|PointCast is a push program which provides users with the ability to
develop a personal newspaper including financial information from several
sources. Push programs are Internet programs which have data that is fed
to users when asked for by the user. This data may or may not be free access.
PointCast is set up to provide up-to-the-date information in a newspaper
format. It is a complete program built around browser technology. It has
its own dialer or can be used with Windows Dial-Up Networking (DUN). This
is established in the setup process. The entire program can be downloaded
from the PointCast Web site or can be purchased at computer stores. The
purchased program contains a manual. The basic program is free.
Nine categories are available, each with several individual choices.
The overall categories are News, Companies, Industries, Weather, Sports,
Newspaper, Connections, CNNfn, Newspaper. PointCast is a free program for
the download. It receives all of it's revenue from advertising. The program
can be set up to run in the background all the time with constant updates
or it can be updated when you want to do the update. Get the program at
General ConceptI am running PointCast Business Network beta version 2.1. I have received an e-mail notice that version 2.5 is available for the download. PointCast needs large hard drive space. It will work on a 486-33 with at least 8 MB RAM. An analog modem is required with at least V.34 (28.8 Kbps) capability. It runs under the Windows 3.11 or 95 OS environment. It installed easily and I have been able to update it with no problems. It is a point-and-click program with minimum static data input from you. Type-in window boxes are usually provided for your input.
Setup is accomplished by opening the (Personalize) pull down menu and selecting one of three choices, (Add/Remove Channels), (Personalize Channels), or (Applications Settings). Each choice leads to further choices. The main screen contains three frames plus button and menu choices on the left side. The advertising is in the upper right corner of the screen. The left upper screen contains categories plus headings in each category. The main frame contains the headline and story. The main frame can be expanded in each category for easier reading.
First, news is available from Reuters and CNN as well as on-line
newspapers sources. I have selected four news categories and two major
newspapers in my setup as well as CNNfn. Each of the on-line newspapers
and CNNfn have several categories of information. Next, you may personalize
your financial portfolio by entering the financial symbols for each company
or stock you want to track. I will cover this in detail later in the review.
The third category is (Industries) which contains 44 separate categories
for continual review. News from these categories is specific to the industry
such as Aerospace/Defense. The (Weather) and (Sports) channels are self
explained. There is a channel which covers the PointCast specific items.
I have selected categories from each of two newspapers, the New York Times
and Los Angeles Times. Both are newspapers of record and provide points
of view from both East and West coasts. Finally, CNNfn gives eight categories
which spell the current financial news in detail.
Financial CapabilitiesThe (Industries) button brings up the financial status of the markets and individual company stocks. It is loaded by typing in each stock symbol from the (Add/Rem.) button at the top of the main screen. An individual (tab) is created for each stock listed. The main (Industries) left upper frame contains category tabs for a Summary and each individual stock. The main frame contains a spread sheet with each stock listed plus much of the stock market data included. There are four more buttons in addition to the (Add/Rem.) button which are (Summary), (Stock Statics), (Fund Statics), and (Holdings). Actual trades may be made from this Toolbar as well. Eight on-line trading entities are available through this service. The (Update Now) menu tab can be run any time a current stock quote status is needed.
The individual company (stock) pages have three frames as all
of them do. Each page is a (tab). The upper left frame contains article
heading of recently released stories about the company. The lower frame
has four (button) choices, (Chart), (Overview), (Trade), and (Resources).
Each takes you to another page with additional data. The (Chart) page has
a Share Price chart with daily quote information for the past eleven weeks.
There is a corresponding Volume chart to complete the chart data. The latest
market data with price open, high, low, current, volume, and years volume
is also listed. The (Overview) tab brings up the latest company data including
Business Summary, Key People, Consolidated Financial Statements, and latest
sales figures for past twelve months. The (Trade) tab brings up seven on-line
traders, Ameritrade, CharlesSchwab, Datek On-Line, DLJ Direct, E-Trade,
Fidelity Investment, and SurTrade. The (Resources) tab opens further on-line
resources outside PointCast.
Additional Financial InformationThe CNNfn category opens up an additional source of financial information through the buttons and tabs within its set. The first button, (Hot Stories) has up to seven tabs with additional information. Each tab has an listing with the latest CNNfn article available for reading. The (Market News) button provides Wall street articles. The (Market Data) button provides chart data for Dow Jones, and the major market composite indexes. The (Interest Rate) tab gives U. S. Treasury interest rates for Notes, bonds, and Bills. The (Your Money) button has tabs for (News) and (Mutual Funds). The (Digital Jam) button, which I have not used, has a tab for (News).
I use the financial data from each of the two newspapers as part
of my decision process.
ConclusionI use PointCast as a financial source. It is easy to set up and use. It is free to the user. I use my DUN connection through my ISP to make the connection. The data in the financial sections is easy to read and understand and I can update my portfolio as many times as I feel necessary to follow my stock investments. Download the program from (www.pointcast.com). JOHN WOODY IS A TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT SPECIALING IN SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS, NETWORKS, AND INTERNET BUSINESS TRAINING. JWOODY@TEXAS.NET