Tech note: desktop searching part deux

'MSN Search Toolbar' web & desktop searching
Way back on 21 May, which must surely be the techie equivalent of the stone age given the rapid and inexorable progress of science and its application — after all, how many new models of cell phones and ring tones have popped up in the interim? — I wrote a short bit about desktop searching that took a look at Google's personal computer search engine and judged the results against TurboBrowser.
Today we look at Microsoft's freebee offering 'MSN Search Toolbar', the latest and greatest from everybody's buddy, Bill — Gates, that is. Whatever your opinion of Microsoft, its product offerings or Microsofties, the Toolbar is worth taking the time to download, install, and having your hard drive go through its indexing torture test. For, wonder of wonders, the thing actually works!
When last we spoke, I reported that Google desktop had returned a list of 22 files when I searched system—wide for the single word 'scouts.'  This was a search of 22,647 files that had been indexed by the Google engine. TurboBrowser, on the other hand, searching just one directory, but a very large one at that, using a non—indexing method similar to Windows Explorer, returned a list of 79 files. This inexplicable and large discrepancy leading me to the conclusion that Googling on the desktop was not worth the time, effort and non—expense.
Today, apparently being serendipitous, I came across MSN's Toolbar page (See links given below) and decided to give it a go. After downloading and installing MSN Toolbar as well as the addins for indexing 'pdf',  'zip', 'chm', and 'cab' files — 'chm' are compiled 'Help' files and 'cab' files are MS compressed archiving files used to hold operating system and other software downloads — I let the indexing engine work its wonder for something between an hour  to an hour—thirty.  Number of files indexed was 23,864; the difference with Google likely being that Google didn't index the zips, chms, or cabs; as well as the fact that I didn't have Google index my 'dbx' email directories.
When it came time to do the 'scouts' search, MSN Toolbar coughed up 116! And that's a full hard drive search. How long did the indexed search take? About five or ten seconds and that's with considerably less drive pounding than TurboBrowser. And it all seems to be there. At least it was after I indexed for the second time! — on the first try my having selected the option that indexed email and 'My Documents' only. As my wife has often told me, I frequently don't get the job done right until after the second try.
But wait, there's something more. MSN Toolbar includes its very own preview window! But wait again, its not fully functional unless you have the latest and greatest MS application software installed! Now that's a surprise — NOT.  The 'doc' and 'xls' extension files require MS 'Office XP or greater' to fully open in the preview pane. Which means, I suppose, Office XP or Office 2003. My Office 2000 professional doesn't does quite make the muster cut. Without the entire document being shown in the preview pane, the available built—in document search feature is of little use.
But, a simple double—click and you get your preview in the extension—matching application window,  though  a short extract for both of these document types, one that may suffice for the job at hand, is placed in the preview pane. One does get so far behind the times when one doesn't continuously contribute to Mr. Gates' billions and billions, doesn't one? Suppose I will have to relent in the not too distant future and upgrade — a never—ending process that even Sisyphus would find daunting.
Performance notes — all 116 files checked individually by searching each opened document:

  •  False positive — zipped 'eml' saved file — no 'scouts' found. Also a search of the prior and subsequent files in the archive showed no occurrence of 'scouts'
  •  False positive — 'mhtml' (single file archived html document) — no 'scouts' found
  •  One 'eml' saved file — not in document but was in attachment
  •  One 'eml' saved file — file wouldn't open with Outlook Express but 'scouts' was found in the document as shown in the preview pane
    Some observational notes:
  •  Some saved emails with the 'eml' extension will not open automatically in the preview pane. You get 'The page cannot be displayed...The page your are looking for is currently unavailable' error in the preview pane. A double—click on the file will open Outlook Express (or Outlook, I would guess — if you have it installed) and you can view/search the file from within the Outlook window.
  •  There are buttons on the MSM Search toolbar that permit highlighting of the search terms as well as the capability to jump to same. But I haven't been able to get these features to work.
  •   The search results column headings cannot be re—sequenced but the listing of the results can be sorted by relevance (a one, two or three asterisk rating system of unknown, to me, methodology), file name (Title), author, date, size, type, or folder. For most purposes this will certainly suffice. But having the drag and drop repositioning of the column headings available would be nice.
  •  MSN Search Toolbar bombed out on one occasion when I closed the search window. I had started to write this very document after starting MS Word to read a file in the results listing. It didn't like that. (Fortunately, I had saved my work) I suspect it has to do with one of the running processes.
  •  Outlook Express or Outlook must be open to index email folders. Is the same required for indexing eml—extension saved files? I don't know.
  •  'quotes' and '+' can be used as with Google to make the search more specific
    MSN Search Toolbar main page:
    Search Toolbar system requirements:
    List of addins:
    The addins installed by yours truly, which is neither a recommendation nor guarantee of suitability for any purpose other than experimentation:
    Adobe PDF IFilter 6.0
    Citeknet ZIP IFilter 1.0
    Citeknet CHM IFilter 1.0
    Citeknet CAB IFilter 1.0