“ BT NetChat is a simple software download that lets you make unmetered phone calls over the Internet, via your PC, to other BT NetChat users. „
It's official. I am addicted to the internet. Well, to this site in particular. My friends tell me so, so it must be true. Since discovering opinion sites and other such interesting sites on the web, I seem to be spending all of my spare time on the net. I am sure lots of people reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement. I don't know what it is about sites like this, but they just seem to lure me back time and time again. I no longer have lunch breaks at work and the moment my daughter falls to sleep in the evening, I am straight on the PC. My husband has turned into an internet widower and my friends never hear from me. I am in danger of becoming completely and utterly anti-social. Exchanging my valued friends and family for some new 'pseudo' internet friends, who I know tons about but never ever meet or talk to in the flesh. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the 'friends' I am making on this and other sites on the internet but I cannot possibly expect them to replace the friends (and family) I have had for years and years and who have been with me through thick and thin. The seriousness of this issue came to a head last week when my best friend rang me at 10.30pm one night exasperated because she had been trying to contact me all evening. She only wanted to tell me that she would happily look after my daughter for me as usual the next day, but try as she did, she could not get through to me on the phone. Since then a number of other friends have made similar comments and this has led me to think carefully about the effect my new addiction is having on my social life. So, I started to search for a solution and before too long I came across BTNetChat. The answer to all my communication problems: * What is BTNetChat? BtNetChat is a service provided by BT which will let you know when somebody is phoning you, whilst you are connected to the internet. Not only does
it let you know somebody is calling but it allows you to actually speak to them, via your PC, whilst still surfing the net. On top of this, you are able to call other BTNetChat customers for a chat whilst surfing the net. * What equipment do I need to make BTNetChat work? If you are interested in getting this service you will need: A BT Phone line A soundcard, microphone and headphones (or a headset) Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000 or Windows NT Microsoft Internet Explorer v4.01 or above 100MHz Pentium or equivalent Graphics card set to 16bit colour or better * How does it work? In order to get BTNetChat working for you, the following process needs to be followed: 1) Register for BTNetchat (www.BTNetchat.co.uk) 2) Download Microsoft Netmeeting 3) Download BTNetChat software 4) Install and configure both pieces of software 5) Wait up to 72 hours for a fully functioning service 6) Pay BT 99p a month 1) Registering for the service Registration is easy and only takes a couple of minutes. You are asked to choose a username and password, supply your BT customer number, phone no and email address. You are asked for a security word, which will be used to identify you if you forget your password. You also have to indicate whether you wish to have your information shown in the directory of BTNetchat users. There is help available for each field on the registration form by clicking the label beside each field. I had a few problems registering using Netscape but the registration worked fine in Internet Explorer so I would recommend you use this browser to register. 2) Downloading NetMeeting You need to have Microsoft NetMeeting installed on your PC for BTNetChat to work. Some people may already have this installed, but I wasn't sure I did have, so I downloaded it anyway. It is only 1.56M
B so it did not take long to download 3) Downloading BTNetChat software The BTNetChat software is also fairly small (2MB) and so downloading it was no problem. I saved both pieces of software on my desktop ready to install 4) Installing the software There is a comprehensive guide to installing and configuring the software on the BTNetChat website, which I of course did not follow! Consequently I had a few problems setting it up and had to call the helpline (which I found extremely helpful and professional). I have since read the instructions and had I followed them, things would have been much more straightforward. I won't go in to detail as it is all on the website, but in a nutshell: Install Netmeeting Restart PC Double click Netmeeting Follow instructions to configure Install BTNetChat * How to use BTNetChat: In order to use BTNetChat, you first need to log on to the internet. Once logged on you start up BTNetChat and log on using the name and password you supplied at registration (you can start NetChat before logging on but the Helpline staff advise against this it can cause problems with some ISPs). The software initialises and after a few seconds says "ready". You can then minimise the software and surf away. If the software detects an incoming call, the PC rings and the software pops up on the screen, flashing "incoming call". You can choose to accept the call or reject the incoming call. If you accept, you are then put through to the caller and can chat online. To make a call, you simply type the number in the box on the screen and click the green telephone symbol. I haven't actually done this yet as I do not know anybody else using this service, but I imagine you are then connected to the other user and they can choose whether to accept or decline your call. * What do I think of this service
Well, put simply, I think it is brilliant. It is extremely early days and I have only received a couple of calls, but it will certainly make me feel much less guilty about spending time online. There are a few things about this service that are not quite as I would have expected however. When talking to somebody using this method you do feel as if they are in Australia! There is quite a time delay between you speaking and them hearing what you are saying. I imagine you would get used to this, but it is certainly not like talking to them on the phone. I can live with this though, as I usually just find out who is calling and ring them straight back. If the software could tell you the number of the person calling this would save you even having to answer the call. I tried declining a call once and then dialled 1471 to find out who had called, but it appears that calls via BTNetChat do not actually register on your telephone. It is a little disappointing that you can only call other BTNetChat users. It would be much more useful if you were able to call anybody whilst online. Having said this, it does say on the website that this facility will eventually be available, so I cannot fault them there. The software is a little basic. I won't go into detail about the look and feel of it, because, to me, as long as it works, who cares what it looks like! It has the Tommorow's world picture of the baby swimming under water which I have always liked, so that is a bonus! One technical problem to be aware of. If you type your username and password in wrongly, the software won't tell you, it simply won't work. I was wondering why, after 72 hours, the service still wasn't working. When I rang the helpline I discovered that I had been using the wrong password all along. * Final thoughts: This is a great service which is still in it's infancy. There have been other similar piec
es of software which have disappeared as quickly as they have appeared (Freeserve certainly had something similar which I cannot find anymore) so I am hoping that this service is here for good. If it is, I am very excited about the possibilities this could have for communication over the net in future. Well done BT.