Since Google has rolled out the ability to use Google Talk from within Gmail, I've been doing just that. I find it useful because it lets me hang out in Google Talk during the day at work, without having to have a seperate chat client open.
If you don't yet have a Gmail account or have a Gmail account but don't have Google Talk activated in it, please let me know and I'll send you an invite.
If you're having problems getting Google Talk to work in Gmail, try this link:
Happy chatting! (My username on Gmail is doug.muth, BTW)