Be on the wave or under it
The News – 03/06/03
Automated IM Dudes
My kids have recently been using
robotic Instant Messaging thingies – pals, services, buddies?
What the heck would you call an automated thingie that you can
IM and have it respond intelligibly? Eliza?
Anyway, their favorite, smarterchild,
now appears to be offline, at least on the AOL Instant Messenger
(AIM) service. That leaves ringmessenger, a Lord Of The Rings
dude; dnLflipit, basically an ad for 7up (dnL is 7up flipped,
get it); and Austin Powers. Austin greats you thusly:
Hello, cramderux! I am the Austin Powers
International Bot of Mystery. I was built by the Ministry of Defense
to serve, protect and... put the grrr in swinger, baby! Yeah!
Many of these bots are the product
of ActiveBuddy, which I covered in an article
for the TaylorHarkins newsletter. In that article I explored the
eBay Buddy, which was actually pretty lame, as this transcript
attests. This new generation of bots is a lot more conversational.
Here’s how dnLFlipIt greeted me:
dnLFlipIt: Wassup cramderux!
I'm dnL Flipit. brought to you by Dr. Pepper/7-Up Inc.
I can tell you about the slammin' new
soda dnL, help you win $5 mil, play games and more. To read more
about privacy, click here
To get going, type "home"
The bot lets you play five games,
Hangman, Word Scramble, Downloads, Groove Blender, and Manicdotes,
a variant of MadLibs.
While the bot is pretty smooth, and the game unremarkable, there’s
work to be done in BotVille. Check out the message I got when
I won my game of hangman:
dnLFlipIt: :-) Puzzle solved:
Check it out! You are the GetOrdinalFromInt(157)
person ever to solve this puzzle!
I always wanted to be the GetOrdinalFromInt(157)
person to solve a puzzle! Obviously there’s a bit of errant programming
inside the dnLFlipIt bot.
ActiveBuddy says they offer these
other bots in addition to the ones previously mentioned:
- RecipeBuddie – Need an idea for dinner? Meet
RecipeBuddie, your IM recipe pal.
- AOLBuddy™ Wireless Informer – When you’re on
the go, send a wireless instant message to the AOLBuddy™ screen
name to have movie times, stock quotes, news and even your horoscope
delivered via AOL® Instant Messenger™ service, right to your
- AgentFinance – Specializes in news and financial
information, with stock quotes, charts, indices and more.
However, none of these three appear
to be online on AIM at the moment. The ActiveBuddy FAQ has this
to say about “retired” bots:
Several ActiveBuddy-powered interactive
agents, including GooglyMinotaur, TattleTeller, and LindsayBuddy,
are retired. There are many reasons why an interactive agent would
retire, but in most cases, it's because the agent's work is done.
For example, TattleTeller was focused on the 2002 Academy Awards.
Once the awards were presented, the agent was ready to move on.
If your favorite interactive agent retires, check our agent list
and start talking with a new one!
As silly as all this may seem, these
IM bots are a significant new way to market, especially to kids.
The bots offer amusing games or silly conversations, and gently
slip in the marketing message. Witness Austin Powers, who for
some reason is able to give me my horoscope:
Austin Powers: You hit your mark
every time, baby. Anytime your targets seem skittish all you have
to do is look 'em in the eye and say, “Au contraire baby, you
can't resist me!” But when the person you love turns out to be
a mechanized lackey for a despotic super villain, don't despair.
Just think, “Wait a tic! This means I'm single! Yeah! Freedom,
OK, I'll remember that you are a Sagittarius.
Here's your Sagittarius horoscope for
Wednesday, March 5th:
You will be in a party mood so make
plans to do something that is fun as well as challenging. You
will be spontaneous, imaginative and ready to take on whatever
comes your way. Your ability to work hard and have fun while doing
so will impress anyone watching from the sidelines.
>>> It's a bit nutty, baby!
Goldmember is in theatres now!
I’d say he’s got me pegged! He knows
more about me than about the movie Goldmember, which is not
playing in theatres now.
There are two things to think about
regarding this trend.
First, how can you use Instant Messaging
to market your product or service? Perhaps you could create a
customer service bot or a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) bot.
