Intrigued by all this complicated Internet mumbo jumbo? Dying to do something fun on the Internet, but unsure of how to go about it? I’m going to suggest something now that you might find fun. Internet chatting. Now, there are probably one of three things running through your mind right now after I mentioned those two words. The first is “What the hell is Internet chatting?” the second might well be “Ooooh, this was on Coronation Street not so long ago!” and the third is “Isn’t that where weirdo’s prey on the innocent and naïve?” Believe it or not, I do have the answers to all three of those questions! The answer to the first one, I will give below because it does require some explanation, but the answer to the latter two are “yes”, and “rarely” in that order. Internet Chatting (also called Internet Relay Chat, or IRC for short) is a method of chatting where users join channels (or “rooms”, hence you hear people refer to chat rooms) and take part in group-based chat. The room analogy is a good one. For your first time in a chat room, imagine yourself to be at a party where you don’t know anyone. You’re standing in a room and you have no idea who anyone is, except everyone is wearing a badge that has a name on it. Not proper names, admittedly, but names nonetheless. Mostly, the majority of people are standing in the middle of the room chatting away to each other, but there are some couples standing in the corners having a more private conversation. This is what IRC-ing is all about. It may seem all quite daunting at first, but believe me; it takes only a matter of minutes to get to grips with the basics. Hopefully, over the course of the rest of this opinion, I shall give you enough information for you to have a go at IRC-ing yourself. · Step One – Selecting some software. There are numerous programs, an
d methods, for chatting on the Internet. One method is to use what’s called a Java applet. These are little programs which appear as part of web pages. The problem with these is that you’re really tied down to one “room” and if you don’t like the people/attitude etc. You’re stuck until you find an applet for another “room”. The other method is to use an IRC client (program) which is dedicated to chatting. On the PC, there are three main ones that I can think of offhand: mIRC, pIRCh and Microsoft Chat. I prefer mIRC to the others, as this is the program I was introduced to IRC with, and using it is now second nature to me. The others are not necessarily bad programs; I just haven’t used them, and cannot comment on them. On the Apple Macintosh you could try IRCle, Snak or PhatIRC. As a PC user, I have no idea what these are like, so try for yourself. No matter what platform you’re running, I would suggest you go to http://www.tucows.com and follow the links to your computer, then to internet software, then to Chat: IRC to get software to use. You can also check out some reviews here on Dooyoo for some first hand experience and opinions. · Step Two – Installation. Most software these days is fairly straightforward to install, even for computer novices, so I’ll not hold your hand through this section. · Step Three – First steps online. Again, I’ll not be going into any advanced detail here. I’ll use mIRC as an example of what to expect, and I assume that this will be similar for most IRC programs. When running the program for the first time, it all may seem a bit daunting. Unfortunately, the technology behind IRC is quite dated and some software does reflect this. mIRC treads a fine line between functionality and usability, and at first sight might look rather scary. Don’t worry; once you get the initial
bit over with, everything else is a lot easier. Somewhere during your first time, you’re going to get asked information. In mIRC, they ask you for your real name, e-mail address and two nicknames to use (one as a backup in case your first choice is in use). My first piece of advice is that you don’t need to give your real name and e-mail address, in fact I would make a point of sternly telling you (whilst wagging my finger in a stern manner) that giving out your details unnecessarily online (whether it’s via email, on the web or in IRC) is A BAD THING. So, type in a name, any name “Fred” will do. That goes for e-mail address as well – email@example.com perhaps? Then onto your nicknames, type whatever you want (although keep it clean – some people have rules about rude stuff, and as a first time user you don’t know who they are yet!) and get ready to go. · Step Four – Some extra background information. Believe it or not, IRC is actually a system of different networks which are not connected. The three main networks are called: Efnet, DALnet and Undernet, although there are other, smaller networks as well. Each network will have its own rules and regulations regarding all aspects of chatting online, whether it’s simply chatting (as you will be doing shortly, hopefully) or getting into setting up your own room for others to visit. When starting to chat for the first time, you need to make two selections: firstly, which network you want to use. Personally (again) I use Undernet, and for the same reasons as I use mIRC – I was introduced to it, and I’ve made many friends on it. That’s not to say that other networks are any better or worse. Again, once you get the basics out of the way, you can try them out for yourself and see what’s going on. Ok, you’ve chosen your network (probably from some list that’s available – in my case this
is Undernet) and you’re now confronted with a list of “servers”. A server is a computer that handles all the chat data and makes sure that everything is running smoothly. A good analogy is that of a train station. If a train station is a server, then train passengers are messages in an IRC chat. Some messages go through the station to other stations, but some stop at the station because they are needed there. Some messages start at a station to go onto other stations. It’s quite easy. The best advice in general about servers is that, if you’re given a choice, choose one that is geographically close to you. (Servers tend to be named by the city and country they’re based in) For people living in the U.K. and using Undernet, for example, you would select “Undernet: EU, UK, London”. You’re not tied down to the closest, but it helps cut down the delay when chatting. · Step Five – Tentative First Steps (no, not the pop group!). OK, you’re not there yet, but you’re close. You have one final thing to do, and that is select the channel (or “room”) you wish to join. A long time ago, these were named after the particular chat topic that was popular in the room, so if you joined a channel called #dooyoo for example, you could expect people to be talking about dooyoo. That was a while ago, and while some rooms can still be linked with what they’re called to what they talk about, it’s not really to be expected. mIRC will give you a list of channels to start off with. These will be either general chat rooms (for all ages, all over the world) or dedicated IRC rooms for you to ask your IRC related questions without fear. Select anyone you like the look of - #funfactory or #funchat on Undernet are quite good places to start. Highlight the room of your choice, and hit the “Join” button. You should be aware that each channel has it’s own set of rules and these
