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i'm in ur mac, indexing ur filez
April 9, 2007 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Google Desktop for Mac OS X finally saw beta release last week; so far, the beta includes search but not Gadgets. Initial reactions have been tepid amid concern about how extensively the installer modifies your system. Nonetheless, some people seem to like it.
posted by myeviltwin (65 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Another take.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 PM on April 9, 2007


People seem to get very excited about these indexing applications but as a "technical" professional for last 15 years I yet to ever need one nor have any of the users I have seemed to cry out for this kind of app. So. What am I missing?
posted by tkchrist at 12:11 PM on April 9, 2007


What you are missing: It's Google. ON YOUR COMPUTER!
posted by DU at 12:17 PM on April 9, 2007


I have Google Desktop on my PC at work and I love it. I primarily use it for finding obscure files and indexing my Outlook email. I probably use it once every couple days. It's great for those of us scattered types who tend to avoid hierarchy in storing files/folders.
posted by rlef98 at 12:18 PM on April 9, 2007


Isn't this Quicksilver?
posted by nathancaswell at 12:24 PM on April 9, 2007


Between Spotlight and Quicksilver, which I already have, this application looks totally useless to me.
posted by interrobang at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2007


Only probably not as awesome.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's definitely not quicksilver.
posted by chunking express at 12:25 PM on April 9, 2007


Why is anyone surprised by this?

Google claims it wants to do no evil, whatever that means. And yet google wants to index every file on your computer, and report back to its servers with something. Why?

They keep your search history though google, and can tie it to your ip address. They claim to delete it after a while, but again, why keep it at all? They want every website to feed adsense ads, because that allows them not only to keep your search history, but also track your ipaddress as you hop from one site to another, each one feeding you google ads.

They may not do anything with this info now, but there is no doubt that they will at some point in the future. If they miss revenue targets for a few quarters, or a CEO is forced out and replaced, someone its going to look at all of this and demand that it be monetized.

Let me draw you a diagram.

You have an ip address. Google, through this Desktop app, can send a listing of the contents of your computer tied to that ip address to their servers. Google can keep track of your search history on google.com and tie that to your ip address as well. as you surf the internet and hit site after site featuring Google ads or Google analytics, the add browsing history tied to you ip address to their database, linked to everything else tied to your ip address.

But then you register for adsense yourself so you can feed Google ads on your site. Now they have your ip address tied to your real name, SSN, and possibly a bank account. OR maybe you signed up for gmail. That's nice. They tie all your ip address indexed info to your gmail userid, along with an index of your email (which we know Google scans to feed to ads). Or perhaps you've used Google checkout on an online store somewhere? Google can ties your real identity and financial info to that ip address as well. Google doesn't want to just index the internet, they want to index you.

Now replace 'Google ' in the above paragraph with 'FBI'. Yes, it is just as bad when a company spies on you as when the government does it. Actually it's worse. The bill of rights protects your rights against the government. The only thing protecting your rights against Google is their various 'Terms of Service', all of which include the clause that the terms can be changed at any time at Google's will.

Again, just because they haven't now linked everything together in a giant database doesn't mean that they never will in the future. That info is valuable, no doubt about it. When Google finds itself the target of Wall Streets ire, rather than it's darling, they are going to turn that value into revenue. They are a company, beholden to none other than shareholders that want the stock to keep going up, good or evil be damned.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


Seriously, I use Google Desktop (and Launchy) on my PC at work because I don't have Quicksilver and Spotlight (and I cry a little every day because of that). Adobe knew they were beaten and withdrew Premiere, why did Google venture in?
posted by Brainy at 12:37 PM on April 9, 2007


I forgot to mention this above, but the google desktop could be used as their computational trojan horse to analyze behavior that can't be done through http on a server. Want to know how much time people spending on their computers doing x, y, or z? The desktop app could be programmed to watch and report. What if Google wants to know what percentage of people's hard drives are taken up with photos? It can do that to. If you have a webcam, it can be programmed to wait of you to start typing, and take a picture and send that back. Or watch for yahoo, flickr, and youtube logins and send those back to base to be linked with the ip address-indexed info it already has.

