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Sometimes email is clumsy and difficult to manage when one really needs to have an interactive conversation. The Internet provides for that as well, in the form of talk. Two users can literally see each other type across thousands of miles.

To talk with Bart Simpson at Widener, one would type

 talk bart@cs.widener.edu

which would cause a message similar to the following to be displayed on Bart's terminal:

 Message from Talk_Daemon@cs.widener.edu at 21:45 ...
 talk: connection requested by joe@ee.someplace.edu
 talk: respond with:  talk joe@ee.someplace.edu

Bart would, presumably, respond by typing `talk joe@ee.someplace.edu'. They could then chat about whatever they wished, with instantaneous response time, rather than the write-and-wait style of email. To leave talk, on many systems one would type Ctrl-C (hold down the Control key and press `C'). Check local documentation to be sure.

There are two different versions of talk in common use today. The first, dubbed "old talk," is supported by a set of Unix systems (most notably, those currently sold by Sun). The second, ntalk (aka "new talk"), is more of the standard. If, when attempting to talk with another user, it responds with an error about protocol families, odds are the incompatibilities between versions of talk is the culprit. It's up to the system administrators of sites which use the old talk to install ntalk for their users.

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National Technical University of Athens