Information Storage Dilemma                            apr97

I have a wide variety of information stored on my computer:

1. Extensive directories on the hard disk

2. Extensive hierarchies of folders in MS Outlook, and

3. Extensive hierarchies of favorites in MS Internet Explorer.

I am quite dissatisfied with this arrangement because it forces me to choose between maintaining the same directory structure in all 3 places, or remembering the differences wherever I am working. For example, Drive C:\Excel contains bazillions of files in subdirectories by client. Outlook has folders for each mailing list and numerous special interests. Explorer has hundreds of favorites in folder hierarchies by topic. Topics change over time, causing great havoc on my filing.

I am further dissatisfied with *any* of these arrangements because they offer only single-dimensional lists. The actual problem domain has N dimensions, e.g. the logical subject-matter hierarchy (this is the way my directories are designed today. OK no problem. but..) the filetype dimension. When using an application like Excel, it expects to find all Excel files in the Excel directory. Otherwise, it's a LOT of work to navigate. the file version dimension. The normal view should be "Viewing current version only". I also require a view of "Deleted versions" which exist in the recycle bin, and "Not Backed Up" view so that I can make backups easily without maintaining a huge database of file versions in a proprietary backup product. the file location dimension. This view is becoming critical for two reasons: the problem of maintaining replicas such as laptop computers is too labor intensive and risky, and DSL makes it suddenly cheaper to maintain them in a single location remotely accessible over internet.

I haven't even talked about what's *inside* the files, messages and links.

Whats the solution? Do I have to migrate to Unix to find a solution? Are there any proprietary products as front-end to my legacy hard drive directories? What I need is a total replacement for Microsoft Windows Explorer or the file system itself. And the Internet or Extranet is no solution: it is being presented in the same 1-dimensional trees which Microsoft is so fond of.

june 1998:
CPAs have serious, all-day-long interaction with our files. Don't settle 
for anything less than the best.  Computer magazines want you to believe 
that another piece of hardware will help but I doubt it.  Here are my 

1.  No file synching hassles.  After sharing copies of directories on 
multiple machines for the last few years, I am fed up with sorting out 
which is current/complete.  I keep everything on a hard disk on the LAN, 
where I work.  That location also has a 256K ADSL connection costing 
$35/month from GTE (my ISP fee is unchanged).  I am planning on an FTP 
server on the ADSL site accessable from any dialup internet connection, to 
upload/download files.

I insist on one, single repository of files, available thru the internet, 
with security.  If I need to work intensely on a file maybe I will check 
it out and run from drive C: but I am never going back to having live 
files on multiple machines. 

A few seconds delay downloading will save hours of file synching woes, 
additional backups, and risks of overwriting caused by multiple file 
stores.  The rule of thumb is, if it's on Drive C:, it is a temporary 

2.  Multi-dimensional views.  The Windows Explorer (like most accounting 
views) is a simple hierarchic list  It is a 2-dimensional list of 
names/locations. This means that your files-by-client cannot be presented.  
Or files-by-type, or files-by-Employeee, or files-by-date.

When are we going to have multidimensional views of the data?  Microsoft 
is highly deficient in this area.  Linux has some hopeful alternatives.  I 
believe Oracle's "Raw Iron" filesystem may be a step in the right 
direction.  I am looking forward to their new file system which you can 
issue SQL commands to.

On Sun, 06 Aug 2000 16:06:26 GMT, "David" wrote:

>It is entirely possible NT4 will be the last version of Windows I work with
>extensively (the language I develop software in will soon be cross-platform
>between Windows & Linux, and I intend to be developing for both with an
>emphasis on Linux a year from now).

You know what?  We're beginning to need a replacement for the local-storage-
bound-into the Operating System.  Let's face it, the file system sucks.

If the net had been here when OS's came into existence, local storage
would have been an option few would have used anyway.  It just isnt'
worth it, for most scenarios especially when you have more than one
PC such as a laptop.  CERTAINLY the file system should be providing
much more services today (such as journalling and rollback, and
additional structures for managing/comparing files, TOTALLY better
security, etc. etc.)

The reason the Microsoft file systems don't have those things is because
they want you to buy applications software.  They don't want to solve
any problem, finally.  They want to nickel and dime you year after year.

Oracle internet file system might be better than any of
these, depending on how they price THAT.   Oracle is certainly no
angel and didn't get where they are today by selling bargain priced

   You Are Always Looking at the Same Folders and Files       
   iFS simplifies the lives of end users, system administrators, and
   developers by storing many different types of files, traditionally
   stored on separate servers, in a single repository.
   Regardless of the protocol or application used to access iFS, you see
   the same folders and files. Your e-mail client shows you the same files
   visible through FTP, Windows, and your web browser. You can delete and
   move files through all of these clients. Anything you can do through
   Windows, including using iFS features, you can also do through a
   You can work with whichever environment you're most comfortable: Windows
   desktop, web browser, FTP program, e-mail program.
   Built into iFS are the content management functions all file
   systems should have:
   * Flexible Organization of Files
   * Check in/Check out Files
   * Versioning
   * Access Control
   * Advanced Searching Features

There is no likelihood that all the security risks will ever
be found and extinguished from the 100 million lines of code of
Microosf operating system.  Infoworld prints, almost every week,
an endless list of horrible security risks for Outlook, MSIE5,
and other Microsoft products.

* Todd F. Boyle CPA
*    Kirkland WA    (425) 827-3107
* XML accounting, web ledgers, BSPs, ASPs, whatever it takes