Tracker Pro takes file management a step further





Tracker Pro is a one-of-a-kind utility. Similar utilities at the server level do
data mining or knowledge management, but this seems to be the first designed for the
desktop PC user.


Tracker Pro periodically looks at your hard drive, network drives and the Web, tracking
and organizing the data created by business programs, e-mail and personal information
managers.


After installation, Tracker Pro spends up to an hour sorting all the data on the hard
drive. On a 200-MHz Pentium PC with 48M of RAM and a 3G drive, Tracker Pro indexed the c:
data and a network drive partition in 35 minutes. The program and data files took up 38M
on my test system.


The comprehensive user guide shows several illustrations of options and procedures. It
also has examples of unexpected uses, such as a search engine filter for Web searches.
Enfish Technology Inc. provides technical support via e-mail, the Web or toll call.


Don’t mistake Tracker Pro for just another file manager. When Microsoft
Windows’ Explorer searches folders, it gives only the filename, type, size and date
created. Tracker Pro takes a different approach.


It disregards where a file resides on the hard drive and whether it is an e-mail, word
processing file or some other data type. Tracker Pro indexes and cross-references every
document on your system, and new ones as you create them, by content and not by location.


Like a Web search engine, Tracker Pro constantly checks the system for new information
that matches your parameters. You could regard it as the AltaVista of the desktop
computer.


During its initial indexing, Tracker Pro sets up predefined sets of search criteria
known as Trackers which I found pretty useless. They mostly indexed e-mails and bookmarked
sites easy to locate in other ways.


I got more value out of Tracker Pro by setting up custom Trackers for people, projects
and other information types. It is very easy: Just click the New Tracker icon and follow a
wizard that walks you through creating a People Tracker, a Company Tracker or a Project
Tracker.


After you name the person, company or project, you enter key words, synonyms, and
associated words or phrases. You can also add Web sites related to a topic that you want
Tracker Pro to monitor. Don’t forget to enter a date range to narrow the tracked
data.


When you finish, Tracker Pro will display all the data it can find that matches the
criteria. As you create or find new data that corresponds to your established Trackers,
the data will appear in the results.


At times Trackers will display too much information, but you can set filters to refine
the information gathering. The Filters option lets you put limits on words, data types and
dates. If this doesn’t restrict the results enough, click on Advanced Filters and
fill in the dialog box to narrow the search by word, author, recipient, location, date or
file size.


Tracker Pro can read most e-mail clients, Web browsers and business applications. On
the mail side, it supports Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express and Exchange; Qualcomm Inc.
Eudora; Lotus Notes and cc:Mail; Netscape Communicator; and AOL Mail. As for browsers, it
supports Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer 4.0 and America Online’s browser.


In the business application area, it works with many versions of leading office suites,
graphical formats and a number of PIMs.


Check the Web site at www.enfish.com/products/file_formats.html for compatibility with
the applications on your system. To maintain its value, Tracker Pro must be able to read
new data formats as they enter the market. Arnaud Fischer of Enfish Technology said the
company “will make the best effort to stay current as far as the top apps are
concerned.”


To view the data found by your custom Trackers, double-click on a tracked item to open
it in the application that created it, or view the file directly in Tracker Pro by
selecting the file and clicking on the View icon.


Users who enjoy bringing order out of chaos will love Tracker Pro. It’s a little
pricey for a desktop utility but worth it for the productivity benefits.


Caution: The program will tax an underpowered PC. To forestall user disappointment,
install Tracker Pro only on computers with enough resources to handle it.


William M. Frazier, a PC hobbyist, is the postmaster of Taholah, Wash.


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