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You suddenly realize you have a meeting in 15 minutes with a company you faintly remember encountering a few months ago at a trade show. You’re scheduled to brief your boss prior to the meeting-but realize you have no idea what the company actually does. An “active” electronic calendar being developed at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., could be just the thing to rescue you.

The calendar automatically collects relevant information on its entries. It can, say, gather links to notes from previous meetings, Web pages displaying the company’s financials, new-product information-even technical papers written by the visitor. For offsite activities, the calendar serves up maps, directions and lists of nearby hotels-and alerts you that a convention on your favorite hobby will be in progress a block away. IBM scientists have the calendar up and running but decline to say when it will be commercialized.

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