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Microsoft's Thumbtack, an Answer To Google Notebook 107

Posted by timothy
from the portal-of-calls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's Live Labs have introduced a new service that lets users collect snippets of information from Web sites and share the collections with others. It's similar in concept to Mozilla's Joey, a defunct project that let people copy and paste portions of Web pages onto a single page that they could access from their mobile phones or another computer. Thumbtack is also like other available services, including Google Notebook. But Thumbtack developers think their service has a difference. 'Thumbtack stands apart in its ability to introspect on incoming data in order to automatically classify it and extract structure from it using machine learning,' according to the FAQ about the service."
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Microsoft's Thumbtack, an Answer To Google Notebook

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  • by woot account (886113) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:08AM (#26109649)
    Does anybody really use services like this? I'm only vaguely aware of the Google Notebook feature by virtue of accidentally clicking on it from time to time.

    So, if you use it... how/why?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've never used Google's Notebook, but lately I have increasingly found myself in the situation of needing such a feature.

      Currently though, I'm using a combination of 2 Firefox add-ons: Read It Later and Evernote. First for quickly adding to a tray pages that contain some useful/interesting one-time read info (browsing, mainly). The second, to help me keep my wish list organized, searchable and comparable. Eventually, I get to make an informed decision on what to buy if or when the time comes.

    • When I have something interesting to paste or write down, and am too lazy to start up my text editor, I use Google Notebook.

      The disadvantage of the text editor is that I can only rarely remember what I named a file if I was in a hurry. The notebook lets me search and even preserve markup and images. Basically, Google Notebook is the text editor for the Lazy.

      • by trawg (308495)

        I started using TiddlyWiki ( http://www.tiddlywiki.com/ [tiddlywiki.com] ) for stuff like this. Its basically a .html document with magic javascript so it acts like a wiki. It's obviously only useful if you carry it around with you - Google notebook would be more useful if you are going to be online all the time. But it's pretty handy.

        • Even better, use ccTiddly: http://sourceforge.net/projects/cctiddly/ [sourceforge.net]

          It's tiddly with a PHP/MySQL backend. You can access it from anywhere and don't need to carry anything with you.

          You could just use Google notebook, of course, but I find that I can organize and display information much more compactly on a tiddly wiki.

      • Fundamental difference being that a Google Notebook is globally visible. So, if you're collecting a bunch of random information on, say, Illinois furniture transactions, you can do a little while seated at Location A, and a little more while seated at Location B.
        That is, so long as you're comfortable with the increased possibility of others peeking into what you're clipping into the notebook.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jonaskoelker (922170)
        > When I have something interesting to paste or write down, and am too lazy to start up my text editor, I use Google Notebook.

        Let's see: (C-M-c is xterm, thanks to xbindkeys)

        C-M-c v i C-j i S-ins ESC : w q
        1     2 3 4   5 6     7   8 9 A

        C-t n o t e b o o k . g o o g l e . c o m
        1   2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A FAIL

        Do the math ;)
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'll do the math if you do the sociology: no-one in their right mind uses incomprehensible shortcuts over relatively straightforward and user-friendly GUIs. You can bind keys to xterm and type away in obscure shorthand until the cows come home, but it's just not a viable solution for the rest of the world.

          Also, Google Notebook is accessible from a Firefox plug-in:

          leftclick leftclick C-v leftclick
          1 2 3 4

          But go ahead. Continue to use your paradigm, and I'll use mine.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by peater (1422239)
          A Google Notebook icon sits in your Firefox status bar. You can select text on any page (including images) and click a button and it's saved to your google notebook along with a reference URL. You don't need to go to notebook.google.com every time.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          C-t note [ooh, auto-complete!]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Elektroschock (659467)

        But why would you want to get the same tool from Microsoft?

        • Why would you want to get it from Google? Why would it matter who you get it from if they're all the same?
        • > But why would you want to get the same tool from Microsoft?

          I wouldn't. Who said I would? I was answering the question of whether and why I use a Notebook service.

      • Have you heard of Google, I presume? You know what its primary service does, right? Did you also know that you can apply that index-and-search paradigm to locally stored content on a single personal computer? No fewer than two (actually many more) products have actually done it:

        Microsoft: Windows Indexing Service and Windows Desktop Search
        Google: Google Desktop Search

        With these devices, when properly installed and used, you don't need to remember the name of a file: all you need to recall is some relevan

        • I do not trust local installables from google.

          sorry.

