Bill Brown has uncovered some interesting Slashdot comments by an Apple employee about Spotlight and future Apple’s future plans. (Ed note: it’s unclear whether As Seen On TV (ASOT) is indeed an Apple employee, but even if he/she isn’t, the thoughts are still interesting.)
The future of Spotlight and OS X
2005-04-22 macOS 34 Comments
Microsoft is Arthur, but Apple is Lancelot. Over the past few weeks, numerous articles have been released about Opera and it’s place in the browser community and Apple is always being placed opposite M$, but at the end of the day, both at best will come in second. Some may take that comment the wrong way, but there is nothing wrong with comming in second if you change the state of the computing world. People always ask if Linux can overthrow windows, but I don’t think Linux was created to overthrow windows. If given the choice of enhancing Linux to include features commonly found on windwos or OS X, I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people would prefer that linux head in the Apple direction. Opera is the same way. They innovate with every release, and they know they’ll never be #1, but still they innovate and change the way people think about using a web browser. Spotlight is great not because of any single bit of functionality it posseses; it’s great because desktop searching will never be the same. MS, Google, Linux, and even Apple will continue to push searching to it’s very limits. And guess who will reap the benifits of all this work. I’m a strong advocate of Opera, and although i’m somtimes frustated by the all the love Firefox gets (I still don’t see much originality) at the end of the day, I know that every % of market share it takes, the harder the folks in Redmond will be working.
I suppose there are some benefits to being the Lancelots of the world. Lancelot never had to rule a kingdom of misfit parts and ideas. The Lancelots of the world are free to innovate and let the chips fall where they may.
What does Opera have to do with the article? What do web browsers even have to do with the articles?
GPS in a powerbook would be way fun. I’m not sure how useful it would be to me, personally, but that’s kind of beside the point…
Feel sorry for Apple if he/she is employed by them. Looks to me like he spends all of his time on slashdot.
.. and useful UI ideas. Way more interesting to me than work on pseudo-3D GUIs (e.g looking glass) with the shortcomings of having to deal with 2D output devices.
Up till now I always though of desktop search as a bad excuse for horrible messed up file system structures (e. g. Windows) because knowing where to find things seems to be a better way than having to search for them. However, looking at search technology as an effective way to tag objects with additional metadata and make these information accessible through searching or dynamic folders seems to be a really good idea…
he talks like an evangelist
Since Tiger has shipped, all the developers got some time off, he might have a little more than most. If he is back on the job, then he might just be Manager that has time to answer stuff like the thread about GCC 4.0 and the fact he says that Tiger is compiled with it. There are a million answers to why he has spent a lot of time on Slashdot, and I’m sure Apple isn’t happy that he let this info out of the bag either.
That “As Seen on TV” guy better not work at Apple. I just read some of his posts on Slashdot, and he’s just going around flaming people and making bold pronouncments of things he really shouldn’t be talking about. He also has an ego the size of Mt. Everest.
However, what he was saying about the future of Spotlight is very cool. I hope it happens, regardless of whether ASOT has any true inside knowledge.
This “As Seen on TV” guy is just an Apple fanboy who discovered that posing as an Apple insider is a really cheap way to earn Slashdot karma. He’s mentioning he works at Apple about every other post.
heh, you just described 99% of the people that post on /. jared. and that includes me when im in a bad mood…
The relational metadata the poster describes sounds an awful lot like what the KDE people proposed for their find/search framework. That side of things will be important I think, and is difficult even in itself for companies like Microsoft and Apple, but it is just about achievable.
However, the text-to-speech thing is just too difficult to believe (sounds a bit scary, like HAL lip reading). If it was that easy it would have been done many years ago. Besides, the real problem with getting speech and computers to work well together, as it has always been, is that there are just too many real-world possibilities. You take it out of the lab and it falls to pieces when people actually try using it.
There are major difficulties in coming up with things like “How long did I work on this document?” You either end up setting multiple timers going off, or events for other events you want to record, or you record the times at which things happened. We all know how reliable the clocks in our systems are, don’t we? You’ve also got the totally inevitable fall-out of using this for billing work and spying on people. You need a Turing Machine to get most of this stuff to work properly in the real world, and we certainly haven’t achieved that. You’re certainly not going to do it on a Mac, at any rate.
I’m sure this all reads wonderfully well to some people, but there are just too many practical factors out in the real world that would easily put the skids on most of this.
