Net Xpress: AOL adds new feature to IM service geared toward hearing-impaired

July 12, 2004|SHEILA J. CLARK

Instant messaging is a great communication tool for all Internet users. Not only does it promote an instant contact method for text chats, it also provides voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) chats and video chats, too.

AOL has added a new feature to its IM service to aid the hearing-impaired. The new service, called AIM Relay, will allow AIM users to access telecommunications relay services (TRS) via their AIM client.

A quick explanation of how TRS works is that TRS enables the hearing- or speech-impaired to conduct conversations through a TRS operator. The operator gets the call and then relays the words of the calling parties via voice, sign language or teletype.

AOL is using two third-party service providers to handle the TRS calls: MCI's IP-RELAY.COM (screen name: MyIPRelay) and Hands On Video Relay Service (screen name: Hovrsim). Anyone who wishes to use the service simply adds the service's screen name to the AIM buddy list to begin the TRS-assisted call.


If the AIM users have a Web cam, they also are able to make a video relay call using sign language.

The service currently is available to AOL, AIM and Apple iChat (versions 2.1 or higher) users and to those who can access AIM via their wireless devices, such as T-Mobile.

This new AIM feature is just one of many ways that Internet telephony has revolutionized the way communication has changed for the hearing-impaired community.

Learn more about the new AIM Relay service at

While we are on the subject of AIM, a new version, AIM 5.5, has been released and it has a lot of neat new features, including new games, ringtones, online recipes, video AIM, and business tools featuring voice conferencing and Web meetings. Learn more about the new AIM at

System requirements are Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000 or XP, Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher. Note: Video IM requires Window XP.

MSN Live chat events

July 12: "Hercules" actor Kevin Sorbo chats at 8 p.m. Go to

July 14: Music trio Hanson, with tour mates Ben Jelen, chats starting at 7 p.m. Go to

Patch alert

On July 2, Microsoft released a patch for a new flaw in its Internet Explorer Web browser. The flaw allows an attack to install malicious software on a victim's computer using the ActiveX component's ability to write to the operating system. Learn more at

Net buzzz

* Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser is catching some serious heat lately with the new holes that have been found. Folks are starting to look elsewhere for an alternative browser that will offer them fewer worries as far as security problems are concerned. I will introduce you to some of those in my next column. But for now, read more about the new IE flaws at

* Linspire has released an Italian version of its Linux desktop operating system called LinspireItaliano. Its exclusive Italian partner, Questar, now is offering Dell Optiplex computers that run Linspire as the operating system. Read more at and

Sites to see

Check out the official Shrek site at for all sorts of ogre fun.

E-mail me at sheila@; fax me at (859) 236-9566; or write me snail-mail at The Advocate-Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Danville, KY 40423-0149.

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