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Why I Uninstalled AIM

Posted on: March 14th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 4 Comments

This question really has a simple answer: Because it wouldn’t shut up.

I’m not a huge fan of instant messaging. You’d think I would be, what with my fascination with high-tech doodads. But frankly instant messaging is disruptive. It’s not like text messaging, where I can ignore the message while I finish a phone call or some other activity. No, IMs jump to the foreground, in some cases capturing whatever keystrokes you were entering into another app. Even if you disable this stupid feature, you still have to deal with the IM in order to get your task bar to hide (assuming you use that feature of the task bar).

There are times I think IM’s are appropriate. The other night around 10:30 PM I was working on a project and needed to use a little tool one of the programmers here created. I checked Yahoo Messenger and saw that his status was “online” so I sent him a quick message to get a link to the documentation for the program. Since we all work from home, I didn’t want to call and wake everyone up. IM worked great for that.

There are other times when IM’s are inappropriate. Anything that could’ve been said in an email shouldn’t be said in an IM. And anything that is important enough for an IM is probably important enough for a phone call. It’s quicker and more information is exchanged per unit of time than an IM.

But the thing that finally crossed the line with AIM were their Flash ads. I don’t mind the ads in general — the app is free so they have to generate revenue somehow — but lately AOL has been serving up ads that include sound. It started with a short 4-note melody that apparently was just supposed to get my attention. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but eventually discovered that if I told AIM to never play any sounds at all for any reason, it quit making that noise.

But yesterday AIM started serving me an ad for some hip-hop gangsta ringtones. I’m just sitting here and all of a sudden I’m treated to some rap crap full volume over my speakers. Turns out AIM was inviting me to download ringtones.

That was enough of that. I did some searching through the options to figure out how to turn off sounds (again) but I didn’t come up with anything. So goodbye AIM.

I still use MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. So far they haven’t annoyed me enough to uninstall them. But AIM is gone.

4 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    I use an app for my Mac (OS X) called Adium and it handles AIM as well as iChat, MSN & Yahoo (about 13 IM clients listed). Their site is if you’re interested. And no spam/ads so far.

  2. Brett says:

    You should look into GAIM. It was one of the first apps available to chat with AOL/AIM users on Linux and they ported it to Windows. It handles MSN and Yahoo along with many others. It is free and open source and has no ads to annoy.

  3. Yeah, everyone is recommending one of the consolidated solutions. Unfortunately they don’t implement all the features of the individual clients and everyone I’ve talked to that uses them has some kind of problems at one time or another.

    My point isn’t so much to say that I wish I could keep AIM, but rather that it’s worth abandoning on principle. Whoever decided it was a good idea to have Flash ads with background music needs to be flogged. I just can’t support that behavior.

    Also keep in mind that I’ve never bought into the usefulness of IM as a communication vehicle. I’m not looking for ways to experience more IM’ing. I’m welcoming a valid excuse to cut down.

    Perhaps I’m just too old. I’ve been IM’ing since 1982 or maybe 1984. I was bored with it and saw through its hype before many IM’ers were even born. :-)


  4. Hashim says:

    What’s insidious about IM is that it pretends to be a productivity booster, when really it is a time waster.

    My suggestion – use the status controls vigorously. Don’t hesitate to list yourself as “away” or “working” so people know not to intereupt you.

    Also, try, which gives you web-based IM that connects to Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, MSN, etc.

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