GPS by itself is no good, but with 3rd party participation it could be like Expose` where at first glance it is not impressive but after using it you feel hindered without it.
With priceline.com and expedia.com you can use those web sites to book a flight, rent a car, reserve a hotel room, etc., but you normally do it ahead of time and from your work/home. Throw in GPS and a 3rd party application and you could use these same services, but the options would automatically be narrowed down to your location. If the application had the equivalent of “smart” folders you could enter criterea (restaurant names, price range, places of interests, etc.) and at a click of a button that information will be displayed.
Well, I started noticing As Seen On TV’s posts about a week ago, and I found them to be very interesting, and some of the most technically accurate posts about Tiger I’ve seen yet. I had never seen these posts though, and now my opinion of him has dropped like a rock. I really don’t think Steve would want him talking about future plans for Apple technologies like that.
In the recent weeks, with Tiger being announced, Microsoft trying to yell loud enough to be heard about Longhorn, etc.. there’s been a lot of FUD going around (especially on /.) about what Spotlight is and isn’t, as well as the other features of Tiger. I actually thought it was a good idea for Apple to let an employee go out and debunk a few myths amongst the geek community. With these posts, it becomes apparent that he’s either A) not an Apple employee, or B) not a very good Apple employee. I suppose there’s option C) Apple employee with permission to talk about stuff like that, but I think we all know that’s highly unlikely considering how Apple likes to keep secrets.
It seems to me that As Seen On TV has been learning about Microsoft’s MyLifeBits research project and its WinFS technology.
One thing concerns me about systems such as Spotlight and WinFS. Sure, it is great to store all this meta data, but what happens when I burn this data to cd before reformatting a box – Will all this Meta Data go with me when I copy the files back? Indeed, I don’t think we are going to start burning cds in WinFS, nor are we going to export the spotlight data (if you can) about the files that we are copying.
the metadata is already present in the files; spotlight just collects it and indexes it for fast searching. Once you copy your files off the CD back onto the hard-drive, spotlight will automatically re-index them.
Whether or not GPS is used as stated, I think the most useful use of the technology would be simply to track down your fine machine after some thug stole it.
that realy depends on how you burn the cd. if its content is based on a backup dump done with a special backup app then most likely the metadata will be stored. if your using a normal burn program and just draging the files onto the cd then no as none of the major filesystems used for cds keep metadata.
the same is true with networks, ftp, http and similar transfers do not transfer metadata. again the reason is that metadata is stored in the filesystem, not in the specific files (unless we are talking about files like mp3s and similar that have the buildt-in ability to carry specific types of metadata). only by using a network file transfer protocol buildt specificaly for the filesystem and os in use will metadata be sendt (most likely). this was one of the major parts of winfs, that metadata was not only available for the local computer but for the entire windows network.
so metadata becomes a kind of lock-in. that is unless the open source community can come up with a network file transfer protocol and backup system thats os agnostic and able to read/write metadata for any filesystem.
I don’t think is a really lock-in. The files comeing from a cd for example are indexed on the fly. So if you burn them on CD again, the metadata is of course not saved then, but when you reread the CD then it will be indexed again.
Maybe I am totally wrong, though.
yes they will be indexed but all the original metadata will be lost. ie, if there was something like those relations described in the “article” this discussion is connected to then all those would have to be redone unless the metadata have been backed up, most likely using a build in backup function in the os that will only work with the same os…
What you’re forgetting, of course, is that not all CDs use ISO9660 filesystems. Aside from things like Joliet and Rock Ridge, there are also HFS+ CDs, which I would imagine store everything a normal HFS+ partition does. Although I think it’d be a better solution for the OS to maintain standard filesystems when burning and create a hidden file which contained all the metadata.
But who knows. I’m sure Apple has it all figured out.
I see where you are coming from but by that arguent any new feature by default will engender OS lock-in. Apple, Windows, and Linux create new features to attract users. Eventually perhaps the features will become cross platform but I do not think it is reasonable to expect Apple to do the work for Windows, Linux, or anyone else.
They do the research, come up with (or refine) the ideas, and they implement them. Open Source developers can then imitate the features or work towards interoperability.
In BeOS this has been partly solved allready. There’s FTP-servers and clients that supports meta-data. If you send files with BeMail it will include the metadata in a seperate file, so if the recipient has BeMail it will rewrite the metadata on the fly, everyone else will ask “What was this wierd file you sent me?”
