Travel The World Without Leaving Home
BY RON SCHAEFER, M.D.
|AT A GLANCE|
When I was a little kid I played a game with my mother. I would sit on her lap as she spun a globe around, then she would say "Outer Mongolia" or "The Congo" and I would have to point out the country on the globe. It's 25 years later and half the names of the countries have changed, but I still play the same game, only now with my ST.
Geography Tutor version 2.5 is an electronic world atlas for your ST. The program was written by Michel Rochon and is distributed by the Canadian firm ASDE Inc. Geography Tutor is not copy protected and runs in monochrome or color. French and German versions are available.
Geography Tutor is GEM based, so it is easy to use. To make it even easier, there are always instructions at the bottom of the screen that tell you what to do next. You can look at the whole world, or focus in on just one continent at a time. In addition to the name and capital of each county there are 18 other facts, like the percentage of its Gross National Product a country spends on defense, or a country's literacy rate or life expectancy. Did you know, for instance, that Iraq spends a whopping 57 percent of its GNP on defense, a higher percentage than any other country? Or that the lowest average life expectancy for men is in Ethiopia at a mere 38 years?
The databases and maps included in Geography Tutor are: The World, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, United States and Canada. That's 137 countries and 63 states and provinces. For an additional $15 you can purchase a data disk that includes the Middle East, Eastern Asia, Islands of the South East and the Provinces of France and Spain. ASDE also promises to offer updated data disks every year for around $5, an important feature, considering how rapidly the world is changing.
|The world map with countries highlighted where Islam is a major religion.|
One of the more powerful features of Geography Tutor is the ability to compare one country with another. For instance, you can color all the countries on the screen on the basis of doctors per capita. Or look at which countries consider Islam their major religion. You can easily switch back and forth from this graphical representation to a list of the counties ranked numerically or alphabetically.
The Quiz option tests your knowledge on the locations of states and countries. The program gives you the name of a county or its capital and you must click on the correct place on the map with the mouse. Another nice touch is that when you click on some of the countries, you will hear that country's national anthem. For an extra $20 you can get a disk that contains the national anthems of every country in the world.
Geography Tutor lets you create your own separate databases or modify and update the ones that come with the program. There is also room for up to four notes of your own to be added to the database for each country or state. These notes don't have to be text, they can also be DEGAS compressed pictures - a picture of that country's flag, or a map of one of the cities for instance. You'll need to create these drawings yourself.
Finally, there's a construction set available that lets you create new maps and databases from scratch. ASDE will even help you market your maps and databases if you feel they are of commercial quality. It occurred to me that you need not be limited to geography with this construction set. How about an anatomy tutor in which you click on different organs instead of countries?
Geography Tutor is quite good for what it does and is a solid educational package. The ability to update and modify the database is a strong point, as is the Compare and Quiz features. Compared to the quality of maps found in an actual paper atlas, the maps in Geography Tutor are greatly inferior. This however, is not the author's fault - he's limited by the computer screen resolution. More close-up maps of areas of the world with lots of small countries would have been an improvement. Some of the maps are distorted from what I am accustomed to, South America in particular.
But, if you're into maps or just want to learn more about the world, then Geography Tutor is for you.
Ron Schaefer is a medical doctor and sometime programmer who lives in Pasadena, Calif. He wrote A.I. Doctor in the February 1990 issue of START.