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What is Instant Informer?

Connecting to Instant Informer

Current Information Categories Category Details Technical Details


"Instant Informer" is a system connected to the Internet and to AIM and ICQ that answers very short messages with short responses.

Instant Informer's responses come from many sources, any of which may respond to a message. The response you receive for a particular message will be the combination of all of Instant Informer's sources' responses.

Because the response is a combination of several possible responses, you may get interesting results. For instance, "California", apparently, is a city on the east coast. So II's response to the message, "California" combines both CA and 139 miles southwest of Philadelphia PA, 70 miles south of Baltimore MD

For all currently understood messages, Instant Informer does not care about the "case" (UPPER or lower) of the characters in the message.


Current Information Categories

Category Example Message Example Response
Stock Symbol aol aol: 48.20 Change: -0.65 (-1.33%)
Area Code 213 CA
Airport Symbol LAX LOS ANGELES, CA
Country Telephone Code +39 Italy
Country Name Italy +39
US State Name Washington WA
US State Postal Abbreviation WA Washington: 509 425 564 360 253 206
US City Name Maple Valley 22 miles southeast of Seattle WA, 132 miles north of Portland OR
US ZIP Code 98038 98038:Maple Valley, Washington
Calculator (5+pi+14)*3 66.4247779607694 = (5+ 3.14159265358979 +14)*3
Time time 9:39pm Thursday April 25, 2002 -0700 (J:115)
Unix Fortune fortune It's sweet to be remembered, but it's often cheaper to be forgotten.
Insults insult If there's nothing to say, I'm sure you'll say it.
Ringtones ringtone Minor5c6:d=4,o=5,b=120:16p,16a6,32P,16d6,32P,16a#5,32P,
Headlines headline Gates: 'Microsoft would be crippled'
I Wish I Said That IWishISaidThat Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle. G. K. Chesterton
8 Ball 8ball Reply Hazy, Try Again
Multiple Queries AOL & Palm & wcom AOL: 49.50 Change: +2.25 (+4.76%) & Palm: 7.29 Change: +0.35 (+5.04%) & wcom: 19.39 Change: +0.84 (+4.53%)
Store Information %%set "Question" "Answer" Q: "question" R: "Answer" remembered for InstantInform
Return Stored Information Statistics %%stats "question" By: InstantInform at Wed Feb 7 18:39:55 2001 Q: "question" -> "Answer" cnt 5 by InstantInform at Wed Feb 7 18:39:55 2001
Forget Stored Information %%forget "question" "question" forgotten!
US Phone Numbers (212) 484-8000 AOL Time Warner Inc +1 (212) 484-8000 75 Rockefeller Plz MANHATTAN NY 10019 US
Horoscopes leo LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Speak up to loved ones about how you want to be treated. A former boss could re-hire you. It's a friendly, romantic day, and you are the center of attention. Trust your intuition in love, especially with Virgos and Capricorns.
Snappy Comebacks sex Not now, honey, I have a headache.
Unknown Messages ??? Huh?

Category Details

Stock Symbol

Don't jump out of any buildings if Instant Informer's stock quote seems off base. Check the quote somewhere else.

As you should expect, stock quotes are delayed in the usual way (at a minimum).

Area Code

Instant Informer returns the postal abbreviation of the state containing the area code.

Airport Symbol

Instant Informer returns the airport's name.

Country Telephone Code

Instant Informer returns the country's name.

Country Name

Instant Informer returns the country's telephone code.

US State Name

Instant Informer returns the state's postal abbreviation.

US State Postal Abbreviation

Instant Informer returns the state's name. Remember - some states' abbreviations match stock symbols. You get two pieces of information for the price of one!

US City Name

Instant Informer returns the location of the city in terms of how Mighty Crow might fly to the city from two other cities.


Instant Informer returns the location of a ZIP code, as the US Post Office knows it.


Instant Informer selects out the longest of any reasonable arithmetic expression at least 3 characters long contained in your message.

Instant Informer understands common functions and operators.

Instant Informer's calculator is, in fact, a Perl eval() function - protected from abuse, of course.

