The internet is good. The web is great. Browsers are fantastic, and Google is outstanding.

But it's still too much work to find what I want.

Lazy? Perhaps, but this is what computers are supposed to be for. We're not supposed to have to work anymore -- what's the point of having work-saving machines if not to save ourselves from work?

Search engines such as Yahoo, Google and the like have certainly made much easier to find information, it's true. Search bars built into our browsers make things even easier. Google's newer feature with their toolbar which has a mouse-over tooltip for word translations, on-the-fly, on a webpage is fantastic!

But I want more.

Atomica/Slingshot/GuruNet/1-Click Answers are all great tools. It allows you to click a word in nearly any Windows program (not just in a browser), while holding down the ALT key (or some other combination if you choose), and it'll either pop up a little application window or a new browser window with that word looked up.

But I want more.

I want a tool that does it all, and is very customizable. I really like Google's mouseover translations, and while it lets me choose the single language it translates to, that's the end of it. It won't look the word up in a dictionary. Or a thesaurus. Or for ten languages at once. Or in a book of quotations, or as a top-ten Google search...

I want a tool that lets me launch a new window instead of just tool-tips, if I so choose. I should be able to choose the reference materials it accesses, by category or specific source.

GuruNet now charges for their content. Xrefer, a great site for reference materials, also charges for their content. I don't blame them in the least - they're businesses! But for all of that free information out there, I want easy -- easier! access. And that's what this project is all about.

Right off the bat, I've got some hurdles. I'm pulling information from other programs, be it a browser or Microsoft Word. This is possible (under Windows at least), because I've seen both Gurunet and Microsoft's now-defunct FactFinder (which was also terrific) pull it off. So I'll have to learn how they access that, and that might be the solution -- accessibility libraries.

But this probably restricts the platform on which this tool can be used, for something like that is very operating-system specific, I would assume, and thus might not be so readily-available under Linux window managers or under Mac OS X.

The language to use is something that will have to be considered, depending on whether the above-mentioned platforms are feasible or not. Communication betweeen the program and the resources (mostly web-based to start, but there's no reason you shouldn't be able to access Microsoft Encarta, CD-based dictionaries, etc.) will need a protocol to be decided upon.

And that's what we'll do in the design stage...

©2002-2017 Wayne Pearson