mamamusings: July 27, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Sunday, 27 July 2003

aim bots

For a few weeks I’ve been playing with an AIM bot called Smarterchild, which I found via a student’s blog (thanks, David!). You add it to your buddy list, and can then send it queries for evrything from movie show times to weather forecasts to dictionary definitions. It’s got an “Eliza”-like natural language interface that fascinates my kids—they can’t quite wrap their heads around the fact that this is a software program rather than a person, and have spent long periods of time “talking” with it. After a month of free trial use, I’ve decided to pony up the $9.99 for a one year subscription—it’s worth it just for the quick and easy weather and movie info on my Sidekick. And I’ll buy subscriptions for the kids, too, since they clearly enjoy it. (It’s keyed to your screen name, so we can’t share a subscription.)

Today I found a link to another intriguing AIM ‘bot via David’s site. This one is blogchangebot, and it notifies you via IM when a blog you’re interested in is updated.

I find this intertwining of social software tools—chat, blog, wiki, email, etc—fascinating. And I suspect that services that leverage the increasingly ubiquitous IM environment are positioned in a good place right now.

Posted at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: social software

free local wifi!

Had breakfast with a friend on Friday at the Bagel Bin, a bagel and coffee shop around the corner from his house (and just down the street from my mom and sister). He had his Powerbook open when I got here, so I asked if they had wifi access there. He nodded. So I asked what they were charging. “Nothing,” he replied. Woohoo!

The wifi is being provided by Forza Networks, which looks like it will be expanding into a variety of other locations in Rochester soon (including local government buildings and hotels). I did have to register with basic information about myself (no credit card, though). After that, it’s a simple sign-in.

Seems that Forza is successfully convincing local businesses that providing this kind of service for free is a wise marketing decision. I’m an excellent case in point for them—I’ve been taking my kids to the Starbucks across the street almost every weekend for several years. But based on the free wifi, I’ll be switching locations. Everybody wins. (Except Starbucks, with its overpriced TMobile access…)

Posted at 4:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: Rochester
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna