A by-product of any onerous and impending task is that lots of energy is expended in avoiding it. If you are skilled, you can get the grass cut, bike fixed, laundry done and the weekly shopping all in the time it takes to proof-read a progress report.
However, sometimes a weightier project is required; one that can quickly knock off a solid couple of weekends with as much slack as you desire. One such distraction has been occupying me lately.
It’s pretty obvious that many text messages, instant messages and phone calls are produced simply to find out where you are (‘Im on the train!’) and whether you’d be available and amenable to some shared activity (‘cffe? ;;)’). Check your SMS inbox if you don’t believe me.
An idea that partially addresses this is termed ‘presence’. In fact, I already have this facility on my Nokia 6230 — in theory. In practice, I have a piece of software on my mobile that has no official presence servers to connect to. When I do find an implemented server and set myself up with an account it’s a pain to use. Of course no-one else is connected to it, or likely to be in the near future. All very frustrating. Meanwhile, people continue to abuse their MSN display name and group chat-boxes to try to achieve the same end.
So, what are the prospects for presence coming soon to you? Well, Nokia helpfully provide a developers guide which hilariously enumerates valid moods (table 88) Happy, Sad, Angry, Jealous, Ashamed, Invincible, In_Love [note the underscore!], Sleepy, Bored, Excited, Anxious. Seems more like a troupe of dwarves than imood. This document is copyrighted 2003. My network, Vodafone, were happy to have their ‘vodafone live!’ site come as my one-touch homepage. This is the service that will tell you the names and distances of local cinemas but wants 35p for directions and listings.
Convinced that this was actually pretty easy to do, I did it. It’s in the simplest HTML (check XHTML later) so you can access it via any new-ish mobile or your PC. You can think of it as a messenger status or passive texting or whatever you want. It’s designed to be simple, flexible and sociable. It’s also early beta, so go easy on it and don’t fret if it sometimes take a funny turn. I’ll be adding more features and refining it as I get the time and mood.
I know there are proper standards-based schemes out there but until they come on the scene I’m having to rely on bodtracker. The name is pretty self-explanatory.