From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS 11/07 - Robots, Part 2

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     \___/ \___/  "Why Surf When U Can Ride The Bus?"  \___/

Today's Stop: The Infobot
Today's Address:

Welcome back for more on mail robots.  Today we'll have some fun with
the Infomania Information by Mail server, or Infobot for short.
Infobot can be accessed by sending various commands to

and it can perform a variety of tasks including:

  ALMANAC        Looks up today in history (weather, trivia, etc)
  CALLSIGN       Looks up ham radio call sign {var}
  CHEF           Translate your message to Swedish Chef-ese
  FINDCD         Search a CD music catalog for titles of interest
  PI             Returns several thousand digits worth of PI
  TAIZE          Rev. Taize's daily bible verse
  TOPTEN         Get the latest Top-Ten list from the Letterman show
  TV2NITE        A list of what's on TV tonight (updated daily)
  WEATHER        Returns weather info for US & Canada
  WHOIS          Look up domain registration with the internet

There are a slew of others, some useful and some arcane.  To get the
entire list of Infobot functions, send a message
with HELP in the Subject line (not the message body).  Let's look at the
results of a few of the above options...

The Electronic Almamac

To get the ALMANAC info, we'll send a message to Infobot with
  Subject: ALMANAC
The returned message dutifully informs me that we have reached

  Day 311 and Week 45 of the current year,
  With just 48 shopping days until Christmas!

Other returned tidbits include the fact that today is John Phillip Sousa's
birthday, and that Jacob Schick was issued a patent for the electric razor
72 years ago.  Also included are times for sunrise/sunset and NFL (football)
schedules for your perusal.

The Sveedish Chef!

Remember this fun fella from The Muppet's TV show?  Well the Infobot can
take any text you send it and turn it info ChefSpeak.  My apologies to the
119 TOURBUS subscribers who call Sweden home, but I asked our virtual chef
to translate the phrase "My name is Elmer J. Fudd, I own a mansion and a
yacht" and was treated to this bit of eloquence:

  My neme-a is Ilmer J. Foodd.  I oovn a munseeun und a yecht.
  Bork Bork Bork!

Use Subject: CHEF and place your text in the message BODY to try your own.

Hamming It Up

Are you into ham radio?  The Infobot can tell you a person's real name
given a "call sign" (or vice versa) and even return a list of ham radio
operators in a specific U.S. zipcode.  I just queried my own zipcode and
found 3 hams on my block!  Try one of:

  Subject: CALLSIGN xxxxxx  (substitute an actual call sign)
  Subject: CALLZIP 60601

The CD Finder

Looking for a special music CD?  Try the FINDCD service - an online
catalog that will display CD's containing your search string.  You can
even order CD's from the company that provides this service.  Never done
it myself, but I hear their prices are reasonable.  Try:

  Subject: FINDCD Pink Floyd

Have a Slice of PI

When I was 16 and bored one summer afternoon I actually memorized 50
digits of the value of the mathematical constant PI.  Now you know I'm
a true geek, because 17 years later I can still spout it off (sort of).
Anyway, this feat pales in comparison to the fact that InfoBot can
rattle off OVER 20,000 DIGITS of PI.  Yikes!  Here are the first 500
or so digits, as returned by Subject: PI

  3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510
    5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679
    8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128
    4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196
    4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091
    4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273
    7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436
    7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094
    3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548
    0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912

Memorize them for Thursday - Patrick may spring a pop quiz.  :-)

Try These At Home

It's just gone 2:30 AM here, so I'll stop the Bus now and let you try
TOPTEN, TV2NITE and WEATHER on your own.  But before we wrap, I thought
that today's quote from taken from the midday prayer of the Taize
Community in France (via Subject: TAIZE) was appropriate in light of
recent world events:

  Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous, boastful or conceited.
    Love does not seek its own advantage, it does not take offence or
       harbour grievances. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but
                   finds its joy in the truth. (1 Co 13)

Shalom, fellow riders!     -Bob Rankin

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