I am an avid user of Instant Messaging (IM), using it to keep in touch with business colleagues, friends, and family around the world.

Because I have friends scattered among the three major services — AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger — I have accounts on all three. But AOL’s history of intrusive and annoying advertising practices has ensured that I won’t touch the AIM client software.

My grudge against the AIM software began a few years ago while I was in the middle of several months of radio interviews promoting one of my books, Fighting Spam for Dummies. (Speaking of intrusive advertising, you can pick up my book at your favorite online retailer!)

One particular morning, I had arisen around 3 a.m. PST to do a morning drive-time interview on a major East Coast market radio station. Shuffling to my desk in my bunny slippers and bathrobe, I fired up my computer so I would have my notes handy during the interview, and then I made the call into the radio station.

The interview started well, but just a few moments into it, my computer began to loudly play what sounded like a commercial for an action movie. The sounds of martial arts music and exploding bad guys were being blared over my phone to thousands of the radio station’s listeners, drowning out my own voice.

Panicking, I quickly tried to stop whatever was playing on my computer, but I couldn’t find it! In my haste to make the noise stop, I wound up unplugging my computer. That stopped the racket, but the damage was already done: The radio host thought I was nuts, I was flustered and struggling to pick up where I’d left off, and the 90-second segment was almost over.

In the aftermath, it took me quite a while but I managed to track down the source of the disaster: AIM.

To read more, go to my article AIM: Getting More than You Bargained For at eSecurityPlanet.com.