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Fast Forward: Desktop Search

Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Personal Technology Columnist
Monday, March 28, 2005; 2:00 PM

Fast Forward's Rob Pegoraro was online to answer reader questions on his latest column, which examined desktop search applications.

Want to know what upcoming topics are being covered? Sign up for the Fast Forward e-letter -- get updated information on personal technology news and product demos. Read past editions of Rob's e-letter online here.

Rob Pegoraro (The Post)

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Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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Rob Pegoraro: Greetings on a miserably cold, rainy day here in D.C.--perfect weather to hunker down in front of the monitor's warm glow. We've got a bunch of questions about desktop-search programs, the subject of my column yesterday, a few queries about Sony's PSP (my column from two Sundays back) and a grab-bag of other items. Let's get moving...

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Rockville, Md.: You said in the article: "Google was the quickest and, as a result, the most accurate, routinely finding Web pages viewed only minutes before." How does it follow that the quickest one is necessarily the most accurate? One does not imply the other. In fact, in writing software, the quickest one is often times the most inaccurate one, because accuracy is traded off for speed.

Jack, software engineer for 30 years

Rob Pegoraro: In this case, "quickest" did mean "most accurate"--the slower programs missed more recent documents/e-mails/Web pages that they hadn't indexed yet.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you know of any good books or articles that explain how to handle basic music-related tasks on your computer -- e.g., converting LPs and tapes to digital format, encoding CD tracks to MP3 format, converting files from one MP3 format to another (e.g., WMA to AAC or vice-versa) -- particularly using free or low-cost software? Any leads would be much appreciated!

washingtonpost.com: A Closer Look: Digital Transformation Revives Old Records (March 6, 2005)

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks for the link--that's the how-to piece we ran a few weeks ago, which I hope will answer your question.

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Whitley City, Ky.: Wouldn't it benefit the system if every website were assigned a library type code so that search engines could systematically pinpoint the desired data? I searched for "used books," and I got an airline "booking" agency and an automobile "bluebook."

Rob Pegoraro: And if pigs had wings, they could fly! Sorry, but in a world where anybody can put up a Web page about anything from almost any location, the chances of such a centralized registry are zero.

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Damascus, Md.: Mr. P,

I recently purchased a used Dell laptop w/o an OS. I plan on purchasing Windows XP Pro and installing it in a dual-boot config w/ Red Hat Linux 7.2

Q1: should I install XP first, then Linux?

Q2: Can you recommend an inexpensive wireless router for use with a dial-up modem? Much obliged.

Paul K.

Rob Pegoraro: Install XP first, but make sure you set up a second partition for Red Hat using the XP installer (it's an option very early on in the process). RH 7.2 will be able to take that second partition, then split it up further into the usual root, boot and swap partitions.

Can't recommend any one WiFi router because they're almost commodity parts--and in your case, whatever software is bundled with it won't matter, since that bundle most likely won't run in Linux anyway.

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Fairlington, Va.: I saw something this morning that said Microsoft will soon have a new operating system out. You have to be kidding me. I just got Windows XP -- I don't want to be behind the curve again so soon. Argh. Know any details on their plans?

Rob Pegoraro: Microsoft has been working on the successor to XP--which, I should note, shipped *four years ago* this fall--for a while now. It's currently nicknamed Longhorn, but will carry some other moniker when it's released. That won't happen until next summer, but could be later than that. Longhorn has already had quite a few delays, enough for Microsoft to have decided to remove some planned features to get it out earlier.

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Beltsville, Md.: In the Help File, someone asked about how to keep attached pictures from appearing in the body of the recipient's email. Another option would be to put the pictures in a zip file, and send that zip file.

washingtonpost.com: Help File: Undoing a Disk Partition and E-mailing Photos (March 27, 2005)

Rob Pegoraro: I thought of including that option, but that seemed much more likely to annoy the recipients--they'll have to use two different programs to view the pictures, not just one.

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Boston: So the only hope for us Mac users looking for a desktop search is the upcoming Tiger OS?

Rob Pegoraro: There's a version of Blinkx for the Mac, but I did not try that.

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Pauls Valley, Okla.: I am anachronistic. I use Netscape 7.2 to browse and WordPerfect to write. Is there a best desktop browser for me? M J Schade

Rob Pegoraro: Sure--Google Desktop supports Netscape, and you can download a free plug-in to enable WordPerfect searching: http://desktop.google.com/plugins.html

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McLean, VA: Which of the programs ueses the least RAM? I tried Copernic and it was much too slow.

