Google Gadgets

Out of inteest the other day I set up a Google Home Page. It's fairly easy to do. You have to create an account but the instructions are all there at The account is free in line with Google's most enlightened policy.

At the heart of the whole Home Page system is the ability to add what they call 'Gadgets'. These are essentially a bar with a title which can expanded to show content. There a lot of them, including but not limited to News, Thingie (joke/picture/etc) of the Day, Weather, Specialised Search Engines and so forth. Some are fun, some are useful.

The really cool bit is you can add your own. There are detailed instructions on how to do this but essentially it is a small XML file into which you can embed HTML or, if you prefer, link to a URL. If you have your own website/web server this means you can write CGI scripts to add dynamic content.

Anyway, I created one such. It is a variant of the Eliza chatbot, one of the earliest of its kind. It is called 'Demon Chat' and allows you to chat with a bot pretending to be a demon. It's more cute than anything else and not all that convincing (neither was Eliza) but it can be fun.

I'm not making it public but you can add it to your page if you know the URL. On your Google Home Page:

  1. Click on 'Add stuff'
  2. Click on 'Add by URL' (up the top next to the Search Homepage Content button)
  3. Enter in the URL field and click Add
  4. Click on 'Back to homepage' and it should be there and look like this:

Click on the [+] button to get started. Let me know if you spot any problems or if you have had any good chats.


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