For everyone who ever wished their computer would think more like
they do, get ready for The Brain. Natrificial Software hopes that
The Brain will forever change the way PC users navigate through file
systems. The Brain is a GUI that allows users to create associations
between files of many types and navigate through those files in a
way that better mimics human thought. Think of it as the 21st
century alternative to the age-old knowledge tree hierarchy. Instead
of folders inside endless folders, The Brain lets users put files,
documents, and Web pages (each one is considered a Thought) into
collections (called Brains), and create almost infinite associations
between different Thoughts.
Version 1.5 adds a few interesting twists to the product that go
right to the heart of Web publishing and navigation. Thanks to the
excellent browser integration, putting frequently traveled Web pages
into a Brain is as simple as dragging a pointer from The Brain to
the page on your browser. Once you've created a Brain full of
associative links to important sites, the product saves time by
letting users drill down to any included page without downloading
unwanted intermediate pages. Even better, The Brain's "spidering"
technology allows you to automatically create a brain that is an
exact replica of any Website, with the number of levels of
drill-down and links completely configurable by the user. (However,
spidering did not work well on sites that use frames.)
Once you've created a Brain, it may be too good to keep to
yourself. Natrificial lets users upload Brains to a part of its
Website called the Think Tank. Other Brain users can benefit from
your carefully constructed file system, and vice versa.
The Brain installed very easily, and Natrificial has created a
series of RealPlayer tutorials that demonstrate the product's main
features and basic use very well.
It does take some getting used to. But once we were able to
create a new Brain that was more than just a series of useless
links, we began to suspect that there might be an iceberg's worth of
function lingering beneath this floating cube.
The default installation embeds the product into the right-hand
side of the desktop, although there are several different
configuration options, such as Float, and you can choose between
Autohide or Always on Top to make best use of screen space. There
are plenty of nice surprises built into the product, such as the
ability to add notes such as a page summary or product description
to any Thought, a History list, a Properties list that details any
activated Thought, and the ability to search by keyword for Thoughts
in any recently opened Brain. Switching between brains is extremely
easy, and if you get stuck, Natrificial has done an excellent job
with its online Help.
If you manage to get past the awkward beginning stage, The Brain
can be a powerful personal desktop productivity tool. It runs on
Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0. The free version supports up to 100
Thoughts per Brain; full version (unlimited Thoughts) is $49.95.
Natrificial Software, Santa Monica, CA, www.thebrain.com.
The Brain now lets users create navigable associative maps of
Websites for fast and powerful