For those of you who are aware right now of just how crazy the world is getting out there, and the need for alternative communications, you're well aware that there is a real big need for that. One of those ways, that a LOT of people don't know about, and is sorta old school, but still hugely reliable, is using the XMPP chat protocol. Sorta like AIM/MSN Messanger/Yahoo Messanger/Texting/Etc, but with benefits. It's also one of the ways you can reach me if you really want to. So, how do you get started using XMPP? Well, read below to learn more.
1. Find an XMPP compatible client. I use Pidgin Instant Messenger for when I'm on my PC. If you need to have one that works with your particular device, such as your phone, for example, consider one of these clients instead. And that's not an exhaustive list, as there's far more. But that should get you started.
2. Find a local XMPP service that's close to you. To find one, you can either use this list, or any of a number of other lists that exist. Myself, I use Kode.im. However, there's servers in the USA< Germany, Asia, etc. Just be sure you get one that supports SSL, and secure communications, to keep people from evesdropping on your conversations. Some services have their interface, signup, etc in English, some in German, and some in other languages. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with.
3. Once you find a service, sign up for an account. Singup is usually quick, simple, and easy. Now, before you panic and say, "Hey, I chose crab.im, but you're on Kode. We can't talk to each other!!" Actually, that's incorrect. While communications are faster if you're both on the same service, XMPP is an open standard, and servers are allowed to talk back and forth between each other, as long as they know where their destination is.
4. Now you begin friending people. To do that, let me share an example of how that might work. So let's say you want to contact me, and I'm using firstname.lastname@example.org, and you're email@example.com. You'd just put my username, complete with @kode.im, into your chat client, and request me as a friend, and if the service is setup right, it should automatically link us up. In rare cases that may not work, but AFAIK, cross talk over XMPP between servers and services is allowed, so no problems there. Now, once you send the friend request, the rest works just like all the old school IM's did, but with one caveat. Friendships on XMPP have to be agreed to going both ways. IE, You send me a friend request. I accept the friendship, then send you a request, which you accept. After that, we're mutual friends. The idea here is that, unless the friendships are accepted both ways, the other side can't know when you're online, or other details about you. This is for your security and safety, as well as privacy.
And, that's it. Once you're linked up, just start chatting, and off you go. If you want, multiple friends can get together in a chat room of your creating, you can do group chats, private chats, etc. And yes, it is old school, but, when you have no other means to communicate, it works, and it does the job. Anyhow, I hope this helps you out. And, that being said, if you're not already on XMPP through one of the many open servers, you really should. It makes a great backup solution, and a way to chat outside of the major social networks if you really want solid privacy. And, if you're technical enough, and want to take that privacy up a level, setup your own XMPP server. There's no restrictions to you running your own, if you're technically inclined enough to do that.