Thursday, October 21, 2004

Search Technology Comes to the Desktop

I recently read about the new Google search engineer and how it can search results on your computer, by installing it on the desktop. I downloaded the code from this site:
(http://desktop.google.com/) and found it installed rather quickly. It indicated that it would start indexing the files on my hard disk and that it would do so during idle periods. I never found it to degrade the performance of the computer while I was using it so I was happy not to fight it for resources. When I logged on the next day, I tried it out. I am preparing to go to the Neuroscience show in San Diego, where 30,000+ scientists will converge to discuss advancements in the area of Neurology. I typed in "neuroscience" into the Desktop Google browser which incidentally looks identical to the one that searches the web. I expected about a dozen hits since I have a number of documents that reference "neuroscience". To my surprise, I found over 60 hits on various files on my hard drive. In looking more closely at the "Google Preferences" button, I found I can select various program file types to search -- word, excel, powerpoint, email, etc.

As the number of files on my hard disk grows, this is one technology that is making life easier. I have been using the same computer for the past 6 years, and the only resource I run out of is the hard disk space. The volume of information continues to rise, and Google is there to help search the flow for that one nugget of information I'm looking for.

There are concerns about the Google Desktop search engine. These focus on the issue of privacy. For computers installed in public places -- such as libraries, a Google desktop search engine could be capturing and indexing files that you may not want others to see. Some administrators of publicly available computers are watching this and taking care. Here's an article that describes this in more detail.
http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/04/10/ap_101904.asp

There are potential benefits for Virtual Instrumentation. With the increase in data files being generated, one could potentially use this technology for searching through files of measurement data to find that one piece of information you are looking for.

If you have experience with the Google Desktop, please email me at hall.martin@ni.com.

Best regards,
Hall T. Martin

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