Data Access Diskette
produced by Sam Sternberg
Ordering infomation: $23 (including GST, PST;
specify 3.5 or 5.25 inch diskettes; cheques payable
to Sam Sternberg, 187 Searle Avenue, North York,
For additional infomvition, call Sam at
(416) 636-3354 during business hours.
Electronic Resource reviewed by Dean Tudor
Wow, there's a lot of stuff on this disc (660k)! If you live in
the Toronto area, or if you use the phone a lot, you'll love the
material here. If you're looking for data about another region,
this disc won't be of immediate value. But perhaps something similar
exists locally for you.
Data Access contains seven files: one introduction, three instructional
and three data files. All of the material is in ASCII format, so
it can be used with any word processing program (Word, WordPerfect,
WordStar) or any information management program (such as askSam).
You can use Windows, DOS, OS/2 or UNIX. Data can be read by any
computer: if you have a Mac, just use the conversion program.
The instructional files tell you how to use the local dial-in data
services and list all those now publicly accessible in Metro Toronto.
Another file explains the use of online databases and lists all subsidized (read free or cheap) resources
available in the Toronto area, with subject codes and breakdowns.
There is also a beginner's file for very basic instructions on research
The data files are the important ones. The file "CD-ROM"
names the CD-ROM discs currently available in Metro Toronto, describing
contents and locations. "Library" names the libraries
within the Metro area that admit the public, with names, addresses,
phone numbers, descriptions of collections, subject strengths, etc.
"Subject" is a quasi-index. It lists CD-ROMs, libraries
and full text services for 70 major subject areas. This latter file
should be the starting point for any focused search for information
on a specific topic.
Everything appears to be cross referenced: the set is designed to
speed up your access to data in the libraries of Metro Toronto,
with an emphasis on using computerized services to improve research
accuracy and thoroughness, and cut the time and expense involved
in locating information.
It's an extremely useful tool, in my opinion, but researchers need
to remember that (a) it's restricted to data found within publicly-accessible
libraries in the Metro Toronto region; (b) it doesn't consider
electronic bulletin boards or other networks; and (c) a freetext
indexing program is needed to retrieve and compare data drawn from
the files (that is, you cannot just type in "environment"
or "North York" and expect to capture everything on the
On the other hand, for $23 it's a bargain, particularly since it
costs about $30 (tax included) to buy a 170-page hard cover first
If you want to, you can, of course, print out files for reference.
You can update the files on your own, move material around to consolidate
what you specialize in, and so forth. Be aware that these are just
text files, and that they look like a book on a screen. There's
no real magic here, just a lot of useful data, well assimilated
within the constraints of simple ASCII text files for import into your own set of computer programs.
Sternberg also has an updating service on his own BBS, which has
additional new sources. It's updated every week and costs $50 a
year to subscribe. Perhaps, if you have a modem, you could phone
Sternberg directly, join the BBS for $50 and download Data Access
for free (that is, its cost would be part of the $50 fee, which
gets you updates and extra material beyond the Toronto region).
Check it out!
Published in Sources, Summer 1993
Sources, 489 College
Street, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
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