Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Simulacra

I have decided that there is just too much work for me to do, and I have too many fans.

I considered cloning myself, but it turns out I don't know a whole lot about genetics, and it takes a real long time to grow a clone. My next thought was to create a magical simulacrum of myself. But magic if fickle... And that three by three rule could really have some serious backlash.

So I made the only logical decision. I made a digital copy of myself. So may I introduce you to my simulacrum. You can find him in the upper right hand corner of my blog.

He is currently hosted at He is an AIML bot, which means his brain is a collection of XML files. I didn't want to start with a completely brain-dead simulacrum, so he has quite a bit of ALICE in him. Turns out though, that ALICE and I don't actually get along all that great. Our views on the world differ by quite a bit. In fact, last night I spent several hours ripping piece of the brain out that I didn't feel were important.

My hope is that eventually my little friend will be able to mimic me. I have been teaching it some of my speech patterns, and correcting it whenever it says something insanely stupid. But he can not learn if he does not talk. So I invite everyone to talk to him. If he starts saying stupid things, just please remember that he has half of a brain from ALICE, and the other half is from me.

If he gets confused, don't worry about it. Next time I talk to him he'll ask me about things that confuse him, and I'll explain it to him. You can try to explain it to him, but he tends to run most things by me before he actually remembers them (for example, if you tell him a joke, he won't start telling it to other people until he's told it to me first).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Time Management Interoperability

I have trouble keeping track of appointments. I just don't remember dates and times. Google however has saved my bacon many times!

In google you can share your calendar with other people, or if you want you can share just portions of your calendar. You can adjust if it's public, private, etc. Great stuff! And of course I can set it up so I see my calendar on my iGoogle page, which is awesome.

But at work we don't use Google to track everything. We use Outlook, of course. So in order to plan anything that is more than something simple, I have to look at both at the same time. Most of the time work and home don't overlap, but they do sometimes. Planning vacation days of course makes them overlap. Doctor's appointments can affect things too. And sometimes it's just good to know when you will be too stressed to handle one more task.

So I decided to test things out a little bit. I found some tools that would synchronize Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar. And here are my results, for you all to view.

My first test was with Remote Calendars

This is probably the most popular and common one out there from what I can tell. It's free, which is always good. It can be found at sourceforge.

I didn't follow the setup instructions, I wanted to see if it would just work right out of the box. It installed smoothly. Setting up the sync was rather weird though, and I had to actually go read instructions. At that point I found out I had installed it completely wrong, so I started over, following a nice set of instructions I found on the net.

I managed to get my Google cal into my Outlook, which made me very happy. When I tried to go the other way, it didn't do anything. I fiddled with it a bit more, to no avail. So I tried to start over. At this point, I apparently did something very stupid, and Remote Calendars deleted my ENTIRE outlook calendar, with no warning. Boom, gone.

Maybe I should have backed up my calendar first, but I didn't think of that, and it wasn't listed in the instructions. I spent a good hour recreating my Calendar, and promptly uninstalled Remote Calendar.

Out of 5 stars, I give them -1! Installation wasn't too bad, setup was difficult, it did not do what I expected it to do, and somehow or another it completely destroy my Calendar.

My second test was gSyncit

This one is costs $9.99, and is therefore less popular. However, it has an evaluation mode that is free. In evaluation mode you can sync one Google Calendar to one Outlook Calendar. It is not a time limited evaluation mode. It does not auto-sync in evaluation mode. It can be found here.

Install was a breeze here. I downloaded it, ran the file. It put a little icon in my system tray. When I loaded up outlook it asked for my Google username and password. It then let me setup a connection between my Google Calendar and my Outlook. I hit sync, it synced everything, both ways, I rejoiced.

I tried deleting, adding, and modifying items in both Outlook and Google seeing how it worked. Since it didn't autosync I had to keep hitting the button to test it, which resulted in a little popup window that would go away if I registered. Everything on the Outlook end of things worked smoothly. The Google side was a little less than smooth. Google didn't seem to like it when you change an appointment while viewing it, but nothing major.

But, Outlook must be running for it to sync. I guess it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

txt 4 pizza

The other day I decided to order some pizza from Papa Johns. I knew there was the ability to order pizza using text messages, so I wanted to try it out. Last time I ordered online I setup my account to be able to do it (which mostly required me to save a favorite order, save my credit card info, and enter in my cell phone number).

First of all, I didn't know who to text my order to. But I found it on their website after a bit of hunting around. And then the conversation between me and that automated system began. Let me show you the dialog we had

Me: Fav
PJ: TXT FAV1 to order Favorite1
Me: Fav1
PJ: Reply Y1 to confirm order of yadayada $18.98 NOW CASH
Me: N1
PJ: You have cancelled your FAVORITES order.
Me: Fav1 pay 9999
PJ: 9999 is not accepted for this order. Reply PAYMENTS for a list of your Payment Types.
Me: Payments
PJ: 1) VS9999 2) Cash 3) Check
Me: 1
PJ: Sorry but we did not understand your request.
Me: Fav1 pay vs9999
PJ: Reply Y1 to confirm order of FAV1 yadayada $18.98 NOW VS9999
PJ: If you would like to add a TIP reply TIP and the amount (18% $3.42)
Me: Tip 4
PJ: Thank you for your order, yada yada
PJ: Thank you for your order. FAV1 will be delivered in approx 30-40 minutes.

Did you read all that? Nah, I didn't figure so. It was a pain! It would have been quicker to call. It would have been quicker to order online. It would have been quicker to use messenger pigeon!!!

Apparently they also think you should tip 18%. Interesting. I usually pick a random number depending on service, how poor I'm feeling, and how thankful I am to have someone else bringing me food. That day, I was hungry, so $4 bucks it was. In the end, it took over an hour for the pizza to get there. In retrospect, I shoulda tipped less, but the text messaging system didn't tell me the pizza was going to be late when it asked for my tip amount.

Next time though, I have it figured out. I'm gonna try typing in "Fav1 pay vs9999 Tip 4" and see what happens.