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Reviewed by Harry E. Pence

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Fall 1991 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.
Glenn Ouchi is a well-known advocate of laboratory uses of microcomputers, who has written articles for many widely-read computer journals, taught ACS short courses, and edited a newsletter on computing in the chemistry laboratory. He is well qualified to fuHill the promise that the book will"help you select and use a personal computer(PC) to solve problems in your work."
The initial section of the book covers the fundamental hardware and operating systems characteristic of microcomputers. The author does not presume very much prior computing knowledge on the part of the reader. The clear and concise explanations are accompanied .by many excellent illustrations and line drawings. First-time computer users should find this book to be both attractive and readable.
The core of the book is the section on applications software. Ouchi emphasizes that when choosing a computer the essential consideration should be to identify the critical problems which are to be solved and then to select a machine that will run the software that is best able to accomplish those jobs. Advanced hardware capabilities, such as high performance or extended memory, are worthless unless the software needed for the tasks at hand will run on the computer. As many users have sadly learned, purchasing a computer based on the assurance that the required software will be available real soon now will usually lead only to frustration and wasted time. 
The author discusses the "big three" types of software: word processors, spreadsheets, and data bases, but also includes applications of major interest for scientists, such as graphics and statistics programs. Much of the software that he describes is widely used for business applications, but he provides good examples of how those commercial packages are equally applicable to scientific projects. The realistic, sample experiments are excellent for showing how each piece of software can be used, but if there were more emphasis on the types of jobs that each type of software could do, the book would become less dated as new releases of these packages have become available.
The final sections of the book deal with communications and interfacing. This material reviews some of the key topics fundamental to data communications, interfacing, and using electronic data bases. The treatment is rather brief, but not unreasonably so for this level. Each chapter includes a short list of references for further reading, and a glossary of commonly-used computer terms is provided.
This is a clear, weil written summary of the basic knowledge needed to use a microcomputer for scientific projects. Scientific computing is developing so rapidly that some of the material already seems somewhat dated, but there is also a great deal of sound advice that is independent of the most recent software releases. Well-written, introductory books of this type make an important contribution, especially for faculty or students who have had little previous experience with computers.
*Professor of Chemistry
SUNY -Oneonta
Oneonta, NY 13820


10/09/91 to 10/19/91