September 9, 2005
It’s Easy to Feel Like a Luddite These Days, Part II
In Part I, I talked about tagging and podcasting and how I felt pretty lame for someone who considers himself to be somewhat of an early adopter for not understanding them. So now, 10 weeks later, I understand tagging and have a del.icio.us account, although I don’t use it all that often (quite frankly, I don’t have tons of surfing time to discover cool new content). And I’ve even figured out how to integrate del.icio.us with Feedburner and with Typepad.
I’m still out of luck with Podcasting, mainly because my iPod and computer setup at home makes it really difficult to add/sync, so I haven’t given that a shot yet.
But today I had another two breakthroughs — I switched from AOL Instant Messenger to Trillian for my IM client, and I started using Skype. Trillian is pretty cool and of course free. I’ve never used MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger seriously, so the value for me is less in the aggregation of all three clients, and more in tabbed chatting. Just like Firefox, the client lets you have all your chat windows displayed as tabs in a single window, which is much simpler and cleaner. But better than Firefox, you can detach a chat window if you want to see it separately.
Skype is really cool. I understand why the company will be sold for a good price, although I still don’t understand either $3 billion as a price or eBay as a buyer. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Skype is voice Instant Messenger on steroids. The basic functionality (for free) is that you can ping someone computer to computer, and have a real time voice chat if you are both online and accept the connection via your computer’s microphone. If you decline the connection, it saves a voicemail for you. The extras, which I haven’t tried yet, include SkypeOut (you can dial a real phone number from your computer for $0.02/minute, anywhere in the world) and SkypeIn (you get a phone number to give people so they can call your computer from a phone). The quality was pretty good — certainly as good as or better than many cell phone connections, if not up to land line or VOIP standards. Permission and usage/volume controls will be an issue here long-term since this is much more intrusive than regular test-based IM, but when it works, it is a beautiful thing.
Now, just like the vendor mayhem in the blog/RSS world (Typepad, Feedburner, Feedblitz, etc.), we need to get Trillian to incorporate Skype into its client so there’s a truly universal chat application.