Scout
…finds new, vital information on the Internet

You surf the Internet and find sites with information of interest to you. However, the information may change every day and may be buried in a lot of uninteresting information. Scout surfs the sites automatically and quickly identifies the data of interest to you. Since Scout "knows" the format of many Internet sites, it can accurately separate true information from formatting and distracting information. Scout then displays all data in a common form that you specify.

Scout:

1. surfs for you. Scout stores a list of sites to check on your hard disk. Subsequently, Scout automatically retrieves data from these sites and processes it.
2. accurately identifies the "real" information in documents. Scout uses templates to decode Internet documents into a series of topics. The decoding is extremely accurate because the templates were developed by humans specifically for each site.
3. screens Internet data. Scout stores a list of interesting topics on your hard disk. Subsequently, Scout sorts the topics found on the Internet according to their probable interest to you.
4. aids you in identifying information for further examination. Scout has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that lets you efficiently review many one-line summaries of topics and then expand them in several stages to full documents. In the final stage, Scout instructs your Web browser to load and display a document.
5. comes with templates for online daily newspapers.
6. templates can be developed in the field for any type of Internet content.
7. is available for downloading.
8. is a NetAlive application. Cick on the graphic to go to the NetAlive home page with other applications and a design tool.

These features work together to keep you "in touch" with a large amount of information with minimal effort.

Overview

The figure below shows Scout's initial screen. The checkboxes represent Internet sources that you specified during setup. As you select checkboxes, Scout begins the process of loading the documents. Scout loads and processes documents in parallel, using colored outlines to indicate pending activity. (The figures in this document are smaller than the actual application to improve readability.)

The figure below shows Scout's GUI that assists you in identifying topics for further investigation. Scout merges the topics from all documents and sorts them by interest. Scout presents one-line summaries of the topics in the "topic browser" listbox with the most interesting at the top. As you scroll, Scout shows the "full topic" along with other information about it.

For truly interesting topics, the pushbuttons "full text" and "viewer" get the pertinent Internet document for direct examination. The "full text" button can load the document for immediate viewing -- or you can load many documents and view them later. The "viewer" button instructs a Web browser to load and display the document.

The figure below shows the user specifying Internet sources to Scout. The window on the left is Scout's initial screen, but the checkboxes are active as drop locations for drag-and-drop. The window on the right is a palette of Scout sources. The user drags Scout sources from the palette and drops them onto checkboxes. The user can then store the configured Scout application onto the hard disk for repeated use. (Scout's entire palette can be as large as the user specifies.)

The figure below shows the user specifying topics of interest. Scout maintains lists of interest and disinterest keywords. Topics containing disinterest keywords are never displayed while topics containing interest keywords go to the top of the list. (The method Scout uses to sort topics can be changed via drag-and-drop also.)

Scout Sources

Scout's basic sources are online daily newspapers. Each section in Scout's default palette corresponds to a daily newspaper with the sources in each section corresponding to newspaper sections. Some online newspapers require a subscription, which the user must obtain directly from the newspaper.

The default palette includes the following newspapers:

Creating New Scout Sources

The palette of Scout sources comes from an Internet document separate from the Scout application. With moderate programming skill and the NetAlive system, a third party can extend a palette or create a new one. Specifically, each entry in the palette consists of a URL (Internet address) for a source, a decoding program (in Perl -- a computer language), and the caption for the checkbox.

Custom Scout palettes have the effect of creating a new Internet application, but are far easier to make because the "hard" programming has already been done. The following are ideas for Internet applications that could result from custom Scout palettes:

Downloading Scout

Scout is a NetAlive application.

  1. If you do not have NetAlive already, you will need to download it. The license agreement permits a free trial and free non-commercial use. Press to download the NetAlive viewer for Windows 3.1 and 3.11 or the NetAlive viewer for Windows 95 and NT.
  2. If you are using an appropriate version of Netscape, pressing the Scout hyperlink will load and start Scout. Otherwise, select NetAlive's "File -- Open Location" command and open the URL http://www.netalive.com/programs/scout.net.

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