          I'd never run a 'toolbar' from ANYONE (sheesh) and their local search gives me the creeps.

          no thanks.

          google is 'ok' for internet things but my local pc or system is MINE and not to be even SEEN by the likes of a google.

          • by macraig (621737)

            I didn't mention Google Toolbar; I have little trust for any browser toolbar. That is a distinct product that does not have the same purpose. Why are you trying to muddy the conversation with non sequiturs?

        • I use Google Desktop.

          I also use Google Notebook.

          Believe it or not, searching for something in Google Desktop can take more than a minute on my computer. It just isn't worth it when another service is far faster and I'm always online.

          • by macraig (621737)

            As I said, I found Windows Desktop Search to be much more functional than Google's. Much as I hate having to set my anti-Microsoft dogma aside ;-), this is one that Microsoft got right and Google didn't.

      • As an alternative to having one file for each note, you could just paste stuff in a new Tomboy (Voodoo Pad) page and let Beagle (Spotlight) index it so you can find it later. Better yet, install the Beagle extension for Firefox and you don't even have to copy stuff. It will take you straight to the page that had the text.

        This is specific to Linux or Mac. I don't know if Windows has similar tools.

    • It is good for saving bits of text you want to save but can't be bothered to open notepad or something else.

      To be honest I can't see myself using it for more than that but that is a nice thing to have.
    • I use Google Notebook quite a bit... more for saving online bookmarks so I can reference them at work or at home. In this way it serves a purpose similar to online bookmarking sites such as Delicious. I do save actual clippings of webpages from time to time.

      You could set-up multiple notebooks and categorize entries per notebook. You could also use Google to search entries in your notebooks. I actually find Google notebook more useful than Delicious for saving and searching bookmarks which I could then acces

    • by patro (104336)

      Is there way to extract the data in a structured format if I want to move to an other service. If so then I'd use it. Otherwise, no.

    • I use Google notebook a lot , as a firefox extension - it is the best tool to bookmark sites for later review with the ability to attach a note to it. It comes in handy when you want to save a site you stumble upon while looking for something else . Also it is very useful as a central storage of URLs to take links from one computer to another.

    • I use it all the time, most frequently to save recipes that I find online. I do a lot of cooking, and like to try new recipes. If I stumble across something interesting, I'll save it to Google Notebook. The "sections" feature works great for grouping stuff into categories, i.e. "Deserts".

  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@TEAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:09AM (#26109657)

    Seriously. Whats next? Windows 7 will feature a task bar at the top of the screen with a magnifying shortcut bar at the bottom of the screen?

    • by fluch (126140) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @07:15AM (#26109861)

      And someone in Redmond reads this post and thinks: "Hmmm....!"

    • by gilgongo (57446)

      Exactly. If I worked for Microsoft I'd be friggin' depressed. Do they have no originality or desire to be innovative AT ALL?

    • by jerep (794296)

      I thought Microsoft gave up on thinking ever since they invented Clippy. The company looks more of a marketing-monkey farming house these days.

      Come to think of it, they sound like my little 14yo brother who have to get credit for anything he can think of. Kids these days.

    • by morari (1080535)

      How about tab browsing in Windows Explorer? Put an end to this "open in new window" and "open in same window" debate! No longer will My Computer and the Control Panel be in separate windows!

  • by skaet (841938) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:18AM (#26109685) Homepage

    From TFA:

    Thumbtack works in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it lacks some features when used in Firefox, Microsoft said.

    So the Firefox extension lacks the "Share" or "Publish" ability, right?

    • by Fred_A (10934)

      From TFA:

      Thumbtack works in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it lacks some features when used in Firefox, Microsoft said.

      So the Firefox extension lacks the "Share" or "Publish" ability, right?

      Especially when used in Firefox in Linux or MacOS I expect...

  • Awww (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:18AM (#26109689)

    Oh, how cute! Clippy's got a cousin.

    Thumbtack stands apart in its ability to introspect on incoming data in order to automatically classify it and extract structure from it using machine learning.

    I bet Thumby's classification of information works just as well as Clippy's classification of my current action.

