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Newsletter January 07, 2002

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Delving into newsgroups

There are thousands of newsgroups on the Internet, divided into different categories according to the subject under discussion. Messages are only displayed for a certain amount of time (depending on the group) before being archived. Perhaps you want to follow a trend or have people's opinions on a subject, person or product, but you can't find enough time to read all the relevant messages or be connected 24 hours a day. Every day, hundreds of messages are published on newsgroups, and there is a real risk of being rapidly submerged by the quantity of information. Assuming that you have been able to identify the newsgroup that interests you.

Newsgroups give people the chance to talk about subjects of mutual interest. They work in a similar way to electronic mail, except that everyone can read the messages posted to a newsgroup, and everyone can reply to them.

You've got a question? Maybe someone has already asked it. To avoid subscribing to lots of different newsgroups without being sure if they can really help you, go for the easy option. Use intelligent agents that are specialized in newsgroups to search the full text of current and past messages. They let you save time by simultaneously sending the query to many different newsgroups. Choose the forums, authors, subjects or keywords to look for, and the messages of interest will be downloaded for you to browse through at leisure.

Using intelligent agents to capture all the messages from just one person, you can build up a fairly clear picture of that person's centers of interest by cross-checking their posts. However, be cautious when it comes to rumors, because not all messages posted, true or false, are 100% reliable.

Specialized newsgroup search agents :


> Working Like an Ant
AI systems inspired by studies of the natural systems of social insects.
Emergence - the phenomenon embodied in the fact fact that complex patterns and behaviors can result from simple rules and algorithms - recently became one of the key concepts in the field of AI.


> Marketscore: faster, faster!!
What could be more frustrating than the interminable wait for a Web page to load? When you feel that familiar tension setting in as a graphics-heavy site struggles painfully onto your screen, it's time to get a browsing accelerator. You need an agent like Marketscore.

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>> Filtering agents privacy security <<

> Evidence Eliminator
Don't want people to know what you have been doing on-line? Deleting "Internet cache/history" will not protect you because any Web pages, pictures, movies, videos, sounds, e-mail, chat logs and everything else you see or do could easily be recovered. How would you feel if somebody snooped this information out of your computer?

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> Oska
Oska DeskMate is an interactive cartoon character who lives on your computer. Oska reacts if you touch him or move him around the screen with your mouse. If you leave him alone, he will amuse himself and entertain you in the process.


> Have Your Agent Call My Agent
Researchers are developing intelligent agents that interact with other agents on behalf of businesses. These agents don't just do simple tasks, they carry out processes that would take humans a great deal of time to complete (customer service, product configuration, buying, and selling). Autonomous software agents, in fact, excel at managing complexity and large amounts of information.

> Robot Lobster to Sniff Out Mines
Teams of sniffer robots may someday scour land and sea, using their artificial snouts to root out mines in places and situations humans would rather avoid. At least this is the goal of a team studying the lobster -- a creature considered a paragon of odor analysis -- in order to create a robotic version of the lobster's snout.

> Bionic Eyes!
Rods and Cones. Millions of them are in the back of every healthy human eye. They are biological solar cells in the retina that convert light to electrical impulses. Many people are blind -- or going blind -- because of malfunctioning rods and cones. Using space technology, scientists have developed ceramic photocells that could repair malfunctioning human eyes. "If we could only replace those damaged rods and cones with artificial ones," says Dr. Alex Ignatiev, a professor at the University of Houston, "then a person who is retinally-blind might be able to regain some of their sight"

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