On the PCMech LIVE show I do every week Wednesdays from 8pm-10pm EST I periodically get asked if there is an alternative way to participate in chat. This is because for some the text chat using the browser method is just too small, and/or the chat text scrolls by too fast for some to read, and so on.

Yes, there is an alternative way. You can connect by using a traditional IRC chat client.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Get a Ustream account.

This is free. Go to www.ustream.tv and sign up an account. You do this so you have a name of your own in chat rather than ustream-12345 random number assignment as a chat name.

2. Know the necessary server information and channel name.

Ustream has to the best of my knowledge four chat servers, that being:

  • chat01.ustream.tv
  • chat02.ustream.tv
  • chat03.ustream.tv
  • chat04.ustream.tv

The channel name for the PCMech LIVE show is:


All IRC channels start with the # symbol, so it must be included.

The reason to know all the servers is just in case one is acting slow. Should that occur, you have other servers you can connect to which may be much faster.

3. Pick an IRC client that you’d like to use.

There are several available, but here are some more popular choices:


Not free, but the best there is for Windows.


Known primary as an instant messenger client but has very good IRC support.


An add-on for the Firefox browser. Easy to use and easy on the eyes.


Free for Linux, pay-software for Windows. Arguably one of the best IRC clients for Linux.


IRC client for Mac OS X. Arguably the best there is for the Mac.

There are many others, but the point is that you’ve got some good choices.

4. How to connect the manual way

(All IRC clients have ways of automating logins to servers and joining channels, which I’ll get to in a moment.)

First you set your "nick," that being your nickname:

/nick your-ustream-username

Next you connect to a chat server.

/server chat01.ustream.tv

When connected you may be prompted (but not always) to enter your Ustream account password, this is done by issuing in the command:

/PASS your-ustream-password

After that, you join a channel. For the PCMech LIVE show, this is the command:

/join #David-Risley-Show

5. Automating things in IRC

Each client automates the way it does things differently, so you will have to refer to the client documentation to figure out how to get things done automatically.

I can give you a few tips however.

  • Usually when you set your "nick" for the first time, it will keep that name for any time you want to connect in the future. This allows you to skip the /nick command entirely.
  • Nearly all IRC clients have a way of storing server addresses (ex: chat01.ustream.tv.) Using this feature will allow you to skip the /server command entirely.
  • Nearly all IRC clients have a "Favorites" feature where you can specify favorite channels. Using this feature you can setup up #David-Risley-Show as a favorite that you can simply double-click to join once connected and authenticated. This allows you to skip the /join command entirely.

The only thing on Ustream IRC you can’t skip is the /PASS command. This is something unique to Ustream as it does not use what’s called a nickname server (known simply as the command /nickserv on many popular IRC services.)

Features of using a traditional IRC client over the browser way

Customized interface

You can use a white background with black text, black background with white text or whatever other color combination you like. You can also use any font you want using any size.

Much better buffer control

The chat area for Ustream in the browser is too small for many and text whips by too fast. Using the IRC client you have a much larger window and can scroll up and down thru it easily compared to the browser.

/ignore command

Is there a chatter bothering you that you don’t want to see? Use "/ignore username" and ta-da, you don’t see their text anymore for the remainder of the chat session.

Easier direct messaging

Although this is generally frowned upon unless you specifically ask the user first, you can easily double-click any chatters name and it will pop up a secondary window for direct chat, similar to an instant message. This is sometimes known as "PM’ing" a user, with PM meaning personal message or private message. The browser method allows this as well, but it’s a bit tough to manage because the chat window is so small.

See you Wednesdays from 8pm-10pm EST!

Now that you’ve got the know-how, chatting on PCMech LIVE will be a much easier experience if the browser method proved to be inconvenient for you.

Also bear in mind the instructions above will work for any Ustream chat, even for shows other than ours. All you have to know is the channel name (as in the name with the # in front of it.) Any show host should know this information and will readily give it to you so you can connect via IRC client instead of the browser.