Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For August 18, 2014

In Pursuit of Ubuntu

Nagging in the back of your mind, or lingering just on the tip of your tongue, is that word you've been searching for. It is there, just out of reach, for no reason, and for any reason. When you turn on the television, open a newspaper or news web site, or walk around your community, it flashes in your mind just for an instant. But then it's gone...again. You almost had it! What is the word? What is that feeling? It's OK. You will just think about something else for a few minutes, and it will come to you. Let's see, the dog has been fed, and the trash bins have been rolled out to the curb. There is still nothing on the DVR because it's still summer. There is still nothing on Netflix because it's Netflix. No miracle mail has appeared in the mailbox since you checked it earlier. The stapler is well stocked for the next required adjoining of paper. This pile of stuff on the countertop really did look better when it was piled over there. UBUNTU! That's the word you've been searching for! So now you have it. But, why? Sure, everyone has considered ditching Windows at some point in their life. Imagine a world without blue screens and user account control, or living a life with little to no prospect of a missing .dll file dialog. True bliss, true bliss. As pleasant as that may sound, switching to a Linux-based operating system doesn't sufficiently fill-in-the-blank, doesn't reconcile the word and the feeling. The yearning is a philosophical one, not an open source one. It's that sense we all feel is missing when we try to digest what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri. It's the void in our thought process when we try to understand why tens of thousands of people are starving to death on a remote mountaintop, or why there is a fight over a faraway dam. It's our inability to comprehend how deadly virus outbreaks can lead to violence and corruption. It's about trying to grasp why a former professional athlete feels the need to call for civil disobedience in the world's sixth most populous country.

Ubuntu is a Zulu word for human kindness, or more so, "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity," [About the Name, Official Ubuntu Documentation.]. During the democratization of South Africa in the 1990's, the term Ubuntu started to become more popular with readers of the Western press through leaders such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. In Tutu's 1999 book, No Future Without Forgiveness, he described it as, "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." United States President Obama, speaking at Nelson Mandela's memorial, said, "There is a word in South Africa -- Ubuntu -- a word that captures Mandela's greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us." And in 2004, Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai said, "In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now."

Ten years after Wangari Maathai's call for a consciousness shift, the time is still now. Perhaps now more than ever. We are all connected, and deep down inside, we all know it. Each of us must have Ubuntu when we no longer seem to comprehend the world in which we live, or that it has spiraled too far out of control. When there is violence in the street, and rushes to judgment, we must find a way to realize our interconnectedness. In our little corner of the world, we choose to highlight and encourage Ubuntu in our chat network as a starting point. To be a person with Ubuntu is to provide an example to others, to show that we are part of a greater whole, and through that whole, a greater good can pervade. ParaChat is a nexus of millions of humans from around the world. It is a global chat community of continuously connected people that provides just one of many opportunities for users with Ubuntu to be a shining example to others who are present there. Are you a person with Ubuntu? Take time in our chat network today to share it, and to encourage and remind others that we are indeed one. And since we are one, we can each make an impact through simple acts. Our mutual survival may depend on it.

Keeping It Free & Easy

ParaChat offers ad-supported free chat services in addition to its full-featured chat services that we license in exchange for a nominal license fee. We are able to provide a free chat service by displaying advertisements in our free chat rooms. ParaChat was essentially created as an adverting platform in 1996, and many rooms that are part of our global chat network have been online since our beginning! To ensure compliance with our advertiser program policies, ParaChat deploys mechanisms and personnel to review and filter content on our web pages, and within user-generated content areas of our web sites. ParaChat must be a family-safe environment. As part of ensuring compliance with our advertisers' program policies, and ensuring a family-safe environment, we request and encourage visitors to our sites to report any violations of our Advertising Policies and Guidelines. If any visitor to our web sites or services encounters content that violates our Advertising Policies and Guidelines, please report the violation to us immediately.

Please note that with our paid ParaChat service levels that are not ad-supported, you are in full control of content filtering of chat messages, user names and room names. If you do not want us to filter the chat message content, user names and room names in an ad-supported service like ParaChat Basic or ParaChat BasicPlus, and if you want to embed ParaChat in your own web site, then please consider choosing ParaChat Standard, ParaChat Professional or ParaChat Enterprise as your chat solution instead.

