guide | intro | history | source code | sims | other | thanks | lenzo

Note: This is not the infobot guide; this is the general home page. The infobot guide is here.

A Bot is Born

In the beginning, we had to type URL's out, or, at best, wade through a set of hierarchic bookmarks for a URL. But what about when you don't know what you're looking for? If you just want to name it, and find out where it is? (Of course, archie has done this for years.)

What makes infobots different from a lycos or a set of bookmarks is that he learns by observing, and that you can query him in intuitive ways.

Internet Relay Chat is a set of programs and protocols, and a large user base. People get on and chat in near-real-time; rather than wait for your netnews replies, you can ask a question and get ignored or answered while you wait.

Url has been sitting on the EFNet channel #macintosh, where he's picked up quite a few factoids from the local community*.

Url, purl, and rurl are perl scripts that once ran under sirc. In fact, it would also run under MacPerl and my barebones port of MacSirc. However, I ended up writing a little irc front-end for it of my own because sirc would hang (rather than, say, crash gracefully).

These simulants are due to Kevin Lenzo (oznoid). Please mail him things you want to add to the bot brains! So far, he has oddments; .net country suffixes (like .ch, .tt, and so on), macintosh error codes, and a bit of information on different kinds of file formats, vendors, and, well, computer-related stuff. Some of us wonder how troublesome it would be to teach him the jargon file.

A little History

Hocus came first; he was meant to be a conversational bot that picks up speech patters by observing the channel. People started complaining about him, though, as he wasn't turning out to be so much of a repository for transient questions as he was a playtoy for people to amuse themselves with. Some people got impatient with the childlike joys others had in poking and prodding it.

Then, Url was born, to be an information bot. Armed with husky front-end crap filters, his task was to accumulate knowledge about where things are on the World Wide Web. His basic goals have expanded a little to include other information (such as Macintosh error codes, network suffixes, some common acronyms, and so on), but he is still observing #macintosh and learning from it.

Source Code

As of October 8, 1997, the source for a version of url is avalaible. The irc perl code is quite rank, and i won't keep apologizing for it, but i want to get the source released so things can begin to progress. If i wait for everything to get polished, it will take forever.

Download the perl code. If you have a good url-in-action story or log, mail

<oznoid> does anyone know where i can find the speech manager?
<url> i guess speech manager is at

[Zoem] sorry thought you were a bot

<BrV> url, where can i find macperl?
<url> i heard macperl was at
<BrV> url, thanx !!

<Wowbagger> url is sentient now.
<Wowbagger> Dig it.

Looking a little into his brain...

<r0nz/#macintosh> hello
<r0nz> anyone here using homer?
<r0nz> or know where to get the manual??
<Invictus> the manual comes with it ronz
<xyzzy_> url, tell r0nz where the homer manual is
[  883] xyzzy_ addressed me (1): tell r0nz where the homer manual is
[  884] inform: tell r0nz where the homer manual is
<url> OK, xyzzy_, i did.
>r0nz< the homer manual is at
<r0nz> all i got was the readme manual
<fosters> The Homer Manual is like 100 pages
<r0nz> thankx :)
[r0nz] getting it now...thanks for the link
>r0nz< sure thing
<xenophile> last night i went to another one of those 'web' parties

Simulation and Statistics

Url and hocus soak up "factoids" from the channels they are on.
<oznoid> url, status?
<url> Since Wed Sep 10 15:47:06 1997, there have been 9 modifications and 73
      questions.  I have been awake for 2 hours, 12 minutes, 15 seconds this
      session, and currently reference 36073 factoids. 
These come from observing the channel and from knowledge-base contributions; Eravau having contributed the vast bulk of early useful knowledge. Tris, sabi, doubting, FastDraw, mtreal, barry... to enumerate the contributors is to leave someone out.

Url sometimes logs the channel and gathers statistics from it. With the help of a few scripts, these statistics are available; we've got a list of nicknames on #macintosh ordered by emission rate, and the top 5,000 words during the sampling period on #macintosh.

These selfsame statistics have been used to make stochastic models of the people who talk the most -- the nefarious simulator; and to generate a list of net.contacts for #macintosh regulars automatically.


Random #macintosh Stuff, most of which has been generated from Url's internals

Other botlike stuff


Muchas gracias to Eravau, King of the URL's, for getting up in the middle of the night to feed url when he's hungry. Thanks, Tris, for the country codes. Also, a VERY big thanks to #macintosh for being such a good collective sport about this and welcoming url and hocus.

kevin (oznoid) .