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I heart Trillian: Astra on its way

November 27, 2006

If you mention the name Trillian to a complete stranger, they’ll usually guess it’s a type of bug, a number (ie. trillion), or a Star Trek alien (ie. tribble).

Zooey Deschenel as Trillian in recent movie versionActually, “Trillian” is the nickname of Tricia McMillan, a character from English author Douglas Adams‘ sci-fi book series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Geek goddess Zooey Deschanel (at right) played her in the recent film adaptation.

(The gun she is holding is what she shoots you with if you tease her about her name.)

Trillian also a term used in describing diamonds, but since I don’t have many diamonds (umm…none actually), you’ll pardon me if I don’t elaborate on this definition.

But the Trillian I am most familiar with is the instant messaging software client with the same name, created by Cerulean Studios.

It was one of the first programs to combine all of the popular instant messaging clients (AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo IM, MSN Messenger, Jabber and IRC) into one window — most of the time without the permission of the host companies.

Previously, you had to have all of those programs open at once, which used up memory and processor resources while bombarding you with ads from the IM companies. Trillian grouped all your user names, passwords and buddy lists into one easy-to-use area of your screen.

Now, there have been a few similar programs on the market since Cerulean came out with Trillian Version 3 (GAIM is one open-source IM client I use frequently in the office that has similar functionality).

Trillian Astra logoBut Cerulean has a brand-new version in the works, called Trillian Astra, which has many new changes in store for users. A tour of the program is now on Cerulean’s site.

Download Squad blog has an early look at the Alpha version of Astra, plus an interview with the project’s lead developer.

Two things that really intrigue me about Astra are the addition of MySpace IM to the mix, as well as Skype VOIP audio and video chat/call abilities. It will set up a user profile online, to allow Trillian users to chat anywhere with web access, without using the main program.

Also, throw in a ton of visual and technical improvements, and you’ve got an eagerly anticipated IM client.

You can find Trillian version 3.1 here for free. And start waiting for Astra like the rest of us.

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