This week NetSpeak takes a re-look at tools that enable us to monitor Internet content via instant messenger clients. The ubiquitous messenger has evolved substantially from being a mere communication tool. Remindr, the application made for sending reminders is one such tool worth a look.

As discussed in the past Instant messaging (IM) has evolved substantially from being a mere communication tool. With the help of IM bots (an IM bot is a software based virtual IM buddy) one can retrieve a variety of information. We can use them to obtain real-time news bits from different sources, twitter updates and the like.

A few such IM bots (mainly Gmail/gTalk-based ones) are discussed here. If you are a researcher, it is likely that you visit a host of web sites regularly for updating on your subject.

For instance, a business analyst may be keen to obtain the latest happenings in his domain. Visiting each of the relevant sites everyday is certainly not a feasible proposition.

Newsfeeds may be a better solution but one may not always get time to read all of them daily.

A mechanism that pushes relevant content as and when it appears is the best possible alternative. The free service notify.me enables you to do this.

The service can be used to obtain the latest information from specified sites/services on one’s IM interface automatically. For this, you just have to create an account with notify.me and provide the URL of the site/service to be monitored.

Apart from the IM client, the service can be configured to push the content through other channels as well like SMS, and e-mail.

If you are a Twitter user and wish to tweet (or receive tweets) via gTalk, try out the service tweet.im . Once your gtalk/twitter accounts are integrated with the service, it will immediately add an IM bot into the gTalk contact list. Once this virtual buddy is live on your friend list, the twitter updates from your friends will start appearing on your gTalk.

In addition, you can send your twitter updates via this buddy too.

IM bots meant for other tasks (besides content monitoring) also exist. Remindr, the application made for sending reminders is one such IM tool worth a look.

To use this service, simply access its link (http://remindr.info/) and submit a reminder by entering its text and other details (like reminder delivery date/time and gtalk account details). Once this is done, the service will display the reminder message on your gTalk client at the specified time.

Askme.im is another service worth a look in this regard.

The service hosts instant messenger buddies for diverse tasks such as cricket scores, currency conversion and URL shortening. For instance, the calculator bot ( calc@askme.im) lets you easily compute a mathematical expression by entering it into the chat window.

Language typing tools

With the proliferation of the Net across the country, lots of people seriously attempt to generate content in Indian regional languages.

Creating content in Indian languages is no more an issue, given the availability of several on-line and off-line typing tools like the Google Indic Transliteration tool (http://www.google.com/transliterate/indic), discussed in the past. The on-line editor Quilpad (tipped off to this author by a NetSpeak friend from Hyderabad) is yet another of this kind. This transliteration tool lets you type the local language text in English and it converts this text into the corresponding local language script.

Quilpad ( http://www.quillpad.in/hindi/) supports several Indian languages that include Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarathi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Another transliteration tool worth a mention is Baraha (http://www.baraha.com/index.htm).

Besides BarahaPad, the software that enables you to create documents in Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and the like, Baraha comes bundled with an input method editor called BarahaIME. This program helps you easily change the text input language. Chatting in Indian languages becomes easier with this tool.

Another means to type in Indian languages is to install the Lipikar Firefox extension ( http://www.lipikaar.com/). Once this extension is installed, you will find the Lipikar icon at the right side of the Firefox status bar. Whenever you wish to type in an Indian language, click on this icon and select the input language.

While searching for content in a local language (say Hindi) this extension could come in handy. Before entering the keyword in the search box, change the input language to the appropriate local language and type in the string.

The search engine will produce web pages that contain this local language keyword.

Unicodeonline (http://www. unicodeonline.com/index.htm) is another service that hosts several web based Indian language text editors. Here, you can access editors for Indian languages such as Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Gujarathi, Tamil and Malayalam. The service offers both keyboard based and transliteration based editors.

WriteKA (http://www.writeka.com/index.html) is yet another service in which lots of Indian language tools are hosted. Some of the useful stuff available here include an Indian language news portal (http://news.writeka.net/), and search plug-ins for searching local content.

The Desi version of Google suggest (like the Google suggest’s Tamil version: http://www.google.co.in/intl/ta/) can also be used for finding content in local language.

On-line dictionaries for Indian languages are also in place - like the Hindi on-line dictionary Shabdkosh ( http://www.shabdkosh.com/),

Malayalam dictionary Mashithantu (http://mashithantu.com/) and the like. Freelang (http://www.freelang.net/dictionary/index.php#liste) is another place where one can find dictionaries in several Indian languages.

Webfeed search engine

As discussed in this column earlier, one of the means to track content is to subscribe to webfeeds of blogs/sites relevant to the topic being tracked.

The effectiveness of this content monitoring method depends on the quality of blogs/sites you track.

Finding newsfeeds relevant to one’s domain is very important. Webfeed search engines help us find appropriate feeds. Feedmil ( http://www.feedmil.com/) is one such search service worth a test.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com

Keywords: NetSpeakJ. Murali