Crash1st May 1986
Published in Crash #28
Each of these attractive packages contains a teaching and an applications program together with a detailed, carefully paced textbook. Numbers At Work is intended to remove the ' mysticism' of maths, so that numer acy can be seen as having prac tical value in everyday life. A variety of calculations are covered, from discounts and interest rates to VAT and PAYE. As the introduction to the textbook says: 'By the time you have completed this course, you will be able to manipulate numbers with the same skill and dexterity as salesmen, employers arid politicians'!
The first step for the user is to work through the teaching program which is divided into 8 elements: fractions; ratios and proportions; decimals and percentages; applying percentages I and II; growth rates and indices; useful techniques and the summary of ideas. When the chosen module has been loaded, the user is referred to the appropriate chapter in the textbook and can interact with the program by following the information and instructions in the book. A self-timer option is available, which causes a timing device to be presented whenever a question is asked, and running tally of the total answering time is stored in the computer.
The applications program allows the user to apply the skills gained in solving mathematical problems. An employer, for instance, using the Salary and PAYE module to enter information about an employee ' s weekly pay and deductions, can obtain monthly and yearly figures too. The tax and National Insurance rates used are those in effect following the 1984 budget but these can easily he updated as appropriate.
Entrepreneur uses the same teaching techniques to help the user turn a business idea into a business plan. The first two chapters of the textbook provoke some hard thinking about the potential of ideas, posing questions about the structure and general purpose of the proposed business, the viability of the product, the state of the market and so on. The teaching program uses a hypothetical small business - selling lobsters - as a model to explain fundamental principles of business - how to produce balance sheets, profit and loss, cash flow. VAT and so on.
Working through the second section is likely to take some time, but it certainly provide a solid grounding in business skills. The application program asks the user for detailed information about the financial aspects of the proposed enterprise using the information to produce monthly cash flow forecasts, a year end balance sheet, a profit and loss account, and an analysis of the results. The 100 page textbook also outlines further sources of informations such as the Small Firms Service and Local Enterprise Agencies, and a useful glossary of business jargon is given in an appendix. Anyone thinking of setting up in a small business would do well to invest in this excellent package.
Control Keys: these are clearly explained both in the textbook and on the screen
Keyboard response: fast
Use of colour: simple but appropriate
Graphics: clear and businesslike