Seven dumb things you can ask Jeeves
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
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
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,
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
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 way, grandpa!