FindWiz v2.1 for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, March 2005
Published by: Richard Dumais
Requires: alm OS 3.5, any Palm OS hardware, Palm OS 5 compatible
MSRP: US$29.95

You must be looking at the ten dollar MSRP and thinking 'why are they wasting their time reviewing a piece of cheap-o shareware'? Think again dudes (and dudettes). Sometimes, really, really good things come in really, really inexpensive packages. So what would you say if I told you that you could use a single search utility to almost instantly and selectively find any phrase, word or number in any database on your Palm OS PDA—I repeat—any database on your Palm OS PDA including DateBook (or any other calendar or personal information manager), AddressBook (or any third-party address book program), MemoPad (or any third-party memo program) and so on? So what would you do? You'd probably ask "Where can I get that?" The little program is called FindWiz and as far as I'm concerned it's one of the most useful utilities I've ever owned for the Palm PDA.

I frequently misuse my main PDA programs. For example, I regularly use DateBk 5 to store not only appointments, but also all sorts of other notations, reminders and to-dos. Address Book is my repository for contacts, phone numbers, addresses and access lists for entire office buildings—in some cases, one main entry with dozens of additional entries in the Notes area. MemoPad is my eternally expanding set of lists of Things I Want, Music I Heard While Driving Down The Street, Birthday Gifts For The Kids, actual memos, and so on. For the most part, finding information I need is easy because I go straight to a known location and retrieve or look up the relevant data. But what about a phone number that I entered into an appointment notation six months ago (or was it four months ago, or maybe it was three months ago?). What about the last name of a person I had an appointment with sometime in 2003? How do I find the information? It's in the PDA, but it's normally not searchable. Am I simply left to look through screen after screen after screen of information, ad nauseum, hoping to find it, while also hoping not to accidentally miss it? No. The process is idiotic and potentially very lengthy. The Palm OS built-in Find utility is quite adequate, but what I need is a comprehensive system-wide search utility with wildcard search functions, Boolean search functions, the option to selectively search different sets of databases and the ability to save searches for later recall or reuse.

The program provides the choice of a simple or complex search, and then allows you to preview your search results without leaving the program which nicely circumvents the need to run the host application to see if the search result contains the information you need. When a search is complete, the Hitslist is displayed in two windows. The top window contains a list of databases containing your search terms; the bottom window contains the contents of first hit in the Hitslist. When you find the right information, tap the record to view the information in the host program or just read the information in the bottom window. Return to the same place in the FindWiz Hitslist by tapping the Find icon in the Silkscreen area (if you've set the FindWiz option to do that). You can go back and forth through all the hits without ever having to do a repeat search. There is an option to store search criteria for reuse and you can recall the five most recent searches.

FindWiz is tiny, about 191KB including its configuration and search history storage file. The program appears to be able to recognize and index or search every database on your Palm OS PDA. I've got 62 separate and distinct programs installed on my PDA. Every one of those programs has a database except for items such as HotSync and a couple of other odds and ends. I used nosleep Software's FileZ utility to do a database count on my Palm Zire 72 and then did a database count in FindWiz—the numbers appeared to match. That means searches with FindWiz are usually going to be comprehensive. Good stuff.

Cons: Look here . . . Richard Dumais is an independent developer, so I don't really expect his user interface (UI) design skills to be pluperfect. On the other hand, a better looking UI will help place FindWiz at the top of our top ten list for the foreseeable future. A improved UI will also make FindWiz an absolute must-have utility for every PDA user.

Pros: If FindWiz had existed a few years ago I would be a much happier person today. All the stress and anxiety built up through all the years I searched vainly, manually, through hundreds and thousands of records to find that one elusive phone number written in a DateBook entry months before have magically disappeared with the presence of FindWiz on my PDA. I can find anything, any time, anywhere; FindWiz searches can be as narrow or as broad as you like. Suddenly, my workhorse Zire 72 has a new lease on life. FindWiz is fast and easy to use. You owe it to yourself to try this utility. I rank it at the top of my list right behind DateBk5, ZLauncher, PalmReader and AvantGo. Highly recommended.

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