Using emotive faces to convey system state

In order to prepare for Anil leaving our group, I have decided to put together a small application that will ease the transition into broken systems and general chaos. I found a program called wmdl that displays a little Doom guy or penguin who gets angrier as system load goes up. I made a quick modification that is displayed below:

System load is low System load is very high
System load is moderate System load is dangerously high
System load is high

I may use this interface to monitor network status using Lisys. I would like to add a "surprised" or "frightened" look so that I can distinguish anomalies from high network loads. A small animation of Anil frantically waving his arms to get your attention might be useful in this case. It could also be used when the system suddenly transitions from low to high loads. A "worried" face would be good for conveying disturbances on another system on the Lisys network. These emotions would be displayed orthogonally, so there can be a surprised angry face for anomalies on a busy machine and a surprised and slightly-peeved face for anomalies for light loads. I would also like a sleeping image to convey a lack of activity. It would be nice for the application to monitor both the system and the network. To make this more useful, I would add a little "query" button so you could ask the application "what's wrong?" and it would reply "My network hurts" or "You're working me too hard" or "inetd is acting funny".

This application was inspired by "Furbies" and "Kismet". They both displayed a limited range of synthetic emotions but gained much empathy from their human owners. By intentionally anthropomorphizing our systems, we can better monitor their states and take care of them.

You can download wmdl.gz and execute wmdl -h to get command line options. I run it as wmdl -f 0.5 and adjust the parameter depending on how high my system load normally is. Left-clicking on the application will change the image to a penguin. It is designed to be a dockable WindowMaker application.

Um, I'll get back to work now.