Ok mini chat is live. obviously it may need tweaking. Mini chat is available on the home page of the forum, at the bottom of the page; alternatively you can click on the chat link to use a custom page just for chat.
there was concern about innappropriate use of chat. I think it comes under forum rules. an archive of the live chat is created so if anyone abuses the system then a mod can check the archive and take appropriate action. persistant innapropriate use of mini chat may result in the facility being switched off
hope everyone enjoys and please make suggestions for alterations.