ALL YOU'VE NEVER WANTED IN A DIARY
A diary is usually a little book with loads of dates and 'vital' info in it. It is customary for elderly aunts and uncles to give you one of these supposedly useful items at Yuletide. You usually write in it daily for about a week, then leave it in a dusty drawer for the rest of the year. Now, thanks to Intelligent Software, we have the electronic version, with some unique features.
The contents of the diary are accessed using a simple menu system. As you'd expect you can make entries for each day (but only about six words long), access an imperial/metric conversion table (there's no calculator, though) and look up the phone numbers of computer magazines, software houses and hardware makers. Then there's the special features, like a weather forecast for any day in 1989 (Ian McGaskill could do with one of these) and a similarly fictional daily horoscope (just like the real thing, in fact). A more modern pseudo-science, biorhythms, is also included.
Marginally more useful is a snack bar which includes a number of vomit-inducing ideas for what to put on your sandwiches (eg sardines, jam and pickle). If you want boiled eggs for a sandwich then you might also use the egg timer, which lets you input egg size, how you like it and so on. Unfortunately the timer, like the alarm function, makes no sound whatsoever - all that happens is that the border flashes various colours!
Finally, to keep you amused while you're trying to crack your concrete egg, you can play any of the three games included. Hangman allows you to guess what the computer's secret word is (out of about half a dozen possibilities) while the wordsearch is self-explanatory (just press a button to reveal the answer, teletext-style). Trivia quiz presents you with just three questions (wow!) although more can be loaded from side B of the tape (only three at a time though!). Oh, and not to forget the amazing 'crash of the day' option - it actually crashes the program (probably the best option!).
Despite its many features, Computer Maniac's 1989 Diary is really just a gimmicky product aimed at bewildered parents, shopping for Christmas presents. The blurb on the inlay asks 'Who said a diary can't be fun?' - well whoever it was, he was certainly right in this case.
PHIL KING ... 23%
The completely useless egg-timer in action.