Hippo Almanac


Issue 19

Jan/Feb 86

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Q. What has over 35,000 facts?

Hippopotamus Software


Imagine a disk containing over 35,000 facts and figures on many different subjects all available at the typing of a sentence or question. Subjects as diverse as geography, history, unit conversions, sports, languages, science, awards and prizes. These and many more are all contained on the Hippo Almanac. A trivia fan's dream come true and a chance to educate yourself and your family? Well, yes, but there are a number of limitations, it is not quite like having an encyclopaedia.

As with most databases you must ask questions that the program is capable of understanding and you will find that the type of question you can ask is fairly limited however this is not to say that there are not clever aspects to the Almanac. Initially you enter the time and date of using the program and your situation in the world which are then used as reference points. You can ask 'How many days to December 25?' or 'How far is it to Los Angeles' or 'What time is it in Tokyo'. You can ask 'from ... to' type questions or 'What', 'Where' or 'What happened on' questions and provided you stay within the main format you will get the answer required. 

You can ask factual questions about any of the subjects in each main category or call up a help screen which tells you what subcategories are available. Much of the information, such as telephone codes, is U.S. based and therefore of little use but there are certainly enough facts to keep you occupied for some time. Lets give you a couple of examples of how the Almanac breaks down a category. In Geography you may ask the distance between any two places, where any city or country is or what cities are in a given country. You may ask the population of cities, states and countries the area of states or countries, what currency is used in a particular country and capitals. In addition there is U.S. specific information such as telephone codes. In the Science category you can find out the size, gravity, length of day and year, distance and density of all planets in the solar system or ask for many geometric or mathematical formulas.

Perhaps one of the most useful aspects is the ability to add or delete your own information and recall it by keyword. For instance you can create your own telephone directory by typing 'Remember PAGE 6 - 0785 41153'. The program will save this to disk and when you type 'PAGE 6' it will recall the number. To delete information, you just type forget .... With a little bit of thought this could make Hippo Almanac one of the cheapest databases for personal use that you are likely to find. You could list telephone numbers, addresses, birthdays or whatever and search by any keyword. If, for example you wanted to telephone someone you knew in London you need only type '01' and you will get a list of London numbers on your directory.

If you accept that there are some limitations and that a certain amount of information is relevant only to the U.S. then you will get a great deal of information from the Almanac. You can use it for educational purposes but most likely you will just use it as a form of trivial pursuit. There is nothing wrong with that, I could spend many more hours digging up trivial facts than I could playing Space Invaders!

Hippo Almanac is available from Software Express.