Appendix E:

Comic Chat FAQ

Microsoft has provided us with this set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers. We hope you find them useful to answer your questions about Comic Chat. If the version of Comic Chat you have installed (from this book CD) is very old it may not run. You might have to download a new version from the Internet. See the instructions for doing this in the chapter on Comic Chat or at the Comic Chat website listed in the following paragraph.

If you need further assistance, check the Comic Chat page at for help on more detailed questions or downloading a new version. The Comic Chat README page at is also useful. Feel free to contact the Comic Chat team directly them at: with your technical questions, bug reports, or comments.

Q. How long does it take to download Comic Chat from the Internet?

Download times depend on the speed of your modem and the speed it managed to connect at (which could be lower than the modem is capable of). How busy the Internet is can also affect your download times. Sample times are as follows:

Q. How big is Microsoft Comic Chat to download?

The program with its existing artwork is currently 1 MB compressed.

Q. How much space on my hard disk does Comic Chat take up?

The Comic Chat program with its existing artwork currently requires 4 MB. Subsequent artwork and character updates will increase this size.

Q. Can I uninstall Comic Chat?

Yes. To uninstall Comic Chat, open Control Panel, and then double click Add/Remove Programs. Select Microsoft Comic Chat from the list.

Q. Will you be updating Comic Chat?

We will be updating our Web site frequently and will let you know when new updates are available.

Q. Does Comic Chat run under Windows NT 4.0?

Comic Chat currently will run only on Windows 95. Windows NT 4.0 will be supported in the final release.

Q. How can I tell what version of Comic Chat I am running?

If you are running Comic Chat outside of Internet Explorer, click the Help menu, and then click About Microsoft Comic Chat. The version number will be listed at the top of the dialog box. From within Internet Explorer you can chose Microsoft Comic Chat Help from the Help menu, and then click About Microsoft Comic Chat from there.

Q. Can I create my own comic characters?

At this time you will only be able to use the characters supplied with Microsoft Comic Chat. We will be adding new characters throughout the duration of the beta.

Q. Can I create my own backgrounds?

We are supplying a limited number of backgrounds with this version, we will add more soon.

Q. Why don't all the characters have gestures?

In the original version there were some characters who's emotions had not yet been articulated. This has been updated in the current release. When you go to the View, Options menu and then choose the characters tab, you can see what gestures each character has before you choose it as your character.

Q. How does the emotion wheel (lower right-hand corner) work?

The emotion wheel enables you to manually change your character's emotions. The center of the emotion wheel is neutral emotion. Where there are multiple levels of emotion, the intensity of the emotion increases as the control moves away from the center.

To see a tooltip (a little message) describing each emotion, rest your mouse pointer over one of the eight faces around the perimeter of the emotion wheel. To change your character's emotions, drag the control (the dark dot in the center of the emotion wheel) from the center of the emotion wheel.

Q. How can I tell characters apart when there are duplicate characters?

Move your mouse pointer over the character and then pause; a tooltip appears that displays the user name and character.

Q. How do I print faster?

Go to the File Menu, Select Print menu, choose Properties, Graphics. Change the resolution to 150 or 300 BPS. This will speed up printing and still provide high quality.

Q. Why can't I get access to any Microsoft Comic Chat or IRC chat rooms?

If you are accessing the Internet from your corporate network, you will be able to download the Comic Chat program; however, most corporate proxy servers limit access to chat rooms. If you have any questions, please contact your system administrator or use a dial-up analog or ISDN line to access the Internet.

Q. Why does it say my ID is in use when I go to another chat room?

Nicknames (IDs) must be unique. Your connection will be refused if:

To connect, you can either choose a new nickname or make sure that all Microsoft Comic Chat clients have been closed and then wait a minute and reopen Microsoft Comic Chat.

Q. How do I get more panels across the screen?

There are a few things you can try:

Once you have done this, click the View menu, and then choose the largest number of panels you can. Depending on your screen resolution and monitor size, you can select from one to five frames.

Q. What is the difference between Comic Chat and IRC (Internet Relay Chat)?

Microsoft Comic Chat is a graphical chat client that can be used like any text chat client on the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel. Not everyone inside the channel (chat room) needs to be using Microsoft Comic Chat for this to work. Text chat users will automatically be assigned a character, so that the entire chat will be graphically represented to the Microsoft Comic Chat client user(s).

When using Microsoft Comic Chat on an IRC channel where most of the other users are using IRC text clients, it is a good idea to begin by clicking the Options menu and then checking the Do Not Send Comic Information box. This will prevent special comics messages from being sent to the other chat clients. Once you log off Comic Chat, the client will reset. When you log on the next time, the Do Not Send Comic Information box is not checked.

Q. How do I connect to other IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels?

If you want to connect to an IRC chat room or channel you already know about, click the File menu, and then click New Window if you are running within Internet Explorer 3.0 (just click New otherwise). Expand the dialog box that comes up so you can see the Server, Port and Channel entries, and then provide the following information:

  1. In the Server box, type the IRC server name. The default entry is Replace this with the IRC server you are going to connect to.
  2. In the Port box, type the IRC server's port number, the default entry is 6667.
  3. In the Channel box, type the channel, preceded by a number sign (#). The default channel name is #Comic_Chat.

Q: If someone is using Comic Chat with IRC, what will they look like?

If you chat with someone using a regular text IRC client, they'll be assigned a random character. Also, Comic Chat now has a text mode in addition to a graphics mode (for those folks still in the Dark Ages :-) ).

Q. Why do I get an "HTTP 1.0 / 404 Object Not Found" error from the chatroom web page?

The name of the room files and the names of the channels on the server were changed. Your browser or your Internet service provider may be caching the web pages and you are seeing the old page which links to files which no longer exist. To get around this you can try to refresh the web page and/or clear the local

cache if your browser caches the file.

Q: Can Comic Chat integrate with Microsoft Internet Explorer?

If you're running Internet Explorer, Comic Chat can start up in-place, in the Internet Explorer window, as a browser plug-in. Note: if you are running another Web browser, Comic Chat will not start up in place in the browser, but in a separate window.

Q: How can I link a comic chat room to my web page?

People can embed links to Comic Chat rooms in their web pages. For example, I could create a link on my home page to a chat room where people can discuss me. Links to web pages in your own chat text are automatically identified by Comic Chat, and clicking on them launches the browser to that web page. So you can click on chat room web page links to join Comic Chat from a browser, and click on web page links from within Comic Chat to launch a browser!

Q: What kind of crazy things have people done with Comic Chat?

Comic Chat uses the IRC protocol, but sends gesture, character, and profile information via another protocol that Microsoft built on top of IRC. Almost immediately after placing Comic Chat on the Net, people were reverse-engineering our protocol to make bots (automatic robot avatar characters) that would always appear as a particular character, that would express emotion graphically, and would hand tailor their profile based on who was asking the question! People have also built bots to act out (in Comic Book form) Shakespeare as well as Abbott and Costello!

Q: Do people use Comic Chat for play acting?

People often use their characters and locations to inspire fiction and play-acting. When Microsoft created Comic Chat, we thought it would be a new visualization for ordinary chat, but that it wouldn't have an effect on the conversation. We were surprised to find that it had a major effect!

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1996, All rights reserved.