Using Your Home Computer (Papermac) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

Using Your Home Computer
By Papermac
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #13

Using Your Home Computer

It was an enquiry from a reader that brought this book to my attention: there aren't many books available for practical computer applications in the home. A short time later I came across Using Your Home Computer: the subtitle, Practical Projects For The Micro Owner, suggested that this might be a book that could fill the gap. Both Mr. Davies and the publisher, MacMillan Press, might well be on to a good thing here, I couldn't wait to find out what uses all we frustrated serious applications people could be putting our minds to around the home.

On the principle that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him forever - Garth Davies goes further than the titles suggest and attempts to lay guidelines and establish a good working procedure for designing a variety of practical projects. To do this he can draw on hs extensive commercial background in systems analysis. In fact, if this book teaches anything then it is how to set about analysing problems. The theory then is that having acquired a method of breaking down possible tasks to identify the requirements, the solving will be so much simpler and all that really is needed to make full use of your home computer is a handful of clever ideas. Without any doubt this analytical approach has proved itself well in business.

Fortunately, the text does not burden readers with theoretical planning models or jargon terms of business use, but discusses each topic with reference to realistic home examples. By adopting this method, the author is able to explain the logic and highlight pitfalls with tangible examples. The result is a well-written text that clearly explains the technique. Although I do not think a Christmas card list compiler (the example used in the discussion) is a terrific idea, it is an effective example!

Later chapters offer a further selection of projects, in fact, a total of 23 topics range from a diet plan, recipes and menus, football pools forecasting to examination questions and mortgage repayments. Each project specification follows the theory already discussed. Readers who closely follow the specifications in their own projects will find themselves with the largest part of the work already done and well on the way to completing the rest.

At no point in Using Your Home Computer does any computer code appear: all projects suggested could be applied to any machine, given that sufficient memory is available. It follows then that readers are expected to be capable of coding from the specifications arrived at, but that should not prove too difficult. The main difficulty will lie in finding worthwhile uses for your home computer. I am not entirely convinced that many of the 24 examples included within the paperback's 80 pages fall into that category.

Whether this book will be a real aid to you will depend on the ideas you have for using your computer around the home. There is little doubt that a practical method for examining your ideas and analysing the problem to produce a workable project specification can be learned, professional systems analysts will confirm that, this book can teach these things well. Perhaps some further examination would show that few things in the domestic environment require such effort.

Patrick Cain