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The Net Takeaway: Search


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X1 starts to open up... · 03/01/2007 11:19 AM, Search

No, they aren’t going open source or anything like that, but they’ve finally let slide some features which can basically enable all that stuff they’ve turned off.

UPDATE: The below refers to 5.6.3, in later versions they’ve gone back to being disrespectful and scummy. See X1 says ‘New business model: Take away features, charge more!’.

If you haven’t been following, you can see my past articles on Desktop Search with this link. Basically, I was a huge fan of X1 Desktop Search, even paying for it, but I disliked their continuous “phone home” process to check for piracy. I recommended the still awesome Copernic Desktop Search, now in version 2, still incredible, including network drive searching and FREE.

Then, X1 released a free version… but removed network drive searching (and removable drive searching, btw). So, it was reduced but free… and in my hatred of misleading marketing, I expected them to point out that this free version is not the same as the former commercial version. They will not do this, but at least they are finally allowing us to get it back up to speed.

You have a couple of options: if you like most of the defaults, and just want network search back, you can enable it on Windows XP Professional. If you are on Home or want to re-enable everything (or disable stuff you never use to just remove it from the interface), then you have a longer process, but still doable.

This is all free and poorly documented, but once completed, it puts X1 and Copernic pretty neck and neck.

So, first off: download the X1 Client Deployment Kit which includes an MSI file for the client, and some configurators. If you unzip it to a junk directory, you’ll see a zip file inside the overall zip which has an ADM file. Unzip that and put it somewhere static (say, windows directory).

As these forum topics reveal Network shares and Accessing network shares (among others), you can then open the Group Policy editor, open up the ADM file (which exposes X1 Admin features), and start to change what’s allowed and what’s not. Restart X1, and bingo. That’s the easy way.

The harder way is to configure the MSI to make a new installer for yourself. Forum Topic 3 gives the step by step for this. There are more features to be configured this way, and its more involved, but if you can’t do what you want with the group policy editor, this will work.

Oh, and changing what tabs display? That’s well hidden; its not in the Options or View menu like you’d expect. It turns out that they are hidden in that left hand window (click on the dots, or View | Searches Pane). Delete from the “top” and panes go away. I removed Music, for example.

So, comparison? Copernic nicely mixes attachments and email in one search results window; I have to use separate panes (or the ALL tab) to do this in X1. Copernic does not allow you to perform actions on group results such as deleting all the mails you’ve found; X1 does this with ease. X1’s index is smaller. Both have trouble with wildcards. X1 searches Tasks and Calendar; Copernic does not. X1’s display of Contacts info puts more on the screen at one time.

So, still a big Copernic Desktop Search fan, esp. in this latest version 2, and still recommend it in most every case. But if you are technically savvy and want to try a powerful option, you might consider giving X1 a shot.

Oh, and guess what: It doesn’t phone home for piracy anymore, and you can turn off all its other optional phone home stuff.

Finally, a question I get all the time: doesn’t Vista’s desktop search rock? Won’t it kill these other options? Well, to be fair, I haven’t tried it yet, but I expect it will take at least one more rev to be where it needs to be, given past experiences with MS search products and knowledge of how things work there. But that 2nd release will be impressive.

And remember, for my reviews of other tools and what I liked and didn’t, feel free to check out Desktop Search.

Comments? [2]

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X1 now free... Sort of. · 06/19/2006 05:44 PM, Search

You may recall that when I reviewed desktop search in Dec 2004, I said X1 Desktop for $75 was the best but for its high cost and phoning home. Copernic wound up the winner then. Both searched network drives, which none of the other tools I examined did. And for free, Copernic was hands down ahead of every other tool… and still is; I use it every day.

In a few other posts I kept coming back to the same conclusion.

Well, things have somewhat changed. X1 is now free on the desktop and according to their support line, it no longer phones home. But its not the same one you would have paid $75 for. They have completely removed network drive searching making it basically the same version Yahoo was shipping as “Yahoo Desktop Search”.

