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Every time I read your site, I am blown away by
how info-dense your posts are. It is good to have
you back actively posting.


Thanks! Every time I see your name, I think of the Foo Fighters' "This is a Call" which said, "Ritilan is good". ;)


From The Now Economy's blogpost, Fluffy Bunny is a WinSock-puppet:

...we found that Google Desktop Server actually hooks into Windows' TCP/IP stack to directly modify incoming traffic from Google's websites to splice its local results in. Once you install GDS, there's a bit of Google's code running inside every Windows application that talks to the Internet.

It's done using a long-established hook in WinSock2, its Layered Transport Service Provider Interface (SPI)...

More notes: Fluffy Bunny Burrows into WinSock...


I like Google Desktop a lot myself, although I am slightly hampered by running Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird instead of the Microsoft alternatives. However, they have said they will do something about that and add more file formats over time. But the idea is so right!


First Microsoft bought Lookout, and now Yahoo! is buying Stata Labs. Analyses:


I use my Google Desktop everyday at work, usually about a dozen times a day, and I've found it to be very helpful. I still haven't installed it on my home machine (which I still need to bring together all the files I want indexed -- it'll be a multihour project and I don't want to start it till I know I have time to finish) nor on my laptop (not enough room on my hard drive left to create the index).


Microsoft Desktop Search Revealed:

Tom Warren has the world-exclusive first public look at the MSN Toolbar Suite. The suite consists of two products, the MSN Toolbar/Deskbar, and MSN Desktop Search.

The MSN Toolbar/Deskbar is a series of toolbars: One for Outlook, one for Internet Explorer / Windows Explorer, plus the MSN Deskbar. The toolbars reside in their respective programs, while the Deskbar goes in the taskbar, much like the Windows Media Player Toolbar, and all of them allow you to search, either based on whatever program you're in, or globally. It integrates fully with Windows, and with Desktop Search.

MSN Desktop Search is much like Google Desktop Search. It indexes your hard drive in real time, and delivers results very speedily. Unlike Google's product, Tom says MSN Desktop Search allows you to search for the author of a file which may mean it searches metadata like Apple's Spotlight, which in turn may mean it can search for other metadata items, and Windows does allow for a lot of metadata.

Google Desktop Search landed with a splash, but interest seems to have fizzled, as many realized how limited it is. Speed isn't everything, and like MSN Search to Google Search, MSN Desktop is likely to be comparable in that area. Even one or two extra features is going to give Microsoft a significant edge. Google might want to think about upgrading its product's capabilities, and fast. MSN's is coming next month.
(via Slashdot and Search Engine Watch)


Jon Udell on Firefox History in Google Desktop Search:

I dusted off an earlier proxy project and turned it into a local proxy that writes the web pages I view in Firefox out to the filesystem. Once they're exported with .html extensions, Google indexes them.

My solution is a just a quick hack. It would need some refinement to be generally useful...

Everybody seems to have a different reason to care about Google's desktop search tool. For me, it's finding things I've seen on web pages. That's huge. My proxy project was aiming to do something more ambitious -- convert pages to XHTML (where possible) and enable structured search within them. But plain old fulltext search that encompasses the pages I've read -- whether I got there by way of Google, or A9, or a referral from a web page or email or word-of-mouth -- is a killer app for me.

By the way, this same approach works for any datatype that can be exported as text to the filesystem.


Update. Claus Dahl pointed me to a better solution. Ken Schutte's Slogger is a Firefox extension that saves your viewed pages -- and comes with a toolbar button so you can turn the faucet on or off at will. Nice! Of course you can use any indexer on the output, not just Google's.

Update 2: Jacques Surveyer has an excellent summary of alternatives (including several free ones) to Google's desktop search.


Via John Battelle we found this eweek piece by Bruce Schneier:

The problem is that GDS indexes and finds documents that you may prefer not be found. For example, GDS searches your browser's cache. This allows it to find old Web pages you've visited, including online banking summaries, personal messages sent from Web e-mail programs and password-protected personal Web pages.

GDS can also retrieve encrypted files. No, it doesn't break the encryption or save a copy of the key. However, it searches the Windows cache, which can bypass some encryption programs entirely. And if you install the program on a computer with multiple users, you can search documents and Web pages for all users.