There’s also the network filesystem BeServed that supports meta-data.
Also the BeOS version of zip supports meta-data as well.
Tranferring meta-data from one filesystem to another locally is pretty much a no-brainer really as long as the data type exists on both. But you are right, we are going to need some standards for this to work well enough between systems over networds and removable media. So far very few and rare systems (like BeOS) has been using meta-data for regular desktop use. But now the big players are catching up and we’ll have to make sure that e-mail clients and most server/clients and p2p apps can transfer meta-data properly from system to system.
Does anyone know if such a thing is being worked on? It would really be stupid if all the companies did their own solution to it. They better make a standard before it’s too late.
and knowing MS they would embrace and extend said standard for use with their active directory system, and introduce some bugs while at it…
and to mephisto, i dont have a problem with new features and similar stuff as long as all the info about them are released so that anyone else can make a “clone” that can interoperate with the original system flawlessly. this way one dont compete by locking people into a system (basicly whoever gets the first sell to your company have your company by the balls) but rather compete on stability, ease of use and price.
one should be able to migrate from system to system without much trouble. but right now doing so is more trouble then its worth and seems to become harder rather then simpler.
umm.. it is called a resource fork. HFS+ has had them for years and maintains them when a file is copied.
burning to a CD is different however, but spotlight builds the metadata database from the file contents via filters, so, wen you back up your data to CD, and then add it to a reinstall, OS X will simply run teh indexing on each file as it comes in and repopulate the metadata to the system.
WinFS, I do not know how they decided to handle metadata, though I have read some places that users will have to manually enter it or some such when they save a file using winFS.
WinFS had plans for exactly the same kinds of file filters. You would create a file reader for your applications specific metadata and the system would read the file and store the metadata in the database when the file was placed in the WinFS store. Whenever the metadata was updated in winfs it would also write the corresponding data back to the original file.
The documentation for creating these filters “metadata promotion/demotion” was available in MSDN after the PCD. Seems like it is no longer there since WinFS has been removed from the WinFX documentation.
The idea was never to enter metadata manually, but to create relationships, either through existing data, as described by ASOTV or through drag and drop associations of piles of contacts/projects/events/ etc.
you bring up another point.. winFS has a store in which you must place the file for winFS to read its data and manage the ntfs location for you. if you place a file in ntfs, you have to EXPLICITLY have winFS also see it (from what I read)
would it not have made more sense just to make winfs a system that just read all the files that got placed in ntfs and allow programs to access ntfs directly if they wanted or simply get winfs to get the file if they like? that is what spotlight does.
I assume that the winfs store model was chosen then for the transparency idea for network volumes?
if that were the case, I think that a spotlight model can still work. a WinFS datastore as a separate entity seems wrong.. I mean, from what I read, it hides the files from the ntfs stream even though ntfs has to manage the files location the drive.
Doesn’t anyone else find the GPS idea scary? As convenient as it may seem, it’ll be so uber-easy to track down someone, it’s not even funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft offered this idea, but it’s Apple instead (supposedly). People don’t want to take kilos of bitter pills like implanted chips and stuff like that, they need it sweetened and introduced gradually and in a few years you have a mass adoption of universal IDs (offering much more benefits than a credit card) and everyone’s happy. So sad. I mean… there are many very convenient things in this world, but they lock you up and tie you to one platform/solution/whatever.
I do no think that anyone is taking these ideas as fact. it is a blog post about a guy on slashdot that sounds like he knows what he is talking about.
wow!! that is almost as reliable as a press release.. NOT!
heck.. think secret is more reliable and accurate than what this thread is about.
Doesn’t anyone else find the GPS idea scary? As convenient as it may seem, it’ll be so uber-easy to track down someone, it’s not even funny.
Well, it’s not all that new. This is very much doable with your regular cell phone.
Not all of the WinFS documentation has been removed, though there is certainly a lot less than there used to be.
The remaining bits can be found here (ignore the SDK links):
basically.. winFS in longhorn will provide exactly what spotlight provides in OS X, just in a different way at the system level. I personally trust the BFS inventor to make the smart decisions over the MS folks, but who knows.. I will have my Longhorn copy in a year and I will be able to test it out and have fun with it.
You know, I was thinking that myself.
Maybe Jobs got himself a hobby?
…does anybody really give flying ass-fuck about these search tools? I know I don’t.