It's an app, with a built-in updater, that can be programmed to do anything that any other app on your computer is programmed to do.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:41 PM on April 9, 2007


I think it's naïve to think Google hasn't tied everything together in a giant database; indeed, I think it is naïve to think that they aren't monetizing that information as much as possible.

Google started off as "do no evil," but that has not been true for quite some time.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:43 PM on April 9, 2007


Google has been relatively transparent about privacy policies and if you're concerned about what information that Google is sending back to home base, you can packet sniff. There's nothing like you describe going on with google desktop as long as you don't turn on 'search across computers'
posted by empath at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2007


whatever happened to LaunchBar?
posted by phaedon at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would never want Google Desktop because it means you can search deleted files, as it creates a cache of them.

Generally, when I delete something, I do so because I want it to be deleted.

Plus, Quicksilver + Spotlight rocks my socks.
posted by djgh at 12:48 PM on April 9, 2007


There's nothing like you describe going on with google desktop as long as you don't turn on 'search across computers'
posted by empath at 3:45 PM on April 9


I understand that. My point was that by putting all the capability in place now, they are building value in something that can be exploited later if they choose to.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:49 PM on April 9, 2007


Nice title for the post. Those missing the <> tag should click here.
posted by imperium at 12:57 PM on April 9, 2007


That's img, obviously.
posted by imperium at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2007


My first impression was "who needs it with Spotlight?" but I have an open mind. More takes here and here. And you can always listen to the Slashdot crowd says, if you can handle the noise to signal ratio.
posted by spock at 1:23 PM on April 9, 2007


whatever happened to LaunchBar?

It's still around, but no one I know uses it. Why? $20 personal, $40 business license. Quicksilver, OTOH, is free and open-source, and does so much more via actions, triggers, and plug-ins.

Anyone interested in the future of computer UI should look at Quicksilver.
posted by mkultra at 1:26 PM on April 9, 2007


Quicksilver is still in beta though, I secretly suspect they're getting everyone addicted to it and then are going to start charging. The betas expire rather conspicuously.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:34 PM on April 9, 2007


Perhaps some of you may be missing the angle Google may be taking here (I don't know this for sure, but it makes sense to me).

There are a significant number of people moving (or considering a move) to the OSX platform. Many of these people use Google apps on a daily basis and are quite familiar with them. None of these people are likely to be familiar with Quicksilver (I hadn't heard of it before).

I'm not going to argue with Mac users whether Google Desktop is better than anything already available - but I will argue that having a choice is better than not having one. Were I to move to Mac, I would be quite unhappy if I only had iPhoto rather than Picasa, or Mail rather than Thunderbird, or Safari rather than Firefox... the more apps available on both platforms, the happier the end users will be. Which one is "better" is quite often dependent on the user's preferences.

At any rate, why would Google give themselves a chance to lose users who are switching platforms? Sure, Google Desktop is probably behind the current search tools for OSX. On the other hand, how many of you played with Gecko when it was first released? It was a buggy piece of shit, but the program it evolved into is the only browser I use today. Desktop will see some changes once Google figures out what people do or do not like about it. Don't expect Google to be happy playing second-best on this.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2007


I've been trying it out, and indeed, Spotlight and Quicksilver already do this better and with less scary possibilities that your data is being whisked away off to the land of google. Don't get me wrong about google, meaning, don't think I'm a knee jerk google hater (I am a knee jerk Yahoo! hater, see, so there), because I use gmail, google notebook (very cool app), google calendar, and I'm starting in on using Picasa's online 1GB of data storage options (eat it, 20MB my ass flickerhoo!). However, the idea of a company possibly pulling my entire drive's contents in an index just for the hell of it is a little disturbing. Because I don't keep anything remotely private, secret or the like on my desktop here at work I'm more comfortable playing with it and seeing what it destroys.

But at home, this app will never see the light of day on my Macs. My PC, yes, because I love indexed searching.

And as far as "What am I missing"? with indexed search, well, I'll leave it up to you to try out a Mac with Quicksilver installed to see what you're missing.
posted by smallerdemon at 1:45 PM on April 9, 2007


I installed it last week and after grinding away for 24 hours, I shut it off for good. It's a terrible experience after you install it, as it slows down your system indexing everything.