Feature In Focus: End-User Ignore By IP Address

This week's Feature In Focus highlights an end-user feature rather than an administrative one. Ignore By IP Address is a new feature added to ParaChat in our last release. Although there are administrative features included with ParaChat software to prevent users from logging in under multiple user names from the same IP address, the default configuration permits multiple connections from the same IP. If an administrator does not modify the default configuration, then users may unwittingly be stumped about whether they are chatting with the same person or not. To ignore a user in ParaChat is to prevent their chat messages from displaying in your view of the main chat window. The option to ignore a user's messages has long existed in ParaChat, but the option to ignore by IP is an additional improvement to this function.

Should the occasion arise that a user wishes to ignore the chat messages of other users for whatever reason, the Ignore By IP feature blocks messages from every user who is logged in from the same IP address. This is also an effective tool if an ignored user decides to log out, and back in again, under a new user name. Their chat messages will still be blocked from displaying in the chat window. Caution must also be exercised, however, because users who connect from behind the same corporate firewall may have the same public IP address. In this circumstance, ignoring a user by IP may result in ignoring all users logged in from the same company. For more information about how to use this feature, please see the End-User Ignore By IP Address article in our Knowledgebase.

Thanks for chatting, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For August 11, 2014

End-User Click Candy

What is most fun about software development is introducing features into an application that you already know end-users will love. With such a well-seasoned, mature software application as ParaChat, these moments have been enumerable across the span of its existence. As the ParaChat chat client user interface has evolved into what it is today, it has obviously been refined and reorganized many times over. With literally hundreds of end-user features and functions to choose from, users are truly able to configure a ParaChat experience that suits their own needs and style. ParaChat uses a variety of ease-of-access methods so functionality is readily available to users. These include drop-down menus along the top of the main chat window, right-click menus within each of the chat window, user list and room list areas, and a toolbar above the chat text input field. Features have been meticulously placed into an intuitive layout with a focus on quick accessibility to the primary features.

Directly above the chat text input field is the toolbar, which is how each user can configure how they appear to other users. The toolbar has single-click access to popular font style and font color settings that a user can select to represent and differentiate themselves from other users, along with emoticon, sounds, status, voice/video chat settings, and the log on/off button. The elaborate font color palette allows users to modify their own text color using swatches, HSV, HSL, RGB and CMYK. The emoticon library and sound library are available using single-click selection or through keyboard shortcuts mapped to specific emoticon image files. Users have the option of setting a status that displays next to their user name in the user list either from preset selections, or by inputting a new status message themselves. The voice/video chat option provides single-click access to initiating voice/video chat broadcast. Options contained within each toolbar feature are fully customizable, and any unwanted toolbar button can be easily removed by the service licensee.

Along the top of the main chat window are the Action, Options and Help drop-down menus. The Action menu is handy for choosing to view Recent Room History, which is a chat message history that transpired before the user arrived in the live chat room. The Action menu also contains other key features like the avatar library selection, auto-reconnect option, clear text option, and the ability for admin users, moderators and speakers to re-launch the chat room's Admin Console and Moderator's Console. Apart from the toolbar, which controls how a user wants to be seen by others, the Options menu houses the core configuration options that control how an end-user wants to see the chat window during their own chat sessions. Settings under the Options menu are cookied by the user's browser so they are remembered for subsequent chat sessions. The Options menu is partitioned into 5 sub-menus -- Format Messages, Format Window, Message Filters, Notifications, and Sounds. The most frequently used features under the Options menu are those found under Message Filters, where users may choose to block private chat messages, to view messages only from certain users, and to filter out system messages like joined/left messages and room roaming notifications that may clutter the chat window, and speed up the scrolling of messages off-screen. The Help menu is fairly self-explanatory, but it includes quick access to our User Guide, some plug-in information about a user's computer that may come in handy for a support inquiry, and a Troubleshooting utility that allow a user to test their connectivity to the chat server using ping and traceroute.

Finally, the right-click menu functions throughout the user interface contain some extremely helpful features. Within the chat window, the right-click menu can be used to copy highlighted text to the computer clipboard. The largest right-click menu is within the User List area, where a user may right-click (or double-click) another user's name to open a private one-to-one chat session, and to ignore a user's messages so they don't display in the chat window. If a user happens to log into a ParaChat room with multiple user names from the same IP address, an end-user may also choose to ignore another user by IP address. When a user right-clicks (or double-clicks) a room within the chat room's Room List, they are able to join the selected room. With so many features to explore, don't forget to actually chat with other users!

