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Newsletter December 02, 2002

o Editorial
o Articles of the week
o Agent News
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o Technologies


Natural language for precise information retrieval

Which one of us has never complained because they couldn't find the information they want on the Net? It seems so easy at first, just type in a keyword and read through the retrieved documents. But what do you do when there are many hundreds of results? It quickly becomes apparent that a grounding in Boolean operators and a good knowledge of each search tools' syntax (that are all subtly different) is useful if you want to find relevant documents. To find documents that talk about 'horses' but not 'races', a complex query is necessary. Wouldn't it be more natural to formulate your query in common, everyday language?

Natural language search engines try and let you just this. Over the last few years, a rise in the number of this type of application has been observed, which indicates a need for more convivial, easy to use tools. Some search engines like Ask Jeeves or Albert have already been deployed on Web sites or intranets, and enable users to use natural language queries. They sometimes offer to refine the search query, if necessary, by suggesting further questions or themes. They have a database of questions that are associated to predefined queries.

Natural language search engines are still in their early days, but we can dream of search agents that would combine the conversational ability of chatterbots with natural language search capacity. For now, you will find on AgentLand a certain number of resources on these subjects:


> Bejeweled: time to play?
AgentLand prides itself on offering a high quality selection of intelligent agents for carrying out useful tasks such as on-line information retrieval and monitoring. But once in a while, we all need a shot of dumb fun. And that's just what Bejeweled offers, in its own thrilling and exasperating way that will have you holding your breath to the very end of the game.
¦ Try ¦ ¦ Buy ¦

> Spector Pro: keeps an eye on your computer
Whether your computer is at your office, in your children's room or your own bedroom, there could come a day when you absolutely have to know what is being done on your PC or your Mac while you're away! The answer to your problem is here: Spector Pro.
¦ Try ¦


>> Search Agents <<

> PicaLoader
PicaLoader is a fully automated agent that will retrieve all the pictures you want from any part of the Internet. PicaLoader can filter duplicate pictures, resume broken downloads, and save the name, size, creation time, download time and referrer URL for every picture. You can use the built-in picture filter profile or define your own.
¦ Try ¦ ¦ Buy ¦

>> Filters <<

> Cleaning Agent
Cleaning Agent is a handy disk and file cleaning utility. It cleans your disks with a click and sweeps out all unwanted files and folders fast. It wipes out the mess that some applications can make on your disk. Cleaning Agent removes all those log files, reports, cache files and temporary folders that can contain hundreds of files and can go to megabytes in size. It is more than just a space saver. It improves your disk performance, speeds up file searches, virus scans, disk scans, file defragmentation, desktop rebuildings (Mac only), etc. Once configured, it works automatically and efficiently.
¦ Try ¦ ¦ Buy ¦

>> Chatterbots <<

> Stauri FAQtaur
Stauri FAQtaur is a development tool allowing you to create an interactive software agent that can be programmed to automatically respond to questions by querying a pre-established questions and answers database. The conversational nature can make interacting with the agent informative, interesting and entertaining.
¦ Try ¦


> SpyBuddy
SpyBuddy is the ultimate solution for monitoring spouses, children, co-workers, or anyone else! SpyBuddy allows you to monitor all areas of your PC, tracking every action down the last keystroke pressed. SpyBuddy has the ability to log all AOL/ICQ/MSN/AIM chat conversations, all websites visited, all windows opened and interacted with, every application executed, every document printed, all text and images sent to the clipboard...
¦ Try ¦ ¦ Buy ¦

> Visual Web Task
Visual Web Task parses HTML tags and extracts data and files. It creates spiders for any download and extraction need. You can teach your HTML parser how to negotiate logins, proxies and security pages to download and extract what you need - files, search results, and more.
¦ Try ¦¦ Buy ¦


> Chemists build body fluid battery
Our bodies could one day power their own electronic implants. Chemists have developed a miniature battery that could run on bodily fluids to drive sensors to monitor our health. The biofuel cell converts directly into electricity the energy produced when glucose reacts with oxygen during normal metabolism. It could be inserted in contact with glucose-containing body fluids under the skin or in the spinal cord, for example.

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