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      10.11.2012 19:38
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      A free way to conveniently organise multiple instances of online chats across multiple sources

      I, for one, am just so darn popular that when I'm online, be it at home or work, I simply get bombarded with requests to provide my scintillating and witty raconteur skills for chatting purposes. Alright, the ones at work are normally work related from colleagues that simply cannot be bothered to walk the necessary three feet to talk face-to-face, and the ones at home are from random Nigerian princesses or Saudi Arabian oil magnates desperately needing my help to secure their massive fortunes but still...I need a way to organise them all so I don't have 20 separate browser windows open at once...okay 5...from all my different email accounts (Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo - I'm just greedy) causing me great pains to ensure I'm not missing anything important. Bring on Pidgin - thankfully not even distantly related to the winged rats terrorising people in Trafalgar Square but a free, open source piece of IM (instant messaging) software that allows for the simultaneous logging in to any / all of your compatible chat networks displayed all in one neat window, and then for multiple conversations to be displayed side by side in a tabular format making the switching between different chat instances an absolute doddle.

      ==The Technobabble==

      Pidgin is unfortunately only compatible with the Windows, Linux or Unix operating systems but freely advertises the Mac OS counterpart Adium which works in pretty much the same way. Pidgin also attaches itself to the system trays of Windows, GNOME2, KDE3 and KDE4 with a little icon that shows your status and changes when there is some activity such as someone opening a chat window with you, or replying to a currently open one. The default chat networks available are AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MXit, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr but plugins will allow for new ones to be added in the unlikely event you actually use a completely obscure one. The fact that Pidgin is open source also means if you are programming oriented (Pidgin is programmed using C, GLib and GTK+) you can gain access to the code and make adjustments to suit your own needs, under the prerequisite that you publish your changes for everybody else's benefit. There is even a Pidgin community for developers to get involved if they fancy it. Pidgin has also been translated into many many different languages thanks to generous volunteer translators - I'm not going to go through them all but let's put it this way, the list starts with Afrikaans and ends with Xhosa...so pretty comprehensive then.


      ==My top 9 most useful features==

      1). Add as many accounts as you want - under Accounts/Manage Accounts/Add you can add in any accounts you have which is as simple as selecting the Protocol e.g. MSN followed by your username and password which you can either set to remember to save you time, or not if you are more security minded as well as giving your account an Alias and an icon that others will see.

      2). Add new chat members - once your accounts are set up any existing buddies should appear as Chat Friends but you can add in new ones by selecting the account they would belong to e.g. they are a Hotmail user so select the MSN protocol and then type in their username and an alias you may wish to call them and Pidgin will send a request to them - don't get your hopes up though, they are well within their rights to reject you, but if they do accept then they will appear on which ever of your groups you requested (Chat Friends, Buddies, Favourites or any groups you created yourself) the second they do.

      3). Tabbed conversations - you can have all your conversations side-by-side in different tabs, and even expand the window size to allow the viewing of them all if you end up with too many to fit in the default sizing. The name at the top, which will either by a cross if they are offline, a timer if they are away or green if they available for a chat, will change to blue if they are online and typing a message to you so it is easy to spot, and if you have your chat windows minimised the minimised icon will flash at you to alert you, and the icon in the system tray will also change so you'd have to be Stevie Wonder not to notice when someone is trying to virtually talk to you. You can also join a chat room if you know its name to save you having to be logged on to a browser or set up your own conference / group but I've never tried any of this so have no idea how / if it works.

      4). Emoticons - Pidgin has a series of default smileys which you can use to really express your feelings at the time from smiley faces to sad faces to broken hearts which is a nice touch, but may not always show up properly if your chat recipient does not have compatible software. Plugins will allow you to expand this repertoire with your own personal emoticons if you find the current array does not cover your wide ranging emotions / levels of fury.

      5). Personalisation - you can personalise your account(s) by adding an avatar or pretty picture which chat recipients will see, so if you are using it for work purposes make sure you don't have anything too provocative as you may be fired. Likewise, you can also set different statuses taglines for your different statuses (which include Available, Away, Offline, Invisible and Do not disturb), so for example when you are available you could say "Talk to me" or when you're away for a brief time you could say "I've swanned off for a bit, if it's really that urgent phone the emergency services sheesh" so again take care to avoid instant dismissal.

      6). File Transfers - you can send a file to any of your buddies by simply right clicking on their name in your Buddy List and clicking send a file which will allow you to select the location of that file on your hard-drive. The person should get a message popping up saying "such and such is trying to send you a file blah blah blah, accept or reject?" and if they accept it should allow them to save the file to their chosen destination. This has never worked for me for whatever reasons.

