First of all, I must admit that I like odd software. I like applications that push the edge of available technologies and do things that you’d never even consider doing with your computer. It’s with this in mind that I went out in search of a free talking desktop buddy to add to my new Sony Vaio list of installed apps.
My requirements were pretty simple. I wanted a little character in the lower right corner of the screen that talks to me and interacts with me when I want it to, and otherwise keeps its trap shut when I don’t. I wanted a little dude that’s helpful and functional, but wouldn’t get in the way when I wanted to click on the screen.
With all of these requirements listed, I struck out in search of a cool application that could accomplish all of these things. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed for many hours. As my search grew old, I almost gave up. Other than countless websites with viruses or malware doubled as an alleged virtual desktop characters – there was no legitimate application to be found. That is until I landed on the very last link that I found – and then like that I discovered the perfect app, simply called DeskBot. Let me introduce you to my brand new free talking desktop buddy.
DeskBot, The Free Talking Desktop Buddy – It’s For Real
First of all, kudos to Gordon Bell at BellCraft Technologies for developing this cool little app and offering it for free. After installing the base application from the download page and running it, you’ll immediately discover a little blue Genie in the lower right corner of your screen, and you’re presented with the settings window.
The two features you can set up on this first screen are the ability for your character to read any text that you highlight and copy in a digitized voice, and in various intervals (which you can set), your little desktop buddy will tell you the current time. The next few tabs let you configure everything about the character.
The software comes default with the Genie or Merlin, and you can set the voice, the animations, whether a balloon appears when your character talks, and a whole bunch of other customizations. Now, as an aid for those learning to read or elderly who can’t read the small text on the screen, the next “Read” tab is fantastic.
Your desktop buddy is prepared, at any time, to read entire texts out loud for you. Just copy and paste the text into this screen and click on the green “Read” button – and your character comes to life and starts reading to you, complete with a pop-up balloon (if you’ve configured one). Now, the next tab is my favorite part of this little app.
This is where you can configure a variety of greetings that your little buddy will greet you with when your computer first starts up. I have to say, hearing the Microsoft digitized voice saying, “Let’s rock and roll” had me on the floor in stitches laughing. Honestly, the standard voices and characters just don’t cut it for me – they’re way too 1990’s for my taste. Thankfully, the DeskBot download page offers downloads for additional Microsoft Agent characters and voices (including French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).
To be honest, the default characters remind me too much of those annoying little animated guys in Word and Excel that keep getting in your way. So, searching through the characters, I found the guy I wanted – a bouncer guy wearing the most hilarious bright green suit.
This guy is a riot. When he’s bored he puts on sunglasses, drinks from a soda can and then chucks it off screen (complete with the sound effects of the clinking can).
Your new friend will greet you every time you start up your computer. You can open up entire text files and have your talking desktop buddy dictate the text while you finish other tasks. Your character will let you know the time as often as you like, and even while you’re working and don’t need the help, your little friend will wait patiently, snoozing or sleeping, until you need something.
Deskbot – link
Have you ever made use of any other applications with Microsoft Agent technology? Can you think of any other cool uses for DeskBot? Share your opinions in the comments section below.