Home Improvement 1-2-3
The CD-ROM Home Improvement 1-2-3 (Multicom Publishing), which boasts the Home Depot logo in one corner, is decorated with a drawing of a circular blade – to make it look rugged, presumably, and to give a clue as to the disc’s content. The disc is also decorated with a WARNING which reads, “Do Not Install This Disc In a Power Saw.” Between the two, you get a pretty good idea of what to expect from Home Improvement 1-2-3. Yes, you’ll need to be able to use some tools; and yes, the disc will hold your hand if you’re stupid enough to try to put a CD-ROM in a power saw. A simple interface offers Insulate & Weatherproof, Exterior Maintenance, Ceilings & Walls, Electrical, Plumbing, Shelving & Storage, Wallpapering, Planning & Design, Doors & Windows, Painting & Staining, Cabinets & Countertops, and Floors. Each chapter begins with an introduction which consists mostly of a man saying “don’t insert this disc into a power saw,” tailored, of course, to the topic at hand (sometimes he also fans out some cash, to show how much money you’re saving by doing it yourself). Sample wisdom: turn off the power before you jam metal into a wall socket; for best results, remove old paint before you try to put on a coat of new paint. Text, narration, pictures, and some video guide you through tasks that range from simple to fairly challenging. Print out more than 250 projects, rated in terms of difficulty. The disc is straightforward and packed with information. Some slight problems, like the fact that you need to choose each new sub-topic from a menu instead of being able to simply click forward, won’t matter much to the intended audience. Simple directions, a print function, shopping lists you can take the hardware store, and repeated warnings not to put CD-ROMs into power saws are apparently what budding Tim Allens want. With Home Improvement 1-2-3, that’s just what they get.
– June 1996