Internet Explorer Will Block Old Java Plug-ins

Microsoft will issue their monthly Patch Tuesday updates this week. In a blog post on the MSDN.com web site, Microsoft explains that they will begin blocking out-of-date ActiveX controls. This new feature, which Microsoft is calling out-of-date ActiveX control blocking, will be introduced on August 12. Under closer scrutiny, however, the blocking of out-of-date ActiveX controls appears to center around the Java plug-in in particular. The post cites an intelligence report about Java exploits from 2013 as a basis for introducing the feature. Using the notification bar at the base of Internet Explorer, the browser will warn a user if an out-of-date plug-in has been detected. The notification will allow a user to either update the plug-in at that time, or to override the warning on that occasion to permit the plug-in to execute.

Important to note is that, although Java appears to be the immediate target of out-of-date blocking, Microsoft will be adding other plug-ins to the list. The blocking of out-of-date ActiveX controls will be turned off in the Local Internet Zone and Trusted Sites Zone. Many ParaChat users may already be accustomed to such features that already exist in other web browsers and platforms, so the impact of this change will likely be minimal. At the heart of the change is Microsoft's effort to help users stay safe online, which is something we can all understand and appreciate. More information...

ParaChat Feature In Focus: Chat Room Admin Console

Control and configure your ParaChat rooms on-the-fly using the room-based Admin Console, a tabbed graphic user interface. Admin users are conveniently prompted to load the Admin Console when they first log into a ParaChat room. The Admin Console is used by admin users to execute key commands and functions vital to maintaining a pleasing, orderly and productive chat environment. Unlike other chat services, access to this feature is included at no cost with our free ParaChat BasicPlus service, and included in the software license fee of our paid services. No additional fee is required! More information...

Thanks for chatting, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For August 4, 2014

A Higher Standard

Companies are nothing without their customers. Yet most of us have likely had interactions with our service providers where they have treated us worse than someone may treat an unwanted pet. The end result is an alienated customer left with the same shattered feeling one has if their home or automobile has been burglarized. A helpless desperation persists, perhaps extenuated through being trapped in an unescapable contract, or true lack of a better alternative. But how good are the long-term chances that such a service provider will retain you as a customer? How strong is your incentive to be a voluntary ambassador for them, extolling their virtues to friends, family and colleagues? They are probably not very good at all; doubtful at best. Customers may feel the onus is on service providers to provide them with top-notch service in exchange for their payment and choice, and the best providers will indeed take on that responsibility on their own. When we choose a provider, however, the responsibility really lies with us to hold them to a higher standard, and to make the move away from them if they don't meet the standard no matter how difficult the process may be. Sure, some may believe the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, and the only way to assert your will with a provider is through being mean and nasty. But anyone who has applied these methods with any frequency knows that such methods are more commonly met with indifference, and are more or less generally ineffective. A customer's real strength is their ability to sever the tie, close off their wallet, and let everyone know about their experience so others can avoid it too.

One of our company's primary strengths has been the higher standard of customer service and technical support to which we hold ourselves. Our hope is that our standard is equal to or greater than that which our customers would hold for us. If it's not, we expect our customers to let us know. We look at our paying customers, their users, and the licensees and users of our free chat services, all as customers deserving of the same level of service. Although our ParaChat Enterprise customers receive a different level of service in the form of a dedicate account representative, our support team does not distinguish between paying customers or free users. Our support team is highly proficient in virtually all aspects of ParaChat, and several team members have been providing support for ParaChat software for over 10 years! During such a lengthy tenure, an incredible wealth of information about ParaChat has been constructed. Our support team, customer base and user base alike draw upon it every day. The ParaChat Software Documentation is the definitive resource for ParaChat software, and has been continuously built since the software's inception in 1996. The Documentation is searchable, and covers all aspects of ParaChat, including user guides, customer portal, features, customization, management, administration, security, database options, third-party integration modules, and much more. Whether you are a customer with access to code and administrative features, or a user who wants to learn more about end-user functionality, the Documentation is definitely the place to start. Commonly asked questions that focus on particular aspects of ParaChat software and services are located in our Knowledgebase, a searchable collection of hundreds of informative articles and video tutorials that is not to be missed. Our Knowledgebase is so rich in information that it gets more traffic from organic search engine results than it does from our own customers and users!

