If there’s one thing I hate, it hands-down has to be missing out on things. Really, it’s a common thing for me to rewind the security camera tapes at work to see what happens when I’m not there. Some people call this “creepy”; and to an extent I’d probably have to agree myself. And needless to say, this same trait is very obvious in just about every element of my day-to-day lifestyle.
Being very active on IRC (particularly the WyldRyde IRC Network) I personally like to be able to read backlogs for things that happen while I’m away. When I had my desktop set up at home, it was always a simple matter of leaving an IRC client connected and scrolling back when I awoke in the morning or returned from being out and about. But when I purchased my MacBook Pro earlier this year, my desktop landed itself in a box in my closet.
For a while I used the ZNC IRC bouncer (hosted on a VPS used for a handful of other things) to stay connected to IRC. I really liked how simple it was to read backlogs, but was a tad disappointed with the fact that it only returned a pre-set number of lines when I re-connected. This annoyed me because I couldn’t simply scroll back to read more, but rather had to SSH into the server and read my logs. After giving up on ZNC, I began using Irssi as an offsite IRC client so that I could scroll simply SSH in and scroll back as needed. But again, this was less than convenient. Until recently though, I lived with it. But recently I came across a service called IRCCloud, a web-based IRC client that offers the same functionality as my previous setups all without the complexity.
Currently in an invite-only beta phase, IRCCloud is essentially a beefed up version of traditional web-chat clients such as Mibbit and qwebirc. What makes the service unique, however, is the fact that it allows the end-user to remain connected to their IRC networks even when they close their web browsers. And all the activity that takes place while I’m gone? It’s all served up to me on a silver platter as soon as I re-connect. Scrolling up even re-loads past conversations, going back as far as I need. It’s a beautiful thing.
As far as the interface goes, IRCCloud is very much like your average IRC client. Sure, it’s extremely dynamic web-based interface still doesn’t match the interface of well-developed desktop-based clients such as mIRC and Textual, but I must say that the Web 2.0 interface is very clean and easy to work with.
Like one would expect with any IRC client, IRCCloud allows you to configure settings for individual servers as needed, and even supports the ability to connect to private servers and identify to services (NickServ).
Admittedly, the service isn’t quite as flexible as desktop-based clients. But for your average user, all of the fundamental features and fine-tuned settings are still there. While I would honestly like to see a few implementations in IRCCloud such as auto-away functionality, connectivity to Last.fm, address book features, and user-ignore settings I’m not discrediting the service simply because of the fact that it is still in the beta phase and the developers are still actively improving the service.
Being in a testing stage, I’ve seen the service have a few blips where it has gone offline for a few minutes at a time. So while not an ideal utility for beating IdleRPG, the service is still very stable; especially for something that is still being developed and isn’t being touted as stable quite yet.
As of right now IRCCloud is an invite-only service, and users are not subjected to the restrictions that will be imposed once the product is released. When it is released, there will be a few different tiers ranging from free to twelve-dollars per month.
Will I subscribe to IRCCloud once it goes into a paid stage? Really, I’m not entirely sure. The project seems to be going in the right direction and it works very well. Of course I can’t fathom myself using it as a primary client, but when it comes down to it IRCCloud serves my needs – and the needs of many other IRC users – very well, and is something well worth checking out.
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