The PC version works much smoother.
posted by mathowie at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2007


Quicksilver is awesome.
posted by empath at 2:04 PM on April 9, 2007


I tried it out. It's not terrible but it really doesn't serve any purpose with Spotlight and Quicksilver already available. I uninstalled it after a few days. There isn't much point to having two indexes of all my data.
posted by chairface at 2:05 PM on April 9, 2007


Does this include the Google Web Accelerator? That wonderful bit of software has eaten more of my support resources than anything else this year. It would seem this gets bundled onto far more computers than people have knowingly installed. They proxy our proxy for off-campus users and suddenly Jane MySpace can't do her [it's due in the morning!] research from home because IP authentication fails. I have spent hours of my time trying to figure out which of the many hidden proxy apps a person has installed–and sometimes there is more than one–so I can ask them to uninstall it, reboot, and try our databases again.

I'm not harboring any resentment against those fuckers though. And it's not just Google, but it would seem that a lot more people are ending up with GWA than have asked for it, and I would assume this comes [sneakily] bundled with what people are after when they install various Google apps.

Not to mention, why duplicate functionality already inherent in the core operating system? I can see why Windows users would jump at Google Desktop, but Mac users? WTF? Spotlight is a brilliant bit of software and adding Quicksilver to the mix is like extra gravy for my biscuits.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2007


This came preinstalled on my Vista machine, which was really odd. Why would you deliberately give me two searching engines? I think this is a dead end for them, unless their solution is a LOT better than the first-party offerings.

And for the record, I run a third-party search tool on my Windows 2000 box: Copernic. It's a lot lighter on the memory/HD churn and seems better.
posted by selfnoise at 2:10 PM on April 9, 2007


"Searching engines?" Sorry.
posted by selfnoise at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2007


I use spotlight less than once a month. I almost never need to search my drive. I use QuickSilver for launching applications by just typing a few keys.
posted by mike3k at 2:19 PM on April 9, 2007


Wow. Quicksilver is awesome.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:31 PM on April 9, 2007


I have Google Desktop on my PC at work and I love it.
posted by rlef98


Key word being PC.
posted by justgary at 4:51 PM on April 9, 2007


I've never used Spotlight or Google Desktop. You can get their functionality in terminal via "fink install bash-completion".

If I want to find a file, I type "locate" + partial file name. For an application, I type "open -a" + partial text + tab.

To send a file to an unknown place, I type "scp" + file + server + partial path + tab, and it completes using the remote machine. Oh, wait, sorry, you don't even have that!

Sorry guys, all your fancy new toys are old bash hacks.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:20 PM on April 9, 2007


I've tried QuickSilver, and can't see the point. Am I missing something?
posted by scruss at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2007


Wow, I really can't see justifying a kernel extension (let alone all the other shady stuff) to do the stuff this does.

Definitely not testing it.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 5:45 PM on April 9, 2007


Isn't this Quicksilver?

+1
posted by Industrial PhD at 7:02 PM on April 9, 2007


Wow, I really can't see justifying a kernel extension (let alone all the other shady stuff) to do the stuff this does.

If the file system changes, a search engine needs to know about it. This is most appropriately done on the kernel level (as is the case with the Spotlight service, mds).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:10 PM on April 9, 2007


I've tried QuickSilver, and can't see the point. Am I missing something?

"Am I missing something?" is right up there in terms of jackass questions with 'Am I the only one who...?' or "Is this something I'd need a television to understand?"

Lots of people, many of whom are quite smart, think that Quicksilver is very useful. You do not see the point. I think it is likely that you are missing something, whether QS is ultimately useful to your life or not.
posted by thedaniel at 7:26 PM on April 9, 2007


Ahhh something less not to be able to do on a MAC.
posted by mattoxic at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2007


Quicksilver is the OS X hacker's answer to emacs.

Emacs: M-x function[tab][enter]object[tab][enter].
QS: Command-space object[tab][enter]function[tab][enter]

And like emacs, QS is increasingly loaded with plugins that I see documentation for, think, "wow, that's cool" and forget about their existence.

