- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

For the first time in years, a good part of my life is organized and indexed. Really, really organized, and really, truly indexed. My mom for whom order is a genetic imperative that, sadly, passed me by would be pleased.

When I say organized, I can now find a contact in seconds, along with dozens of e-mails sent to or received from that person. The same screen will display contact information for other people in the same organization, relevant news headlines from Forbes magazine, CBSMarketwatch.com or ESPN.com, and other files, including Word documents and spreadsheets. Click on a button, and a map of the person's location will load onto my screen.

And when I say indexed, consider this: I can click on a highlighted name or word in a given e-mail and the software will find all sorts of information related to that selection. If it's a company name, I end up with a list of contacts there and other details. If it's a person, the same will result.

Here's the best part: The software is free of charge. You can download it at www.enfish.com, which is fitting since the program is called Enfish Onespace and is the product of Enfish Technology, a Pasadena, Calif., start-up.

The software is billed as "the first product capable of bringing a comprehensive array of personalized information directly to the user's fingertips a true personal desktop portal," according to the firm. The application automatically unites one's e-mail, documents and other personal files with timely, relevant information from the Internet, displaying the results in one spot on your PC.

"We developed Enfish Onespace to make life easier for PC users, to help them work faster and smarter," said Louise Wannier, the firm's CEO and chairman, in a statement. "Enfish Onespace does the searching and organizing for you, [so] it's a personalized desktop that delivers all the information that's important to you in one place, no matter where that information resides."

It's designed to work well with Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook, and with these programs behind the scenes, Enfish becomes a valuable product. The indexing and cross-referencing accomplished in a fascinating process yield a practical, desktop example of "data mining," where suddenly all your files and information are almost instantly accessible.

A real-life example: The other day, it took me several minutes using the built-in search functions of Outlook to find information relating to Microtek, a maker of computer scanners. By contrast, a simple search with the "indexed information" provided by Enfish took all of four seconds to find 19 related items.

Once downloaded, the software is installed on a PC's hard drive. In its first operation, you will find the program taking a couple of hours to go through all the data on your PC, which will then be indexed. New entries are indexed daily, and indexing can be set to run only when the computer isn't handling other tasks.

It's the indexing that underlies all the functions of Enfish, since it makes possible these rapid, integrated searches. But add in the Internet capabilities and Enfish allows you to add news and other time-sensitive data to your files. This is a feature that must be seen to be understood, let alone believed: Now when I contact a business associate, I can "surprise" them with my "inside information" about their organization, sometimes including items they may not be aware of.

There are several ways of arranging a "home page" for the Enfish Onespace product. The chief one shows appointments, a news ticker and e-mails, as well as other useful items such as a weather forecast and a link to the Enfish Web site. Users can import or create their own custom pages, whether for a corporate intranet or for specialties. (As a stamp collector, I have a view of several philatelic Web sites; another custom page has news sources from various global newspapers.)

Enfish says they'll make money off the product by selling advertising opportunities, though not intruding so much on users that it becomes obnoxious. Spending a few days with this remarkable program has convinced me that I shall never work the same way again; it's a valuable organizer, kind of a digital Rosetta stone that can make sense of disparate files. If it did nothing more than make searching my hard disk faster, it would be worthwhile, but Enfish Onespace offers a great deal more. Check it out, and see if you don't find yourself quickly addicted to a remarkable digital tool.

• Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; send e-mail to MarkKel@aol.com, or visit the writer's Web page,

www.markkellner.com.

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