|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ THE INFORMER|Amstrad Action) ★|
|The Informer||Applications Divers|
A goldmine of information or a bigmouth? Pat McDonald beats a confession out of the the new display software from Treasure Island
Treasure Island Software, £29, disk only
Treasure Island have a track record of innovation and value for money. Their first offering was Parrotry, a dynamic ait package Parrotry Plus was similar What does the Informer do?
The Informer's job Is to let whoever uses it produce a slide show of pictures and infoimation. This is useful in three broad areas; education, animated advertising and promotional information.
The program can produce a display from three sources The first are Parrotry screens. which provide an awful lot of colour for a small memory overhead. The second are normal screens, which take up 17k each and so need to be used sparingly.
The third are text sequences which can be overlaid on top of illustrations or shown on their own, and which do the actual informing while people are captivated by the pictures.
Composition of the final product is as follows; you can have up to 24 Parrotry screens, three normal screens, 24 text screens but a grand total of just 48 screens.
To collate control and show the display there is a suite of programs on the disk These are Chapter, Chapter2, Sort, Merger, Merged, Converts, Control, Display and the evergreen Bankman, used to control the extra 64k of RAM.
Setting up of a display file is as follows First, you must decide just what is being shown - the pictures, text, graphics etc. Second you must input them into the computer This is what the majority of the programs achieve. Third comes the control section which determines the order of information. Last comes the real-time display program, which actually »hows the finished piece
Included in the package are two demonstration displays. One is an advertisement for Snowdon Double Glazing. The other is a summary of Amstrad's yearly report for 1986 Both very dry dull subjects which are surely of little interest Yet the Informer treatment has worked a wonder Both are watchable and contain an awful lot of information.
It is possible to let the Amstrad run the display on its own or to use an external source to pause it where needed. This can either be the joystick or the keyboard Treasure Island can supply a box to do the trick with a ten meter cable for £15.
Potential usage of the package is very widespread. Surely the biggest area is in education. The ability to produce tailor made lessons, to change the order and content of a tutorial to a specific curriculum This could well be a major factor in getting computers into the classroom on a regular basis.
On the other hand people who want to advertise something might find it useful to set up a display, Informer certainly can create some eye catching effects. Products which perform similar tasks have been around for years, but they lack the power of this program and generally cost more.
The third usage is really an extension of the second, where you need to convey ideas without selling a particular product. For instance, the demo based on Amstrad's yearly report presents information in a form which the grey matter readily soaks up. rather than pages of boring text broken up with the odd illustration.
The only drawback to this setup is the amount of effort you will have to put in to get a worthwhile result There may be programs which demand more time and energy but I'm hard put to think of them.
Looking at the reverse of the coin, you get out of the Informer something roughly in proportion to what you put in. To produce a lot of high-quality work will take a fair amount of time Possibly suites of demonstrations might be produced by a third party and sold to Informer users - again this would be of particular interest in the educational field.
The documentation lor the product is good. Admittedly the print quality is smudged, but the instructions themselves are easy to understand Packaging is up to scratch, with a smart blue folder enclosing everything.
Overall I think that the Informer is one of the most useful programs ever released for the CPC range. The potential for producing educational sequences is huge. May it sell to every 6128 owning teacher in the world.
AA , Pat McDonald