, of course, somewhat at their mercy (you can switch servers if one becomes unreliable, though...)

    I'm guessing that the IM's you receive in the background in VeriChat are limited to 160 characters or so (I'm happy to be corrected if wrong). The limit in Chatter is 1,024 characters, which is also the limit for outgoing background messages.

    COST

    VeriChat users pay for the software, plus an additional service charge after the first year.

    Chatter's cost hasn't been determined. I had originally planned on it being free, but I may charge a small fee for Treo 300 users which would go to charity. If there are versions for other phones, they probably wouldn't be free (because I'd have out-of-pocket expenses).

    Perhaps some of my alpha-test users could comment on the differences. I believe they all have used VeriChat.

    Hope this helps; obviously, it's not an exhaustive summary...
    Last edited by Chatter; 01/25/2003 at 08:47 PM.
  16. #16  
    Ok ... I am an alpha tester.

    I log into Chatter.
    I have a list of contacts.
    They are listed alphabetically by name.
    I get a message from Paul.
    Paul's name flashes on the bottom of the screen in red.
    I can reply to Paul if I subscribe to the same service. (i.e. he has Yahoo and I have Yahoo)
    All the services Paul subscribes to are listed at the bottom of the screen. (Yahoo/MSNMgr./ICQ/AIM)
    I am able to see what services he is currently logged into. If he is online in Yahoo I can see his status. If he is also logged into AIM I can see that as well.
    The important distinction with Chatter is that your communcations are logged BY CONTACT.
    Paul can send me a message from inside Yahoo and I will see it under his name.
    Paul can send me another message from inside AIM I will also see this under his name if I also subscribe to AIM. But they are listed under HIS NAME. So regardless of how/or which service he uses ... all contact with Paul will be listed under his name PAUL.

    It is cool.

    Most of my contacts are in Yahoo. I have a few in AIM. I don't really use ICQ or MSN Messenger. But I still love the ability to see who is online and be able to contact them without the worry of what service to log into.

    Important note: If you do sign up with all the services (Yahoo, AIM, ICQ and MSN) then Chatter automatically logs you into all of them at once. So to reach your contacts you don't have to think about that part of it ... just contact them!!

    I am sorry, this is not a very technical explanation, but it's the best I could do at this time. This program is absolutely wonderful. And once Marc integrates the email part of it then the contacts can also send you email and you will be able to read it as well in the same CONTACTS screen. Wonderful.

    You guys are gonna love Chatter. Trust me.
  17. #17  
    Originally posted by mblank
    Hope this helps; obviously, it's not an exhaustive summary...
    It is plenty to convince me!
    Oh, one more thing: I use Treo 270 with T-mobile, would that make any difference (vs. Treo 300 with SprintPCS)?
    Thanks a bunch and good luck!
    m00se

    Originally posted by mblank
    Chatter's cost hasn't been determined. I had originally planned on it being free, but I may charge a small fee for Treo 300 users which would go to charity...
    That is very generous of you!
    m00se
  18. #18  
    Hello All...

    I've been testing out Chatter for the past week now, and I have to say that its been absolutely awesome.

    Let me give you some background. I got my Treo the end of December, and immediately started looking for programs to utilize the potential of the device. To be perfectly honest I am VERY disappointed in the base software suite that it comes with, but hey thats what the add on capability is for.

    I first discovered Verichat about 4-5 days after getting my Treo. I installed it and was pretty dang excited to be able to IM from anywhere. Well to be perfectly honest, to say I was disappointed is an understatement. After a couple conversations with VeriChat I gave up on it. One conversation that I had with a friend via AIM, I sent approximately 15 messages, of which she only received 2!!! Also, I only received about half of the messages that she sent me. That kind of reliablity was a REAL turn off. Also, I could not stand the loss of buffer and the momentary "hangs" in the program when receiving/sending messages.

    When Marc e-mailed me the other week with the program I was pretty excited (although I think I hid it pretty well =]). When he said beware, this is in alpha and it may cause resets and hard resets blah blah, I was like oh great here we go, its gonna be awhile for this to go gold. To be perfectly honest, at least in terms of reliabilty and usability, this program is light years ahead of VeriChat. I have had a grand total of one fatal exception and thats because I was messing with the program in an unintended way (oh and btw, that is something else that is great... Marc has been open to any and all suggestions, and has implemented a lot of changes that will make this program usable in a wide variety of situations)

    I don't think that I have had one missed message with Chatter. The program response is awesome, the interface is VERY promising and very user friendly. It takes a couple minutes to see what is going on, but after that, its like second nature.

    I've used Trillian on the PC for awhile now, and this program doesnt even really compare to it. In my own opinion, the concept that Marc has come up with will go a really long way, and after you get a chance to use it and the concept has a chance to grow, we will never know how we did without it. (like so many other things that we use today, like the treo!) =]

    Anyways, I think that I have rattled on enough. I will try and make sure that I help Marc work out all the little buggies and I think that all of you will want to try out the program when he gets this version ironed out.

    Kudos out to him for all of his hard work, I know it is a labor of passion, but it is easy for us to say gimme gimme, and not realize how much effort it takes! Thanks!

    Any questions for me, feel free to e-mail me, chatter@rairai82.com

    Ryan.
  19. #19  
    that's all fine and dandy but when are you going to release this program? I can't wait!!!
  20. #20  
    Originally posted by 003oret
    that's all fine and dandy but when are you going to release this program? I can't wait!!!
    According to Marc:
    "I'm still in alpha test (with six testers, a few more to be added this weekend). I'd suspect that Beta would start in about a week to 10 days."

    And I assume he'd let us know
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