Your Brain on Windows

By Leslie Ayers, PC Computing
April, 1998

The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz wanted a brain more than anything. But all he got from the Wizard was a symbolic but worthless certificate and a bit of encouragement.

The Scarecrow was out of luck, but you're not, thanks to Natrificial Software Technologies' new user interface for Windows 95, 98, and NT. It's called The Brain and it gives you a new and entirely intuitive way to work with files, applications, and the Web. For $50, The Brain lets you break free from Windows' hierarchical structure and work with multiple file formats from one command center. Organization is easy because you structure The Brain the way you think: by association.

Gray Matters Of course, there are files and folders behind it all, but the idea is to forget about that and go with the flow. The Brain consists of thoughts, each of which can be a parent, sibling, or child to other thoughts. A thought can be anything--a file, an application, a Web page, or even a word or phrase. In our usability tests, The Brain beat Windows' Favorites handily.

Further exploration of The Brain finds that it's easy to enhance a thought by clicking on Properties or Notes. In Properties, you can link a thought with a file or a Web site address, or type in keywords for that thought; in Notes, you type in free-form information or drag and drop files into the blank area to view. A window into The Brain shows a diagram with the active thought in the center surrounded by links to its parent thought, its siblings, and children.

Think Fast One of The Brain's best features lets you associate different file formats and applications within the same group of thoughts, which means that a parent thought can include any number of types of child thoughts within it. For example, if you want to keep all your financial information at your fingertips, simply link Web sites for investment news and brokerage houses, earnings and projection spreadsheets, and your personal finance software under one thought. And if you forget where you stashed something, just click on Search to see an alphabetized list of all your thoughts.

The Brain makes life easier for most of us, especially if thought-by-association appeals to you. It won't work well in businesses or workgroups that rely on files being saved in specific folders and directories. But for use on a home PC, or to keep track of files and Web pages on your office system, The Brain is a smart, sleek, easy-to-use alternative to Windows' structure.

The Brain

Rating = Four out of Five Stars

Verdict: Work the way you think with this graceful alternative to Windows' hierarchical file structure.

Pros: Puts Web sites, documents, apps, and more at your fingertips; simple to set up because there's no wrong way to do it.

Cons: Not practical for workgroups that rely on directory hierarchies to get the job done, especially on shared network servers.

System Requirements: Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0; Pentium; 16MB of RAM; 2MB of hard disk space.

$50 est. street price, Natrificial Software Technologies, (888) 652-7529, (310) 656-8494 Feed Your Head: Or at least stop banging it on your desk because you can't find what you're looking for in Windows. Natrificial Software Technologies' $50 The Brain, an alternative interface for Windows 95, 98, or NT, lets you link thoughts together as a collection of files, Web sites, apps, and projects. A. The Braincontains it all--your files, apps, Web addresses, and empty thoughts. B. From the active thought, you can drag files to create parents, children, and jumps to open a file. C. Click on Search to peruse a sortable list of thoughts. It's Personal: The Brain lets you organize and link your information by association, and you can customize it as you would your Windows desktop.

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