3D Chatting

3D chatting means being able to talk to people while you are moving around in an imaginary three-dimensional world. As a member of one of these worlds, you can choose an avatar for yourself. (An avatar is a virtual body you can control.) As you explore a 3D world, you will not only see interesting scenery, you will encounter other avatars, each of which represents a real person somewhere on the Net.



BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems)

A BBS (bulletin board system) is a small, self-contained communication facility, usually maintained by a single person and organized around a specific theme. A typical BBS will have discussion forums as well as files to download. There may also be other features, such as chat areas and games. Before the Internet was so widespread, there were many independent BBSs, each with its own telephone number. To access one of these BBSs, you would have your computer dial the BBS directly. Now many BBSs are on the Net, and to connect to them you use a program called telnet. Windows has a built-in telnet program you can access from the DOS prompt. (Just type "telnet " followed by an address.) Alternatively, you can access telnet via your browser. In the place where you would enter a Web address, type "telnet:" followed by the BBS address, for example, "telnet:bbb.mybbs.com". (Hint: If you are going to use BBSs a lot, you may prefer to use a better telnet program. To find one, look in a software archive.) If you have never visited a BBS, why not give it a try? Each BBS supports its own online community, some of which have been around for years.




Google Newsreader comp.bbs.misc

Chat Acronyms

On the Internet, a lot of communication consists of people typing text to one another - in email messages, discussion groups, and while talking to other people using chat rooms, talk facilities, IRC, muds and so on. For years now, people have been using a large number of common abbreviations to save time and effort. So when you see an unfamiliar abbreviation, don't worry. Just look it up on one of these lists. It won't be long before you are a master of the lingo yourself, and you'll find yourself typing: omg paw i'll send you pm l8r. ("Oh my God, my parents are watching. I'll send you a private message later.")



Chat Rooms

A chat room is a facility that lets you talk to people over the Web. Some chat rooms require you to have special software in order to participate. With others, your Web browser will do everything you need. When you connect to a chat room Web site, you will commonly find a number of rooms, each of which is devoted to discussing a specific topic. Other Web sites are devoted to a specific organization or theme. For example, a radio talk show may set up a chat room for its listeners to talk to one another while they are listening to the show. Or a company may set up a chat room for customers to talk about its products. Many Web sites allow you to specify a small image to identify yourself to other people. Each time you send a message, this image is displayed next to the message. Sometimes you can furnish your own image. You could use, for example, a small picture of yourself. Other chat rooms require you to choose an image from their library. The Web sites I have listed all have chat rooms open to the public. However, some of the services may ask you to register. When you visit, you will find people from all over the Net talking on many different topics.



Chat Servers

Would you like to set up your own chat room? Well, you can. You can set up your own topic or make it for general discussion. In the olden days, (before television), cultured people would have a salon, a room in their house to which they would invite their friends for intellectual conversation. Now you can do the same thing online and you won't even have to serve refreshments.



Chatting by Age Group

IRC is a great system: you can talk any time of day with people all over the world. These particular IRC channels are used for specific age groups, so if you want to talk with people your own age, you know where to go.


#30+fun (EFnet)

#35+ (Undernet)

#40+ (Undernet)

#40plus&sexytoo (Undernet)

#cy30+ (Undernet)

Chatting Safety

When you talk to somebody on the Net, they can't harm you physically, but it is possible to get hurt in other ways. For example, if somebody were to get your email address, he or she could become a nuisance sending unpleasant mail. Or you might meet someone online and enter into some type of relationship, only to find out later that the person was misrepresenting himself. And, of course, regular life can intersect with the Net. If you tell somebody where you live, they can come over and pay you an unexpected visit. Almost all of the time, people on the Net are well-behaved and just about everyone you meet will be okay. But there are millions of people out there and a few of them are just plain bad. If you are new to the Net, here is some information that can help you be appropriately prudent when you talk with people. If you are a parent, you will find lots of information to help you teach your child to use the Net safely.



Instant Messaging (IM)

An instant messaging (IM) program allows you to talk to your friends by typing messages back and forth. Instant messaging is very popular, and I bet a lot of your friends IM for hours at a time. Not all of these programs are compatible, so be sure to ask your friends which program they use so you can get the same one.



