Catbot the Chatbot Update

Just a short chatbot update: I’ve added a bit more code to Catbot the Chatbot. I wanted the chatbot to be able to pull restaurants from a custom Google map but haven’t been able to figure out how to do so. The excellent team over at Dexter confirmed that I was heading in the right direction by wanting to use their GET function to complete this task, but it doesn’t seem like there’s an API for Google My Maps.

Back to the drawing board – I opted for the simple way out and just updated Catbot’s current database so it has a bit more to play with. So, you should get a bit more out of your Catbot chats now than before. Dexter has become even more user-friendly than when I started though; you can now use Dexter to launch an Alexa skill and it looks as simple to make as a chatbot. I don’t have an Alexa so am unlikely to partake in this, but maybe you have one?

Catbot the Chatbot!

I wanted to try building my own chatbot and there are now a number of sites which help you do exactly that, for free. There are some well-known sites like Chatfuel or but I came across a site called Dexter and decided to start there. I’m really glad I did because they’ve made it incredibly easy to create your own chatbot.

There’s no coding required, which is helpful for someone like me who has no idea what they’re doing. The site gets you up and running immediately by allowing you to dive right in and start creating a script for your chatbot. The help documents available on Dexter are well-written and within a few hours, I was able to share my chatbot with friends.

This is what the Dexter interface looks like. When you write the script, you begin to understand what kind of logic the chatbot uses and can build increasingly more sophisticated chatbots. Let’s just say my chatbot is more friendly than sophisticated.

I created my chatbot on October 15. At that point, there was no option to share my chatbot on a website, so I decided to share via Facebook messenger. To do this, I had to create a Facebook developer account.

And also create a Facebook page. I’m not sure what to do with these things, but I made a cute profile photo for the page.

This is what the chatbot looks like in Facebook. It’s fun – you can watch live while people interact with the chatbot and immediately step in to respond directly in the chat or to update the chatbot logic.

A day after creating the chatbot, I logged back into Dexter and discovered they had released a new feature which allows you to place the chatbot on your website. I did this immediately and if you click on the little chat bubble in the lower right corner of the screen, you can talk to the chatbot. It works properly on a desktop but mobile seems to have some issues.

I definitely encourage anyone who has no idea what they’re doing but are curious about making a chatbot to try Dexter. I had originally planned on testing out the various chatbot sites to see which I liked best but Dexter has been a great learning experience so far, so I might just stick with them.

I’m sure that CatBot will continue to evolve – it’s only been a few days, so I have a lot to learn. But I’m really happy so far with the results.

Toilet Garden : Autonomous Greenhouse

I took an awesome maker course and built an autonomous greenhouse which wicks water from the toilet tank. I surprised myself by being able to accomplish this; the course was about three months long and I knew nothing about almost everything we were learning.

It was so bad that in the first class, we were being taught the basics of Fusion 360 CAD software, and I was several minutes behind everyone else because I was using their laptop, which ran on Windows 10, which I was unfamiliar with, and I couldn’t figure out how to even find Fusion 360 to open the program. It was an inauspicious start but I just kept working on my project, googling questions, asking for help, and eventually I ended up with an amazing toilet garden.

Find out more!