Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Do You ICQ?

I have a confession to make: I’m not as geeky as you think I am. Oh sure, I can put together a regular expression so I can mod_rewrite old URLs to new, but when it comes to contacting me, I guess I’m either just too old school or too cheap. That’s why I’ve never owned a cell phone, and never got into instant messaging. I’ve never had the need for such things, so why bother with the expense and hassle?

Now it appears that I may have a new job where I’m required to have both. So my question to you is, do you ICQ? AIM, Y!? Do you route it to your cell phone? Do you find it useful? Which one do you think is the best?

Which client do you use? Whatever the provider provides or are you ‘gaim‘ enough to use something thrillin’ like Trillian? Mostly, do you use it for church-related communications? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let us know how you use it.

As for a cell phone … pray for me … I gotta pick a plan … ugh!


  1. Lemme see…..I don’t really have that many friends that ICQ, so…. never had a need for it. But my pastor, youth/college pastor, and both secretaries are on Y!. But all my family’s on MSN. So I use Gaim and I connect to Y!, MSN, and AIM (‘cuz I still have a few friends who haven’t learned better….)

    As for cell phones, the feature I use the most on mine is the “silent” ring. That way, if I forget to turn it off in a meeting, it’s not quite so embarrassing or annoying to those around me. :-)

    BTW, if I can be nosey, what kind of job *requires* you to have instant messenger? Our IT staff at work have implemented our own in-house IM application and they are thinking about turning off access to all other outside IM clients.

  2. I don’t use IM as much as I would like to. The organization I work for prohibits it by blocking the required ports at the firewall. If it were available, I would use it a lot actually. I prefer it in a lot of situations over e-mail. I like the real-time communications aspect of it. It’s got a much more “connected” feel to it than e-mail does.

    We used AIM a LOT during the re-design of our church web site last year to collaborate on design ideas in the evenings when we didn’t have the opportunity or desire to all get ourselves to the same geographical location to have a meeting about it. Instead of setting up a meeting for 7:00 PM at the church to work on the web site, the three of us would just all try to be online later that evening, and often have lengthy discussions over IM sometimes at 11 or 12 at night. We were able to get a LOT done that way, it was very helpful.

    Personally I prefer MSN messenger. I’m a UI freak, and I happen to like it’s UI a LOT better than any of the proprietary IM tools (certainly MUCH better than AIM…but that’s just me). I do however also REALLY like Trillian as an IM aggregate though. It’s got a great UI (skinnable) and has all of the features you need for any of the various protocols it supports. I’ve actually heard really nice things about the Pro version as well.

    As for cell phones, that’s all my wife and I use. We don’t even have a home phone. It’s cheaper for us overall, and we both have phones with us whenever we need them. We went with a Verizon contract since it’s our permanent phone. We’ve been very pleased with the availability of a good signal nearly everywhere we’ve been nationwide, and we pay a flat fee every month and have free long distance with the service. I prefer cellular service overall.

  3. I use Trillian and have done so for more than three years now. Most friends/colleagues are MSN, some are ICQ. Trillian (Pro) is excellent as I have three separate MSN identities which are all signed in at once and the contacts for each are separate too! Brilliant, I would thoroughly recommend it.

    Once you start MSN/ICQ/Y!’ing you’ll soon see the benefits – it’s another channel, more immediate than email but doesn’t require instant, complete attention like the phone does.

    I would second Jon’s comment about silent ring/vibrate in the office/meetings. There is nothing that annoys people more than an unattended , ringing cell phone in a quiet office (can we say “Nokia tune” children?!).


    (Long time lurker from UK).

  4. I got a weird IM setup.

    I use ICQ (for almost 8 years), MSN, Yahoo and Jabber – I only use them for instant messages and nothing else. As my church is university based and has lots of overseas students, I use IM to keep contact with those who have graduated and gone back to their home country.

