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Thursday, June 24, 2004

"Life, The Universe and Everything"

Researching a previous column got me to thinking about the influence of speculative fiction author Douglas Adams with regards to Internet nomenclature.

Aside from partially inspiring the name of, Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series has also influenced Cerulean Studios ( ), creators of the immensely useful Instant Messaging program "Trillian".

Instant Messaging software, for those not familiar, was once described to me as nothing more than the modern evolution of the telegraph. In reality, instant messaging is 1000 times more useful, allowing Internet users from around the world to meet and communicate freely, without the restrictions and fees normally associated with long distance communication.

Currently available in a free and "Pro" version, Trillian is capable of concurrently connecting to the 4 largest instant messaging services: AIM, Yahoo!, MSN and ICQ, as well as IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Running multiple instant messaging programs has always been tricky, as well as draining on system resources, which makes Trillian a great boon to Internet users that have friends spread over multiple instant messaging services.

Trillian's only limit comes from the fact that it lacks some of the more robust features found in Instant Messaging programs provided directly from the various services, which means you won't be able to play with the drawing board in Yahoo! Messenger. At the same time, you will be able to enjoy the fact that Trillian is completely advertisement free, a rarity among free software currently available on the Internet.

Another technological marvel owing to Adams' stories is "Deep Blue", International Business Machine's grandmaster level chess computer: . Deep Blue is of course a combination of IBM's common nickname, "Big Blue" and The Hitchhiker's Guide "Deep Thought".

After initially losing to chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, acknowledged is probably the greatest living chess player, the second incarnation of Deep Blue went on to beat Kasparov in 1997 a year after their initial duel.

The "Babel Fish", a fictional creation of Adams, used for the purpose of universal language translation has found a home on the World Wide Web in the form of: . The real world Babel Fish is an extremely useful website offering translation tools to and from a wide range of earthly languages.

Anyone still not convinced as to the legacy of Douglas Adams influence on the Internet should visit and search for the following phrase (sans quotes): "answer to life the universe and everything".

posted by Kusari 9:24 PM

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