April 1996

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


DeLorme Mapping Revisited, Spider HTML Editor, Myst and More

In February, I featured Street Atlas USA 3.0, a great CD-ROM mapping software from DeLorme. But, this month, I have to revisit DeLorme Mapping after receiving some of their latest and greatest products: Map 'n' Go, Global Explorer and Phone Search USA. I'll also talk about, Spider, a new HTML editor from InContext Corporation, update information on Pro CD's Select Phone, mentioned in my January column, and finally, review Myst, a surrealistic adventure game from Broderbund.

DeLorme Mapping Revisited

Just when I thought I had everything I needed in mapping software with DeLorme's Street Atlas USA 3.0, I found a package on my doorstep with three new programs from DeLorme: Map'n'Go, Global Explorer and Phone Search USA.

Map'n'Go by DeLorme

If you want the ultimate in travel planning software, Map'n'Go is it. Everything you need is included to help plan your trip anywhere in North America (including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean). The software is supplied on one IBM compatible CD, and it even includes a beautifully done North America Atlas, with 130-pages of maps in 11" by 15 1/2" format.

Map'n'Go will be your own personal trip planner. It will plan routes, select preferences for the type of road, travel speed, identify interesting points along the way, add hotels and restaurants to your itinerary, calculate driving time and distance, and print everything in either color or black and white. You can choose from 29,000 hotels, inns, campgrounds and restaurants. It all sounds great, and could even tempt you to cancel your AAA Club membership, if you dare. If you have another source for road service, and use your AAA Club membership solely for travel planning and maps, well, you could save some money over the years by canceling your membership. Map 'n' Go is only $39, the cost of a yearly membership in AAA. It's something to consider.

Global Explorer by DeLorme

Global Explorer is a very detailed world atlas on CD-ROM, with street maps of the major world cities. It also includes full-color maps of the world, with details that appear as you zoom in for a closer look. You'll find descriptions of 20,000 historical, cultural and geographical features, plus country profiles with social, cultural and economic statistics. If you're planning a trip to Europe, you could use this software to help decide on the countries and sights you want to see. The only minor criticism I have for this product is that it's lacking a real instruction manual, other than the 16-page booklet included in the CD case. Although a more detailed manual would be helpful, the software is easy enough to use once installed. The atlas is supplied on one IBM compatible CD, with a price of $59.

Phone Search USA by DeLorme

Just when I thought I'd seen almost every type of software, DeLorme surprised me with their Phone Search USA. Although there are other CD-ROM phone books on the market, this is the only package that will work along with Street Atlas USA 3.0 providing name, address and phone number listings on your maps. It includes over 80 Million published residential and business phone number and address listings across the US, searchable by name, phone number and business type. Phone Search USA will work independently, or in conjunction with Street Atlas USA 3.0, supplied on 3, IBM compatible. CDs, with a price of $79.

Spider Version 1.1 HTML Editor by InContext Corporation

Spider is a new and versatile HTML editor, from InContext Corporation, for anyone interested in Web page design. It's a Windows-based program that makes it easy to setup Web pages using the HTML markup language, without knowledge of the language. Documents can be created to conform to HTML 2.0 or HTML 3.0, with Netscape extensions support. Also included are several Web page templates and lots of graphics files to get you started. The software is supplied on one CD-ROM disc and 5 diskettes, and includes an 86-page manual and tutorial. Once installed, there's more help available online. The street price for Spider Version 1.1 is $95.

Spider allows you to insert headings, paragraphs, anchors, lists and graphics into your page design with just one click of the mouse. A great feature allows you to browse the Internet while editing your Web page, and copy the pages that you like for use in your own design. You can also just point and clink to copy links from any Web page to your document. And if you have any problems, or questions, InContext may be reached toll-free at 1-800-263-0127 or on the Internet at their Web site:


The software loaded quite easily, although it took some time and lots of disk space to install the required files and templates. Spider ran fine after installation, but a problem came up when I tried loading existing HTML documents into the editor. It found errors in almost every file I loaded (with exception of the sample files included with Spider), including HTML documents saved from Web sites on the Internet and documents from some of the search engines I browse. My guess is that these HTML documents don't follow the syntax that Spider is expecting, thus errors are flagged. Unfortunately, Spider's online help didn't specifically answer my questions regarding this problem.

Select Phone by Pro CD

I just wanted to update some information on Select Phone, the phone number database software from Pro CD, reviewed in my January column. The software is supplied on 6 CDs instead of the 5 CDs, as mentioned, with 100 Million US business and residential listings. New features have been added including GeoTarget, for selecting listings within a certain geographical range, Netscape Navigator, as a built-in Web browser, MapView for Windows that displays selected listings on a map so you can see where your listings are located, an NCOA feature for identifying listings that have moved with the "National Change of Address" status according to the US Postal Service and SmartFind, which uses different methods to search for hard-to-find listings. And Select Phone now sells for $99.

Myst: The Surrealistic Adventure from Broderbund Software

Myst is a wonderfully enchanting interactive CD-ROM game from Broderbund Software, a long-standing participant in the world of personal computer software. It's a game that should be considered if you like science fiction or fantasy, and want to actively participant in the adventure. You're not just an observer. You play the part of the main character in the game.

You can escape to a mysteriously fascinating world where you, alone, must solve the hidden secrets around you. Your journey begins when you find yourself falling from Earth through an astronomical doorway into space and time, and then through a window into the alien atmosphere as you glide to the island below. Your adventure begins on a dock overlooking an alien ocean where sounds of an alien sea and alien winds call to you. It is a serene and relaxing place.

The artistry of the scenery is beautiful, with an atmosphere of an alien world there for your curiosity and examination. Anyone who likes to solve puzzles and mysteries and wants to experience the simulated realism of actually being alone on an island in an alien land, will love playing this game.

As with most adventure games, only a few clues or hints are provided (though, you can buy hint books, but that would take the fun out of it). You must move around the island using all your senses and find your way into its mysteries. There's a library with books you can read, a tower to ascend, unknown machines you can experiment with and a spaceship on top of a hill (overlooking the ocean), ready to take off (if only I knew how to enter the machine, and operate it). And there's even a forest you can walk through.

I've played the game for just a little over two hours and found it fascinating, with its graphics, sounds and music adding to the enjoyment. On my second try, I found an entrance to a power station and activated power to the island and to the spaceship. I then found my way back to the spaceship, and tried to open the hatch. It made a noise but didn't budge. I guess there are other things I must do before I can gain access to the ship. But I'm determined to at least get in and try my hand at flying. I may have to go back into the library and read some of the books. I'm sure I'll be flying during my next visit to Myst.

I know I've only scratched the surface to the mysteries that Broderbund has offered on their imaginary island of Myst. So, I'll be back exploring their world, nightly, until I've finished the game. I guess I'm hooked, like when I've found a good book and can't put it down (I was like that with Jurassic Park). Myst retails for $49.95 and is available for IBM compatibles in Windows, and for the Macintosh. Call Broderbund at (415) 382-4400 for information, or see your local software dealer.--Howard Berenbon