As the years have gone by and I’ve got a bit older, the Internet has turned from a place of leisure and fun into one of work and business. I really have little time to spare when I’m sitting at the computer. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to check Facebook is an extravagance. The same goes for sending and receiving information. If I can ever find a way to speed up the process of getting news, posting updates and keeping track of things, I’ll jump on it.
Recently, I started exploring the potential of using bots on my website to interact with my visitors. After accomplishing that task, I thought that it might be worthwhile to explore what other bots still exist out there that might have some useful features. Most people have their chat client always open and sitting off to the side or at the bottom of the screen, so why not put that chat client to use while it’s open?
The Ebb & Flow Of Chatbots
If you’ve ever started using chatbots even just a few years ago, you’ve probably noticed that a vast majority of them have fallen by the wayside. All sorts of bots that used to let you do things like search different search engines, get task reminders or get RSS feeds via IM are now no longer active. These days, it’s pretty difficult to find a service that offers up RSS feeds via IM.
That seems to be the case for Gtalk bots, but not so much Twitter. Kyle wrote about 10 Twitter bots here at MUO back in 2008, and those Twitter bots are mostly all still active. But in my opinion, having access to information in Google Talk is really useful, and thankfully there are still some really good Gtalk bots out there.
If you just want to make quick updates to your Twitter profile, then ExclaimBot is the way to go. It’s actually spelled “excla.im“.
What I like about this Bot is its simplicity. You visit the site, provide authorization for it to post to your Twitter account, and you’re done. Just add email@example.com to your friends list in Google Talk, and everything you send that user will get posted to your Twitter account instantly.
The only drawback is that you won’t be able to automatically shorten URL links, but using some external service like Bitly, that’s not a problem.
Now you don’t have to open a new browser or any desktop client to post a quick Twitter update, just type it up in Gtalk, hit enter and you’re done. Another good service for this, by the way, is ChitterIM. Either service works just as well.
If you’re looking for an all-around useful bot that does a whole list of tasks, you can’t go wrong by adding firstname.lastname@example.org to your buddy list. Send the command “weather boston, ma“, and you’ll get the current weather conditions, as well as a quick forecast for that area. Send it “define ironic” and you’ll receive a definition of the word. Type “web Android” and you’ll get a Wikipedia blurb of the term as well as a mobile link to full search engine results.
There’s just a short list of commands available – score, weather, define and translate – plus you can type in math calculations and the guru will solve it for you.
Get RSS Feeds With Push-Bot
After hunting around for hours to find a Gtalk bot that would serve up RSS feeds via IM, I was really excited to discover that Push-Bot is still available. Most of the popular ones written about at sites like Lifehacker and Labnol are no longer active, so I was getting very disappointed before discovering Push-Bot.
Using the service is ridiculously easy. Type /subscribe or /unsubscribe followed by the URL to add or remove a feed from your list. Use /list-subscriptions to see all of the feeds that you’ve subscribed to. Whenever one of your feeds updates, you’ll get a message in Gtalk from Push-Bot with the update and a link. This is my favorite Gtalk bot.
Xpenser For Tracking Business Expenses
At this point in my life, I have to track several areas of expenses. When I’m off to training for my day job, I need to keep track of all costs so that I can fill out an expense report. For my online business, I need to track all expenses for tax purposes. In either case, Xpenser gives me the convenience that I need to record those expenses right from my phone using Gtalk. This is my second favorite Gtalk bot.
First, you’ll need to sign up for an Xpenser account where all of your entries will get logged.
After that, add email@example.com to your buddy list. All you have to do is send it the expense, the amount, and ending notes. The bot will fill out that record for you on your expense report in your Xpenser account.
You can log in later to see all of the entries you’ve made while you were away from your computer.
This is easily the fastest and most convenient way to log expenses right away before you forget. Firing off a one-line instant message is even easier than most of the mobile apps available today that will do expense tracking for you.
Take Quick Notes With MayaFile
If your memory is anything like mine, then the mayafile Gtalk bot will be a lifesaver for you too. Using it couldn’t be any easier. Just add firstname.lastname@example.org to your buddy list, and then use the command “store <note>” to store the message you want to remember later.
Then, just type “find” to see all of your notes, or use “find <keyword>” to retrieve a specific note or notes using a keyword search. It’s like having a memory in your Gtalk client.
Have you ever used any of these IM bots? Do you know of any others that work well in Gtalk? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below!
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