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Meebo

November 16th, 2007 at 5:00am — Rating: Firefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox no pointLink

One of the big problems that Instant Messenging has is when you're on MSN Messenger, your other friend is on ICQ, and another on Yahoo! Messenger. But the problem is how to get everyone, as Dr. Evil would say, "sprechen the same lingity." (Translation: Have all of your IMs speak the same language).

Overview

Meebo is an Instant Messenger extension that is takes all of your existing instant messenger accounts and keeps all of them in one central location. When you sign on to Meebo with one logon, you sign into all of them: AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo!, MSN, and ICQ.

Installation

Unfortunately, you have to log in to one more instant messenger account to get the benefits of Meebo. Sign up and download the extension. Restart Firefox and you'll see a sidebar with the Meebo extension visible. Sign in and you'll see all of your friends and contacts appear.

Features

The primary feature of Meebo is the most obvious: the number of Instant Messaging (IM) engines available.

When you first install it, you need to remember all of your logins from your other IMs, but once you've entered them, there's no need to enter them again unless you are installing Meebo on another PC.

If you are used to using a fat client (a big executable program), you are more than likely looking for a single window with your list of contacts. On the Meebo page, you'll notice a very nicely formatted list of your contacts. In the top right, there is a way to "rip" the list and make your Meebo a separate Firefox window. While this is definitely a nice touch, I tried to close the Meebo account tab and it said "Are you sure you want to close Meebo?"

I thought that when I closed the tab and moved on to other sites in that same tab, the Meebo Firefox popout would allow me to stay connected instead of the tab window. But I guess that's what the sidebar is for.

However, when you login through the sidebar, a new tab appears and gives you the tabbed interface for Meebo. Regardless, if you use access Meebo through the addon extension or through the website, you will have another tab consisting of your Meebo status. If you close the tabbed window, you immediately log off.

Configuration

There is only one configuration screen for Meebo and it's very simple, which is good.

You can automatically sign on when Firefox starts and set certain alerts to go off for particular events, such as when a message arrives, a contact goes offline or online, or when receiving chat invitations.

Even though there isn't much to the configuration screen, it's still enough to provide key elements of flexibility to the user.

Conclusion

While using Meebo for a week, I've already fallen for it despite the popout issue.

The popout option on the Meebo main page doesn't have a constant connection and the popout feature is kind of misleading because if you close the tab or window containing Meebo, the popout disconnects, disappears, and logs you off as well.

One other option I would recommend is developing an addon for Thunderbird as a sidebar. Ever since I've turned my Thunderbird into an Outlook-like application with Sunbird and Lightning, adding an IM panel would be the cat's meow. My entire communication workspace in one location. It would seem to fit more with Thunderbird than Firefox, but equally appreciated as well.

To the authors...if you need a beta tester for Meebo for Thunderbird, I'm your man! :-)

For most mobile warriors, having a multi-login portable instant messenger with you at all times is a great tool. Take Meebo on the road with Portable Firefox for an awesome

The rating for Meebo is a 4 out of 5.