Switching to Gaim

I’m not exactly a big Instant Messaging fan, but it seems life forces you to use it these days. The majority of use on AIM, some MSN, Yahoo, and sometimes my favorite Skype. All those clients are clutter. So I don’t use Yahoo much, and keep that one closed. I’ve complained several times about how AOL dropped the ball with AIM. It’s client is about as bloated as Real Player. It’s gotten progressively worse after each release, to get a new feature, or security fix, you need to sacrifice more of your computer. I personally don’t like that concept.

I’m now using Gaim full time, and it seems to work rather well for me, minus a few caveats. Anyone who can help me would be requested to leave a comment:

  • Gaim won’t load with cygwin in the PATH, crashing with no clear error. No clue how to fix this without killing cygwin yet.
  • I could really use a S/MIME encryption plugin so that I’m compatible with those using the official AIM client with security enabled (they use SSL and S/MIME I believe). Anyone know of such a plugin?
  • Way to enforce a minimum font size (windows users tend to use rather small font sizes for things like AIM profiles, I’d love to simply +1 a few off the smaller ones).
  • Not that I use it often, but AIM has somewhat unstable file transfer. Some improvements in that area would be welcome.

Overall, I’m rather satisfied. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than AIM is at the moment. Perhaps Triton will shape up at some point. Until then I think Gaim is the best solution.

Note: Yes, I’ve tried Trillian. It’s a good product, but not good enough to pay for. Sorry Trillian fans. It’s rather ugly (haven’t seen a skin yet that doesn’t fix that), it’s UI is just strange, and it’s just not featured enough for the money. Adium is bliss on my Mac.

AIM 6 Beta Out

New AIM Beta (AIM 6.0) Out

AIM’s Triton Beta is out. Took it for a spin today. Some observations:

  • Much slower. Using AOL’s silly network utilities apparently. Totally unnecessary. Skype works behind any firewall I’ve ever seen with no problems, and uses much less CPU/RAM to connect. I don’t know how AOL’s going to validate all that bloat.
  • UI is rather sluggish. And I’m on a 1.8 GHz Pentium IV Mobile with 1 GB RAM and an ATI Radion 7200 Graphics card. Skype is faster.
  • It’s bloated. The whole point of a plugin architecture is to be thin and let users customize. A whole bunch of things in 5.x aren’t even implemented in the new version yet, and it’s bloated. I can’t imagine how bloated it will be when done.
  • No Mac or Linux build. Guess that means they are still considered 2nd class. Edit: A good source says this doesn’t indicate Mac or Linux builds aren’t in the works.
  • Can we say silly UI design? Tabs are awkward, lots of UI candy which does nothing but waste CPU, rather large thanks to the graphics. Takes up to much screen space.
  • Built on IE. There’s a great idea. Take a product riddled with security wholes, and build a product on it. Now whenever IE has a vulnerability, you can assume AIM is just as vulnerable. That’s wonderful. Edit: A good source says it’s not to integrated into IE is replaceable. Also has strict sanitation, so security flaws should not get through, and in theory sanitation could be adjusted to compensate.

When will AOL listen to the customers. Here’s what I should be saying (but I’m not):

  • Thin easy to extend client. Uses minimal ram, and is extremely fast, even on my slow system.
  • Mac and Linux builds available and of similar quality. AIM is finally becoming an adequate cross platform messaging system.
  • UI is minimal, fast and doesn’t invade the users system. It’s functional and easy to navigate and work. There’s not one thing on the screen that isn’t useful.

See the difference?

I wish someone would actually look at AIM’s shortcomings and address them. That’s beside the whole not working with other IM platforms issue.

For now it’s even uninstalled. Has no place on my HD. Sorry AOL, back to the drawing board. If that’s the future of AIM, I’m looking at GAIM and Skype or even Yahoo. MSN is all around weak, but at least it’s somewhat lean and fast. AIM 6 is a backwards step. Sorry.

It’s new UI is based in part on Mozilla’s legacy thanks to Boxely. Though it appears AOL abused the functionality by putting way to much eye candy in there. And that’s a big mistake. Functionality is key in an application. Not showing off your photoshop skills.

Edit: 4/29/05 added more info from a good source.

Removing AIM Today

Since upgrading to the latest AIM Beta (Which is pretty decent), one of the most annoying things is that AIM Today (that annoying popup ad when you sign on), always appears. No way to turn it off anymore.

Daniel Glazman notes that you can turn it off via the registry. To clarify his directions for those not to familiar with Regedit, you basically need the following:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareAmerica OnlineAOL Instant Messenger (TM)CurrentVersionUsersYOURSCREENNAMEHEREMisc]
"ShowAimTodayWindow"=dword:00000000

Save the above code snippet to a text file and name is aimtoday.reg

Remember to replace YOURSCREENNAME with your actual screenname.

Double click on the file, and add to registry when prompted. Quit and restart AIM.

This is of course AT YOUR OWN RISK. But it works!

Thanks to Daniel Glazman for the great tip.

New AIM Beta Kicks Ass

New AIM Beta Kicks some serious butt:
– Video Chat (yes that’s right, AOL finally caught up).
– Multiple SN’s at once. Just like DeadAIM was doing (for pay). Multiple buddy lists.

I’ve got a few issues though:

With multiple profiles online at once, that leaves some serious spam/harassment potential. Think about it. multiple chances to be a jerk, without even switching signing off your main SN.

My second, is that if a buddy is on more than one buddy list, and they sign on, you get multiple buddy popup’s. Now if they are on XP, and come out of hibernation, they not only sign on, but they are away initially. Meaning 2X popups for each buddylist they are on. If they are on 2 buddy lists. That’s 4 popups. You get the idea, it gets ugly. I’ve already covered the entire right side of my monitor more than once.

Get Info button moved above text field (make way for video chat button). Interface looks more cluttered than ever. Oh yea, they put Video support in (only XP), yet no support for working behind firewalls (UPnP). Not great. Very not great. IIRC AOL is very involved with UPnP as well.

Overall, nice new features, but a ton of refinement is needed for this bloatware. Not to mention, some bug cleanup, and some essential upgrades (UPnP).

Hope the Mac version keeps up.

And doesn’t no mention of compatibility with iChat? Anyone know why?

AOL Bloopers

This is just to great:

From page:
http://www.aim.com/help_faq/starting_out/screennames.adp?aolp=#deleteold

Q: Can I delete one of my old AIM screen names?
A: No, you cannot delete old AIM screen names at this time. However, you can prevent other users from finding one of your screen names by performing the following steps:

Windows: Select the My AIM menu, click My Options, and then click Edit Preferences. After the window appears, click the Controls tab, and click Nothing about me.

Macintosh: Select the Edit menu, and click Preferences. After the window appears, click the Controls tab, and click Nothing about me.

You can also and remove any information from your profile that would lead other users to find your screen name. You can access your profile from My AIM menu on Windows or the People menu on Mac OS. (NOTE: AVOID “WIZARD.” IT’S BASICALLY WINDOWS-ONLY AND IT’S VERY HARD TO TRANSLATE WITHOUT GETTING BURNED AT THE STAKE ALSO AVOID MAC. SAY MACINTOSH OR MAC OS.)

(Emphasis mine.)

Apparently they do think of Mac users. Which is nice.

Unfortunately, nobody edits for the editors.

😀

A+ for quality.

Not sure if this has been noticed before, if it has, I’m sorry. But it’s new for me.