Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 29 / MARCH 1989 / PAGE 66

Illustration by Jean Francois Podevin

Database DELPHI


Whenever I get to turn the calendar to March, it always brings a smile to my face. That means the cold winter is nearly gone and we're on a downhill ride to spring. Although it makes the skiers unhappy, the snow is starting to melt. (Okay, it leaves a slushy residue behind, but we're getting there.) Of course, now that I've taken residence in California, March will bring much the same weather as the rest of winter, if today is any indication. I'll have to get used to Frosty being a sandman, instead of a snowman.

Just the same, it's too early for most of the country to consider starting a late-winter softball game just yet. There is enough of a chill in the air to make sitting in front of a computer and going online a more preferred activity. So we'll take this month's column to finish up our discussion that we began last month, of the Library area on DELPHI. That end-of-the-year term paper is coming up, and student research can be easily done with this section of DELPHI.

Refresher course

To begin, we'll start from the Library menu that appears off the main menu of DELPHI. To get to the Library from any other part of the system, you can type "GO LIB" from most any prompt (short for LIBRARY).

CAIN                     On line Gourmet
BOS - DELPHI/BOSTON      Personal Advisor
KC - DELPHI/Kansas City  Research Library (Dialog)($)
Grolier Encyclopedia     Terra Nova
HealthNet                Violette Wine Reports
Hearing Impaired Forum   WorldLine Country Search
Kussmaul Encyclopedia    Dialog-Help
Librarian                HELP
MetroLine City Search    EXIT

Again, we'll take these entries from where left off in alphabetical order.

Shhh. . .it's a library!

The Librarian selection puts a professional database research team at your beck and call, though the service is pricey and not for less-than-serious queries: It costs between $275 and $475 to have them complete a search on most any topic for you, with the results ported to your DELPHI mailbox. If you choose, you can have the findings sent to you by U.S. Mail or Federal Express also.

They claim to do their research by scanning through a bank of over 3,000 trade journals, newspapers, magazines and other periodicals to answer your questions on "any topic, company, product, industry, technology or person in the news." For more information on this service, you can ask them questions by picking the "INquire (ask about the Librarian service)" (type IN) selection from the Librarian menu, as the service's scope is too vast to go through in this column.

MetroLine City Search is a handy way for travelers to get more information on possible locations for "touristing." If you pick this selection, you'll be asked for the location for your search.

For example, prior to moving to Los Angeles I used Metroline to get a listing of places that I might take my family to. Here's what my search looked like:

Which CITY? los angeles
Additional topics available:
BEACHES                         CAMPING
FISHING                         GARDENS
MUSEUMS                         OUTDOOR SCULPTURE
PARKS                           RODEO DRIVE MAP

Under "Haunted Houses," here's a sample entry for Houdini's Mansion:

Houdini's Mansion, 2380–98 Laurel Canyon Blvd, was the eer ie home
of the famous magician and escape artist Henry Houdini. During
the 1920's many seances were conducted in this house which is now
in ruins. The staircase that remains is supposed to be haunted
by Houdini and other wandering souls.

Keep in mind, not all cities will have a large number of entries, such as those under Los Angeles, but you can get some quality info before any journeys you make.

The Online Gourmet is a real help to budding and experienced chefs alike, offering a database of recipes to try from the cookbook of Cintra Reeve, a famous New England chef. Under the primary menu, you'll find subcategories such as New Recipes, Main Courses, Desserts and Vegetarian. The recipes are very simple to read and understand, giving you the chance to tackle exotic meals and snacks like shrimp risotto, gingerbread, glazed oranges and corn pudding. New recipes are added each week, for a fresh outlook on the culinary world.

Personal Advisor is a version of a newspaper's advice column. You can ask "Uncle Max" for help with problems you may have, or read through some of the selected questions and answers Max has posted. There is also an area to read through essays created by readers or a character named the "Advisor." Some of these essays include ponderings on the meaning of life, talk shows and Christianity.

Also, if you wish, you can request a real-time online conference with the Advisor, using the "Online Advisory Application" selection of the menu. This seems to match the '80s and its focus of getting help for any problems that ail you. Many will find the Personal Advisor's offering invaluable.

Much like the Librarian, the Dialog Information Online Service, termed Research Library (Dialog) from the Library menu, will help you speed up whatever research you may need accomplished. Unlike the Librarian, though, all information you need must be tracked down yourself. Dialog is a major clearinghouse, run by Lockheed, that lets you pore through all sorts of periodicals electronically to find what you desire As we mentioned before, this service is not for lightweight requests: Dialog's fees vary from one database to another, with per-hour costs upward of $300! (This is why there is a "$" character next to the Research Library selection of the menu, to indicate a surcharged service.) This service is quite a bit more difficult to use than the rest of DELPHI, utilizing a separate command set to do searches, though it can be made easier by picking the Dialog-Help selection of the Library menu as a tutorial of sorts. For more detailed information about Dialog, call them directly at 1-800-3-DIALOG.

Terra Nova is DELPHI's link to multilanguage online usage. As you can see, there is support for many different languages, with features much like other SIGs on DELPHI:

Terra Nova Menu:
Announcements                   Guided Tour
Conference                      ENGLISH - Helpful Hints
Databases                       ESPA#OL - Informacion Util
Form (Messages)                 NIHONGO - Hinto
MAIL (Electronic)               DEUTSCH - Nuetzliche Tips
Member Directory                FRANCAIS - Conseils Pratique
Help (Access, Index, Hints)     ESPERANTO - Utilaj Informoj
Index of DELPHI Commands        Questions & Comments
Aventure Francaise              Exit

There's not much for me to comment on here If you have a desire to experience DELPHI in another language or to get one of your relatives from the "native country" online, Terra Nova is the place to start.

The Violette Wine Reports offer you the knowledge of Richard Kzirian's Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Violette Monthly Wine Reports so you can make discriminating purchases. In fact, you can purchase the listed wines online from this area.

The last area to note from the Library menu is the WorldLine Country Search. Much like the MetroLine City Search we spoke of previously, this database gives you basic information on where to get good food and how to find the best shopping spots. Weather reports are available too, as well as information on visa requirements and native customs. International travelers should stop here before taking that next trip.

Closing time

We hope you get a lot of assistance from the Library area of DELPHI. All too often, users stick to the SIG that contains information on their specific brand of computer. There's a wealth of data contained in the system, if only you seek it out. We'll keep referring you to the hidden benefits of DELPHI.

Also, if you want your own source of DELPHI help, you'd be wise to pick up a copy of Michael A. Banks' DELPHI: The Official Guide. You can find it at most major bookstores, or you can order it online by typing "GO US MAN." (This takes you to the Manuals selection off the Using DELPHI menu.) Of course, the accompanying sidebar will get you signed up to DELPHI and get the book for a good price.

Till next month, C U online....