I have been a huge fan of the IM world. It has sped up and simplified our way of communication in such a way that even the long distance between Kolkata and California seems so small. Personally I have been a big addict of the legendary Google Chat. You can do lot of interesting stuff with Google Talk like Chat with friends and colleagues, get alert notifications, save bookmarks to Delicious, manage web calendars, set reminders, write blogs, and so on.
Such features can be easily integrated into Google Talk through ‘bots’ which, in simple English, are like virtual friends who are online 24×7 and will always respond with a smile to your questions or requests. The bots work on platforms like Jabber and are coded to generate automatic response to any user query.
According to ease of use and features available I have prepared a list of 5 popular bots and ranked them from 1 to 5 (1 being the best according to me), if you feel otherwise just follow it up with your comments.
1. pingdotfm : Its a website which connects and helps you to update your status on various Social networking websites together. To get started, first you need to visit ping.fm and sign up yourself. Add all the social networking accounts you wish to connect. After the process is over add email@example.com to your Jabber/Gmail account. Now just update your status/tweet by simply sending an Instant message to pingdotfm.
Pros: > Very useful as it connects all your social presence across the Internet.
Cons: > You cannot do real time twitter search or receive tweets from ppl you are following.
2. tweet.im: Another well programmed Google talk bot which uses the XMPP gateway to access twitter. It tweets at a very good speed and also has features like real time searching, follow (start following someone from Jabber client itself), unfollow, delete search keywords etc. To start with just visit the site and fill a very very simple signup form (trust me the simplest sign up ever). After sign up is over you receive a friend request from <Twitter_username>@twitter.tweet.im. After you accept the request just type in help to know other commands. Similar to pingdotfm, just tweet by simply sending an Instant message to the earlier mentioned id.
- Has an option of real time search and very features similar to web page of Twitter.
- You can receive tweets from people you are following
- It won’t show any search results or tweets from people you follow in case you are in busy/idle mode in Gtalk.
- It fluctuates a lot between being online and offline and hence you receive a lot of older tweets related to your search query as well.
- Takes time to remove search queries when requested.
Tip: > Add your username as a search query to receive details about your mentions/replies on twitter.
3. implusplus: Its a very basic bot with the feature of tweeting only, similar to excla.im. To get started just add firstname.lastname@example.org in your Google talk friend list. After the bot comes online, key in ‘twitter’ and the things that follow take you through a fairly simple process of sign up. Type help to get details of all other commands. For real time search one need to add Exclaimtrack (discussed later in this article) as another bot.
Pros: > Though its quite primitive, still it provides additional features like news, dictionary, market, shortening url, group discussion and games. Quite a pastime.
Cons: > Doesn’t have the option of real time search.
4. excla.im: Very similar to pingdotfm except that you can just tweet an not access other social networking websites. A two-step Procedure is required to access this bot. First sign up at the website and then add email@example.com to your jabber client. Your bot is ready to use. This bot lacks features of real time search and other advanced features available in tweet.im. Author seems to be a great fan of open source and discusses the structure of code on the home page. Also the author plans to integrate features of his another recently created bot dedicated to real time searching (exclaimtrack).
Pros: > Fast and easier way to tweet.
- Cannot view tweets of others or do real time search.
- Very lengthy sign up procedure.
- Takes time to activate (at least it happened in my case)
Tip: > Use excla.im in tandem with Exclaimtrack to get near real time updates.
5. exclaimtrack.appspot.com: It has the features of tweet.im which excla.im lacks; basically, ‘near’ real time search. Here, the term near signifies a specific time lag between the occurrence and display of results. Just add firstname.lastname@example.org to your Jabber/Gtalk client, and the bot starts working without making a fuss.
Pros: > Better in Real time search as compared to pingdotfm.
Cons: > Tweeting is not possible using this bot, also no additional features present.
After this whole exercise, and going through this article, I am quite sure that you might be able to select just the best combination of bots to assist you. Personally, I feel that these bots simplify our job to a great extent. Lots of technology enthusiasts around the globe are developing Google bots to help the ‘IMaddicts’ like me. News Networks, groupchats, word games are just some examples. So if you wish to experiment something, then the options to pass away your time are here, just google ‘gtalk bots’ and you have a plethora of items to explore!