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Microsoft's Search Engine Plans 407

prostoalex writes "Andy Beal from SearchEngineGuide.com interviews Robert Scoble from Microsoft. Scoble tells the audience what current search technologies Microsoft is working on as part of its Longhorn/WinFS development as well as in the field of Internet. Scoble also discusses current problems with local drive and Internet searching, such as absence of metadata for a lot of files out there: "When I take pictures off of my Nikon, they have some metadata (for instance, inside the file is the date it was taken, along with the exposure information) but that metadata isn't useful for most human searches. For instance, how about if I wanted to search for "my wedding photos?" Neither X1, nor Windows XP's built in search would find your wedding photos. Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.""
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Microsoft's Search Engine Plans

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  • by panxerox ( 575545 ) * on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:55AM (#8218024)
    Make it "Micosoft Search powered by GOOGLE". Then "maybe" it might function well. Also metadata needs to be created by the user, I aint gonna be entereing data on a keypad on my camera for every photo.
  • Search by date (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:58AM (#8218031)
    I can get around searching for "wedding photos" because I remember the date. 3 special days, and hundreds of wedding photos appear.

    It's part of being human that we don't necessarily remember the phrase "wedding photos" but we may remember many other tiny pieces of data about a shoot that are unique to us, and the time and date are one of those. I can be certain the post 9pm photos done on those days are pretty embarassing.

    Just concentrating on "Wedding Photos" is useful if someone else is searching my picture archive, but that's not useful to me

    nude geekgrrls []
    • Re:Search by date (Score:5, Informative)

      by TitanBL ( 637189 ) <`brandon' `at' `titan-internet.com'> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:09AM (#8218102)
      The new iPhoto [apple.com] handles this very well - automatically imports the date the photo was taken. Then you can group the images together in albums similar to the way you create 'smart playlists' in iTunes.
      • Re:Search by date (Score:5, Interesting)

        by alangmead ( 109702 ) * on Sunday February 08, 2004 @01:52PM (#8219204)
        What if a system's search could draw information from all the applications within the system. For example, if your electronic datebook had a day long entry for "wedding" and the photo manager has photos taken on that date, then a search for "wedding photos" would be able to find out when the wedding was, match it up with the date the photos were taken, and come up with the appropriate set.

        To some extent Apple tried this with "Newton Intelligence" on the MessagePad. If you wrote "Thursday, Lunch with Bob at Redbones" It would (after you fixed all of its handwriting recognition mistakes) look up Bob and Redbones in the address book, look in the calendar for the next occurrence of a Thursday, and schedule a noon time appointment.

        Newton Intelligence really only amounted to a small set of interapplication tricks, but it was assumed that as the popularity of the units increased, the functionality would be extended. (which pretty much tells you what happened to it.)
      • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:34PM (#8220224) Homepage Journal
        I think it's cool that Microsoft is taking cues from the iApps - interesting that they want to integrate it so much into the operating system. Whereas so far Apple is stressing an application-centered solution on top of a more general-purpose filesystem, Microsoft is getting deeper into the integration game, getting into file metadata a la BeOS, and tracking files according to thematic relevance a la relational databases.

        If the "smart desktop" idea catches on it will be interesting to see the response from developers on Mac OS X and Linux, as far as offering intelligent activity tracking. Somehow I see a twisty maze of documents and activities, all alike.

        Should operating systems do all the work of organizing users files for them, concealing the filesystem behind a database veneer, or behind a purely task-oriented veneer? Should this kind of thing be left to application developers, like the maker of Path Finder?

        Wouldn't Windows be more useful if it was a truly modular system that could be configured simply by stripping away unwanted components? Isn't that what makes Darwin so healthy in the enterprise market today?
      • Re:Search by date (Score:3, Interesting)

        What if photo meta data could be saved steganographically (spelling?) inside the image? Oh wait.....what if the image got edited, whoops.

    • More truth in what you say than many might realise I think.

      give me a library of 10,000 photos I can scroll through. I bet I could quite easily pick some of the wedding ones. If those photos are organised by time photographed then they're all going to be packed together making it twice as easy.

