Don’t shoot the messenger yet

Don’t shoot the messenger yet
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First Published: Sat, Sep 06 2008. 12 02 AM IST

Updated: Sat, Sep 06 2008. 12 02 AM IST
Instant messaging (IM) is one of the few Internet applications that have remained relevant and widely used even as Internet bandwidth and hardware have dramatically improved over the last many years. Today, more than 380 million Internet users have IM accounts. But while the basic premise of instant messaging hasn’t changed—one-to-one communication through a client application hooked into a global network of users—IM applications can be used to do much more than just chat or share files. By adding a few more friends to your IM list, you can access a host of convenient, and fast, services. Here is a quick guide to making the most of your IM client.
Get breaking news alerts
You have a busy day at the office but French poodles are a passion. And you can’t stand missing out on all the French poodle breaking news. Thankfully,
Vicito is there to help. The Vicito service sits quietly in your Instant Messenger window, waiting for news to break on as many as five topics of your choice. As soon as anything happens, it instantly messages the news item to you on your messenger. Clean and convenient. The paid version gives a choice of up to 20 topics and updates every minute. www.vicito.com
Update your Facebook status
And it’s not just Facebook. If you are as Web 2.0 as all cool people are, you probably have a Twitter, Pownce, Freindfeed, Jaiku and Tumblr account as well. Ping.fm will help you update your status everywhere with one simple step. Sign up for the service—still in beta— and you can update every status message with a single IM to the Ping.fm friend in your lM list. www.ping.fm
Translate
Trying to chat up that cute girl in Toulouse? Can’t speak French to save your life? If you have a GTalk account, then you can bid your romance troubles adieu. Google has whipped up more than two dozen bots that use the Google Translate service to offer real-time language translation. Add the requisite bot to your friends list and send it the phrase you need translated. It will repond with the translation in a flash. As the French say: Superbe! http://googletalk.blogspot.com/2007/12/merry-christmas-god-jul-and.html
Keep a tab on your reading
So many blogs and news sites. So little time. And even your RSS feed reader is beginning to clog up with unread updates. Well, if you don’t want to
handle the mess of a feed reader but still want RSS notifications, then let your IM handle the pain. Sign up for an Imfeeds account and the service will update you via IM whenever your favourite website makes updates. www.imfeeds.com
Get things done
The most versatile of IM extensions is the bouquet of services offered by Imified. Sign up to access a bunch of cool applications and short cuts using just your GTalk, AIM, Jabber or MSN messenger account. The Imified helper sits in your friends list, waiting for your commands. It reminds you of things to do at a future date, keeps a list of to-dos, saves notes and even adds appointments to your Google Calendar. And when the job is done, it disappears with a click. The list of Imified services grows every day. www.imified.com
sidin.v@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Sep 06 2008. 12 02 AM IST