Function What It Does
+ Adds the preceding number to the following number.
- Subtracts the following number from the preceding number.
* Multiplies the preceding number with the following number.
/ Divides the preceding number by the following number.
( ... > The expression inside parenthesis is calculated before what is outside parenthesis.
pi PI is built-in.
plus +
minus -
mult *
multiplied by *
div /
divided by /
abs(N) Returns the absolute value of N.
cos(A) Returns the cosine of A (expressed in radians).
exp(N) Returns e (the natural logarithm base) to the power of N.
hex(X) Interprets X as a hex string and returns the corresponding value
int(N) Returns the integer portion of N. Rounds toward zero. (What out for calculating int(.9999999999) - type expressions!)
log(N) Returns the natural logarithm (base e) of N.
oct(N) Evaluate N as an octal number.
rand(N) Returns a random fractional number greater than or equal to 0 and less than the value of N. (N should be positive.)
sin(pi / 4)( Calculate the sine of the given (in-radians) angle.
sqrt(N) Calculate the square root of N.


Instant Informer tells you the time. But first, you must tell it your own time, approxiamately, since you could be anywhere in the world.

Tell Instant Informer your time something like this:

8:30 Or: 08:20 Or: 14:00

Unless it's apparent that you are specifying your time in 24-hour format, Instant Informer will guess your time zone "hemisphere". If you are in East Asia, expect that guess to be wrong.

Warning: Unfortunately, the system that the time provider runs on at the time of this writing seems to crash a lot when it is set to automatically update to a net-atomic clock. (An NTP update daemon crashing Mandrake Linux? Egad!) So, don't count on II's time to be particularly accurate.

Unix Fortune

Instant Informer does not reply with all of the available "fortunes"; just the short, non-"profane" ones.


Instant Informer replies with a random "insult" from its list.


Instant Informer replies with a random RTTTL / RTX ringtone from its list of several hundred.


Instant Informer replies with a current, random headline.

I Wish I Said That

In reply to a query message of the long, single word, 'iwishisaidthat', Instant Informer replies with a random quotation.

8 Ball

With the help of nothing more than a few billions of dollars worth of modern computer hardware, backed by millions of dedicated, hard-working souls, Instant Informer replaces a small, black, plastic ball containing a jar of dark liquid and a multisided 'die'.

... Isn't that amazing?
... What wonders the future must hold for us all!
... The 8 ball knows ...

Multiple Queries

You may separate queries to Instant Informer with an ampersand character: &. Instant Informer will send it's answers to your queries separated by an ampersand.

Storing Information

You can tell Instant Informer to store messages and responses.


Send Instant Informer a message containing three things:

  1. %%SET

  2. A message (inside double quotes if the message contains a space).

  3. Any response. Put the response inside double quotes, "like this".

If no one else has stored a response for the given message, Instant Informer will store the reponse for you. In the future, if II does not have a response for the given message, II will respond to the message with your response. ... To anyone!

You can use this facility as a private bulletin board. If your message is sufficiently unusual that no one will ever send it to II, then only you and your friends will be able to get the response. And only you will be able to change or delete the response.

How can you change the response?

Just %%SET it to something else. Remember that others will not be able to change or delete it. Only you may do so. How can you delete the response? Just %%FORGET it. (e.g. "%%forget message") You can also see when you set the message/response, how many times II has sent the response, and who and when the latest use of the response was. How? Send "%%STATS message". How do you get angle brackets and double quotes and things like that into the response? Escape them, HTTP URL style. That is, replace the unusual character with a percent character followed by the two hexadecimal digits that represent the chartacter in ASCII.

For instance, an open angle bracket: < would be %3C.
A close angle bracket: > would be %3E.
Double quotes: " would be %22.
Backslash: \ could be %5C.
And, finally, a percent character: % itself, would be %25.

US Phone Numbers

Instant Informer does reverse lookups on US phone numbers. Note: many numbers do not have published information for them.


Tell Instant Informer your astrologic sign to find your horoscope for the day.

Snappy Comebacks

The massive Artificial Intelligence Engine inside Instant Informer has learned that bored kids talk to it in predictable ways. So ...

Unknown Messages

Instant Informer tracks messages that it does not know a response for. (Actually, II tracks all messages.) Occasionally, II's administrator records responses for these unanswered messages.

It has been suggested that II should respond to some particular query message with a random instance of a message that II does not have a response for. Such a feature would dovetail nicely with "%%SET", would it not?

When the Instant Information Server does not provide a response to a particular message, the AIM / ICQ Instant Information Gateway responds with a random instance of one of several built-in responses. For instance:

Send E-Mail to Instant Informer's Administrator.

AIM Add InstantInformer1 to your AIM buddy list.

AIM Add InstantInformer to your AIM buddy list.

AIM Currently, Instant Informer may be accessed through ICQ user: 76071031.

index.htm : Last modified January 28, 2003