Magazine article Information Today

Dreaming of a DVD-ROM Holiday?

Magazine article Information Today

Dreaming of a DVD-ROM Holiday?

Article excerpt

Peter Jacso is associate professor of library and information science at the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii. He won the 1998 Louis Shores--Oryx Press Award from ALA'S Reference and User Services Association for his discerning database reviews. His e-mail address is jacso@hawaii.edu.

Here are a few suggestions for the loved ones on your list

As is my custom, in the December issue of IT I recommend some gift ideas for the holiday shopping season. There is still a dearth of DVD-ROM titles, but the two 1999 databases (Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite and The Complete National Geographic on DVD-ROM) and the three drives I recommend are perfect holiday gifts--and you won't have to rob a bank to afford them.

DVD-ROM Database Recommendations

The encyclopedia choice would be a nobrainer even if there were fierce competition. But aside from Microsoft's Encarta '99 DVD-ROM Reference Suite (which includes the Encarta Deluxe Encyclopedia and retails for less than $90) and Microsoft's Encarta Deluxe '99 DVD-ROM Encyclopedia (which lists for less than $60), there are only two other general encyclopedias available: Webster's International DVD-ROM Encyclopedia and Funk & Wagnalls' DVD-ROM Encyclopedia.

Encarta Reference Suite '99

Given that the Encarta Reference Suite '99 on DVD-ROM includes the Encarta Encyclopedia '99 Deluxe Edition, the magnificent Virtual Globe '99 atlas, and Bookshelf '99 (and some extras), it is the one that I wholeheartedly recommend. Microsoft not only revamped the interface, added a smart Encarta Explorer navigation feature (not related to Internet Explorer) and a natural language search option, it also included over 3,000 articles from the highly respected Collier Encyclopedia.

In addition to standardizing the navigation dashboard of these components, Microsoft also created thousands of Suite Links to enhance the integration of these three outstanding resources. For example, beyond listing the 278 related articles within the encyclopedia, the article about French literature includes a link to Virtual Globe's map of France (the most detailed you've ever seen), from which there are hotlinks to quotes in Bookshelf from great French philosophers such as Denis Diderot, one of the masterminds behind the famous late- 18th century Encyclope die Diderot said, "One must make a start in any line of research, and this beginning almost always has to be a very imperfect attempt." Well, last year Microsoft made an attempt at DVD-ROM implementation for the first time--it was good, but not perfect. However, the 1999 edition of the Encarta DVD-ROM, with its delightful navigation and superb integration of highquality textual and multimedia content, is a perfect resource.

What makes this DVD-ROM suite really sweet for you is that it includes a $30 rebate, plus a 1-year free subscription to the Online Encarta Deluxe Encyclopedia. The extra full-screen video materials and panoramic photos are icing on the cake in this masterpiece of intellectual dessert.

All these make the Encarta Reference Suite DVD-ROM stand out head and shoulders from the other very impressive CD-ROM encyclopedias and reference suites. If there is anything that will make you want to buy a DVD-ROM drive, the Encarta Reference Suite DVD-ROM edition will be it.

The Complete National Geographic on DVD-ROM

I have always adored this wonderful publication. It is probably the most widely read international magazine as well as the most multifaceted one, providing vivid, magnificently illustrated, first-hand reports on the social, cultural, anthropological, ecological, biological, and, yes, geographical wonders of the world. This is possibly the only magazine whose back issues many of us inherit from our parents and take with us when moving from one place to another. I miss my collection left in my home country, and, as an oft-moving tenant, I struggle getting the issues of the past few years from one apartment to another. …

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