...Some people blame Google for these problems and suggest, wrongly, that Google fix them. What if Google were to bow to public pressure and modify GDS to avoid showing confidential information? The underlying problems would remain: The private Web pages would still be in the browser's cache; the encryption program would still be leaving copies of the plain-text files in the operating system's cache; and the administrator could still eavesdrop on anyone's computer to which he or she has access. The only thing that would have changed is that these vulnerabilities once again would be hidden from the average computer user.

In the end, this can only harm security.

GDS is very good at searching. It's so good that it exposes vulnerabilities on your computer that you didn't know about. And now that you know about them, pressure your software vendors to fix them. Don't shoot the messenger.

Well stated. I've found GDS very useful thus far, for what it's worth. But I haven't installed it on any machines I share with other people, nor am I inclined to anytime soon.


From the AP newswire...

Yahoo Adding Tool to Search Hard Drives

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo Inc. is adding a tool to search computer hard drives as it scrambles to catch up with Google Inc. and stay a step ahead of Microsoft Corp. in the battle to help users sort through gobs of information on the Internet and the desktop.

Yahoo announced the plan late Thursday, but will wait until January to introduce the free tool for searching e-mails and a wide variety of other files stored on computers operate on Windows.

Unlike Google's desktop search tool, Yahoo's won't operate within a browser. The distinction means that Yahoo's desktop searches won't be co-mingled with online searches conducted at its Web site.

The product, licensed from a pioneering startup named X1 Technologies, seeks to cure a common computer-induced headache by making it as quick and easy to find digital information offline as it has become online.

With just 20 employees, X1 has established itself as a trailblazer in desktop search since starting three years ago. The private Pasadena-based company has been charging $74.95 for its search software and plans to continue to license its products to businesses even as Yahoo distributes a version for free.

The rush to develop better technology for scouring computer hard drives reflects a belief that desktop search is an increasingly important complement to online search engines, where advertising has become a major moneymaker.

Yahoo had been widely expected to take this step since Google introduced a hard-drive search tool nearly two months ago. Microsoft's MSN service hopes to introduce a similar product before year's end and Ask Jeeves Inc., which runs several online search engines, plans to unveil its desktop offering next Wednesday.

The competitive pressure likely motivated Yahoo to license an existing product.

"Some people may pooh pooh this because Yahoo didn't build it on their own, but this is going to give consumers some really good choices," said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.

Both Yahoo and X1 contend it makes sense to maintain a dividing line between hard-drive search and Web search because one quest focuses on recovering old information while the other strives to discover new information.

"It's kind of like looking for information that you know exists and looking for information that you think might exist somewhere out there," said X1 president Josh Jacobs.

Keeping the two functions separate will also will help Yahoo do a more thorough job of searching hard drives, said Jeff Weiner, who oversees Yahoo's search division.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also says its product can sift through more than 225 different data types, including many formats that Google's desktop search can't index yet.

Neither Yahoo nor X1 disclosed financial details of their partnership. Yahoo already had spent about $2 billion to acquire much of the technology behind the online search engine that it introduced earlier this year to compete with Google, which is based in Mountain View, Calif.

"The ultimate vision is to create a dashboard to help people manage their digital lives," said Weiner.

John Battelle has more info and an update.


And now Ask Jeeves has a desktop search product, too. Here's some posts from John Battelle on the subject:

John reminds us that Lycos was in this game early as well. And Yahoo's partnership with X1 for Yahoo desktop search should come out in early 2005.

We have only seen the beginning of what Fishers are capable of. We may not go so far as CaptSolo's parody... but why not? ;)


John Battelle pointed at the New York Times, which refers to a Rice University team who discovered a composition security flaw in GDS. Apparently, though,

The Google desktop program includes an update feature that permits the company to automatically install new versions of the program on users' computers without user intervention or knowledge.

I'm not sure whether I should be relieved or frightened that the Fluffy Bunny running on my machine is able to fix itself with no warning (or ability for me to check) whatsoever.


Google Desktop Search is off Beta.

John Battelle points out the interesting features -- the most important of which are the APIs. The Google Group for GDS has so many posts I can't keep up.

Zwoddy likey support for Berkeley mbox format; rut roh Yahoo, time to ketchup. (And what's this about buying flickr? Stop getting distracted and keep your eye on the ball...)

The comments to this entry are closed.



  • John Battelle: The Search

    John Battelle: The Search
    My favorite book of 2005. Period.