Seriously though, Quicksilver:Spotlight::Cats:Dogs.

Quicksilver, when you get down to it, is just a very fancy CLI with some nifty path management. The really innovative feature it has over something like bash or zsh is that it sorts its search path putting the most-used items on top. But it's blind to any file data that isn't a part of the file path.

Spotlight on the other hand is Apple's service for indexing file contents and metadata, and is used in multiple ways in OS X 10.4. Because it peeks within files, it's useful for those times when you need to dig out that article on Ohio Valley Tree Yetis that you saved in an obscure location under an obscure filename 5 years ago. It's next-to-useless for the obvious purpose of finding files using a filename substring, because by default it wants to search metadata. I saw a fix about a week ago on a Macworld feed on how to hack around this behavior, but I didn't bookmark it. Spotlight is more than just the blue dot connected to Command-space, it's also used by Apple Mail.app to search message text and create smart folders.

Personally, I use QS and Spotlight for two different things. QS is great for routinely launching applications and files that I use on a regular basis. For things like dynamic collections of files based on metadata or content, Spotlight via smart folders is much better than using find on path data, or grep on contents (The latter wouldn't work anyway on pdf or odf files.)

Where does Google Desktop fit into this? I suspect that GD is more like Spotlight than QS. Most of the complaints about Spotlight have centered on various interface issues. Treating GD searches as Google Searches might be a better interface. The other huge issue that many people have with spotlight is the inability to do a phrase search on content. (Although you can phrase search metadata.) This is a big deal-killer for some people.

Personally, I'm stretching the memory of my Mac a bit as it is, and don't need another search service. I did hack together a command-line utility for phrase searches using python. SpotInside will also help here.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:20 PM on April 9, 2007


whatsaid.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2007


That SpotInside is pretty useful!

Thanks!
posted by Wolof at 9:18 PM on April 9, 2007


Pastabagel: Why should I care if Google wants to show me ads based on my search history, given that a) they're going to show me ads one way or another, b) it's free, and c) Adblock blocks almost every ad I might see online as it is? Seriously. Of all the things to write nine paragraphs about, targeted ads?
posted by aaronetc at 9:41 PM on April 9, 2007


Quicksilver is still in beta though, I secretly suspect they're getting everyone addicted to it and then are going to start charging. The betas expire rather conspicuously.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:34 PM on April 9 [+]
[!]
I have been using the free and public 'betas' of Quicksilver for the last three years. There has never been a non-beta version. I do not expect any of that to change for quite a long time. Until about a year ago, AFAIK, the developers didn't even publicly reveal their names. They're a secretive couple of dudes.
posted by blasdelf at 10:20 PM on April 9, 2007


On the other hand, how many of you played with Gecko when it was first released? It was a buggy piece of shit, but the program it evolved into is the only browser I use today.
I did, and it's still a bizarrely architected, buggy piece of shit. There's a reason Dave Hyatt (Creator of Camino, Firefox, and Safari -- In that order) picked KHTML when he put WebKit together. Both Nokia (on the Series 60s) and Adobe (in the forthcoming Apollo) have recently used Webkit as the rendering engine in their products. The only recent apps to use Gecko have all been written in XUL and don't touch Gecko's dirty insides at all.
posted by blasdelf at 10:31 PM on April 9, 2007


LET THE GOOGLE BACKLASH BEGIN!

(Looks at watch)

Now's about the right time, I reckon. Mark this date in your diaries. It might be of historical relevance in future.

OK, I'm starting to distrust Google. I'm even thinking of giving up my Gmail account and switching to Yahoo! Mail. Why? Because I'm tired of Google wanting to own my data. I'm tired of the fact that, unless I deliberately log out of Gmail when I'm finished, I stay logged in and Google then logs my searches against my username. I haven't clicked the Remember Me?-style button when logging in.

Google knows too much about me. Example: I've recently started to go to the gym, so I've been searching for gym techniques and even gym clothing. Google knows this, and has logged it against my username. It knows my taste in food because I search for recipes. It even knows my taste in women because (cough) of certain searches! That's scary.

If I need to go somewhere, I use Google Maps. Google knows where I'm going on holiday! It knows where I'm going on my business trips.

