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Instant Messages
Work for some but not all

Q. My friend showed me how to chat via Instant Messaging on the computer. What fun!

But why can I chat with some of my friends on-line but can't even see others? I use AOL's instant messenger.

A. As you have discovered, Instant Messaging, or IM, can be very useful and lots of fun. It allows you to type back and forth to another person when you both are on the Internet - no matter where in the world you are.

There are extra features in many IM programs that let you chat with several people at a time, share photos, and even have a voice conversation - all using your Internet connection.

Unfortunately, as you have found out, not all the IM programs work together. Since you use AOL, you use their IM program called AIM. Your friends may use Yahoo! Messenger or Windows Messenger or other programs for their instant messaging.

Windows Messenger comes bundled with your computer if you run Windows. You have to download Yahoo! Messenger and AIM.

The problem is that as of today it is very difficult to chat with a person using a different IM program. So you can chat with other AIM users and Windows Messenger people can chat with others using that service but you can't talk to each other.

Popular opinion blames AOL for this. They have been reluctant to let programs from Microsoft, Yahoo! and others tap into their instant messaging client. So it is a hassle to talk to people on another service.

A hassle, but not impossible. If it is important to talk to these others, you can use a program such as Trillian to communicate with others. It's not as easy as just clicking on your messenger icon but it works very well.

Hopefully, AOL and the other big players will get together in the near future and make it easier for all of us to communicate.

Answered by Tech Expert Dan Hanson

If you have computer or Internet questions, e-mail our Tech Guru at tech@ClevelandWomen.Com

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