Frequently Asked Questions
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General:

Security:
  • How does BitWise use encryption and how can I verify it?

  • Can I get a virus by using BitWise?

    No, viruses cannot be transmitted when casually using BitWise. This is true for one-on-one conversations, conferences, whiteboards or any non-file transfer activity. The only way to get a virus using BitWise would be to actively accept a file transfer from another user and then run the file sent to you. For this reason, we always encourage our users to be cautious when accepting files from others, just like you would be when receiving email attachments.

    As recommended by many PC experts, we also encourage use of a virus scan and firewall utility to protect your PC.

  • Is BitWise HIPAA compliant?

    Because BitWise is only used for transmission of data (not storage of data), our access controls and logs of who is granted what rights (i.e. who has access to use BitWise and thus receive the data) is sufficient for HIPAA in most environments. That is to say, the information being transmitted over BitWise must come from somewhere--which would be your HIPAA-compliant environment; BitWise is only used for transmission, and our transmission encryption and access controls meet HIPAA guidelines.

  • Can the people I talk to get my IP address?

    Yes, but this is the very nature of direct connections. BitWise bypasses the server, so your PC must know where to send the messages (i.e. what computer on the Internet). Without sharing your IP address, nobody could connect to you, and BitWise wouldn't be very useful at all. You can't have it both ways: you can't have direct connects and not reveal your IP address.

    Does revealing your IP address constitute an insecurity? We do not believe so. Every time you visit a web page, check your email, or connect to any Internet service, your IP address is revealed. IP addresses can also be randomly harvested. The IP address is simply not the sacred, secret thing that many people believe it is.

    Further, many people are using NAT (Network Address Translation) with a router, so the IP address revealed is the address of the router, not your LAN IP address behind the router. The presence of a router is an excellent security measure, because in the event of an attack on your IP address, the attack would actually be an attack only on your router.

    Of course, we do always recommend running a firewall and anti-virus software. BitWise does not otherwise reduce the need to protect your PC from threats.

  • Does BitWise have any ads or spyware? (No.)

    BitWise does not contain any ads or any spyware; BitWise is a safe haven from the ads and spyware in other IM systems.

  • Windows: Why does ZoneAlarm 6 alert me about dangerous behavior?

    If you are running ZoneAlarm 6, you may encounter the following alert when you run BitWise:

    BitWise uses idletrac.dll to hook onto the system's mouse and keyboard. BitWise can then determine when you are idle by querying how long it has been since the most recent keyboard or mouse activity (showing your idle time to others is optional). BitWise does not record your key or mouse activity. Feel free to Deny BitWise this right until you have an opportunity to learn more about BitWise and its security features and we have been able to earn your trust.

Personal Keys (BitWise Plus):Program Issues:Connection Issues:Accounts:Contacts:
  • Who is *BitWise*?

    *BitWise* is an automated message system, and cannot be added to your contact list. *BitWise* can inform users of different events, such as when they are added as a super buddy, or when someone adds you to their contact list.

    In the future, *BitWise* may have ever more automated messaging capability.

  • How do I block users?

    To block a user, right-click on their name in the contact list, find the Visibility submenu, and select the "Blocked" option. Any messages from the selected user will be destroyed and you will not receive messages from this user unless you un-block them at a later time. Blocked users will always see you as offline, and you will always see them as offline. Blocked users are also noted in bold on your contact list.

  • How do I rename a user to have a more readable name on my contact list?

    A person's username on BitWise does not change. However, you may elect to provide an alias for a user, so that the name is more recognizable to you. Assign an alias by highlighting the name you wish to alias and pressing F2, or by right-clicking and selecting "Rename." Aliases can be removed by right-clicking on the user's name and selecting "Restore Original Name."

    For example, someone could register as "KevBo121212." You may wish to refer to that user as just "Kevin;" that is the purpose of the alias. Providing an alias does not change that user's name, just how the name is shown to you.

  • What is a super buddy?

    A super buddy is an existing user on BitWise who has a desire to meet new people and welcome new users. Whenever a user signs up for an account, they have the option of having three random super buddies appear on their contact list. Being a super buddy is strictly optional, and you can change your preference at any time (through the Online Preferences on the website).

    Whenever you are added to someone's contact list as a super buddy, you will receive a short message from *BitWise* indiciating who this person is. You need not wait for them to contact you; feel free to contact them and welcome them.

  • How can I meet other users?

    You can meet other users in three ways:

    1) You may see a list of users who have designated themselves as "chatty" from the Contacts menu in BitWise.

    2) You may search for other users by geography or interests, also from the Contacts menu in BitWise. If you fill out your directory information, other users will be able to find you (strictly optional).

    3) The forums are also a good place to meet people, and also to learn more about BitWise!

  • Can I add my buddies from AIM, ICQ, Yahoo or MSN?

