Friday, August 26, 2005

Smart Talk

The day before yesterday, I was shaken out of ignorance by my next-door-neighbour. He informed me that Google has recently launched its messaging client, Google Talk. Looked like a fancy name to me. Why say talk when what you actually do is type. Anyway, being a Google-worshipper, it was my responsibility to download anything with the word Google in it. I opened the site to find the installation ready to be downloaded. I chose to ignore the blah-bhah written on the upper part of the page. I found that the installation file was 900kB. I didn't expect any better, but here was it. I knew downloading this file would take a lot of time (the condition in which I was in, every second counted and hence, 10 minute download would have killed me). Just then I remembered the mighty old DC++. I knew if I had found it, so would have many more people who are geeker and freaker than me. I turned on the client to find the download ready to be started. I pressed the PANIC button. The download didn't even take a second. The installation was a breeze. But the interface disappointed me. I wanted it to be flashier. But anyway, it was in working condition. The first thing I did was inviting everyone in my message list who had GMail ID. Then, to chat with my next-door-neighbour, I clicked his name's tab. A window appeared that said: Calling so-and-so....What the hell, Yahoo! was better in that, it need not attempt to call in order to start chatting. It was then I realized that using Google Talk, I could actually talk to people apart from regular chatting. The talk window appeared as I had clicked the right corner of the rectangle. And it was lot better than Skype. The best thing was the quality of sound. This software had an amazing feature of background noise reduction that was a lot better than others, if at all existed in them. I became a fan of it. For the next one day I saw the bubble growing as big as the Earth itself. Almost 30 people had been added to my list itself. And the funniest part was the plight of Yahoo! Messenger.

Almost 70 percent of those online on Yahoo! Messenger were advertising for Google Talk. Many of them had their GMail ID as well posted as status message. And I found out that same was the case with most people's message list. In one day I was aware of the features and drawbacks of the software. Here's what I had assimilated.

One of the key features missing in Google Talk is Emoticons support. I don't think that will be a big problem at all. The client can identify most of the common emoticons and displays them as Blue coloured bold-face text.

The second thing missing is attractive theme. At its current Vanilla theme, it is not at all pleasing to the eyes. Also, I feel that the message archive facility is not too good (I am not satisfied with the way it shows all past information in each of the chat windows). A categorized and separate view like Yahoo! Messenger would cerainly have helped. And why call it Google when you can't search for anything in your past history message records. Hopefully Google will sort out this problem soon.

When I was thinking about it, a new idea came to my mind. If they can archive text message, why not voice chat? As the voice chat works smoothly over the net, it must be consuming less than 2~3KBPS. With the practically free storage we have, I don't think anyone will mind the feature. Of course if you don't want it, you may turn it off. Sounds are something a man/woman cherishes more than text. Wouldn't it be better to be able to hear your last talk with your girlfriend or the directions your friend gave for reaching the party venue? I suppose it would.

I heard many people complain that it doesn't support sending SMSs to mobile phones or calling phone numbers as other providers do. I believe its just a matter of time before this thing gets added to the client.

When I was browsing through various critic's blogs on Google Talk, I was marvelled to find people explaining their theory on Google products yet to launch. These include Google OS (a distributed computing based OS more powerful than Windows and as bug free as Linux), Google Video Search (archive of old TV serials), Google acquiring miles of hi-speed cables, the Wi-fi's, etc. The good thing about rumours is that only time can tell whether they are correct or not. But I pray that they are. I pray for Google's success. Because it had a big hand in shaping what I am. And as one of our Professors pointed out:"You people should give a part of your salary to Google, for without it, you could not manage to pass out as engineers."

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