Actioneer Simplifies Searches

SAN FRANCISCO (08/22/2000) - No matter how powerful and informative the Internet has become, some of us still think it is too darn hard. To this end, Actioneer Inc. has released a product of the same name designed to simplify online searches by streamlining the whole concept of "favorites."

"The idea is to make looking for things on the Web as fast and as easy as possible," says Kelly Forrister, Actioneer director of strategic services. "We want to connect users to whatever they want to find online. People don't have to click through lists and menus; we eliminate cumbersome navigation."

You can download the Actioneer tools free of charge. The software is available for use on Microsoft Windows systems and handheld devices.

Clicking the Actioneer icon in the system tray brings up a query window geared to certain search terms. For instance, you type "find book Cornwell" and it takes you to an Amazon.com page listing all of Patricia's books. Or entering "sq IBM" pops up a Lycos stock page in seconds. Entering "find bio Gates" provides instant sketches of both Bill and the actor who played the doctor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In all cases, the query word--book, bio, or sq--appears in bold.

Customize and Connect

You can also choose the "connectors" you need in order to access the information you use most frequently. In this case, you select categories from a drop-down list.

Tracking packages? Just type "fedex" and enter your airbill number and you'll get an up-to-the-minute report. Hungry for political news? Try "cnn Gore." If the search terms aren't always specified or consistent, they're easy enough to figure out. For instance, sometimes a command works ("find book Cornwell") and other times it doesn't ("cnn Gore"). Mix these up, and you'll end up with a lot of weird tasks on your to-do list.

That's because Actioneer not only helps you navigate your way online, it simplifies data entry for those little things. For instance, you can pop up the window and type "mow lawn," and the item enters on the to-do list of your personal information manager. Type "mow lawn Fri 12 am," and it ends up on your calendar.

That function connects with a second Actioneer component, one that works on Palm handhelds. Forrister says Actioneer for the Palm saves you the trouble of loading the calendar or to-do list applications; it can determine exactly where the data should go automatically.

"By installing the program on a Palm, it eliminates the need for the user to drill down," Forrister says. "As soon as you start typing, it knows immediately where the data should go."

The company expects to make money through partnerships as well as by developing custom interfaces for large corporations.

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