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A Multifaceted Online News and Blog Search Tool

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Rocketinfo Desktop is a powerful news search engine with a lot of additional goodies designed for both news junkies and online researchers alike.

The program is designed to help you get quickly to news that interests you, either by keyword searching or by browsing. Rocketinfo Desktop searches more than 10,000 sources of online news, and categorizes each story according to its subject matter.

Like other online news services, Rocketinfo draws from a wide range of sources -- currently more than 9,000 news sources and 45,000 weblogs. It also includes information from books, market research, white papers and corporate information, as well as letting you include RSS news feeds that interest you.

The interface is similar to Windows Explorer, with a left pane that lists news categories and a right pane that displays headlines and snippets from individual news stories. Tabs on top of the left pane let you quickly move between breaking news, industry news, online news, syndicated feeds, and "my folders" which I'll write more about below.

At startup, the program displays breaking news headlines. Even with a fast internet connection, it takes time to access information from so many sources, so expect a slight delay before you can actually begin scanning the news.

Start by picking the category of news that you're interested in -- General, Business, Entertainment, Health, Sports, and so on, and clicking the category link in the left pane. The right pane is immediately refreshed with headlines from that category.

Headlines are displayed at the top of the right pane, with the date and source of the story. Snippets from the first few lines of each story are displayed below.

You can sort headlines by date or source, limiting results to today's articles or older articles. There's also a form that lets you do a keyword search within a category.

Three icons at the bottom give you the option to open the full story in your web browser, add the category "channel" to your personal list of favorites, or to email the article.

The email feature is built in to the program. You can build your own address list, and even group recipients together, but you cannot import addresses from another email program -- an unfortunate drawback. Recipients see the headline, copyright notice, the snippet from the article and a hyperlink to read the story online.

Within the Online News and Syndicated Feeds tabs you can either browse a full list of sources by name, or do a keyword search for a particular publication. This is a helpful feature that lets you quickly get to your own favorite sources, and then save them to your own list of favorite sources.

These favorite sources are stored in the "my folders" area mentioned above. Also in this category is a folder showing your email recipients, and two other particularly useful features.

The first, "my research," gives you the ability to create and save "research topics" for searches that you repeat on a regular basis. The second, "my archive" lets you save the headline, snippet and URL for a news story. Although these features are quite handy, a couple of caveats are in order.

When you create a saved search, be sure to use the limiting options to include and exclude specific search terms; otherwise, you'll get a lot of false drops for many queries. Similarly, try to limit the number of sources for a particular search -- it can take some time to get through thousands of sources.

And with archived stories, remember that many news sites remove stories after a period of time, so even if you save something in your Rocketinfo Desktop archive, you may not be able to access the full text of the story later. If it's something you want assured access to, use your browser's "save page" function to save a full copy of the story to your computer.

If you regularly read or search online news sources, and especially if you need to share stories with others, Rocketinfo Desktop is an excellent tool that will not only save you a lot of time, but help you find and organize many useful sources that aren't always easy to locate.

Rocketinfo Desktop is free to try for 14 days, and costs $29.95 for a one year subscription.

Rocketinfo Desktop System Requirements:

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Solaris
  • Windows 15MB, Mac 5MB of Disk Space
  • 128 MB RAM
  • An Internet Connection
  • Any Web Browser

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NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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