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Undercolor/840101/Reviews

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UnderColor, Volume 1, Number 1, December 10, 1984

  • Title: Reviews
  • Author: empty
  • Synopsis: empty
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Article

The TRS-80’s User’s Encyclopedia (Color Computer and MC-10)

by Gary Phillips and Guier Wright III

The Book Company

11223 South Hindry Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90045

241 pages

$14. 95-8 1/2 " x 11" paperback

By Terry-Kepner

At first glance I had high hopes for this book; unfortunately, it let me down. The name proclaims it’s an encyclopedia: as such a combination computer dictionary, software/hardware directory, user group listing, and general purpose resource. It covers practically everything about the Color Computer and MC-10, including their respective Basic commands (with plain English descriptions and examples). And all is organized in alphabetical order. So, how could it let me down?

Trying to review a book like this is difficult; there isn’t much to say about the entries, except to note their completeness and accuracy. And with so many entries, it’s easier to point out errors than to praise good aspects. I’ve got to say that I’m unaware of so complete a listing of software and hardware suppliers and their products available anywhere else. The same can be said of the User Group listings. And the dictionary entries are tailored to the Color Computer market, leaving out many terms that have nothing to do with TRS-80 computers.

The disadvantage that cripples this book is that it is very poorly cross-referenced. For example, page 129 lists five magazines that might be of interest to Color Computer owners; it doesn't list Color Computer News and gives the wrong name for Hot CoCo. (calling it "Hot Color Computer" instead). If you look under the heading "Color Computer" (page 44), you find Color Computer News listed, but not the Color Computer Magazine (listed on page 129).

Another cross-reference error is under the headings about the Forth language: under the entry "Forth," only Frank Hogg Labs is mentioned; but under "Programming Languages" four of the five Forths are listed; and all five are listed under their individual names (scattered throughout the book in alphabetical order).

Some entries are mysteriously left out; for example, the two hardware products that convert Color Computer serial printer output to parallel printer output are listed, but a description of parallel printers isn't included. And under the entry "Printers" is a list of about a dozen, but by no means is it a complete list of the printers mentioned in the book.

In spite of this, the Encyclopedia is a useful reference book that covers a wide field. Careful thought by the user will guide you to most areas in the book where you might find the information you desire. And if you’re looking for programs, this is a source worth having.

If the book were adequately cross-referenced, it would be a "must have" item. As it is, I must rate the book as interesting, well worth buying if you have a problem it can solve (such as trying to locate software, user groups, or manufacturers). You should bear in mind as with any reference of this type, many

areas are already outdated; any product, user group, and/or manufacturer making an appearance after approximately January 1984 couldn't be listed in this particular reference encyclopedia. (end)

Grobot

Children’s Computer Workshop

Tandy/Radio Shack Corporation

Fort Worth, Texas 76102 .

Extended Basic, Joysticks,

Cassette Recorder Req. $19.95.

By Dennis Peterson

If you remember, The Children’s Computer Workshop budded from Children’s Television Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street. Grobot, designed for players ten years or older, is a relatively recent bloom from CCW’s garden of good ideas. For this age group the manufacturer has its games stress "creative exploration." This is true for Grobot. You should understand that the first purpose of the software is to be a game—it isn’t an educational program in a game format.

Most children’s software manufacturers soft-peddle the violence aspect of computer games. This holds true in Grobot, keeping close to what appears to be the philosophy of CCW. Even what is commonly referred to as the Joystick’s "fire" button is referred to as the "red action button" in the very clearly written user’s manual.

Play the game: you are a gardener on the strange and wonderful Planet Kaldas, on which 16 plants, with names like Kalidobean, Gaboink and Shishkabud, can live. These plants grow best in certain climates, and coincidentally there just happen to be four distinct climates on Kaldas. In the Kaldasian Farmer's Almanac, located near the end of the user's manual, you’ll find the point value for each Plant, a value which varies with the climatic area in which it is grown. For example, a harvested Arroid is worth only 25 points in a hot and dry climate, but its value climbs to a whopping 800 points harvested in a cold and wet climate, where is it more difficult to grow. A few pieces of information are missing in the Almanac for some plants, giving the player a chance to discover some facts on his own.

As gardner [gardener], using the information from the Almanac and a weather forecast, you determine which plants to grow and determine strategy to harvest the maximum number of points. To help with your gardening, you control an energetic little gardening robot, called (of course) Grobot, who rides around in a flying-saucerish [flying saucer dish] harvesting, picking plants as they bloom on your command. This isn’t as easy as it sounds; the garden, like any real garden, is afflicted by pests. These are the voracious, fast-flying, flower-eating Astro-Gnats, and the slithering, root-munching Verms. In keeping with the non-violence theme, Grobot can be used to scare these Pests from the screen, rather than spray or swat them. You and Grobot will have some very busy moments.

Grobot should capture the interest of most family members, not only because of the actual game play, but because of the pre-play planning. It might be the most refreshing investment in your video game library. (end)

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