Build Your Own News Crawler

Build Your Own News Crawler

The My Yahoo! Ticker can provide a nonstop stream of news, weather, and stock quotes in your Windows toolbar.

When you watch any of the 24-hour news channels such as CNN or MSNBC, you see the ever-present crawling news ticker running along the bottom of the screen. While the news anchor reads a story about the latest celebrity court case or natural disaster, you can read completely unrelated information in the news crawler about other stories that are breaking. On the financial news channels, the news crawler across the bottom gives stock quote information that lets you keep up with how the market is faring.

"Add to My Yahoo!" preview page in new window

Thanks to the My Yahoo! Ticker (in beta testing at the time of this writing), you can create your own endlessly crawling news ticker in your Windows taskbar that will keep you up to date with headlines, stock quotes, and weather while you're working.

Installing the Ticker

To use the ticker, you'll need Windows 98 or higher and a recent version of Internet Explorer. If you meet these requirements, browse to and click the Download button. Follow the installation instructions and enable the toolbar by clicking an empty area in your Windows taskbar and choosing Toolbars My Yahoo! Ticker Beta, as shown in Figure.

Once enabled, the ticker will add a scrolling list of stock quotes, weather, and news headlines on the right side of your Windows taskbar, similar to those shown in Figure.

Enabling the My Yahoo! Ticker toolbar

My Yahoo! Ticker showing news headlines

You could use the ticker like this without changing any of the settings, but making the ticker your own means you'll get more relevant news and stock quotes.

Personalizing the Ticker

To edit your ticker preferences, click the small down arrow at the far right of the ticker and then click the top choice, My Yahoo! Ticker Beta Preferences. You should see a preferences window like the one shown in Figure.

My Yahoo! Ticker preferences

If you already have a set of customized news sources set up at My Yahoo! [Hack #34], you can enter your Yahoo! ID and password to show your My Yahoo! news sources in the ticker. Once you are logged in, any Yahoo! modules or RSS feeds you've added to My Yahoo! will scroll through the ticker.

Alternately, you can choose the "Use as Guest" option and click the Edit News and Edit Stocks buttons to set up your ticker information. Even if you have a My Yahoo! page, you might want to see different news sources scrolling by, and the Guest account will do the trick.

Clicking the Edit News button will give you the preferences window, as shown in Figure.

My Yahoo! Ticker Guest News preferences

You can choose from a number of news categories and set specific colors for each. You can also set some specific Zip Codes for weather information. Clicking Edit Stocks will take you to a similar preferences window, where you can enter a number of stock symbols to watch throughout the day. They'll scroll by in your ticker, as shown in Figure.

Stock symbols in My Yahoo! Ticker

Using the Ticker

As information crawls by, you can stop the ticker or move it backward and forward by clicking and dragging with your mouse. You can also click any headline to read the full story in your web browser, or click any stock quote to see that stock's detail page at Yahoo! Finance.

Clicking the Y! icon on the right side of the ticker turns the ticker into a Yahoo! search form. You can enter any search query into the field, click Enter, and the results for the query will appear in a special browser window. If you'd rather see queries and links in your default web browser, you can check the Default Browser option in the Search tab of the ticker preferences. To get back to the crawling ticker at any point, click the newspaper icon on the left side of the taskbar.

If you ever feel you're cramped for space in your Windows taskbar, right-click the newspaper icon to minimize the My Yahoo! Ticker. And if you want more space for the ticker, grab the bar to the left of the newspaper icon and pull down. This will put the My Yahoo! Ticker on its own row of your taskbar, stretching the full width of your screen.

You can also navigate to a number of different Yahoo! properties with the ticker by clicking the arrow at the far right to bring up a menu like the one shown in Figure.

My Yahoo! Ticker menu

The menu has links to a dozen different Yahoo! properties, including Yahoo! Maps, a dictionary at Yahoo! Reference, and showtimes from Yahoo! Movies. You can also click Refresh My Yahoo! Ticker Beta Now to get the latest news and headlines.

The My Yahoo! Ticker is simple to set up and customize, and with a little work, you can create a news crawler to rival CNN's.

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