      I have more like 3,000 digital photos on my machine and I've never had a problem finding the ones I want. It can take a minute or two, but that is still an order of magnitude faster than I would with a box of printed
    • Re:Search by date (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThogScully ( 589935 )
      MOD PARENT UP. A little common sense goes a long way. Entering all that metadata that would make keyword searches viable would certainly help, but people already have the ability to do that - it's not worth the time or effort. Cataloguing by directory and maybe filename is all I ever do and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
      • exactly, whatever microsoft does they can't make the system figure out the proper metadata on their own and the user has already the possibility to enter it anyways.

        like, have the wedding photos in a 'wedding' folder or whatever, porno in 'porno' folder and wedding porno in 'wedding night' folder.

        sure they can make it a nice categorizing system but wtf, why steam so much about it, are they going to bring it "up on your face" so that it's hard to ignore typing the metadata(most people would ignore it anywa
      • by stevens ( 84346 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:48AM (#8218335) Homepage
        Entering all that metadata that would make keyword searches viable would certainly help, but people already have the ability to do that - it's not worth the time or effort.

        I'd like a camera that could accept voice metadata, turn it to text, and preserve it when it went onto the filesystem, using whatever metadata the filesystem supports.

        That way I could easily hit the button on the camera, say "vacation with supermodel"[0], and search on that later. Although we'd need something more than ext{2,3} which could hold proper user-defined metadata.

        Note 0: The simple metadata storage system would not have a lie detector. ;P

    • Re:Search by date (Score:3, Interesting)

      by higgins ( 100638 )
      David Gelernter built a system called Lifestreams [yale.edu] that basically claimed that time-ordered series plus some simple search and organization operators was everything you needed. It always seemed like a pretty good idea to me.

      That said, if you do have metadata available, you can do a lot with it.
    • Who's really dumping all their pics into My Pictures without making subfolders? Subfolders and thumbnail view in XP already make searching for photos from a command line useless.
    • by Flakeloaf ( 321975 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:54PM (#8218781) Homepage
      Funny, I get around not being able to find my wedding photos by putting them all in a directory called WEDDING PHOTOS - THE PHOTOS OF YOUR WEDDING ARE HERE YOU TWIT
  • I'm not buying it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by de Selby ( 167520 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:58AM (#8218033)
    For instance, how about if I wanted to search for "my wedding photos?" Neither X1, nor Windows XP's built in search would find your wedding photos. Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos."

    That's why you can change filenames and organize things into directories.
    • Re:I'm not buying it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:05AM (#8218065)
      Even easier than putting into directories is using a portfolio type application, like Picasa (the original version of Apple's iPhoto btw) which allows simple drag and drop library creation. You can have pictures in multiple libraries, it just takes a small few moments to drop photos into their correct places and they are sorted as need be. If you want wedding photos, look in there if you want photos of janine, kate or benson look in their respective folders.

      It doesnt need to be a morass of embedded folder after folder either, as humans have mental acuity unlike a computer. You may have uncle bob who is photographed a lot and auntie beryl who isn't, but all the photos of beryl you may know will contain bob. We can store a surprising amount of information, and perhaps 5 to 10 libraries is all you will need for most peoples collections.

      Special occasions get their own. It just takes moments after downloading the photos.

      nude geekgrrls []
    • by leomekenkamp ( 566309 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:08AM (#8218098)
      I think the guys at Microsoft are under the impression that it is easier for a user to add metadata to a file than change its filename and put it in a logical place.

      I think they are wrong.

      Even if they put more annoying pop-ups like "Hi, I'm Photi, your annoying photo-organiser! What are the names of the people on this photo?" I think people will go straight for the 'Ok' button. Especially if you take the number of pictures that can be stored on a memory card these days. Even clicking 'Ok' 50 times can be pretty annoying.
      • Re:Renaming files (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) * on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:35AM (#8218260) Homepage Journal
        Renaming files doesn't work... how many times have you had to search using the "containing text" features of Windows (or some other OS)?

        It's saved my bacon more than once. As we move away from text, we become completely dependent on metadata to find things. Standards for metadata need to be settled soon, or Moore's law means our computers will become less and less useful.


        • Re:Renaming files (Score:5, Insightful)

          by glpierce ( 731733 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:46AM (#8218319)
          "As we move away from text, we become completely dependent on metadata..."

          Exactly what do you think metadata is? This system would require more text than current. At present, you can rename the files and put them in folders, which works quite well if you have any organizational ability. Metadata would require dozens of unrelated pieces of info be input, and the a more complex retrieval (search) process would be required. While metadata standards are important, it's only advanced users who will be using them. How many "typical" users do you know that are going to search for a photo by the F-value?