ITWorld writes about it, and the bottom left of the X1 home page gives the link. If you’ve wasted your time with any other search besides Copernic, uninstall immediately and give X1 a try; it really is far superior to any other free search product… as long as you don’t need to search a network drive. If you use Copernic and dont need network drive indexing, its a tough call… but X1 lets you act on results as a group (for moving or deleting) (Copernic only lets you act on one item in a search set at a time) and also searches Outlook Calendar, which Copernic doesn’t yet. Note that this free version still doesn’t search network drives, which is a real shame. Can you tell how annoyed I am about this little “feature”?

Running both is a waste of resources, so pick your favorite. Its a hard decision, but worth testing… unless you need to index network drives, in which case, Copernic is the only choice.

And X1 has managed to disappoint me yet again.

PS: Rumour has it that Google Desktop Search will search network drives in its latest incarnation, see


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Interconnected, or more on Bookmark Managers · 07/26/2005 10:16 AM, Reference Search

So, looking over my referrers, I found some links from the site Well, if you ask me… where the author, among other things, was looking at lists of social bookmark managers. Besides linking back to my Furl and where to stick your Bookmarks post, he mentions some other lists, a bit more social-oriented (over quick search, etc.) than I like, but still good to look at for additional options… and some of you out there really seem to like the social bookmark world, so more power to you, glad to help.

So, I am reposting some links he found… but you should really go to his blog and read more about them.

Clay Shirky has this list from 2004, and Kossatsch has been making a chart (and updating continuously). More about v3 here and includes links to his PDF chart.

Comments? [1]

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Benchmark Study of Desktop Search Tools... · 05/05/2005 10:59 AM, Search

The University of Wisconsin at Madison E-Business Institute has reviewed a slew of desktop search tools. Some nice findings. Like me, they like Copernic. They also menion some that I haven’t paid much attention to, such as Wizetech’s Archivarius. Note that some of these tools are free, others cost.

Full report is a PDF.


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Desktop Search settling down.... · 04/06/2005 04:59 PM, Tech Search

So, when we last left off (3 individual links), we had many different search tools out there, but I had basically ended up liking X1 and Copernic Desktop Search. However, I had enough reservations with both that I couldn’t use either of them.

So, what am I running these days on my work machines? X1 and Copernic.

What?, you gasp… Didn’t you have lots of complaints? Yes, but things have improved.


Using version 1.5, current as of this writing.

Both tools attempt to search music and picture files, but I don’t really use those features. Neither searches Outlook Tasks, Notes, or other more esoteric features, but those will come.

So, get X1 if you can get the NoNet version, and can pay the fee, or get Copernic 1.5 which is really turning into a very nice tool, and continues to be free.

Bang for the buck, no contest. Get Copernic. But when X1 finally lowers its price, it will be worth paying for.

(Note: I have no affiliation to either company; I paid for one and the other is a local hometown fave (now owned by a Canadian company, but who’s counting) and I am getting no compensation for complaining about either product, both of which are pretty good.)

Comments? [3]

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Yahoo Desktop Search Beta launches... · 01/11/2005 01:02 PM, Search

YDS is a repackaged X1, which I examine elsewhere and liked but not enough to pay for nor fully recommend; I repeat my concerns below.

A great review of YDS at PC Magazine points out the stuff not mentioned elsewhere:,1759,1749966,00.asp

“YDS has almost all the features of X1 Search version 5, which will be released by the end of January, along with a Search Web button that links directly to Yahoo! search online. The main X1 features not present in YDS are support for Eudora and Mozilla e-mail clients, the ability to index offline PST files in Outlook, and support for indexing remote drives across a network. While YDS and X1 are very similar at present, future versions are expected to diverge.”

The biggest annoyance to me is the lack of support for network drives, but that’s to be expected. After all, consumers never have more than one PC, right (sarcasm dripping)? As always, these attempts to limit “consumer” versions often mean users will choose products which DO support the features they need, even if they are “business type features” used in your very own non-business house. For example, the admirable Copernic Desktop Search supports network drives without an issue. Note that CDS has its own problems, which is that you have to manually tell it what filenames to store beyond the usual document files, a pain if you use any type of file extension besides the most common ones (and if you use any program besides Office, you probably do). That being said, its pretty good in almost every other respect.

If you want to try the Yahoo X1 offering, check out:

Note that in my examination of X1, it was very good, almost the best, but it phoned home too often for my liking given its excessive price. Since this one is free, a bit of phoning home may not matter… but I don’t know how much of the phoning home is turned off here. I just don’t like products which do it, notice or not, and if you can’t turn it off, then its a no-go for me.