The Documentation and Knowledgebase are indeed unbelievably helpful resources, but with such feature-rich and dynamic software, and the need to use time efficiently, we understand the necessity of direct personal and prompt assistance from a human being. The first level of support we provide is an advanced ticketing system. The ticketing system serves a variety of key purposes. First, you receive an instant reply that informs you that we received your inquiry successfully, accompanied by a ticket number you can use for tracking purposes. It also allows us to ensure that our support team handles inquiries on a first-come, first-served basis, and to permanently store a complete support ticket history on your account so we don't need to ask you the same questions twice, and you don't have to ask the same questions again. The ticketing system is important because much of the information we request enroute to solving an issue is text heavy, as well as the information that we provide that may provide the solution. Once a ticket has been opened, our support team managers will determine if an inquiry is better handled by telephone. So be prepared to include a valid callback number when you establish a support account to ensure the fastest response. A proficient technical sales team is also available via telephone, live chat and ticketing system to address any pre-sales questions you may have. We are well aware that our business depends on you, and hopefully our level of commitment to your satisfaction is extremely evident. Thank you for choosing ParaChat as your chat solution! We look forward to serving you!

Java 7 Update 67 Released

This week, Oracle released a minor update to Java. Oracle had just recently released Java 7 Update 65 on July 15, but it created an issue for some Web Start and Applet applications that prevented their ability to launch. Please note that ParaChat software was not impacted by this issue. According to the official blog post from Oracle, "This issue only affects some Rich Internet Applications and does not impact client or server-side applications. Java 7 update 67 is a functionality release: it is not a security fix or Critical Patch." In the past, some platforms have blocked any version of Java other than the latest, so we recommend updating your computer's Java even though you may not have been impacted by the issue it remedies. Oracle also provided release notes for this release of Java.

ParaChat notifies its customers and users about updates to peripheral applications such as Java via its Facebook page and Twitter feed. If you have not yet liked or followed our social media resources, we encourage you do so today. ParaChat provides a selection of client-side user interfaces so that users can choose for themselves which user interface best suits their own needs. One of the user interfaces is a Java chat client, which is the client with the most end-user functionality. For the best security, we recommend users keep their computer's Java up to date, and to uninstall any old versions of Java that may still be installed.

ParaChat Feature In Focus: Chat Client Type Selector on the Log-in Panel

We offer our users something that no other chat service provider offers -- a choice. When a user arrives at the ParaChat log-in panel, they will discover a Java, Flash and HTML/Mobile choice directly below the user name input field. A user may simply select the technology that best suits their own desire by clicking the appropriate radio button, and then connect to ParaChat with that client by inputting a user name of their own choosing, and clicking the Connect button. It literally could not be easier! More information...

Thanks for chatting, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For July 28, 2014

To Free or Not To Free

The appeal of something free is sometimes overwhelming. Our decision to jump in head first to get a freebie can often be too hasty. How much freeware, how many toolbars, and who knows what kinds of malware have been inadvertently downloaded and installed initially because of its appeal of being no-cost. Yes, we are all guilty of it. Some of us have had a higher price to pay than others for freebies in the form of viruses, trojans, ransomware, and complete losses of entire computer systems. We are primed with wanting freebies from a young age. Our parents and grandparents have always said that the best things in life are free. That group includes (but is not limited to) STD's, gum stuck in your hair, ticks embedded in your scalp, under-cooked ham samples at the local grocery warehouse, second-hand smoke, poor decision-making by elected officials, and crack sweat. But these are the same bewildering people who also explained to us that there is no such thing as a free lunch. So we escape from our parents' nests, barely unscathed, pitched with a final confusing lesson that you can't have it both ways, and believing in the end that the best thing in life is indeed a free lunch. So we click on anything that's free, and too good to be true. The next thing you know, you're heaving your entire computer in a lengthy line at the Geek Team because you don't know how to take out a hard drive let alone open up the side of your computer.

With experience comes wisdom. Usually one bad move is enough to avoid landing back in line at the Geek Team, lying embarrassingly to other non-tech savvy strangers in line who wound up in the same boat (incidentally, these are often the times and places where you meet your life partner, so keep an eye out for love at first sight). At ParaChat, free is simply a choice we offer. We help you to navigate through the trials and tribulations of your childhood parental guidance so you may take the time to explore both our free and fee-based services, and ultimately make an informed decision about which service is right for you. Our free services are ParaChat Basic and ParaChat BasicPlus. Did your parents ever mention that the best things in life are free, and they're even better if its name has Plus in it? Well, they should have. Although our advertisers help us to keep both Basic & BasicPlus free for you, there are huge differences between ParaChat Basic and ParaChat BasicPlus. The first one is that only BasicPlus provides you with access to ParaChat's infamous administrative features, via the chat room's Admin Console, and the web-based service administration area. Basic has no administrative features. The next huge difference is that BasicPlus is exclusive to your use, and is not connected to any other ParaChat service. Basic, on the other hand, is part of our global chat network, so it is connected to other rooms. ParaChat was essentially created as an adverting platform in 1996, and many rooms that are part of our global chat network have been online since our beginning! As a Basic customer, you would be part of an illustrious group! With either of our free services, users of the service must adhere to our Ad Policy while they chat to ensure a family-friendly environment. Any user who violates our Ad Policy should be reported to us immediately.

