As I get older, I tend to forget where I put my stuff more and more. I used to think of myself as a fairly organized person; that is until I lose track of something and am frantically searching around the house, or my hard drive. I really try hard to be organized, really I do.
Having said this, the notion of a new piece of software from Google called Desktop is right on target. It indexes and searches your hard disk with the same speed and agility that Google does for the greater Internet. It works with Microsoft Office documents and emails from Outlook and Outlook Express, and AOL Instant Messenger conversations.
You can read more about this product with my review for my old alma mater, Network Computing, here on their site:
Google Desktop isn't perfect. It opens up privacy concerns, especially if you are using a shared desktop and don't have physical control over who accesses the computer. This is because it stores previously viewed Web pages, including Webmail pages. It also stores previously copies of your documents and deleted email messages. It doesn't index anything other than text files and the Microsoft and AOL IM items mentioned earlier, and only runs on Windows XP and 2000 machines.
Still, this is a pretty active product space right now, and there are a number of competitors who are aiming carefully here. One includes Microsoft, who recently purchased Eric Hahn's Lookout (from Lookoutsoft.com) tool for examining Outlook documents. Google Desktop doesn't look inside attachments, and doesn't index anything other than email messages – if you make use of Outlook's notes, journal and to-do entries, contacts and other organizing items, then you are better off with Lookout than Google.
Others include X1.com and Copernic.com search tools, both of which index a large list of file types and can also examine the content of email attachments.
What none of these products have is integration of desktop and Internet search in the simple and usable Google display, and that is the not-so-secret sauce here. When you search for something, you can see results from both your own files as well as what is out on the Internet at large. That has the possibility of changing how we look for content, and it also means it is harder to lose track of that critical file. Even for this middle-aged semi-organized kind of guy.
Entire contents copyright 2004 by David Strom, Inc.
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