My artificial intelligence

Part One: an unusual phone book


Once upon a time , people used to use ABC-tabbed personal phonebooks or the back of an envelope to jot down phone numbers - which ever suited the circumstances or the purpose at the given time. Then came computers, and, ever since, people have been using computerised phonebooks and the back of envelopes.

Why is the back of an envelope still a popular alternative?


  • As databases are developing, an ever-increasing number of fields can hold data per record (even the birthday of the daugter of the boss can be accommodated). But, the more field of a form has, the less flexible it is, and the more reluctant we are to fill them in;
  • A 2-field form (as used in autodiallers of mobile phones, VoIP phones etc.) is only useful if we know the name more or less precisely (the only 'human third field' is the 'formal similarity' when we filter the right name out of the names starting with the same letters);
  • vs. the Back of an Envelope

We are free to write down anything we like on the back of an envelope (no fixed number of fields, no predefined data type). The only purpose of our notes is to remind us, in the future, of something we want to recall. Therefore, the content of the notes should prompt our recollection (for instance, if we write "pratt" next to a name, then we shall not use the pone number for ringing the person, but for giving it to others and encourage them to ring and bother that pratt).

Reviewing the content of data

One morning, I went down to Mr. Sweld's hardware store. He wasn't there; and Steve, his helper, told me that a few old local customers were planning to make a surprise party for Mr. Sweld, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of his store. I told him, I wanted to chip in my bit too, and that I would ring him for further details in around a fortnight's time. Obviously, I had to make a record of

  • Steve's phone number;
  • Steve (I had no idea Steve's surname);
  • Contributing a tenner to Mr. Sweld's surprise party;
  • Ring around two weeks' time.

I would have had a hard time if I had wanted to enter these records in the dataform boxes of a conventional phone book or time manager program. Imagine the pressure, I only want to enter 3 pieces of information in a form, that, apart from the 'phone number' has 27 further boxes to which I have no answer - but there is no box to accommodate the "tenner"; I don't know Steve's surname, I don't know where it would be appropriate to write "Mr Sweld"; is he a State/Province/ZIP code or a Work Address?

The alternative is the back of an envelope.

How databases work?

The use of a library catalogue card is analogous to the classic operation of a database. If we want to find a particular book by the title, we organise all the cards in alphabetic order, and find the actual book. If we want to select all the books of a particular author, then we turn all the cards right-angle antilockwise ('Author' on the top), order them in alphabetic order and find all the books under the selected author.

The back of my envelope is the same as a library catalogue card. As long as it is paper (or a computer database with absolutely free field definitions), I have (four) absolutely flexible fields. Although one of the fields is called 'telephone number' (after all, the program is a telephone book) it does not mean that in any record (on any one envelope) a telephone number must be written in a free form; anything could be written there, or even, the field could be left empty.

Searching back is also simple; any 'envelope' could be found instantly, by selecting from all the data (of any one of the four fields) of one searching device (a 'combo box'). Instead of imagining how it might work, why not try this free download?

Downloading and installing the YBphonebook

The free download is a 'packed' file. Unpack it anywhere you like (Program Files, My Documents, or anywhere else). It will create a 'YBtb' folder, consisting of 'YBtelEng.exe' és a 'nevhosz.tkv' files. You may launch the program by double clicking on the 'YBtelEng.exe' file. It may be handy to place a shorcut on the Desktop. You can do it by right-clicking on the 'YBtelEng.exe' file ('Send to'/ 'Desktop (create shortcut)').


In the unlikely event that you don't find the program essential within a fw weeks, you can remove the whole folder 'YBtkb' and its content (and the shortcut rom the Desktop, if you created such).

Safety Data Backup

In order to prevent the adverse effects of the very unlikely dataloss, you are advised to make backup copies of the 'nevhosz.tkv' either in another folder, or other safe storage space - eg. we may want to send the file as attachment to an e-mail to ourselves (and we can easily access the file through our gmail, hotmail orfreemail account, from anywhere through the Internet)

Instructions to Use

Entering, searching back, editing and deleting test data

  1. Start the program .
  2. Click on the "Create new " button and enter a new record.
    1. Enter your name in the "Name" box
    2. Enter your phone number in the "Phone number " box
    3. Leave the box "Associate with " empty
    4. Write "my first try" to the " Remarks "box
    5. Click on the "OK" button
  3. You can see that everything we entered so far appears in the "Search" combo box, selecting any of them would result in the appearance of our only (one) line of record.
  4. Click on that (selected) line.
  5. Click on the "Edit" button.
    1. Write "home, landline" to the "Associate with "box
    2. Overwrite (delete and write) "my first try" by the text "my second try" in the "remarks" box
    3. Click on the "OK" button
  6. Select the line "my second try" (It will appear by the time you type in "my..." in te Search combo box )
  7. Click on that (selected) line.
  8. Click on the "Copy and edit " button
    1. Write your mobile number in the "Phone number " box
    2. Write "Mobile" in the "Associate with" box
    3. Write "I can be reached anywhere" in "Remarks" box
    4. Click on the "OK" button
  9. Clicking on your name, you can see all three lines
  10. Click on the line where "my second try" is in the "Remarks" box
  11. Click on the "Delete" button
  12. Clicking on your name, you can only see two lines left.

Further ideas on the use of the different fields

"Phone number" may hold Skype or other Internet phone ID, (that may be useful for the Autodialers) e-mail address, or, indeed, anything you can think of. (Useful to find out whose number was left on your phone or mobile)

"Associate with"and "Remarks" fields may hold Company Name, "Saxophone Tutor", "Chief Executive Officer", "26th January: Ring the vet" or, indeed, anything you can think

Automatic dialing

under development. I am discussing the autodial facility with several Internet Telephony Service Providers, VoIP SP-s.

(to be continued)