If an ad-supported free lunch with administrative features does not meet the requirements of your web site, we are pleased to offer an exciting array of ad-free service levels. Our range of fee-based services is licensed to accommodate web sites of any size and type. ParaChat Standard is our introductory chat service that includes access to a set of administrative features and customization options that would accommodate most any web site. Fees are flexible, and proportionate to the peak number of simultaneous users up to 200 concurrent that you expect to chat at any given moment, to keep the service cost-effective. ParaChat Professional has advanced features like chat transcripts, the event moderation tool for managing Q&A, secure encrypted chat, multiple permanent rooms, multiple site-level administrators, and full access to all customization options. Fees are also flexible, and proportionate to the peak number of simultaneous users you expect to chat at any given moment, up to 200 concurrent users. But if you expect greater than 200 users to access your ParaChat service at any given moment, then you would choose ParaChat Enterprise as your chat solution (or ParaChat Event for one-time or short-term use). Both ParaChat Enterprise and ParaChat Event include the same advanced features included with ParaChat Professional, but are separately load-balanced to serve the higher demands of enterprise-level web sites. Which ParaChat will you choose? That is the question.

Firefox 31 Released 

Mozilla released Firefox 31 in the past week, with new features, feature enhancements, bug fixes and stability and performance improvements. As is customary, we encourage our customers and users to keep their web browser up to date. For information about how to check your Firefox installation, please see the How can I check that my Firefox installation is current? article in our Knowledgebase.

According to the Firefox 31 release notes, new features include a search field in the new tab page, the Prefer:Safe parental control feature, a malicious download detection and blocking feature based on Google Safe Browsing, and the ability to handle .ogg and .pdf files if no application is already specified, and more. The update also includes implementation of WebVTT and CSS3 for HTML5, and cool developer tools like the Add-on Debugger that allows developers to run the JavaScript Debugger in the context of an add-on. Game and animation developers should also benefit from a new Canvas Debugger, which will debug frames rendered on a Canvas element.

Feature In Focus: Event Moderation

ParaChat includes a great event moderation feature that is used to manage live Q&A-style online events. The event moderation feature is easy to set up, easy to use, feature-rich, and intuitive for end-users, moderators, speakers and room administrators alike. When the event moderation mode is enabled in a ParaChat room, the main chat window becomes a "read only" Q&A environment. Users may no longer submit their chat text messages directly to the main chat window, and private chat messaging is disabled during an event. Instead, user chat messages are filtered to designated moderators for review instead of being immediately posted to the live chat window. The moderator may reply to the question, or forward it to a designated speaker for reply. When the reply is posted, the original question appears along with the moderator or speaker's reply in the main chat window for all users to read. 

When the moderated event is over, event moderation mode can simply be disabled on-the-fly to return the room to an open chat setting. A transcript of the event can be retrieved for posting and distribution. Transcripts are always enabled for moderated events and cannot be disabled. This is to insure a transcript is created for your event. The event moderation feature is an advanced feature, and included with the ParaChat Professional, ParaChat Enterprise and ParaChat Event service levels. To learn more about this feature, please visit the Moderated Events section of our documentation, or request a free ParaChat evaluation to try it out on your own site!

Thanks for chatting, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Weekly Chatter for July 21, 2014

When Tragedy Strikes

Crazy. That is the first word that often comes to mind in conversations with people about the world in which we live today. The world just seems crazy, crazier than it used to be anyway. The question is, however, is the world actually crazy, or has our perception of the world somehow changed to elicit this illusion? News and information is more accessible than ever. Certainly the propagation of that news and information is faster today than at any point in human history. 40% of the world's 7 billion people are connected to the Internet, so more people have access to this flow of information than ever before. But does the volume of information, the speed of its distribution, and our access to it, somehow account for the craziness we sometimes feel? Or is it more about our inability, or lack of desire, to control the volume of information we personally receive into more tangible or more relevant snippets that lends this impression? The latter would certainly create a chaotic thought environment that could explain that crazy feeling. How do you filter your flow of information into reasonable, actionable increments?

