1. Foreword, getting familiar with the Google Talk service:
The Google Talk client is a software application that enables its users (people with Google accounts) to instantly communicate with each other via voice calls and instant messages. A very interesting feature, something like an innovation from Google, is that the Google Talk service supports the different industry standards. In other words, you can connect to the GT service using the official client, or you can use other Instant Messaging programs developed by third parties, or you can even set it up on your BlackBerry. The available clients besides Google's are Adium, Gaim, iChat, Kopete, Miranda, Psi and Trillian Pro.
Google Talk has been the long awaited entry of this truly global company into the IM and Voice Over IP communications market, where names like MSN, AOL, Yahoo and Skype have already been dictating the game and competing for user's choice. Considering how intense this market is, Google's entry will make it even more competitive which is a foundation for developing better products for the end user.
2. Getting started. Download. Install. The Interface:
You can download the Google Talk client from the official web page at http://www.google.com/talk/index.html. An alternative website providing fast and secure downloads is http://talk.freesecuredownloads.com. The installation is absolutely straight forward and the setup file itself is less than 2MB.
As mentioned, GT offers Instant Messaging capabilities, combined with high-quality and easy to use Voice-Over-IP calls. The software is totally integrated with Gmail, so all you need in order to login is just your Gmail username (the string before @) and password. Once you have the client installed, you will be asked for your Google username and password to login.
Login and automatically, all your Google buddies will appear in the buddy list. Of course, there is an Add Friend button, a "Search all contacts" field which searches both your Google Talk and Gmail contacts, and a drop-down under your name that lets you set your available/unavailable status and messages. There's also an Inbox button which takes you to Gmail, plus Help and Settings.
3. The technology behind Google Talk:
The developers of Google Talk have employed the open source XMPP protocol for the instant messaging feature, while the VoIP functionality is based on another protocol known as Jingle. Those are the publicly known facts, but Google hasn't disclosed any information on the technology behind their server network.
XMPP stands for Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, open source protocol based on XML, designed for real-time instant messaging. The exact definition of XMPP as given in RFC3921 is "a protocol for streaming XML [XML] elements in order to exchange messages and presence information in close to real time."
The implementation of the XMPP protocol has allowed users of Google Talk to chat with users of other chat services as long they are based on XMPP. For example, Gizmo Project users (refer to gizmoproject.com) can IM Google Talk users using the Gizmo application. All you have to do in that case is click on Add Contact, and find the given person by his Google ID. The opposite (GT to Gizmo) is also possible, by clickin 'Add Friend' and then entering the Gizmo User Name.
Jingle extends the features of Jabber and XMPP and it's responsible for the transfer of multimedia content such as voice or video. Jingle is a new protocol created by Google and the XMPP Standards Foundation.
4. Google Talk keyboard shortcuts:
There are some neat Keyboard shortcuts that will definitely help you work better with the program. Here they are:
CTRL + MOUSEWHEEL UP/DOWN: changes the size of the current font
CTRL + E: centralizes the selected text
F9: opens Gmail and automatically fills in the To: field with the email address of the person you were talking with when pressing F9
F11: starts a call
F12: stops the call
ESC: closes the chat window on focus
If you want to write your text in bold font, enter it in between *your text*. To make it italic, type in _your message_.
5. Running multiple instances of Google Talk:
This feature is really useful if you have several Gmail accounts, for different purposes (personal, work, etc), but you don't want to keep logging on and off of them. Switching from one account to another all the time and not being able to communicate with all of your buddies can be really frustrating. This problem is solved using the 'nomutex' option.
Mutexes are used by programmers to orchestrate exclusive access to a resource. Simply put, creating a mutex guarantees that another program (or instance of the same program) can't access the same system resource (memory). By default, when Google Talk is started, it first attempts to create a mutex, and if does so successfully, then it continues and never releases the mutex, until the Google Talk is terminated (at that point Windows deletes the mutex). However, if the mutex creation fails, then Google Talk knows that another instance is already running and it just stops, so only one instance of GT can be used at a given moment.
To avoid that, you need to stop that mutex from being created in the first place. Here is how you can do that. Press the Start button on your Windows Taskbar and click Run. In the Open field enter:
"c:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talkgoogletalk.exe" /nomutex
Now you are free to open as many Google Talk instances as you want, and login with your different Gmail accounts at the same time.
6. GTalk's command line parameters:
Besides the /nomutex parameter, there are some other ones you can use as well. To use any of the parameters listed bellow, just replace it with 'nomutex' as in the example given bellow. So the general string should look like:
"c:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talkgoogletalk.exe" /PARAMETER
Replace PARAMETER with one of the params given bellow:
• autostart – it will set GTalk to start automatically with Windows, as long as the "Start automatically with Windows" option in the WinRegistry is checked
• forcestart – Google Talk will start automatically with Windows, regardless of the state of "Start automatically with Windows" checkbox
• S upgrade – to upgrade the software
• diag – starts the program in diagnostic mode
7. Google Talk's Windows Registry records:
To edit the settings of GTalk stored inside the Windows Registry, open the Start menu -> Run, and enter 'regedit', once the Registry Editor is open, navigate yourself down to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareGoogleGoogle Talk.
You will notice the following sub-keys, that store different option values:
• Accounts: holds the usernames and passwords, plus some connection options for the different accounts used on the client. The password is encrypted in a key called 'pw'
• Autouspdate: the information in this sub-key is used when performing Update on GTalk. Then the software will compare the value in the InstalledVersion key with the Google's response for that value. If it turns out that, there is a newer version available, Google Talk will start to download it automatically. On 27 of April, 2007, the latest version is 188.8.131.52, hence, that is the value you should for the Installed Version and Available Version keys
• Options: additional settings
• Process: this key stores the process ID of GTalk
8. A look at the future: Google Talk's Click-to-Call service:
Click-to-Call is a new service by Google and eBay, that's currently in test mode, available at http://www.google.com/help/faq_clicktocall.html. The idea is to allow users to directly call a given merchant on eBay, just by clicking at a link on his page at eBay.com. In that way, both you and the seller can verify the deal, confirm the details and keep in touch while it's being processed. This will really expand this business even further, making it more secure and reliable.
This whole idea that will have a very positive impact on the online business, is a combination between three of the most succesfull Internet companies - eBay, Skype and Google. In this project, every company offers what it makes best: eBay provides the marketplace, Skype brings the Voice Over IP communication technology, while Google comes with its leadership in search and advertising.
At the moment, the Click-to-call function works only for Google Maps. Here is how it goes. Search for a given business on Google Maps, once you find a store that you want to get in touch with, click on the 'call' link that is placed next to the phone number of that store. Once you do that, you will asked for your own phone number, enter it and press 'Connect for free', Google will call you almost instantly and connects you to the given store. Currently, this feature works only for business inside the US.
Google doesn't share your number, but you will have the phone number of the business you selected will appear on your caller ID when Google connects you. There are no charges for both local and long-distance calls, unless you have entered your mobile phone (in that case, your provider will charge you whatever his fees are).