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My Thoughts on Trillian Astra
September 10th, 2009 by Babs

<div class=\"pavatar\">My Thoughts on Trillian Astra</div>

I have forgotten how long ago I began using Trillian. I know that I started using it back in the days of the Oliverettes, when some of us where on ICQ and others were on AIM. Trillian helped me keep tabs on both camps.

Over the years many have found other networks to expose themselves on *laughs* and Trillian has been rarely used. In fact, each time I did run it I’d have to update it — and Trillian doesn’t do many updates. A couple of days ago, however, someone asked me if I used Skype. Being the type who wants to keep as much as I can in one place (it’s the ADD) I checked to see if the most recent update came with the ability to incorporate Skype. It didn’t. However I did accidentally learn about Trillian Astra, which does.

In addition to the traditional chat clients Trillian worked with, Astra can now incorporate Facebook, Twitter, and Skype — at least for 30 days. After that you have to cough up $25 ($10 if you have Trillian Pro) if you wish to continue using it for web based IMs. :P

Astra comes with its own chat client, which you have to set up before you can add the others. Importing ICQ and AIM contacts was easy, as was setting up Twitter, Facebook, and adding Skype. It’s default interface is pretty. You can either simply change the color scheme or completely change the skin — you can even use older Trillian skins, if you have a favorite.

Unfortunately, that’s where the goodness ends. My first issue was when I learned I had to run Skype alongside Astra, which kind of defeats the purpose of incorporating Skype within Astra. Then there was the problem with adding Skype contacts. I had to add them via Skype, itself. When the preteen accidentally closed the window for the chat I was in and I couldn’t get it back up, I began to wonder if Astra is really worth it.

How it works with Twitter isn’t much better. It shows the most recent tweets, with a “link” below to obtain ten more. Unfortunately, no matter were I position the interface, the top tweet is always cut off. And I still have yet to figure out how to go back further, so if I happen to be away for a few days I’m fucked. Replying is easy. Just double click the tweet you wish to reply to. It brings up a window (which conveniently has a recent tweet from what I assume is one of Astra’s sponsors) were you can type in a response. You can keep the window open if you want to post more tweets. That can be rather problematic if you have more than one Twitter account, however: multiple windows (and they all use the icon associated with Astra!). :P Private and retweets require a little more effort. You have to right click the tweet and make your selection from a dropdown menu. Would you believe it took me two hours to figure this out?

Forget about Facebook. While it does show you everything that’s going on on your home page, you can’t always reply to it. Unlike Twitter Astra takes you to Facebook to reply.  Some days I click the link and it takes me to my friend’s wall. Others it just takes me to their profile page. WTF?

The older versions of Trillian are no longer supported. Sadly it appears support for Astra is not much better. Reading reviews on CNET indicate a failure to respond to customer (as in they paid for the software) complaints. And there are many. Astra is very buggy — especially in regards to video. So, save the $25. I’ve already gone back to using Skype’s software, and Seesmic for Facebook and Twitter. Both are free and both are far easier to use.

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3 Responses  
  • will writes:
    September 10th, 20097:39 pmat

    I really like Skype’s GUI etc, is Astra similarly laid out?

    • Babs writes:
      September 10th, 200910:46 pmat

      Sort of. Astra lumps everything together: Online/Offline (for ICQ, AIM and Skype), and web based IMs, so it can be rather difficult to find the right contact — especially if you have more than one way of contacting them. Plus they actually have to be on Skype before you can open a window. This was what aggravated me the most. I was in a chat room, my son closed the window and I couldn’t reopen it to see what I had missed since it there wasn’t activity at the time. You don’t have that problem with the actual Skype client. Once a convo has been initiated in Astra the chat window pops up. It works pretty much the same as Skype’s, though I wasn’t really impressed with it.

  • will writes:
    September 10th, 20097:40 pmat

    I love Skypes GUI and layout etc, a program that incorporated them all would be brilliant, but you have to run Skype still at the same time? That’s just crazy.


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