Rob Pegoraro: From what I can tell, MSN uses the least--but because this program hooks into IE and the Windows desktop more deeply than the other search apps I tested, it could be using more memory than the Task Manager's process listing lets on.

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Washington, D.C.: Rob,

Thanks for your time, I am currently looking into upgrading my PC from a Celeron chip to a Pentium 4 chip. What are some of the obstacles I face and is it really worth the upgrade?

Rob Pegoraro: It may not be worth it. How much memory is on your PC? If it's 256 or less, try upgrading to 512 megs total first--a far simpler, cheaper option than a processor swap, and one that may yield a more notable performance boost.

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Washington, D.C.: I recall hearing about security risks posed by the desktop search programs, but you don't bring that up. Do those risks still exist? What are they?

Rob Pegoraro: One possible risk is that these programs might surreptitously upload the contents of your disk to some random Web site. But a) that would be suicidal for any of these companies, since b) such an attempt would easily be spotted in the wild.

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McLean, VA: If msn is so deeply embedded, can it be removed if I don't like it?

Rob Pegoraro: Yes--I concluded my review by uninstalling all of these programs, and all departed my test laptop without leaving any reminders of their presence. (There's more info on this in this morning's newsletter.)

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Greensboro, N.C.: Hi Rob,

You mentioned in your article that Apple has a desktop function built in to its new OS that is coming out in Spring. Have you tried it yet? If so, (or not), how does it compare to the downloadable ones from Google et al?

Also, any idea what decade Microsoft will get this type of search feature built into Windows? I ask because Longhorn keeps getting delayed and I heard Microsoft is pulling functionality out of it in order to get it released at all.

Thanks for the insights,

Rob Pegoraro: Nope, haven't tried Tiger. The only people who have are Apple developers (or people who got a bootleg test copy from a developer).

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Cumming, GA: Is desk-top search the same type of indexed-search as performed by WordPerfect's Quickfinder or Redhat's Ask Wilbur?

Rob Pegoraro: I'm not familiar with those two programs, but you're correct in guessing that the desktop-search apps I reviewed are all index-based. They first inventory all the files on your PC, then keep that inventory updated by regularly scanning for changes. When you want to find something, they look to that index--a much faster process than scanning the whole machine from scratch each time.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Hi Rob,

I need to download a xvid codec for my media player. How would I go about doing this? Can you tell me where a reliable codec download site is? Thanks!

Rob Pegoraro: No. I don't know what media player software you're running, or even what operating system that is. I'm not a mind reader, y'know :)

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Washington, DC: Hi Rob,

It has come to my attention that I need an electronic organizer. I am on a strict budget and am not very familiar with the field, but am a fast learner. What do you suggest I look at? I really can't afford to spend more than a hundred bucks, though 75 would be ideal. I don't need it to be a phone, just something that will help me get organized.
Thanks!;

Rob Pegoraro: Palm's Zire 21 costs $100 and should do the trick.

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Richmond, VA: Are any desktop searches out there compatible with little-known and seldom-used browsers such as Maxthon and Opera?

Rob Pegoraro: I don't think any of the ones I tried supports Opera, at least not yet. Maxthon indexing might work, since that's basically IE underneath a custom skin, but I didn't test that.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Speaking of Longhorn, WinFS, the special file system that was supposed to make things like searching for files a whole lot better, has been pushed back. When it is released eventually, how will it change the user experience?

Rob Pegoraro: Couldn't tell ya, C-ville--I haven't tried it and only know of it from demos and descriptions. (Longhorn will still feature an improved file-search program, it just won't be built on top of this new filesystem format.)

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Crofton, MD: This may be a little off the mark, but...I installed Firefox about a month ago and so far I don't see the magic. I've been a Netscape guy fm day one and there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between NS 7.2 and Firefox. What am I missing?

Rob Pegoraro: Firefox is simpler and faster than Netscape, is much better about letting you know when you're at a secure, legit site (as opposed to some phishing scam that's designed to look like your bank's home page) and installs without putting a lot of AOL crap on your machine.

OTOH, Firefox doesn't include an e-mail client, AOL IM support or any Web-authoring software.