IRC Bots and Scripts

A bot (short for "robot") is a program that will do things for you automatically as you use IRC, by following commands or responding to specific events. There are a number of different types of bots, for example, war bots (to cause trouble), channel bots (to perform channel-related or administrative tasks), and bar bots (to play games, serve you food and drink). A script is an initialization file that is designed to perform specific commands. For example, a script can prevent you from being flooded or disconnected, protect your channels, and so on. Many bots and scripts are useful and fun. Many others are just annoying. Clearly, the beauty of such a program lies in the IRC eye of the beholder.




Google Newsreader alt.irc.bots

IRC Clients

To use IRC, you need a program called an IRC client. You run the program on your computer, and it connects you to IRC servers. Here's where you can find the best IRC clients.



IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

IRC is an old, well-established system for talking over the Net. To use IRC, you need an IRC client program. Your client connects to an IRC server. You can now talk to people all over the world. IRC is organized into "channels", some of which you will see in this book. To participate, you "join" one or more channels. It is important to realize that, unlike Usenet groups, IRC channels are created and removed dynamically. Anyone can create a new IRC channel; when the last person leaves a particular channel, it is removed automatically. (The channels in this book are so popular, there is almost always someone around to keep them open.) IRC is fabulous, but before you start I do want you to know what you are doing. Begin by visiting these Web sites where you will find a wealth of information: FAQs (frequently asked question lists), primers, RFCs (technical documents, aka "request for comments"), help files, information for channel ops (operators), and lists of IRC servers to which you can connect. For a comprehensive easy-to-understand introduction to IRC, see my book Harley Hahn's Internet Advisor.




#irchelp (DALnet, EFnet, Undernet)

IRC Talk and General Discussion

Using IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is like going into a crowded bar, only there is not as much smoke and no cover charge. Mingle with crowds of people, make new friends, have philosophical discussions -- use your imagination. Just about anything can happen when you're on IRC. Check out these Usenet groups, which cover topics like announcements, specific IRC channels, and questions relating to IRC.


Google Newsreader alt.irc.hottub
Google Newsreader alt.irc.questions
Google Newsreader alt.irc.undernet


A talker is an easy-to-use multiuser talk facility. You connect to a talker using telnet. (Telnet is a program that acts like a terminal and allows you to connect to a remote computer. Telnet is usually included with general Internet software, so there is a good chance that you already have a telnet program on your computer. Once you connect to a talker, you can talk to anyone else who happens to be there. If you are a mud person, you can think of a talker as being a simple mud or mush devoted entirely to conversation. These Web sites contain lists of talkers and where you can find them. One of the sites has additional information, such as the history of talkers, and the rules and culture.



Talking in the Big City

A big city can be a lonely place, but you can meet people and talk to them via the Net. Even better, if you are moving to a new town or even visiting, you can find people on IRC who live there. Make new friends before you go and ask the best places to live and visit.


#atlanta (DALnet)

#boston (Undernet)

#chicago (DALnet, Undernet)

#dallas (DALnet, Undernet)

#dallastx (Efnet)

#denver (DALnet)

#detroit (Undernet)

#houston (DALnet, Undernet)

#melbourne (Undernet)

#miami (DALnet, Undernet)

#montreal (DALnet, EFnet, Undernet)

#orlando (EFnet)

#paris (EFnet, Undernet)

#realchicago (Efnet)

#sandiego (DALnet, EFnet, Undernet)

#seattle (DALnet, Undernet)

#sydney (DALnet)

Voice and Video Chatting

Voice chatting refers to talking to people over the Net (real voice talking, as with a telephone). To use a voice chat program, you need either a microphone and speakers, or a headset with a built-in microphone. There are three reasons why you might enjoy doing this. First, it's fun to talk to people using your computer; second, you can talk to people all over the world, people who you otherwise would never have met; and third, you don't have to pay long distance charges. Compared to talking with a real telephone, voice chat does not sound as good, but it's fun and it's free. Some voice chat systems also allow you to use video while you are talking. To look at someone as you talk, you don't need any special equipment. However, to broadcast video, you need a webcam, a small camera that connects to your computer. Some people say that, in the future, it will be common to meet with other people via video conferencing. In fact, Isaac Asimov once wrote a book about a planet in which the people would meet one another only by three-dimensional video conferencing and not in person. Personally, I think that people enjoy the visual anonymity of a voice-only connection, and video conferencing will never be as popular as the telephone.