After getting over the initial excitement of Mac OS X, we decided to see how many of our OS 9 applications we could bring over to the OS X world. When we thought about Instant Messaging, we were lucky to find a new application via our iDisk. The application is called Fire, and it can communicate with different systems at once...
At present, Fire advertises being able to communicate with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) ICQ and Yahoo! Pager. We were able to confirm operation with AIM and ICQ. Although we didn't try them, there are also entries in the Fire Services window for irc, JABBER and MSN, hinting at future expansion.
Fire Buddy List, Showing Multiple Services
What makes Fire different is that it incorporates libraries (code to communicate with the various messaging services) available under GPL, or the GNU General Public License. This license encourages developers to release their code (including source) to the development community at large. Since Mac OS X incorporates GNU development tools, Mac developers can both take advantage of, and contribute to, this effort.
Back to Fire... the first thing you'll want to do is to import all of your contacts into Fire from other programs. With AIM this is easy. Just choose Export Buddy List... from AIM, which will write your buddies to a text file. A handy place to put this may be your iDisk. You can then import this list into Fire. For ICQ, this is a bit more tedious, since there doesn't seem to be a way to export your contacts with the current Mac client.
Once you've imported contacts, you can then use Fire to chat. It will show both online and off-line users, no matter what service they use. The service is indicated by a unique icon for each service, so you can keep track of everyone. At times, the Fire application would quit on us, but it is at version 0.22, so this was not unexpected. What was nice is that this didn't take the whole system down.
So start chatting with all your friends under OS X, no matter what service they use, and check out Fire.
Have any other Mac Gadgets that you'd want to share with your buddies? Let John know via e-mail, so he can review it.
Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you with those cool things that we all just have to have on our Macs. Shareware, Freeware, Postcardware, Emailware, and even commercial apps, Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you find and use the best of these programs.
John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at