Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 33 / JUNE 1989 / PAGE 19

Database DELPHI


Sometimes the abilities that computers give us can be scary when you analyze them. For example, right now I'm reclining in a comfy chair in my living room, with the TV running in the background. Thanks to Craig Patchett, editor of our sister magazine, PC LapTop Computers, I've got a laptop computer on my lap while I plug away at this column using the IBM version of WordPerfect. When I'm done I can either copy it to a disk and read it on my ST at work, or stick a wire in the wall, dial up the office modem and transmit the file over the phone line. The scariest part is that I've started taking this all for granted.

All this technology is intimidating, but it brings with it a helpful dose of power also. For example, the local news used to come from the town crier, who would walk down the street clanging a bell. Later it came in printed form; but until the printing press made that more efficient, it didn't alter the time it took to get into people's hands. Nowadays a Fax machine can pass information nearly instantaneously, and the December 1988 ST-LOG detailed a news service called XPress that carries news to your computer over a cable-TV line.

It comes as no surprise that DELPHI can be a similar portal to news information. Sure, you can find out the latest scoop about Atari computers in either the ANALOG SIG or the STLOG SIG, but I'm talking about real, world-shaking news. Here and abroad. Sweat-covered sports action. Calms and storms.

All the news that fits

Let's take a look at the NEWS-WEATHER-SPORTS menu, which is located off the main menu. To get there, just type GO NEW from most any prompt in the system. Figure 1 shows what it looks like.

As you can see from the selections available, you can find out just about anything in current events that you need to. To make it easier for you, we'll run down the list to show you how to get a particular nibble of news.

The first selection, Newsbrief, gives you a comfortable overview of the important stories. The database is regularly updated, so you get fresh news, not leftover headlines. These stories are gathered from Associated Press (AP) wires. Figure 2 shows you how this looks.

If you get the chance to leave your computer desk for any length of time, you'll want to know what it's like outside. Accu-Weather Forecasts lets you preview weather in various parts of the world, a particularly valuable tool for travelers. You have a number of choices concerning the intensity of the weather report. You can pick CITY forecasts to provide capsule descriptions of the weather, though this only focuses on the larger cities around the country. Selecting CAPSULE Summaries (Nationwide), which lets you choose one of 115 cities, passes on a brief three-day synopsis detailing projected temperature high and low, and a coded description of the general forecast for those days. Figure 3 shows how.

For a general overview of the nation's weather, you should choose the NATIONAL Capsule Summary selection. This lists the U.S. weather as a short combined report.

Last on the Accu-Weather menu is the INTERNATIONAL Accu-Weather selection. With listings similar to the CAPSULE Summaries, you can get three-day forecasts for locations outside the States.

Almost like an electronic newspaper, the AP News Service menu provides a variety of categories for you to peruse. In fact, it's called AP Videotex after you get to the AP menu. Videotex was once seen as the future of information provision and was tested in various locations around the country at some TV stations; it didn't catch on very well.

As we noted in the Newsbrief section—which is duplicated in the AP menu—this link-up with Associated Press brings late-breaking news to your screen. These stories are updated almost immediately, as if you had a news ticker hooked to your computer. Figure 4 has what the AP menu looks like.

As you can see, the menu contains much of what you'd find in your local newspaper. Granted the local coverage is missing—you won't find stories about your local government or who in your neighborhood had a baby—but it's a quick and easy way to keep up on worldwide events.

With the exception of the Newsbrief and Sports selections, each choice off the AP menu brings up a list of articles that you can scan. Each article has a simple headline that gives you the basic story content. Figure 5 is a sample of the article list from the Business/Finance from March 4th.

At the time that I captured the article list you see here, the earliest of the stories had been online only about an hour. Certainly there is no newspaper that can get news to you that quickly.

To pick a particular article to read, all you need do is type in the corresponding number, and the story will come up on your screen. If you don't see one that meets your interests and the prompt contains a "More" in it, you can hit Return to get more articles.

