Last night, I found a chat in my Gmail account that I’d never seen. It was sent an hour after I left the public library on February 26, while I was offline, but never showed up in my Inbox. It wasn’t even labeled as sent while I was offline. I was baffled completely until I realized this afternoon what I’d been doing that night at the library.
February 26 (a Thursday, the day of #snowmageddon here in Minneapolis/St. Paul) was the day I discovered that Ping.fm—my very favorite social networking tool, second only to Twitter—had added support for Google Talk statuses. Of course I had to try it out; I’m an early adopter.
So I went into my network settings on Ping.fm and added my Google Talk and AIM accounts. Next thing I know, Gmail Chat is complaining that I’m no longer invisible (I like to be invisible because it minimizes interruptions). It says I’m signed in somewhere else. That somewhere else could only be Ping.fm.
By that, I gather Ping.fm actually signs in to Google Talk and receives all chats sent to one’s account, 24/7. Not only is that inconvenient (I’ll continue with that in a moment), but it’s a bit of a privacy hole, especially if you don’t fully trust Ping.fm. And honestly, I trust a lot of websites with a lot of things, but I like my chats to stay inside Google’s ecosystem, thank you.
Anyway, the fact that Ping.fm is always signed in to one’s Google Talk account means that one always appears to be online, and offline chats won’t work. Invisibility in Gmail Chat is also disabled. Both of these, combined with an apparent dysfunctionality (I couldn’t get my GTalk status to update from Ping.fm), led me to deactivate the integration.