Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hua Hin, Thailand

I just got back from an event in Hua Hin, Thailand, arranged by our good friends at IBM. This was an event designed to build partnership between IBM and my company, specifically in selling one of their server lines. It was my first time in Thailand and I have to say that I had such a wonderful time.

First, the location. We stayed at Anantara Resort in Hua Hin and I highly recommend this place. It was a wonderful resort hotel and the place was simply beautiful. I wished my wife could have been there. I was treated to the spa and I had, for the first time, the traditional Thai massage (just the massage -- nothing else). I really enjoyed it. But I was slightly disappointed when I learned later that the masseuse didn't do all the tricks in the book, like lift up your body to stretch your back. But I'm a big guy -- maybe she was afraid she couldn't handle my weight.

The networking was also great. I met a bunch of new people, both from the IBM side and people from other offices of my company. I also had a chance to meet with the top leaders of my company -- people who I don't get to see often. And to make socializing even easier, the soccer world cup was going on, which made it easy to start a conversation.

As far as the content of the event (i.e. the products that IBM hopes we can help push to the market), I have nothing but respect for IBM servers. But there is so much more involved in buying servers. Clients may have their own product preference to begin with, they may be tied to a particular platform because of skills, they may already have good relationship with a particular vendor, etc. Sometimes the technology does not matter much in sales. (See any arguments on Wintel vs. Apple.) However I applause IBM for doing what they can and I think increasing relationship and partnership with a major SI/consulting company like us is a right strategy for them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

X1 Desktop Search

af7f In my previous blog entry, I wrote about a few desktop search tools, namely Google Desktop, Windows Desktop Search, and Copernic Desktop Search. This past week I was fortunate to be able to use X1 Desktop Search for free. The tool costs $75 to the general public, but due to partnership between X1 and my employer, we were given free access to download and use the software.

One thing that's immediately apparent from X1 Desktop Search is its speed. Index building was about twice as fast as Copernic or Windows Desktop Search. Searching also feels faster and results seem to jump out immediately. I'm quite particular about resource usage and I complained about how Windows Desktop Search grabbed a lot of it. Obviously all of X1's horsepower needs resources, but I'm glad to say that its usage is still far below that of Windows Desktop Search (although slightly above Copernic's). X1 is also quite stable and never gave me problem despite heavy use alongside Outlook.

My complaints with X1 are related to the user interface and lack of information in the help file. Going from Copernic's elegant UI, X1's interface seems quite untidy. The icons are not the same size, and there are icons whose arrangement takes up too much space. Better interface design would increase screen real estate. The deskbar (the toolbar in the taskbar) also needs redesigning, or at least ability for customization. It has icons that do nothing for me other than taking real estate.

X1 comes with a modest help file, but a power user may need to find information somewhere else. For example, in Copernic I love the ability to scroll through instances of found search terms in the search results. In X1 this feature is also available, but you wouldn't know it unless you dig through the user forums because the help file doesn't mention it.

Which brings me to something that X1 excels compared to Copernic, which is community. I'm surprised that in this day and age, there is a company like Copernic that doesn't try to involve its users more. X1 does a good job in providing its users a community where everybody can interact, ask questions, and give suggestions. I believe this will make X1 a better product for its users and in turn foster loyalty.

I still have both Copernic and X1 installed on my notebook. I believe both are excellent products for my needs, but I believe X1 will someday be a  better product than Copernic.