Friday, July 17, 2009

At Last! A Simple Secret Makes Vista File Search Work!


Here's some good news for Vista customers.

If you were unsatisfied with the Vista file search utility, check again.  With little fanfare, it seems that Service Pack 2 added a great file search utility to Vista.  For Free!
I don't have all the details but after updating Vista last month, I tried file search from a folder and it actually worked! Before these updates to Vista file search would not work except using the work around I described below.  

Go to the Windows Update site and do all the updates for your copy of Vista. After Vista is up to date, check out file search.  

Just open a folder. Documents, for example, and type something in the search box at the top right.   Merry Christmas from Microsoft.

Here's the work around for file search in older versions of Vista.....

I have been using Vista for about one year and have NEVER been able to find ANYTHING using the search box. I simply could not believe it.

I have searched the internet for help. Nowhere did I find anything useful. I have read hundreds of comments from Vista users suffering the same fate as me. So I took charge of my life, and by trial-and-error discovered how to make Vista Search Work.

First, share my experience when I try to search for a file in Vista. Perhaps you have had this experience too.

Let's say I need to find files having the word "climate" in the file name. Sounds like a job for Vista Search. So, I open a folder, say the Documents folder, where I can see many files displayed. I then type the word "climate" into the search box. So far, all very intuitive and straightforward. Right? Not so fast punk.

Vista Search ALWAYS returns the frustrating text: “No items match your search.”

As I am writing this, I am searching my Documents folder for files having the word “climate” in the title. Visually scanning down the file list, I see twelve recent documents and several PDF's having the word “climate” in the title.

Why is it that the Vista search comes up with “no items match” when I can see twelve files in the open document folder that clearly match the search word?
Why is that? I do not know.

I personally find that I become frustrated and angry when my computer tells me that it cannot find something that I, the computer user, plainly see on the screen.

OK, enough with the story of my life. You probably want to know how to make searches work.

Here is the secret to making searches work in Windows Vista.

STEP 1 Find a check box called “Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow).”

STEP 2 Check the box.

Windows Vista Search then immediately comes to life and finds files that match your search term. YEA!

Of course, to follow these instructions one has to find the secret check box before one can check it.

Here is how you find the "Include non-indexed ..." check box. This next looks long but it's easy, only two mouse clicks from the "no items match" screen.

STEP 1 Open a folder that you want to search and type your search-term into the search-box in the upper right corner the folder. Vista search will immediately return the text “No items match your search.” Even though you can probably plainly see files matching that term, follow STEP 2 carefully.

STEP 2 Control your frustration and anger.

STEP 3 After the unsuccessful first search obtained in STEP 1, a link titled “Advanced Search” will appear. Click on “Advanced Search.” Do NOT click anything else. Only click “Advanced Search.” It is conveniently located directly under and to the right of “No items match your search.”

STEP 4 After clicking Advanced Search, a new, and even more confusing display appears. Don’t worry, just ignore it. Instead, look to the far left side of the display and about five lines from the top of the window you should see a click-box titled “Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow)”
STEP 5 Control your frustration and anger, we are almost through.

STEP 6 Simply click on the little box found in STEP 4. As soon as the “Include non-indexed …” box has been checked, Vista search suddenly springs to life and files matching your search term will appear in the lower right of the window.

What if I want to do another search?

Just type in the new search term in the search box at the top right of the window and it works again! Matching files show up in the search window.


Why did Microsoft do this to us?

I do not know.


Other links and postings on Vista File Search

This article from Microsoft will help you become an expert at Vista File Search, but many will find it confusing.
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article #932989

This posting by Dave Taylor is OK, the best part is the comments. The user comments tell a sad story of discontent, anger, outrage, and frustration with Vista File Search.

Ask Dave Taylor

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Spicing up the menu at Synthetic Information

Most disgusting news story of the week.

As reported by NY Channel Seven News July 15 2009 with additional material from anonymous sources.

A German tourist vacationing at the Waldorf Astoria in New York was eating a high end dinner after a long day of sight seeing in the Big Apple. The Waldorf dining room is perhaps one of the finest dining experiences in the city. It is famous for it’s salads, you may have heard of the Waldorf Salad, created by the head chef of the restaurant nearly 100 years ago.

This pleasant dining scenario took a horrific turn. Because of their disgusting nature, I cannot continue with specific descriptions of events, but they involve the poor man swallowing something, in his food, which later was determined to be a foreign object, and the object was a particularly unpleasant one.

Of course, a German tourist is a foreign object himself, so this presents something of a conundrum, but I digress.

These unfortunate events were precipitated by an apparent misunderstanding between the server and a restaurant patron, i.e. our German tourist.

As the table server tells it, he was explaining the menu to the patron.

