Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
ChaCha is offering a service to help festivalgoers with questions related to Sundance. Communication, however, is not foolproof.

OK, you tech-savvy Sundance types. There's a cool new tool this year that is supposed to help festivalgoers with "ANYTHING" related to Sundance "and beyond," according to the folks putting the word out about a service being offered by ChaCha.

So, in the comfort of a warm office building recently (with nothing better to do), I decided to bite and try out ChaCha by sending a text to 242-242. I begin with what I consider one of the more important questions during any outing in a foreign locale like, say, Park City.

10:21 a.m.

Question: "Where r public toilets in pk city during sundance?"

Seconds later ...

Answer: "Welcome to ChaCha's FREE txt (text) trial! Your phone just got smarter. Ask away. Your first answer will come shortly. Std (standard) txt charges apply. Send HELP for help."

Help? Do they mean like, "Help, my credit card just maxed out!" Anyhow, if you really have to go potty, my first question is probably one you'd want answered right away.

10:31 a.m.

Still no answer. Thankful bathroom here at the office is only a dash away.

10:35 a.m.

Answer: "Sorry. ChaCha does not understand your question. Your original question may be ambiguous or need details. Please restate and try again."

At this point, I'm probably doing the ChaCha on Main Street in the cold as my bladder expands and my patience grows as thin as the air up there.

So, as fast as my fat little fingers can type on a cell phone, I fire back, "Where are the public restrooms located along main street in park city during sundance?"

10:47 a.m.

Still no answer. A press release about ChaCha states that the service is being answered by a "live human" and not a computer, which is supposed to mean that the person receiving your text message will understand shortcuts, misspellings and slang. Hmmm, not so far.

10:53 a.m.

I take a stab at other Sundance-related questions, examples of which are pointed out in the press release about ChaCha.

Questions: "When is the screening for the film american son?" and "Where can i go 4 live music in park city?"

11:01 a.m.

Answer to film question: "Saturday, January 19, 2:30 pm Racquet Club, Park City Sunday, January 20, 9:00 pm Broadway Centre Cinemas IV, SLC chacha.com/u/p3xbmtnv"

The Web sites listed at the end of ChaCha's replies lead to an Internet page where the same answer is stored. Handy.

The first reply comes from a Barbara B., whose clickable profile at the aforementioned Web address reveals she's into crafts, camping and snow angels. I'm confused. Is she the info lady or a potential date?

11:03 a.m.

Answer to music question: "Cisero's Ristorante and Nightclub 306 Main Street P.O. Box 3897 Park City, Utah 84060 Res: (435) 649-5044 Nightclub (435) 649-6800 chacha.com/u/7lfto9he." Thanks again to Barbara B., my ChaCha "guide," as she's called on the Web page.

But I still don't have an answer to my potty question. So, I try a different query, with a plan up my sleeve.

11:08 a.m.

Questions: "Where is robert redford's restaurant in pk city?"

11:12 a.m.

Answer to restaurant question: "Zoom 660 Main Street Park City, Utah 84060 Phone: 435-649-9108 Hours: Daily 11:30AM-2:30PM: Dinner from 5:30PM chacha.com/u/yc6k7a9j." Thank you, Gloria S., a 22-year-old college student into sewing, her "comfy" chair and a good book.

Now, if I really had to use the restroom and I didn't have an answer by now, I'd probably head over to Bob's place and try my luck there in lieu of a loo. Hey, I might even try the food there.

Just for kicks, though, I thought I'd try the john question one more time.

11:20 a.m.

Question: "Where r public restrooms in downtown park city?"

11:26 a.m.

Ah, at last, directions to the promised land. ChaCha guide Lyn D.'s answer: "Nearby public restrooms near Park City, Utah: 7700 Stein Way (435) 649-3700 / 442 Main St (435) 645-8115 / 328 Main St (435) 649-9371 chacha.com/u/jxr510jl"

11:30 a.m.

I write back, "Thanks!"

11:34 a.m.

Answer: "Thanks for using text ChaCha!! Don't forget it's free & easy!!!"

Free? Er, except maybe for those std txt charges? And easy? Depends on what question you want answered. Gd luk!


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