A&B Computing

The Blandford Family Quiz/The 'Prediction' Birthday File
By Blandford Press
BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 2.04

I decided to review these two programs jointly since they are from the same publisher and frankly don't merit the magazine space of two separate reviews. Both are "bookware" packages - the books being a quiz book and an astrology book. Since these are cheap paperbacks, the programs are being sold for well over £10 each - the sort of price for which you can buy a masterpiece like Snowball. My main problem was in deciding which was the greater rip-off.

The quiz program offers you questions from five separate categories. The answers have to be typed in and an INSTR test is performed by the program for correct answers. You can easily get a correct answer marked wrong although it is a correct synonym or because of poor program checks for singular/plurals, etc.

After about 20 minutes use, the program crashed with a "Too many FORs" error! I broke into the protected listing and discovered the fault - a procedure which allowed a jump out of a FOR...NEXT loop!

In the process I discovered that the program consists of less than 100 lines of sloppily-written Basic with a whole load of DATA statements for the questions. In fact, there are only 250 questions in all (many duplicated in the accompanying book) so I don't see much lasting interest here.

The astrology book goes into detail of how to compute horoscopes and I assumed, naturally enough, that the accompanying program would do this for you. Incredibly, it consists of little more than a very limited database program for keeping "birthday books". The fields allowed are surname, christian name and birthday. You can save, edit and search by name, but you cannot get a full list and there is no printout option. You can get lists by months of the year, birthsigns etc though it's anyone's guess why you would want to.

The other funny features are some general astrological data about the 12 birth signs which can be listed separately or displayed with some individual's birthday.

My experience with these and other packages has made me gravely suspicious of bookware. Some publishers seem to regard this form of publication as a quick and easy method of overcharging for their books. I trust that micro users will not permit their intelligence to be insulted in this way. The ratings here apply to both packages.

Jonathan Evans

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