- Click on the notification are to bring up your chat client list of who's online.
- Check whether he or she is online.
- Double-click on your chat buddy to initiate a conversation.
- Click on the notification area again to minimize the buddy list because you really don't need to stare at it all the time.
Wouldn't it be nice to take these four steps down to a single, one-click method? You can, but you'll need to be using the Empathy client, which may not suit all of you. Since you're probably using Pidgin, let's install Empathy from the repos. You'll also need the Empathy Megaphone applet. You can click the links above to install the application and applet automatically.
Once you install Empathy, you'll need to install connection managers for any IM protocols you'll be using. The linkified list is here, to make it easy for you:
- MSN connection manager for telepathy
- Jabber/XMPP connection manager
- A telepathy connection manager that uses libpurple, probably the easiest if you're moving from Pidgin
- IRC connection manager for Telepathy
- Link-local XMPP connection manager for the Telepathy framework
- SIP connection manager for the Telepathy framework, if you're using Ekiga or Wengo phone
Once you configure Empathy to connect to your Jabber, GTalk (really also Jabber), or MSN network, you can add the Megaphone applet to your panel. Right-click on the panel and choose "Add to Panel...." Choose the Megaphone applet and click "Add." Repeat this for as many contacts as you want to appear on the panel.
You'll find a configure-style icon on your panel.
Click on that and you'll be asked to choose a contact for that applet to watch.
Choose your contact, and the applet will tell you if he or she is off-line
If your friend or team mate is online, just click on the applet to start a discussion. One-click goodness is yours!