Search Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) worked together to create standards for the technology that powers web sites. Acronyms dear to my heart like CSS, HTML, and HTTP came from their defining how web browsers and web servers should behave in various situations. It made the Web a better place.

Every time I find myself extremely frustrated searching for something and failing because the methods I know are not working really annoy me. I wish the W3C or companies that specialize in search would come together and establish minimum standards.

That said, I think 97% of my searching would be successful if places would consistently honor:

  1. Double quotes: The ” symbol surrounding a phrase should make the interior honored as a single phrase. We use it because the terms individually are relatively common and bring up false positives. Combining them in this way narrows the search to what we seek. In my opinion, this is a must have feature.
  2. Boolean: The AND, OR, and NOT commands along with parentheses () are powerful means of finding relevant results. Searching Twitter is easy because the search company they bought did such a great job leveraging Boolean.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 Wishlist

From 2001 to 2006, Microsoft Outlook was the email client I used for work (and on my home computer to access work stuff). Back then, Exchange was not available, so a number of the features were more hacks than reality. However, it worked pretty well.

When I changed jobs, Netscape and Thunderbird were the pre-installed clients. I opted for Thunderbird. It worked pretty well for me. Calendaring was in MeetingMaker. Everything worked pretty well.

Recently work shifted to Exchange, so going back to Outlook made sense. Maybe because I have so much experience, the transition was not as bad as it might have been. Still… These are gotchas which have annoyed me lately:

  1. Editable subject usability: The emails from our client issue tracking system put the description where its hidden. I was really pissed that I could not edit the subject until I figured out unlike most software which changes the shading to show it is now editable, Outlook just lets me edit at any time. Also, editing the subject after it is used by something else like a task results in the change in the email but not the task. (The main reason I want to change them is so it appears correctly in the task list. ) Copying to a second email results in the same problem. Apparently I have to either create a new task and copy-n-paste the subject I want or forward the email to myself.
  2. Spacebar moves to next message instead of next new message: I really like the Thunderbird method of skipping to the next unread message when I hit the spacebar at the end of the current message. It even will find the next unread message in another folder. Outlook just advances to the next message.
  3. Boolean is more than OR: I had this fantastic Thunderbird filter which looked for user@ AND domain.tld. Outlook only honors OR. We have 15 admin nodes and databases which send up reports. Alerts and tickets come from a different source and unaffected by this.
  4. Search ignores special characters: I thought in the past I had sent email to abc-defghi@domain.tld. However, the message bounced, so I searched my email for part of the address “abc-defghi” as its not in the address book. I got results which match “abc” not “abc-defghi”. So it ignored the hyphen and everything after. FAIL!
  5. Send email as plain text or paste a plain text: Yes, I know lots of people have HTML capable clients. I hate Outlook puts my replies in a sickly blue font. When I copy and paste from the elsewhere in the message, it changes the font. So then I have to go and do formatting to have a presentable email. I just want to type and send. I don’t care about fonts, colors, etc. If I did, then I would create a web page. … (Added 2009-JUN-03)

That’s it for now.

Flickr Search

Flickr has millions of photos. (Maybe billions.) Many of these photos are tagged. One can look at all the photos with a tag. Every tag has a built in RSS feed. However, to view a combination of tags, one needs to search for the two tags.

Something I would like to see is an RSS feed for Flickr searches. Having to choose between duplication making see the same picture more than once or missing photos because users are… inconsistent.

This is easier than me moving some place else.
🙂