Tag Archives: instant-message

Avoid Communication Overload

I am convinced that there are too many ways for us to communicate with each other. We have social media sites, text messaging, cell phones, land lines, snail mail and email – and likely a handful of ways I didn’t even remember to list. It can actually be annoying and time consuming trying to keep up with so many options. I actually had someone email me recently to ask for my phone number. I replied and received the phone call, only to find that the person was wanting my snail mail address. Seriously, people? You couldn’t have asked that in the original email? Having multiple ways of contacting others has its drawbacks, as well as being a good thing.

Step back a moment and think about all of the communication tools in your arsenal. I’m willing to bet you can name a person that you could contact at least ten different ways: and there are likely many people you could do this with. Is this the best use of your time, though? You have to decide which way to get ahold of them, hope they reply or answer and move on to a different way if the first doesn’t work. Tracking someone down isn’t always in your best interest. You should be asking each contact their preferred method of communication and stick with that unless an emergency arises.

Let’s say you need to contact me. I will tell you that email is your best bet. I have that open pretty much every moment I’m awake. I don’t like talking on the phone or Skype and I prefer to not use instant messaging clients. Those are fine for quick questions, but email provides a “paper trail” of sorts that we can refer back to if need be. Yes, there are times when we may need to connect on a call or in person, and that’s fine. But my first preference is always going to be my Inbox.

Instead of trying to send me an IM on every account I have, leaving me a voice mail I may not listen to for a few days or even trying to Skype me, why not just shoot me an email? You’re bound to get a much faster – and more detailed – response.

Now, everyone is different. There are people who may prefer a quick phone call, and that’s fine. My point is to ask people you regularly talk to which method they prefer. Keep other lines of communication as a backup. Heck, you can even break down your daily communications and organize them by type. Respond to and send emails first. Grab people you need to on IM after that and then perhaps schedule phone calls for the afternoon. Separate your correspondences this way so that you avoid overload.

Jumping back and forth between types all day long is going to drain you, frustrate you and maybe even confuse you at some point.

Trillian 5 for Instant Messaging


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Derrick is a fan of instant messaging applications, just as I’m sure most of you are. Each of us has our own preference when it comes to an all-in-one program. Some may love Adium while others swear that Pidgin is the only way to go. However, Derrick feels strongly that the newest version of Trillian will make you want to leave other IM clients behind.

Derrick admits that he was never a fan of Trillian 3 or Trillian Astra. He feels that #3 was lacking in nearly every way… and that Astra had the same shortcomings with an interface that was seriously overdone. He says it was too busy and over-crowded, and I have to agree.

The beta for Trillian 5 was recently released into the wild, and it has been seriously improved. The first thing you’ll notice is how quickly it starts up – and how much it looks as though it was made for Windows 7. That is likely because it was designed for the newest OS from the Microsoft campus. The interface was carefully designed to integrate with your operating system.

The client is more comprehensive, with more types of feeds – including Facebook events and Twitter searches. It’s flexible and will store feeds in your contact list or system tray. Instant updates to all of your services are just one click away, which is likely why Derrick feels this is the fastest IM client he’s ever used.

Links and pictures are expanded automatically so that you don’t ever have to open a web browser if you don’t want to. You can also view things such as “likes” directly within the client, as well as being able to read and write comments.

In past versions of this IM client, users had issues receiving files coming from friends using different clients, and not being able to video conference with people who weren’t also using Trillian. With this new version, that is no longer an issue. Derrick reports that he was easily able to video conference with a friend of his who was using Digsby.

Trillian can connect you to AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo, Google Chat, Facebook Chat, Jabber, Skype and more. It even has support for Foursquare and LinkedIn! There’s a comprehensive library of plugins, skins and skin packs. This lets you customize Trillian in whatever way suits you best.

Going by what Derrick has shown us, this Alpha release is definitely worth a try – and one to watch grow into full release. I have a feeling many of you will be making a switch (or upgrade) to this as soon as it’s available.

Thanks, Derrick, for a fantastic screencast.

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Do Teens Text Too Much?

According to a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, young people between the ages of 12 and 17 send more than 100 texts a day. This may be due in part to the many unlimited plans offered by most cell companies. Texting beats out every other form of communication for this age group, including instant messaging, phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Texting is also easy to get away with in certain situations. Kids text right under the noses of their teachers during school hours. Most of these kids are so good with their keyboards that they don’t even have to look at the device while composing and sending a message. Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers’ lives that 87 percent of those who text said that they sleep with – or next to – their phones.

“It’s a way that their friends can easily and discreetly reach them at tiny moments during the day,” said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew. “It allows them to stay constantly in touch with people who are important to them. Texting is a much different experience than calling somebody on a land line, where you might get their parents. There’s an element of ownership for teenagers around texting.”

Teens feel that it’s easier to communicate with people when they cannot hear their voices or see their faces. As evidenced in several reports about this subject, teens will confront each other more often over issues via a text. It’s a good thing that they are talking more to each other, and seemingly becoming able to work through differences and difficulties without the hindrance and nerves that come with face-to-face confrontations.

However, I can’t help but wonder how this will affect these kids’ verbal communication skills later in life. We grew up having to talk to people… in person. Kids today are relying more heavily on digital methods of communication. Their “speech” is now defined with easy-to-remember word abbreviations, such as “wut r u doing.” I cringe every time someone sends me an email full of “language” such as this.

Another concern has to be privacy. Teens likely cling to their phones due to the fact that they feel they have more control over their content. It’s not as easy for parents to see what’s going on as it was when they could listen in on phone conversations. I admit that my mouth hit the floor when I read where one teen stated that his mom gave up trying to read his texts when she couldn’t crack his phone password. If this were my child, they would no longer HAVE a cell phone. While parents don’t necessarily need to “police” their children and know every single thing they are doing, they DO need to be aware of what’s going on in their child’s world.

What are your thoughts? Is widespread teen texting a good thing? Do you wonder how these kids will communicate in the “real world” when they become adults? Heck, will we even stop needing to communicate face-to-face in the future? Maybe I’m a fuddy-duddy. Perhaps everything will be digital one day, and we’ll never hear another human voice.