Instant Messenger Programs
Another popular method of Internet chat are various Instant Messaging programs. They are basically communications services that alert you when people on your “friends list” or “buddy list” are online and allow you to send and receive messages and chat with your contacts. Some examples of these clients are Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger. They all basically do the same thing, however currently there is no standard and one client cannot access the networks of the other clients.
You will have to make a choice as to which client you want to use. Base your decision on what your friends are using, and/or by viewing screen captures and reading about the features that each has to offer. I will tell you though, that Yahoo Messenger has some very nice features. You can customize various tabs to display stock market figures, news, sports scores, weather info, bookmarks and more! Another advantage to the Yahoo Messenger is that it allows voice chat if you have a microphone plugged into the jack on your sound card. Currently, the other two competing programs do not have this feature.
Yahoo! Messenger – http://messenger.yahoo.com
MSN Messenger – http://messenger.msn.com
AOL Instant Messenger – http://aim.aol.com
Once you install one of these clients, the first time you open the program you will be prompted to register and create a username for yourself. It must be unique, so don’t be disappointed if you can’t use the name you want. You will have to settle for some variation of it. For example, when I went to register for Yahoo Messenger, just about every variation of Grogan was taken. I then decided to use TheRealGrogan as my nickname.
After you have registered a unique name, you need to add your friends to your contact list. If you already know their username, it is a snap; choose to Add a user in your program and enter their unique name. If you do not know what name they use, each of these programs has a search function at their Web site that can be launched from within the program or accessed at the site.
When your contacts come online, typically you will be notified by a sound and you will see them as active in your contact list. If they are offline, you can send them a message and they will receive it as soon as they connect to the server. If they are online, you can chat and/or send and receive files. Most of these programs also allow a conference type chat, where multiple users can participate.
What if someone is bothering you? Well in that case, you can add them to your ignore list and delete them from your contact list if they are on it. Right-click on one of your contacts and you will see the available actions you can take, including Chat, Send a file, Send a message and Delete/ignore. It is very easy to operate these programs.
Now, let’s move on to another Instant Messaging program that is very popular and has many features.