          And for the record, I've never used the "containing text" search, because I name files in unambiguous ways.
        • Re:Renaming files (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Malcontent ( 40834 )
          I have given up even trying to use MS search on my hard drive. First of all it frequently desides that I have nothing on my machine. In other words whenever I search for something it instantly decides that it's not there. The only cure is to turn off indexing and delete the database files. Then it takes an half an hour to search for one filename.

          I have taken to saving things on a samba share just so I can use locate and grep.
    • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:41AM (#8218289) Homepage
      But, if the industry works together on common WinFS schemas (not just for contacts either, but other types of data too), we'll come away with some really great new capabilities. It really will take getting developers excited about WinFS's promise and getting them to lose their fears about opening up their data types.

      If M$ would work together with the industry and open up its data types we would come away with some really great new capabilities. This is incredible: they want 'the industry' to do what they never do, and I expect they will succeed. Prepare for the even more total domination of Microsoft in the near future.
  • Ouch (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:58AM (#8218035)
    X1, nor Windows XP's built in search would find your wedding photos. Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.

    Right, dude! The camera should automagically recognize that it's taking pictures of your wedding and include that info in the metadata!
    • besides that I think that may be something specific to nikon. I own a canon A70 powershot and the software that comes with it provides an option of including a name prefix in front of all the snaps like wedding_01230204.

      I am not sure how far this meta-data idea could go to capture the meaning of the snap or any other file for that matter. The same lazy user who dint take his/her time to organize her files in folders/providing proper file name will skip providing this metainformation.
    • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:16AM (#8218149) Journal
      Yeah, I'm sure being a computer science visionary is harder than it looks. But from the outside, all they seem to ever do is to announce that computer use is difficult because software developers aren't as smart as them, and that what we really need is some way for everything to magically sort itself out. Details of implementation to be left to those of less rarified brilliance.

      The closest thing to a workable scheme is Gelerntner's Lifestream stuff -- where your system knows that you got married on a certain date (even if you have trouble remembering it) and that documents (JPEGs, Word files, GNUCash transactions from that time probably pertain to it.

    • Re:Ouch (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ForteTuba ( 658340 )
      Imagine a world where we're all broadcasting identity. Say we've got RFID-enabled nametags at the wedding. Now picture a camera that has a (preferably directional) RFID reader. Suddenly all your photos have the names of all the subjects automagically added as metadata. Scary in some contexts, useful in others (like most technologies, I suppose).
  • Hmmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @10:59AM (#8218039) Homepage
    I think thats what "organization" is for. You place files like "DSC0001.jpg" in things called "folders", and then name the folder "Wedding" or something.

    I dunno.

    • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

      by khuber ( 5664 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:03AM (#8218056)
      I'm so stupid! I named all my folders like that too. folder0001, folder0002, ....
    • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd142 ( 129673 )
      And even better, many photo programs allow batch renames. So while you're putting them in the wedding folder, rename them all to wedding####.jpg and let the program automatically append numbers.

      Reminds me of Scotty's line, "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drains." They've developed a complex solution for a simple problem that already had a simple solution.

      While a database driven file system with the ability to let users define their own metadata fields in the databa
      • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

        by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:19AM (#8218167) Homepage
        you *can* do this to some limited sense with the command shell

        for %a in (DSC*.JPG) do rename %a Wedding_%a

        You just have to know a bit about the command shell...

        • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:3, Informative)

          by jd142 ( 129673 )
          Yeah, there's a couple of different ways to do it in a dos batch file. I think you can even do a foreach to loop through all the files in a directory. And then there's windows script, another overly complicated solution for a simple problem. And of course, if I use a computer for more than half an hour, I put perl and php on it for command line scripting.

          But for the average user with a digital camera, the software that comes with the camera normally has a batch rename function. I know my Nikon did and
    • Re:Hmmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think thats what "organization" is for. You place files like "DSC0001.jpg" in things called "folders", and then name the folder "Wedding" or something.

      The problem with this is an inherently one-dimensional view of the data. If you have placed your wedding photos in the weddings photo folder, you have not got the option of ordering photos by size, of easily finding facial photos or having some other property of your pictures you might want to use to get a subset of your existing picture bank.
    • I have a set of folders with names like:
      which later morphed into
      Where you know what kind of image file (source vs altered, cropped, etc) then the year (to keep the directory listings reasonably short) then the YYYYMMDD to file by date.

      Trivia: Most digital cameras roll over after 9999 photos, it gets annoying.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Darth Ballmer: Commander tear this site apart until you've found those plans and bring me the users I want them alive!!
    • Darth Ballmer: Where are those plans you've been hiding?

