Someone just sent me a link to Google Desktop, a tool for searching files on your own computer. The obvious question privacy watchdogs will ask is to what degree it communicates with the Google mothership.
OK, I’ve installed Google Desktop. It’s really, really fast. Really fast. The computer I installed it on doesn’t have many documents other than source code, but it searches that source code really quickly. Installation is a breeze. It runs a local Web server and has a browser-based interface that makes the desktop application look like just another Web page that Google serves up. It will search Outlook and Outlook Express mailboxes, but I use Thunderbird. I assume that they’ll add support for other forms of mail storage shortly. It also caches and indexes AIM conversations, I assume it’s proxying your AIM connection, but I’m not sure.
Google Desktop seems to work fine with Firefox, but one of its capabilities is enabling you to search Web pages you’ve previously visited, and that capability seems to be IE-only for now. A pity.