Second, now not only do you need
to worry about the live people your kids are IMing, you also need
to worry about what bots they’re talking to, and what those bots
are doing with the information they gather. I guess I don’t mind
if Austin Powers knows I’m a Sagittarius, but there are plenty
of things I don’t want strangers to know about my kids.
I tell my kids, frequently, to treat
people they encounter online as strangers. Don’t tell them anything
you wouldn’t tell a stranger who walked up to you on the street.
Don’t tell them your real name, your age, where you live, or Dad’s
bank account number. Don't ever agree to meet. It’s important
to repeat this message often as kids tend to forget.
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.:
A couple issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for
you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping
your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total
in the kitty so far: $0.00.
I’ve reworked the Opinion
section, adding a Prediction Tracking
page to track the various predictions I’ve made, and also added
I Said page with some quotes of things I said a decade or
so ago on the Net. I've also given the TrendSpot
a much needed overhaul.
I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service
known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter.
It’s entitled, Wherever they
go, there you are and it points out how marketers can
use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.
I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought
Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve
done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the StratVantage site.
Finally, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take
It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices,
is available at ITPapers.
- The Answer to a Question Nobody Asked:
One of the hottest, or at least most hyped, new computing categories
is the so-called Tablet
PC. The idea behind these LCD panel-cum-computers is convenience.
Many have touch screens and some, like ViewSonic’s $999 Airpanel
V110 Smart Display, don’t have built-in keyboards or even much
on-board computing power.
ViewSonic’s device is merely a Wi-Fi (wireless networking) based
display that shows whatever your main computer, which is stashed
away somewhere in a closet, sends it. The host PC does most
of the computing work, but displays on the V110, which weighs
2.9 pounds and has a 10.4-inch screen. The unit comes with a
USB-based Wi-Fi hotspot for your base computer.
But who asked for it? How much computing do you do that doesn’t
need text input? Or even power scrolling?
As Business Week puts it, “The device merely saves you from
having to sit in front of your desktop computer or cart around
a notebook, which may or may not be bulkier. For instance, the
V110's 15-inch sibling, the $1299 V150, tips the scales at 5.9
pounds, making it heavier than many laptops. [. . .] For a device
that is clearly intended for heavy Web surfing, however, the
absence of a wheel or toggle for scrolling is mystifying and
inexcusable. And due to Wi-Fi bandwidth limitations, the V110
can't handle video files or serious 3D games, but you can stream
music to the V110 or use it as a remote for a computer connected
to your stereo.”
Like I said, the answer to a question nobody asked. However,
you should be aware that the first time I called a product the
answer to a question nobody asked I was talking about the four-wheel-drive
station wagon in the mid-70s. And we all know where that
- Deadly Phones: Some drug
dealers in Europe are using guns that are disguised as mobile
phones. French police recently seized two devices that looked
like traditional mobile phones on the outside, but which were
capable of shooting four .22 caliber bullets, with digital touch
pads used as triggers.
Talk about shooting your mouth off!
- Gartner Does the 802.11 Numbers:
Although the report is almost a year old, Gartner’s summary
of the various 802.11 wireless LAN standards is clear and easy
to read. It even predicts that 802.11g devices will be available
in the first half of 2003 with .7 probability. Regular readers
know I bought an 802.11g hotspot at the end of January, so I
guess Gartner would call that a win, despite forecasting that
the standard would be solidified by the end of 2002. It hasn’t
been yet, and might not be until the end of this year.
By the way, thanks to Best Buy’s wonderful return policies,
I traded in my malfunctioning 802.11g laptop card for one that
actually works. So now everything’s coolly unwired at StratVantage
- House to Consider $2.1B Nanotechnology Bill:
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced legislation to authorize $2.1
billion over three years for a multi-agency national nanotechnology
research initiative. Nanotechnology is one of the top interagency
priorities in the Administration's fiscal 2004 proposed budget.
the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (What
no cute acronym? No Mom and Apple Pie jingoism?), authorizes
nanotechnology research and development programs at the Department
of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection
Agency, NASA and the National Science Foundation. (For more
info on nanotechnology, with will change your life
by the end of this decade, see the StratVantage
Nanotechnology Resources Directory.) A section-by-section
analysis of H.R 766 can be found at:
House of Representatives
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