NuParadigm RSS Screensaver

Quick look

Screensaver for RSS feeds

Price: Free

Web: www.nuparadigm.com/Products/Toys/RssScreensaver/

Phone: (636) 537-5558

Remember PointCast, that free Web-based service that automatically delivered news stories to your screensaver? Although the technology may have not been worth the millions of dot-com investment dollars its owners anticipated, it was still a pretty nifty idea. Instead of filling your screensaver with pointless flying toasters or windows hurling through space, have the computer display the latest news headlines, allowing you a quick gander at world affairs before delving back into work.

Now, NuParadigm of Chesterfield, Mo., has released a free screensaver that displays the news headlines and summaries, along with your favorite images as a backdrop. And this service doesn't even have ads. The service relies on those Really Simple Syndication links currently all the rage. If you've read about RSS and wondered how to get it on your desktop computer, the RSS Screensaver provides an easy way to do so.

From my own screensaver, I keep tabs on some of my favorite IT sites (Slashdot News, The Register, Ars Technica, Government Computer News). If I see a headline I like, I hit the space bar and the story will appear in a browser. In addition to feeds from news sites, Web logs and even government feeds can be monitored as well. The FirstGov government search site, for instance, has a list of agency feeds.

To fetch the headlines from your favorite news site, find that site's RSS index page. It is usually marked by a small red button marked XML. Click on a category of interest and copy the resulting URL from the browser address bar into the screensaver program (the page itself will look like gibberish, but its address ends in .xml or .rss). The program will also rotate a set of background images from a folder you specify.

Once up and running, the program works flawlessly. Installation and configuration still have some rough edges, though. Once the program is installed, you must go to the Windows control panel and call up the Screen Saver tab under the Display icon to add news feeds. A bug in the program doesn't let you view the names of the RSS feeds you have already entered'hopefully that will be fixed in upcoming releases.

NuParadigm's RSS Screensaver is free for noncommercial use. It runs Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Server 2000 and 2003, and requires version 1.1 of the Microsoft .NET Framework, available free from Microsoft Corp.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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