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Communications tools and services
Trillian Basic If you use AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN Messenger, and/or Yahoo Messenger, ditch your proprietary clients and get Trillian Basic instead. Its clean, ad-free interface is a breath of fresh air.
EFax If you don't mind having your fax number in an area code other than your own, eFax is a big improvement on the fax machine that sits on your desk turning perfectly good paper into printed junk mail. You can receive faxes free of charge, viewing or printing them via the service's eFax Messenger software.
QNext This universal instant messenger service includes robust music-sharing and photo-sharing features. It's overkill for just chatting on AIM--but for sharing tunes and snaps, QNext is a kick.
SightSpeed For live video calls, it's hard to beat SightSpeed, which is simple to set up, neatly synchronizes lip movements and audio, and provides easy in-call controls. The free version permits unlimited one-to-one video calling.
Skype People who like to gab on the phone may like Skype, which has been offering free PC-to-PC voice calls (with text chat and file transfer capabilities) since 2003. It's easy to set up and has a huge user community. The current version makes video chat available. But Skype-to-telephone or telephone-to-Skype calls cost you money.
Festoon Beta This clever add-on for Skype and Google Talk lets users of these two services call each other. It gives video chat capabilities to Google Talk. And it includes a number of trippy visual effects for spicing up your video calls--by placing your face in the middle of a daisy, for instance.
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