X1 has taken this opportunity to release a “workgroup” edition which centralizes some management and storage issues. In the meantime, they continue to sell the desktop version for $75. That’s a steep price to pay to get no yahoo branding and network drive support.

Comments? [1]

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Desktop Search, or just where did I leave that knowledge? · 12/13/2004 01:27 PM, Tech Search

(If you are here from a search, thanks! This article is part of a series on desktop search. There have been updates, changes, all sorts of new posts, and the best way to see them all is with the “Browse your favorite category” drop down to the right. Choose “Search” and have fun, or click here.

Feel free to start with this one, its the first, but then read the rest for updates.)

(Yet Another update. Yahoo annouces a desktop search based on X1. Good idea, except X1 phones home (more details below), and some people report very heavy CPU usage during indexing. Will phoning home be part of the (presumably free) version of YDS? And will X1 continue to sell their own version with extra features, or retrench to a corporate market?

Ask Jeeves released their Desktop Search here

I’ve installed Copernic. More below… but I found a major flaw that is a dealbreaker for me. Uninstalled, reluctantly.

Yes, Google Desktop Search has been released. I talk about it a bit but I don’t love it. Blinkx has a new version which corrects many deficiencies, but still just feels middling; in addition, their smart founders have moved on, so unclear where this will end up.

More links to free/open-source options added, for those who prefer to see the details of what’s running on their machines. )

Desktop search is the new hotspot. While some folks say that consumer don’t care, I disagree… everyone I’ve talked to can’t wait to find the one that works. The need for “web integration” or “index all my media as well as my info” is less important, but if someone does it well, then maybe it will take off.

While we all expect the OS to help with the search problem, Windows Search has gotten more and more deficient with each version. Even with all my hacks, I still can’t get WinXP search to search all the files I want it to. Searching for an old email in Outlook is a nightmare. Apple’s Sherlock is pretty good, and has lots of plugins, but isn’t as fast or as flexible as it could be, according to some critics. Now that Google and Yahoo have upped their mail limits, expect searching of hosted mail to be a big deal as well (and more on these players down below).

How do these work and differ?
There are two ways to search a large volume of text and data:

  1. Make an index of terms and search that
  2. Open each file and search it

Both have their advantages and disads. For example, building the index means one has to, well, build and store the index. This takes time, cpu, and drive space. In addition, if the index is not well designed, there are limits to the types of searches which can be done. In addition, no searches can be done until the index is created, and if its not kept updated, then searches return erroneous results.

On the other hand, opening each file becomes problematic as you get more and more files. While the index can leverage all sorts of speed tricks, there are not many ways to “loop over directories recursively, open each file, search either line by line or byte by byte for pattern, print if found, repeat”.

Also, each tools search different sets of your files. Some also search Outlook emails, some search Outlook Express emails, some search MP3 and Image tags. What data each reads is up for grabs: Some can only handle text, some can read Office formats, and some can handle PDF. Some read email attachments and also index them, some don’t. Some will index network drives/folders, while others only read local drives until you pay to unlock additional capability.

Some allow sophisticated and/or capability in search. Some allow wildcards, stemming, phrase search, boolean and/or, or even full regex. Some allow “find where word near word” and some have “relevance” searches. So, depending on your need, you may need to shell out some bucks, or accept that some cleverl and useful search techniques will not be available to you.

So, what tools are out there to search your drives?

Index-based Searchers

Blinkx is gradually moving up the curve from hidden to hot. They are trying to mix web and local search, and have some clever visualization. I don’t love the “web and your stuff” mix in searching; I trust my stuff but the web data needs verification (this is even more annoying with Google Desktop Search: I find it really frustrating for it to ping out to the wire when I am trying to find one of my emails). (BTW, if you want to see great visualizations, play with Kartoo, requires Flash.) Appears to handle email and (from their faq) .txt files, Adobe PDFs, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, emails and Word documents. Their new 2.0 includes “Smart Folders” (more details here) as a saved search/view. This has gotten lots of buzz, but no one has said to me “this is the one to get”, so I haven’t tried it yet. (BTW, Blinkx has nothing to do with BlinkPro, the bookmark tool I recommend elsewhere).

dtSearch has been doing this stuff for a while, and was one of the first to offer a desktop search. They create an index and, depending on your spend, can even create a shared index for a shared network search, like a private company search engine. This stuff is not cheap, with the entry level at $200, but its very powerful, designed for large collections of data (say, all of your invoices for the last 10 years, or whatever). This is probably the most sophisticated tool out there, and so is probably overkill for most users.

