ZX Spectrum 48K

Mike Wright
Chris Bourne

THIS IS another in the Brainpower series published by Collins Soft. The motto of the series is 'Application through Learning' and each title has an introduction to the basics of a manual which also doubles as a text book, a teaching program and an applications program.

The teaching module is some 180K long and spread over seven programs. It is designed to develop those numeracy skills most often used in day-to- day business.

Each section is followed by a test. At the start you are asked to decide whether you want to set a pass rate, if so it must be achieved before you can proceed to the next section. One option of the teaching program is a calculator which can be displayed and used on the screen; it seems rather pointless, since it is either not available when you need it, particularly during the tests, or you are moved on to another example after using it.

Though Numbers at Work is targeted for use in business, and not school, the teaching module resembles the sort of programs which gave educational computing a bad name. The overall impression is not helped by a Backpage prompt which seems almost impossible to get rid of, and a Finish option which simply freezes the screen, leaving the user to reset manually.

The applications program provides an easy way of using the techniques learnt earlier. Options offered include Discount Margin Mark-up & VAT, Salary & PAYE, Commission & Brokerage, and Interest. Each option displays a one screen chart on which you can enter numbers. Once enough numbers have been entered the remaining entries are calculated automatically. A hard copy of the chart can be printed. Changing tax and allowance rates affect some calculations and while the program is set up for rates following the 1984 budget they can be changed. Unfortunately, the program cannot be saved with the new rates and you must enter them every time the program is loaded.

In summary, the teaching package is uninteresting, and the loading time for the applications package is likely to deter people from using it. This is the most disappointing of the Brainpower series, especially in dealing with a topic which, arguably, needs to be made much more lively and interesting.

Mike Wright

Publisher: Collins Soft
Price: £14.95
Memory: 48K