      Rebel leader: Ummm. I stored them on my XP machine. Due to an OS security flaw, the DiaNoga Worm (tm) got into my system and wiped the drive.

      Darth Ballmer:. Ummmm. never mind. Assistant! Where are my dancing shoes?
  • Thumbnails (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sreid ( 650203 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:00AM (#8218043) Journal
    What happened to thumbnails?
    • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) *
      The fact is that thumbnails need to be at least 200x200 pixels before you can really tell what's in the picture. Once you pass the first few thousand photos, it's no longer feasable to visually search through them... your brain starts to hurt!

      I store them by date photographed, using ThumbsPlus to view thumbnails and metadata stored in a database. So far, it's worked out for the 45Gb of photos I've taken in the past 5 years.


      PS: Yes, I'll chat with and give ideas to anyone who wants to make this be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:01AM (#8218044)
    This whole longhorn winfs thing seems like a big technological advance to me ...

    Manualy adding metadata to each of your 200+ wedding pictures looks so smarter than just creating an old fashioned directory "wedding pics" and moving them into it ...

    I can't wait to start using this wonderful FS
    • Re:I'm impressed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndrewHowe ( 60826 )
      But that way, things can only be in one folder. The whole point of the WinFS stuff is that you're not forced to store stuff in a rigid hierarchy.
      What if you wanted to find your favourite wedding pictures? Ones with your Mum & Dad in them? Ones with your wife in, but not necessarily from the wedding?
      I'm a game developer. We have a lot of "materials" which describe how to shade surfaces. Our editor allows you to put the materials anywhere under a certain directory. That's nice, as it avoids having t
    • More feature creep (Score:3, Interesting)

      by krygny ( 473134 )
      How many people have trouble finding files on their hard drive using the most basic search criteria. People who are so unorganized as to lose files on their hard drive are probably not sophisticated enough to use advanced search methods successfully.
    • Maybe the photo software could check with your calendar, see that a certain date/time was "my wedding," and assign that metadata to photos as they are downloaded. Most photos already have time/date metadata.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:02AM (#8218050)
    search for "best OS" find Microsoft

    search for "viral software" find Linux

    search for "secure" find Windows XP

    search for "handsome smart guy" find Bill Gates
  • Sounds like Image Subject Recognition technology related to facial recognition.
  • Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linuxci ( 3530 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:04AM (#8218061)
    The way Google [google.com] needs to compete is to show their users that there's no need for Microsoft.... Why? Because MS may just do its best to stop the Google toolbar [google.com] working in IE for Longhorn. Microsoft have already 'innovated' [msn.com] an MSN toolbar that looks very similar to the Google offering.

    So instead of offering their official toolbar for IE only (the one for Mozilla [mozdev.org] is unofficial), start to slowly phase out the Google Toolbar and replace it with the Google Browser which would basically be a Google branded Mozilla Firebird [mozilla.org]. With all the features that make Firebird great like Tabbed Browsing, with the addition of the Google Toolbar features such as PageRank, etc. All on a cross platform basis.

    If people get used to downloading better browsers now, then they won't even notice when the next release of IE starts to reject the Google Toolbar.

    Let them know what you think [google.com]

    • As Mozilla Firebird already contains a Google searchbox, I doubt that this would count as 'innovation' either.

      • That is not the point, the point is that more people have heard of Google than they've heard of Mozilla, Opera or even Netscape.

        The idea is, people who downloaded the Google toolbar are a prime audience for a Google browser, that removes the IE tie-in for Google and increases the percentage of standards compliant browser users out there.

        Plus Google could bring features from the toolbar that's currently not in Firebird such as PageRank (for some reason a lot of people like to know this info)

    • Re:Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HoneyBunchesOfGoats ( 619017 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:40AM (#8218285)
      That would be very interesting. Hardly anybody apart from us geeks has heard of Mozilla or MozillaFirebird, but if Google rebranded it and put a little link on their front page, it would be exposed to millions every day... who wouldn't grab it and try it out? People trust Google.
    • Re:Google (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1010011010 ( 53039 )

      An excellent idea. This could work well for Google and Mozilla. They can pitch "GoogleBrowser" or "GoogleWeb" as more secure, more feature-rich, and easier to use. Luckily, these things are already true, and Google won't have to do all that much development, beyond branding and optionally adding some google-specific enhancements.
  • useful dir names (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:05AM (#8218066) Homepage
    If users didn't suck so much, then descriptive dir names would easily solve the problem of trying to locate a wedding photograph on a hard drive.