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Sterling Va: The most difficult part of any of these solutions seems to be indexing the information so that the search function can operate.

Has this been your experience as well?

Rob Pegoraro: Indexing is difficult for the programmers to get right, but you, the user, don't need to do anything except wait for the initial index to be built. I recommend installing one of these things before you go to bed or head off to work, then letting it grind away while you're asleep or out.

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Fairfax, Va: I have been using a more samantic approach to search
such as Grokker. Have you had a chance to play with
such a tool? Very interesting. Provides a level of structure
not found in other search tools.

Rob Pegoraro: Here's our review of the Grokker Web-search tool. My reviewer thought it was a neat, creative program... but also not worth the $49 price unless you're paid to research things online.

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washington DC: Copernic has a particularly good desktop search offering. How do you think they compare to Google's Offering? It seems that Copernic is much more thorough (many more file types) and sensetive to performance when it comes to indexing. Is that your experience?

Rob Pegoraro: I like what Copernic aims to do--there's a test version of that app, for example, that indexes quite a few other file types, such as e-mail stored in the Mozilla Thunderbird program. But I didn't like the way the interface not only requires you to choose a particular type of search (e-mail, Web history, contacts, etc.) but would not then let me run the same query against everything on the computer.

Sometimes you can't even remember where you saw something, in e-mail or on the Web, and a seach program should allow for that level of forgetfulness.

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Washington, DC: Do all of these programs index content as soon as it is "saved" on your computer?

Rob Pegoraro: Not as soon, but very soon after. (If I remember Apple's briefing on the Spotlight search program built into Mac OS X Tiger correctly, in that case applications will be able to silently notify Spotlight when they write new relevant data to the disk, allowing for that sort of instant indexing.)

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Annapolis, MD: Rob,
In addition to the software you mentioned in yesterday's article on desktop search tools, have you ever used "X1" ? The most recent versions are incredibly fast and can be set to update its index as often as you want. I've found it well worth the $75 I paid.

Rob Pegoraro: Yahoo's search program is based on X1 (as you can see from the X1 logo at the top-right corner of its screen).

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Fairfax, VA: After reading the article, and some others, I'm still a bit
unclear about what's actually new about these programs.
What exactly will these programs allow me to do/make
easier that I can't do right now? How do they differ from
earlier efforts at comprehensive search programs like
Sherlock?

Rob Pegoraro: Sherlock (see Apple's propaganda here) is a different sort of search utility. It provides shortcuts to search multiple Web sites, then present only the data you want from each site. It's most akin, at least conceptually, to the Web clipping service Palm offered with its first round of wireless handhelds.

Sherlock can look for files on your computer, but it doesn't do the sort of indexing-by-content of diverse data types offered by the programs I reviewed. You can search for text inside a file, IIRC, but that's it in Sherlock.

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Arlington, VA: Another "security risk" in the Google desktop search was discovered on our shared family computer. It does search everything, including personal emails. So in an innocent search for something, among the results might be hits from my teenage son's yahoo mail account, etc.

Rob Pegoraro: Google Desktop can't find anything done on the Web that your Web browser hasn't already stored. You can opt to have it not index data sent over a secure Web session, which should include any financial and many Web-mail sites; you can also tell it to ignore any data sent from a particular Web domain or sub-domain--say, mail.yahoo.com.

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Sterling Va: Which application is the easiest to use when searching email, Outlook specifically?

Rob Pegoraro: For Outlook use in particular, I would give the nod to MSN (even though I have many objections to it otherwise) and Google.

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Sterling Va: There are other solutions out there, have you tried SERglobalBrain?

Rob Pegoraro: Hadn't even heard of it until your note! However, seeing as the personal edition costs $149, I don't think I'll be reviewing it anytime soon. That's a bit much for this category of product--or almost any type of software used on a home computer short of operating systems and office suites.

