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|By Timothy Sipples © December 2001|
American Airlines Flight 587 just crashed in Queens, New York, as I write this article.
I worry about the fate of the airplane passengers and the people on the ground.
Was this incident another terrorist attack?
For answers to such pressing questions, I often turn to the BBC News. The
BBC News web site keeps me informed on world events, including events right
here in the United States. BBC reporters refrain from speculation and take great
pains to confirm facts. Their reporters take huge risks to deliver the news from
dangerous places such as Kabul, Liberia, and East Timor. I particularly appreciate
the BBC News Ticker, located on the BBC web page.
BBC provides several different "flavors" of their News Ticker. I tried
Windows 3.1 version, but I ran into frequent memory exception errors. (Apparently
the application is careless about memory management, and OS/2 Warp shuts the application
down.) BBC also offers Win32, MacOS 68K, and MacOS PowerPC versions of their News
Ticker. (I did not try the Win32 version under Odin.) However, BBC's Java applet
version of their News Ticker works just fine in their regular web page (Figure 1)
when viewed with Netscape Communicator for OS/2 Warp. So I thought I'd try the Java
version on the desktop, without using Netscape Communicator. Sure enough, the News
With Java 1.1.8 (or higher), try this command to start the BBC News Ticker:
START /PM APPLET -nore http://news.bbc.co.uk
This command starts Java 1.1.8's Applet Viewer in PM (Presentation Manager) mode
(i.e. without a text window for Java console messages). The -nore
parameter turns off logging of Java console messages in the \JAVA11\WEBLOGS
directory. Note that if you are using Java 1.3 as the default Java runtime, that
the -nore parameter is not supported, and
the command will not run with it. Just remove that parameter and it will run.
Assuming your PC is connected to the Internet, within a few moments of running
this command you should see a small window such as the one in Figure 2. As news
events warrant, you should see updated headlines as long as you continue to run
the ticker (and as long as you are connected to the Internet). If you'd like to
force the News Ticker to get the latest news (without waiting for the next scheduled
update), select Reload from the Applet menu in the pop-up window.
Apparently no special Java applet security settings are needed for this News
Ticker, and I had no trouble using the ticker through IBM's firewall (thanks to
OS/2 Warp's "Socksified" TCP/IP stack). Even without turning on OS/2 Warp's
Socks support, you may still be able to run the ticker through a proxy server by
setting the Applet Viewer's properties (from the Applet menu in the pop-up window).
IBM's Java Applet Viewer simply looks for an <APPLET>
tag in the web page. If that tag is found, Applet Viewer will run the Java applet
without displaying the rest of the web page. Try using Applet Viewer with other
web pages containing news tickers and similar utilities, if you just want the "meat"
without the "potatoes." For example, Major
League Baseball offers a real time, pitch-by-pitch game description Java applet.
(I haven't tried running this applet yet with the Applet Viewer, but I will next
season.) In addition, Applet Viewer seems to work well with AOL
Quick Buddy, a Java applet which provides access to the popular AOL Instant
Messenging (IM) system. Try this command to run AOL Quick Buddy:
START /PM APPLET -nore http://toc.oscar.aol.com/tic.html
Applet Viewer does not provide a perfect container for the BBC News Ticker. For
example, I wish I could set the News Ticker to "float on top," so that
it always appears above other windows on my desktop. I also wish I could turn off
the window resizing feature, since the initial startup size is always best. And
I'd like to see a more descriptive title (such as "BBC News Ticker") displayed
in the Window List. Wouldn't it be nice if the News Ticker remembered its screen
location, too? All these features could be added quite easily using a tiny bit of
native OS/2 Warp programming. (If someone would like to tackle this mini-project...)
I certainly hope the BBC News Ticker will report happier news in the future.
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