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Desktop Dashboard

A free program called Dashboard constantly combs through your e-mail, calendar, address book, word-processing, and browser programs and brings together information related to your current tasks before you even know you want it.

These days, finding information on the Web can be easier than finding it on your computer’s hard drive. But Nat Friedman, a software engineer and open-source-programming guru in Cambridge, MA, is leading an effort to change that with a free program called Dashboard. Dashboard constantly combs through your e-mail, calendar, address book, word-processing, and browser programs and brings together information related to your current tasks before you even know you want it. Say you’re reading an e-mail from a collaborator on a project. Dashboard automatically shows the person’s contact information, her last five e-mails, and your upcoming appointments with her. Programs like Microsoft’s Longhorn will have similar functions but are years from completion. Friedman, cofounder of open-source desktop software maker Ximian, which was acquired by Novell last August, says Dashboard will be ready as early as this summer.

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