Google knows too much about me, and it's never given any undertaking about what it will do with this data. In short, I don't trust Google. Why should I? They offer "free" trinkets and web toys but the price may be too high. What price am I paying for a pretty cool email application?
posted by humblepigeon at 1:28 AM on April 10, 2007


"Am I missing something?" is right up there in terms of jackass questions with 'Am I the only one who...?' or "Is this something I'd need a television to understand?"

Lots of people, many of whom are quite smart, think that Quicksilver is very useful. You do not see the point. I think it is likely that you are missing something, whether QS is ultimately useful to your life or not.


Don't be an ass. Quicksilver, on first look, isn't obvious to the end user because there's essentially no interface- you just start typing. It not only does search, but tries to understand context and provide you actions based on the results. The more you explore, the more stuff you find you can do.

There is also a well-developed API that other applications can use to essentially turn QS into a CLI for them. So, in addition to obvious things like Find File -> Open, there's Find File -> Email, Find JPG -> Upload to Flickr, and so on.
posted by mkultra at 5:51 AM on April 10, 2007


There is also a well-developed API that other applications can use to essentially turn QS into a CLI for them. So, in addition to obvious things like Find File -> Open, there's Find File -> Email, Find JPG -> Upload to Flickr, and so on.

Apple really needs to make Automator more obvious to end users. Or they should buy Quicksilver and put it into the OS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:21 AM on April 10, 2007


mkultra: Don't be an ass. Quicksilver, on first look, isn't obvious to the end user because there's essentially no interface- you just start typing. It not only does search, but tries to understand context and provide you actions based on the results. The more you explore, the more stuff you find you can do.

QS is really a very limited search tool. In fact, I would argue it's not a search tool at all, it's a shell like zsh or bash. Just like zsh and bash it keeps an index of filenames located within a small number of user-specified search paths. The key difference is syntax. Zsh uses command-object, while QS uses object-command. But both take a look at context, and try to offer reasonable tab-completion.

Of course you can start adding stuff to QS to get around it's limited search path and search depth. But then you might as well just use QS as a front end to Spotlight using tags.

There is also a well-developed API that other applications can use to essentially turn QS into a CLI for them. So, in addition to obvious things like Find File -> Open, there's Find File -> Email, Find JPG -> Upload to Flickr, and so on.

BP Apple really needs to make Automator more obvious to end users. Or they should buy Quicksilver and put it into the OS.

A brief glance at the development section of the web site and I have to think, "yuck." There may be an API under there but it seems to be un/underdocumented, and the documentation is possibly obsolete. This is worse than a nonexistent API IMO. You can't really do anything without messing in Objective-C or PyObjc which is a big turn-off.

I'm not really certain what could be done to make Automator "more obvious." It's a nice bridge between working with AppleScript and doing stuff in the finder. I'm using it more and more as an alternative to shell scripting. BTW, there is an Automator action for flickr so it should be trivial to create a workflow to upload files to flickr.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:03 AM on April 10, 2007


Automator (along with most other things OSA) is getting some pretty big improvements in Leopard. The biggest one is a GUI scripting "record" button that really fucking works, by tapping the accessibility architecture. There are a number of considerable improvements to using OSA from Objective-C and Cocoa, along with Python and Ruby.

And there's stuff in Xcode right now for making your own automator actions (and some handy stuff from Sal himself).
posted by blasdelf at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2007


Pastabagel: Why should I care if Google wants to show me ads based on my search history, given that a) they're going to show me ads one way or another, b) it's free, and c) Adblock blocks almost every ad I might see online as it is? Seriously. Of all the things to write nine paragraphs about, targeted ads?
posted by aaronetc at 12:41 AM on April 10


Okay, well, I clearly wrote about more than just the ads, and they aren't "showing you ads", they are running scripts that tell google hq your ip address.

