Ok there is quite a bit of buzz over the infamous Chatroulette, a site where random people are placed in a video chat session together. I personally don’t have the stomach to even try it since I’ve heard “found mostly depressed looking guys and naked men (about 1 in 5 shuffles was a guy’s bits)” source: Chris Brogan. Not my idea of a fun or practical application. Nurph on the other hand is exceptionally cool for several reasons:
- It’s easy to setup
- It works with most websites
- Easy authentication
- Realtime text chat, no video or audio
The setup is very simple, you go to Nurph’s website and type in the url you wish to add a chat to. You can then use that URL in the future to access chat at that site or you can even create a link on the website to that url. For example if you click this link, you should be connected to the chat on this blog. If you see me online be sure to say hello.
I tested Nurph with Chrome, Mozilla and Internet Explorer. The only issue I had was a flash component (my cumulus tag cloud) overlaid the chat window. I was able to resolve that by enlarging the browser window. There may even be a setting to change the “always on top” aspect of Flash components. Please comment on this post if you are familiar with a way to do that. Websites that require authentication such as Facebook do not currently work with Nurph. No doubt that will improve with time as the product matures.
In the battle for authentication dominance, I always find Twitter to be the most comfortable. Fortunately while Nurph is in beta you can only use Twitter to access it unless you are part of the beta program. Just use the connect with Twitter button, but make sure you are logged in to Twitter first.
My comments about Chatroulette were largely in jest, but plain old text chat is a good handshake medium. Rather than investing in voice or video chat via the anonymous web you have a simple medium by which to say hello and assess your new contacts before taking that step. For that reason Nurph is a great way to “shake hands” without committing too much. Since it is multiple user you can also see how the participants behave with groups.
I am a screen-cast addict, if I need to explain how to do something a lot of times I just record a quick screen-cast and send that. Here is a Youtube video I created where I talk about Nurph and demonstrate how simple it is to use.