Monday, December 13, 2004

Desktop Search engines

Microsoft is set to release their desktop search engine this morning. This won't be the real release of the product (that will come next year), but Microsoft is feeling the heat from competitors and wants to show that they are in the mix. Google's beta release has been out for some time. Yahoo announced their search engine last week. Other brands, such as Copernicus have been around longer. Why am I not posting links to these products? For one thing, I haven't tried any of them out yet. Why? Because I have no pressing need. Sure, I've got 200GB of storage space on my PC, but I tend to organize things in such a way as I can generally find them. It's an anal habit of mine back from my days as an archivist. Hence, I find all of the current hoopla about desktop search engines to be rather puzzling. Is there a real need that people have for these things? Is this technology premature since the average person doesn't have large amounts of disk space yet and also doesn't record video on their PCs (also, yet)? Why are companies anxious to tout their technology for a product that they are giving away for free?

I must admit, I'm puzzled by this. It's a bit like which browser you use. There is no inherent monetary value in using one browser over another. The browser costs the user no money and, near as I can tell, brings in no revenue for the builders. I suspect that in part is why Microsoft let IE's capabilities slip and let other companies at first build shells on IE, then build competitors to it altogether.

Be that as it may, I will point out an open source desktop search engine does exist and it's called Beagle. I've not used it, but you should be aware of it when making a choice to download one of these products for whatever reason you might have for it.

Since I was just kicking around browsers and IE, and since regular readers are aware that I'm an advocate for browsers other than IE and use Firefox, let me point out that, according to Information Week, Penn State has sent an alert to faculty and students to drop IE for security concerns and switch to one of a number of other browsers. That's another 80,000 potentially lost customers for Microsoft. Not that it brings in any money...

Continuing on in Geekdom, are you stuck for what to get the geek in your life for Xmas? She already owns the latest games, has the mother of all boards, more RAM than Dodge ever dreamed of, and you're at wit's end because you want to avoid another gift certificate. No worries. Why don't you give her a gift that she can, and more importantly - will, wear: a t-shirt with outdated computer error messages.

Finally, this doesn't really belong in this series of posts, but anyone in geekdom should love the idea of a ramen noodles theme park.

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