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Loudtalks: Quick start guide

September 26, 2007

After testing Loudtalks with several users (thanks guys!) I realized that we need to do a better job communicating how the software works and all cool features we have. This guide (based on version 0.9.0.24 0.9.0.26, updated) explains Loudtalks step-by-step.

Download and Installation

The download is less than a megabyte and would take ~20 seconds on DSL connection. Once you received the file, launch it and follow the wizard.

Setup wizard

If previous version of Loudtalks is running during installation, it will be terminated automatically.

 

Create an account

If it's the first time you install Loudtalks then you will be prompted to create the account. It's really simple and we don't ask many questions.

Create account

You need to specify your desired username, password and enter the password again to make sure that you didn't misspell it. E-mail is optional but I recommend that you enter it. We won't email you anything, however if you forget your password and didn't enter your email during registration we won't be able to help.

Account created

Click Finish and it will start logging in and bring you to the contacts screen.
Empty contactsYeah, I know, it looks a bit lonely. It's something, which we are working on right now. We'll add some funny robots to let people try Loudtalks right at this point. For now, why don't...

Invite some friends

No screenshots for this section. To use Loudtalks you have to talk to someone :) Send an email to some of your friends with the link to a download and your username.

Alternatively you can do a quick test with somebody from Loudtalks team (me is "alex") or volunteers ("sharuk" or "irina" and feel free to post your username in comments in case you are willing to help).

Obviously this is a "limited time offer" as the number of users grows we'll have to replace ourselves with robots (for either coding or testing with the users).

Add contacts

When you have someone to talk to on Loudtalks add him or her to your contacts. Use Tools > Add a contact menu.

Add a contact

Enter your friend's username, click Next and Finish.

Two buddies awaiting authorizationIt'll be the best to add at least two people as I did in this example. That way you could try group communication functions of Loudtalks too.

Now you are awaiting authorization from alex and marysmith. As soon as they go online, they will see a notice with an option to either confirm or decline your request. To fight the spam we don't allow to talk to the people, who didn't explicitly permitted you that. Here is how the contact authorization works.

Authorization request notice

When you click it a confirmation dialog appears.

Authorization request dialog

Click Allow to add the user to your list and let him send you messages. Use Block with caution as currently there is no way to unblock the user.

Push to talk

Push to talkWhen you have some contacts online it's time to talk. Select the user in the list, click and hold a big green button with Loudtalks logo and say something. Release the mouse, when done. If the person is available, you'll get a reply soon. If not you might want to guide your buddy ("Select me in the list", "Click that fat button", "Keep holding while") until you are communicating. Note, that when you speaking to someone, you see a "red flow animation" next to his name. When receiving a message it changes to green flowing in the opposite direction.

Try pressing and holding F7 button instead of clicking. It will work as a push to talk button. Now close Loudtalks (it will minimize the program to the system tray). Press F7 -- it's still working! You can use it no matter what application you are running in the foreground without switching a focus.

A small notification appears to indicate, who is talking for incoming messages or recipient for outgoing.

Notification overlay

If you don't like the placement of the notification you can drag it around the screen as you wish. Loudtalks remembers the new position.

If you want to use a different key as your push to talk button, you can configure that in Options. You can also disable notifications there.

Lock talk

Lock talkWhat if you don't want to hold the button, while speaking?

Click on the right side of the green button marked with lock icon. That triggers "lock talk" mode. You can use Shift+F7 shorcut to accomplish the same. Hit F7 to stop, when you are done. Lock icon glows red to indicate that the mode is active.

Don't overuse it. Short messages work the best.

If you want to interrupt somebody, you can. Just push F7 and speak back. We don't allow many people to speak simultaneously (just like walkie talkie), which has some nice effects. You and your contacts can use your loudspeakers freely without any echo!

 

One to many

One to manyYou can talk to several people at once too. Hold Ctrl button to select multiple contacts from your list and use F7, Ctrl+F7 or the green button to start talking.

You can create permanent group channels from your contacts. Use "Tools > Create a channel..." menu command to create a new channel from selected contacts. Then you can drag additional contacts to add them.

Double click on a channel to enter into the list. You can drag the contacts of the list to remove them from the channel. If you remove all contacts, the channel disappears automatically.

More on channels in 0.9.0.26 release notes.

 

Status modes

Busy mode and stored messagesNormally all incoming messages are played back in real time. However, if you set the Away or the Busy status, the messages won't be played back but stored instead. You can access them later, when you are available.

To listen to the messages, click on the Play icon next to the contact.

A Headphones mode has no special effect but shows to your contacts that you are either using headphones or otherwise ready to listen to the things privately.

Message replay

At any moment if you didn't hear the latest message clearly you can press Shift+F7 to repeat it.

Customizing keyboard shortcuts

The best way to use Loudtalks is through keyboard shorcuts. Naturally you can configure them as you like. Use Tools > Options... menu to access the settings.

Options

More to follow

I'll be extending this guide as we are adding features and improving the product. You can help by sending your feedback and suggestions or commenting in this blog.

Topics: help, release

Written by Alexey Gavrilov

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