by January 4, 1999 0 comments

chat 010.JPG (24240 bytes)When Jarkko Oikarinen set out to make a replacement for the
Unix “talk” program in 1988, he had no inkling that this program which he began
writing as a hobby would become so popular and widely used today. Nor did he ever think
that his creation would be used as a crucial means of communication in crunch situations
such as the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the Soviet coup of 1993. His creation today is
popularly referred to as IRC (Internet relay chat).

IRC is a service on the Internet that lets people converse
across the globe. People come together on various IRC channels or virtual places to
discuss topics of common interest, either in groups or on an one-to-one basis. Some
channels have a topic of discussion, while others are simply dedicated to small talk or
idle chat.

IRC conversation is done by typing messages and
transmitting it over the Internet to a chat server. The server in turn passes the messages
to all the users logged into it. In order to chat you need a client program to log into
the chat server. Mirc, Pirch, and Comic Chat are some popular chat clients for Windows.

There are a host of chat servers that your chat client can
connect to. Among them TalkCity, Efnet, DALNet and Undernet are the more popular ones.
These servers have lots of channels where people with common interests join together and
talk.

Every channel has a chanop, short for channel operator. A
chanop is identified by an @ symbol that precedes his nickname. These chanops moderate and
manage a certain channel. They can ban offensive users, decide upon discussion topics on a
channel and schedule events such as celebrity chats or group discussions.

Direct chat

A smarter way to chat is DCC (direct client chat). Using
this, two parties can communicate directly with each other rather than going through the
IRC network. DCC allows you to send and receive files too. It has several advantages and
disadvantages. Because the DCC connection bypasses the IRC servers and the IRC network as
a whole, they are generally considered more secure. You also are not limited by the data
transfer rate of the IRC network. You connect at the speed of the other parties’
network setup and the quality of the network connection. The disadvantages are that you
can’t perform special IRC commands such as using the /me command within a DCC
communication.

IRC ethics

There are some unwritten codes and ethics on IRC that must
be followed at all times, or you might just end up irritating people as well as getting
yourself banned from a channel. This code of ethics doesn’t only apply to
IRC, but
any data that you transmit over the Net, be it via e-mail, chat, or some other messaging
service.

The
IRC lingo

IRC is a wonderful way to
communicate ideas, thoughts and viewpoints. But often, chatting by typing down messages
can be extremely tedious and dull. Especially when messages are long. Due to these
reasons, smiley faces or emoticons are used. These keep your messages short and crisp. The
official definition of an emoticon according to the “New Hacker’s
Dictionary” is : An ASCII glyph used to indicate an emotional state in e-mail or
news. Some smileys and short forms for popular phrases are as follows:

IMHO In My Humble Opinion
ROTFL Roll Over
The Floor Laughing
ASAP As Soon As
Possible
F2F Face To Face
(as to meet in person)
RTFM Read The
F*@#ing Manual
LOL Laugh Out
Loud
AFK Away From
the Keyboard
BRB Be Right
Back
J/K Just Kidding
BTW By The Way
FYI For Your
Information
a/s/l Age/Sex/Location
ppl People
pls Please
tnx Thanks
ic I see
🙂 Smile
😀 Laughing
:-] Smirk

Using all capitals in a sentence is the equivalent of
shouting, so use all caps only if you want to convey something that is very important or
urgent. You may use accepted standard short forms such as ROTFL (roll over the floor
laughing) to keep your message short and crisp. As a general rule, be polite and friendly
to everyone and never say anything that you would say to anyone in person. Never keep
repeating a sentence or message (known in IRC parlance as “scrolling”). Most IRC
servers provide a detailed code of conduct and ethics on their Websites.

Instant messaging:
A smarter alternative to chat

IRC is great for chatting with friends and keeping in touch
with people who have common interests; but outside of these fairly constrained boundaries
it’s limited in its practical use. When you log off, you are effectively cut off from
the whole IRC community. You can’t find out when a friend comes back online nor can
anyone else send you messages until the next time you log on.

A more suitable alternative, therefore, would be something
that maintains a virtual presence even when your connection is not active. It could also
take care of any messages that other users want to send when you are not logged on;
simultaneously offering a powerful search engine that would enable you to contact users
sharing a common interest. This is what instant messaging offers.

There are a number of options available such as ICQ (I seek
you), Yahoo! Pager and AOL’s Instant Messenger. These programs can be configured to
load automatically at system startup and when you log onto the Internet, inform the paging
service that you are online. You can enter the list of friends whom you wish to chat with
(of course, they must also be using the same service). Now when your friends log on, you
can be alerted and vice versa. This whole process works in the background so you can surf
the Net or up/download your mail at the same time.

Certain paging services offer lots of other features too.
ICQ, for instance, lets you send messages and files to other users. You can play certain
games online with them as well. Yahoo! Pager on the other hand can keep a track of your
stock portfolio and alert you when your stocks cross certain limits.

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