Honestly, if I never hear that ICQ “eh-oh” message receipt sound ever again it will be too soon.The benefits of working from home are almost completely negated by my constant availability. Late-night work-related phone calls are nothing compared to the incessant harping of the instant messaging software we use.Of course, it’s completely insecure, untouched by tech support hands and opens my PC to all manner of vulnerabilities including the next generation of worms heading my way. And I have to have not one but two separate platforms running (ICQ and Microsoft Messenger), to keep in touch with various people around the globe. Messenger requires me to use Passport, which still thinks my name is B’gates, and I’m not fond of that. So Jabber seems a much better alternative. Not only is it open source but it’s cross-platform, meaning after I’ve set it up I don’t need to worry about the other IM platforms ever again.Sadly, I do need to register with Jabber in the first place, but at least it’s easier for me to manage my messages with only one flashing, beeping, squealing icon at a time. Oh, and it can also make use of a secure server environment and tech support can lock down things like automatic downloads to avoid any unpleasantness. I can also use Jabber when I’m on the move — a wireless gateway version means I’ll never be out of reach again.Best of all, the client and 100-user server packs are free. Free as in beer, not as in time, because I’ll never have any free time again.