A Multifaceted Online News and Blog Search Tool

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

The program is designed to help users get to news that interests them quickly, by either keyword searching or browsing. Rocketinfo searches more than 10,000 sources of online news and categorizes each story by 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 blogs. It also includes information from books, market research, white papers, and corporate information, as well as allowing users to include RSS news feeds.

The interface is similar to Windows Internet 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.”

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 news category you’re interested in: General, Business, Entertainment, Health, Sports, and so on. Click the category link in the left pane. The right pane immediately refreshes 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 display below.

Users can sort headlines by date or source or limit results to that day’s articles or older articles. A form allows users to do keyword searches within a category.

Three icons at the bottom give the option to open the full story in a Web browser, add the category “channel” to the user’s favorites list, or email the article.

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

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

These favorite sources are stored in the “my folders” area. Also in this category are a folder displaying the user’s email recipients and two other particularly useful features.

The first, “my research,” gives users the ability to create and save research topics for frequent searches. The second, “my archive,” lets users save the headline, snippet, and URL from 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.

With archived stories, remember many news sites remove stories after a time. So even if you save something in a Rocketinfo archive, you may not be able to access the full text of the story later. If it’s something you want guaranteed access to in the future, use your browser’s save function to save a full copy of the story to your computer.

If you regularly read or search online news sources, especially if you need to share stories with others, Rocketinfo is an excellent tool. It will save you a lot of time and 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.

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