are enforced by channel operators (or “ops” for short). It’s perhaps worth asking if you are unsure what the rules may be, or hang around for a bit and see what other people are doing. Some channels don’t mind swearing, abuse or talk of sex whereas other channels have a zero tolerance policy. Something that might not be obvious first time around is that IRC is a global phenomenon, and even though you might be “chatting” at 1100pm, it is 4pm somewhere else, and there could be youngsters online. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of the channels first listed in mIRC are general help and chat channels that are suitable for all the family. Of course, the OpCom chat room is a great place to be, although not for the faint hearted! As an aside, a lot of the more established, and busy chat rooms have their own web sites with pictures of the operators, regular users etc. Some even have meetings where people from all over the world gather in one city for a while to have fun and actually see each other face to face! · Step Six – Learning A Foreign Language. Ye gods! What are those people saying? It’s a whole new world out there, and in order to be able to hold a conversation at any sort of normal pace, a new set of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology and language use has evolved. From IRC, a lot oft his has filtered through into other uses. Text messages on mobile phones, for example use a lot of the abbreviations first used on IRC. I’ll try and give you enough to get started without going through every single phrase you’re likely to see online. The easiest way to learn is to ask questions – if someone uses a phrase you don’t understand, simply ask him or her to explain. “ASL?” (or “A/S/L?”) – means age, sex, location. The bane of my life! Some people cannot have a conversation with you without knowing these facts. LOL, ROFL, LMA
O – “laughs out loud”, “rolls on floor, laughing”, “laughing my ass off”. If you say something funny, you might see this. Some people may also join two of them: ROFLMAO which you should be able to guess. Op (or Operator) – people who have a ‘@’ symbol beside their name are called “Ops” and they are in charge of whatever room you are currently in. Generally they are nothing more than regular, trusted users of the chat room and at some point were just like you! These people have the power to kick you out, ban you or tell you off if you’re being naughty. Voiced – people with a ‘+’ beside their name are voiced. These people are usually regulars, quite trusted, but not enough to be operators or have any power. TTFN – “ta ta for now”. I don’t think this is even an IRC term, but it is used online. CYA – see you, as in “See you later” IMHO – “in my humble opinion” AFK – “away from keyboard”. Usually appended to the end of their nickname to show that they’re not sitting at their computer e.g. DukeAFK. WTF? – “what the feck?”. You know what I mean! PPL – short for people. BBL – “Be back later” BBIAB – “Be back in a bit” POPUP – a small piece of code that usually displays a message, or some kind of “text picture” Script – a (usually) small add on that provides extra features for your IRC program. Some scripts allow you to play mp3 files, display automatic messages when certain things happen or just provide a more colourful experience. UR – abbreviation of your. “I like ur style”, for example. · Step Seven – Some final pointers. Something else you might have noticed a
nd I’ll comment on now are emoticons. You may know them better as “smilies”. There are loads of them out there, and they’re getting weirder by the day! As an old skool IRC user, I prefer the use of smilies like: :) (smiling) or :P (pouting) or >:) (mischievous) rather than the newer ones which look like ^_o_^ (or something similar – I haven’t got a clue what they’re meant to be either!). IRC is something that you can grow in to. If you simply wish to chat to other people, then you can stay as blissfully ignorant as you like! If your curiosity gets the better of you, you can get onto more advanced things like writing your own scripts, becoming a channel operator (if you’re invited to) or starting your own permanent channel. The things to do are near endless! Chatting on the Internet is nothing to be scared of. Lots of people like you try chatting everyday - some like it, some don’t. It’s possible to make lots of friends, if you want to. It’s also a cheaper way to talk to friends and loved ones in foreign countries if they know how to IRC as well. Going back to the scare story right at the start of this opinion, well, it does happen on extremely rare occasions. But, using some common sense, and you can be totally safe. As stated earlier, never give out personal details unless you are more than 100% sure of whom you’re talking to. The odds of something bad happening to you are like the odds of you being killed in an air crash. Morbid, I know, but highly unlikely. I think that concludes today’s lesson. Hopefully, I’ve given you enough information to get started. If any of you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me via the address on my profile, or for more detailed information on mIRC, there’s a web site at http://www.mirc.co.uk where you can download the latest version (5.91) as well as get help on both mIRC and IRC in g
eneral. Other help sites include: http://www.irchelp.org/ which is the official web site of the #IRChelp channel which is based on the Efnet network, but the help contained should be useful for most networks. Happy chatting!
