Remember when email came along and pretty much killed letter writing? Memo to email: Watch your back. Instant messaging—often called IM (pronounced “eye-em” by those in the know)—isn’t just for kids anymore. So what is IM and why would you want to use it? Say you have a question for a co-worker and need an answer now. That’s where instant messaging (emphasis on instant) comes in. If you and your colleague are both online, you can open a chat window, ask your question, and get an answer—all in mere seconds. It’s also great for those long and otherwise tedious email exchanges that go something like: “You free at 2:30 to talk about Jenkins?” “No. How ’bout 4?” “I can’t. Maybe next week?” And so on.
Of course, chatting can be fun, too. When you see a friend or family member online, you can lob a quick hi and exchange news, even as you work or surf the Web.
Google Talk is Google’s foray into the world of instant messaging. If you’ve used other chat programs, like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) or Windows Live Messenger, you’ll easily find your way around Google Talk. Even if you’re new to chatting, you’ll find Google Talk simple to use. (So far, the full version of Google Talk is for Windows users only, but Mac and Linux users aren’t totally out of luck—see the box on Getting Started with Google Talk for details.)
If you use Gmail (Chapter 5), you’ll love the way Talk integrates with your Gmail account: sharing contacts, saving chats, and more. ...