Funk and Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary. (computer program) (evaluation)
by Gordon Owens
Surrounded by the latest technology, we fax reports across the country and write letters using our PCs. Yet when it comes to looking up definitions, do we reach for the computer? Most of us reach for a hardcopy dictionary. Now the dictionary can take its rightful place in the information age with Funk & Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary.
The program consists of a dictionary; a gazetteer, covering a variety of geographical information; a biographies section with basic facts regarding historically significant individuals; an abbreviations list with common acronyms; and a secretarial handbook, which covers usage, punctuation, business correspondence, and forms of address.
Inductel--using one of the more comprehensive dictionaries available--has created a product that successfully replaces your hardbound dictionary with one that utilizes the computer. Since the program is hard disk-based, using its search functions is much quicker than looking up definitions by hand or using a CD-ROM--based product. You can search by word or by selecting from a list of onscreen wildcards using mouse or keyboard. You can edit existing definitions, create new ones, and (for the ambitious) create your own dictionary of specialized terms. The program also has print options for all online information. The dictionary functions as a memory-resident utility enabling you to look up words from within a document with the touch of a key. I found the program to be user-friendly with a relatively short learning period. Well written and supplemented by helpful illustrations, the manual also serves as documentation for all of Inductel's add-on modules, which include technical terms for engineering, chemistry, physics, and other areas of specific interest. An online manual duplicates the printed one, less the illustrations. Installation is straightforward and should pose no problem for even novice users. One note regarding installation, though: There is a bug which requires the creation of the KAS subdirectory before running the installation. Inductel has a fix for this problem and will send a free update to all registered users upon request.
Despite its lack of bells and whistles, which are common to many of today's applications, Inductel's dictionary program effectively accomplishes the task for which it was designed. Students and professionals, such as writers, publishers, educators, and the like, will find Funk & Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary more than useful. If you can't afford the hardbound, multivolume Oxford English Dictionary, settle for a dramatic improvement in the speed of referencing definitions instead.