from the front line: ‘Can You Find….?’

I’ll admit I am a ‘pack rat’. Even in the days of carbon paper, 3x5 cards, and manila folders, I saved everything sent to me. Of course I had a sophisticated filing system which enabled me to find almost anything very quickly i.e. read look through all 17 stacks of junk.

Now that we are in the age of e-mail, enterprise wide fax, spreadsheets, and electronic word processing, I have created a whole new set of problems for myself. No longer can I recognize a folder, letter, or memo by its color or size. Everything is inside my PC.

I had taken to printing a lot of my e-mails and ‘Word” documents, and then filing them in my little piles. This finally became too cluttering, and I decided to look for an alternate solution. My ‘look’ took me to the Internet, where I started searching for software that could help me locate ‘stuff’ on my hard drive. Voila! I found DT Software (www.dtsearch.com)

Their newest product, dtSearch 5.1, is the latest version of its 32-bit text retrieval software package. Their Internet site promised that one could ‘Instantly search gigabytes of text on your P.C. or network’. That’s what I wanted. After I installed the software, which I later considered a bargain at $199, I was ready for the big test. During the creation of the software’s ‘indexes’, I noted that it had built an 8GB file, which would allow for rapid selection of documents that met my search criteria.

The first test…I entered ‘Julie AND Jones”, asking the software to locate any document on my system that had BOTH the first and last name of one of our employees. In sub-sub second time, I was returned a total of 137 ‘hits’. The type of documents that ‘Julie Jones’ appeared included Lotus spreadsheets, Excel spreadsheets, e-mail, and Word processing history documents.

One of the nice features of dtSearch is the ability to ‘launch’ the retrieved documents ‘on the fly’.

Being a 40’s baby, I am at a point in time when the old memory is not working as well as it did 30 years ago. dtSearch has an answer for this affliction. They have a ‘fuzzy’ search option, wherein the user can adjust the level of search ‘fuzziness’ from 1 to 10. For instance, if I searched for ‘alphabet’ with a fuzzy setting of 1, the search would find ‘alphaqet’. With a setting of 3 it would find both ‘alphaqet’ and alpkaqet’.

There are over a dozen search options in dtSearch, including a feature allowing the viewing of graphic files with dtSearch’s built in image viewer.

The software can reside locally, or on multiple servers across a LAN or WAN.

The only possible negative that I have encountered so far is the size of the Index files created at initial load time. But, in the days of 10 gig. Hard drives for under $300, this does not bother me too much.

If your spending a lot of time trying to remember which 8 character name you filed the ‘1998 Annual Corporate Sales and Service Allowance Report’ under, maybe it’s time to visit www.dtsearch.com.

Bob Lewis is VP of IT at the FoodService Purchasing Cooperative Inc. (Louisville, Ky.). He can be reached at bob_lewis@fspc.com.