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Modern-Day Pointcast Replacement? 35

Posted by Cliff
from the information-dissemination dept.
toastyman asks: "Is anyone out there using anything similar to what Pointcast used to be? For those who don't remember, Pointcast was a screensaver/taskbar program from the late 90's that constantly displayed news, weather, stock quotes, and more. Pointcast is gone now, but one of my clients wants something similar to install on a few PCs/monitors in a waiting room and have them display the local weather, headlines, sports scores, whatever. Unless there's a pointcast-like screensaver out there that I'm missing, the closest thing I can think of would be some kind of RSS reader meant for full screen unattended operation. It has to be easily readable from a distance, automatically rotating what is displayed on the screen (think automated Powerpoint presentation) and automatically updating the content. Has anyone come across something that would work well for this? If not, does the idea of an 'informative' screensaver sound appealing?"
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Modern-Day Pointcast Replacement?

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  • RSS Screensaver [google.com]
    • by toastyman (23954) <toasty@dragondata.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:10PM (#11223181) Homepage
      I'm kinda surprised to see this story. I submitted this article about 4 months ago, and just assumed it got rejected....

      Anyway...

      First page of google, 7 of those are programming examples or toolkits, not actual applications. The others are screensaves that simply scroll RSS text across like a banner. Not what I'm looking for.

      Anyone who remembers pointcast knows that these are pretty different. Pointcast had weather maps, images, and looked more like a professionally made TV production instead of a window of scrolling text on the page.

      That's what I'm after. I've seen a few businesses that have what look like commercially installed versions of these, but before I ended up writing it myself I wanted to see if there was anything similar already done.

      I did google for this pretty extensively. :)
      • Macromedia? (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Why not use Macromedia? Sure, it falls into the "it's a toolkit, not an application" arena, but it will do what you're asking.

        At one Fortune 100 company I worked for, they had their own internal broadcasting (as in Television) group. With that came their own cable system (as in Cable TV). Each of the facilities at the different campus locations had their own "channel" which was really just Powerpoint running in a loop with timed slides, then the video out was being sent to a TV capture card, and then pi
      • I gotta ask: Is this project for your Cam Whores? Something for them to watch while they wait for their moment in the spotlight?
  • Lets see (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If not, does the idea of an 'informative' screensaver sound appealing?

    No.

  • Easier Solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by whoda (569082) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:08PM (#11222594) Homepage
    Buy a $50 television and tune it to CNN/MSNBC/etc
  • by ShmuelP (5675) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:18PM (#11222689)
    1) Find a web page or set of web pages that contain the desired information.
    2) Set up a quick CGI to cycle through the pages and/or auto-refresh, using a hidden frame if needed.
    3) Set the font on the browser to a large size for readability.
    4) Set the browser to full screen.
    5) Finally, lock the machine in a box.

    That's it.
  • Dead Trees (Score:5, Funny)

    by rf600r (236081) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:26PM (#11222763) Homepage
    All the waiting rooms I'm ever in have these things I understand to be called magazines. They're neat. Full of data; fast direct-access and they never seem to crash. Wave of the future, I tell ya.
    • Re:Dead Trees (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Exocet (3998) *
      Full of data that was out of date by the time the magazine was originally delivered, not to even speak of when you're reading it. That's assuming you want to read People or Time or any of that crap.

      Waiting - and waiting areas - blow. Bring some headphones, a book, PDA or laptop. Take some control over how your time is going to be pissed away.
    • by rueger (210566) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @06:04PM (#11223126) Homepage
      All the waiting rooms I'm ever in have these things I understand to be called magazines.

      Just last week I was at the doctor, reading the magazines in her waiting room, and I read about the perfect answer to toastyman's problem. It's a brand new software called "Pointcast", and they say that it's going to be the next big thing.

      Oh - Ok... nevermind....
    • Re:Dead Trees (Score:1, Insightful)

      by AndroidCat (229562)
      So what's the three-day weather forecast then?
  • by Proud like a god (656928) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:32PM (#11222817) Homepage
    For linux and whatever else it's ported to there's Karamba [kde-look.org], which has components and forks created for RSS, weather feeds, stocks etc. There's a GNOME rival app too iirc.
  • konfabulator (Score:2, Informative)

    by comwiz56 (447651)
    check out konfabulator [konfabulator.com].

    • Konfabulator is what we're using now, but it doesn't really meet his requirements. There's no cycling of what's displayed, we just tried to arrange everything we wanted on the screen. But, unless he buys some massive 40" display, there's no way you can read that unless you're sitting in front of it.
  • Gdesklets is nice for having such info on your desktop on a Linux box.

