What I Don't Like About Google Talk

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"As the flashbulbs burst, she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child."
Death Cab For Cutie / Cath...

Posted on September 15, 2005 9:32 PM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Now that some of the hype surrounding Google Talk has subsided, one can get real about the new entry into the IM space and not be looked at as some kind of heretic. So here I go...

First off, Google Talk has its fair share of bugs. This is probably to be expected of beta software, but that doesn't make their existence any less annoying. Afterall, I'm a believer in the app and have already shunned MSN Messenger and AIM in favor of Google's new offering.

One of the bugs I've noticed is that exiting out of Google Talk as it is still initializing sometimes hangs the app and it ends up sticking around in the taskbar long after it has disappeared from the system tray. The only solution I've found is to kill the application from Task Manager. Lame.

Another bug seems to have more to do with the underlying Gmail network than the software. When you've invited someone to Google Talk, if they were already in your Gmail address book their name gets replaced with their Gmail address. So for instance, if I send an invite to my brother's email address but already have Michael Zimmermann stored in my address book, Michael Zimmermann goes away and someaddress@gmail.com shows up in its place. Again, lame.

Another annoyance shows up when you've invited somebody and they haven't accepted. In this scenario, you have the option of withdrawing the invite. However, I've found that no matter how many times I withdraw, they somehow keep showing up in my buddy list as invited. How I remove them permanently, I have no clue. The whole notion of anything I do in my buddy list inadvertently changing something in my Gmail contact list gives me the heebie-jeebies anyway.

One of the things that bothered me right off the bat was the fact that I couldn't use Google Talk as a replacement for the Gmail Notifier Firefox extension. There is no option to show up as offline in Google Talk and still get notifications when new email arrives. I've also noticed that clicking on the new mail popup notification opens up a really awkward window containing only the message and not the rest of the Gmail interface. Strange.

I haven't quite verified this, but it seems to me that Google Talk very infrequently checks to see if I've read new email. So if it says I have 2 new messages and I go to read them, it will continue to tell me I have 2 new messages until I right-click on the icon in the system tray and choose "Check Mail Now." What's that all about? I'd also love to hear a sound when I get new email in Gmail, but for some reason they left that option out when it was available for all other notification events. Why Google, why?

Now for the grain of salt. Google Talk is beautiful in its simplicity and serves the majority of my needs. Seeing some of the aforementioned bugs and features squashed and added, respectively, would truly make Google Talk the all-other-IM-clients killer.


mechy on April 16, 2007 at 8:57 AM:

Great post!


logo design on October 03, 2016 at 11:37 PM:

Thanks, that was a really cool read!


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