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!

One thought on “The chocolate and peanut butter are mixed again: Using Trillian Astra with Meebo Widgets”

  1. Chad, I like your creativity in trying this with Trillian, and I completely agree that the auto-away of Trillian and Pidgin is priceless, I have one computer that handles ALL my IM accounts and is never signed out (unless the internet is down) and letting my friends know I’m away prevents a lot of frustration that meebo was not alleviating.
    I tried Trillian once a number of years ago and it messed up my contact list so badly that I STILL have some glitches (like having MYSELF in my contact list). As they say “to each his own” but based on your findings above I was able to replicate the exact same login without plugin functionality in Pidgin, and since their latest version fixed some INCREDIBLY annoying MSN crashes, I’ve been moving everything away from Meebo, and you just gave me the last key piece to get completely away from it.
    The magic settings are in domain use meebo.org and in “Resource” use meebo.org, in addition to unchecking SSL on the advanced page and setting the server to meebo.org. That has allowed me to login to meebo via Pidgin, though I haven’t had a chance to test any chats with it yet.

    1. Glad you found the post useful, Ethan. I was able to get Pidgin working in the same manner, but Pidgin would crash randomly whenever someone landed on the page with my Meebo widget. I love Pidgin for it’s low overhead and simplicity, but for my purposes, it proved to be unreliable with the plugin. Perhaps I’ll try it again in Pidgin without using the Plugin and see what happens. Please report back and leave a comment once you’ve had a chance to test it more. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation.

  2. Hi Chad,

    Wondering if you’ve integrated SMS into your setup. Here at CSUMB, we were doing the Pidgin/Meebo thing, and using the AIM protocol (the AIM SMS “hack” as some folks call it) to receive and send text messages. We’ve encountered the same problems with Pidgin as you’ve described in your post, so I’m thinking we might try Trillian. I’m going to test integrating AIM and Google SMS but thought you may have done so already.

    Thanks for all the great advice!

    Cheers,

    jacqui

  3. @jacqui grallo
    Hi jacqui,
    I haven’t done anything with SMS in my setup. I do have the AIM hack listed as a text message option that will go to my AIM, but no one has used that. Most of my questions these days come via the Meebo widget.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Chad,

    I followed all the instructions and im not getting my myyearbook chats through meebo on trillian astra ive double and tripple checked my settings, im only using meebo for myyearbook only cause there isnt a pluggin for myyearbook as of yet for astra, any help or advice would be advised thank you in advance

    V/R
    Jeff

  5. I have set up trillian and added meebo to it following your instructions. I have no problems receiving messages when people send them through the meebo widget, but I have no way of knowing when a new user comes online using the meebo widget. They don’t appear in the contact list. Have you faced this problem? Is there a solution?

  6. @Peter
    Hi Peter,
    When someone hits my widget, it does not show up in my Contact List in Trillian. I’m not sure if there is a fix for this. For me, it doesn’t really matter, as I’m not going to contact someone who happens to be lurking on my page. I’m just glad it works with incoming requests.

  7. Ah ok. It’s slightly different for me because I have the widget on the site in a ‘live chat’ popup window, so visitors only go there when they definitely want to chat.

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