    So what, the image file is named "DSC0001.JPG" -- who cares. Put it in a folder named "my images" and there's no wonder you can't find it!! Put it in a folder named "wedding photos", and then you've got something there!

    The best way to describe it to the average joe (non)user is that directories/folders are analogous to folders in a filing cabinet. Would you file telephone bills, for example, under "mortgage" or "telephone"?

    Thanks Microsoft for "my photos", and "my documents", and the like. We appreciate it!
  • by Speed Racer ( 9074 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:05AM (#8218076)
    Phil Greenspun has a similar idea and is looking for help on how to accomplish this on a personal level with existing the Windows XP filesystem. Check out his blog post [harvard.edu] for details. There's already an intersting discussion taking place in the comments [harvard.edu] for that post.
  • bash$ cd /stuff/wedd [tab] [tab]
  • by stonebeat.org ( 562495 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:10AM (#8218112) Homepage
    I hope the industry sees the opportunities that Longhorn's WinFS opens up. We can either work together and share data with each other, or we can be afraid and keep data to ourselves.

    Share data? with whom? how can you share data that is in either proprietary format or "patented XML [xml-dev.com]" ???
    It is following the OpenStandard that will help in "working together and sharing data".

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:13AM (#8218130)
    Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.""

    You mean to say you don't know the date you got married? You're in trouble.... iPhoto on OS X at least breaks them out into folders according to either last imported and/or month/year etc.. You're responsible to breaking them down further, in which case you don't search the entire drive later, you simply open iPhoto and take a short trip to your wedding folder, just like having a folder in a drawer in a cabinet in your home.

    It's not really that hard, now is it? if you're dropping any files onto your drive randomly, the issue is with your basic housekeeping, not that a top level search tool seems blind to your target.

    You're talking about EXIF, and the list of data there is long. Why you took the picture isn't part of it, and if you want the camera to interpret which part of the subject matter is root (noses..faces...age...sex...background..,trees...d aylight...horizon?), you've got more issues than just locating a particular photo.
  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:13AM (#8218133) Homepage Journal
    Given the history of Microsoft's security flawed implementation and design, any such client based search engine implementation would inevitably become a set of road signs for spyware, virus and worm malware developers.

    Would you want to trust your private data, gathered from govenment departments, purchases and financial transactions etc, being accessed by such a system run by any old govenmental or business agency?

    How about your private correspondence on friends and acquaintances home computers.

    Microsoft culled the URL name:password@ functionality from Internet Explorer because it claimed it could not create a secure enough fix, yet in the same month, it yet again proposes a privacy nightmare such as this? Madness.

  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:14AM (#8218140)

    WinFS sounds promising, but unless Microsoft makes the WinFS specs open and free, it'll be yet another lock-in technology, which would be very dissapointing.

    Adding metadata to all your files would require a lot of time and effort, and if it's a closed technology, it'd be yet another reason people wouldn't want to even attempt switching to another OS. I can almost hear it now...

    "This other OS looks cool, but I've spent so much time adding metadata to all my files, and I can't export that metadata to this other OS because the format is proprietary and patented... I'd better stick with Windows, switching OS's would be too hard..."

    Sorry, someone had to state the blatantly obvious. As usual, all promising technologies coming out of Microsoft are poisoned. And most people don't even realize it. Not even intelligent people. Most .NET developers don't even realize that .NET's so-called "standardization" via ECMA doesn't really make it an open standard (lots of the "standardized" .NET technology is encumbered by patents).


    • The problem is that many innocent improvements *do* break compatibility.

      However, Microsoft has intentionally broken compatbility or leveraged incompatibility so many times in the past that they have simply lost the ability to break compatibility and be given the benefit of the doubt any more.
  • Irony (Score:2, Funny)

    I'm watching Invader Zim, and he says "And NOW For my Evil plan" and /. finishes loading with this story is at the top of the page. Second when it loads, it's got a google ad in it.
  • by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:16AM (#8218150)
    Scoble's idea is that you will add metadata to your files. Can you imagine? You have literally tens of thousands of files you created (photos, documents, etc.) on your hard drive and you are going to add metadata to all of them? Does he really think people are going to do that? If they would be willing to do that, they would just rename those photo files from "DSC00001.JPG" to "MyWedding00001.JPG".

    Judiging from the interview, the "innovative" Longhorn seems to allow you to add metadata in a slightly user-friendly way. But virtually nobody will use it, except maybe to mark a few important files which you have stored in a special place anyway.

