irc (internet relay chat) is where j00 find teh h4x0rs. while not directly built-in to windows (meaning you will need to download third-party software), irc is a critical topic. one of the most popular irc clients is "mirc," which can be found here: www.mirc.com
you can download the above program for a free 30-day trial, but afterwards they ask that you pay a one time fee of about $20. you can choose to pay, or not; there are ways around it (you could just continuously re-install it) but either way if you're going to chat anywhere it should be here (on irc).
when you first launch the program, it will ask for some basic information. you don't need to provide a real e-mail address or anything; just keep in mind that whatever nickname you choose to connect with you probably won't get to keep (considering irc has a huge number of chatters and there aren't always enough nicknames to allow ownership). before your first attempt to logon, you'll see a menu located on the left-hand side of the window. some smaller networks (look in the "servers" menu before connecting) still allow for nickname registration, such as dalnet, but it's nothing to get all anal about. once you're all set, go ahead and click "connect."
congratulations! you just fell for my trick and installed a virus lololol just kidding. rooms in irc are referred to as "channels." take some time to familiarize yourself with the menu options and what not; it's a little different than what you might be used to (for example when you minimize a window it goes to the top of the screen rather than the bottom). the first screen you see (the one constantly saying "ping? pong!") is your main screen, and you should pay attention to this screen even when you're off chatting in another window as it will update you with information.
commands can be typed by preceding them with a forward slash; in fact, you will notice some 1337 speak actually comes directly from irc. if you type: "/me shrugs" within any channel, it will display an action rather than text: "username shrugs". commands can be far more complex. "timers" for example give you a way to, well, time things. if you typed "/timer 5 20 /describe #channelname says off taking a pee" in the channel "channelname", it would tell the chat room that you're "off taking a pee" 5 times, with 20 second delays between each message. that should be enough time to finish your business until you return (assuming you're relatively close to the restroom).
the first command you should probably type in the main screen is "/help" and then click the "basic irc commands" link. here you can read both normal commands as well as admin (or "operator") commands. if you want to be an op and really 0wnz0r teh chat room, you'll either need to create your own channel and wait tirelessly for some people to show up (or invite some), or convince an existing op in another channel to give you op powers. you can identify op's as having a "@" symbol before their name.
so, what are some good channels? there are a lot of popular channels: #irchelp, #unix, #warez… you can connect to several different channels simultaneously, which is probably a good idea considering a lot of people just like to sit idle and not speak. one of the most famous groups of hackers that you can find on irc is known as "#2600." created by emmanual goldsteine, you can visit the website (www.2600.com) to download feeds from their new york based radio show, you can pick up their magazine at practically any major book store, or you can even participate in public meetings, which are organized all over the place. people who have seen the movie "hackers" will notice that one of the characters was named after emmanual; according to the radio show, the creators of the movie actually hung out with the 2600 people to gather research for the movie and named a character after emmanual as a joke.
another funny movie fact is related to defcon (www.defcon.org), the largest underground hacking convention in the world, and the name of which bears a strikingly similar resemblance to a term often used in a classic hacker movie "war games." macgyver was a hacker too, with the exception that girls actually liked him anyway.
so yes, make some chat friends, don't ask stupid questions, and don't download any viruses (unless of course it was a virus you were looking to download).