      7). Plugins - there are all kinds of official plugins that you can add which provide new features such as allowing you to add notes on particular buddies, customise colours, iconify your buddy list when you bugger off to name but a few. There is also a large list of third-party plugins to add new features available in the main website, but these are unsupported so you use them at your own risk.

      8) Buddy pounce - this is a neat tool that allows you to perform an action such as pop up a notification, play a sound or execute a command you've written when one of your buddies does something like logs on, stops typing mid-sentence, goes idle etc so if you're desperately trying to get hold of someone this could be one method.

      9) System Logs - if you set your preferences to allow them to be stored, the system will save all your conversations to be ordered by date, so if you ever need to check back at a previous conversation you should be able to locate it in the system log archives.


      ==My Experience==

      This is an extremely useful piece of IM software that makes chatting online to multiple people a total breeze and I have had very few issues with it. Downloading, installing and setting up is simple and quick (assuming you can remember all your own usernames and passwords if you have loads of accounts) and I've found the software incredibly intuitive to use. On the official website there is a sort of user guide (more in the format of FAQs) but I've never had to use that as I've been able to figure out everything I wanted to do more or less straight away without needing to seek any outside help, although there is email support available for any problems you may encounter. I've also never felt the urge to add on any plugins as the default settings do pretty much everything I want anyway and I haven't come across any niggling problems that I've desperately wanted to fix.

      A few of the features I have very little use for such as creating my own conferences or groups or joining chat rooms as I never really need to talk to a specific bunch of people all at the same time and I tend to stay out of chat rooms ever since I inadvertently offended some die-hard Christians who took it upon themselves to try to convert me, or the Buddy Pounces option but I can see how it would be useful in certain situations. The System logs are a fantastic feature though - on many occasions at work when I've been accused of doing something wrong, which never happens let me tell you, I have actually had to resort to trawling through these to find an old conversation which has 90% of the time vindicated me - "Ha! In your face Mr Bossman - how dare you accuse me of wrongdoing when I have proof to the contrary...oh wait you pay my wages...umm....I accept I was wrong, but from this conversation you can see how a misunderstanding may have come about."

      The only issues I've actually found with this software are that sometimes it loses connection and you end up going offline for a few moments whilst it resets itself and sometimes you completely lose connection to your account, but of course this could be related to the chat network itself or your own internet connection and not Pidgin at all. The file transfers always seems to be a bust for me too, as I get the request to accept files perfectly fine, but the transfer just always seems to fail, so I don't know if there is a setting that needs updating or a simple quick fix plugin that would correct this but there are many better ways to transfer files to people that I simply don't bother with this feature, although it must work for some people as I'm sure it was fully tested. However apart from these issues, the software runs very effectively and has made the organisation of multiple conversations from multiple sources exceptionally easy for me, so if anyone is in a similar situation then I would recommend Pidgin as one of the best ways to clean up your online chatting - hey after all it's free so what do you have to lose.

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        03.08.2009 20:09
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        Don't bother.

        Well what can be said about Pidgin? Well it is a multi-platform instant messaging client that allows you to manage protocols such as your msn, aol and other instant messaging protocols in one place.

        Although this sound impressive, I can't help but feel that this program is very naff. I have used it for a week or two and have never used a client that crashes so much. Furthermore, the design is very basic and can be very confusing if you are used to the designs of the usual program a specific protocol uses.

        Many people are now going out to improve clients such as Msn and Aol in an attempt to make more customisable offerings however, most of these attempts never live up to the real thing. Pidgin is one of these such attempts. It was worth a try to see what other could offer but i'm afraid I shall be sticking to the original clients.

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        05.06.2009 00:08
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        An overal Great but Small IM application.

        If your anything like me you are bound to have more than one email address with different contacts on each one. This is when Pidgin comes in...

        After trying many different applications for using multiple email and IM accounts I found Pidgin and liked it right away. It runs on low resources all the time and displays alerts of email and contacts coming on-line just like other applications. It offers display pictures and all of the other options available with any of IM program such as; smiley's, ability to change your status, chat and personal messages.

        The best thing for me was that on my older PC was its low resource usage and its ease of use. This meant I could carry on doing other things like surfing the web and using office documents without the IM program hogging memory.

        There are regular updates with Pidgin and hundreds of add ons to choose from; like showing the music your listening to, to changing the theme and actions of Pidgin.

        Thank You For Reading.

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        • More +
          13.05.2009 15:46

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          Good quality, good value

          Fast and Easy to use this instant messenger program covers all of your instant messaging needs in a friendly and clear way.
          Setup:-
          Tap in your account name and password for MSN, ICQ, AIM, AOL and your computer will do the rest for you. Only a few clicks and you are connected and working.
          Features:- you can group your contacts together and select which events you would like to be alerted about. Do you want to know when a contact comes online, or do you only want to know if you have received a message from a contact. The icon will flash in the system tray, and if you have selected the option it'll play a sound to let you know too.
          For a fast, friendly and stable connection to your friends and colleagues this software provides an excellent solution.
          Of course if you use linux you know all this already since it is shipped as standard with the latest Ubuntu

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          07.03.2009 21:43
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          A must download! Worth every bit of its harddrive space.