Again, it's not a question whether or not they are doing anything suspicious now, it's the understanding that Google is a company like Exxon or Verizon and if it hits a rough financial period (like all companies do), they will do whatever they can to make money. People need to stop treating google like they are some savior of the internet. Google wants to run its code on every computer, and every webpage in existence. And that is not going to be for your benefit.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:44 AM on April 10, 2007


QS is really a very limited search tool. In fact, I would argue it's not a search tool at all, it's a shell like zsh or bash. Just like zsh and bash it keeps an index of filenames located within a small number of user-specified search paths. The key difference is syntax. Zsh uses command-object, while QS uses object-command. But both take a look at context, and try to offer reasonable tab-completion.

One key difference is that QS is fairly agnostic about what objects you're looking for. When I start typing, it doesn't search just files, but names in my address book, songs in my iTunes catalog, my del.icio.us bookmarks, and all sorts of other junk.

QS is also adaptive, so it knows to push more-frequently used results to the top of the list.

One of the guys on MacBreakWeekly made a great comment about how QS is indicative of a probable trend in computing, away from menus and file folders (which don't scale well to larger and larger monitors and hard disks) toward search and using all that extra horsepower in your computer to make adaptive decisions on the fly.

A brief glance at the development section of the web site and I have to think, "yuck." There may be an API under there but it seems to be un/underdocumented, and the documentation is possibly obsolete. This is worse than a nonexistent API IMO. You can't really do anything without messing in Objective-C or PyObjc which is a big turn-off.

Hasn't stopped tons of developers for providing hooks for their apps.
posted by mkultra at 8:00 AM on April 10, 2007


they are running scripts that tell google hq your ip address.

And this will help them make money in ways other than showing me ads how?
posted by aaronetc at 8:06 AM on April 10, 2007


Just for clarification for some of the things in this thread:

* Quicksilver is not open source. Certainly open API, but not open source.

* The current build of Quicksilver is set to not expire.

* Quicksilver (and by extension, Blacktree) is more or less "one dude".

* There will be new builds, hopefully by the end of the year.
posted by Remy at 8:25 AM on April 10, 2007


Yeah the adaptive element is great, it means to launch Firefox all I have to do is hit ^space,f,enter because Firefox is the thing I launch most often that begins with "F."
posted by nathancaswell at 9:07 AM on April 10, 2007


mkultra: One key difference is that QS is fairly agnostic about what objects you're looking for. When I start typing, it doesn't search just files, but names in my address book, songs in my iTunes catalog, my del.icio.us bookmarks, and all sorts of other junk.

Um, Spotlight does contacts and iTunes catalog, and can use metadata not available in quicksilver. Try "kind:contact username", "kind:audio beethoven" or "kind:email username." On the other hand, QS does find playlists, and can handle del.icio.us data.

"Searching" using both on a composer name is a good example of why QS is not a search tool. Spotlight finds about a dozen string quartets buried deep in ~/Music (which is not indexed by QS). QS finds only two files in ~/Documents. Of course QS can go the other way around via iTunes->Browse->Composers assuming you have the plug-in loaded. But that's awkward enough that I'd rather just pop into iTunes and run the search there.

I don't understand this obsession with doing a compare and contrast with between a search index and API like Spotlight, and a command shell like QS? It's like comparing beagle to bash.

I mean no disrespect to QS, it's often the first application I launch. But it's NOT a search system. It doesn't index file contents or metadata. You are limited only to substring searches on filenames in the catalog and strings offered by plug-ins. In this respect, it's not much different than bash.

And Spotlight isn't a command shell. While you can launch applications using just the blue dot interface, I find that interface frustrating and slow. My preferred ways of interacting with Spotlight through utilities like MoRU, SearchInside, or Smart Folders with complex queries.

One of the guys on MacBreakWeekly made a great comment about how QS is indicative of a probable trend in computing, away from menus and file folders (which don't scale well to larger and larger monitors and hard disks) toward search and using all that extra horsepower in your computer to make adaptive decisions on the fly.

The demise of the "file folder" is often overstated, primarily because people misunderstand what a folder is. A folder is simply the result of a search for data attached to objects, with an interface for manipulating that result as a set. Spotlight allows you to create pseudo-folders based on arbitrary searches, but fails to provide all of the interface elements traditionally associated with folders. You can't transparently tar or zip a Spotlight smart folder.