“Sir, the house special tonight is the top sirloin steak with a side salad of blue smoked salmon on a bead of fresh spinach leaf.

The patron, speaking broken English apparently said yes, he wanted the steak, but with a blood soaked tampon on a bed of spinach, which the waiter dutifully recorded.

Manfully concealing his feelings of revulsion, the waiter replied somewhat stiffly,

“Yes sir. Our kitchen will do its best.”

The kitchen staff was bemused, but undetered by the challenge raised by the eccentric German’s order. After all, the Waldorf kitchen prides itself on its highly innovative staff and their willingness to make every effort to provide excellence in customer service. No matter how unusual the request.

The rest you know by now. The table service, the swallowing, the choking, the retrieval of the item, the gargling with brandy, the hurried trip to the bathroom, the trip to the ER, and the ER physicians horrifying pronouncement,

“Yes, it is as I feared. Our tests are conclusive. The foreign object ingested by the German tourist at the Waldorf dining room was indeed, a blood soaked tampon. Not a blue smoked salmon.”

I understand tomorrow’s house special is an Asian dish, Hunan Chop Finger Chicken on a bed of rice. Order carefully and enjoy!

Verizon Wireless Broadband Internet Card: Information and Review

I have been a Verizon wireless broadband internet customer for the past six years. Two years ago I relocated to the Palm Springs area from San Diego. Since then I have experienced a much degraded performance of my wireless internet connection. The wireless phone service seems roughly the same as in San Diego, and is basically fine with few dropped calls or dead areas here.

Out here in the desert, my internet connection is achieved solely through my Verizon EVDO card. I am not satisfied with the performance. For that reason, I have put together this brief review and information package about wireless broadband internet technology and my experiences out here in the desert.

I am using a PC5750 EVDO broadband card. The card fits into the PCMCIA slot in my Toshiba laptop running Vista. These EVDO cards have impressive specs. The advertised bandwidth of my EVDO card is 600-1400kbps download and 500-800kbps upload. These rates are the maximum that the Verizon system will support. The bandwidth typically achievable is dependent on several factors. These include, (1) the distance between the user and the nearest tower, (2) sharing bandwidth with other cell and broadband users nearby, (3) atmospheric conditions, weather, solar activity and the like.

My experience here in the desert has been rather disappointing. Verizon only achieves download speeds in the range of 100-500kbps, upload speeds in the range of 50-100kbps. These numbers are only 10% to 20% of the advertised specs. That is slow. It is 1994 dial-up modem slow. Verizon Broadband gets a grade of D for bandwidth. Now to the problem of dropped internet connections. These occur roughly once per day of usage time. Most of the time when the connection is dropped, it cannot be reestablished from the network control panel. Instead one must shut everything down and reboot. This type of connection loss is a big problem. Any current work I am doing online such as filling out forms and editing blog posts is usually lost when the connection is dropped. Verizon achieves only a grade C-minus on connection reliability. Verizon Broadband’s GPA of D-plus is a very poor grade indeed.

Overall, I would rate the broadband service from Verizon wireless as often unreliable, and a constant source of uncertainty and frustration. It is likely that in the near future I will be switching to a Time Warner Cable service package for internet, telephone, and television. If I do that, I will actually be able to stop all use of Verizon wireless services. I would have preferred to stick with Verizon, but the performance of the Internet service via Broadband card, has been unacceptably inadequate.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bing Shows Steady After Initial Surge

Update July 11, 2009 Auditioning Bing

Bing achieves steady share of search market after initial surge.

First, let me say that I started using Bing as my home page search engine in early June. Initially I did this to test, evaluate, and contrast Bing and Google. After a few days of testing I posted my observations and initial impressions on this site (see previous posts here.) The conclusion of my evaluation? I was happy enough with Bing to leave it as my home page search engine. And I continued using Bing as my main search tool up to the present.

Bing’s search performance seems comparable to Google. Such is my experience to date. I am happy with Bing because of a few simple user-interface-experience features. Bing simply has a nicer look and feel than Google. In short, I found that I had no reason to switch back to Google, and didn’t.

How is Bing doing in the market? After an initial surge to a 16% share of daily searches, Bing settled down to a 10% share through June. On July 8,9 Bing usage surged again to pass Yahoo Search and capture a 12.9% share. These statistics come from StatCounter GlobalStats. Analysis posted on TechCrunch suggests that Bing's latest bump-up in search traffic was largely captured from Google. Interesting.

The outlook? It seems that Google is going to be solidly in first place at ~ 75% search traffic share for the foreseeable future.

This picture might change if Google users continue to switch to Bing at a sustained rate. Should trend spotters see Bing’s market share continuing to grow at Google’s expense over the coming 6 months, Google would have a big problem.