If anyone is interested in joining in an IRC conversation with other (mostly) atheists, we are on
If you cannot access that server, try irc.trimex.net
While we do talk about religion here and there, we also talk about a lot of other things. You won't find any Praise Jesus or God Blesses going on. Just rational discussion. We span some time zones, so there is not constant chatter. Tends to be 4-6pm, 7-10pm and just about any time Friday through Sunday. It's mostly 4-5 people in the channel but sometimes it blossoms to 7-8.
is there a browser based method for accessing IRC? The last time I tried installing software it didn't work right and I couldn't figure out how to access the channel without a lot of hand holding.
Yes, there aren't many IRC clients that are just silly-easy to use. A web-based system can be found at Mibbit (http://www.mibbit.com), which allows you to create a login to store your profile, or for instantaneous use go directly to: http://cbe001.chat.mibbit.com/
Click on the Server link and type in irc.p2p-network.net, type in a screen name and then for the channel type in #att. Click on OK, GO (whatever is positive) and a tab will appear on the Mibbit site which is not the same as a tab in your browser. Click on the tab for the server and chat away.
If you use a Mac, far and away the easiest client to use is Colloquy (http://colloquy.info/). It's free, quick to download and the setup routine will probably let you connect to the server in about 30 seconds. It will save the info for future use and automatically log you in when you start the program. It's crazy simple.
For Windows, I haven't the foggiest idea why somebody hasn't written an IRC client that is as easy to use as Colloquy, and the folks at Colloquy refuse. They think Windows is a terrorist product. Nevertheless, the easiest client that I have found is Trillian (http://www.trillian.im/), which works on either Windows or Mac. I haven't used Trillian in probably a year or more because at the time they did an upgrade and it had all sorts of bugs. I have since purchased a Mac, so I use Colloquy. I'm sure that the folks at Trillian have worked through their bugs. Trillian is a consolidator that allows you to connect to Google Talk, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger, ICQ and IRC. Trillian used to require that you activate a separate module to connect to IRC, so I don't know if that is still true.
* One of the reasons it takes a few extra steps (in the Windows world) to connect to our IRC server is that all of the usual IRC clients offer a pre-selected list of IRC servers. The server we use is not in the IRC directories that these clients offer, so additional setup is required, which can be irritating. However, the server we use gets less traffic, typically has fewer technical problems, and suffers from nearly zero bots.