Monday, September 8, 2008

What do I hate most today?

Windows desktop search...

Why doesn't the old style search folders thingy (the one with the annoying dog [with accompanying annoying sounds] on my machine, it looks like they named it the "search companion" in the desktop search sidebar) get shown automatically when a folder isn't indexed? On top of this they have the guts to show a link that you can click on.

I cannot index this folder because doing so destroys the performance of my machine (the folders where I do this constantly are my source code repositories, with 10^5+ files in them).

The only reason I have WDS on this computer is so I can search in Outlook 2007 (another thing I absolutely hate, but company policies are to use exchange and not allow IMAP or POP3 access, so Thunderbird is out of the question).

Somebody needs to go watch the Matrix again and re-learn the single useful bit of knowledge every developer/UI designer/engineer should know:

Neo: Are there other programs like you?
The Oracle: Oh, well, not like me. But... look, see those birds? At some point a program was written to govern them. A program was written to watch over the trees, and the wind, the sunrise, and sunset. There are programs running all over the place. The ones doing their job, doing what they were meant to do, are invisible. You'd never even know they were here. But the other ones, well, we hear about them all the time.
Neo: I've never heard of them.
The Oracle: Oh, of course you have. Every time you've heard someone say they saw a ghost, or an angel. Every story you've ever heard about vampires, werewolves, or aliens, is the system assimilating some program that's doing something they're not supposed to be doing.

The programs that are doing their jobs are the ones you don't notice. Every time you notice them, they aren't doing something right.

Here is how searching should work:
  1. In the location bar you should be able to type something like "find xyz"
  2. Instantly all files that contain xyz in their filename should appear in the explorer window (just like locate works in my *nix systems, except that it should be integrated with the explorer window, not the command line).
  3. I should be able to control indexing times on a per folder basis.
  4. The folder I search from should be incrementally indexed every time I search it (do the following):
    1. Store a hash of every folder built from some measure that is fast to find from the file system (I don't know what measurement would be, but the hash should change every time a file is added or removed from a folder).
    2. If the hash is different when I search, re-index the folder as soon as you finish displaying the results from the db search (keep a status bar notification saying "Searching..." while re-indexing).
    3. After the index is complete, update the results by searching again.

In closing: I hate you Microsoft. I hate you for making my life harder than it should be. I hate you for knowing who you are when I shouldn't need to. I hate you because I notice you when I don't need to. I hate you for putting the sound of a dog scratching itself on my computer. I hate you for making it impossible to search my mail without installing a program I don't otherwise need. I hate you for making a search tool that I can't turn on because it makes my computer unusable. And I hate you for reminding me that I don't have it on.

PS. Supposedly Windows Search 4.0 solves most of the problems I have with it; apparently you have to install it outside of windows update here. I've let it index the two directories I need to be able to effectively search (168,920 files indexed now according to it).

We'll see.

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