    However, instead of using a multi-protocol client like Trillian, Gaim or Proteus, I opted for a server-side multi-protocol solution. I run my own Jabber server on my own Linux box, and installed ICQ, MSN and Y! gateway so that when I log into my Jabber account, it automatically logs into my other IM accounts and then route the messages, wrapped inside Jabber/XMPP packets, for me.

    I use many different computers on different platforms at work and home every day, and my Jabber server centrally organised the contact list of all my other IM networks for me. So whereever I log in and whichever Jabber client I use – I can always get the consistent contact list.

    Another benefit is a centralised message history. I run bandersnatch as a gateway to Jabber which can be used to automatically store all conversations into a MySQL database. Instead of having half of your message history stored in your WinXP Trillian at work and half stored in MacOS X Proteus at home, they are all kept in one central location which I can write SQL queries to retrieve old conversations. And that covers all external IM networks that Jabber supports as well.

    Finally, Jabber is *fun* to develop. The protocol is easy to understand as it is open sourced. It is XML, and there are always libraries for your favourite language. The possibility is endless…


  5. On a phone note, never ever get the Sony Ericsson T610. Worst Phone Ever.
    Nokias are generally good, I’ve never known of one to break for no reason.

  6. Definitely go with Fire if you have an ISX box… It supports every major IM protocol and is just amazing to use.

  7. For several years I used the stand alone AIM client. The majority of family and friends had AOL. It fulfilled the objective of chatting with people. My needs evolved since family and friends have moved to other services: Y!, MSN, etc. Therefore, I tried Trillian and have really enjoyed it! I use it at work behind a firewall without any troubles. One caveat: my spouse attempted to use Trillian but ran into an obstacle. The required VPN connection will not allow Trillian clients to remain connected. Another positive for Trillian is their quick response to issues/problems (i.e. AOL attempt to block Trillian traffic).

    In my area, Oklahoma, I have had ATT Wireless and Cingular. My choice is Cignular and the irony is Cignular is in the process of acquiring some of ATT’s assests. I do have one issue with Cingular. They are changing from TDMA to GSM locally and I don’t think they informed the customers. Since I have a TDMA phone, I encounter more dead spots than when I got the service 2 years ago. To balance the scales, I got great tech support from Cingular when I called to determine why I had dead spots. I have a nation wide calling plan and have been happy with the coverage while traveling.

  8. sorry no help here, Never had a cell phone despite protests from the home front and using iChat myself.

  9. For the last 6 years we had a phone reimbursement policy for 60 employees. Each of us picked our own phone and plan. Starting three weeks ago we switched to a company wide contract with T-Mobile with pooled minutes. Everybody ditched their favorite phone service, and got new cell phones. We save considerable out-of-pocket money (hard dollars). Plus, since we no longer have expense reports and only administratively review cell bills over 500 minutes per month, administrative review time is greatly reduced (soft dollars). Service is good in metropolitan areas, with dead spots in some domestic vacation spots. Europe and Asia vacation spots are good.

  10. Hey MeanDean,

    I use AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and iChat. Soon I will be working on a Mac at work, as well as at home, and that’s when I plan to switch over to iChat full-time (which will still allow me to chat with my AIM contacts).

    As for cell phones: My wife and I currently have Verizon. They have great coverage, but they’re “customer service” has been a huge pain in the behind to deal with. Basically they were charging us double what they should’ve been for months and months before we discovered it, and then it took them months and months to reimburse us the hundreds of dollars we were owed. We’re now hoping to get out of Verizon and move on with our cellularly-connected lives …

    Hope this helps.


  11. I love my cell phone, it’s the only phone I use, and I’ve had it for 2 years now. This came after several years of hating cell phones. The benefits of knowing that anyone can contact you wherever you are at are super, and knowing that if you can’t talk that it will go to voice mail and you can check it when you get a chance are great. There have been many times where someone was going through rough times and we were able to talk about it and pray. It really has been a blessing. There also have been a few times that work has called with something urgent that came up and I was able to fix the issue quickly through Remote Desktop.