          So, you now know so many people, and they selfishly refuse to use the same instant messaging protocol, and now you have MSN, Googletalk, ICQ, Aim, IRC, so on open at the same time? Having all those open must hog a lot of CPU time, and RAM, and this is where Pidgin comes in. It can connect to multiple different protocols, all in one window. I've been using it for over a year now, and personally find the program very useful, and nice to use.

          The interface is nice and clean, and the window small. for those of you who have read my other IM reviews, you know I prefer, like many other people, a window that does not take up half the screen, but stays nicely, unnoticably hidden away in the corner, ready for when you use it, and that's exactly what Pidgin provides. It rarely freezes, and is overall a generally stable program.

          It also scores points for ease of use, being easy to install, and easy to use. Adding accounts is a breeze, and using them is just as simple as your current favourite instant messaging program, and more than likely less bloated, and clean.
          It's a definite download, if like me, you used to have over two IM programs open at the same time, it saves time, space, and precious RAM. A muut download.

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            26.01.2009 18:56
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            Not bad for keeping track of friends online, but not very intutive.

            When I upgraded Ubuntu to version 8.10, I thought that Pidgin is some PC game like Ping-Pong. When I launched the application, I realised that it is renamed Gaim messenger.

            It is nice little program, which allows you to connect to various IM networks without making lot of fuss and without using lot of CPU AND Memory. All you need to do is add all your different account information on first time startup, and you are connected to the world in no time.

            There are lot of "I want this" features missing from Pidgin. Here is the list of most obvious ones :
            - Webcam
            - Voice Chat
            - Photo Sharing
            - File Transfer
            - Better look and Interface

            There are many softwares available on Linux which does the same. From that list, KDE's kopete is more impressive of all. Its user interface is lot better than Pidgin and it also supports webcam etc.

            For proper video/voice chat, I use Skype on Linux. It works great and is faster than skype on Windows.

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              07.01.2009 17:28
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              A decent, common and free meta IM client

              Once upon a time, I used AOL. I used it for email, and I used it for chat, and found it cool(ish...when it worked). I had one email address (not strictly true, actually, but work with me here) and one Instant Message (IM) handle. If people wanted to talk to me via the computer, they found me on AOL. I graduated from AOL as soon as I could, and discovered the joys of msn, live.co.uk, Googlemail and Googletalk, Yahoo, and Jabber - more chat clients than you can shake a stick at.

              For a while, each time I turned on the computer, I'd open msn messenger (twice), Googletalk, AOL (two addresses) and Yahoo just so that people could find me by IM, depending on how long they'd known me (so which chat client they knew me on) and what they themselves were using (many Americans are still inexplicably wedded to AOL). As even more time went on, I used Jabber for some work contacts, and, indeed, IM became more important for work as I was employed by an American company - IM can be an efficient way to communicate (sometimes). I was getting rather bored with typing addresses and passwords (which were often slightly different, and so sometimes difficult to remember).

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              What Pidgin Does
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Some clever folks came up with solutions to those problems. One such solution is Pidgin (yes, the spelling is correct). Pidgin is a 'universal chat client'. This means you can login to all your chat IDs from one little free, downloadable program. Spend around 10 minutes adding all your IM logins (and you can have multiple logins from one client - i.e. a work msn login and a personal one), customise your avatar if you wish, add any additional contacts, import your contacts from your IM clients, and you're ready to go. Doing all this really is quite straightforward (though the help area of the website http://pidgin.im/ tends to be biased towards the developer rather than the bog standard user). You can set up certain options globally (for all your accounts) or by an account by account basis (i.e. one icon for Google, and a different one for Yahoo).

              It is important to note that Pidgin is not a chat network in itself - instead, it's a little piece of software that allows you to access all your chat accounts from one place. Pidgin isn't the only free program that does this, though it may be one of the most well known.

              Pidgin is compatible with more chat programs than you are ever likely to need in a month of Sundays: "AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr. It can support many more with plugins." So says Pidgin itself. It is open source, and has a GNU licence (this is for geeks only - it means you can fiddle with the code and share it amongst your friends, basically, so long as your changes are open to everyone). It works within Windows and UNIX (including Linux) environments.

