By Colin ’Noski’ Polonowski
There are a number of ways of chatting in real-time with people from all over the world. One of the most popular is via IRC - or Internet Relay Chat.
There are a number of IRC networks - the most popular being IRCnet and DALnet - each one is made up of a number of IRC servers dotted around the globe.
In order to se IRC, you either need a Telnet package or a dedicated IRC client - most computer platforms have one for you to use.
Once you are connected to an IRC server, you can join an IRC channel - there are literally thousands on every network. You can usually get a list of the channels available by typing /list - be warned, this list is usually huge and you may be disconnected while trying to get it because of something called ’flooding’...
One thing to note about IRC is that there are a number of very disturbing people out there, and IRC is also plagued with adverts for internet sites containing illegal pornographic material. However, if you stick to reputable channels you shouldnt have a problem.
Apart from chatting, you can also transfer files using DCC - this can sometimes be easier than using e-mail or FTP.
PC users also have the threat of script files - especially script.ini which is a very dangerous script for the mIRC client.
The once infected with the script.ini file, private chats can be read by outsiders, mIRC will send a copy of the file on to everyone in the channel you are on, and it also allows others access to your computer. This is easily cured by deleting the offending file although it is possible that you are unaware you have a problem!
Most channels on IRC are basically just chat-rooms, however there are some out there dedicated to computer users, games players and other interest groups. In order to use IRC you need to give yourself a nickname (or nick) - remember there are thousands of people on IRC so some nicks will already be taken, try to think of something original!
The Atari platform has it’s own channel, #atari, on the IRCnet network - accessible via ircnet.demon.co.uk or irc.netcom.net.uk in the UK. A large number of well known Atarians can usually be found lurking in there - especially on Sunday nights!
In the event of a takeover (which means that someone has managed to take control of the channel and block anyone from entering), the #atari ’inhabitants’ can usually be found in one of the other Atari related channels - #atariscne, #atari2 or #zatari.
The Atari platform has a couple of IRC clients - AtarIRC and FracIRC. The former is more powerful, but FracIRC does have a much nicer GEM interface. They’re both available to download from the net, so try both before settling on one!
Adapted from - ’The Internet - The Truth’ by Colin Polonowski