Desktop proxy needs to become standard service
In Firefox history in Google Desktop Search, Jon Udell suggests use of local proxy to help store browser history, so google can search it. Well, this is only one of the reasons for proxy, there are many others:
But we have these functionalities in bits and pieces. With focus on mobility, I guess there is scope for some good product on these lines.
- Manage roaming IP addresses. Desktop proxy can do whatever possible to automate identification of network, so no need to change proxy addresses for all your desktop applications such as all those native blogging clients, IM apps, VoIP apps and so on.
- Supports virtual machines such as colinux. I run colinux on windows to get linux via cygwin/X. But colinux needs to connect to external world. Proxy that provides NAT support is of course a first priority.
- Hide those browser connection timeouts.When you switch networks frequently (i.e. when mobile), the TCP/IP timeouts tend to be very distracting. Browsers tend to hang (and later, give a "can't connect" alert box which you are forced to click on.) With proxy, you have easier approach: The proxy can give latest status and request you if you need to be notified nicely later on.
- Cache content. Mechanisms to cache content in intelligent way, so it is available when offline.
- Local virtual views on content (This is more related to wiki concept.) It is mich easier to organize content with help of a native app. Integrate it with locally running wiki to give access to your older content.
- Selectively share information with friends. Since proxies run as http servers, it is easier to share content with friends - at least within the organizations. When you want to share across firewalls, an independent server can make the task easier.
- Last but not the least, a good search interface.As suggested by Udell, the search integration can happen at proxy level. We require control over desktop/intranet/internet searches. For e.g. address searches can be directed to intranet, but the interface for it needs to become more intutive (select buttons? a leading string such as 'addr userA'?) More importantly, the proxy can identify the context and make sure the intention of search is better understood.