The difference between the Sports area and the remainder of the AP Videotex area is not substantial. Because the sports world is large and contains many sub-categories, the Sports menu is broken up into topics as in Figure 6.

And the topics each have submenus also, so you can select specific information without any wasted time. When you get down to it, the topic of interest brings an article list identical in makeup to the previous article lists shown.

It's break time

Sorry to say that's all I have time for. Next month we'll finish up with the NEWS-WEATHER-SPORTS section, covering some of the other diverse entries contained there. Before we go, though, there's a tidbit of news I'd like to pass on. As I write this, DELPHI is reconstructing the way the file databases operate.

Perhaps the biggest complaint users have had revolves around uploads and how they are reimbursed. While other services automatically shut off the billing during an upload, DELPHI required the user to request an upload "appointment" to be granted by the SYSOP of the particular group where the file will reside. This process kept duplication of files and poor uploads to a minimum, but was cumbersome to all involved.

Next month we'll have more information on the changes that are taking place. Though they aren't complete, we can guarantee that the user will come out ahead, with an easier process to utilize for file uploads. Remember that the databases are the most accessed areas in a SIG, and offering files for others to download is a big aid to the computer community as a whole. If you've written or acquired a file that can be put in the public domain (not a commercial product), think about taking the time to upload it to the DELPHI/ST-LOG SIG.

If you aren't a member of DELPHI, you should give it a try. Take a gander at the accompanying sidebar for information on how to sign up.

Till next month, C U online…

Figure 1


Accu-Weather Forecasts
AP News Service
Astro Predictions
Financial News
Kyodo News from Japan
Movie News & Reviews
Press Releases: Business Mire
Quiz - Your News IQ
Today in History
Views on News
NEWS> (AP, Weather, Sports, Movies)

Figure 2

NEWS>(AP, Heather, Sports, Movies) news 4-MAR 20:57 Top Stories At 9 p.m. EST
March 4, 1989
MIAMI (AP) — Striking Eastern Airlines workers paralyzed the financially strapped carrier Saturday, overwhelming management efforts to run a skeleton schedule and vowing to incite mass-transit chaos when the workweek starts. The threat of rush-hour nightmares was especially acute in the congested New York Metropolitan area, where strikers planned picketing at commuter railroads and received assurances that no rail workers would cross their lines.

Figure 3

Search for > hartford
HARTFORD	46/34c	34/20sn	30/13pc

Figure 4

Copyright (C) 1989 by the Associated Press All rights reserved.
Wall Street
Stock Lists

Figure 5

1	4-MAR 19:54	Time Inc., Warner To Merge
2	4-MAR 19:09	Rail Lines Seek To Bar Strike
3	4-MAR 18:36	How Eastern Strike Hits U.S.-l
4	4-MAR 18:36	How Eastern Strike Hits U.S.-2
5	4-MAR 17:48	Union Leader Wages Tough Fight
6	4-MAR 17:43	Strikers Paralyze Eastern
7	4-MAR 17:15 Eastern Strike Tests Lorenzo
8	4-MAR 16:38	Eastern Strike Was Building
9	4-MAR 15:13	Fliers Stuck At Struck Airline
10	4-MAR 14:53	Railroads Covered By Labor Act
11	4-MAR 14:29	U.S. Told To Review Debt Plan
12	4-MAR 11:28	Eastern Strike Threatens Rails
13	4-MAR 11:25	List Of Major Airline Strikes
14	4-MAR 11:24	Eastern Airlines' Bumpy Ride
15	4-MAR 11:22	Nation's Transport Net Braced
16	4-MAR 11:21	Airline Cuts Weekend Schedule
17	4-MAR 11:20	Eastern Airlines Developments
18	4-MAR 08:43	USSR To Cut Oil Exports 5 Pct.
19	4-MAR 06:14	Bordello Shares Offered At $20
20	4-MAR 05:51	4 Japan Businessmen Indicted
AP NEWS> (Article Number, More, Exit):

Figure 6

AP Sports Menu:
General Scoreboard
College Sports
Ski Guide
Tennis & Golf
SPORTS>Which Sport?