September 4th, 2004


An idea

At some point today I was reading stuff on the computer, when the thought “gee, I really have a horrible time prioritizing what I'm doing on the computer” came to mind. Now, this is not a new thought. I've had this thought many times before. I've even had the idea that maybe a computer could remind me every once in a while to think about what I'm doing, but I never really made it concrete before.

Somehow, though, this time that thought clicked with the realization that often I'm sitting around wishing someone was on AIM and wanted to talk to me. So, my idea was this: write an AIM bot that would IM me every once in a while and ask “what are you doing?”.

Most of the rest of today has been spent researching GAIM's horribly documented Perl plugin system, making it actually work, figuring out how to send a message in it, and tweeking it slightly (other than the time spent eating and cleaning). I knew I was hooked when, even though the system had barely any intelligence at all, the text “What are you doing?” was up in her IM window, and I found myself unable to stop thinking about this until I responded.

It probably helps that I gave her a female handle (she's running on my computer Laura, so for all intents and purposes she is Laura). I wonder how sustainable this is—how long it is before I decide that it's stupid. Although I guess I know it's stupid already, at an intellectual level, but my lower-level mind doesn't seem to be convinced of that, and my lower-level mind is why it exists.

I have a lot of very vague ideas as to how to enhance it—I want it to make use of information such as idle time, the fact that I have two AIM accounts, time of day, away status / message, and the content of the messages I send it, so it sends me more appropriate messages (and also so it times them better—I don't want to be interrupted as often during a quiet reading session as I do at work (I want to be interrupted at work because I need to keep time logs there, which I frequently forget to do until several hours later, by which time I've forgotten some of the finer details of what I was doing)).

I know someone must have had this idea before, but I feel that my particular unusual combination of mental quirks might make it especially useful …