Of all Internet technologies like e-mail, http and filesharing services, I think that Instant Messaging clearly deserves a spot at the top of the list of “most important Internet technologies.”
IM is very cool. It gives you a real-time view of whether or not someone all the way across the world is on the Internet at that very moment. It lets you enter into a real-time conversation with them, just like you were on the phone, without all of the distracting background noise. It gives you time to think about what you want to say before you type it, and it gives the person a chance to respond immediately, rather than waiting a day or two for an email response.
The Internet technology associated with IM is fairly straightforward. You sign up with a service like Google Talk, Skype, AIM, etc. Once you sign up, you have an account on their IM system, serviced by IM servers. When you boot your computer and the IM software launches, it lets the IM system know that you’re on the Internet and ready to chat.
Everyone is pretty familiar with all of the major Internet IM services, but companies and small businesses across the world have a similar need to allow people connected to a protected internal LAN with the ability to communicate via chat, without the need to connect to such outside IM services.
Chatting On Your Local LAN
There are plenty of ways that companies get that done. Microsoft offers popular software called Lync, and of course lots of other businesses just use the ever popular Netmeeting software.
However, if you want a really neat little IM application that you can run on every PC in your house or small business that requires no central server at all, you’ll want to try EZ Instant Messenger, an IP-based peer-to-peer IM application that lets you chat with anyone on the local network whenever you like.
Installation is ridiculously easy – all you have to do is type in the name you want to appear as on the network “online” listing.
You’ll see the status box appear on your screen. If anyone else is logged into the local network and has the software running, you’ll see them listed as online and active as well. No central server required at all – this is all peer-to-peer.
Here’s what it looked like when my buddy Chris logged in on another PC in the same home network.
When you’re ready to chat, there are a few ways to go about it. Essentially, with EZIM, every home network has one “chat room” that anyone can use at any time. To enter the chat room, just click on the chat button.
Your status will change to a chat balloon, and you’ll see another window open called the “Plaza of Speech”. This room just works like a regular chat room, and anyone that’s on the same local network can join the same room at any time.
If you’re more interested in a private conversation, that’s what the messaging system is for. You establish a private 1-to-1 conversation by clicking the message icon at the bottom of your EZIM status window.
You write up a message and send it as shown below. The person will instantly receive an alert that they’ve received a message.
The conversation is a bit like a hybrid between an email conversation and an instant message chat, because it’s essentially a real-time chat using messages. It’s like passing notes in class…which, I guess if there are two kids running this software in a classroom on the school network, that’s essentially what they could do electronically (sorry teachers!)
Just click to open the message, type your reply, and then send it off again.
You can also quickly transfer files from your computer to a friend’s computer (or between computers in your house) by clicking the green arrow (file transfer) button. Browse to the file you want to send, and when the person on the other computer accepts it and selects a save location, it’ll transfer the file. It’s probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to quickly fire off a file to someone – even faster than email.
If you want to get work done while you’re chatting, don’t forget to enable the “Always on Top” feature in the Preferences. There are a bunch of other settings you can play with to customize your IM experience, like auto-open incoming messages to make it more like a real-time chat, enabling sound alerts, changing the color-coded status displays for your status, and more.
EZIM is just a really fast, simple way to establish a LAN instant messaging system without the need for elaborate central servers or even any software installations. You just run the executable, type in your desired name on the IM network, and you’re ready to start chatting and sharing files.
Do you know of any other IM chat applications that are this easy to set up and use on the local LAN? Give EZIM a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below.