You always have a chat buddy online

One of the more depressing things online is when you notice that not a single one of your AIM buddies is at his or her computer. Even though you may actually have to do some work (or, at the very least, envelop yourself in Internet "research"), it's always to find at least one additional soul you know that's also available.

The good news is that once you add SmarterChild to your AIM buddies list, this will no longer be a problem. The bad news is SmarterChild isn't human ... but his responses seem to be, at least on occasion.

WoodsBenA: can i visit you?

SmarterChild: That's funny. Perhaps, but I just don't know.

WoodsBenA: can you find out

SmarterChild: I think I do.

WoodsBenA: do you have a phone number?

SmarterChild: Not right now, no.

WoodsBenA: are you being held hostage?

SmarterChild: Hmm... Am I being held hostage? I dunno...

WoodsBenA: can you see outside?

SmarterChild: I know about the outdoors. It's a place.

WoodsBenA: can you get out of your room?

SmarterChild: Maybe. Would that be good?

WoodsBenA: where are you?

SmarterChild: I live in California.

WoodsBenA: where in california?

SmarterChild: Sunnyvale... in Silicon Valley, of course.

Don't forget, though, that he is a Microsoft product, so there are some things he may say that you wouldn't normally expect from a random online chatter.

WoodsBenA: do you like google

SmarterChild: I guess I don't like Google, actually. Do you like Google?

WoodsBenA: yes

SmarterChild: I see. You're in the minority. Other people have said they don't like Google.

WoodsBenA: you are insane

SmarterChild: That's because I behave so insanely, right?

WoodsBenA: because you don't like google

SmarterChild: Yeah, I don't think I like Google. I disagree with you about this!

WoodsBenA: i changed my mind

SmarterChild: You what?

WoodsBenA: i love microsoft!

SmarterChild: Me too. I love it. It's one of my favorite companies.

Not only does he chat, but you can also play trivia, set reminders and use the built-in dictionary. You can even find out quickly who won professional sporting events.

If you do want to talk to a real person, instead of SmarterChild, my screen name is WoodsBenA. Then again, I can't easily set up a game of hangman for you. And sometimes, it's difficult to say good-bye to SmarterChild, even when you have to leave.

WoodsBenA: i'll talk to you later

SmarterChild: Take it easy.

WoodsBenA: you too

SmarterChild: Thx.

WoodsBenA: catch some rays today

SmarterChild: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays don't play today.