The Yak! is a great way for Bike Friday owners to communicate since it is an informal forum for Bike Friday owners to share tips, comments, questions, concerns, stories, and, at least, links to pictures (it won’t take attachments). However, it’s not the most direct form of communication just as e-mailing your friends about riding isn’t the same as riding with them. Therefore, I would like to propose another form of communication among Bike Friday owners that is at least closer to that (you should still opt to just get out there and ride instead!).

My plan: an IRC channel. For those not familiar with Internet Relay Chat, it’s an online communication protocol that’s text-based, very portable, and available on literally any platform. You need an internet connection and an IRC client. You use the client to connect to an IRC server which is a comptuer (or series of computers) that someone (or group of people) uses to host all the users. Usually IRC servers don’t communicate with one another, but anyone can communicate to anyone connected to the same server. One can get a list of all the users and see who they are. Private messaging is available but more interesting is the concept of “channels” where a user creates a framework to allow for multiuser communication. This concept is traditionally found in instant messaging as a “room” or a “conference.” Same thing, except you don’t need to create an account (unless it’s a private server which is probably so for some local reason and you wouldn’t want to bother anyways) or deal with an other bulljive. It’s simple and straightforward.

On my Mac, I’m particularly fond of Colloquy as an IRC client for many reasons including but not limited to the fact that it uses tabs and as support for Growl. The fact that it’s free doesn’t hurt either. It allows you to change the appearance let alone a lot of other things you can tweak. It makes IRC look a little less like gobbledegook and a little bit more like a chat experience. Take a look at the screenshot I have provided of a conversation Vic Gedris and I had earlier today. Clean and neat, though you’ll notice that I have a tab for the console for the plain-old no-frills text style.

This is how I first started out on IRC, when I was about 13, running ircII (compare the above to the 2nd screenshot) via the first free internet network, Cleveland FreeNet. Members would get together for picnics where we got to put faces to the text. It was through this that I met my good buddy Ted Wade, who eventually introduced me the bicycle messenger scene in Cleveland and who I eventually introduced to Bike Friday. It was also through this that I met Brian McMillin, who originally coerced me to come out to the West and who ultimately (through a long series of coincidences) introduced me to my wife. Later on, Brian bought a Q tandem to share with his wife. They’re now in Australia and currently own yet another Bike Friday! Once again, it’s a small world on small wheels.

Anyways, the connection information is on my page on the BF site. You can click on the channel link to go straight to it if your IRC client supports it. Otherwise, you can enter in the information into a text-based IRC client with the following commands:

/server 6667
/nick [insert a nickname for yourself here– no spaces]
/join #BikeFriday

..and then start chatting. You can always use this command:

/msg bikefridaywalter help!

..if you’re really stuck.

Also if you don’t want to install a client, no problem. Just click on the Java client option and (assuming you have your machine and browser set up with the recent Java Runtime Environment and plugin) it will load up a direct connection to the channel in your browser.

Here’s looking forward to typing to you!