More Yuletide cheer, software department

Might as well keep this coming, while Santa is preparing his lists and so on.

1) My choice for best-ever utility for indexing and searching hard drives on a PC, X1, has come out with a new release with numerous small but important improvements. Speed, stability, range of files it can index, etc. If you happen to be using Vista, the new release is also stable under Vista, as the old one wasn't.

I've often complimented X1 in the Atlantic's pages, but here's the sincerest sign of my regard: Officially you can get away without ever paying anything for X1. After your initial 30-day free trial expires, you just keep on with the unlicensed trial version, which gives you no tech support and has certain limitations but is better than most other indexers available. (Or, you can use the similar limited version offered free as Yahoo Desktop Search.) I've gotten by on the trial version for years. But now I have actually ponied up my $50 for a legit license to the "Professional Client" version. My official reason is that it does a few things, like indexing archived Outlook files, that the free version doesn't -- plus the tech support. My real reason is that I have used this product so often for so long that I feel I owe these people something. Check it out.

2) Chandler - where do I start? This is one of the great epics/dramas/melodramas of the last two decades of computer-dom. In part it is the fulfillment of Mitch Kapor's vision of creating the perfect tool for organizing the data you need for your daily life. He began this quest decades ago, with the creation of the sainted Lotus Agenda program when he was in charge of Lotus. (Part of that background here and here). In part it's a very demanding test of what kind of software can be developed on a non-commercial, purely open-source basis. It even has an Atlantic connection, since part of its vision is to realize the vision of Vannevar 'As We May Think' Bush, who in our pages laid out the principles of the internet and of information management more than 60 years ago. It's also just an engrossing story -- one told in the recent book Dreaming in Code, by Scott Rosenberg, which as its site shows I liked enough to blurb effusively.

Saying anything more about the Chandler saga would be too exhausting, except for this: a usable version now exists, even though it has only some of the features envisioned for the grand climax of the project. It is usable enough that I actually am using it. You can start here to find out more. Warning: at this point, it's still in the "mainly for tinkerers" stage. But it's very interesting, and is free.

Merry Christmas to all!