QS, an interface that feels almost exactly like something implemented in Emacs 30 years ago certainly isn't the herald of a revolution. QS is just a fancy command shell. That's it. The primary innovations it has over similar projects in the past are:
* object-action rather than action-object syntax.
* tab completion based on substring matches anywhere in the name, rather than substring matches at the start of the name.
* adaptive sorting of tab-completion options.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:03 AM on April 10, 2007


"You can't transparently tar or zip a Spotlight smart folder."

Actually, yes, you can. Admittedly, it takes a bit of a hack to make it work because saved searches in OSX are pretty badly implemented, but it's doable and very, very cool.

I paid for a LaunchBar license within hours of owning my first modern Macintosh, and vastly prefer it to QuickSilver due to the greater functionality (I discover "new" LB functionality on occasion often even after years of use) and superior quality of indexing, so I can't really address all the griping about QS. All I know is that every few months or so I try very very hard to give QuickSilver a fair shake, and every time I use it I find it irritating instead of rewarding.

Some of these QuickSilver's shortcomings as a search interface and weak indexer are precisely why I dislike it. Such problems don't exist with LB which has good metadata integration from various sources and can pawn the search off to the Spotlight index should its own indexes prove insufficient.

(I actually didn't know about this last ability of LaunchBar's until just minutes ago -- I've never needed to do such a thing because the LB index of things I care about is already damned thorough)

I can't see why I'd replace LB search/index + Spotlight index with Google Desktop Search or how it would supplement what I already have. I'm sure it will be an incredible boon to others, but not to me.
posted by majick at 10:53 AM on April 10, 2007


As long as we're pimping awesome search products for OS X:

Inquisitor makes Safari's built-in search box infinitely more useful. It's what you wish Google Toolbar was.
posted by mkultra at 1:12 PM on April 10, 2007


As long as we're pimping awesome search products for OS X:

Inquisitor makes Safari's built-in search box infinitely more useful. It's what you wish Google Toolbar was.
posted by mkultra at 1:13 PM on April 10, 2007


~/Music (which is not indexed by QS)

Only because you have not told QS to index it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:22 PM on April 10, 2007


five fresh fish: Only because you have not told QS to index it.

Why would I want to? Since QS won't peek at id3 tags, all that would do is bloat the index. You can't reliably search on filename for artist, full title, or composer. Especially for items that are a part of a multi-artist "Compilation." (Just in my music library, that would miss tracks by Yo-Yo Ma, Black Flag, and Louis Armstrong.) I'd have to make a blind guess about strings that may or may not appear in the filepath. (Or I could do what I usually do, which is [alt-space][period]Yo-Yo[enter]Spo[tab][enter] and run the search in Spotlight.)

Another reason why QS is not a search tool is that it makes it easy to select items you use every day, and difficult to find items that have not been touched in months and are over-due for being archived.

QS does not have boolean combination. You can't select the set of all Irving Berlin songs performed by Billie Holiday, nor can you select all episodes of "This American Life" older than two months. I can't use it to show me all tex files that I've worked on in the last 2 months, or all pdf files created this week, or all jpeg files created today. (Three smart folders that have a prominent place in the left frame of the finder.)

QS is great for a lot of things, but it's not a search tool.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:20 PM on April 10, 2007


Whatever. I imagine there exists a plugin that could do the trick, but then that wouldn't really be QuickSilver, either.

As search tools go, I dislike Spotlight. I expect it will become significantly better in the next iteration. In fact, it better be, or I will be considering a Linux box in my next hardware lifetime.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on April 10, 2007


Quicksilver, BTW, has a plug-in for Spotlight. It's a couple extra keystrokes, though.
posted by mkultra at 8:07 AM on April 11, 2007


thanks for the helpful explanations, and no thanks for the unhelpful. Since I run multiple desktops, one of which permanently has a terminal (and another with emacs), QS really does do [almost] nothing for me. Why relearn almost 20 years of Unix experience?

Regarding Google Desktop, I work at a place where it's not just verboten, but reinstallation will get you fired ...
posted by scruss at 5:29 PM on April 11, 2007


Since Doubleclick is evil and Google just purchased Doubleclick, does that finally make Google evil or do they cancel each other out?
posted by who squared at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2007


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