CO 73.1 [Fall 1995], pp. 22-23: JPROGS' Aeneas Latinus, The Story of Aeneas, Olympic Games, Latin Alive; Microsoft Ancient Lands; shareware from Leo Curran (Roman Calendar, Natalis, Vinco Bingo); Gopher discussed
Special kudos go to Ken Kitchell and all the local folks who hosted this
year's ACL Institute in Baton Rouge. The weather was typically "tropical"
(with sporadic downpours to keep the humidity up to greenhouse levels),
and the LSU campus has the same steamy, yet genteel, aura as the plantation
houses that line the river nearby. Even the computer workshop presenters
received a substantial dose of southern hospitality from the staff of the
CADGIS Lab (Computer-Aided Design & Geographical Information Systems)
on campus. Every year I imagine that the newer, "better," more
powerful technology is going to make the job of coordinating these workshops
easier, but somehow it also gets more complicated, with more opportunities
for compatibility problems and greater demands on available memory. If nothing
else, we can feel certain that Classics is keeping up with "cutting
edge" technology; this was well-demonstrated by all nine of this year's
One of this year's presenters was a return visitor from the United Kingdom.
Julian Morgan came to Boulder two years ago to introduce his graphical Macintosh
software on mythology and Roman technology. Last year he released two more
programs intended as introductions to the Aeneid--one all in Latin (Aeneas
Latinus), the other in English (The Story of Aeneas)--as well as a program
on the Olympic Games (both ancient and modern). This time he made the trip
"across the pond" to demonstrate his latest work, in which he
is making forays into the world of color in HyperCard. The new program is
called Latin Alive. It covers a lot of the basic material on classical civilization,
including all of the "culture and civilization" syllabus for the
introductory level of the National Latin Exam (and much of levels I and
II, too). The topic sections are titled: Map, Numbers, Houses, Rome, Latin
Words, Roman Gods, Politics, Romulus & Remus. Each section has a short
quiz (6-10 questions); scores are recorded on disk. The black-and-white
version sells for $95 for a school site license, $60 for an individual home
license. The color version (which includes the black-and-white version on
a separate disk) is priced at $125 and $80, respectively. The color version
requires 4MB of RAM, 1.5MB of hard disk space, and a 14" or larger
monitor. For more information, contact JPROGS' American publisher: Centaur
Systems, Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison, WI 53703; tel. 608-255-6979.
These programs are also available from the ACL's Teaching & Materials
Resource Center, Miami Univ., Oxford, OH 45056; tel. 513-529-7741.
While some may consider MicroSoft Ancient Lands to be an oxymoron akin
to "classical computing," others may look at the former as the
ultimate imprimatur for the latter. MicroSoft is widely considered to be
the reigning monarch of the entire software industry, so when they put their
resources behind a software development project, you can usually expect
great things; and, in the case of this CD-ROM program for the Classics,
you will not be let down.
MicroSoft Ancient Lands is part of their Home series of "infotainment" multimedia software. It combines high-quality illustrations, photos, maps, sound clips, and brief descriptions to create a tightly intertwined and very user-friendly program covering the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. You can choose the helpful services of one of several guides (for example: Marcus, a Roman boy; Thespus, a Greek actor; or a woman Pharoah) or do your own searching and wandering. Major areas to explore include "Monuments & Mysteries," "Work & Play," and "People & Politics." There are maps and an index available at all times, in case you have a specific name or topic to track down. Everything is very carefully tied together with buttons and hypertext; your main job will be to maintain the focus of your investigation and not get distracted by some new, fascinating tangent.
The program may not provide the depth required for any serious research, but that is not its intent. As a general overview of classical civilization, it is clear, concise, and very well-designed. A nice, little fringe benefit is a set of "classical" screen-savers that can be imported into your Windows environment for use outside the program.
The Windows version of Ancient Lands has been out for over a year now; it requires standard MPC hardware (386 CPU, VGA monitor, CD-ROM drive, sound card, 4MB RAM, 2.5-5.5MB hard disk space, and Windows 3.1). The Macintosh version was due out this past summer; its requirements should be comparable (any Mac with a color monitor, same RAM and hard drive space, and System 7). The cost for either version is $59.95; to order or get more info, you can contact MicroSoft directly (tel. 800-426-9400).
Leo Curran, a Classics professor at SUNY-Buffalo, is making a great offer
to one and all. He has created three Macintosh utility programs that many
a Latin teacher might enjoy using. Roman Calendar allows you to print your
own 8.5" x 11" wall calendar for any month of any year with all
the proper Roman designations. Natalis prints out a decorative "birth
certificate" with a student's name and their Roman date of birth. Vinco
Bingo uses your own list of words (vocabulary, forms, mythological names,
cultural items) to create a complete set of randomly generated bingo cards
in the language of your choice. To obtain your own copy of these programs,
send a blank, Mac-formatted disk to Leo Curran, 4317 Harlem Rd., Snyder,
In my last column, I talked about downloading software by FTP. This time
I'd like to move one step up in the level of sophistication and talk about
Gopher. I realize that the Internet world is swiftly being taken over by
"the Web" (or WWW, the World Wide Web), but many people are just
now gaining access to the Web, whereas Gopher access can be taken for granted.
Gopher has something of a double entendre behind its name. First, it was developed at the University of Minnesota, whose mascot and state symbol is the animal with the same name. Second, the purpose behind the software is to act as an electronic "go-fer" to find and retrieve information for you. There are many universities that provide a hierarchical, menu-based interface for accessing information about their campus and various departments. Some departments have used this setup to provide data that can be either read on-screen or downloaded to your own system for later reading or printing. Taking this one step further, some Gopher listings include programs that can be downloaded, too. These systems usually use FTP to do the actual downloading, but the menu-based Gopher interface is much more user-friendly than the directory searching and command protocols required by standard FTP. Just as the FTP system provides Archie as a search guide, Gopher depends on a program called Veronica to do quick searches for specific items on any of its client servers.
One site I would recommend for you to try out first is the Classics and Archaeology Gopher Site. To do this, you would typically use the following command from your Internet server:
This will get you to the main menu, and you're on your own from there. The few, simple instructions are provided on-screen.
Among other things, you will note that the ACL is using this site to distribute membership information and announcements. Glenn Knudsvig, ACL president, happens to teach at the University of Michigan, where the site is based. There are also listings for worksheets correlated to his textbook, Latin for Reading, which can be downloaded, as well as information and maps regarding the department's current archaelogical endeavors at Pylos and Crete.
Despite the recent onslaught against the NEH and its funding base, the
office is still working hard to keep its lines of communication wide open.
If you would like to get the latest grant information, download publications,
or join a sponsored conversation, you can e-mail them (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or try their new Web home page (http://www.neh.fed.us).
More about "the Web" next time!