              Pidgin also has plugins, so you can add functionality (of varying usefulness - I used to enjoy /sg-ball - if you typed that in, it would give you a random Stargate SG1 quote.) Like with Firefox, these plugins are usually developed by interested and talented users. This does of course mean that they vary in usefulness and stability, but they are all free, and can be disabled if you find problems. I am not a developer. I have downloaded add-ins, but haven't attempted to alter or mess with any of them.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              What I like
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              The big upside of Pidgin is that it saves you logging into all your chat programmes separately. The add-ins are neat - like with Firefox, some are really useful, and others are funky and fun (and others are plain silly). As it's open source, there are frequent updates. It is free and ad-free. It supports a fair amount of typical IM functionality, including file transfers, away messages, icons, smilies and so forth (I've used much of this, though Pidgin's own website gave me the details to save you looking. The work I do for you!). A little icon sits in your system tray, making it easy to access and easy to get notifications.

              The basics of Pidgin are easy to use, though, as I mentioned, the help section tends to be a wee bit technical for the average user (in my opinion). Sometimes, working out how to do fairly simple things can take longer than it should (such as getting Pidgin to start automatically on computer start up - it's not as straightforward as you'd think).

              I have found Pidgin stable. It will automatically notify you when upgrades are available, though some upgrades don't support some add-ons, and getting the add-ins into the correct and useful folder (as it sets up a couple of folders when you first download the software) can sometimes be a little hit and miss.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              What I am not so keen on
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              The text entry box doesn't thrill me. It has a very small (though enlargable - but once again, it's not immediately obvious how to do this) area for text entry. To use anything beyond the basic features can seem a bit ... long winded (though often it isn't really, it's just that since the site is very geek geared, it tends to assume a level of knowledge and indeed interest that may just not exist for the average user).

              Although Pidgin supports many common features of chat clients, it doesn't support all features for all clients (for example, it doesn't seem to like accepting Google file transfers from people actually using the Google client - I'm not sure whether this is a Google problem or a Pidgin problem, but it's still a nuisance), and it doesn't seem to support video (web cams) at all. Even Googletalk now has a webcam client.

              There is no support for email that I can see (there are now meta-clients that do support email) or social networking (i.e. Facebook, which also has a chat client).

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Recommendation and conclusion
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Pidgin is like a slicer, dicer, julienne fryer. It does lots of thing adequately. It is not, however, necessarily a perfect replacement for everything it purports to replace. It simply does not have all the feature of any of the individual clients. However, especially for many work purposes, if you simply need to IM using your keyboard (and not video or chat), it will do the job. If you have geek tendencies, you can fiddle and play with it, and relax in the knowledge that it's completely open source.

              There are other meta-clients out there, and one in particular I like better. It's not the most user friendly, and it's not the prettiest, and not the most fully functioned. However, it is one of the most well known, most popular, and supported on the greatest number of platforms (Unix, Windows etc).

              I will recommend it...but I will give you a clue - there is another meta-client I like better. But that's another subject for another day.

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                30.10.2008 13:04
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                well worth downloading

                pidgin is a bit like msn and google talk etc. however this messaging progam lets you use 2 or 3 messaging accounts from other programs at once. e.g. i have a google talk account but i can use that google talk account on pidgin and talk to google talk users with pidgin. but there is really no piont geting this program if you only have one account with one messaging software like msn.

                pidgin is free downloadable software and very easy to use nd it can make life alot easier for alot of us as we could open this one program instead of opening dozens. and if you do want and need software such as pidgin then do not hesitate to download and install this program as i have never experienced any lock ups or viruses or any problems waht so ever with this program and it works just fine with the person you are talking to on the other end aswell.

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                31.07.2008 10:47
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                Great communication solution

                Pidgin is a multi protocol instant messaging gadget that allows you to use multiple instant messaging accounts at the same time.

                This for me is a really handy gadget. I work from home and find instant messaging to be a good inexpensive easy way to communicate, the problem of course if there are many different types of IM (instant messengers). If you stick with the software from your IM provider chances are it will only communicate within the same system, this is where pidgin comes in.

                Pidgin is a software based IM system that will run on Windows, Linux and Unix operating systems.

                It is compatible with pretty much all IM services, all running at the same time:
                IM, ICQ, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr.

                Compared to say Windows Messenger it does not cover all the extra features like video and voice chat, but it does have a good set of options available.

                Pidgin will allow files transfers between IM accounts, it will notify you when someone is typing a message, it support away and busy modes. A handy feature is buddy pounces that work like a macro, so if a buddy signs in, goes offline, sends you a message you can get Pidgin to run a program, play a notification sound or send a message.

                There are many plugins available to modify Pidgin, spell checkers, away messages, formatting alterations, date and time stamps, text replacement.

                I Personally like the opportunity to disable some accounts, as I don't always want to be available on all networks.

                Having used this software for a while now and have never had any problems at all, it is easy to use and very reliable.

                Pidin is available as a free download from the following URL:

                http://www.pidgin.im/download/

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