Those folks over at Google just blow me away. Everything they touch certainly turns to gold. They know how to make (or buy up) some quality products! And what's more, so much of their stuff is FREE! I don't know how they do it or what sneaky plans they may have to take over the tech world, but for now, they're tops on my list for cool stuff.
If you are a regular reader, you probably already have your own, free copy of Picasa. If not, go download yourself a copy. This amazing photo cataloging program is brilliant. Not only cool looking, but it will find all the junk on your hard drive and let you organize it. Just last week, Beth Melton asked me for copies of photos from an MVP Summit that she thought she'd lost. I told her about Picasa. A few minutes later she emailed me back with big thanks, telling me she found the photos almost immediately on her computer. See this article for details:
Picasa—The Coolest Photo Software...FREE!
A few months ago I found a program called Free Hand. This program allowed you to index your hard drive to more easily and quickly find files. I asked them to offer up a free copy to our readers. And although they said, "Sure!", they never got back to me. I was frustrated that they dropped the ball. But now I'm glad, because, although Free Hand touts that it uses the Google search engine technology, that program isn't nearly as cool as Google's new, free Desktop search program.
I've heard some people ask "why would I want a search engine for my computer?" Nothing against those innocents, but anyone who uses their computer regularly and has a huge hard drive knows how impossible it is to quickly locate the files you need. Windows search is slow and sucks up so many resources that it's nearly impossible to do anything but sit and wait during a search, even on my fast system. And with 97 email sub folders (yes, I just counted them!) just for my most recent emails, not to mention my archive PST with over 10 months of additional email, totaling over 1.5 gig in size, finding that one email can be a task in itself. Granted, all those sub folders are what help me organize my files to help me locate things faster. But it still can be a chore.
Enter Google Desktop Search!
Google has concocted a method that allows you to use their ground-breaking search technology to quickly locate files on your hard drive. And let me tell you, it's cut my search down a ton over the few weeks that I've been using this beta version. If you would like to download your own copy, know that you must be running Win2000 SP3 or any version of Windows XP. Click this link to go to their download page: http://desktop.google.com/.
This will take you to their download page, as shown below. The download and installation is quick and easy. You'll be on your way before you know it.
Once installed, it sits and waits, in your SysTray, for you to call it into action for a search.
But even more convenient, if you are like me and have Google as your home page, the Desktop feature is now added to your search page. Note in the image below, I can search my desktop by simply clicking the desktop link along the top.
And by the way...to the folks at Google, thank so much for keeping your home page clutter free and easy to use! Sheesh, have you seen Yahoo's home page lately. Granted, they've cleaned it up some, but it's still loaded with junk and advertising. I hope Google never goes the clutter route!
Click on the Desktop link within your newly updated Google home page, or double click the SysTray icon for Google Desktop. You will be taken to the screen shown below. Here you can use your usual search criteria methods, but rather than searching the web, you'll be searching your own hard drive.
And no! None of your personal files are being transferred to Google or anyone else for that matter. Well, at least not through this method. But then again, if you are foolish enough to be surfing the web without a firewall firmly in place, your system was most likely compromised by hackers about 5 minutes after you signed on (no, I'm NOT kidding!). They're probably swiping your personal files as we speak! (If you want to know more about Firewalls, see this TechTrax article:
Whassa Firewall, Dude?)
As a Technical Consultant, I work with a lot of clients at the same time, so I often have to refer back to project proposals or spec sheets to brush up on all the requirements of a particular project when gears shift. I do keep all my client files organized in my email, my hard drive and through their own secure Extranet site on my web site. But sometimes I might not remember in which format a recent file or conversation was saved. With Google Desktop, I can search out several file formats and locations at once!
Here I enter Proposal as my search criteria, as well as selecting to have the most recent references shown by date. One of my current clients is the famous author and Kennedy assassination expert, Paris Flammonde. I'm currently helping him finalize the formatting to his forthcoming (incredible historical compilation) book updating his Kennedy Conspiracy book of the 60s...The Kennedy Coups d' Etat, by Paris Flammonde.
As you can see below, the instant results of my search are the most recent proposal update and spec sheet docs on the project. Too cool! But not only do I quickly find the related files I need, but notice along the top that it also shows email and web history.
If I click on the email, I'll not only see the list of recent emails related to proposals, but a click on one shows me the actual email! And notice, too, that links are right there to allow me to reply, which would bring up that email through my Outlook email client and set me up with a reply email to Paris, if needed.
What's more...a click on the Thread link for the above email displays all recent emails related to that same conversation. And as his book project rolls to its completion, you can see that we have been passing several quick emails to verify details
My clients also receive their own Extranet site to allow them to more easily access information through these organized, secure sites. Therefore, that one same search also provides me with links to all my extranet sites that have proposal information. A quick click would take me to the site. And a cached image of the page helps me easily see which is which.
Incredible stuff! And since it's still in beta (testing mode), who knows what other features they may add before it's finished. (Note, although it is in beta, it's incredibly stable and I've had no problems with it...well, other than having to relearn how to refine my searches a bit...thanks to the tons of junk I have on my computer!)
A must have for all serious computer users.