Tag Archives: Find

The Fish That Was Ahead of Its Time

This is old news but it still comes as something of a shock to me: You have probably never heard of Enfish but you see its legacy in every desktop search program you’ll come across. That’s because the company helped promote the idea that searching your own files was as useful an activity as searching the Internet. This was back in 1998. It wasn’t entirely novel (there was something called Discovery put out by Altavista), but they did it amazingly well with an application called Tracker Pro that has, in my view, never been improved upon (including by Enfish themselves).

EnfishThe software, as far as I can recall, only worked on Windows 98 but it was powerful, powerful stuff. It indexed your hard drive, network drives and removable drives in the background (OK, there were some performance issues, but nothing you couldn’t overcome) and searches were lightning fast. What I particularly loved about it were the trackers — complex searches you could save and launch from a sidebar. You could give those strings a user friendly name and then share them with other users. You could also, if I remember correctly, tag files to make for more customized, personal searches. All this in a pretty cool interface, which let you view the document, email or whatever within Tracker Pro itself.

Those days have long since been over. Enfish — Enter, Find, Share — developed in different directions. Since late last year, Enfish as a company and product basically doesn’t exist. Instead you find this message on their website:

Dear Enfish Customers, As of November 1, 2005, Enfish Software will no longer sell its own products, but rather license its technology and patents to others.

From now on the technology has been licensed to another company, EasyReach, which I’m hoping to try out. The sad thing to me was that Enfish, despite a really strong first product, seemed to veer off in the wrong direction, instead of focusing on their core strength: powerful indexing flexible search. I found this immensely frustrating, although I also found their team, including still chairman Louise Wannier, very approachable and enthusiastic. They just never quite built on the promise of their first product.

Perhaps it was just a simple case of Enfish being ahead of their time. Now all the big players are throwing out products that pretty much do what Enfish Tracker did eight years ago. But none of them has quite the style that Tracker Pro had, I reckon. Bye-bye, weird hand-shaped fish thing.

The Fish That Was Ahead of Its Time

This is old news but it still comes as something of a shock to me: You have probably never heard of Enfish but you see its legacy in every desktop search program you’ll come across. That’s because the company helped promote the idea that searching your own files was as useful an activity as searching the Internet. This was back in 1998. It wasn’t entirely novel (there was something called Discovery put out by Altavista), but they did it amazingly well with an application called Tracker Pro that has, in my view, never been improved upon (including by Enfish themselves).

The software, as far as I can recall, only worked on Windows 98 but it was powerful, powerful stuff. It indexed your hard drive, network drives and removable drives in the background (OK, there were some performance issues, but nothing you couldn’t overcome) and searches were lightning fast. What I particularly loved about it were the trackers — complex searches you could save and launch from a sidebar. You could give those strings a user friendly name and then share them with other users. You could also, if I remember correctly, tag files to make for more customized, personal searches. All this in a pretty cool interface, which let you view the document, email or whatever within Tracker Pro itself.

Those days have long since been over. Enfish — Enter, Find, Share — developed in different directions. Since late last year, Enfish as a company and product basically doesn’t exist. Instead you find this message on their website:

Dear Enfish Customers, As of November 1, 2005, Enfish Software will no longer sell its own products, but rather license its technology and patents to others.

From now on the technology has been licensed to another company, EasyReach, which I’m hoping to try out. The sad thing to me was that Enfish, despite a really strong first product, seemed to veer off in the wrong direction, instead of focusing on their core strength: powerful indexing flexible search. I found this immensely frustrating, although I also found their team, including still chairman Louise Wannier, very approachable and enthusiastic. They just never quite built on the promise of their first product.

Perhaps it was just a simple case of Enfish being ahead of their time. Now all the big players are throwing out products that pretty much do what Enfish Tracker did eight years ago. But none of them have quite the style that Tracker Pro did, in my view.

This week’s column – Hard-Disk Hunters

This week’s Loose Wire column is about hard disk indexers, a topic familiar to those of you reading this blog. 

CONSIDER THIS: Your hard drive probably contains more info than you could ever imagine. Say you’ve got a modest hard drive of 20 gigabytes. That’s the equivalent of about 20 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Or 20,000 floppy disks. That’s a lot of stuff, and, chances are, you have little or no idea what’s actually on there or, if you do, how to find it. Be ignorant no more: Help is at hand.

Now, I know we’ve been here before. One of my bugbears has been the lack of a decent program to find files on your computer. By this I don’t mean looking for anything particularly obscure, just your last letter home, or the e-mail you got from the accounts department demanding your expense report from covering the Burma Campaign. Simple stuff, and it’s always annoyed me that Internet search engines do this so much better on the world wide Web than they do on our own Word files or e-mails. (Mac fans will chime in at this point and say they’ve always had this feature; Windows fans will say XP has its own search-and-index function. But, with respect to both groups, I’d say neither is particularly useful and, in the case of XP’s, practical. It’s clunky, hard to figure out, and slows your computer down to a snail’s pace.) But now sharp new programs promise to do something about this, and they are aimed directly at the casual user who just wants to find stuff, without a lot of fuss.

In the column I mention most of the indexers listed here. Full text at the Far Eastern Economic Review (subscription required, trial available) or at WSJ.com (subscription required). Old columns at feer.com here.

Offer: Enfish Going Cheap, and Looking It Too

 I’m a tad worried about Enfish. Once the great white hope of computer indexing, I can’t help feeling they’re floundering. I just received an email — about five copies of it, to be precise — which seems to offer a version of Enfish’s Find product at a discount.
 
 
From what I can figure out in the email and on the website, Enfish Find can be bought for $44.95 – 10% off the full price. Fair enough, but why such an incomprehensible email, and why the typos? Enfish is still a good product, but it’s facing stiff competition from the more energetic X1 Technologies. Sloppy promotions aren’t going to help.