    So what would be a better solution then? My idea is that metadata should be added automatically. For instance, a human will recognize most wedding photos for what they are. Getting a computer to recognize this is not trivial, but lots of research is currently invested in this. Already computers can easily recognize general categories ("groups of people", "nature", "animal", "portrait"). My guess is that it is already possible to implement a system that you can train to let the computer recognize your particular brand of photos.

    I don't expect Microsoft to try to go into this way of innovation. They will probably wait until an entrepeneur develops it and then copy it or buy them out.

  • Bad example (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
    For instance, how about if I wanted to search for "my wedding photos?" Neither X1, nor Windows XP's built in search would find your wedding photos. Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.

    You know the date of your wedding right? If not, don't let your wife find out. You can search for jpegs taken on a certain date.

    As you previously said...

    When I take pictures off of my Nikon, they have some metadata (for instance, inside the file i
  • by Rick Richardson ( 87058 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:22AM (#8218181) Homepage
    The metadata is there in the .jpg file itself...
    $ cd ~/photos/100nikon
    $ exifcomment dscn*.jpg | grep -y birthday
    dscn0503.jpg 2001/06/02 14:40:33 Abby's 6th Bday: The birthday girl
    dscn0713.jpg 2001/10/19 19:38:33 Dylan's 8th birthday
    dscn0714.jpg 2001/10/19 19:38:47 Dylan's 8th birthday cake
    dscn0715.jpg 2001/10/19 19:39:15 Dylan's 8th birthday - making a wish
    dscn0718.jpg 2001/10/20 10:08:56 Dylan's 8th birthday - Lego construction
    dscn0719.jpg 2001/10/20 10:09:20 Dylan's 8th birthday - Lego construction

    I once made the mistake of working with these files under Windoze. After I was done, all the EXIF information had been removed. You can imagine how mad I was.

    So what is Microsoft going to do? Fix this bug and call it a feature?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:23AM (#8218187)
    "Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos."

    Metadata is a stupid concept. It puts the cart before the horse. Files should not have to 'know' about themselves, they are not objects.

    You have to treat files as just files, their names are nothing more than identifiers, their contents are nothing more than contents.

    By all means its possible to build a great search capability into a filesystem, but you need to build the 'meta' data _outside_ the file.

    A system built on file metadata is doomed to be incompatible with anything but the latest datatypes designed for it.
  • by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:25AM (#8218194)
    Used to be if you wanted to find a file real fast under windows, you'd hit WINDOWS+F to pullup the find window, enter in your search query, and Go.

    Now if you're in front of an XP machine and want to find say...all the pictures on the system you can't just enter in "*.JPG" anymore. You have to read what some animated dog is asking you, click on one of the options before you get to the search query window, then enter in the query. doesn't sound like much of a hassle, but it IS an extra step.
    • Second that. God, I hate Windows XP. Windows 2000 was annoying -- it was Windows, had a lousy terminal emulator, didn't have the POSIX utils, had that stupid file and directory locking that Windows is stuck with, yadda yadda yadda. However, it wasn't as if it were designed to be actively offensive. Windws Xp starts out with that lousy color scheme, makes you click on a talking dog's window to do each search, pops up useless speech bubbles constantly to give the user status information, has Explorer set
    • by Photon01 ( 662761 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:41AM (#8218293)
      This dosent need fixing .. it obviously didnt annoy you enough to make you look for the option to turn it off.

      Hit Windows+F, click change preferences, click I want to search without an animated character.

      Next click preferences again go to 'change files and folders search behaviour' then click advanced

      Voilla, the find program is (un)fixed
  • by blueworm ( 425290 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:35AM (#8218257) Homepage
    "Neither X1, nor Windows XP's built in search would find your wedding photos. Why? Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos."

    Metadata will NEVER improve searching in this way unless the things that generate the content FORCE you to put it in before they can snap pictures, etc...

    Even if people were forced to put metadata into all their files there is a big chance that typos and other errors in entering the info would occur. This will make the metadata totally useless in a search!
  • It seems like we're working very hard around the user. Why doesn't the user put all their wedding photos in a directory called 'Wedding Photos'? That's what I do. It's very effective...
  • by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:00PM (#8218419) Homepage
    In KDE you can allready select an image file and say select "Find similar images". provided you have indexed your images using GIFT (Gnu Image Finding Tool)

    You can search images both in your own GIFT database and databases on the internet.

