Saturday, December 29, 2007

Searching E-mail

As a certified packrat, I have accumulated vast quantities of e-mail over the years. Working on the assumption that bits are cheap, I have a relatively complete record of my electronic communications.

The problem with the bit bucket approach to data storage is retrieval. How do you find what you are looking for in that huge pile of information?

A number of search programs exist, all with various flaws. Google Desktop leaks information back to the mother ship. Lookout, a search plug-in for Outlook crashes things regularly. Microsoft bought the company, and now offers Windows Search.

The problem with all these programs and plug-ins is that they only do literal search. If you are looking for a phone number, but the word "phone" does not appear in an email, you will not get a result. The solution is to use semantic search, and a researcher at IBM has created just that - a semantic search solution for Outlook and Lotus Notes called IBM OmniFind Personal E-mail Search.

What I particularly like about this program is that it is free (for now), fast, and clean. When installed in Outlook, a small search button is added to the toolbar. The search results are presented in a simple web browser page that looks very similar to Google.

Downloading requires registration with IBM.

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