Date: Fri, 29 Mar 1996 08:41:07 -0500 (EST) Subject: BLAGUES-L: Software Reviews >From: Professor Falken >Date: Thu, 28 Mar 96 4:30:07 EST These software reviews are all from Project Nonsensizine, a collection of joke files available on my home pages at http://www.pnx.com/falken/ProjectNonsensizine.html **************** SOFTWARE REVIEWS **************** ZEN Leisure Moron $39.95 Requires: MS-DOS, 128k RAM, Monochrome or better "Make me one with everything." Millions of people find Zen meditation to be a relaxing means toward self improvement. Why, then, as we move into the twenty-first century, do we still use old, outdated means of meditation? No more. Zen, a new program from Leisure Moron, allows you to meditate through aid of your computer. This program is very easy to install. A simple one disk installation takes no longer than 30 seconds, and the user is then ready to begin his meditation. The main menu has two simple options: Meditate, and Exit. The exit feature works extremely well, placing you straight back to the DOS prompt. It can be accessed via the keyboard or mouse, and works equally well through both. Nonsensizine ran a test, exiting Zen under twenty different conditions. Every time, this well behaved program dropped the user back to the OS with no complaints. The Meditate option works equally as well. As soon as you choose Meditate, the screen clears. The computer runs a series of NOOPs in an endless loop. The result is absolutely nothing, the prime objective of Zen meditation. Zen works remarkably well on slower computers, accomplishing just as much on an 8088 as is accomplished on a Pentium processor in the same amount of time. Zen will also work on laptops, however, this is not suggested for serious meditation, as eventually the batteries will run out, and the computer will power down. Zen will run under DOS or Windows. Zen is also completely DesqView aware, perfect when you want to do word processing or number crunching while you meditate. However, Zen has its drawbacks. It lacks a save feature. This is highly annoying after hours of meditation. Often you will need to stop meditating to eat or sleep, and the sad fact is you cannot continue where you left off; you must start over. Zen also has poor documentation. The 135 page user manual turns out to be one page stating: "Put in the disk and run it," followed by 134 blank pages. However, Zen compensates for this with an excellent user support line. Call the toll free number, and you will be connected with an infinitely looping tape recording of silence. Leisure Moron has announced that it will release a new version of Zen. Among the improvements will be a screen saver and VGA support. Also to compensate for the lousy silence generated by the PC speaker, SoundBlaster support will be added, for wonderful eleven channel silence, in stereo no less. While Zen meditation is not for everyone, Zen could be the perfect solution for the computer user who wants to be one with everything. --- TIC-TAC-TOE MASTER 2000 (TTTM2K) Infobomb $19.99 Requires: MS-DOS, 1 MB RAM, EGA or better Tic-Tac-Toe. To some, it's a mindless children's game. To others, it's a test of skill and intellect. Enter Tic-Tac-Toe Master 2000, the only Tic-Tac-Toe computer program recognized by the ITTTL (International Tic-Tac-Toe League). TTTM2K contains a database of every single possible board layout. This not only makes TTTM2K the most comprehensive program of its kind, but also makes for a computer opponent who can constantly grow with your skills. The interface is quite intuitive, and moves come naturally. The game is completely configurable to the extent of ITTTL rules, giving you the option: "Should I go first (Y/N)?" This is a program that will grow WITH the user. When TTTM2K was pitted one on one against Sergun Tic-Tac-Toe, the fifty game series ended quickly. TTTM2K picked up zero wins, zero losses, and fifty draws. Arguably, you could say that Sergun TTT is just as good a Tic-Tac-Toe opponent, but its $30 price tag makes it a costly adversary. TTTM2K will also allow two players to play each other, eliminating the need of paper and pencil, and will optionally coach players as to what their next move should be. TTTM2K is known for such wonderful advice as "If you don't play in square nine, your opponent will be able to move there for the win," and "start in the center square." TTTM2K will also play against itself. The results can be fed to the printer, giving a great outlook into the mind of the computer. A sample game printed out is below. Game number 54102 in 100000 game series. Computer vs. Computer. Tie game, 0-0, 54101 draws. | | . | | . | | . | | . X| | . X| | . X| | . X|O| . X|O|X . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . |X| . |X| . |X|X . O|X|X . O|X|X . O|X|X . O|X|X . O|X|X . O|X|X . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . -+-+- . | | . O| | . O| | . O| | . O| | . O| |O . O|X|O . O|X|O . O|X|O . TTTM2K's drawbacks are few, its bonuses many. While it does lack an undo feature, such an option might make the game of Tic-Tac-Toe too easy. The over-the-modem play allows you to play any local opponent, and indeed, over the Internet against anyone in the world. TTTM2K also includes a solitaire version of the game. While this reviewer was able to solve it in six moves, the documentation claims that it can be won in three. While Tic-Tac-Toe isn't as popular as it once was, TTTM2K promises to bring new life to the old classic. --- SAY WHAT? Hardware Innovations $799.95 Requirements: Windows, 8 MB RAM, 486 or better Testing, testing, one, two, three. Look, ma, no keyboard! This is so cool! I am watching the words pop up on this screen as I speak. Voice recognition hardware has often been criticized as slow, impossible to use, expensive. Say What?, from Hardware Innovations is a remarkable program. As fast as you can speak, words fly onto your word processing document. I only spent two hours on the installation, and I'm already talking to the computer as if it were second nature. The $799 price will probably be lowered in the next few months, as rival companies come out with similar products. I can see no reason why computers five years from now will need keyboards. The voice recognition available today makes me riiiiiiing riiiiiiing, damn phone. Hello? Hello, honey. Yes. I'm working now. I won't be out of here for a few more hours, I have a magazine to write here. No, I'm sorry. Well, if we had gone out Friday like I wanted, we wouldn't have this problem, now would we? No... No... I _AM_ trying to make this your fault! It _IS_ your fault! Oh, yeah, and you're always right. Uh-huh. Quit trying to blame this on me! I don't live with daddy anymore! I have to work for my living! Yeah. Right. Rot in hell. Click. Oh, yeah, the article. Computer, please erase this last paragraph and we'll start over. I can see no reason why computers five years from now will need keyboards. The voice recognition available today makes me confident that this is where the future of input is going. While voice recognition is expensive now, it has no drawbacks. Say What? is a great program if you've got the money and want something REALLY cool.