    So to solve the wedding photo problem you could make a drawing similar to your photos and search for similar images.
  • My Bachelor Party (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitflip ( 49188 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:12PM (#8218499)
    This is more useful than it would seem. I've read a bunch of posts that talk about keeping the wedding pictures in a folder called "Wedding", and that's the extent of the organization.

    Except it doesn't work that way. If I dig around a little, I see that I have the same images in several places: in the folder called "Vacation", another folder called "work" where I did some touchups, another folder called "staging" where I laid things out before putting them on the server, and again on the server, where my family can view them on the web.

    If I follow the suggestion of putting them all into a single folder, then I've created a logistical headache. The _only_ thing I've gained is the ability to find all the files at once. Using metadata, I would no longer have that restriction - I could put files where they made the most sense, and still find all the files at once.
  • by Pointy_Hair ( 133077 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:15PM (#8218516)
    Ever look at the properties page of an MS Office file? There's enough metadata tags in there to keep you busy for hours.

    Does anyone really fill those in? Rarely.

    Is there a method to search on them? Never looked.

    Sometimes it's interesting to browse the properties page to see who really created a spreadsheet or document. For example, people who shamelessly "borrow" templates from former employers and either aren't smart enough or too lazy to do just a little clean up. But that's about it.
  • by stefan999 ( 632463 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:16PM (#8218525)
    Ever tried to search for Xfree86 on search.msn.com [msn.com]?

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:46PM (#8218717)
    they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.

    ACDsee, [acdsystems.com] a well-known and, at one time, free, image viewing and organising app, supports metadata. It puts it in a "descript.ion" text file in each directory. This is an ancient DOS standard. It's still supported by a few Windows apps, notably the Far manager [farmanager.com] (a shareware clone of Norton Commander for Win) and ReGet, [reget.com] a downloader; both Russian.

    In fact I find the "descript.ion" metadata so useful I stick with apps that use it. At my last job, a web news site, I organised out image library using ACDsee and this metadata to add notes. ACDsee also has a nice batch rename.

    No need to invent a whole bloody new file system to find your wedding photos.

    • ACDsee, a well-known and, at one time, free, image viewing and organising app, supports metadata. It puts it in a "descript.ion" text file in each directory

      Correction, it used to.

      ACDSee 3.1 was quite intelligent, if it found DESCRIPT.ION files, it would automatically load the comments in. When you moved files to another folder, it would automatically create a new DESCRIPT.ION file in the destination folder.

      Nice and simple, ne?

      But, oh no, that's not good enough for the bright folks at ACDSee. Inst
  • No, no, no... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maharg ( 182366 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @12:54PM (#8218779) Homepage Journal
    Cripes. You'd had thought that a company as big as Microsoft would have considered a better way, but no.
    from the article, Microsoft's Robert Scoble:
    But, WinFS goes further than X1 and other file search tools do today. It lets you (and developers of apps you'll use) add metadata to your files. So, even if you don't change the name of your files, you might click on one of the faces in a picture application and get prompted to type a name and occasion. So, you would click on your cousin Joe's face, type in "Joe Smith" and "Wedding."

    So Microsoft, who have sold many more graphical interfaces that anyone else on the planet, require you to "type in" Joe Smith for each and every photo of Joe you have !

    Oh, sure, there'll be a dropdown list, but it'll surely list every last irrelevant person and topic you ever defined in WinFS.

    Instead consider the following scenario: -

    You've uploaded your latest batch of photos from your camera to your PC and have them in thumnails view in a file manager of your choice. -

    Now you want to add your metadata, so you open up your "Meta topics" folder and select a number of graphical icons representing the subject matter of your photos, e.g. "Wedding", "Uncle Jim", "Mary-Jane" and some others. You then drag'n'drop these into a "Scratch" folder and close the "Meta topics" folder. So you now have the freshly-uploaded photos, and the relevant meta topics. -

    Now select all the photos in the folder - they're all wedding photos, so drag'n'drop 'em onto the Wedding topic icon. -

    Now select the photo of Uncle Jim staggering across the reception with a pint of special, and .. you got it .. drop it on the Uncle Jim topic icon. -

    Now the picture of Mary-Jane in her wedding hat - yeah, that's it baby - drop it on the pretty icon.. -

    Now you can access all the Wedding photos by clicking on the wedding icon all the pictues of Uncle Jim by clicking the uncle jim icon and so on. -

    There's even an interface to combine filters, e.g. Wedding AND (Uncle Jim OR Mary-Jane), simply by dragging and dropping the icons onto AND and OR icons in a cumulative fashion.

