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IRC is a technology commonly used to hold large chats among multiple people. Where most modern-day group chatting programs can only handle a handful of people, IRC handles thousands of people in a single chatroom on a daily basis. Multiply that by the number chatrooms that are out there, and you get a pretty good feel of the sheer power of IRC.

On the technical side of things, IRC is almost like a whole, separate Internet. There's the Internet we know (HTTP://example.com), then there are a few more “types” of Internet. For instance, file transferring is FTP://example.com whereas IRC is IRC://example.com.

The problem becomes accessing it, though.

How to Access IRC

Nearly all Internet Browsers of this day and age know how to display webpages (http://) to you, the viewer. Many of those are also capable of understanding file transfers (ftp://); however, not many come with the ability to understand IRC.

To remedy this, there are a number of solutions:

  1. Use an IRC client.
  2. Use a browser that comes with built-in support (such as Opera).
  3. Enable an extension in your browser that “teaches” it how to use IRC (such as the “Chatzilla” extension for Firefox).
  4. Use an online program, such as what is used on the "Chatroom" page (although these can be extremely fickle at times).

The preferred method of the four above options would be the first one – use an IRC client, because that is the most stable method to connect. An IRC client is basically a “web browser” but for advanced chatting.

IRC Clients and General Setup

There are a number of these available for free, as well as those for a nominal fee. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Pidgin (Yes, the IM program. It has the ability to do this.)
  • IceChat (Free, but only for Windows.)
  • XChat (Free for Linux, but a nominal fee for Windows due to extra development expenses.)
  • mIRC (Free for 30 days, only for Windows.)

Once you install the program of your choice, all you have to do to get started chatting is to set the “Server/Network” = “irc.dal.net”, set the “port: 6667” (this is probably the default anyway), and set the “channel” as “#AwakeAndDrink.”

Don't worry – you don't need to understand what I just said, just do it and it'll work. :)

Help Me!

For those who require additional assistance, I have walkthroughs for each of the above programs. If this interests you, please click on the name of the program you're using below.

Basic IRC Commands

To say something, all you have to do is type what you want, then hit Enter. Simple enough, 'eh?

If you wish to get somebody's attention, simply mention their name in your message. For example: “Zane, How are you?” will notify me that somebody is speaking to me, specifically. In this manner, it is much more likely that you'll receive a prompt response.

If somebody has a relatively long name that you really don't feel like typing out, you can instead type the first few letters of their name, then hit the TAB key on your keyboard. So, “Za[TAB]”, will auto-complete, “Zane.”

You may notice from time to time, people will perform an action, per sé. This may look like “*Zane is sleepy.” as opposed to the usual way messages are displayed. The way you perform an action is by typing “/me is sleepy”.

If you wish to change your nickname, you need only type, “/nick NewNick”. If you receive a message saying something about the name being taken already, that just means that you need to choose something else.

Whenever you want to quit the program, just type, “/quit”, or to leave only the current room you're in but stay connected to others, simply type, “/leave”.