Help      |      Chebucto Home      |      News      |      Contact Us     

59. Services deliver news to desktops

By Mark Alberstat

You work all day in an office. Chained to your desk like a newspaper box to a pole, you feel the world is progressing around you. Once home, you flick on the TV and tune in your radio to catch up with the day's events. Why not keep up with the latest celebrity gossip, sports updates and stock market jitters while at work in front of your computer, without spending many hours surfing the Net?

Several companies now deliver their news to your desktop. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can get information without your web browser showing that you have been on the Net. One caveat about any of these products is that you almost always have to have a permanent link to the Internet. News tickers are set to regularly get updates by going to a parent server. With dial-up access, your computer's phone line would be almost constantly tied up.

The BBC has a world news ticker that is free of charge and easy to configure for your Windows or Mac computers. One of the nice features about this ticker is that if you see a headline scroll by that intrigues you, simply double-click on it and a browser window will open to that story. Some basic weather information is available through this software, but it merely states the temperature in a preset list of world capitals. This ticker also tells you when the headlines you are reading were last updated, and with a simple right click you can tell the application to Update Now.

American-based FoxNews has its own free ticker for Windows-based machines with Internet Explorer 4.0 or above and Flash 6.0. The developers of this application are working on versions for Unix and Macs, but neither is yet available. This ticker cycles through U.S. and world news, politics, business and FoxLife, and features a search bar for FoxNews. It's a small application but seems to also be an advertising site for Fox Broadcasting.

WorldFlash will send you the latest headlines, weather, stock quotes and sports from a variety of information sources. The information bar appears at the bottom of the screen and scrolls by like a stock ticker. The options on this product are extensive, and it may take a few attempts to set it up just the way you want. The download is good for 45 days, after which you need to purchase a two-year licence for the software that costs about $45 US.

Instant messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger also offer news in their respective applications. Both companies have produced versions for Windows, Mac and Unix computers. For the Yahoo! user, the news or sports headlines appears at the bottom of the application window. These headlines are clickable and open your browser to the full story. AIM takes a different approach with a news ticker the user can move to anywhere on the desktop.

To see which service is best suited to your needs, you may have to download and trial each one until you find just the right look, feel and options that you want.

Here are Internet sites for the above listed applications: - BBC Desktop ticker - FoxNews ticker - WorldFlash - AOL Canada Instant Messenger - Yahoo! Canada Messenger

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 8 May 2005


Our community is online here!


A feature of the Halifax Herald