The Angry Corrie 18: Apr-Jun 1994

Murdo's Computer Corner

Who would have thought, when the editorial team were bashing out the material for TAC1 and inventing the letters, we would eventually find ourselves writing software reviews? But from letters and articles it certainly appears that a significant subdirectory of the TAC readership know their DOS from their Windows. We may occasionally verge on the politically incorrect by all but ignoring the Mighty MAC, but sadly TAC has to live in the real world without whopping 60% so-called educational discounts. We can't all be teachers.

Apart from Virtual Valerie, yer man here spends the bulk of his free moments waggling his joystick in flight sims or his mashie niblick in Links 386. And how often I have wished as I dip my wings under the Golden Gate bridge, that I was really under the Erskine, about to turn right or starboard as we pilots call it and zoom up Loch Lomondside, buzzing Tam Weir on Duncryne as I passed and scaring the shit out of the redshanks he was studying. Or how often when carving a 4 iron to the 17th at Harbour Town have I wished I was seeking backspin to hold a sand wedge on the Cioch's elevated green, as Hamish MacInnes' piper held the pin. Landscape Explorer doesn't quite deliver these, but it's a step in the right direction. Essentially, it creates a 3D image of a map drawn by the user.

Technical stuff first: don't use an old tin box. You will need Windows. Landscape Explorer is shareware, which means you get a trial copy for almost the cost of the disk, but the moral imperative is upon you to buy the thing if you like it. The full version costs 35.

Imagine my surprise when, after downloading from the ether, I found Ben Lomond as the demo landscape. Having viewed it from all angles and bored various colleagues with accounts of my last three ascents, it was down to the tracing paper, scanner and paintbrush (Microsoft not B&Q). To create a viable original image, you have to get a set of contours into the machine, a job best done with the above implements. After a couple of abortive efforts, I eventually produced this version of Suilven. (NB - This reproduction is crap: the original image is colour which doesn't transfer.)

The trial version does not allow editing of maps once you have created them. This is quite a bind, as the creation of a decent picture requires a bit of trial and error. The full registered version does, however, allow editing.

The package is created by Kevin Woolley of WoolleySoft, Dunblane. As we go to press, an update arrives from Kevin packed with new features which I don't have time to review. These include auto- drawing of contours and access to digital terrain maps to bypass having to create your own. In the US these are in the public domain and freely available to anyone with a modem. In the UK the good old Ordnance Survey are at present prevaricating over a price.

WoolleySoft is at Humblesknowe Cottage, Ramoyle, Dunblane, Perthshire FK15 0BA


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