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Rockville, Md.: I installed Google Desktop successfully and it finished indexing all my files. Then, one day, I was browsing the web (this was about two months ago when I still used IE - now I use Firefox) when all of the sudden IE froze. It had never done this before. I tried to Ctrl+Alt+Delete and to go to the task manager (I was using XP) with right click > task manager on the task bar. However, I kept getting an error that there was not enough memory. This is strange since, even with only 256MB RAM, I never get even close to using all of it. I pressed the shutdown button on the computer to shutdown and then, while it was shutting down, there became enough memory for me to open task manager. IE had a peak memory usage of 1GB - yes, IE for some reason used 1GB of RAM when I only have about 600MB when you count page filing. I uninstalled Google Desktop, thinking it as the culprit, and never had the problem again - until last week. I was using IE to go to Windows Updates (I use Firefox for everything else) when I got distracted and visited a website with IE. I opened up about six windows and clicked a lot of links - bad decision. It overloaded my computer. IE was using 400MB of memory, explorer.exe was using another 200MB, and my total memory automatically jumped (thankfully) from 600MB to 800MB as my page file increased. I restarted, knowing that it wasn't Google Desktop's fault, and I was going to reinstall Google Desktop. However, when I found that it would add a second deskbar to the one I already have (can't it use the same one?) I decided not to. I hope that Google, sometime soon, releases a Google Deskbar that can float (like the Google Desktop Deskbar can) AND incorporates Desktop search. Then I will download Google Desktop again.

Rob Pegoraro: First, from your note you're really describing an IE problem that has nothing to do with Google Desktop, and which you need to solve no matter what. Have you run a spyware scan lately? I can't think of what else would make IE eat that much memory.

Second, you are right that Google Desktop doesn't work through the separate Google Deskbar download--you have to choose between one and the other.

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Lorton, Va.: Search Tool? Buy a Mac and get Tiger Operating System to be released prior to 30 June 2005

Rob Pegoraro: Well, that's the problem--if you buy a Mac now, you *won't* get Tiger. If Apple acts as it has in the past, you won't even get a discount on upgrading to Tiger unless you get a Mac after Apple announces Tiger's ship date.

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San Diego, Calif.: I use WordPerfect. I installed Google Desktop, but it doesn't recognize WordPerfect text ... only file names. Google confirmed this.

Can you recommend a desktop search program that will index my hard drive and then find text, including WP?

Mike

Rob Pegoraro: See my earlier post about the GD plug-in that adds WordPerfect indexing. Or use Yahoo Desktop Seach, which has WP searching built in.

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Andy, Dayton, Ohio: Which products are able to search server files? Why do reviews rarely cover this?

Rob Pegoraro: I can't speak for the rest of computer-review press, but in my case it's because I, as the heading on my page indicates, cover "Personal Technology." That means stuff you use in your home, without being able to take a tax write-off on it or call a corporate IT help desk to get it fixed. The function you describe is outside of that realm, except for the very tiny minority of home users who have servers set up at home.

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Warrenton, VA: Hi Rob, I'm not a very frequent web shopper, but last week I tried to make a donation to an organization using their web site. I was very shocked when I got an email from them saying that the credit card number was declined and including the entire card number and expiration date in the email. I immediately cancelled that credit card.

Wasn't that incredibly foolish, even it they thought it was an incorrect number? What if it were only the expiration date wrong - a crook could try various years to see if one worked? Or, since reputable companies sometimes send only the last four digits of the card number in confirmation messages, what if that were the place where the error was and someone could put these together to get the full correct number?

Or did I over react and email is a lot more secure than I think it is?

Rob Pegoraro: No, your reaction was correct. What organization was this? (E-mail me--without your credit card number!--if you prefer: rob at twp . com)

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SAN DIEGO, CA.: (1) MOZILLA-FIREFOX HAS A MUCH LESS FRIENDLY GUI THAN/VERSUS MICROSOFT'S VIS A VIS SAVING TO FAVORITES, SAVING, E-MAILING A WEBPAGE, ...
(SOMEONE SHOULD TELL THEM TO TRY TO ALTER ITS GUI TO BE MIRE LIKE MICROSOFT'S THAT MANY HAVE/MOST USERS BECOME CONDITIONE TO!;!;!;)

WHERE ONLINE CAN I GET MOZILLA-FIREFOX INSTRUCTIONS, NOT IN BOOK FORM, BUT JUST SIMPLY SIMPLLY IN A (HOPEFULLY A (ONE-PAGE/ONE-SIDE LARGE-ENOUGH FONT-SIZE) PLASTICIZED HARD-COPY!;!;!;, BUT IF NOT ONLINE)COMPARISON OF FEATURES' USES LOOKUP-TABLE:
MOZILLA-FIREFOX WEB-BROWSER'S GUI
VERSUS
MICROSOFT-WEB-BROWSER'S GUI