X1. You know, I really, really want to like X1. They do lots of things well. Their unique feature is the “search while you type” approach. X1 indexes the usual stuff, and then as you type, the list of hits shrinks to include only the matches (if you remember Lotus Magellan from the 80s, this will be a welcome return of an old friend; the Magellan gang helped create this tool). Its a nice graphic tool, with separate tabs for each of the searches you may want (Email vs. Files. vs. contacts vs. etc.) Other tools can mix all “types” of files in search results, but X1 keeps them on separate tabs. In addition, it can’t handle wildcards, but forum posts imply that this is coming.

So, what bugs me? Its really expensive, starting at $100 (though sometimes discounts knock it down to $75 or so). No support for wildcards: if you are looking for words ending in “raro”, for example, there is no "*raro" or "?raro"... all search terms must start a word. Also, it phones home at each use, primarily to check if its a pirated version or not. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t pay money to be watched, and if they have to stop pirates, they should do it without having my machine send info about me back to a company. Its in their privacy policy, and so they aren’t doing anything illegal… but it still sucks. So, for this price, and with a phone home “feature”, its cool, but not cool enough to put up with its problems.

Enfish has been in this game for a while as well; I beta tested a couple of early versions. The product was not only a search, but a powerful integrator of the various Outlook data types, way before MS built some of that into Office. So, for example, you could search for a name, and results would include emails to that person, from that person, their contact info (if you have it), maps, all sorts of data. It also searched the web, etc. It builds an index, and searches the usual suspects, with a file viewer built in.

It looks like they have now separated the search piece into a standalone tool, Find, for $50 and the full “integrator” for $200. When I tested it, I liked it, but it was somewhat slow to index and, because of all the graphics and integration, somewhat slower “feeling” than the other tools. The file preview feature was pretty nice, and if I recall, that same feature allowed it to search a much wider variety of file types than most of the tools I looked at. But I haven’t really used it in over a year, so try the trial yourself. If you have lots of older file formats and still want to search and view them, this may be your best choice.

Copernic Desktop has been in the “search aggregation” space for a while, with a client-side tool “Agent” which would aggregate search results from multiple engines. While I never found much use for it, some friends of mine swore by it. Well, they now have a desktop search, which works like their previous products: A free entry level, and a for-pay advanced version. The entry level looks pretty good, with an attempt to be “light” on resource use, and searches a wide variety of media types (Video, MP3, Favorites, History, etc.) These are worth looking at if you don’t already use a tool to index these; it feels rather bolted on otherwise. And yes, it indexes mail and the usual suspects in documents as well.

It’s biggest flaw in my use is that it doesn’t index the entire file tree. That is, I expected it to log the location of every file, no matter what type it is, and then index contents of files it knows how to read. Instead, it only reads files that it can index… meaning text and various office formats, as well as (by default) .mht and .zip. Go to the Advanced Options page and you see that, under “Additional file types to index (name and properties only)”, you have to manually add the extension of each type of file you want listed. This is rather silly. There is no way to add <strong>.</strong> or other “list em all!” options. I will not be hand typing in the hundreds of extensions that files on my drive use; if anything, I would rather a “do not list” extension field for the few file-type that I know I will not care about. This makes it a dead end for my use; if I am trying to find a file, I shouldn’t have to have had the prescience to add it to an index list.

Also annoying is that, by default, if it doesn’t have focus, it acts like its minimized and stops indexing til 30 seconds of non-use. Yes, this can be turned off, but it takes some hunting in the options.

Look and feel wise, its pretty nice with a very “windowsy” look and feel. (And its based near me in Newton, Mass, but don’t let that sway you.) It does let you index network drives if they are mapped as a drive letter, but not by the \\\\fileserver approach (this was also mentioned below by some commentors on a previous version of this entry). As this is something many of the other free tools do not do, that’s a plus. But given the “only list files with certain extensions” problem, don’t know how useful this will be.

