As Traffick has noted in the past, Ask Jeeves!
is not as clever as he looks; nor is he a search engine that will
help you with every problem.
Still, we need to give the old codger his due.
We've been remiss in pointing to the major advantage of Jeeves:
the premise that a service could be developed to handle the "sweet
spot" of common research problems and ordinary human conundrums.
So, herewith, some examples of this unique answer service in action.
The rating system here is easy to follow: Jeeves'
response, and the speed with which you get your problem solved,
will be rated one of "Great Scott, you've done it again, Jeeves!,"
"satisfactory," or "outta my way, grandpa."
1. What time is it here?
Let's say you screw up the time on your computer.
You're too lazy to go find a clock. Your watch was eaten by wolves.
Where's the darn web site with the real time on it? We asked Jeeves.
No problem, we found the time in under 30 seconds. Rating: satisfactory.
2. Why can't I tie my shoe?
You're drunk. You are late for the second party
of the evening, after changing your shoes, soiled through careless
walking. You must leave! Sociability beckons! But you can't find
the handle. What can Jeeves do for us here, besides suggesting that
he just shine your existing shoes while you stand and wait? In this
case, Jeeves could not help out with the explanation "you're drunk
- wear sandals" or anything remotely close. We were served up pitiable
suggestions like "Where can I find the comic strip 'Shoe'" and were
beckoned to buy Adidas shoes online. Jeeves' closest answer was
a sponsored link (he likes those) from Sprinks about child readiness
for kindergarten. Rating: outta my way, grandpa.
3. What is the word I'm looking for?
We've all done it, been in the middle of a sentence
like... "...it's as if she had misplaced her old youthful... youthful...
what is the word I'm looking for?" Usually, your friend will jump
in and at least try to help. Sometimes, she'll even hit the nail
right on the head. "INSOUCIANCE!!!" your friend shouts.
Not Jeeves. He comes back with nothing more than
a bunch of Mamma metasearch results, one of which is a WebMD article
"Do You Want to Feel Sexier?" Hmm, when you can't win on brains, fool
'em with sex. Clever, old man, clever. Rating: satisfactory.
4. How many grams in a teaspoon?
Just try finding this one anywhere online in
a form you can comprehend. Jeeves leaves us to sift through the
usual maddening tables. The best we find is that 1 teaspoon = 5mL.
That's a liquid measure, and I guess if it were water, that might
mean that the weight would also be 5 grams. But Jeeves, like most
of the sources out there, seems unwilling to provide hard-hitting
answers to this puzzling problem. Rating: satisfactory.
5. Are we there yet?
Admittedly, we just asked this one to get the
old guy's goat. He seems to have been prepared for it, though. The
most prominent result was an article from 4Grandfathers.com called
"Are We There Yet? Advice for Traveling with Children." Rating:
"Great Scott, You've Done it Again, Jeeves!"
6. What, exactly, is butylated hydroxytoluene?
The time-honored time-waster, reading ingredients
from the back of the cheese doodles bag, often leads to
the moment when the preservative-addled participants seriously want
to know what it is they've been ingesting. Jeeves doesn't pull any
punches here, understanding the question and directing us to "more
information about the food additive BHA and BHT," a medical study
which addresses carcinogenity and everything. Rating: "Great Scott,
You've Done it Again, Jeeves!"
7. Will the Chiefs cover on Monday night?
We've all heard people say "why don't these psychics
go down to Vegas and make a million dollars?" Apparently, the psychic
business doesn't work that way. The deal is, psychics make money
from pretending to be psychics. Football prognosticators, in the
best case, make money by writing funny jokes before posting their
picks. And Jeeves, of course, makes his money pretending to know
the answers to stuff.
Let's see if the debonair older gent can find
us a winner. With a few glances past some silly encyclopedia entries
about the word "chief," we quickly find a relevant sponsored link
courtesy Sprinks. Skip Gibson, About's Guide to Fantasy Leagues
(um, shouldn't he be telling us to start Christian Fauria at tight
end, or something, not telling us how to beat the spread?),
is telling us to take the Seahawks +3. Sorry to disagree, Skip,
we'll take the Chiefs at Arrowhead, because the Seahawks are the
only one of these two teams that stinks. (Hmm, wethinks this
might be an outdated page, since Skip is saying that "Joey Galloway
is back for the Seahawks" when Joey has since departed for the Cowboys
and suffered a season-ending injury.) Rating: outta my