Awsome new search tool... Google Desktop

by Elsewhere 25 Replies latest jw friends

  • Simon

    Google's motto is "do no evil" so I think if they say it doesn't then I believe them.

    Besides, so many people will tear apart the software that it will soon be announced if it did. In fact, people have already uncovered that google may have an IM app in the wings based on some of the code in the search app.

    The desktop seach results are referenced when you do a google web search though which is very neat !

  • StinkyPantz

    Your computer's content is not made accessible to Google or anyone else without your explicit permission.
    Are you sure you aren't giving 'explicit permission' when you check "YES" in the Terms of Agreement? How many people actually read it?

  • Double Edge
    Double Edge

    I just installed it. You're right Elsewheres - it's AWESOME. Thanks!

  • drwtsn32

    Google wouldn't put out spyware... it would destroy their image.

    This sounds interesting, but an indexing service is already integrated into Windows 2000/XP. You could simply use that, although it might be a bit harder for people to use.

  • StinkyPantz

    Is this pretty much the same thing as the "search" feature in the "start" window thingy?

  • drwtsn32
    Is this pretty much the same thing as the "search" feature in the "start" window thingy?

    Yes, but that's by default much slower. Google search will use an index so it should find results instantly. You can configuring the indexing service in Windows 2000/XP to do something very similar though so you get instant results.

  • Leolaia

    Check out this article:

  • Leolaia

    This seems to be a balanced post on the subject:

    First let me say this is a very powerful and convenient tool that works as advertised right out of the box. However, I am also upset by how easily this group defends Google and attacks Microsoft. I'm sorry, but if you are creating software you need to keep the users in mind and work with the environment you are given.

    I have done a lot of research into how the Google Desktop system works. Here are some things I found...

    1. The indexing "agent" (not a windows service) runs as the current user. So, Windows security should block Google from viewing those files.

    2. Google installs its own web server on the machine and maps to port 4664. They also do a lot of validation to make sure you can only see this information from the local machine. This appears to be pretty strong.

    3. Google stores its cache in the following windows directory: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search -- Leading me to believe that this is user specific. I checked permissions on this other users do not have access to the cache, leading me to believe they would have their own version of the cache.

    4. Google seems to abide by the rules of the operating system. Unless they are somehow bypassing Windows security (being google they could reverse engineer anything I guess), this is pretty sound. So it really comes down to the user for setting permissions on their files. Otherwise any old search program could also find those files.

    5. Google Desktop search is not spyware. I think the fear is how it integrates your desktop with the Google home page but the truth is no information is sent. At least that's what Google says. However, I looked at the source of what is returned and this is not done using client-side script or an ActiveX object, so I'm not sure how they pull this off. This sort of scares me. For instance, the path to one of my files is seen coming from the their server.

    Now, the bad side...

    While I was impressed by the lockdown of interface to the local machine, this is easily compromised. In an hour or two I created a VBScript class that could host on the user's machine and use local HTTP to access this data. This means that spyware could be created that allow remote access to the otherwise ironclad cache. This is obviously bad since you could just start searching for passwords and possibly get them.

    My suggestion to Google? Add additional settings. For instance, right now the default setting is EVERYWHERE, with some control over WHAT gets indexed. I suggest being able to point the index at specific folders, or be able to not index other folders. This is sort of like shipping a firewall with all ports open. Sure its up to the user to lock it down, but if you don't... bad things happen.

    Also, more filetypes would be really good. Especially more code files, etc.

    I also think the ability to share your cache could be an option. This would be handy to install on a corporate file server to provide access to files (this is the reason I created the remote access hack)

    Of course this may be Google's strategy all along... make the free version do everything and be for personal systems, and then sell a version with more file types, more granular control, sharing etc. Sounds like good bait and switch to me.

    So that is all. Very good software, very easy to use. Ships wide open and could breach privacy on beginner level users. Can be used for attack and Google needs to consider this. Overall.. thank you Google!

    And someone wrote in response:

    Although I thought most of your post was quite intelligent and interesting, I have to take offence (for Google) to this statement:

    In an hour or two I created a VBScript class that could host on the user's machine and use local HTTP to access this data. (snip) This is obviously bad since you could just start searching for passwords and possibly get them.

    If I have comprimised a machine to the point that I can CREATE a script AND execute it, basically then you're fucked. All your base are belong to me. I could ftp the ENTIRE harddrive to myself. Or just the password cache. Google can obviously do nothing about this since I have OS level access.

    Even if Google were to "lock it down" and not run a server, I could easily write a script to open their app, do a search, and then ftp the screen scrapings.

    Basically, I think I'm going to wait a few months and see how it settles before trying it out....

  • Simon

    Ok, the neat thing and what makes it better than the built-in windows indexing is that it indexes more and integrates with the search you are likely to be using (Google).

    In fact, it is better for finding email in Outlook than using Outlook itself (tut tut MS, raising the bar)

    Give it a go ... you will be impressed.

  • dmouse

    I installed it this morning. Did it's indexing, which I now presume is finished.

    But I can't start the application. Double clicked on the shortcut (and the application in the tray) but nothing happens.

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