Term 3 1993
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INFORMATION FINDER BY WORLD BOOK
I was impressed with the 1993 edition. It is not multimedia as it has neither animation nor sound. It does have the full-text of the print edition of the World Book and the complete World Book dictionary. It was easy to install and simple to use. It incorporates a tutorial which can be used first, or for the impatient like me, who jump straight in, can be accessed via HELP.
The default search mode is TOPIC search, although keyword boolean search can be selected. Having typed your search request a split screen is presented. The left hand side shows the outline of the first article while the right hand, two thirds of the screen shows the full text of the article. It is possible to scroll through the text or jump through the outline. Clicking on highlighted words will access the dictionary for a definition. Function keys move to the next article found in your search. While you are told how many articles you have found as a result of your search, and where you are in the list, ie article 4 of 10, I found it annoying that I could not see a list of all retrieved articles so that I could select the one that I wanted, rather than paging through them all.
While moving within or between articles it is possible to set bookmarks for ease of return, it is also possible to easily move to related articles, by clicking on highlighted words, and then to easily return to your initial article.
A notepad feature allows the user to copy text from articles and to add his/her own notes as the notepad has basic word processing features. The user is prompted to save the contents of the notepad upon exit from the program.
It is possible to search only the quick facts tables which provide brief statistical information. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing. If it is left on, the next searcher will have his/her search limited to this area until they realise what the problem is.
In TOPIC searching, Information finder has good error detection. It ignores punctuation, that is the search term middle-ages will locate the topic Middle Ages. If spelling errors are entered, the user is offered the option of checking a list of terms used. If no match is found Information searcher will attempt to search disregarding singular I plural and then will attempt a partial match, eg r f Kennedy for Kennedy, Robert Francis.
In KEYWORD searching, the usual boolean operators can be used. Proximity limiters apply, the default being the same sentence. These can be broadened to include the same paragraph, heading or article, or narrowed to the same word.
The cost of the Information finder is $899. It is possible to network it to 10 stations for an additional $500. It is available via your local World Book representative.
Another new encyclopedia has been recently released by Microsoft. I have not seen Encarta but understand that it is an all bells and whistles mulitmedia encyclopedia priced at $599. It has been reviewed quite widely in the press. Two reviews which came to my attention were in In formation searcher, vol 5, no 3, 1993, p 13, and PC User August, 1993, p 132-134. Copies are available from Curriculum Corporation.