Tuesday, August 15, 1995

Roadside Attractions Along The Information Highway

By Dave Farrell

Color the news your own way with CRAYON

Using your personal computer to gather and sort news is becoming easier every day. In fact, creating your own electronic newspaper is easy to do when you use a snappy little program called CRAYON.

CRAYON is a clever acronym for "CReAting Your Own Newspaper." It is also a clever use of Internet technology, which allows you to grab news stories and information out of on-line newspapers all over the globe and have it delivered to your home computer.

Developed by Jeff Boulter, a 20-year-old computer/engineering student at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, CRAYON is simple and fun to use. You fill out the point-and-click form that Boulter has created and, viola! Your paper is born!

To start your electronic publishing venture, point your Web browser at the CRAYON home page: http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~boulter/crayon.

The first thing you will be asked to do is name your publication. I called mine The Cyber Standard.

Next, you can specify the type of delivery you want. In the real world, if you get a slow paper boy, there's not much you can do. With CRAYON, you can speed up the delivery of your electronic paper by eliminating on-line images. If you want a "pretty" paper, keep the images and graphics in your publication. But remember, when it comes to downloading graphics, "pretty" equals s-l-o-w.

Boulter has divided CRAYON into sections, much like a real newspaper. You custom-build each part of your paper by selecting links to Internet sources of news and information.

To fill up the national news section of your paper, for example, you can choose from 10 information sources, ranging from the White House to Time magazine's daily news summary.

For your world-news section, why not get dispatches from London's Electronic Telegraph, The Irish Times or The St. Petersburg Press in Russia?

CRAYON's weather section can deliver radar maps, USA Today's temperature maps or even the Farmer's Almanac.

Other sections you can include in your paper: business, technology, entertainment, sports and comics.

Boulter even has included a "tabloid" section, which delivers zodiac information, strange-but-true stories and an obituary page.

CRAYON also allows you to include a feature in your cyber paper that you could never find in your traditional newspaper - direct links to neat new World Wide Web sites. Because the links are updated daily, they are a nice way to keep track of what's going on in cyberspace.

Once you've built your electronic paper, you can arrange the sections in any order you like. That's great for sports fanatics who would like the latest scores featured on the front page.

After you've built it, you save your paper to your computer's hard drive. Then, when you call up your paper on your screen each day, the links you've chosen will deliver fresh information from the sources you selected.

Seen anything interesting on the Information Highway you'd like to share with others? Drop an e-mail message to Dave Farrell at: farrell@detnews.com
Roadside Attractions Along The Information Highway (c) 1995, Universal Press Syndicate. All Rights Reserved.