  • Steven D. Levitt: Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

    Steven D. Levitt: Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
    "Just because two things are correlated does not mean that one causes the other. A correlation simply means that a relationship exists between two factors -- let's call them X and Y -- but it tells you nothing about the direction of that relationship. It's possible that X causes Y; it's also possible that Y causes X; and it may be that X and Y are both being caused by some other factor, Z.

    Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.

    Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. The conventional wisdom is often wrong. Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle, causes. Experts use their informational advantage to serve their own agenda. Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes a complicated world much less so." (*****)

  • Malcolm Gladwell: Blink

    Malcolm Gladwell: Blink
    A book of anecdotes about the power of thinking without thinking; this book is a more interesting read than Gladwell's previous, The Tipping Point.

    New York Times: "Gottman believes that each relationship has a DNA, or an essential nature. It's possible to take a very thin slice of that relationship, grasp its fundamental pattern and make a decent prediction of its destiny. Gladwell says we are thin-slicing all the time -- when we go on a date, meet a prospective employee, judge any situation. We take a small portion of a person or problem and extrapolate amazingly well about the whole."

    David Brooks, who wrote that review, adds: "Isn't it as possible that the backstage part of the brain might be more like a personality, some unique and nontechnological essence that cannot be adequately generalized about by scientists in white coats with clipboards?" (*****)

  • Paul Graham: Hackers and Painters

    Paul Graham: Hackers and Painters
    I don't agree with some parts of this book, but I truly loved reading it, and it really made me think. I referenced it in my weblications and superhacker and phoneboy posts. Favorite chapter is How to Make Wealth. (Thanks, Ev.) (*****)

  • Joel Spolsky: Joel on Software

    Joel Spolsky: Joel on Software
    Joel is really good at wielding "diverse and occasionally related matters of interest to software developers, designers, and managers, and those who, whether by good fotune or ill luck, work with them in some capacity."

    Joel on Software embodies the principle of "Welcome to management! Guess what? Managing software projects has nothing at all to do with programming." This book, a compendium of the website's wisdom, is useful for everyone from team leads estimating schedules to software CEOs developing competitive strategy. (*****)

  • Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning The Next Fifty Years

    Bruce Sterling: Tomorrow Now: Envisioning The Next Fifty Years
    Bruce wrote this book to come to terms with seven novel aspects of the twenty-first century, situations that are novel to that epoch and no other. It's about future possibilities.

    "This is the future as it is felt and understood: via human experience... The years to come are not merely imaginary. They are history that hasn't happened yet. People will be born into these coming years, grow to maturity in them, struggle with their issues, personify those years, and bear them in their flesh. The future will be lived." Here here, well-spoken, Bruce. (*****)

  • The World's 20 Greatest Unsolved Problems: John Vacca

    The World's 20 Greatest Unsolved Problems: John Vacca
    "Science has extended life, conquered disease, and offered new sexual and commercial freedoms through its rituals of discovery, but many unsolved problems remain...

    If support for science falters and if the American public loses interest in it, such apathy may foster an age in which scientific elites ignore the public will and global imperatives." (*****)

  • Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins : Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

    Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins : Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
    I had the pleasure recently of meeting Amory Lovins and hearing him talk about Twenty Hydrogen Myths and the design of hypercar. (He also talked about Bonobos... wow.) I'm a convert to the way of thinking espoused in Natural Capitalism. I used to be cynical about the future, but Amory's work has made me a believer that many great things are about to come. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. (*****)

  • Merrill R. Chapman: In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters

    Merrill R. Chapman: In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters
    In hilarious prose, this book catalogs lots of stoopid high-tech marketing decisions. It offers clear, detailed analysis of many a marketing mishap, with what happened, why, and how to avoid such stupidity. Might just be the best. book. ever... (*****)

  • Paul Krugman: The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century

    Paul Krugman: The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century
    A book exposing the pitfalls of crony capitalism, from corrupt corporations straight up to the executive branch of our government. Krugman is nonpartisan -- what he exposes is foolish short-term thinking on the part of recent United States policies. The patriotic thing to do, he advises, is to fix these economic problems now before they become much harder to solve.

  • Henry Petroski: Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design

    Henry Petroski: Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design
    "Design can be easy and difficult at the same time, but in the end, it is mostly difficult." (*****)

  • Alexander Blakely: Siberia Bound

    Alexander Blakely: Siberia Bound
    One of my favorite books of the past few years. Xander is a master storyteller. (*****)

  • Susan Scott: Fierce Conversations

    Susan Scott: Fierce Conversations
    How to make every conversation count. One of my favorite books of the last decade. (*****)

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