    No, BitWise is a separate service from the others. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly it is because we don't want to deal with reverse engineering a protocol and then relying on it for our services. This strategy has proven problematic for other chat software, and such problems were what inspired BitWise in the first place.

    Most importantly, when we make our own protocol, we can add the features that we want to add, without worrying about compatibility with existing software. This can be confusing when using other software; certain programs can operate in certain ways with other programs, but it is not always consistent. In BitWise, there is one medium, and it all works the same, even across platforms.

  • How do I add a contact to my contact list?

    In order to add a contact, you must know the other user's name on BitWise.

    From the Contacts menu on the Contact list, select Add Contact / Group. Then, type the name of the contact you wish to add, and click Add Contact. The server will be contacted to verify the user and then return with success or failure (if the user does not exist, for example).

    The new contact will then show up on your contact list, and you can send him or her a message by double-clicking on the name in the contact list.

Conversations:
  • Why can't I highlight text in a conversation?

    You can highlight text: after you finish your selection, the selection is automatically copied to the clipboard. This saves the effort of needing to manually copy it, since there would be nothing else to do with a block of selected text. The status bar does note when text has been copied to the clipboard.

    You can disable this feature from the Conversation preferences.

  • What is grouped conversation view? Can I turn it off?

    Grouped conversation view allows keeping all conversations in one window rather than having multiple windows cluttering your desktop.

    It can be disabled from the conversation preferences.

    Two options, Integrate and Roll, give even more power to the grouped conversation view. Integrate prevents needing to "switch" between conversations, instead showing everything on one continuous window. Roll will automatically switch who you are sending to so that you can conveniently respond to incoming messages without having to manually select the user to respond.

  • How do I remove the timestamp appearing before each message?

    Removing the timestamp before each message is easy. Open the preferences, and simply clear the box next to "Message timestamp."

    To remove the timestamp from the logged conversations, open the logging preferences and clear the timestamp boxes there as well.

  • How do I remove the message count shown with each message?

    There are two possible answers to this question, depending on which message count you wish to remove.

    To remove the message count appearing before each message, edit the message timestamp (Preferences->Conversation), and remove the %C from the timestamp.

    To remove the status bar shown at the bottom of the conversations that shows the message delivery confirmations, uncheck Show Message Status from the Conversation menu.

  • How do I select a contact icon?

    Selecting a contact icon is easy. Open the Preferences, expand the Conversation item and select Contact Icons. Click Select Icon... to choose the image file that you wish to use. You may use any image file as your contact icon, and it will be automatically resized when loaded to fit into the 64 x 64 size used by BitWise.

    The original image will not be changed or modified in any way.

  • Are my font settings seen by or sent to my contacts?

    No. Your font preferences are for local viewing of your conversations. If you select Blue Arial 16 point for messages that you send, that only means that you will see your sent messages in that font. Your contacts will see your messages in whatever font they have selected for received messages.

  • Are messages sent through the server encrypted?

    Yes, messages sent through the server are encrypted during transmission.

  • Mac OS X: Why does the keyboard locale change when I send a message?

    The keyboard locale may change after sending a message based on the capabilites of the font being used. If the message font that you are using does not natively support the active keyboard locale, the keyboard locale will reset to the default locale for the font.

    The solution to the locale changing when you send a message is to select a different message font that supports the keyboard locale that you are using. This will vary depending on your version of Mac OS X and what keyboard locale you are trying to use. Use some logical guesses and some trial-and-error to locate a suitable font.

Voice Chat:Conferences:
  • Where are the public chat rooms?

    Nowhere. BitWise does not have any public chat rooms. More often than not, public chat rooms are large collections of spam, porn and otherwise unuseful material and thus there is no reason to create them for BitWise.

    In the future, users will be able to host their own BitWise chat room servers, similar to IRC.

  • Is there a limit to how many users can be in a conference?

    No, there are no limits imposed on conferences. Of course, the person who started the conference will be processing a lot of information, but on a modern computer there should not be any problem hosting even a large conference.

File Transfers:
  • Do other users have access to my files?

    No, other BitWise users do not have access to any of the files on your PC. The only way that others have access to your files is if you enable file sharing, and even then, only the files in the shared folder can be accessed. BitWise checks and re-checks your file sharing and file transfer preferences at every step, and will deny any inappropriate action being attempted by another user.

  • Is there a limit as to how many files I can transfer, or how big files can be?

    No, there are no restrictions on file size or the number of transfers that you may make. Transfers do not go through our server in any form, so there is no reason for us to impose any limits.

    There is a 4 GB file size limit due to various technical reasons.

  • What do the numbers mean at the end of my auto-received files?

    Numbers will be automatically added to the end of an auto-received file if there is a name conflict in the auto-receive directory. The numbers indicate the time that the file was received.

