Ellen Farr MNHBO001 at SIVM.BITNET
Thu Jan 13 07:44:02 CST 1994

Comments from Dan Nicolson on the IK CD-ROM.
Ellen Farr, Smithsonian Institution
mnhbo001 at sivm.si.edu
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Date:         Wed, 12 Jan 94  16:39:14 EST
From:         "Dan H. Nicolson" <MNHBO061 at SIVM>
Subject:      IK on CD-ROM
To:           Ellen Farr <mnhbo001 at sivm.si.edu>

   It seems a bit much to expect Kew and Oxford University Press to give
away their assets.
   I have been using a beta-test version of IK on CD-ROM and have been waiting
with bated breath to get my hands on the final product. All I can say is that
it enables one to do things that are impossible with hard-copy. For example I
can use it to find out how many species were named for or by Ray Fosberg and/or
Jose Cuatrecasas. I used it to find out how many generic names were published
by Linnaeus that end in -ma so I could see how consistent he was in using
neuter vs. feminine gender.
   Do NOT believe them when they say it runs on the old IBM AT's... it crawls
with long pauses and when our computer guru put it up on a 66 megaherz 486 I
thought I'd died and gone to heaven ... it actually became a useful tool. Now
its on a 33 megaherz 486 and I can't tell the difference.
   It was on display at the Botanical Congress in Yokohama and I sat down to
amaze my friends and the god-damn mouse wouldn't work. While it can be
command driven (help menu gives the commands) I find it tough to set up a
boolean search without a mouse.
   Remember, it only has what IK has in it. The first issues of IK didn't
bother with picayune details such as date of publication and locality info
is VERY sparse, and trinomials weren't incorporated until very recently so
don't expect it to give you what it doesn't have in the original.
   Is it worth it? It is if you ever had to use IK and have a sense of what
power you feel when you ask it for all names published in Asteraceae and it
sets up the list for you (I think it's about 26,000).
   There is garbage in it. But... wow... what a tool. If you think the price
is high just think what buying the whole set costs. Then think how many sets
they're going to sell once this is available. The printed sets make nice
herbarium press ends.
   I think it was set up by clowns with a little feedback from Kew. After they
heard from beta reviewers I understand that they made some changes. I told them
I'd keep the beta test version until I could get the final version. I'm still
   One of the jokes in the beta version was: you can have all the scientific
names for a group roll out of printer with author OR place of publication but
there was no way to get it spill the scientific names with author AND place
of publication. I told them that was a joke devised by a non-user. To get
Cuatrecasas' published names I had to print them twice (once with author,
once with place of publication), scan them with an OCR and then integrate.
   I am dying to know if the final version fixed this feature/bug.

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