Sorry for the harsh title, but after spending over a year on that thing, I had to express my disgust with it. This may be a long story, but don't be too bored, its not all bad. Around February/March of last year I downloaded ICQ messenger. For those of you that don't know, ICQ stands for I Seek You, and is just another run of the mill chat program like MSN, Yahoo Messenger or AOL Messenger. While looking around icq.com, I found a link to a chat server called IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and being the naturally curious teenager I was, I decided to click it and see what it was all about. Upon entering a chat room called #icq I was confronted with people talking at me from every angle. First I noticed with IRC was the list of bizarre names down the right hand side. Some people with @ in front of their name, some with a +V in front of their name, I had no one what any of this meant. First thing I was asked was a/s/l. Being a bit of a chat room virgin, I had no idea what a/s/l was. It does infact mean age/sex/location. Now if you are planning to spend any amount of time using IRC, then you need to know what things like IRC mean. So here's a quick guide to some IRC lingo. - 'Op' or Operator - this person or persons is the higher power in the channel (room to you or me). They can kick, ban and do all other room functions. This way, any people who refuse to obey by the rules, wont be let back in. It also means you can give your channel a personal feel. The Super Op is the person who started the room, and has total control, he/she can appoint others Op to help run the room, or maybe because they are a good friend. If you are Op you will appear with an @ in front of your name. - '+V' or Voice - this is mainly for people who are on the way to become Op, or are regarded as a good friend. This can be given by an Op to anyone in the room, but doesn't itself hold any power. If you are voiced, you will see a +v before you
r name. - Nick - no he isn't a friendly user, this is the term used by everyone for someone's nickname. So if someone thinks you should "Change your nick" on IRC, you simply type in /nick nickname (but obviously replacing nickname with your desired handle) - Channel - The name for a room, if you call it a room, you will get scolded, I found that to my cost many times :-)) - IRCops - The grand daddies of IRC. They are the head honchos of the server, they control over disputes, stolen rooms/nickname, and generally at as head masters. If someone tells you they are an IRCop, best thing to do would be to not believe them without proof. - Hackers - One of the problems with IRC is it is a haven for hackers, crackers, phreakers and the rest of them. If you try to stay with your friends and have your own little channel, then you probably wont see any. Hackers do things through IRC to damage, control or learn about your PC. IRC is like a big hole into your PC, but you shouldn't worry too much, most don't bother with average users like you or me. - Scripts - A script is a chat program that allows you to connect to different servers. mIRC is an example of a script. So that's the basic ins and outs with IRC. Lets move on to further matters. mIRC is a chat program that allows you to connect to different servers. The ICQ chat room I mentioned earlier is based on a server called irc.icq.com, and others are called things like chatserver.irc.org. You can download mIRC from all over the net, a search on google or yahoo will get you results, or you can try mirc.com. Once you have downloaded mIRC, open it up and go to the 'File' and then 'Options.' Click the Connect tab on the left of the options box, and on the IRC servers drop down box and select one. At this stage in your early IRC life, it's probably best to just look around different servers and see how it all works. If
you have trouble connecting to the server, just use the Help file to learn how. Once you have connected, you can search for channels on that server by click the "List Channels" button, which is the 4th icon from the left. This should bring up a list of channels that you just double click on. Try a medium sized room (10/20 users) at first. The amount does of course depend on what server; some are more populated than others. Once you are in, try and mingle, look for people who know a lot about IRC and ask some questions. Best rooms to try first would be the help rooms, usually called #help or #irchelp etc etc. Now you are pretty much ready for IRC. Back to my story, when I first joined a channel, I was greeted with smiling faces and very pleasant people. I think I got quite lucky. Over the weeks and months I struck a good friendship with some guy who had been on IRC for years. He taught me all I needed to know, until I got too the stage where I actually started developing my own IRC scripts like mIRC. Unfortunately the channel I regularly inhabited on IRC had a huge war with another channel I liked to use. After that fateful night, people didn?t go to those channels anymore, and gradually I lost my passion for IRC and eventually left it completely. I do pop in now and again to see my old friends, but it doesn't have the flare it used too, not this server anyway. I do look for new ones now and again, but it's hard to recreate that love I got just over one year ago. For a first time user, I think its best to either to www.icq.com and go to IRC on there, at least you don?t have to worry with downloading and setting up programs like mIRC. Another good idea would be to look for someone you know who already uses it, to get some advice and maybe show you around. My e-mail address is in my profile and I am on MSN, so feel free to gimme a bell if you're thinking about using IRC for the first time. I do recommend
it totally, just it's hard for me to admit after the amount of bad days I had on that Internet Relay Chat...