Chat Watch does exactly what it says: it records entire
instant-messenger conversations and saves them to a specified
location. An optional subscription feature allows for saving
conversations on a secure network (ChatWatch.Net) rather than
locally. This subscription feature must be signed up and paid for
Chat Watch is most useful at home, where parents can keep an eye
on the chat habits of their children or teenagers. It’s less useful
in the corporate world, where anyone with an ounce of tech savvy
will spot the magnifying glass icon in the system tray.
Computer-smart kids might figure out what’s going on, too–so a
memory-resident version might have been better.
An interesting feature in the Tools -> Settings ->
Parental Controls menu is the automatic translation of popular net
acronyms, for aging hipster parents who might not know what OMG
means. There are several conspicuous absences from the acronym
list, such as FTW (for the win), and the translations are oddly
censored (“oh my gosh” and “laughing my a** off”). Is this really
the time and place for that?
With support for all major IM programs, this utility has the
technical know-how to record chats from any instant-messaging
program out there. However, the ease in defeating it means it is of
little use until a stealth version comes along.
Note: The free Chat Watch demo saves only the first few
lines of each conversation, so the full version will be necessary
for any kind of real functionality.