So, in summary, for indexing a variety of “media types” in an attractive tool, Copernic has done a nice job. But by restricting the “file location” indexing only to files that a) have an extension and b) have that extension manually typed into a one line box, this tool is a huge letdown by not allowing me to locate files that I know are currently on my drive. If I wanted that “functionality”, I would just use Windows Search, which also won’t locate files unless they have a certain extension. If someone can tell me how to get Copernic Desktop to list every file (even if it doesn’t index the contents), I’ll gladly update this entry. But until then, I won’t be using this tool. And its too bad; they did so many other things quite right. (BTW, Copernic just got acquired by Canadian company, aka “the Mother of all search engines”).

DiskMeta Lite is the free version of the DiskMeta indexer. The “free” one is for non-comm use only, and only indexes .txt., .doc., .html. They have personal (around $50) and pro (around $100) editions. Looking at the Pro edition: They do appear to mention some extensions not often seen (like the .CHM requested by one of the commentors) as well as “Morphological support of the English language”. Also, no bones about it, they clearly support “local newtwork shared folders and on network mapped drives”. No, I haven’t tried this one yet either.

AskSam plays in the dtSearch space. A professional searching tool / freeform database, you basically “import” information not into an index, but into a database system. Then, you add additional info as you find it or create it, and its all searchable. This becomes a bit different than “Where did I put that file” and more into “if I am going to dump all my info somwhere, where should I put it…” Starts at $150. Similar “organizer” tools include Infoselect for $250, Zoot for $100, InfoRecall for the affordable $40, and NoteLens for the even more affordable $20.

Lookout is my current tool of choice. A beta product which went free when the 2 programmer shop (2 ex-Netscape guys, btw) was acquired by Microsoft, this tool integrates into Outlook as a toolbar. It has a fast search, a pretty fast indexing, and a combined output of the various things it searches. It also has flaws: the output window has no right click menu to move, delete, whatever the results (while X1 does offer this). Instead, you have to open each item to make changes. In addition, this requires the .Net Framework 1.1, which doesn’t hurt anything, but is yet another thing to install. While one guy took the money and moved on, another has stayed with MS and is still responding to user issues on the forum. A pretty strong query language, but overall a “no-frills” product. But for the price (Free!), its very fast, and has become my turn-to tool again and again. Recommended to try, if you are an Outlook user.

File Searchers
If you are not into indexes, there are also GREP type tools, mostly text based, but some with GUIs. These will each be “open each file” tools, so keep in mind that they can search from the moment they are installed, but speed will vary with how much junk you make them search.

Wingrep is a $30 shareware tool which searches via Regex (and soundex, cool!) and even inside Zip files.

Astrogrep is an open-source project which works pretty similarly. You can search via regex or simple wildcards, and it can read most text files, but not any binary or zip files. Of course, it is free open source, and if you want to add additional features… the author welcomes it. It lacks some of the niceities of sorting output, etc. but for free, its pretty nice.

Agent Ransack is the free (or “lite”) version of another search tool, FileLocator Pro. While the feature list seems pretty basic, it is more powerful than it looks, it is free, and even the “pro” version is only $13, so if you like it, its easy to buy (as compared to the overpriced X1).

A free indexer that I completely forgot about til I got an email reminder was Wilbur, formerly commercial, now free and GPL, for Windows only at this time. Its an indexer, can index in zip files, and can handle PDF files. It appears to have been updated last around April 30, 2004, so it is still under active development.

Ones I haven’t tried but should include:
Avafind shareware
AppRocket shareware
Filehand is .net and used to be shareware but now is free.

Summary, Other Options

The portals are also playing in this space. Terra Lycos’ HotBot has had a desktop search tool for a while, but I’ve never tried it. MSN/MS owns Lookout, but they also have hinted that the MSN Toolbar will include desktop search in a near-term release, though some have hinted that it will only be for MSN paying customers. Ask Jeeves bought Tukaroo before they had a chance to do much more than show their product to insiders. Google has also dropped hints that their toolbar may incorporate desktop search at some point soon (though how one will calculate pagerank for my sql query text file is beyond me).

Obviously, Google Desktop Search is now out, and everyone has written how they love it or hate it. I think its silly, but there are enough positive things about it that you should give it a try. Yahoo will be releasing a repackaged X1.

