Insatiable Quest for the Perfect "Firewall-Proof" IM

A constant pain in the neck with using Meebo in office is that messages tend to go missing.  I’m not sure if this is a Meebo problem or my office network problem (dropped connection) but it is a real pain when you’re constantly unsure if your messages reached the other party.

The worst hit victim of this missing messages problem is Iceman (I suppose that’s ‘cos I talk to him the most on Meebo).  We’ve developed a habit of copying and pasting our messages if we don’t get a response after 5-10min.  Of course, sometimes, the other party is away from the computer and hence there’s no response.  But other times, this lack of response is because the other party never received the message.  Even the copy and paste text can go missing a couple of times… which means sometimes we can end up pasting the same message 3-4 times before it actually goes through.

On particularly bad days, Iceman and I resort to using Gtalk as an alternative IM to communicate.  Sadly, Gtalk disconnects pretty regularly too… but the mitigating factor is that when Gtalk is disconnected, there is an error prompt to notify me that the message did not go through. 

This missing messages irritation culminated in a really crappy incident last night.  I originally arranged to meet Iceman for dinner at 7pm, after which some last minute task came in from overseas and I had to resolve the issue before I could leave.  I told Iceman over Meebo to meet at 7:30pm instead… and I got an "ok, bye" from him and so I thought he got my message.  Unfortunately, Iceman’s "ok" was in response to an earlier message I typed… and he never got my message about changing the meeting time to 7:30pm.

When I finally reached at our appointed dinner venue close to 8pm, Iceman was starving and obviously puzzled why I was so late.  Then the whole missing messages thing came out and well, it was too late to do anything.  So when I got home last night, I decided to do another search on the Internet to see if there were any other IM alternatives (i.e. IMs that can get past my office firewall).  I found a website that had a whole list of the various web-based IMs available.  Amongst those listed were – www.ebuddy.com, www.iloveim.com, www.meebo.com, www.imhaha.com, imo.im, etc. 

I’m familiar with all except the last 2… and so I did a test on both.  Nothing really special about imhaha.com… but imo.im… aha!  I found a gem there.  There’s a downloadable imo.im programme that runs on Windows PCs.  It requires .NET to work and looks very very similar to Gtalk (which is small, neat and gets past most firewalls).  Tested it and it worked pretty ok so far – only 1 missing message occurrence.

This imo.im programme displays a "disconnected" status message when the IM is disconnected so as long as you don’t send a message when you’re disconnected, I think it’s reasonably stable.  Will continue testing it over the next few days but so far, it’s really lovely.  When the programme is minimised, it’s tucked away in the systray and I switched off the notification alert so nothing pops up when I receive a message.  The icons blinks discreetly in the systray and that’s it (just like ICQ).  Sweet.

I highly recommend this programme for all IM junkies!  🙂