    As far as IM goes, back in the days before AOL I was big into personal chats with Compuserve, talking with people in other states (and made quite a large bill too, being in jr. high and all). When we switched to AOL, I started to chat all of the time, sometimes having 8 chats going at a time. Somewhere around that time I got sick of it all, and fending off all of the unsolicited advances, so I stopped doing IM. I’ve had to pick it back up for work several times over the past few years (I’ve worked different places). Trillian was even required at one place I worked for the summer, because of the security features and the necessity to get in touch with people. I used iChat at a different place the next summer, which allowed me to communicate with the secretary of my church a few thousand miles away to resolve tech issues. I really like how iChat formats messages. Now I use the scary smiley face Y! because everyone at work uses it, and it is really useful for sending quick error output or links, or trying to track down an issue. IM is much quieter than going over to the person’s desk and talking. The avatars are fun and can be pretty funny (i.e. make fun of your boss who has a monkey as a pet on his avatar).

    In the tech world it’s hard to escape from using IMs and cell phones, it just makes communication more difficult.

  12. Looks like you hit a vein, Dean… :-)

    Trillian. Prepare to be interrupted.

    If you’re gonna carry around a cell phone, why not make it useful for calendaring and thousands of other things as well… consider a Palm phone.

    Amazon has the Treo600 for $200:

    Don’t know about you, but if someone stops me in the hall at church and I commit to doing something, I’d better put it on my calendar. The fact that it syncronizes with my Outlook client (and vice-versa) completes the deal. E-mail about a meeting? Drag it onto my calendar in Outlook, fill-in the details, save.


  13. .. oh yeah… carry multiple versions of the entire Bible with you, and the entire church directory…


  14. My company has used AIM for a few years to quickly communicate between offices. We find it to nicely fill a slot between email and telephones. I’m also able to use it with my Treo 600, but seldom do so. Also, I had used GAIM for a time. I liked the aliasing feature and logging capabilities, but it stopped working with my XP at some point, and with my OS rot I gave up trying to fix it.

  15. Personally, I’m a Gaim user. I have accounts on AIM, ICQ, Y! and MSN, and that’s the easiest way I’ve found to connect to all of them. I used the free version Trillian for quite awhile, but when I started having friends that had @mac.com AIM names, I ended up having to find an alternative, and Gaim ended up being the alternative.

    I mainly use IM to communicate with online friends and with various people I’ve either gone to school with or am currently going to school with. I’ve never used IM to communicate with anyone from my church… I’m not even sure anyone from church has IM (well, I know the teens do, but I’m too shy to get their IM names…) Too bad because I’d prefer to IM church folk.

  16. I use Trillian personally. You can even modify it to fit on a USB device (http://www.trilliananywhere.com/). Our production department here at church uses MSN exclusively, but I have friends and other contacts that use AIM, so Trillian suits me best.

  17. I use AIM and MSN. I haven’t gotten into Trillian though maybe I should…

    Cell-wise, I have a plan with the local provider (nothing else works out here in the prairie) and my phone is a Nokia which has worked out pretty well though I wish it was a flip phone…

  18. I’ve got ICQ, AIM, IM, and YIM, so obviously I use Trillian to handle them all.

  19. I use MSN, I used to use ICQ but the amount of time I spent on it resulted in stupid lame-oh relationships outside of the ICQ world. When you talk to someone more on the computer than you do in real life then you got issues.

    MSN is good for pastoral care I have found, I am able to keep in contact with kids from church and talk to them about stuff. Also good for file transfers…

    In terms of chatting and stuff, sometimes I’d rather use Skype (www.skype.com) it is VoIP… works well even with people on Dialup!

  20. I started with ICQ, but so many of my friends were moving to MSN that I got an account there. I also picked up an AIM account along the way.

    I use GAIM (under Linux) but if you’re running under Windows, then you might also like to check out Miranda IM, which I’m told is very good.

    I’m also planning to install Jabber within the church office, to allow for a customised, internal chat service.

