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Bringing the computer to life
"Giving life" to a computer sounds paradoxical, and maybe it is. The time when machines will be self-aware is doubtless still some way off. In the meantime, many attempts are being made to find intermediary solutions to real problems. How is it possible to make computers more user-friendly, and break down the technological barriers between man and machine? Virtual animated characters are one attempt. What is the reason for their success? It's because they are fun!
Starting up your computer gets a new meaning when you are going to feed a virtual pet, watch a plant grow on the desktop or sway to the beat with the MP3 Dancers. What else can they do for you ? Nothing! But what's wrong with using the computer as a toy from time-to-time, with no goal other than entertainment?
Giving life doesn't mean just giving a character the ability to move. Animated characters can provide real services, such as reading e-mail, opening documents or accompanying you as you surf the Web. They can be true personal assistants. The MS Agent technology opens a world of possibilities for agent applications, using voice synthesis and speech recognition. You can even try personalizing your MS Agent with tools such as the Microsoft Agent Scripting Helper (MASH). The objective remains the same: making the experience of using your computer more interactive and more enjoyable.
Many Web sites are also starting to understand the interest of interactive characters: they catch the visitor's eye, keep them on the site for longer and offer a channel for collecting or disseminating information. In the Christmas period, portals sites such as Lycos Germany and Wanadoo have deployed animated characters to give that special plus to their marketing efforts.
Interactive animated agents that show that the Internet is truly alive and kicking!
Animated agents for your desktop: http://www.agentland.com/Download/6Artificial_Life/Desktop_Agents/
Microsoft Agent Scripting Helper : http://www.agentland.com/Download/Intelligent_Agent/75.html
Lycos Germany : http://www.lycos.de/webguides/entertainment/weihnachten/index.html
Wanadoo : http://noel2001.event.wanadoo.fr/
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
> Copernic Summarizer: only the essential information!
So many documents that surround us in our daily lives, so little time. Let's make no mistake, time is precious whether you are at work or at home. The brand new 2.0 version of Copernic Summarizer offers a real solution by automatically summarizing any type of document. It presents you with a short resume and list of concepts contained in the document so that you can get the key information at a glance.
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>> Filtering agents privacy security <<
XCleaner Lite Freeware is a simple-to-use anti-spyware and privacy enhancement tool. No installation is required, simply click and start. With a system of check boxes, users can control the cleaning functions and spy software detection services.
If privacy is a concern of yours, then CyberDetective can help. You can enable the toolkit while you go away from the computer and all activities while you're away are logged. As a parent, you always wonder about how your child uses the computer. With CyberDetective, all usage is logged: internet connections, websites visited, windows opened, everything they typed, and so forth.
>> Web Positioning <<
RankHigher creates up to 7000 additional (doorway) pages for you instantly at the touch of a button. The more unique "keyword rich" doorway pages on your site, the better your rank in search engines' indexes. Simple and effective, RankHigher also intelligently creates multiple combinations of Meta and keywords for optimum placement.
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DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEK
This cool program sits in your system tray and allows you to select your city for current weather statistics, forecasts, satellite images, radar images, and much more. It will automatically update within four hours for the unregistered version and half an hour for the registered version.
> B.I.O bugs: intelligent bugs
B.I.O-Bugs are Bio-mechanical integrated autonomous organisms. Take command of them using the hand controller or just leave them to roam independently and discover their new environment. The half-pound digital insects react to outside stimuli, such as human feet or other BIO bugs. They have the same features as real insects: they protect their young, need to feed and have the ability to conserve energy if they are not at play.
> The first intelligent toilet!
Talking networked toilets, which can diagnose if you are pregnant or sick and email your doctor or hospital with the test results, should be on sale by 2006. Called "Versatile Interactive Pan (VIP)", the toilet is equipped with a voice-activated seat and automatic flush.
Spokesman Terry Wooliscroft said: "We want to see what a toilet can do if you introduce modern technology to it."
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