The news that Carnegie Mellon University now has a robotic receptionist is less impressive than the sad, dull pain behind the eyes one gets when considering the dreary inevitability of its name: "Roboceptionist." There's also some fairly horrifying information in the wire story about the backstory given the creature by four writers (and man, look how well that worked on "Viva Rock Vegas"): "Valerie... a drum-shaped contraption with a digitally animated face that appears on a computer display," wastes your time nattering on about "her boss, her psychiatrist and her dream of being a lounge star." The air of humanoid authenticity the designers were presumably going for actually breaks down right about there, because when was the last time you met a receptionist who was interested enough in you to do anything but stare vacantly at a point just off your left shoulder? I have met a few who are drum-shaped, but that's another story. Valerie seems to be intended for permanent installation at the university's computer science hall, but given the unpredictable nature of office staffing, I'd look for her to be replaced by an even more disengaged robotemp sometime this fall.