My mainstay instant messenger program is Trillian. I use it primarily because I can't stand having a bunch of different programs for different messenger services. In addition, Trillian has a very light footprint (meaning it will not bog down your system.)
There are more than a few people who are absolutely fed up with the way instant messengers are delivered. In a moment I will be describing how to use Trillian and make it a simple, text based only tool - meaning no smileys, no graphics, no file transfers, nuttin'. Just text, the way it's meant to be. (grin)
Why Yahoo Messenger sucks:
The last time I tried Ya-Whore Yahoo Messenger, it pissed me off because it installed a bunch of crap I didn't want it to, AND it would not uninstall itself completely when I asked it to. All I wanted when I installed it originally was the messenger. I didn't want mail, I didn't want that stupid Yahoo! Toolbar, I didn't want to install any "Yahoo Experience" stuff (a dismal one at best,) all I wanted was a messenger.
Why AOL Instant Messenger sucks:
One word can describe AO-Hell AOL Instant Messenger best: Ads. And ads we got. Lots of 'em. They're everywhere. Also, by installing this messenger, you will have icons placed for AOL services all over your computer, like in the browser, on your START MENU in two to three different places... and it's just all very very annoying. Blah. Let's not forget the ads every time you even look at the messenger.
Why Microsoft Network (MSN) Messenger sucks:
Very bloated application. Way too graphical. It slows everything down and then tries to convince you to "integrate" it into everything else with that god-awful Passport crap. Also this software is VERY hard to get rid of.
Why ICQ Sucks:
ICQ used to be the coolest instant messenger app out there. It ran great, didn't force anything on you and it was fun to use. That's all changed. ICQ is one of the largest (if not the largest) applications just for instant messaging. It's unbelievably full of crap, making it almost impossible to enjoy using it at all. Like AOL, it's full of ads a-plenty.
The solution: Trillian
a) It's free (but there is a "pro" version available for purchase which includes extra goodies).
b) It's small.
c) It simultaneously connects to AOL/Yahoo/MSN/ICQ and also does IRC. And it will only connect to what you want it to connect to.
My trillian setup:
In the way I have my Trillian set up, I purposely turn off everything. No buddy icons, no emoticons, no file transfers and no text formatting. It's nothing but plain honest-to-goodness text. I also set it up so that it doesn't just pop forward whenever I'm in the middle of doing something.
The first thing I do is install the skin Silver-XP. This is by far my favorite because it plainly shows what type of chatter is chatting you. Example:
You can see that AIM's/Yahoo's or whatever are distinguished easily.
The next thing I do is turn off all the formatting/font/sound crap in Preferences:
On the File Transfer area of Preferences I turn all that off. If someone wants to send me a file bad enough, they can e-mail it.
All Buddy icons are turned off. Couldn't care less about those stupid things.
And I purposely set it to not just thrust a window to the front when someone chats me (it's just as bad as pop-ups).
Trust me, keep your messaging like this and all of a suddent it's "Wow, I can actually enjoy chatting again!" (grin)
I had to reinstall Steam so like usual I visited their web site. The first thing I see there is 3 "versions" of the new Half-Life 2 from VALVe, that being Bronze, Silver and Gold. What got me was the Gold version - it's $90 bucks. My first reaction: "You have got to be kidding me."
The 90 bucks basically gets you the game, 2 additional games (based on the same engine,) some cheesy posters, a soundtrack (please....), a hat (to look super-geeky!) a "collector's box" (meaning it will collect dust and not be worth anything,) a postcard (YEAH!! A POSTCARD!! SWEET!), and some other crap - with emphasis on the word CRAP.
Game selling has reached a new all-time low with this. First of all, Half-Life 2 isn't even worth the "base" price of 50 bucks. It's worth 40 at best. Secondly, there is absolutely nothing "collectible" about Half-Life 2. Not a thing. Third, if you have to include posters, hats and postcards just to sell the game - the game most likely sucks. There is something very wrong about any game that has to "include" stuff just to sell it - much less charge FORTY DOLLARS MORE just for the extra CRAP.
Holy SHIT does this piss me off. What pisses me off even more is that it will probably sell.. that's the worst part.
Small end note: I know that bundling goodies with games is nothing new... Atari and Nintendo used to do it very well. But the one thing I would expect to see isn't there: a t-shirt. T-shirts rock. Shirts are always good. That and sew-on patches for backpacks or something like that. Those are actually worth something (to me at least). Hats are dumb. Postcards are SUPER dumb, and posters..? Ehh. Gimme a t-shirt. I won't wear it, but it's better than a card or a poster.
I am typing this from the Thinkpad 390 I just bought. True to my fashion, the first thing I did with this laptop was format the hard drive and reinstall Windows. That fortunately went through without a hitch, and everything installed exactly as it should have.
The screen is bright with no dead pixels, the sound card speaker sounds as good as it can for a laptop (laptop speakers by nature are cheesy because they are small), and for a 233Mhz it runs surprisingly well. It's not stellar by any means, but it does it what it's supposed to do - which is all I can ask of it.
I haven't tested whether the battery is any good or not. When I received the laptop (a small story I'll get to in a moment,) the battery was stone dead, but, the guy I bought it from on eBay mentioned in plain English that "battery is not guaranteed to work". If it doesn't work after I charge it, no big deal, I will buy another one. Replacement batteries for laptops are a common thing these days, especially for ThinkPad's since there are a lot of them out there.
Before I get to the whole shipping incident, I must say that this is a lightning fast keyboard. I can type super fast on this thing. IBM sure does know how to do keyboards right, that I'll admit. I think this is partially because the keyboard is yesteryear technology and I prefer older keyboards because the feel is so much better than the newer ones.
Okay, on to the shipping thing:
The laptop was scheduled to arrive today. 5pm comes around, no laptop. I go to ups.com and check the tracking. It said more or less that the driver could not find the location and that an attempt was being made to contact the shipper for a more concrete address. I called UPS myself and confirmed that yes, the shipping address was accurate. The driver was a goofball and didn't know where the hell to find my house. UPS said they would contact the driver and then call me directly. Ten minutes went by. UPS called back and asked if I could meet the driver at a specific location. I knew where it was so I said "No problem." I hopped in the car and met up with the driver. I asked him (nicely) "Trouble finding the house?" He simply replied with "The normal driver who does your route is on vacation for three weeks." Translation: "I have no idea where the frig your house is because you live in the woods."
Oh well. I got my laptop. It works fine so far. That's all that counts.