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Let Ultra Hal become your personal assistant
Ultra Hal Assistant has the ambition and the ability to be a complete personal assistant, able to run programs, send e-mail and manage your diary as well as chat with you. Speech synthesis, and in the registered version, speech recognition, also form part of Halís rich offering. All in all, itís quite a program!

Halís first function is to chat in natural language with its conversation partners. Based on a contextual keyword-recognition system, Hal searches its knowledge base and finds the most appropriate response to the user input. The system comes with a default brain that is able to hold pleasant, if rather senseless conversation on a wide range of subjects. Neat programming tricks enable Hal to point out when youíre repeating yourself; nevertheless, as with other chatterbots, the illusion of Ďunderstandingí is hard to maintain beyond the first couple of minutes.

Top Teach and tweak Hal

Ultra Hal AssistantWhat makes Hal really interesting are its learning capacities and the opportunity to tinker with the workings of the system. Hal learns in three different ways; firstly during the conversation, when you make strong affirmative statements such as ĎParis is the capital of Franceí Ė it is quite uncanny when Hal spits out a piece of information that you gave it a few minutes earlier. Secondly, the Brain Editor is a direct line to Halís knowledge base, allowing you to directly write new user input and the associated response, and to add to or modify existing topics. Finally, Hal can learn by reading text files, although this option is tending to be phased out in the latest version.

Itís great fun playing around with Halís innards, tweaking this and that to see the different reactions. Downloaded files include the full VBScript source code that you can modify freely, that controls the way Hal works, so you can modify its emotional state, reaction to insults etc. The ĎDebugí mode allows you to see exactly what processes are taking place within Halís brain. In addition, a wide range of plug-ins are available on the site of the publisher, Zabaware, for example, for connecting Hal to an animated character.

Top Online user community

Take the time to get a good understanding of how Hal works, and you will be rewarded with a personalized assistant that is entirely devoted to serving you. The ĎHelpí manual is in fact an on-line community forum of Ultra Hal users, a mine of practical information. If you donít find what youíre looking for, donít hesitate to ask your question to the community. Ultra Hal is probably ideally suited to these people who like getting involved with their program, fiddling about with its workings and coming up with a truly original creation.


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