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Ok, after testing and tweaking, we've finally hooked up the new IRC-based chat system. This new chat uses a standard IRC server, and has a whole ton of features and cool stuff. It's also very fast, and easy to use (once you learn a few basic concepts and commands.)

Any commands listed here should be entered without quotation marks.

You can access this several ways.

1. Just click on the "XXXX Chat" link at the top of the page. This launches a small Java applet, that will connect you to the server, and let you get started fast, without downloading or installing any software. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a full-fledged IRC client, but it's easy.

2. Use any of thousands of IRC clients available free on the Web. If you already have one, you're good to go. Otherwise, you'll need to download a client, install and configure it, and use it to connect to the server (irc.vtxoa.com). I suggest using mIrc http://www.mirc.com, it's easy and easily the most popular client out there. Just configure it to connect to irc.vtxoa.com, and join channels #allbikers and #runeriders (or #vtxoa, or #gl1800riders, or #v8bikeriders, or #shadowriders or #bigbikeriders), and you're on the way.

The channel #allbikers is one that everyone coming in through the Java client automatically gets joined to, regardless of which board they participate on. You'll usually find the biggest crowd and the most discussion in there.

Here's the thing. This can be a very popular and fun thing to do, but it takes a certain "critical mass" of people to be on it, to make it fun and to get the thing rolling. IRC is intended for you to connect to, and just leave your client connected (called idling, if you aren't talking). Doing this allows you to go on surfing the web in another window, or doing whatever you need to do. You just look at your irc window now and then, and see if anything interesting is going on in there. If you just start it up, look around, then disconnect right away, you'll never get in on the conversations, people will think no one uses it, and the thing will die on the vine. Watching this over the last week - people are hitting it all the time - 40 or 50 of them an hour - but they get on, see no one there, and leave right away. Of course, no one is there, because everyone just disconnects the second they see silence! duh. Talk, introduce yourself, make conversation, join the conversation, share urls, tell stories, jokes, and lies, talk bikes, talk women (or men) flirt, whatever. It's real life in there, and it beats TV all hollow. Try idling, and help us grow this thing.

HINT: You can have more than one browser window open! Open the chat client in a new window, and you can keep surfing the net in the other window.

Overview

You could easily write a book about all the things you can do with and in IRC, but I'll try to give you the $2 tour here.

IRC is a client/server system. You connect to a server running a client. The server keeps track of everything, and your client only has to display messages coming to you, or that you are sending.

You are your nickname. People know you as your board nick, and that's what you should use on IRC too. When you first join through the Java client, your nickname is anonymous, or anon###. Boring, and dumb. First thing you should do, is switch to your real nickname. In my case, Tapper. I do this by typing "/nick Tapper <enter>". Boom, no more anonymous. I'm me.

Conversations in IRC happen in channels. It's similar to a CB channel, if you want to think of it that way. If you join a channel, then you can see everything the other people in the channel type, and they can see everything you type - as long as you are typing into the channel window. The thing is, you can be connected to a bunch of channels at once - you just change windows to change channels. The people in one channel can't see anything you are saying in another channel, and vice-versa. Channels can be public, private, passworded, etc. and anyone can create a channel on the fly, and even make it a permanent channel if they want to. To create a new channel, or join an existing channel, you just type /join #channelname. If the channel exists, you'll join it. If the channel doesn't exist, the server will create it for you, and put you in it as the owner (channel operator). You can be in as many channels as you want to.

You can also talk to only one person privately, called "private messaging". If you double click on a user's nickname in one of the channel windows, another window will open. Anything you type in that window, will only be seen by that user. Anything he or she types there, only you will see.

The Java Client

Here'a a quickie guide to the Java Client. Take a look at this picture:



Just note - all you have to do to change channels, is to click on the channel button. You'll then be seeing the chat in, and sending messages to, that channel. The usual commands work in there just fine - enter commands on the same little box you type regular messages in.

You can also reserve your nickname so no one else can use it. To do that, just log onto the server, and type "/nickserv register thepasswordyouwanttouse youremail." (no quotes).

Now, when you log on, you can just type /nickserv identify mypassword and the server will know you are you, and let you use your nickname. Everyone else, will not be able to use it.

You can also register channels, set up your channel so certain people are allowed to be ops (channel operators) in your channel, set topics, etc etc.

But this should be enough to get you started. There are literally hundreds of thousands of websites out there devoted to IRC - it's easy to learn more. Just hit google, and search on IRC help" and see what comes up.

Anyway, hope you'll enjoy this service, and help us get it off the ground. Once you get a little familar with it, tell your friends about it - the more people, the merrier on IRC.

See you there...
 
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