Column: Finding The Holy Grail of Finding Things

 I have lost count of the number of times I have written about finding text in files on your computer.  It’s such a basic idea that you would think it would come as a standard function on most operating systems.  In fact, if you’re a Mac user, it does.  For the rest of us, finding stuff is a lot harder than finding something on the Internet.  This has to be the dumbest thing that future generations will laugh at us for, except perhaps for considering white plastic garden chairs a charming lawn ornament and acceptable seating option.
 
But it’s not through lack of trying.  I remember a program from the late 1980s called askSam (www.asksam.com) which did a very passable job of allowing users to search through large chunks of text quickly and efficiently.  But it was quirky and required a lot of patience on the part of the user: In fact, it’s still going (and still quirky).  In the late 1990s, a company called Enfish Corp (www.enfish.com) launched a great product called Tracker Pro which indexed your hard drive and allowed you to search for text or chunks of text, and not only find them instantaneously, but also to view them inside Tracker itself.  Tracker Pro was ahead of its time, and like all things ahead of its time now is sitting in the corner mumbling to itself, ignored, dribbling out of the corner of one toolbar menu. Enfish continues to push something called Find that it is a shadow of its former self, and seems aimed more at the commercial customer than the individual.  There’s also a product called dtSearch (www.dtsearch.com) which also does text searches and does it very well, if a little brusquely.  But now, the Holy Grail may have arrived.  It’s called X1 and it will be officially launched later this month.
 
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10. July 2003 by jeremy
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