Monday, June 16, 2008

InfoSelect for Windows in 1992

InfoSelect, which I bought late in 1992 as a replacement for the combination of "Organize!" and "Scraps," was a big improvement over both. You could use it like a big shoe box, into which you threw everything you thought worth keeping -- and that is how I used it. The good thing was that it allowed (and allows) you easily to find everything again. It allowed Boolean searches, using AND and OR. In fact, it even had something called "neural search," which allowed you to enter multiple words and would then search the "stack" or the active database for entries that contained "as many of these words as possible."

It had some problems that seemed to have more to do with the limitations of Windows. Stacks had what I perceived as a severe limitation of size. Umlauts were always a problem. But on the whole it incorporated "the power of the simple tool." It was amazing to see the little windows neatly arranging themselves after a completed search.

I still have a copy of this program on a Compact Flash chip, and I often think I should use it more, but it has become just a toy. I did buy the versions that followed, up to number 4, but I increasingly felt that InfoSelect had lost their way, trying to be everything to everyone. I also found the implementation of the outline for managing information klutzy - almost a betrayal of the original vision of Tornado notes (its predecessor) and InfoSelect for Windows 1. While the search feature improved significantly, the price of updating to get features that for the most part I did not really want proved to be too much. So, version 4 was the last I bought (in 1997).

I sometimes wish that they would come out with InfoSelect Standard or InfoSelect Classic that does away with most of the functions developed later (at a reduced price), concentrates on easy data entry and search and re-implements the old interface. (You can, of course, have the little Windows in the new version as well, but it isn't as convenient.) I am sure that such a version would not make me abandon ConnectedText, but it might complement it, as I still like the "shoe box" way of organizing, if "organizing" is the right way for this approach. In any case, it would only be the first step.

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