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                     REVIEW: MEETING PEARLS II CD-ROM
                            By:  Jason Compton 
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Meeting Pearls II picks up where the first CD left off-as a wildly
inexpensive source of an eclectic variety of freely redistributable
software.

Weighing in at roughly US$14, MP II brings hundreds (649, to be precise)
of megs of useful software to the user, including full distributions of
the Linux and NetBSD Unix operating systems. 

The span of the software is impressive-from DiskSalv2 to a demo of Real3D,
there is a wide variety of useful utilities.  Archive tools, demos, and
benchmark software also fill the disc (although AIBB, one of the flagship
benchmark packages, isn't included.  Strange.)  A decent assortment of
pictures is included-some general, some taken from the "Beauty of Chaos"
CD, and others of the partipants in the meetings that made this disc
possible.

Remember-the basic concept of the Meeting Pearls CD is that, basically,
there's a big party and a big hard drive, and everyone fills it.  That was
the story for MP I.  On this disc, things seem to be a more more
"formalized", there are subdirectory "admins" who were responsible for
collecting the files, and contributions were more widely solicited.  But
it's still got the spirit behind it.  The idea is that the disc is sold at
zero profit for the compilers (but the publisher and distributors get
their slice), and that contributions can be made with the enclosed bank
deposit/transfer slip.

Some interesting collections grace the disc-for example, the collected
works of Amiga Report, Blaze...uh, I mean, BLAZEMONGER, and the novel The
Hacker Crackdown.  (As an aside, I rather like the idea of novels being
included on CD-ROMs.  It lends computer users some legitimacy, I
believe-and there really are books worth reading.)

Part of the contents are in HTML format, accessible through the included
AMosaic.  This is a nice touch, although it is not really a total solution
for accessing everything.  (The logos and such are rather nice, however.)

The rest of the CD can be comfortably browsed with the directory utility
of your choice or with the FindPearls search utility.  It relies on MUI,
which may upset some people, but it does work.

Noteworthy is the use of "Metatool", which basically ensures that the disc
can be comfortably used without a lot of assigns and trouble.  MP I was a
bit touchy about how the system was configured for use.  On this disc, the
"clickme.first" file pretty much takes care of all the bases.

I suppose if there is a glaring drawback it's that the CD is rather
German.  This is not a BAD thing, per se, and there is a lot of English,
to be sure.  But it has to be kept in mind that most of the work was done
natively in German, and some things (largely docs in some programs that
have been included, but there are pictures as well) just didn't get
translated.  Or, sometimes, a joke or comment will get lost.  The features
of primary importance, though, are in English.

In the cluttered field of compilation CD-ROMs, Meeting Pearls II is a
standout at an unbeatable price and a very nice collection.  For some, it
may be worth it simply for the easily-accessible Unix installations, since
they aren't exactly a quick download.  For others-well, you can never have
too much software.

Compiled and Copyright by Angela Schmidt

Distributed by Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe
++49 0201  788778 voice
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