  • by ustolemyname (1301665) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:20AM (#26109695)
    Wholesale copying, pasting, and sharing of websites?

    I thought Microsoft was against the "theft" (infringement) of Intellectual "Property" (assets).

  • Thumbtack? (Score:4, Funny)

    by unkaggregate (855265) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:29AM (#26109713) Homepage
    So does that mean their product is a pain in the ass?
  • ...why would you choose to reply to Google Notebook?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AnalPerfume (1356177)

      Microsoft have woken up to the threat of Google, and the fact that Google have caught Microsoft with their pants down on several new revenue models. They assume "if Google are doing it, then we need to". Every competing service they do, to try and take share away from Google fails. They want to buy Yahoo (or parts of it) to buy that marketshare where they failed to get it with their own services. They seem oblivious to the fact that their products and services have to be forced on people, that most people d

  • by nysus (162232) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:36AM (#26109737)

    FTA: "Thumbtack works in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it lacks some features when used in Firefox, Microsoft said."

    Microsoft just doesn't get it. If you can't get your service to work with all major browsers, your service is going to be seen as inferior, not the browser.

    And apparently, Microsoft thinks people like being forced to use their software. Well, guess what? They don't. They resent it. It's not 1999 anymore. People now understand AOL is not synonymous with the Internet and Microsoft is not synonymous with software.

    • "And apparently, Microsoft thinks people like being forced to use their software. Well, guess what? They don't. "

      Apple, Apple, Apple. Now what was your argument again?

      • Yes, people do apparently like being forced to use Apple's software. It seems that Apple has captured a good portion of the "want to be forced to use a certain brand of software" market segment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      FTA: "Thumbtack works in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it lacks some features when used in Firefox, Microsoft said."

      This makes no sense. The code is already there to make it work on firefox. There are probably five or more extensions that do this kind of thing on Firefox, and some are already superior to Google notebooks. They should just use that code (at least for the client-side), and stop trying to reinvent the wheel

      And for some that might say that the license might be a problem, think again, most

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darrylo (97569)

      I agree.

      Google Notebook is also the wrong target. While it's useful, I think it's something of a niche feature these days, as other online services seem to be passing it by. Even Google buries it in the "even more" submenu.

      If Microsoft really wanted to get noticed, they should have taken the organizational and editing features of OneNote, and combined them with the distributed synchronization and text/image/online/offline searching of Evernote. That would have been a killer product.

      I used to be a Google

      • Maybe the whole Microsoft tool is a 60 000 Eur investment or a "Oh, you coded that?" or a "So we also acquired that Notebook tool..." or made for some corporate functionality checklist, you know, no one likes Ballmer to throw a chair.

        Still, Microsoft is looking for the "don't do evil" technology licensing. It is really hard to get that stuff.

    • Microsoft just doesn't get it. If you can't get your service to work with all major browsers, your service is going to be seen as inferior, not the browser.

      You mean a site like Slashdot?

      Statements like this are quite silly and a bit paranoid, especially when you consider that the site you are posting it on offers features to Firefox that it denies to other browsers.

      Using IE on Slashdot you lose a lot of features for very basic reading and commenting on the site.

      It is almost like Slashdot is programmed for I

      • by tom1974 (413939)

        Your position of defending Microsoft at every turn and opportunity is actually quite silly and paranoid, even childish. Microsoft has clearly done this time and time again. X feature works on all platform except it works better on latest MS platform.

        For a long time now, there are websites that work only correctly on IE or you couldn't even access a site without using IE.

        Besides your meek attempt of a straw man setup and whining, why don't you use Opera, Chrome or Firefox instead? Webmasters have no obligati

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Joe Jay Bee (1151309)

          Webmasters have no obligations to cater to a particular browser.

          If this was said about Firefox, I'd be able to hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from a million miles away. Won't fly.

        • Webmasters have no obligations to cater to a particular browser

          My response was to a poster blasting a web site for doing exactly this.

          So you agree with my post then? Good...

          PS The Microsoft 'troll' paranoia is a bit scary. The usage of IE in my post was specifically because of Slashdot's problems with it and the fact the OP was blasting a Microsoft site.

          My freaking post was made from Firefox even, geesh...

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Microsoft just doesn't get it. If you can't get your service to work with all major browsers, your service is going to be seen as inferior, not the browser.

