Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 11 / NOVEMBER 1983 / PAGE 334

Computer choices: beware of conspicuous computing! (book reviews) Steve Gray.

According to the front cover, "People are running out and buying computers that improve their image but don't work for them. With this book you will learn to avoid the wastefulness of hi-tech exhibitionism and to choose, develop, and use systems that satisfy real needs." The back cover says this "is not a buying guide, rather it examines the problems and pitfalls of becoming a consumer in the computer age."

The authors have written a fairly standard, basic book on how to buy a useful computer, and improved it with a better title than most such books, as well as inserting a variety of horror stories (which several other authors have also done).

The 14 chapters are about what you'd expect in such a how-to book, but with some snappier titles, such as Introduction: The Enemy is Us, Consipicuous Computing, and Tales of Horror, plus the usual titles such as Software Engineering, Privacy and Security, and Economics of Computing.

Conspicuous computing, used in the catchy subtitle, is described as buying a computer more as a status symbol than as a useful tool. The chapter warns against being misled by ads that dazzle you with all the wonderful things a computer can do for you, and for your image.

The book is interesting as an exercise in trying to turn what can be a boring subject into a more readable and interesting text. However, there are better books, several of which have been reviewed here within the last year, that get right down to the nuts and bolts of selecting a computer for your particular application, with want-lists and all sorts of things to check for.

As a general text, this is good, but for more useful detail, you'll have to go elsewhere.

Review Grade: C-