Over the summer, we've been working on a service that can integrate some of the best parts of LiveJournal into something many of you (and us!) use: instant messaging. Several thousand users have been using it already in its beta stage. Today we're officially launching LJ Talk, in partnership with Gizmo Project, available to everyone with an LJ account.
It's an instant messaging service that's implemented using the Jabber protocol, which is an open system that allows us to connect to other networks, like Google Talk, Gizmo Project, jabber.org, Earthlink, and others. It's also connected to your LiveJournal account:
* Your Jabber ID and Password is the same as your LiveJournal login
* Your roster ("buddy list") is automatically filled with your mutual friends
* Your buddy icon is your default userpic
* You can post to your journal by IMing Frank, the robot goat.
* Coming Soon: integration with our notifications system
You can connect to LJ Talk using any Jabber IM client. We have a list of some popular clients available. If you're not sure which one to get, check out Gizmo/LJ Talk. The folks at Gizmo Project have worked with us to create an integrated client. This combines the already-existing functionality of voice posting through their network (oh, and International users can voice post with it too), all of the LJ Talk functionality, and all the features that they provide, too.
For more information about LJ Talk, check out our FAQ.
EDIT: Some of you have asked us for a way to hide your LJ Talk ID from your profile entirely. We'll be working on doing that over the next week or so, so stay tuned.
Contextual Hover Menus
We've also implemented a little toolbar that appears when you hover over the icon next to someone's username (for example, the icon next to frank). Depending on who you're linking to, you'll see their default userpic and the option to add a user as a friend, join a community, and so on. It's also integrated with LJ Talk: if one of your mutual friends hovers over icon next to your username, they'll see if you're online.
We know that some people might not want to see this menu -- if you're on dialup, for example. We also know that you might not want anyone to see your LJ Talk status, or you might want to let anyone see it (not just mutual friends). You can change your preferences for both of these at the Viewing Options page.
We've also added some new themes that you can use for your journal or community. You can try them out at the Journal Display area. Under Layout & Language, choose one of the layouts from the drop-down menu:
* Expressive: Plus users have access to several new themes, including Camo, Endless Summer, and Hills. Paid and Permanent users have access to all the new themes, including Butterflies, Food, Manga, and Scribble.
* Style Contest: Over 25 themes from the winners of The Style Contest. The grand prize winner is available to all account levels, while other themes are available only to Plus or Paid accounts.
* Mixit: This layout is similar to Expressive, but it offers themes that are available only on LiveJournal. There's currently only one theme under this layout, made by the ever-lovely chasethestars (one of our designers), but there are more coming.
We'll be working on adding previews for all of the new themes as soon as possible. if you run into any other problems with these themes, feel free to let us know.
Earlier this week we launched TxtLJ, a feature lets you interact with LJ -- posting entries, reading your friends page, etc -- by sending and receiving text messages with your cell phone. We opened it up to paid and permanent account holders, and we'll be making it available to everyone over the next few weeks. It's currently only open to users in the United States, but we're working on expanding that. Stay tuned for news on T-Mobile as well.
For more information about TxtLJ, check out our FAQ.
Have a happy fall! (Or spring, for those of you in the southern hemisphere.)