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                     REVIEW: Meeting Pearls III CD-ROM
                            By:  Jason Compton 
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The bank slip is back!

Andrea Schmidt and friends decided one day it would be a good idea to put
together a low-cost CD-ROM full of good, useful, and new freely
redistributable Amiga software, sell it, and encourage people to send in
donations if they liked it, making it more convenient by including a direct
bank transfer slip in the CD case.  Sharecompilation, it was called.

That worked well enough that they decided to do it again.

That worked even better, so they've done it yet again and are already
planning a fourth Meeting Pearls CD party.

650 megs is a lot of stuff.  So, what do you get?

You get a more friendly and helpful installer than I remember in the past.
MP I, in particular, was a bit overly insistent on proper assigns and
installation.  However, Achtung!--when using Novice mode, it defaults to
German if it sees a CD-ROM filesystem it doesn't like (the OS 3.1 version,
for example)

You also get an AmigaGuide interface for browsing the CD-ROM.  Sound
familiar?  Well, yes and no...it's not a clone of the Aminet interface, it
actually allows you to configure virtually all of your preferences
(viewers, MetaTool use, etc.) through AmigaGuide.  Some very clever
scripting is going on here...

The FindPearls utility is comprehensive, allowing more "attractive"
searching than plowing through a directory utility or using the AmigaGuide
interface.  It comes in handy if you're not up for a marathon session of
exploring the CD.

Also of note is the special CD-Write demo included.  The version included
will allow you to CD-Write only to the MP III CD, but will give you an idea
of the workings of the program and of course try to convince you that you
can't live without it.

Pictures and text from the meeting itself are included, along with bios on
many of the Meeting Pearls admins, for those who really want to see Angela
Schmidt on a unicycle.

But there really are more useful items on the CD than that.  Although it's
not necessarily everyone's cup of tea, PasTeX 1.4, all 96 megs or so of it,
is included on the disc.  At the other end of the horizon, the game
selection is pretty small but largely consists of the best available in
free redistribution.

Some HTML documents are included, driven by an AMosaic 2.0 frontend.
Roughly 10% of the CD's archives are text files of some kind, including
Amiga Reports 3.01 through 3.18 with an included text search tool.  Picking
up one of these for the search tool alone is a good idea--more than once,
I've searched through a tool such as this one to find out "just when did we
do that review, anyway?"

AmiTCP 4.0 and a selection of useful tools and add-ons are provided for the
network-minded.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw what appeared to be a
registered version of Holger Kruse's PPP driver, but it requires a keyfile
which, obviously, is NOT included.

If you're curious, a fan, or have discovered the bizarre phenomenon known
as Baconizing (attempting to trace actors and their film appearances back
to Kevin Bacon), you'll be interested in the complete Internet Movie
Database.

The disc overall seems very application, development, and text oriented,
but a respectable amount of music and pictures and the aforementioned games
are provided for variety's sake.

The layout of the "good stuff" is roughly the same as the Aminet structure,
of short, easily recognizable subdirectories.  There may not be a lot of
love lost between the Meeting Pearls and Aminet camps, but at least there
is some sort of agreement on logical structure.  There are only so many
ways to call a "game" directory a "game" directory...

In all, MP III is quite professionally put together, with a lot of
attention given to providing an eclectic blend of Amiga software, even if
the fun stuff does give a little way to the likes of the mammoth PasTeX.
The Pearlers have come a long way since the first disc, and I wish them
continued success.

The bottom line on this CD is that for the suggested price of US$12 (15
DM), it's really, really hard to say no, unless your CD-ROM tower is
overflowing.

Published by Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe (say that 3 times fast)
Veronikastr. 33
45131 Essen
Germany
++ 49 201 788 778