Tag Archives: DtSearch Corp.

dtSearch: Not Dead. Not Yet.

Despite my love of indexers (and I’m in Seventh Heaven now that all the big boys are throwing out desktop search engines like it was a Bay City Rollers’ reunion) I still stick for most of my searching with dtSearch. It’s expensive, it’s tough, it’s ugly, but it gets the job done. And now they’ve added a feature which might not get you too excited, but for me is key: better viewers (or file parsers, if you want to get technical) for Microsoft documents.

Version 6.5 of dtSearch Desktop (free to those who are 6.x users) means you can see Word documents or Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations in their original glory. Now folks are going to say, well I can do that with X1 or more or less any of the other indexers that include built-in viewers, but I’d like to correct you: You can’t. Well you can if you don’t have big files, but over a certain size, you will get an error. And I have big Word files, all tabled up, and they nearly always don’t appear. In dtSearch they did come up, but not in with any decent formatting. Now they do. (Other features listed here.)

DtSearch, long the mainstay of a once sparse field, is not going away quietly. Good for them.

Ukraine Weighs In On The Search Stakes

Another addition to my index of indexing programs: diskMETA, from <META> Inc. “the largest search engine provider in Ukraine and a leader in Cyrillic multilingual search engine morphology technologies”.

A press release issued today says diskMETA is one of the fastest desktop search engines, and is available both as freeware and shareware. The program “is intended for extra large data volumes, UP TO 100 GIGABYTES. It can create up to 100 indexes, index up to ONE MILLION various files. The search time is never more than ONE SECOND”. It works on all Windows platforms (98 or higher).

The file search works with Office document formats (DOC, XLS, RTF, TXT), HTML pages, CHM, PDF files, ZIP and RAR archives. There are three versions: Lite (free), Personal ($50) and Pro, which supports morphological English searches and Intranet wide searches ($100)

The search technology used in diskMETA, apparently, “has a long and glorious history. It is used for a decade in the nationwide biggest and most popular web search engine www.meta.ua, in a series of search tools for web-sites and CD-rooms installed in most governmental and financial national institutions” in the Ukraine.

My tupennies’ worth? It’s fast, intuitive and unfussy. You can also view the raw text in a special preview window, but it doesn’t support preview in the same way that X1, dtSearch or the new Copernic Desktop Search do. That said, it’s great to see a new player on the block, especially one so enthusiastic.

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.
 
Read the full column at FEER.com (subscription required)
 

Column: search software

Loose Wire — Organize Me: Give us some software that really makes the information age meaningful

 
By Jeremy Wagstaff
from the 3 April 2003 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Every time I visit a computer shop I get nostalgic for the dotcom boom. In those days people with money were throwing their cash at people with ideas, however silly, with interesting results. Sure, most of the ideas were so dumb they never saw the harsh light of day — or the harsh light of a business model — but at least some new stuff was appearing.

As I gaze over the software shelves nowadays, empty but for yet another minor update of word processors or system utilities and (admittedly rather cool) games, I wonder: What happened to software innovation? Where are all those great promises of what we could do with our computer beyond using it as a glorified typewriter or calculator?

Sure, folks can now do some interesting stuff with video, pictures and music, but is that what the information revolution was all about? I’ve got a tonne of stuff on my computer — letters, novels, memos, Chairman Mao-type thoughts, mortgage calculations — but what good is it if it just sits there, hidden behind arcane file names I’ll never remember, even under threat of torture? I fear the information revolution — at least on a personal level — has come and gone.

This is all very disappointing. I’d love to see our data made accessible for all sorts of imaginative things that make use of the power of our PCs. A program, say, that goes through all your e-mails and tells you, based on some fancy algorithm, how many Christmas cards you should send this year and to whom. A program that looks at your finances and, while you’re shopping for furniture, works out whether you need a second mortgage and finds the best one for you.

OK, I’m getting ahead of myself here. That we still can find something more easily on the Internet — or in the attic — than we can on our computer is a depressing reminder of how far we have to go. Indeed, in 1999 a small California start-up called Enfish produced the most revolutionary piece of software I’d seen in years — a search program called Tracker that allowed you to search rapidly and easily through everything on your computer. It was magical in its simplicity, elegant in its design, and suddenly made having a hard disk full of all your stuff a sensible idea.

If you could check in a flash what and when you last wrote to Aunt Edith, all the previous litigious letters to your tenants, the last time your country declared war on another country, life really suddenly could get a lot easier. The index would update itself while you were asleep, so you didn’t have to do anything beyond installing it. You could save complex searches with simple names, so that you could exclude letters about Aunt Edith from nosy Cousin Connie, or include only those that referred to her pet poodle Alfie but not to Phoebe the cat. It was fab. And as with all things fab, it didn’t last (the software, not the cat).

Well, that’s not strictly true. Enfish is still going, doing its best to convince a sceptical public that this kind of thing is actually useful. But in the meantime their subsequent software has never approached the quality of Tracker, which sadly won’t work with Microsoft’s most recent version of Windows XP, and that effectively renders it useless. But at least Enfish is hanging in there: Version six of its software ($100 for the basic product, from www.enfish.com) is released this week and to me it’s the closest the company has got to its old Tracker.

I can only guess why such a great idea hasn’t caught on. There’s no great learning curve involved: Once you’ve explained to users that Enfish is essentially a Google search engine for your computer, there’s not much more to say. Sadly Enfish is not yet a household word. But Enfish does have competition, and perhaps they’ll be more lucky.

One is the Australian company 80-20 Software, which has this month released version 3.0 of its 80-20 Retriever software ($50 from www.80-20.com). While previous versions of 80-20 Retriever will do pretty much what Enfish does — index your documents, e-mails and whatnot, let you search quickly through them — only this version lets you view the documents without having to launch the program you created them in (say, launching Microsoft Word to view a Word document). This is a vital feature, since you can quickly scroll through documents retrieved by your search, all in one place.

In fact, Retriever does a fine job but falls down, in my view, by trying too hard to integrate itself into Outlook, Microsoft’s calendar, contact and e-mail behemoth. My advice to 80-20: You’re nearly there, but drop the Outlook interface and just be yourself. It should be a stand-alone program.

Both are worth trying (Enfish Find and 80-20 Retriever can be downloaded and used for a month free). For the heavy lifters, I’d recommend dtSearch Desktop. Although a pricey $200 from dtSearch (www.dtsearch.com), this is a super-fast, super-reliable program that tells you a lot about what’s on your computer. By launching your search from a viewable index of words, you can see how many misspelled words you are missing in normal searches. The interface isn’t particularly friendly, but it’s a workhorse for the serious searcher. Now if only it could help me on my Christmas-card list.