The chocolate and peanut butter are mixed again: Using Trillian Astra with Meebo Widgets

A while back I wrote about how Meebo and Pidgin are like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In that blog post I described how to use a plugin for Pidgin that would allow you to connect to your Meebo widgets through the Pidgin IM client. Well, for some reason, this stopped working for me quite some time ago. My Meebo widget wouldn’t display my online status, so folks received a message on all my web pages that I was not online, when in fact I was. I abandoned the Meebo/Pidgin method and used Digsby for about a year. Digsby is a client that has native widgets built in, and for the most part, it works pretty nice. However, Digsby had a habit of reducing my PC’s speed to a crawl, so I’ve always been on the lookout for another method. I recently got Pidgin to work again(sort of) with Meebo, but I encountered frequent crashes when someone would just land on my widget page.   I’ve had crashes with the Pidgin/Meebo setup before, and it’s quite annoying.   I have to have a dependable IM client to do my job, and the Pidgin/Meebo setup just wasn’t working out for me.   Enter Trillian Astra.

Trillian Astra is Cerulean Studios newest version of the popular multi-protocol IM client. I downloaded Astra about an month ago and set about to see if I could connect to the Meebo widget through Trillian Astra.   Once I figured out how to get it working (no plugins needed), Meebo connected wonderfully to the desktop client.   I’ve been using it ever since, and it’s worked great.   The magic of chocolate mixed with peanut butter is back, and boy is it good. If you’d like to set this up   and taste it for yourself, here is how I did it.

1.   First go and download Trillian Astra and follow the instructions for installation.   Trillia Astra requires you to set up a profile with them, as your information is stored on their server (much like Meebo or Digsby).   This allows you to install the client on multiple machines, but only have to set up your various screen names once.   This makes the client easy to use on your laptop, PC, and home machine without having to setup your profiles multiple times.

2.   Once you’ve set up a profile after installation, you can add your various Identities and Connections.     First, add a new connection as a Jabber/XMPP protocol, and put in your Meebo login information as “yourloginname”@meebo.org.

Enter your Meebo Username and password

Enter your Meebo Username and password

3. Click on the Settings button to make sure your settings are the same as the screenshot below.

Settings for the Meebo connection

Settings for the Meebo connection

4.   Finally, click on the Privacy link on the left side of the preference screen.   This is very important to do, otherwise you get annoying popup messages every time someone hits your widget. Make sure you check the box to allow all incoming requests.

Approve all incoming requests

Approve all incoming requests

5.   Once you complete all those steps, you’re ready to take IMs   as they come in from your Meebo widget.   Here’s what it looks like:

Using Trillian with a Meebo Widget

Using Trillian with a Meebo Widget

In the month that I’ve been using this, I have not had any trouble at all.   Folks may wonder why I don’t just use Meebo for all of my IM needs.   Even though Meebo is a great online service, I still appreciate having a dedicated desktop IM client.   I’m pretty good about updating my status when I’m not available (teaching, in a meeting, at the gym, getting coffee, etc) but occasionally I forget.   If you forget to make yourself unavailable before you leave your desk, then Trillian will automatically set your status to “Away” after a certain period of inactivity.   Meebo doesn’t do this, so if you forget to set your status before going to a two-hour meeting, that’s two hours that patrons or friends may think you’re ignoring their questions.   For the person who is constantly up and down from his/her desk, I believe that Trillian is the best IM option.

I hope you’ve found this guide useful.   If you have any tips or questions, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.   I’m curious to see if this setup works for others and would love to learn about others’ experiences with Trillian and Meebo. I’ve now got a hankering for a Reese’s, so I’m off to find a vending machine.   😉 Good luck and happy IMing!