I’ve had accounts in multiple different protocols for many years.  My first was ICQ (long since forgotten the number, haven’t used it in ages) and then I moved into MSN along with most of the rest of the non-US world.  I played around with IRC for a bit in college and then when I joined the Penny Arcade forums in 2004, I got an AIM account and shortly thereafter, Google Talk.  I also stumbled into the world of multi-protocol messaging clients at about the same time.I find it pretty annoying to run multiple programs to talk to different groups of people so when I found out about Trillian, I was pretty pleased.  Basically it allows you to use one program to connect to several different instant messaging networks at the same time.  There are a whole bunch of these programs around for all different operating systems.

My current and most-used client is Pidgin.  It is very, very simple and streamlined.  It does text chat and pretty much only text chat.  I don’t do video or voice and I don’t use crazy drawing functions in MSN so it works really well for me.  It is not the prettiest client on the block.  It uses GTK to render its appearance and any time I’ve used a non-standard Windows theme with it, things have gone terribly wrong.  As a result, I use a different GTK theme so I can actually read the text and so forth.  It looks somewhat out of place on my desktop but I am not exactly known for being an Aesthete.

I’ve toyed with several of those listed on the Wikipedia article above.

  • Miranda is probably the most flexible and also the most frustrating. Plugins have been written for virtually every conceivable use but it takes hours to get things set up properly and I’ve never been able to replicate my set-up following a re-install.
  • Adium I used when I test drove OSX on my Dell.  It’s based on the same back end as Pidgin but is oh so much prettier.  It is probably my favourite so far because it blends the functionality of Pidgin with a pretty wrapper.
  • Digsby is another pretty/useful one but I found it was too much of a memory hog.  They’ve since fixed that to a large extent but I’m not entirely crazy for keeping my login credentials on their site.

Recently Trillian has released Astra (version 4 of their client).  I signed up for the beta test and gave it a run this morning.  I decided to Live Tweet it (probably to the irritation of my many followers).  Here is the outcome of that process:

also, downloading the trillian astra beta to give it a whirl 2 hr ago

heck, let’s live twitter it. the installer comes with a weather.com» bar and an ask.com» bar, neither of which are useful to me in any way     2 hr ago

The install is very quick, which is to be expected. One has to sign up for a new account (sort of a la digsby)   2 hr ago

It’s asking me for my ‘token’ which is pretty bold for a first date. I haven’t got one so let’s see how this goes.      2 hr ago

Oh, further reading of the initial email reveals my token. Copying/pasting now. Sure glad I’m not on an Iphone!      2 hr ago

Apart from the token (toking lulz) the account set up is pretty straightforward. Now waiting on a confirmation code.      2 hr ago

That was fast. I will choose the clearly blackberry-inspired Full Experience. http://asandiford.com/dump/… 2 hr ago

Setting up accounts now. The beta has winlivemessenger, AIM, Y!, gtalk, icq, facebook, myspace, skype, jabber, irc, twitter, pop3/imap & bon 2 hr ago

jour built right into it. i wonder which (if any) of these will be crippled in the full vs. free versions once it’s out of beta? 2 hr ago

It gives me the option of listing most of my contacts in a public astra profile. i will pass for now.  http://asandiford.com/dump/… 2 hr ago

Now choosing an icon. Probably going to stick with the classic:http://asandiford.com/dump/… 2 hr ago

Filling in some additional details. I’m hoping most of you people aren’t getting this on your phone and sorry for any sms charges if you do 2 hr ago

The chat interface is very pretty but seems cluttered. I’m accustomed to Pidgin so this is a bit odd:http://asandiford.com/dump/… 2 hr ago

Also there are a tonne of ads. You can easily change skins for the whole program http://asandiford.com/dump/… (i’ve docked it) 2 hr ago

This is a 30 day trial version, apparently. That’s just as well because I can’t see using it much past that.    2 hr ago

Pidgin has spoiled me. The minimal skin is cluttered and busy. More functionality is no good to me when I can’t stand looking at it.    1 hr ago

welp, now i’m back to pidgin. when i went to close trillian it crashed and locked up my desktop. hooray!     1 hr ago

So, there you have my run at Trillian Astra.  I’m back on Pidgin but I may give a couple of the others in that list a shot.  Ayttm is catching my eye at the moment.

hope dangles on a string