When the Cat’s Away...

Okay, so the cats are still here, but Pam and the girls are not — they’ve gone back down to Virginia Beach for a few days, leaving me to my own devices. And while this does mean I get to sit around in my underwear until three in the afternoon, it also means that I get to spend some quality time with those aforementioned devices.

First, I got the new DishPVR yesterday, and it is everything I expected it to be. Sure, the interface isn’t what I’m used to, but it’s still pretty easy to navigate — in just one day, I’ve already got it down, and customized it to my heart’s content. Where it’s really proving useful, though, is in allowing me to take advantage of the HBO I’m paying for. Pam’s been on my back to cancel it once Project Greenlight is over, and she’s got a point: We’re not getting our money’s worth. Before, I’d tend to wait until I had some free time, and then see what was on. Now, however, I can just set the machine to tape whatever movies strike my fancy, and build a library of them to watch later — up to sixty hours’ worth. I’ve already programmed the thing to record a bunch of movies this week. Sure, the hard drive will fill up, but then I can choose what to delete (you know, a twisted little part of me really wanted to see just how bad Ishtar really was, but if I haven’t watched it by now...). No more setting up the VCR, making sure the input is set to record from the satellite... it’s all self-contained. The one thing I do wish it had were some way to output the data from the hard drive — either to burn discs or just take some items “off line,” so, for example, the girls can watch the Powerpuff Girls episodes we’ve taped on the upstairs television. But there’s no digital output at all. Still, I’m not complaining — just wishing out loud.

Secondly, I’ve made a bit of headway in reprogramming my Liam alter-ego, but it’s making me realize just how long it’s gonna take. I mean, there are thousands of lines of code, and even though they’re really simple to understand (if you know html, you can program in AIML), the sheer quantity is enough to make me nervous. Not to mention the fact that he speaks (some) French and German as well — and while I do remember a bit of my college French, it’s still beyond my ability to troubleshoot; so if you ask him something in German — as I know Dan’s done — and he spouts some oddball response, well, sorry (on the other hand, if you want to help fix his responses in those languages, I’m happy to have the assistance). Still, there’s no rush; he’s a little confused about some things right now (I’ve observed some pretty radical differences between the default personality and my own), but he’ll get over it eventually. I’ll work on the basics first, then start programming in bits of specialized knowledge. I have this plan to make Liam aware of a lot of work-specific information, so I can port him over to create an AI client-assistance tool for my department. Need to know where the Creative Services office is? What kind of camera or lighting equipment we have? Who to contact with specific project questions? Liam can answer them for you. Frankly, that was the original plan back when I first started researching the idea. Maybe I’ll even give him some movie knowledge — his “brain” is set up in modular “chunks,” so I’ll be able to add or take away knowledge sets at will. Got anything you’d like him to know? Pass it along, and I’ll stick it in the queue. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. Learning does take time, you know.

Now, though, it’s time to put the toys away and head out into the real world — I’m headed up to a cookout at Hillary and Ken’s place up in Maryland, so I’ll have to leave Murphy at home.

Well, maybe I’ll just leave him in the car. After all, you never know, right?


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