The Datamaton Content Manager app Blob lets you search, organize, backup and use all your digital content from one place. This is a high-level overview of how it works. You don’t really need to know all this to use it, but its nice to know a little more about an app you might use every day.
Blob is an indexer, just like Google & Bing search engines
Similar to how Google and Bing index websites, Blob indexes your storage locations (i.e. makes an inventory of your content there). This process creates “index files” which can be queried to provide very fast search responses. Blob differs from traditional search engines in that it gives you full control over which storage locations and content types to index and how often to re-index them. It also uses your own computer to do the work and store index files for better privacy and security – it can’t use, sell or leak your personal information for ads/marketing if it never had it in the first place!
As it indexes your content, Blob leaves it unchanged at its original location (Blob’s index files take roughly 0.2 percent of the original content size). So, what information does Blob save in its index files? The things that “makes sense” for each content type:
- Emails: In its index files, Blob will store email sender and receiver info, subject, date, size, folder name & attachment info. It also collects emails attributes like read/unread, forwarded, replied etc. and (partial) message text.
- Text Messages: sender and receiver info, partial message text, date, attachment info and the channel or group it belongs to.
- Appointments: start & end times, recurrence info, subject, description, calendar location, category, attachment info etc.
- Contacts: name, email address, phone numbers and attributes. Blob automatically picks up contact names and email addresses from email messages.
- All files: file and folder name, file extension, size, creation & last modification dates and file attributes.
- Photo, music and video files: album name, title, artist, genre, composer, play duration, camera, GPS information, thumbnails photo and other such standard information (e.g. EXIF data).
- Cloud files: user tags/comments and file sharing permissions, in addition to “normal” file properties.
- Compound files (e.g. ZIP, ISO, Microsoft Outlook PST files etc.): Blob collects information about the parent compound file/email as well as information about the files (or emails) embedded inside them.
Blob lets you search for your content using any of the attributes listed above.
Blob is much more than just a search engine
Blob’s objective is to “simplify your digital life”, and helping you find your content quickly is just one part of it. While Blob is an indexer like Google and Bing, it is also much more – it is an aggregator that lets you search, organize, manage and use all your digital content. These capabilities are built on top of the index files Blob creates, but there’s another powerful Blob capability that enables this – the ability to create arbitrary content selection rules. A content selection rule specifies:
- a) which storage locations it operates on
- b) which content type it operates on
- c) which content property it operates on and
- d) how it tests the property.
Here’s an example: From a) all storage locations b) select emails c) such that email date d) is within the range Jan 1, 2010 and Feb 1, 2010. Another example: From a) C:\, D:\, Yahoo mail account and Google Drive account b) select photos c) such that the “camera used” property d) contains the word “iphone”. You can combine together multiple such rules using “AND” and “OR” operators to create very powerful searches.
Here’s how Blob combines indexing and content selection rules to support different capabilities:
- Search: A search is just a combination of one or more content selection rules combined with AND or OR operators. When you issue a search, Blob directly searches the index files it created on your hard drive – this is why Blob searches are so fast!
- Organize: Blob lets you create Virtual Folders that can contain any type of content, stored anywhere. A virtual folder is simply a collection of content selection rules, though you can also drag-drop specific content into it. These rules are dynamically evaluated, so new/future matching content is automatically included in an existing virtual folder. Since a virtual folder contains only rules and links, it is very light-weight and flexible. Blob also lets you assign tags to any type of content stored anywhere.
- Backup: Blob lets you move or copy any type of content from anywhere to anywhere. You can do this manually or set up automatic backup tasks. A backup task is actually just a collection of content selection rules paired with a backup destination and backup frequency. For example, you can create a task: “From C:\ select documents whose content contains the word “market” and copy them to Google Drive folder “marketing” at 10am every morning”. Blob runs each such backup task as separate background processes.
- Use: You can view all your content from within Blob and do normal day-to-day operations like read, reply or forward messages; move, copy, download, upload and share files, manage calendar appointments etc. This is obviously much more than what a search engine like Google or Bing would do.
Blob uses your own computer to do its work
Blob supports privacy by design, since it uses your computer to do its work and store index files.
This has both advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that how many Data Sources Blob can index and how frequently it can re-index them depends on your own computer’s capabilities. Asking Blob to index terabytes of content across a dozen storage locations might slow it down noticeably, especially if you have an older or less capable computer. Blob tries hard to minimize interference with other work you may be doing on your computer by doing its work in the background and at low priority .
The biggest advantage is that you get complete privacy! Nothing about your content is ever sent to Datamaton’s servers. Blob stores index information as encrypted files on your computer’s hard drive only. You create the password used to encrypt it, and only you can decrypt it. You don’t even have to a create an account with us and don’t have to worry about your content leaking because our servers got hacked. Our company cannot use or sell your information for ad/marketing purposes, since we never had it in the first place!
Blob doesn’t force you to stop using other apps
You don’t have to stop using the apps and tools you currently use to benefit from Blob. For example, when Blob indexes your email accounts, it will NOT download messages locally and remove them from the server. You can continue to use your phone or other apps to access your email. Indexing itself will NOT cause your emails to be marked as read. In fact, Blob will track read/unread, replied and forwarded attributes even when you use other apps to do this. Similarly, you can continue to use vendor specific apps from Slack, Facebook, OneDrive etc. and use Blob only to search, organize or backup that content.
Blob is a collection of applications that run in the background
Blob is actually a collection of many different processes and libraries.
Different components work together to do the overall job:
- Blob.exe is the user interface (UI) process and the program that you generally interact with. However, this program does not do the actual indexing, backups etc. Other background processes do that, so you can safely close the Blob user interface anytime without affecting anything.
- Cataloger.exe indexes and periodically re-indexes your storage locations in the background.
- Refresher.exe looks for dynamical insertion of local devices (CDs, USB drives, phones etc.) so they can be indexed as needed. It also makes sure that periodic re-indexing and backup tasks run when needed.
- FileMonitor.exe tracks changes to local hard drives so that its index files get updated as soon as local content is created or modified.
- ImapMonitor.exe tracks your email accounts so new email is immediately indexed.
- TaskManager.exe runs your backup tasks in the background.
- SpaceMgr.exe periodically runs in the background to delete temporary or cached files created by Blob.
- BlobInstallMgr.exe manages license changes and Blob installation and updates.
- Recrypt.exe lets you set and change the passwords used to encrypt your index files.
Blob starts and schedules these background processes automatically when needed. You need to interact directly only with the Blob.exe user interface.