      Meh... people who have rejected Microsoft's browser aren't likely to use many of their web services anyway. So they are losing less than it would at first appear.

      That said, I avoid Google's services like the plague... they get enough information about me from my use of search, plus the tracking they do via their ads, plus all the sites that use their ana

    • by eebra82 (907996)

      And apparently, Microsoft thinks people like being forced to use their software.

      Microsoft may not have the best reputation, but they aren't ignorant.

      Having said that, no one is forced to use Microsoft's software. Microsoft simply requires IE to get the full feature set for Thumbtack. That doesn't make it incompatible with FF.

      I have a few issues with this decision, but I certainly don't think it's wrong. No one is forced to use Thumbtack; there are alternatives to it.

    • by sci50514 (722502)
      Well, Google is the Internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jez9999 (618189)

      Microsoft just doesn't get it. If you can't get your service to work with all major browsers, your service is going to be seen as inferior, not the browser.

      Tell that to Google. Google Maps has had this [game-point.net] bug in Google Maps for YEARS now that causes printing in Firefox to be broken (because Firefox actually does things correctly), yet to look OK in IE6 and IE7. Do people think Google Maps is inferior? Hell, it doesn't work AT ALL in Opera.

  • Clippy? (Score:3, Funny)

    by squidinkcalligraphy (558677) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:44AM (#26109767)

    Even the thought of office stationery in relation to Microsoft brings back those horrible nightmares...

  • by arotenbe (1203922) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:55AM (#26109793) Journal

    Microsoft Thumbscrew! The product guaranteed to make you scream in agony! Now with even more boneheaded user interface design decisions! Order now, and we'll somehow work in DRM and the Internet Explorer rendering engine, too!

  • Google's services all also, of course, "introspect on incoming data in order to automatically classify it and extract structure from it using machine learning" -- for the purpose of serving up contextual ads.

  • Eh...I meant superfluous!
  • This may seem like a silly question, but why did Microsoft use an AJAX setup for this instead of using Silverlight? I thought the whole point of Silverlight was for RIAs? Have they lost faith in Silverlight already?
  • by exhilaration (587191) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:47AM (#26110663)
    I wanted to know what Google Notebook was so I went to the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org]. It says, "Google Notebook was announced on May 10, 2006 and made available May 15, 2006. As of late 2008 however the service is a candidate for being terminated due to lack of demand[1]."

    The citation is missing. Can someone verify that this is true? Why is Microsoft competing against a project that Google is dropping?

    P.s. Can someone who knows more about this topic fix the Wikipedia page? Thanks!

  • Don't call it a thumbtack!
    It's been here for years.

  • Microsoft already makes OneNote, which is has alot more features. I just don't understand why they would want to fight Google with a half baked product, which competes with one they sell.
    • by peater (1422239)
      I guess it's because OneNote is more of a desktop app that saves data locally and is commercial (I am not personally aware of any EASY option of storing OneNote data remotely - although I wouldn't be surprised if there is one). I guess the fight is for free and generally useful, stripped-down, online applications that would prove useful to the masses which would, in turn, allow Microsoft to generate ad-revenue and direct users to other service offerings like search, etc. just as Google has been doing for
      • I am not personally aware of any EASY option of storing OneNote data remotely - although I wouldn't be surprised if there is one

        Sharepoint. (Not that Sharepoint itself is easy... but once you have Sharepoint set up, it's really easy to use OneNote with it.)

  • If this is being integrated with Microsoft One Note (i love this program) with some sort of online sync functionality, then I would love it. As far as needing to go online to have a 'note book'... no thanks. I really just want a local client that syncs to an online accessible arena... much like outlook and its web ui...
  • "Can magically extract the meaning for you" is impossible today. Machines cannot even come close to being able to classify website contents to a degree that helps you, unless you are a complete moron. But in that case you cannot understand even the classified results.

    Why does this BS keep cropping up? AI is not there. It is not there by a very long shot, to the degree that we do not know today whether it will ever get there. A short investigation into the state of the art of AI reveals that to anybody halfw

  • ...to come up with a silly name like Thumbtack.

    But I'll be happy to put a thumbtack on Ballmer's chair.

  • Shouldn't that read 'ability to inspect on incoming data'? I couldn't imagine a way to introspect on incoming data unless I happen to be the incoming data myself.

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