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Scanning the Dailies in 60 Seconds Back to tutorial index  

These days I seldom buy newspapers - the paper version, that is. It used to be a luxury lazing around reading the dailies, but I guess these luxuries disappear the moment other priorities like work and family take over. So I turned to the Internet.

The Internet is such a wonderful media. You not only get your local and regional dailies, even foreign news direct from the source as well, and all through a single window - your computer terminal. Yet too much of a good thing ... you know ... information overload! I actually found I spent much more time online surfing around, wasting time clicking on links, getting bogged down by incessant lag. Familiar with such problems?

I am going to show you how to really save a lot of time and yet still get maximum mileage out of understanding the latest news and happenings. If you follow the step-by-step instructions, I guarantee that you won't be spending more than a minute every day scanning the headlines of your favorite daily to decide if there's anything there that's worth much more of your time. It's easy!

Prerequisite: Enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.
If you're not a TrackEngine user yet, then sign up for a free account by clicking here. The registration process is simple and you'll receive your username and password by email shortly after you've signed up. There are a few places where you can enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.

  • At the QuickStart page, which briefly outlines the workings of TrackEngine for new users upon their first sign-in.
  • At the My Bookmarks page, which gives existing users a quick means of enabling any web browser with the "Track me!" button.

Step 1: Pick your Favorite Newspaper
Let me take as an example: the Washington Post because they nicely classify each of their online sections. Supposing you lived in Washington and were interested in the daily local happenings such as that at http://washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/metro/

Step 2: Create a Bookmark and Track
Go to the above page. Now click on the Track me! button that you have created on your browser toolbar. The TrackEngine Preferences window pops up. There are a host of other parameters you can toggle, but for the moment, just click on OK to save your bookmark settings. Congratulations you have successfully created a TrackEngine bookmark! What you have essentially done is to request TrackEngine to visit this same page every day to pick up new headlines on the Metro.

Screenshot

Step 3: Receive Daily News
Now sit back and relax. On a daily basis, TrackEngine will fetch you the latest articles about Metro news and send it to your mailbox. All TrackEngine alerts are preceded by [TrackEngine] and you can even rename each bookmark so that you can easily identify these alerts in your mailbox or have these filtered by your mail client.

Hot Tip #1: Now to REALLY scan it in 60 seconds - Summary Mode
The above method only brings you the highlighted page. Nothing wrong with that, except you may need to scroll around a bit to find the highlighted portions, and bear with any advertising on that page.

To effectively scan the entire news headlines in 60 seconds, you have to send the report in Summary Mode. You will need to change one of the preferences settings called Please analyze and format: in the Preferences Window as shown above.

To change your report format to Summary Mode, you will need to edit the bookmark you have just created. Go to My Bookmarks. for a current list of your TrackEngine bookmarks.

Find the bookmark you have just created. The bookmarks are usually created with the Title of the HTML page, unless you had changed it. If you can't find the bookmark, especially if it's in one of your folders, the search facility on the TrackEngine site should bring it up.

Click on Edit and a new window will pop up, showing all your preferences. Simply toggle the Highlight Mode to Summary Mode in Please analyze and format.

This is how the Summary Mode output looks like:

Screenshot

Notice that you don't have to bear with all that glare and glitz of the highlighted page but can now concentrate on the core information you are interested in. The best part of it is that you can click on any of the links and return to the site to read the full article.

Hot Tip #2: Filter out the Non-Essential News
Combined with Tip #1, this makes for even more effective reading. TrackEngine automatically removes from the output things you don't want to read about. This speeds up my scanning of the headlines enormously.

I am not too keen to read about cases of crime every day. So in the above example, I further instructed TrackEngine to remove sections containing the keywords "Rape, robbery, theft, traffic, closures, assault".

How can you do this too? Easy - by using the Exclude Keyword function.

Edit your bookmark again. Go to the section titled Hot Stuff - But Don't Annoy Me With. Now add in the keywords you want excluded from any new content.

With these techniques, I am able to browse through as many as 20 newspapers and magazines in under an hour each day and keep myself sufficiently updated.

Do you have a tip to share with other TrackEngine users? If so, pick up your virtual pen now and write to us at sharetip@trackengine.com!

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