Personalized service is nice. Most of us appreciate it when we are treated well and given personal treatment, whether it is from our insurance agent, a dry cleaner, or a broker. On the Web, we have seen the rapid proliferation of sites and services that deliver personalized information and news. Almost every portal or search site now offers a MyService type of option. Most Web users are so overwhelmed that we welcome any way to narrow the resources to match our interests and needs. We can now personalize our weather reports, sports scores, news categories, stock quotes, shopping information, and our alert services.
Another twist on personalization is available through a number of search tools that reside on a user's desktop and can be modified and tweaked by the user. The Spotlight article in the April NewsLink looked at some desktop search tools. Here I will discuss a few more desktop tools that feature control and personal customization.
IntelliSeek, Inc. (http://www.intelliseek.com), a company that bills itself as the "leading provider of Personalized Internet Services for the Web," recently announced the new version 2.5 of BullsEye 2, its client-based search software known as its "Intelligent Desktop Portal." Chris Sherman, the Web Search guide for About.com, calls the Pro version of the software "the closest thing to a 'Swiss army knife' a Web searcher can hope to find." He says BullsEye 2 Pro "combines the best features of a meta search engine, off-line browser, bookmark manager, and Web research report manager into a single unified product."
The various filtering, sorting, and limiting tools in the software give users control over their searching. The new version reportedly offers the first international search agent that queries over 70 international search engines and displays integrated results from 15 languages including French, Spanish, German, and Russian. It also adds enhanced comparison shopping coverage, natural language query support, and improved performance. In a further customization move, partner companies can license the software from IntelliSeek and co-brand BullsEye 2 for distribution to their end-users. Best of all, IntelliSeek BullsEye 2 is available as a free download from the company's Web site. BullsEye 2 Pro has additional capabilities and personalization features and costs $249.
Another company offering personalized software for desktop searching is Worldfree Corp. (http://www.worldfree.com). Its KnowAll search tool claims "Organic Intelligence" to process queries against a proprietary lexicon for idea matching. Search results are saved and can be queried later. KnowAll builds a knowledge base of queries for a particular user, so that the more a user searches, the more personalized the program becomes. Because KnowAll is locally resident, a user can click and drop additional words into a specialized application that will enable the software to think like the user does.
The company claims that the software is unique in bringing back answers to a search query, not just a list of Web sites that might have the answer. Searches can be scheduled any time, without the user being present. In a review (http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/0,4161,2421929,00.html), PC Week--now renamed eWEEK--found some faults with the first version in the user interface, in the ease of use, and in the hardware requirements, although the review noted that the tool provided good search results and could be customized.
As I write this, Worldfree is set to demonstrate its newest version of KnowAll 2.0 at PC Expo in New York, June 27 to 29, and to show reportedly the world's "first automatic directory builder," SeeAll. For more information, check the company Web site. A free trial version of KnowAll can be downloaded; the software is available for purchase for $89.