by Andy Eddy
Long ago, when personal computers were first being sold, salesmen and advertisements tried to justify the cost by explaining that all of your mundane tasks could be dealt with with ease. (My first Atari 800 system cost me about $1,500, but that's hard to believe now.) You would be able to balance the checkbook, keep track of the kids' birthdays, look up facts and so on.
Let's face facts, though: Very few people take the time to use their computer to track a few personal checks; it's still far simpler to do it in old-fashioned longhand. And some people do use PC databases for logging birthdays and other notable dates, but I find a calendar on the wall and a pen in hand do the trick nicely. On the other hand, because my wife handles that chore, she would undoubtedly question whether I'm truly capable of it anyway.
But using the computer to trace facts and do research—that's worth thinking about, and certainly what purists would claim is among the true callings of PCs. If CD-ROM (Compact Disk, Read Only Memory) ever becomes more universally available, we'll have amazing research tools at our fingertips. With CD-ROM, we can have the entire contents of an encyclopedia at our beck and call, with almost instantaneous data retrieval. Imagine what that would do for term papers and other research-based reports—never having to leave the comfort of your computer desk! Until CD-ROM comes to the ST, with a complement of software to support it, we'll have to make do with a trip to the library in town, right?
Wrong, kemosabe. (But I'll bet most of you were ahead of me on that revelation, considering the name of this column is Database DELPHI!) Among DELPHI'S powerful features is a section called the Library. Being that it is very large in scope, we'll spend the next two installments of Database DELPHI there. Hey, we wouldn't want you to miss anything!
Easier than walking
To get to the Library area, just enter "GO LIB" from most any prompt, which accomplishes the same thing as going back to the MAIN prompt and typing "LIB" (short for LIBRARY). At the entry to this area, you'll get the following
LIBRARY Menu: CAIN Online Gourmet BOS - DELPHI/Boston Personal Advisor KC - DELPHI/Kansas City Research Library (Dialog)($) Grolier Encyclopedia Terra Nova Health net Violette Wine Reports Hearing Impaired Forum World line Country Search Kussmaul Encyclopedia Dialog-Help Librarian HELP Metro Line City Search EXIT
Sure, it looks a bit cryptic, but once you get the hang of what is here, you'll find this information stockpile quite handy. From the top of the list, this is what is available:
CAIN stands for Computerized AIDS Information Network (an organization partially funded by the state of California), and it's a gigantic source of data on this still-puzzling killer. The menu for CAIN is filled with simple headers to easily guide you through. Not only can you get scientific information about this disease, but you can also get listings of support organizations, pore over advice on legal issues regarding AIDS, read through pertinent articles online and even test your knowledge of the disease.
BOS-DELPHI/Boston and KC-DELPHI/Kansas City are offshoots of the "worldwide" DELPHI service. Selecting either of these gateways shoots you into a service that's a cross between a localized BBS and a national online network. In fact, they are laid out just like DELPHI, with communications services (like E-Mail), game areas and conferencing, among others. A return gateway to DELPHI worldwide is provided as well. There are also other services that emphasize the local aspect, such as Office Park, where businesses can link up with clients electronically. For example, here's how the DELPHI/Boston menu stacks up:
DELPHI/Boston Menu: Arts/Entertainment Merchants Row Business & Finance News/Weather/Sports Calendar Office Park Communication/Mail People Online Conference Travel DELPHI-Worldwide($) Using DELPHI/Boston Education Workspace Fun & Games Online Help Guide to Boston Exit BOSTON > Which Service?
Grolier Encyclopedia is the electronic version of the world-renowned reference tome; in fact, the Grolier version is being offered for current owners of CD-ROM players for other computer brands. Quick as a whistle, you can search through this immense database, using keywords (or pieces of words) to narrow your search. From that list of matches, you can select a single number to get the listing as seen in Figure 1.
GROLIER > (Encyclopedia, Ask, Suggestions, Exit): en Encyclopedia Search for: delp 2 matches Items Selected -------- 1 DELPHI 2 DELPHINIUM GROLIER > (Enter Number, Search or Exit): 1 1 DELPHI (del'-fy)
Delphi, located in Phocis, Greece, on the lower southern slopes of Mount Parnassus near the Gulf of Corinth, was a sacred city to the ancient Greeks. It was called the omphalos (navel or center) of the Earth, and this was designated by a large, rounded, conical stone, which was also called the omphalos. Delphi was sacred to APOLLO, the god of prophecy and patron of philosophy and the arts, whose famous temple and prophetic shrine were there. The temple within
games were held. The sanctuary of Apollo has also been excavated and many notable works of sculpture found. ROBERT E. WOLVERTON Bibliography: Fontenrose, Joseph, The Delphic Oracle: Its Responses and Operations, With a Catalogue of Responses (1979).
References for DELPHI
5 PYTHIAN GAMES
As you can see, broad-based subjects will reference to other related subtopics, letting you branch out your searches. Selecting one of the subtopic numbers will proceed with that listing and so on. This electronic encyclopedia is very comprehensive and is kept up to date. Oddly enough, this service isn't surcharged above your normal DELPHI rates either.
Healthnet is a massive medical database, offering information on all aspects of health and fitness. It's no substitute for an actual doctor visit, but if you need the lowdown on something health-related, the Reference Library is a good place to try to find the answer. As you can see, the Reference Library is packed with brief articles on many topics:
HEALTHNET Reference Library Menu: Instructions Home Care and First Aid Disorders and Diseases Sports Medicine Symptoms Ophthalmology Drugs Obstetrics & Reproductive Med. Surgeries, Tests, Procedures EXIT
Healthnet also provides a section called Housecalls, where you can ask experts individual questions for direct response.
The technology of today helps many physically handicapped people to have fuller lives. The Hearing Impaired Forum assists those with hearing deficiencies to cope with their handicap by relaying news and information on helpful organizations, changes in state law, sign language, closed captioning of movies and television shows and the growing use of TDDs (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). In the same manner as telecomputing, the TDD unit hooks up to a phone line and helps the hearing-impaired person to better communicate with others using a keyboard and video display. (To show the growing use of these devices, some public areas, like airports, have TDDs available for those who need them.) The Hearing-Impaired Forum has up-to-date lists of phone numbers—many of them toll-free—for getting in touch with businesses and government offices using TDDs.
That's about all the room I have. We'll cover the last segments of the Library section next month. Don't be afraid to try this and other areas of DELPHI on your own, though. You'll find a lot of helpful material in the inner reaches of the service, and because of the availability of inexpensive 2,400-baud modems, the cost is very low to boot: Remember, DELPHI doesn't charge extra for 2,400-baud usage.
Keep in mind that we have a weekly get-together on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m., EST. This is a great way to keep up on what's going on in the Atari world. To attend, simply enter either the Atari 8-bit SIG or ST SIG (type "GO GRO AT" or "GO GRO ST" from most any prompt), then enter "CO" to access the Conference area. Typing "/W" (short for "WHO") will show you what number "room" the meeting is in, and you can join the group by typing either "JOI WEEK" (short for Weekly Atari SIGs Meeting) or "JOI #" where the # refers to the room number. If you have trouble, type "HELP" or ask someone online for assistance by using the "/SEN" command to send a one-line message to them.
Till next month, C U online....