(2)I T H I N K I DOWNLOADED MOZILLA-FIREFOX CORRECTLY AND T H I N K I ENABLED IT AS MY WEB-BROWSER, BUT I STILL GET MICROSOFT-BROWSER WHEN I GO ONLINE,
VERSUS WHEN I CLICK ON A WASHINGTON POST E-MAIL TO SOME ARTICLE-ALERT E-MAILED, SAY, YOUR SATURDAY ARTICLE, IT OPENS AUTOMATICALLY AS MOZILLA-FIREFOX INSTEAD.
WHY??? AND HOW DO I UNDERSTAND: HOW?, WHAT?, WHERE?, WHEN? AND WHY? AND HOW TO GET IT/THEM BOTH UNDER CONTROL???

DO I STILL HAVE THE OPTION OF WEB-BROWSING WITH EITHER IF BOTH ARE STILL INSTALLED IN ONE SINGLE COMPUTER WGHWN I GO ONLINE???

AND HOW DO I CHOOSE/ENABLE THAT/EITHER PARTICULAR OPTION REAL-TIME VERSUS SETTING IT/THEM UP BEFORE I GO ONLINE???

Rob Pegoraro: Dude, fix that Caps Lock key. It's really annoying to get a pageful of all-caps text--LIKE SOMEBODY'S SHOUTING AT YOU!

Thanks. Now, as to the content of your post:

* Firefox's bookmarks-management could be better; I've written as such. However, so could IE's. For my money, the best, simplest bookmarks management around comes in the Safari and Camino browsers for Mac OS X.

* As for Firefox help, have a look at the links on this page. They point to a few different help sites, geared towards different levels of experience.

* If Firefox is your default browser, it'll show up at the top of the Start Menu as such, and it should also be listed as the default browser in the Set Program Access and Defaults window.

* Yes, you can always open a browser besides your default program.

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Carlisle, PA: I believe the security issue with having a desktop search program is one of shared computers - don't install it at work if you fear that your coworkers will use it to search your life.

Rob Pegoraro: Sure. But in that case, you shouldn't put personal data on that machine, period--somebody who wants to snoop doesn't need to use Google Desktop. You'd best set your machine to lock the screen whenever the machine has been inactive for more than a few minutes (or ask your IT department to do so).


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Comanche, Tex.: "Internet Explorer must Close down;" "MS Music Player must close down." Can search engines find where they reside? How can they be stopped?

Rob Pegoraro: Uh, what? Who or what is this "they" you refer to?

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Bethesda, Md.: PSPCasting

Found the answer to PSPcasting I asked last week. two programs exist (3gp and pspvideo9) that will convert current video formats into the MPEG-4 format used by the PSP. Thus it is possible to set up your system to download video content onto the PSP for viewing on the train.

Only a USB cable can be used (currently) for file transfers. No one has found a work around to use the 802.11 wireless network (yet). There is a way to use WipeOut's built in internet access to browse the web, but the hack is beyond most folks capabilities (requires DNS redirection).

The PSP has made me think Mark Cuban's right in believing hard drives/flash media will be a better distribution system than CD/DVD/UMD for games/movies/content. Your thoughts?

washingtonpost.com: PSP Discussion Transcript (March 24, 2005)

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks for the followup. I guess the accuracy of Mark Cuban's prediction depends mainly on how fast it takes for enough people (however many that is, who knows) to own computers with the right kind of memory cards. I think some of the existing card formats also have to be stomped out of existence--will a movie studio want to support a different format and copy-control regime (say, Memory Stick) in addition to SD Card, the current leader in formats?

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A mere "power user": Rob, here's one advantage I've found of Yahoo Desktop Search over Google's. Yahoo's does not require administrator privileges to install, but Google's does. Google Desktop Search, which I love, unfortunately requires administrator privileges even for its auto-upgrade feature to upgrade my beta version (121004) to the official release. For those of us who don't have admin privileges at work, this matters. Do you know which of the others (MSN, etc.) can be installed by non-admins?

Rob Pegoraro: Sorry, I didn't test that--it's not a relevant factor in a home-use setting. I'd guess that the bulk of these programs, if not all but Yahoo, do require admin access.

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Bethesda, MD: What do you hear about a new version of Netscape that will be similar to Firefox?

