March 11, 2007

Introducing my Robot

robot.jpgA couple of months ago I heard about Twitter for the first time. I logged onto it, created an account, and pretty much instantly decided that it served no purpose. Honestly, I just didn’t get it at all. A friend of mine, mostly on a lark, decided that he was not going to let Twitter die so easily and started using it. This slight encouragement got me to the point where I finally got it”. Now I find that I really have fun with Twitter and am using it fairly regularly (who knows for how long).  We even have a Twitter use case at work, where we make all of the MarketWatch breaking news bulletins available to Twitter users.

About a month ago I had an idea for an additional use of Twitter. I have a lot of things at home that I use a variety of scripts to monitor, or use tools like cacti to graph them. The problem with these is that they are typically never looked at after a while, and have no way of reaching me other than email. Thus my robot was born. Through Twitter, I created another account for thinglesBot. This account is the personification of my robot.

Initially my robot was obsessed with temperatures. Four times a day he provided the temperature outside the house. He also provided updates on the internal temperatures in the house, including the attic and very popular utility room. (Said friend above monitors the temperature in my utility room with glee.)

I’ve now made him a bit smarter, adding more event-based things. He now tells me when our solar panels turn on and off, provided there is enough sun to get them going. This is a great feature for me, and helps me feel better about all the investment into alternative energy. He’s also dipped ever so lightly into my office giving an update on how many emails I have in my inbox at the end of each day.

In reality my robot only exists via Twitter. He is nothing more than a collection of scripts that run on a handful of computers and post messages via curl. However, Twitter allows him to exist as him”, and be friends with me, and oddly, other people as well. Two people that I’ve never met, and don’t even live in the same state as I do, have made friends with my robot. Why they care to know the temperature outside my house is beside me, but cool nonetheless.

Welcome to the world, my robot.

PS - As an interesting aside, and a possible extension of my robot into the physical world it would be fun to have a Nabaztag WiFi rabbit as my robot’s familiar. He could speak through the Nabaztag. Hmm….

Updated with new robot icon and current features.

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