You'll discover that you're able to buy most anything that you could find at your neighborhood shopping center and it's all accessible from your keyboard.
by Andy Eddy
Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks for stopping by! If you're at all like me, you've got about two weeks left until Christmas, still have most—if not all—of your shopping left to do and, most of all despise fighting crowds in the stores. As much fun as this cheery holiday is, it's a ritual that takes its toll on my mental and physical well-being.
This month, fittingly enough, we'll take a glimpse into DELPHI'S solution to some of this tedium. From the main menu you can enter an area called the "Merchants Row," an electronic shopping mall of sorts. You'll discover that you're able to buy most anything that you could find at your neighborhood shopping center, and it's all accessible from your keyboard.
Let's start at the Main menu. From here, all you need to do is type "MER" (the abbreviation for "MERCHANTS ROW"), and this is what you'll see: [Figure 1]
You can see how much power you have at your fingertips. The first step you should take, if you plan on buying anything, is to use the "Set Billing Address" selection which will inform DELPHI and the merchants where your order should be shipped. Simply typing "SET" from the Merchants' menu, then entering "ADD" will get you to the proper area for input of your name, address and phone number.
Once the vital information is in place, you can enter any of the areas—or "stores," if you will—and cruise around for anything that strikes your fancy. Again, DELPHI'S menus are not hard to understand, since they don't require you to memorize numbers or cryptic letter combinations to get where you want to go.
At the time of this writing, this is a list of the vendors available from the Merchants' Row and what they have in their online stores:
Boston Computer Exchange
This is a database that links used computer sellers with needy buyers. You can search through the listings for specific equipment or create your own listing to get rid of computer gear you want to sell off. Listings are categorized, such as Micro, Mini, Laptop, as well as accessories like Printers, Word Processors and Monitors.
Long Distance Roses
As the name implies, this is an online florist. They'll ship roses, orchids and selected FTD bouquets nationwide via overnight delivery.
This is a computer dealership that focuses on Tandy equipment but also has other general computer accessories available as well.
These people claim to have over 250,000 products available, which range from computers to cars, stereos to sofas, and more. There is an additional charge for maintaining membership in the club, which must be taken care of before you can purchase items through them.
Have a record album, cassette or CD that you're interested in buying? Do it simply with Express Music, that claims over 25,000 titles are available online. You can scan the database from start to finish, or select specific artists or titles of interest.FIGURE 1
They carry products specific to a variety of computer brands and software, in addition to general computer equipment.
DELTA Gold Voyager Modem
A pocket-sized, 300/1200 baud modem with Hayes compatibility.
A center for interesting software items.
Florida Fruit Shippers
As the name implies, you can order various types of fruit—limes, pineapple, coconuts, mangos and more—as well as fresh seafood, rum cake and other exotic items.FIGURE 2
IBM-compatible, financial software.
As I mentioned, the menus are all designed for maximum simplicity and comfort. To show how easy it is, Figure 2 is a sample session starting from the Merchants' Row menu and continuing on through the listings of the Boston Computer Exchange.
The Merchants' Row also offers a couple of other services of interest and help to online shoppers. The first is the Classified Ads section. Here you can scan through listings from other DELPHItes, or post your own advertisements, in a variety of categories: Employment, Real Estate, Messages, Automotive Sales, Business Services, Computer Marketplace and Other Items to Buy/Sell.
The other area is Vendor & Product Support Services, which offer assistance to Apple, Macintosh and CAD/CAM professionals. For obvious reasons, we won't go into them here.
More Online Entertainment
DELPHI is working on a few games that promote interactivity between users, though at this writing (August) the final locations aren't set. The first is called Flip-It, which is an Othello-type game that can be played against the system or against another human player. It's a thought-provoking contest and a lot of fun.
The other game under construction is called Scramble, which is an addicting and challenging game of wordplay. It's held in a separate conference room, so players—as many as you want—can chat with each other between games. When a player types "GO," it starts the action: DELPHI throws a 4×4 grid of letters on the screen, and the players present must enter as many words at they possibly can in 90 seconds. The larger the word, the bigger the score; but smaller words can be built and entered more quickly, though at a lesser point count.
Scramble really tests your vocabulary and speed, but most of all is hard to pull away from. By the time you read this, both Flip-It and Scramble should be in their set locations, and we'll give you an update in the next installment of Database DELPHI.
That ought to be enough for now. Again, have a happy holiday and I'll see you next year. Till next month, C U online.