Rob Pegoraro: AOL released a preview release a month or so back, but I haven't tried it yet. Here's my colleague Leslie Walker's preview of it.

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Zire 21: Hi Rob,

Tell the person looking for an organizer to check the review for the Zire 21. According to the reveiws I read if you keep it too close to a cell phone and the phone rings it hard reboots your Palm everytime meaning you have to reload all the data. I checked out Palm's website for more info and they acknowledge the problem and their solution is keep your phone away from the organizer. Not very helpful if you ask me.

Rob Pegoraro: Hadn't heard of that at all. Very strange...

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Reston, VA: rob,
My question is about Firefox browser.
I found it to have 3 problems:
- Automatic tabs DO NOT WORK. I have to use Ctrl-T to open a new tab.
- Downloaded files go to the Desktop only, no way to save it in another folder.
- Once you book marked a site in Firefox, you can not see all the bookmarks, you have only one option to search them, but you have to remember what you are serching!;
Do you plan to write about Firefox again?
Val Tepordei

Rob Pegoraro: Hey Val - thanks for the note. I havne't tried the setting to force open-in-new-window links to open in new tabs instead; I don't even think that's available except through the about:config hack (the developers couldn't get it to work reliably, so they hid it for version 1.0).

However, I've always been able to get Firefox to put downloads in the folder of my choice.

Sorry, I don't understand what you mean in your third item.

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Bethesda, Md.: One thing I'd like to know before installing any desktop search program is whether it 'calls home' to Google or Microsoft or whatever. I'd guess that knowledge of what I search for in my computer would be valuable knowledge.

Rob Pegoraro: Most of these programs do look for updates online, but they don't send the info they catalogue anywhere. (The indexes they compile are pretty large files, too big to be uploaded surreptitiously--there are just too many people out there regularly monitoring their PC with intrusion-detection software.)

What you should worry about, and what I expect to see, are desktop-search applications released by known spyware offenders with some sort of lure for the unwary.

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Bethesda, Md.: I tried Copernic, which was recommended by a Kiplinger's Newsletter. It slowed my computer to a crawl and was removed after two days. I did like its preview of the file.

Based on your recommendation, I am now trying msn. So far so good. It does not have preview, but gives you a sense of what the file is all about.

I think you ought to discuss how much memory each program hogs AFTER it has indexed the hard disk.

Rob Pegoraro: That's the only kind of memory consumption I tested--before the index is done, who cares? The program isn't useful until it's finished that prep work. I don't have the exact figures in front of me (they're on the laptop at home), but my judgments on which programs had what sort of effect were based largely on those numbers.

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Beverly Hills, Fla.: I would like to export my address book in MS Outlook to Excel where I might format it in a different manner to print it using less paper. In Outlook under file the export line is greyed out and I can't access it. How can I do this?

Rob Pegoraro: I'm guessing you've gotta reinstall Outlook to fix that.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Rob, how useful are desktop search programs to the average user? It seems to me that most people simply throw all their files in My Documents. Others, like me, have a carefully organized folder system. Are there really that many people with files strewn randomly around their hard drives in hard-to-find places?

Rob Pegoraro: Most people's files--but not all, thanks to developers who are too dumb to write programs that follow long-established guidelines from Microsoft about where to save user data--are in My Documents, but that's no guarantee that anybody can find them afterwards, much less that anybody will take the time to set up a coherent folder hierarchy.

It's like what I've written about photo-album software: A program can't expect its user to think like a computer when storing stuff; instead, the program needs to make it easy for the user to find what they want in multiple ways--chronologically, topically, by author, by searching, etc.

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Washington, D.C.: Google's decision to make its search tool tweakable with plug-ins wounds like a great idea. However, this seems like a great way for an unscrupulous plug-in author to snag personal information from an unsuspecting user. Has Google built any safeguards against this into it's plug-in interface?

Rob Pegoraro: I'm not a programmer, so I can't tell you what Google Desktop's API (Application Programming Interface) for plug-ins does. The plug-ins page does say that Google doesn't test these downloads for their security, but it also has a link where anybody can ask for a plug-in to be removed if they think it doesn't belong on that site.

Sounds to me like they're willing to act as de facto editors of this library, but they don't want the legal responsibility if somebody abuses their API.