    For example, say that you have a file called "MyFile.txt" in your auto-receive directory, and someone sends you a file named "MyFile.txt." The second "MyFile.txt" will have the time placed at the end, such as "MyFile.txt103215" indicating that the file was started at about 10:30 am.

  • Are file transfers encrypted?

    Yes, all file transfers are encrypted, using the same encryption methods used on conversations.

  • Do file transfers or shared file lists get sent through the server?

    No, all shared file lists and file transfer are strictly peer-to-peer using direct connections, using the same encryption used to encrypt messages. The BitWise server is not involved with the transfer of files in any way.

Offline Messages:
  • How often are offline messages sent via email, if enabled?

    Offline messages are checked every 15 minutes and then sent via email to you if you have enabled offline message forwarding via email. The time may be slightly longer if there are a large number of messages being sent on the server. Offline e-mail setting can be changed from the Preferences, under Server Preferences.

  • Why doesn't my 'Messages Sent Today' counter reset at midnight?

    The BitWise "day" runs from 0401 (am)- 0400, Eastern Time. While still a 24-hour day, it begins four hours later than the standard clock. If, on a particular night, you want to reset your counter at midnight, you may manually update it via the Preferences (although it will still be reset again at 4 am).

    This is done for a variety of reasons, but the biggest is that our servers have a large number of daily tasks that need to be run when the least fewest users are on the system.

  • Why am I not receiving my offline messages via email?

    There have been several reports of the offline messages being sent via email never arriving. As it turns out, spam filters will frequently identify BitWise offline messages sent via email as spam. This is probably due to our notice at the bottom of the email referring to the messages being never sent unsolicited.

    We recommend that you adjust your filters to allow messages with the subject or sender that you specified in the offline message preferences. This will vary depending on how you receive your email.

  • How do I send an offline message?

    You may send an offline message the same way that you send a regular message. When the recipient user is offline, the message will automatically be stored on the server for when the recipient next comes online (or checks offline messages from the web site).

  • If I forward offline messages to email, is my email address revealed? (No.)

    No, your email address is not revealed to anyone at any time. When you enable offline message forwarding to email, that address is only used to send the messages to you. It is not revealed to those who send you offline messages, nor do they know whether or not you are forwarding offline messages to email.

Status & Away Messages:
  • What is a custom away message for a single contact/group?

    A custom away message is a way for you to override the away message that a certain contact (or group of contacts) will see if they read your away message. You can set up a custom away message before you actually go away, or you can do it afterwards. Either way, once the custom message is set, if that contact (or contact in that group) reads your away message, they will be sent your custom message. You can verify a custom message is sent by right-clicking on the contact (or group) again, and if a custom message has been set, there will be a check next to the "Custom Away Message" menu item. All custom away messages are cleared when you log off.

    Note that setting a custom away message does not actually change your status, it only changes the away message sent if your away message is retrieved while you are away.

  • What is the profile? How is it different from directory info?

    The profile is a freeform profile that is displayed whenever anybody views your current status and you are online. You can use this to display information about yourself, witty quotes, or any other information that you wish to share anytime that you are online.

    Directory information is stored on the server and is more analagous to a phonebook. Directory information is always available from the server. Filling in your directory information is completely optional, but filling in some areas can help you meet new people.

  • What is an extended away message?

    A regular away message is stored only on your computer when you go into away status, and is no longer viewable when you go offline.

    An extended away message is a message that is stored on the server for when you are going to be offline for an extended period of time. When you go into away status, if you check the box Store to Server as Extended Away Message, your away message is sent and stored on the server. Even after you log off, your extended away message can be viewed by users who view your status from the Status/Profile option.

    An extended away message is cleared the next time that you log in to BitWise.

  • How do I show my BitWise status on my web site?

    BitWise has "web bugs" that allow you to display your BitWise status (Online, Away, Offline) from your personal web site; you can even link to a special site that shows your BitWise directory information. You can enable web bugs and get the code you need for your web site by logging in to Web Services and clicking on Preferences.

Future Features:
  • Will BitWise have emoticons?

    Yes, emoticons are planned for inclusion in BitWise. After the release of Version 1 we will be moving the conversations to an HTML format, at which time emoticons will be able to be included, along with additional text formatting options.

  • Will BitWise support web cams?

    At this time, we are not making any statements regarding inclusion of web cam features. We are monitoring new technologies that will enable such support across all operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac OS X).

  • Are you working on a new version?

    We're always working on something new. Sometimes the progress is more visible in terms of new features and releases, sometimes it's somewhat less visible, such as new web site features or discussions in the forums about major new BitWise features, and sometimes it is completely invisible in the form of internal restructuring to be able to support future features.

    Regardless of what form it is in, there's always something happening to make BitWise better, faster, or bigger.

  • Will you be adding other games to BitWise?

    BitWise currently has one simple but challenging game called Conquest. There are no plans to create additional games at this time.

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