There is a difference between crazy and unintelligible. Our thoughts today continue to be with the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and their families. Our thoughts are also with the Gazans and Israelis whose lives are touched by the recent surge in violence there. Our thoughts are with all people whose lives are inhibited by violence against them, the locations of which are simply too numerous to mention. If information is flowing your way unfiltered, than you know these places already. If you don't know them, then you should make an effort to get to know them. With this knowledge lies comprehension, and our comprehension can ultimately derive solutions. Without this understanding, an overwhelming sense of "anything can happen at any time" can gain a foothold, where true chaos in a world spinning dangerously out of control prevails. The world appears harmless from altitude, devoid of border lines and threats from below. Did anyone on Flight 17 even for a moment think that a missile would bring down their flight while it was benignly cruising at 33,000 feet? Did travelers that were passing the time simply gazing out of the windows even know where they were? It is difficult to fathom that random acts of violence can find us anytime, anywhere.

Much in the same way as the Internet provides us with access to an abundant river of information, it provides us also with a multitude of forums through which to interact with each other to discuss, dialogue and debate the information we receive. In times of tragedy, it is human nature to want to understand why the incomprehensible occurs, and to seek the support of others as part of that process. Perhaps it is no more than herd mentality to spread our pain and grief across a group as we try to cope with a world that has become mystifying and unfathomable. As we gather together as world citizens in message boards, blogs, and chat rooms, the opportunity exists to become part of the solution. As we participate in the real-time conversations in our own ParaChat community of live chat rooms, which has 1 million unique monthly visitors from over 200 different countries, a discussion of the challenges that are facing our world dominate the dialogue. With users from every corner of the planet joining in the conversations, there is a full range of opinions from all sides of every issue. If you have something to say, join in the discussion happening now in our ParaChat community, or use a free or paid ParaChat service on your own site to start your own conversation. The world is all of us combined. When we connect with each other, we get to control just how crazy it is.

Show Us What You've Got With Screen Shots

ParaChat offers free support to both customers and users alike. Support is provided via an advanced ticketing system which allows our Support Team to minimize response times, maximize efficiency, and prioritize inquiries. When you create a support account, you may create, view and update your support tickets, a complete history of which is retained for future reference. If you are a ParaChat customer, simply log into your existing ParaChat account to open a support ticket. If you are ParaChat user, please register a support ticket account so your inquiry can receive the fastest response possible.

If you contact the ParaChat Support team, they may request that you provide a screen shot that demonstrates the issue you are having. A screen shot allows you to create a picture of what is on your monitor. If you are experiencing an issue with ParaChat, taking a picture of the issue is most likely faster than typing a full description. This helps our Support Team to understand the issue sooner, which in turn, allows them to help you faster. For detailed information about how to take a screen shot on your computer, please visit the How to take a screen shot in Windows or How to take a screen shot in Mac OS X articles in our Knowledgebase.

Security Alert: Java Update From Oracle

This past week, Oracle's Critical Patch Update included a security update to Java. The update to Java 7 Update 65 and Java 8 Update 11 included 20 security fixes. As with past Java updates, we highly recommend that users keep their Java versions up to date. This includes not only updating your computer's Java version to the latest version of Java available, but also removing any old versions of Java that you may have installed on your computer. For information about updating Java, and removing old version, please visit the How can I be certain my Java version is current? article in our Knowledgebase. Java is a web browser plug-in that is required to load the ParaChat Java chat client. Some web browsers and platforms will block Java applets from loading if you do not have the latest Java version installed.

Keep the chat love alive, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For July 14, 2014

Make Your Event a World Event Too

Now that the World Cup tournament is over, we have an opportunity to reflect on this amazing event as a whole. Regardless of whether your country's team was eliminated in a semi-final, quarter-final, round of 16, or earlier, most agree that the World Cup in Brazil was extremely entertaining. Congratulations are in order to Germany, who not only hoisted the Cup for the first time since 1990, but also ended a European drought of World Cup victories in the Americas. Argentina and Netherlands, the second and third place finishers respectively, are also well-deserving of congratulations for their tournament performances. Not to be left out is host nation, Brazil! Although they finished in a disappointing fourth position after routs by both Germany and Netherlands, the nation can hold its collective head high for throwing the best party of the year. After all, Brazil has still won the World Cup more times than any other nation, and are also playing host to the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games. We think the world will never tire of the seemingly endless beautiful vistas offered by Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana, and, well, just about everywhere there.