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Takoma Park, Md.: From PalmOne:

Solution ID: 29622

Some mobile phones cause the Zire 21 handheld to reset

This issue can occur between the Zire� 21 handheld and some mobile phones that transmit at higher power levels. Under certain conditions, these mobile phones may cause the handheld to reset when they are close together. We do not have an exhaustive list of mobile phones and manufacturers that can cause this issue, but if your Zire 21 handheld is close to your mobile phone, and the handheld resets when the phone rings, you are probably affected by this issue.

What happens?

The issue typically manifests right before the mobile phone rings. The handheld and mobile phone must be in immediate proximity. Your handheld will reset to the default setup screen just your phone receives a call.

What should I do?

To avoid this occurrence, keep the handheld and mobile phone separated.

Rob Pegoraro: That note would be far more helpful if it would define "immediate proximity." An inch? A foot? A millionth of a parsec?

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: I inherited a wonderful G4 Mac (silver/mirrored front). I used it for months at work, then brought it home. After checking it out to make sure it was working fine at home, I haven't used it for over a month. Now, when I turn it on, i can hear the fan, but the 20 inch monitor will not turn on: it's black, and the white power button pulsed bright/lite. I opened the case and pressed the reset button, but no luck. Any suggestions? thanks,

A former PC user

Rob Pegoraro: Hate to sound like Captain Obvious here, but your description makes me think you've got a broken monitor. Have you tried using another display with your Power Mac?

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Bethesda, Md.: "I think you ought to discuss how much memory each program hogs AFTER it has indexed the hard disk."

By that I meant that Copernic tried to index things as soon as they were saved and slowed my computer enormously. MSN stops indexing while you are working.

By the way, I find your columns consistently informative and well writen. Thank you! Tell your boss to give you a raise.

Rob Pegoraro: Of course, I'll have to post this one, just for that last statement :)

I see your point about memory use. Yes, Copernic did try to index things quickly, while MSN is programmed to yield the CPU to another program with a higher priority. I think Yahoo is as well, but it seems to go too far--I had to click the "index now" button to get it to catch up to things every other app had indexed by then.

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Washington, D.C. : Viruses, worms, adware, etc. represent a serious intrusion into my workspace. I lose at least an hour a day in combat against them. The costs in time, money and loss of program material are huge. Why has government not made a more serious effort to track these people down and send them away for lengthy hard time? Don't they realize the seriousness of the crime.

Part two of my question: Is government itself one of the culprits?

Ernest

Rob Pegoraro: One: It's not easy to track down the culprits, and many of them are in other countries that won't exactly jump to honor a U.S. arrest warrant.

Two: No, it's not.

Three (you didn't ask, but I have to answer anyway): If spyware is that big of a problem in your life, you're using the wrong software. If you still browse with a pre-XP SP2 version of IE, get rid of that and switch to Firefox. Simply being choosy and skeptical about what "free!" downloads you install will also do a lot to rid your life of spyware.

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Green Village, N.J.: How do I transition my "AOL Favorites" into a format that I can use when I move out of the confines of America On Line?

Rob Pegoraro: I've done a couple of Help File items about exporting an AOL address book, but not about exporting AOL favorites. The program suggested at this link may help, but I haven't tested it myself: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=445472

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Tampa, FL: re: Apple making you pony up for Tiger even though you buy a Panther only week before Tiger springs:

I recall Apple allowed those who bought an OS 10.1 Mac within a few months of the Jaguar release a free upgrade to OS 10.2. I think this took effect when Apple announced the official release date of Jaguar.

P.S.: Apple recently replaced the hard drive on my TiBook as part of Apple Care. I used OS 10.2.8, but they installed 10.3.7 (for free!) as they didn't have the CDs for Jaguar around. I had lost my CDs during the hurricanes last year. Should I ask for the Panther CDs as a safety precaution in case I have to reinstall it after my Apple Care contract expires this September?

Rob Pegoraro: With Panther, the last update, the "Mac OS Up-To-Date" discount only applied to people who bought a Mac after the ship date announcement, which was 2 weeks before it landed in stores.

Very good of Apple to update your OS for free! Yes, you should probably ask for a copy of the CDs, just in case.

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Derwood, Md.: What have you heard or experienced with the Windows XP 64 bit version that is in beta version now?

Rob Pegoraro: Nada.

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Rob Pegoraro: And with that, I've gotta get back to the day job. Thanks for all the great questions. I should be back here in a couple of weeks... take care.

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