Richard L. gave a nice live demo of two free texting products, TextNow and Discord.
TextNow provides free phone and SMS texting services for android devices and Linux computers with a supported browser. Various options are available for a fee, such as a SIMM card or the removal of ads. Several members signed up using their Google credentials, and each received a personal phone number. It was interesting to see it work using two devices simultaneously, since text messages appeared on my spare phone and my laptop, allowing me to select a quick response or usage of a full keyboard. We did discuss privacy concerns, since TextNow requires a Facebook/Google/Apple account.
Discord is a full-featured messaging service which works in a browser or a dedicated app on most computers and smartphones. Richard created a room named MDLUG for us to check it out. The main advantage is that several ongoing discussions can take place, and it’s possible to leave for a short (or extended) amount of time without missing a thing. In addition, it allows video and audio sharing as well as a selection of channels for discussions. Although the interface takes a little time to learn, it is rather easy to get started with basic text communication.
Richard suggested that Discord could be used to host a 24/7 meeting place for the MDLUG group. Several members said they wouldn’t check on the discussions regularly, because they have plenty of other apps and/or websites in use. In fact, this is the reason we set up the email list. For now, the suggestion is to use Discord as desired and to send email to the list if there is something that requires the attention of the group.