    Now you can do all of this (bar the interface combine filters interface) TODAY, albeit in a fairly crude way, with a file system that supports symlinks (such as ext3), and a graphical file manager (say, Rox-FILER..). And here [f9.co.uk] is my claim to prior art in respect of this "graphical metadata manipulation" concept. Of course, I had to hold down Shift+Ctrl to make it do the symlinks when I dropped the photos on the relevent icon, which a proper interface wouldn't require. Also, a posix filesystem is not as elegant as say, a relational database for the purposes of storing the metadata. But hey, not bad for 5 minutes work. How long have Microsoft been working on this exactly ?
  • by f0rt0r ( 636600 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @01:14PM (#8218938)
    Microsoft Search Engine Clippy - "I found 0 matches for 'Linux', maybe you meant to search for 'Microsoft Windows XP'?"
  • Define 'metadata' (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inkswamp ( 233692 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @01:35PM (#8219060)
    Because they have useless names like DSC0001.jpg and there's no metadata that says they are wedding photos.""

    Doesn't storing your photos in hierarchical folders labeled appropriately count as metadata? I know it's not very flexible or powerful, but it's metadata of a sort. Store your wedding photos in a wedding folder in a photos folder.

    Now, if you're talking about a database of metadata about files, then that's something else.

  • Apple's Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JohnsonWax ( 195390 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:30PM (#8219864)
    Apple has a solution to this, which has trade-offs, but seems pretty functional.

    Essentially, each of their iLife apps is a replacement for the Finder. Do we really need music search integrated with file search? Or is it sufficient to build independent metadata (ID3) and filestructure (playlists) just for music. That's really the brilliance of iTunes in that it never takes you back to your HD filestructure. You can even ask it to maintain the HD filestructure to reflect the metadata structure, so it'll keep everything in an artist/album/song structure, naming things as needed.

    iPhoto is set up the same way, but it's pretty apparent that the iPhoto guys are the 'B' team, since they haven't gotten it nearly as slick as iTunes yet, but it also has the equivalent of content metadata, playlists, and smart playlists. So, yes, I can easily find my wedding photos. The trade-off is that you can't search for 'Wedding' in the Finder and get wedding photos, wedding songs, etc. Maybe that's upcoming, but I'm not totally convinced of the value.

    The iTunes organizational structure does carry into iPhoto, so if you want to select a song for a slideshow in iPhoto, you can see your iTunes playlists, and filter against metadata. It also carries into iMovie, etc.

    Other posters have clearly identified the problems with metadata. File organization is generallly only useful if you are willing to symlink across all of your metadata, otherwise your photos of you mom and your wedding photos are disjoint, since some should be in both places. The single biggest problem with metadata is putting it in to begin with. iPhoto now allows you to do that during photo import - using a slide-show type UI.

    I think MSs tendency to do everything in one place is interesting, but tends to not come off so well. Having everything in SQL could eliminate one of the shortcomings in Apple's implementation which is that they need to maintain an XML intermediate structure for music files, photos, etc. While somewhat handy, it's main function is to join file metadata and the FS, which means that it is somewhat fragile.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:58PM (#8220031) Homepage
    The right solution is to put a GPS receiver in the camera and tag photos with time, date, and location. No user action is required at picture-taking time. Ricoh is already selling such a camera in Japan. Kodak has a camera that plugs into an external GPS, but that's too clunky.

    Pros would love this; often you want to search some big image archive for pictures of a specific location. Tourists would find their photos self-organizing.

    Lookup can then be by address, or using a map or globe. Think MapQuest.

    This offers the possibility of a new (and totally legitimate) peer-to-peer application - location based picture-sharing. See the pictures others took of tourist locations.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:28PM (#8220190)
    PHB: I need you to make this so simple my mother could use it.

    Alice: It's already so simple a squirel could use it. How much dumber is your mother?

  • by Twister002 ( 537605 ) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:05PM (#8220743) Homepage
    What I'd like to see come out of Google, is an add in that will categorize and search my local drives using the Google search algorithm. They have Google appliances that businesses can buy and use internally. I'd like to see a home based, and home priced, version of that application. Maybe have it search the internet as well, present the results separately. So if I'm looking for a file containing the words "efficient search keywords" (or something like that) it shows me files in my local system (including network shares maybe) as well as results on the internet.

The only thing worse than X Windows: (X Windows) - X