Most of these will be indexers, not filesearchers, so look forward to a period of indexing before searching, and of course, the need to upate your index so your searches are not out of date.

And, yes, of course, you can pull down numerous open source projects like Lucene and make your own search engine… but that’s really a pain. And, just to point it out, that’s basically what Lookout did, so save yourself the effort and leverage what others have created.

There are a couple of desktop searchers already put together with Lucene if you really do want the fully open source approach. Via Jamie’s Weblog, you can look at Docco. Others have mentioned Lucene Desktop and the “command line interface” to Lucene (more of a testing tool, but you get the idea) found here: Lucli. And if you really, really want to play with the edge of technology, Beagle uses and the nascent Mono project (duplicating the Microsoft .net structure in open source). Still open source, akin to Google Desktop, lets you host and run your own personal search engine for your mails and docs… and you can access it from anywhere if you set it up correctly.
X-Friend is another Lucene based engine, all in Java; currently free.
Baagle is an open source attempt to duplicate Google’s desktop search.
SWISH-E has also been suggested for unix/linux folks.

CollectiveCortex has a free trial but is ultimately commercial, like X-Friend on steroids is how one slashdotter explained it.

So, right now, Lookout is my choice. I have tried and removed Copernic (but will put it back on if they index the entire file tree) and should try Blinkx at some point. I liked X1, but until they lower the price and remove the phone-home, its not an option for me and I can’t recommend it. Enfish and some of the others are nice if you have special needs, but for your average analyst, I suspect you won’t go wrong with either Lookout, Copernic (with reservations), or Blinkx.

I don’t know if any of these are what I’m looking for. If nothing else, they all store their info locally which makes them great for speed, but bad for “distribution”. If I’m not at my machine, then I don’t have my knowledge. That is, if I’m searching for something on my machine, I’m already sitting at it. But if I need to look up info, I would rather have an online knowledge-base of some kind, ala a wiki.

BTW, if this stuff is interesting, you may want to check out Amit’s Blog for a different pov. In addition, the CNET gang give their 2 cents here.

PS: Windows search still sucks, but someone on slashdot suggested, to search by content, 1. start the indexing service, wait for it to index your drives. 2. search (Win-F), and prefix your search string with ”!”
I have no idea if this really does anything. More info here and here. A whole site dedicated to this topic, I learned new stuff on almost every page:

(Impressive matrix comparing searchers… Not sure how often it will be updated.

Comments? [20]

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Link to Jason Calacanis? · 10/16/2004 01:21 AM, Tech Search

Jason really likes linking... so I've linked to him.

Of course, he is giving away a full version of X1, the "phone home" search program, but we'll see what happens... is where I really examine it, and its worth a read...


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Google Desktop Search released · 10/14/2004 02:23 PM, Tech Search

I haven't tried it yet... but some others have.

O'Reilly has a good write up. Also, the incredible Danny Sullivan has a good review here.

The Google Desktop Search indexes the following:

No PDF at this time, nor any mention of an API to add new file types. No searching of compresed files, though that's not so bad. Other good "FAQ" type questions at the Desktop Search Support section on Google.

What's stopping me from jumping into yet another search tool? It has too much emphasis on indexing web behavior. Also, it only tracks web behavior for IE (currently); where's firefox/mozilla/netscape support? Its Windows only (not that I care, but others will). Finally, its GUI is really just a web page, kind of weak compared to X1 or other real GUI tools.

In effect, it seems to act like a proxy, intercepting searches you execute and adding local findings to your results, as well as storing and indexing pages you visit.

Its a good start, beating Yahoo, MSN and AOL's attempt to get search tools out... but as I've said here previously, there's a lot a tool needs to do now to be be competitive, and this is an adequate but not a complete winner of an offering.

More when I play with it...


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Furl and Bookmarks... · 08/28/2004 12:07 PM, Reference Search

I’ve been a long time user of Blinkpro, a commercial bookmark manager. I have a LOT of bookmarks. How many? Well, I haven’t counted them in a while… but my exported bookmarks.html file is now 2.6 megs.