    Cell/Mobile phone-wise, I’ve always been on pay-as-you-go, mainly because I don’t make enough calls to warrant a monthly plan.

  21. I run a jabber server for work and hook up to AIM through it. Then I use, depending on where I am tkabber or PSI as my clients. I don’t like my cell phone much so use it only as a line to my wife and a mobile persona phone book. I don’t think I’d ever hook IM up to my cell. I really don’t want to be that accessible as I relish my peace and quiet times.

  22. i used to have a 6 digit icq number until some swine managed to nick it from me. I also have 2 msn and yahoo accounts.
    I use miranda to run all the networks at the same time as its free (trillian really needs to be paid for) and i didn’t like gaim).

  23. I use Yahoo primarily, because it uses HTTP so it isn’t blocked by as many firewalls as the other services.

    I also have a msn account that I don’t use much.

    I don’t like ICQ because you tend to get spam (since the spammers can just send messages to generic numbers easily.

    So, I use Trillian. I used GAIM for a while but it was not as nice of an inteface as Trillian.

  24. I’m quite fond of my outdated version of amsn (http://amsn.sourceforge.net/). I run a very stoic grey iconless desktop (pekwm on debian), but this gives me the little msn butterfly in the messenger footer to color up my day. Mildly perverse, and it functions too. The upgrade, I’m told, displays the user’s icon – that’s a bit more eyecandy than I can handle, so I stick with this one. Can’t tell you which version it is – it was the version before they remembered to include the version number.

  25. As a Lotus Notes/Domino developer I’ve used Sametime for years. Since the last company I worked for was rather small and all of us worked at client sites or from home, being connected to one another by way of a chat app. was imperative. We had to be available via chat or our cell phones during the 9-5 business hours – no excuses.

    I use Trillian Pro for everything else as it displays all of you conversations with a person in the chat window, which makes picking up on a past conversation much easier. Also when one of my colleagues sends a piece of code to me I can easily go back and retreive it again later.

  26. On Mac OS X I have used both Fire and Adium. Both are alright. Adium looks nicer. Most importantly, both use the Cocoa API so you can set them to read messages. I am a heavy IM used and that saves me a lot of time, since i don’t have to click on a separate windowsd and interrupt what i am doing every time someone sends me a message. Got to have headphones though, otherwise it can be (1) obnoxious and (2) sometimes embarrassing :)

    On Windows I used Trillian, but Gaim is alright too.

    There can be some problems with certain combinations of clients with things like file transfers, though I don’t know I have ever identified a definite pattern. Nothin could convince me to go back to the proprietary client though (ads! yay! and the license says I sold my soul!), so I live with it.

  27. Oh, let me add… I do tend to prefer IM to e-mail. As Yex said, there is something about communicating in real time. I am also more likely to use it than phone, since calling someone is a fairly large interruption, while IM is not (or shouldn’t be; they can always turn it off, after all, and there is less cost to responding to a message than a phone call).

    Often times, though, IM can be less efficient than phone for long conversations and especially when the conversation is the main focus. If you are doing more than one thing – say working on a web page and talking – it can be better. But it takes much longer to say things over IM usually.

    Logging is a nice feature, but my understanding is it may be technically illegal in someplaces? There was some court decision on this recently, but I can’t find it right now.

  28. I use ICQ all the time. In fact, we use it at the church office for everyone now. It’s replaced little pink “while you were out” messages, it’s facilitated communication and working on joint projects and most importantly, allowed each Pastor to not have to drop everything for something that can be taken care of later when they have time.

    Like an unlimited sized duplicate entry message pad, it remembers everything for easy recall. It takes the place of the In/Out board, or calling everyone to tell them you’re going to lunch.

    When I set it up for the office, I made sure all the privacy and security options were set to ‘high’ and the Pastors were invisible. We can see one another, but only people whom we specifically authorize can see the staff.

    For this office, a staff of 4 full time, 3 part time; spread across two buildings a goodly distance from one another, it’s been a boon.