Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro There are multiple ways to access Freenode for live chat, irrespective of your Operating System
Chatzilla firefox plugin, Colloquy on MacOS, xchat on linux, mIRC on Windows, Pidgin works across multiple OS's, and Traditionally IRC was used over a console; if you are more tech-savvy try ircii, epic, bitchX, or weechat.
Pro Available 24/7
##php is a busy enough channel worldwide that you can generally find someone to assist in one degree or another, at all hours.
Con Freenode itself is currently going through some growing pains
With luck they will emerge freshly rejuvenated.