    For "screensaver" style stuff, I'm not sure. One could probably do some gdesklets hacking to get similar info.
  • I just need to remember where I put the authoring tools, the server application and the desk-side apps. If you set the client to look at your server and not the now defunct PointCast servers, you might be able to get it to work. (I did this for the business customers of the ISP that I worked for back in Tennessee... the suits really enjoyed it)

    I agree, I *really* miss PointCast. I can't believe that someone didn't buy the tech or IP and implement it somewhere else. Shame.

    You think it could be considere
    • Pointcast turned down an approx. $450 million buyout offer from Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in '97. They then tried to IPO in '99 but that fell apart. It was then sold to LaunchPad Technologies (one of those Idealab shops) for $7 million.

      That became Infogate and in 2003 after their stock went down to pennies was sold to that graveyard of many technologies (no, not CA, the other, AOL.)

      Supposedly AOL was looking into either relaunching some sort of Pointcast-y service or integrating the technology into thei

  • by green pizza (159161) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:07PM (#11223652) Homepage
    The saddest thing I ever saw was a computer lab of newbies surfing the web on semi-modern Macs.... using Pointcast as the browser!! That beast made Netscape 4 look like high class code.

    It's been ages since I've used pointcast, so I don't even remember how one went about enabling it's browser (rather than just have it pass the URL off to Netscape or IE).
  • by phatbuddy (648676) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:14PM (#11224140)
    If you have Windows, this one costs almost nothing and does have the nice formatting, selectable background pictures, rss feeds, and weather: Online News Screensaver [cool-screensavers.com]
  • ModeElevent (Score:3, Informative)

    by gengee (124713) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @08:22PM (#11224187)
    I googled for 'push screensaver' and found ModeElevent Broadcast Screensaver, which looks promising:

    http://www.modeeleven.com/cgi-bin/doc?sec=Produc ts &subsec=ModeEleven_Products
    And a review: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1401393,00.as p
  • Samurize [samurize.com] (this site appears to be down, a german version of the site is up at samurize.org)can be manipulated to do that, you just have to find the right plug-ins and create your own configuration, which isn't very difficult, once you get the hang of it.
  • I'd would first get xplanet as the desktop background with 5 min updates and weather maps enabled. Then I'd fire up Karamba with your other goodies and place those around the screen.

    Wait, what am I saying... AOL's Instant Messenger gives me stocks, news, weather and all sorts of other crap without me even asking for it. Just fire up the program and you'll be bombarded. There's your answer!
  • There are a few candidates in the link below, including KlipFolio and Netropa:
    http://www.snapfiles.com/Freeware/misctools/fwn e ws.html

    I remember attempting to get into these things a couple of years back. I installed a few news tickers on my 2nd computer at work in the hope that I would stay informed of news, weather, stock quotes, etc. throughtout the day.

    However, I found that despite it being always there, I tended ot ignore it. To assimilate the information, I had to consciously watch it, which s

  • I remember pointcast and loved it. I also remember reading stories about how corporate networks were dying on the hour every hour because so many employees installed it and it didn't have a system to randomize the update time.
    http://www.forbes.com/1999/11/08/feat.html [forbes.com]

    I'm just as happy now using BlogExpress
    http://usablelabs.com/productBlogExpress.html [usablelabs.com]
  • Newsmap (Score:3, Informative)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Friday December 31, 2004 @02:35AM (#11226050) Homepage Journal
    Newsmap [marumushi.com] is a Flash-based interface showing Google News in color-coded boxes scaled according to rank. It self updates, broad catagories can be seleted or deselected, supports country-specific news, etc. Use an old Windows box with Flash & MSIE set to run full-screen and you're good to go.

  • MythTV/MythWeather (Score:2, Informative)

    by mcknut (759166)
    While only answering one part of your problem, I've always been impressed with the data retrieved by MythWeather. Perhaps you could put that on one Workspace then use what I'll mention below.

    A few people have mentioned using, say, gDesklets and placing a number around the screen. Could you perhaps put one large one on each of a number of workspaces then work out some simple little program that would tell the window manager to flick workspaces every 5 minutes or something?

    (For the record I don't remember i
  • I miss PointCast. It was my grandfather's favorite application, and the "killer app" that motivated him to get a PC and dialup Internet access, back in the mid-1990's.

    Having everything in one place is a great feature for those who appreciate some handholding as they use the Internet. It is also a great boon to those with slow/unreliable connections: you can just hit "Update", and it goes out and grabs all new content (auto-retrying as often as necessary). Then, you can read the content offline, taking a

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