The Quest for A Decent IRC Application for 9500

A friend of mine just entrusted his Nokia Communicator 9500 to me and I thought I’m gonna “abuse” this new gadget to the max. Hehehe… I must prove to other people who always look down to Symbian that this device is going to be more than just another brick.

I don’t want to talk about what other reviews have said about the 9500. Since this device is equipped with a decent QWERTY keyboard and a landscape screen, I thought I will use it a lot for my daily IRC habit, hehehe 😉 For those who don’t know what IRC is, please Google ;-)…

My hanging place in the IRC kingdom is always in Mobitopia channel where there are many good people inside who’s always helping each other with problems in programming, discussing about current technology issues and trends as well as plain nonsense chit-chat and gossips. Truly a cyber place for this kind of thing.

Mobitopia

Another interesting thing about the Mobitopia channel is the people in it. There you can find Rafe and Ewan of AllAboutSymbian (they also run a bunch of other AllAbout websites), Russell Beattie who’s famous for his blog, Jim Hughes, his “Getting Started” pages is a very good reference website for those who like to know more about Symbian devices, also Frank Koehntopp aka “The Gadget Guy”, Tarek, Darla, Erik, Moof, Gustaf, and many more… These are the people who makes Mobitopia alive, so to speak. To those I didn’t mention their names here, you know who you are!

If you have too many free time to spare, come join us at irc.freenode.net in channel #mobitopia 😉 or direct link at irc://freenode.org/mobitopia

The hunt continues

I’ve been using a couple of mobile IRC clients on different devices. On my P800 and P900, I have Quirc and SymIRC installed and I found that Quirc is better for my needs. There are no decent IRC client for UIQ written in the native language (C++).

On my Series 60 devices, I use an excellent C++ application called Wireless IRC developed by Mobileways and IMHO, it is very powerful. Read what Ewan said about it at Wireless IRC rocks.

Now, with a 9500 in my hands, i need a good client which can be used without fuss and I cant find any native IRC application written for Series 80 (A message to Mobileways, Please port your excellent Wireless IRC to other Symbian platforms, Series 80 and UIQ especially). This is somewhat frustrates me because the 9500 with GSM, GPRS, EDGE and WiFi can be connected to internet all day long.

My search led me to a few Midlets (Applications written using J2ME, a Java flavour) that works on any device that supports Java. They are virca, WLirc  and jmIrc. I must thank Frank Koehntopp for pointing out about this little useful midlet jmIrc in his excellent article . I’m not going to elaborate in details on each of them but after fiddling for a few hours, I found that jmIrc is the one that suits me most. Furthermore, midlets have very small footprint and this jmIrc is only 32k!

WLIrc

On the 9500 at least, jmIrc looked fine because from my understanding, it was developed from WLIrc’s concept and the interface does not looked like it’s a midlet at all… phew… how am i going to say this?… jmIrc does not look like a very raw Java app. Got what I mean? 🙂

In terms of usability, it wins the other 2 midlets hands down. For example, the text input area, can be invoked simply by pressing the spacebar, similar to virca but on WLIrc, I need to press the top button on the right of the screen to get the text input area.

There’s also a multiple panes function where you can open more than 1 pane to chat with other users. Just select the name of the user and press “Query” and you can have a personal pane to chat privately with the selected user. I don’t know how many panes can be opened at the same time but so far, I have tested with 5 panes and it works perfectly. To know which pane you are at, there’s this little “dots” on the top where it acts like an indication.

Why IRC?

Well, it’s kinda habit, you know… 😉 I used all kinds of communication whether it’s voice, email, instant messaging (AgileMessenger on 9500 rocks!!!) and IRC, I use them all.

Furthermore, the world where we are living today is very different from say 10 years ago. Now, we can use these services without any PC or laptop. You just need a smartphone to do all these. Whether you are using Series 60 or UIQ or Series 80, all Symbian powered devices are meant to be used as communication tools and the OS itself, is designed as a “Communication centric” OS rather than “data centric” OS.

Got to go now, some friends in #mobitopia have just joined channel…