Archive for the ‘Desktop’ Category

Email Indexing – Moving Back to X1

April 18, 2007

Ever since I found e-mail indexing, I cannot really live without it. I store almost all my e-mails, and I need to have immediate access to it. If I can’t search my entire corpus of history e-mail and get the results, I feel somewhat crippled.

I guess my first attempt was Google Desktop Search (GDS), and then I found something that annoyed me later in other Google applications (e.g. Picasa), but was best demonstrated in GDS – Google seems to think they know what’s best for you, and let you have very little control of the process. I really didn’t like it. I think, and this is a general note about application design, that you should have an interface that on one hand is as simple as possible so dumb users can use it without much questions, but on the other hand, you should provide as much as possible choice for advanced users to change things to their liking. GDS, for example, didn’t really let me decide what mail folders or files folders I want it to index.

I also didn’t like it that GDS shows results in the browser. I’m only interested in finding e-mails, but when I do find an e-mail, I want it to open in Outlook so I can have all the Outlook behavior I’m used to.

Then I switched to Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search (WDS), which was nice, but I couldn’t really understand when it is indexing and what. It said it has finished, but still couldn’t find a message that I was looking for. I think GDS had the same problem. I just couldn’t trust it when it said no messages met my search criteria.

And then I found X1 Enterprise Client (XEC) and really liked it – it was fast, reliable and had a nice UI. It also let me fully integrate with Outlook, e.g. open the folder in which a message reside. I’d continue using it but then I installed Office 2007 beta, and XEC didn’t work well with that version of Outlook, so I had to revert to WDS.

Today, doing a regular search (about once in a month or two) to see if XEC already supports Outlook 2007, I found out it probably does support it, so I downloaded and installed it, and once it finishes building its index, I’ll start enjoying it and getting used to be spoiled.

The problem I found in both WDS and XEC is that in doesn’t store search history (at least not that I found) so if you search for a ticket number, and then for something else, and you would like to get that number you just searched for, it won’t let you. I hope it will be added some time soon. in XEC it is a little more problematic, since because it is so fast, it can allow itself to do “find as you type”, but that means you don’t have a specific event of submitting a search in which the term you searched for should enter the history list. Nevertheless, I’m sure its developer can find a way to solve it if they really want to.

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Office Picture Manager and other programs

March 20, 2007

I recently found Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and I must say I’m quite impressed.

For viewing pictures I use IrfanView, and for managing my photos I use Picasa, but from time to time I need some ad-hoc operations on files, and for this, Office Picture Manager does a great job. Here are two examples:

  • I needed to crop faces from some family pictures to put in the profiles my Geni‘s family tree. Cropping was never so easy with Office Picture Manager.
  • I collect screenshots of our customers screens, and some times when they open a case, they send a word document with screenshots. I found that the best way to get an image out of a Word document to a graphic file is simply to paste it in Office Picture Manager.

It takes some getting used to, as it has these side-bar task panes instead of dialogs, but for the kind of work I need it for, it does the work.

Speaking good on Microsoft, I’m feeling quite comfort with their Windows Live Writer, although it is in beta. This is rather surprising, as I usually don’t publish anything nowadays without passing it through Word 2007 wonderful spell checker but since it saves me the hassle of re-introducing the links after copying the edited text, I’m going with it. I hope I don’t make any embarrassing mistakes. I also hope that the Writer team will find a way to integrate it with Word 2007 spell checker. One other missing option is the ability to easily add a category from Writer.

Speaking of Word 2007, I plan to have a post where I list all the good things I found in Office 2007 versus the annoying things.

And finally, speaking of graphics software, I’m in a constant search for a replacement to Picasa. After all, Google doesn’t really know how to build desktop application that pleases developers. They make it too simple with no advanced options (not to mention scripting), and that really annoys me. But the most two features that annoys me are the amazing thing that you don’t easily see what albums a pictures is already related to, and also the annoying but with the keywords auto-completion for non-English languages (can’t find a link right now).

I do like the option to relate each picture to several categories (a.k.a tagging, a.k.a albums) which is not found in every other photo manager. Obviously, Flickr would be the right place to go, but my wife don’t like the idea of having our pictures on the web.

The one application I miss

February 9, 2007

There is really one application I recently miss – a task bar fish-eye magnifier.

I tend to use the Quick Launch toolbar in the task bar a lot. I even set it in a top, separate line to start all sorts of macros and applications that do quick handy things for me. It turns out that although I know how to find my way in Windows using the keyboard, I’m not the kind of guy who would use Launchy for these kind of things.

The problem is, I always find myself looking for the icon I need. What I would like is that when I’m approaching the task bar area with the mouse, icons will start growing, with optionally displaying their description, so it is easier to choose. Something like what Alexei did, or what the dojo toolkit has.

I know that there is a Yahoo! Widget that does it, and also sTabLauncher, but they are both too large, and are placed it in a different location on the screen, which interferes with my day-to-day work. I want an application that acts directly on the Quick Launch toolbar and other toolbars in the task bar.

I might end up writing it someday…