We offered a special chat room for World Cup fans to chat live with other fans during the tournament. The World Cup Live Chat room was added to our network of free rooms so that not only regular users could navigate into and out of the room from other rooms in the network, but also new users who were drawn into the World Cup Live Chat room could be introduced to the other regular users of the network. The network has 1 million unique users per month from over 200 countries! We were pleased (honored, really) to be able to do our small part in bringing the world together for such a stunning and wonderful event. From an organizational perspective, it was a success for ParaChat in many ways. It was an opportunity to introduce new people to our services, to bring old customers and users together with new customers and users, and perhaps even to re-introduce people to the "community chat" concept, which is sometimes bypassed these days by the drab, emotion-twisting narcissism of social networks, and the megalomaniacs who run them. It is both a step back in time, as well as a foray into the near future when social networks will have run their course, and a web presence again becomes a creative outlet for individuals and organizations rather than a point-n-click scrapbook inside of someone else's wrapper.

The live chat room we offered was related to a special world-wide event attended by a world-wide audience. It is estimated that over 1 billion people watched the World Cup final! Special events, regardless of whether your web site or organization is directly or indirectly related to them, provide an incredible opportunity to draw an audience to your web site. Live chat is an aspect of any event that not only draws traffic to a web site, but, even more importantly, retains that traffic for longer durations. ParaChat is an incredible tool to attract and retain visitors, and to manage online chat events of virtually any size. For web sites that hold frequent online events, and also may wish to create and maintain a vibrant online community of passionate fans or patrons, we license our ParaChat Professional and ParaChat Enterprise service levels for ongoing use. For web sites that may focus more on one-time or short-term events, ParaChat Event is the service for you. Each of these ParaChat services include full access to all administrative features and functions, and to a special Event Moderation feature especially designed for managing and controlling question-and-answer style events. Don't miss out on the opportunity to attract and retain visitors, turn visitors into customers, and to generate interest in your mission and revenue from your products and ideas. The world is waiting for you!

Your Foot Odor or Your Password: Which is Stronger? 

First, you can ignore the foot odor part of the question. That is more of a self-test that you will need to take care of on your own. Plus, we don't even need to know the outcome! However, we could not more highly recommend that you safeguard your personal and confidential information using passwords that are extremely hard to guess or crack. When you secure your personal data with strong passwords, you place a barrier between your information and cyber criminals who want to steal it for their own gain, no matter the cost to you. Take a step today toward better protecting the theft of your identity, your money, and your personal information by creating strong passwords. Although no information that you may access online and protect with a password can be guaranteed to be safe, using a very strong password is a great defense. Don't make it easy for your confidential information to be accessed. Lock down your data by creating strong passwords right away.

You may test the strength of a password you are considering by using our Password Meter. As you input your password, view the Score and Complexity information to see if your password is strong. The higher the Score, the stronger your password. If you want the password you are checking to be visible to you, uncheck the Hide checkbox. Try the Password Meter.

Security Alert: Update Adobe Flash

News broke this past week of a new exploit with Adobe Flash. We made ParaChat customers and users aware of this exploit via our Facebook and Twitter pages on the day this information was first released. The exploit could have allowed an attacker to steal log-in credentials to some of the Internet's most popular destinations. It is recommended that users with FirefoxOpera, Safari, and Internet Explorer versions below Internet Explorer 10 should update their computer's Flash installation immediately. Flash should update automatically for users with Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and 11, but these users may wish to check that Flash has been updated as a precaution. Check our knowledgebase to see which version of Flash you have installed and how you can check if your Flash version is up to date.

Keep the chat love alive, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For July 7, 2014

Community Chat By Numbers

Most of the live chat conversations our sales team have are with newcomers to our web site doing their chat software due diligence. These visitors are seeking to quickly and succinctly differentiate between each of our community chat service levels, and then compare those service levels with our competition. Our web site, knowledgebase and documentation are laden with grids, images and information to make the decision-making process unburdensome, but there is truly no substitute for instant live help in the ultra-fast pace of today's information flow. Although this would otherwise be an incredible segue into the virtues of ParaChat LiveHelp, we want to instead place the key differentiators between each of our community chat service levels into focus. Our sales team has a wealth of expertise in explaining each of our service levels in brief, rapid bursts at the moment a prospective customer is fully engaged. We will indeed draw upon their experience in keeping this information concise, but this particular forum affords an opportunity to provide a few more details at a slightly reduced tempo. Each of our service levels has their own nuances for sure, but the top-level differentiators are usually enough information for a prospective customer to lock in on one service level in particular.

