Mar 28, 2006

Nextin Public Beta!

Indeed it looks basic when it starts up, but rest assured Nextin is a definite step up from our original website as well as a faster and more streamlined version of EVO. On first glance, you see what looks like a desktop with a few menu options at the top - clean cut and ready to go. As with everything we do, there is alot more than meets the eye going on underneath it all.

Nextin is the successor to our original EVO Desktop and is much faster than it's original. Here you will find The beginning of something great (this is only a beta after all) with the following familiar menus: Programs, Documents, Online Email and Options. The programs menu contains links to Metaverse, Games, AIM and even the original Media Player (windows). Documents is where you will find the HTML version of the website, Latest updates, And a downloads folder where we place links to random downloads that are free for you :) The Online Email menu is self explainitory and features a handful of most common online emails.

The last menu (for now) contains Settings, Help and Search. Settings allows you to effectively choose a background for the website (which is cool) and it also does something else: It saves this setting for later. Set the desktop background and when you come back to our site later - it'll be the way you left it. We are working on integrating this preference save for the rest of the website (like menu docked or undocked and maybe even saving the open windows and positions). Also in the works: we are cleaning up the interface more and also allowing for themes.

The Help option is a quick overview of Nextin and how it works (still needs some polishing in the literary department), and Search is a Google search box. Now, another handy feature here is that all of the windows are draggable around the view area (just like a normal GUI).

Later in the development, we plan on bringing back the rest of the original programs we had availible from EVO (so expect a more robust programs menu) as well as some new additions. The 3D Login from our original site is still availible under Programs ->Metaverse

By the way: The Windows Media Player popup you see in the picture actually is running in Firefox. You want this ability as well? No problem! Scoot over to and search for IE Tab. It'll allow Firefox to run pages you specify using the Explorer engine (but not having to load the entire browser). It's pretty neat to have a hybrid browser :)

Mar 12, 2006

Artificial Intelligence

I was looking through the logs today for the Pandorabot (Serena) and found an interesting conversation. It wasn't one of those profound conversations, or even a general test by a random user. Instead what I read was in fact a random person insulting the bot, using vulgarity, and just generally getting a kick out of the fact that it was "just a stupid text parser".

Well, yeah... it's a text parser. That's what chat bots normally do. Did I mention that every conversation is stamped with time/date and IP address of the person talking to the bot? Apparently I must have been whispering for that duration :) Generally speaking - it's a text parser using AIML standard. To date, the AIML standard is one of the best there is to offer, winner of multiple prizes in artificial intelligence. Not that the bot we have is particularly intelligent out of the box. Nobody should expect it to be.

Serena is being interpreted by the Pandorabot service (Program Z) which adhere's closely to AIML standards. Unfortunately, CORe systems had some custom stuff in it that is completely incompatible with AIML (like some bug fixes and parsing corrections) and could not be fully merged with the AIML on the server. So alot of what the bot previously learned was useless to the ProgramZ interpreter.

So what does this do for people who make fun of the bot, call it names or just use random profanity? Nothing really. Currently the system is infantile in it's knowledgebase and needs to be trained through conversation. This is where users like you come in handy. If you talk with the bot and it gives incorrect answers - no worries, because it's all logged (with your IP address) so when we go back and check the logs, we can correct errors and train her better.

People swearing at the bot or purposely typing gibberish to confuse it are simply wasting time because logs like that are automatically deleted. But hey, if that's what you have planned to keep you busy on a Saturday night, don't let me stop you :)

Mar 2, 2006

The Hybrid Browser

Some would say that the purpose of Firefox as a browser is to close the numerous security holes found in Internet Explorer. Security holes like the use of Active X to embed programs that could possibly malicious in nature. Really, what Firefox does is it understands that while the possibility of malicious code on your computer via some form of loophole in Internet Explorer is possible - they simply remove the option altogether to eradicate any possibility of the end-user running malicious ActiveX.

So what if you actually want to run an ActiveX program that you know is from a trusted company? And let's go a little further and say, what if you want to have control over your own decisions and choose which sites should be allowed to run ActiveX and which should not?

Believe it or not, there is an option for all firefox users, and it doesn't involve firing up the Internet Explorer browser (which is large and clunky). It's called Firefox IE Tab and is availible at

Using this extension, Firefox users can now choose to view a webpage rendered in Firefox using Firefox or by Internet Explorer with a single click. This comes in handy when trying to see the Active Worlds embed on a website, like the one used on the VR5 Online website. It doesn't make any claims that running ActiveX will be safe, which is why this option is for people who are confident in the decisions they are making with such content.

At least with this plugin there is no longer such a thing as "This website designed for" or "This only works with [browser name]". You can use a single browser to view all content :)

We believe that this is quite possibly one of the best FireFox plugins availible (other than FasterFox) and is a definite must for avid cruisers of the Internet.