Capn's Blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

ICQ under Linux means Licq!

Last entry, I wrote that I use Linux:

That means that when it comes to ICQ, I can't use the ICQ program that everyone else uses, because that ICQ program is only for Windows, not Linux.

Instead, I use a program called Licq.

Licq works in two ways. When I'm at home, I can run it in "graphical mode" and it will look very much like the ordinary ICQ program that everyone uses:

Licq in graphical mode

Licq on my home computer has my friend list, and all the histories, etc, that I like to have available.

But what can I do when I'm at work?

For that, I connect from work to my computer at home, and run Licq in "text mode". It's a lot plainer, but it's easy on both work's budget and mine, and because it's not graphical, it's very responsive even when the Internet is slow. Here's how it looks:

Licq in text mode

Hmm, that picture looks a bit muddy, but if you click on it, you'll get a better idea.

There are a few things that don't work so well (or at all) when using Licq in text mode:

  • File transfers (such as photos).
  • If I'm entering a message and make a mistake on the first line but don't see it before I move to the next line, it's not possible to fix the mistake on the first line. I have to cancel that message and start again.
  • It's not possible to receive and send Chinese characters (hanzi, 汉字). When people send me hanzi, it looks like this: ÈÈÃŵÄ
That last one is a real shame, because most of my ICQ friends are in China.

That means my Chinese friends and I are limited to either talking in English, or using pinyin, the romanised form of spoken Chinese. So instead of writing 我去买东西 (I'm going to buy something), we have to write wo qu mai dongxi. And it's not even true pinyin. True pinyin would have accents. For example, mǎi for 买 (buy), and mài for 卖 (sell).

Instead, we have to append numbers, for example, mai3 and mai4. Very unsatisfactory.
And not to mention that while everyone in China can speak Mandarin, not everyone is so crash hot with pinyin, especially in the south.

I want to use hanzi!

Despite all my complaining about Licq, there are two unbeatable things about it: This last point is especially important. Because I'm a software engineer (软件工程师), I can take that source code and modify it. Given enough time and skill, if there's something I don't like, I can change it.

For the last couple of months, I've been working on some changes to Licq so it can do hanzi. I don't get much time to work on it, and I'm still a long way away from my goal, but I still keep trying.

Wish me luck, I need it.


Post a Comment

<< Home