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 And this week Messenger bans links to
And this week Messenger bans links to

dwergs says ( 12 Apr 2008 ):


Bad news for eBuddy and its many fans, because Microsoft has secretly decided to prevent links to the website from being sent across Windows Live Messenger.

links to blocked in Windows Live Messenger

A considerable number of people may have, for whatever reason, reported the popular web-based IM client through the Report abuse option that's sitting in every "Help" menu since version 8.1. But I'm not even seeing those hardly annoying, automated "I'm using!" messages anymore.

Or perhaps Microsoft just accidentally blocked the site of a competitor... again. But while last week's mistake was corrected in less than a day, the ban on has first been noticed by Messer Bram already last Wednesday.

Either way, it's probably yet another example of a safe URL being blocked as part of Messenger's inefficient worms and SPIM filter. Both parties were contacted and I'm awaiting their reaction.

 Your personal phone number for Messenger voice calls
Your personal phone number for Messenger voice calls

dwergs says ( 10 Apr 2008 ):


gtalk2voip - receive phone calls straight to windos live messengerIt's been two days since my last post, but it's been almost two years since I last mentioned GTalk2VoIP, a free and open voice gateway for major IM clients. The first thing is a bit bad, but the latter is unjust. The Russian GTalk2VoIP TEAM hasn't exactly been sitting around doing nothing, you see. They added free calling to all US-based toll-free numbers (eg. company support lines), the Follow-me feature, multi-channel voice conferencing calls via callback, and even a powerful mobile client for Symbian S60 and J2ME phones (soon Windows Mobile and maybe iPhone) dubbed Talkonaut.

And their latest innovation launched last week appealed to me quite a lot: now you can rent real telephone numbers in over 40 different countries and receive unlimited calls to that number right into Windows Live Messenger (and other support IM clients). It's simple as that, and the caller won't even notice you're talking via Messenger. This is very interesting for businesses who want to offer (international) support, or people who have overseas friends or family without a proper broadband connection or let alone a PC.

Let's talk price tags. The cheapest telephone number you can rent is a U.S.-based one (+1567 area) for US $2 one-time setup and US $2 monthly. That's practically free and note that you can receive unlimited calls. One in Washington D.C. will set you back US $4.19 for setup and the same amount per month. I've checked some other countries just for the fun of it:

Russia (St. Petersburg): US $53.90 setup, US $36.75 monthly.
The Netherlands (Amsterdam or Rotterdam): US $3.50 setup, US $6.93 monthly.
Belgium (Brussels): US $6.99 setup, US $9.97 monthly.
Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, anywhere!): US $2.80 setup, US $7.00 monthly.
France (anywhere): US $2.00 setup, US $2.00 monthly.
UK (anywhere): US $2.00 setup, US $2.00 monthly (or toll free for US $7/US $7)
Thailand: US $2.00 setup, US $17.50 monthly
(less random and thus less complex numbers can cost just a little bit more)
Sure, for a long time Skype is offering a similar service called SkypeIn, but you get a smaller choice, it's a bit more expensive... and you have to use their application.

I bought me a number in London just for testing purposes and called myself from Skype using the mouldy credit I had left in my account. It worked like a charm. Just a slight delay and good voice quality. I called myself again (is anyone else thinking "Lost Highway" here?) now with my mobile phone, and I immediately saw the voice call invitation from the GTalk2VoIP bot in Windows Live Messenger. The audio quality of the call was even better this time.

Ruslan and his GTalk2VoIP TEAM are offering very interesting services, both free or on an affordable subscription basis. It's baffling that their active userbase isn't that gigantic yet. So take your time to get acquainted with all the voice features provided by GTalk2VoIP:

1) Go to GTalk2VoIP.
2) Enter your IM address and select your IM service (let me guess, MSN/Live Messenger?) from the dropdown menu to the left and hit the Invite button.
3) Make sure you're logged into Messenger and accept the add invitation from GTalk2VoIP's bot.
4) Send it the MYPAGE command to get started.

Although the bot seems basic, quite technical and perhaps even confusing (and maybe that's the weak point in their offering) you can find every feature well documented on their website.

>> Buying a phone number for your voice capable Instant Messenger.

 Will Facebook Chat kick Windows Live Messenger in the teeth?
Will Facebook Chat kick Windows Live Messenger in the teeth?

dwergs says ( 07 Apr 2008 ):


Facebook just added an instant messaging component to its popular social networking website. In addition to "wall-to-wall" conversations and the straightforward inbox system, Facebook users can now have real-time, one-to-one conversations via an ajaxy chat bar at the bottom of the browser where the messages are delivered instantaneously. No worries if you don't see it: Facebook Chat is currently available to select networks only but it'll be rolling out worldwide over the coming days.

facebook chat instant messagingDoes Facebook Chat pose a threat to existing IM services such as Windows Live Messenger? Not yet. In its current form it's no match for the popular desktop clients. Sure it has emoticons, and you can set your status to "offline", but there's no chat logging, no customization, no file transfers, etc. The chat bar will suffice for scheduling lunch or choosing a bar for after-work beers, but the serious IM user will stay out of the browser window and stick to the more versatile environment offered by the desktop client.

And if a typical Facebook user is anything like me, he or she will think: "Stop! Facebook time!", open the browser and waste spend a bit of time on the site. Then, after reading a few status updates, spamming some walls and ignoring silly invitations, this user will close the browser (or browser tab) and start a new activity. Usage of an IM client isn't at all that linear and confined in time: Windows Live Messenger sits there in the taskbar all day as your lifeline to the rest of the world. Would you ditch your cell phone in your back pocket or purse for the phone booth down the street?

However, Microsoft shouldn't be apathetic to its new rival on the IM market (even though it owns a 1.6 percent stake in it) and tapping into the critical mass of 69 million Facebook users with tools like Invite2Messenger is a fair start. But isn't it time to start turning its own +260 million strong Messenger userbase into a real social network and develop features like friends of friends?

>> Will Facebook Chat kick Windows Live Messenger in the teeth? Discuss on our forum.

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