Expo Notes: Hurrah for Houdah

Editor’s Note: All this week, Macworld editors will report from the Macworld Expo show floor on meetings with Mac developers, new product announcements, and anything else that catches their eye.

Wednesday marked the first time I’ve visited the show floor—other than stopping by both Apple and the Macworld booth yesterday. One of my first stops was the Houdah booth, in the Developer’s Pavilion directly behind the massive Apple booth. We briefly mentioned a previous version of their HoudahSpot product in our article on Finessing your Files, but since then, HoudahSpot has revved to a 2.0 Leopard-only version. (Version 1.5 is still available as a free download for Tiger users.)

HoudahSpot takes the power of Spotlight—already greatly improved in OS X 10.5—and makes it both more powerful and easier to use. I’ll have a longer write-up on HoudahSpot in the future, but basically, you can use it to easily create complex saved searches that would be very complicated to construct (if possible at all) in the Finder.

But what I really like about HoudahSpot 2 is that it overcomes one of my biggest issues with Spotlight: you can’t customize your search results in the Finder. So, for instance, if you search for all files over 20MB in size, you’ll see all the matches. You can’t, however, add Size as a displayed column, so you can’t sort by size, nor actually see how large the matches are.

HoudahSpot 2 overcomes both problems—and the resulting search is easily saved as a search that I can run again with a couple of mouse clicks.

The other really cool app in the Houdah booth was HoudahGeo. This program helps you place your images in Google Earth—even if your camera lacks GPS information (which most cameras, except for high-end models, do). HoudahGeo lets you work directly in the Google Earth interface, associating your photos with given map locations. HoudahGeo can use your photos directly from iPhoto, too, making it super simple to use.

Even better, if you’ve got a GPS locator (something like this one, or those from Garmin and Magellan), HoudahGeo can read the data logs it creates, and then automatically tag your images to geographic locations by comparing the time stamps on the images and the data logs. It’s very cool, and has actually gotten me interested in purchasing a GPS locator to carry around while I take pictures.

Both apps are available as fully-functional demos from the Houdah site.

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