So, I’ve been very bummed that Blinkpro has started to muck up a bit. I understand that the owner, the smart Ari Paparo (and creator of the recently popular NYWiki) has a day job and a couple of cool hobbies, so I get that Blinkpro may not be top of his list…

But recent errors have led me to look at other options for storing my knowledge. While I’m willing to pay for the solution (I pay BlinkPro some bucks a month), I had some requirements:

Stuff I don’t care about that everyone else does:

I’ll get one of my biases out right now: I think the “community” aspect of these things is kind of a joke: why? People don’t organize themselves, so you wind up just having lists of thousands of people and their bookmarks. Sure, most popular ones float to the top, but then what…? Clay Shirky (of course) loves this aspect of things, read all about it where he also lists a few sites that I haven’t gotten to yet. But watch, if these sites don’t orient their research aspects, they will all disappear. Again, personal bias, you may love the social part of this, so don’t ignore it.

Also, Blinkpro is a pretty tough act to follow. For all my complaints, I push it pretty hard and it does a nice job. So, if you are looking for an online bookmark manager, and are willing to accept that search is good but not great, Blinkpro is a good place to start.

Besides 3rd party sites, I there are a couple of open-source “DIY” options. So, here’s what I’ve seen so far:

Darling of the blog set, check it out here. Web site, so usable across machines. Clever idea: Pulls in the content of the bookmarked page and allows you to search that as well. Nice touch.


Open-source project, available here. Most full featured of the open source projects, this now includes an address book and calendar, 2 things that have no business being in a bookmark manager. Like most open-source projects, little to no docs, too many little detail features, not enough power features. Remember, you have to run this on your own hosting.


Open-source project, available here. Emphasis on team/group sharing, and on being in the sidebar. This becomes annoying fast; every screen is 160 pixels wide. That being said, most refined UI features, including DragnDrop and right-click menus. Remember, you have to run this on your own hosting.


So, what’s the winner? Well, if Furl can get their display together, it will wind up being the most powerful. But currently, hard to settle on it for real work when its just a long list. Yes, good searching, but still… So, playing with B4U and Sitebar, but still relying on BlinkPro (bad searching and all) with more Furl dabbling.

(Also beyond just bookmarks, there are often other knowledge bits one wants to store. I’ve tried Wikis (phpwiki, tiki), CMS systems (Drupal, Mambo), Mind-maps (most recently, TheBrain) and now Textpattern. They all still suck for organizing knowledge for more than just a dump file (if I want a dump file, I have the most powerful tool of all: Notepad). So, more to come on this front another time. BTW, though Drupal would be better if it had more wikiness, it comes the closest to being the best CMS I’ve used yet. )

Slashdot discussion from Nov, 2004:

Others to examine:
Web Sites, another darling of the blogger set
Simpy which I know nothing about, but looks good and has a Yahoo Group for it: The author is a Java whiz ( so it may become one to watch!
MyBookmarks Dunno about quality
MyHQ Dunno about quality
Spurl Dunno about quality
IKeepBookmarks Dunno about quality
linkaGoGo (because someone linked to this site from there! Referrers do matter! and they are Boston based, so a local company to me)
Sync2it (a list of sites from 1997, perhaps out of date?)
Booby, GPL, which gets the award for best tagline: A Multithingy Something. Like many groupware/cms systems, it stores bookmarks and more but by being lowest common denominator, these all seem to suffer compared to the dedicated tools.
Active PHP Bookmarks once dead now back again?

Onfolio = $30 client side software
Mozilla Bookmark Synchronizer
VisualMarks (formerly commercial, now free, clientside, takes screen shots)
AimAtSite, Seruku Toolbars, Recall Toolbar
Surfsaver (based on AskSam)
ContentSaver Pro (
BKM open source client side bookmark editor, in VB and Python

A nod to the late but not well known Speedle. Made by the folks who invented collaborative filtering, Firefly, after they moved on from Microsoft.$400.

Finally, note that Simpy, like so many others, gets it wrong about the navigation GMail has the same problem. Once you scale, the inability to focus down on a specific subject area in a visual fashion and understand how categories nest becomes problematic. Flat navs are inherently broken, and I can only hope that folks realize this sooner rather than later. We see this now on the new search-engine companies selling combined “index and nav” systems, which allow both structured searching (“Wine: Red: Calif: 2002: etc.”) as well as “traditional” keyword searching, ala EasyAsk. See also my later post, I Hate Tags

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