The first key differentiator involves free versus paid services. Our free services are supported by advertisements. Our paid services are supported by software license fees, have no advertisements, and are embeddable into your own web site. Right away, there are two distinct prongs. ParaChat Basic and ParaChat BasicPlus are our two free, ad-supported service levels. BasicPlus is different from Basic because BasicPlus includes access to an abundance of admin features and customization options that are simply not supported by Basic. It's really important to understand that our advertisement placements are intentionally unintrusive to the chat environment. Many ad-supported services will intentionally obstruct the chat's core functionality, but we have no interest in that. Usability is paramount to ParaChat, and we do not sacrifice it in exchange for ad revenue. Most customers who are seeking a free chat service from ParaChat will choose ParaChat BasicPlus, largely due to its free admin tools. ParaChat BasicPlus is also the service level we recommend to those seeking a free chat service. When you choose one of our free service levels as your chat solution, up to 200 users can log in at the same time!

The second key differentiator is the user limit, which is the number of users that a customer expects to access their chat service at the same time. Our paid chat service levels are licensed in differing user limit increments to accommodate virtually any number of concurrent user connections that a web site community, or an event, may require. The user limits are flexible; many prospective customers simply have no idea how many users will access their service until they have built a history over time. We understand that, and have built that into our pricing model. The key number of simultaneous users is 200. Once again, there are two distinct prongs. If you expect fewer than 200 users to access your ParaChat service at the same time, consider ParaChat Standard or ParaChat Professional as your chat solution. We license each in 10, 25, 50, 100 and 200 user increments. If you expect greater than 200 users to access your ParaChat service at the same time, then consider ParaChat Enterprise as your chat solution (or ParaChat Event for one-time or short-term use).

The third and final key differentiator is the inclusion or exclusion of advanced features like chat transcripts, the event moderation tool for managing Q&A, secure encrypted chat, multiple permanent rooms, multiple site-level administrators, and full access to all customization options. If none of these advanced features are important to the management and administration of your chat community, then you may wish to consider ParaChat Standard as your chat solution. ParaChat Standard does not support any of these advance features, and there is no method to add them (apart from upgrading to a service level that does support them). If one or more of these advanced features is important to you, then you would need to consider ParaChat Professional or ParaChat Enterprise/Event as your chat solution, depending upon the number of users you need to access your ParaChat service at the same time. If a prospective customer knows whether they want a free chat service or not, has a general idea of the number of users who may log into their chat service at the same time, and whether a short list of advanced features are important or not, then they can easily choose a specific ParaChat community chat service level as their chat solution. And if they don't know, well there is no cause for concern or distress. Since there are no contracts or set-up fees, our customers are welcome to upgrade and downgrade their service at the end of any license period. Try it before you buy it too!

Webmaster Tool: Free Upload/Download Speed Test 

If your Internet connection seems slower than normal, a variety of factors could be at play. Before contacting your Internet Service Provider, it may be helpful to run a Speed Test. A Speed Test is a free analytical tool that tests your Internet connection speed against different servers around the world by sending and receiving packets of data. Tests are conducted over HTTP, just like normal web browsing. Once the test has been completed, your connection's download and upload speeds will be presented to you. You may use this information to compare your connection speed with others who use your Internet Service Provider, or to alert your Internet Service Provider of a potential issue with your Internet connection. Check your speed now!

World Cup Live Chat

Last week, we had World Cup Fever. OK, so we may still have World Cup Fever this week, but our temperature has been reduced by a degree or two after the elimination of the United States by Belgium. Firstly, our congratulations to Belgium on a well-deserved victory. Secondly, our congratulations to Argentina for beating Belgium. Such is life. By the publication of our next newsletter, the World Cup 2014 will be history. But we are greatly looking forward to watching Brazil, Germany, Netherlands and Argentina compete for the championship! Please join us and other fans in our World Cup live chat room during the remainder of the tournament. See you there!

Keep the chat love alive, and we'll see you again next week!

The ParaChat Team

Copyright © 2014 M Square Inc. All rights reserved.