From: Tim Evanson <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
Subject: Bijou Gay Video Catalog CD-ROM review
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 97 14:48:34
Organization: All USENET -- http://www.Supernews.com
Well, I have my Bijou Gay Video Catalog CD-ROM.
Was it worth the wait? I think that's the issue uppermost in everyone's mind. And I have to say....well, maybe not.
Let me give you my review as I experienced the CD-ROM:
I was not too impressed with the case. That was my first impression. It comes in your typical jewel-box CD-ROM case. The cover artwork is black-and-white, not color. That's pretty worrisome. The back of the case is simply a Sony CD-ROM label. Uh....unprofessional, guys. If this had been a cassette tape, I'd have said it looks like someone ran off the cover on a laser printer, used a generic blank cassette tape, and didn't have the time or money to come up with a back cover, and so used the generic cover that came with the blank tape. No kidding.
Inside is the CD. The inside cover contains installation instructions. Sadly, the instructions for Windows 95 are not what you need to do for Windows 95!! For example, the instructions tell me to "double-left click on the CD-ROM image." WHAT CD-ROM IMAGE???? Nothing appears on my desktop. And if I'm in Windows Explorer, then I simply double-left click on the appropriate drive (in my case, the CD is drive E), open the "BijouPC" folder, and then create a shortcut (by left-clicking once to select the BijouPC.exe file, then right-clicking once to access the pull-down menu, and then clicking on the "create shortcut" command and dragging that shortcut onto my desktop). THEN I'd double-click on the shortcut on my desktop. Bijou asks you to copy the Bijoupc folder to your hard drive. Why?? Why not save harddisk space and just run it off the CD? Sheesh. And if I do copy that folder and try to run the program, it doesn't work. It has to access the CD anyway. (BTW, one thing Bijou doesn't tell novices is that you have to leave the CD in the CD-ROM drive. I can easily see where someone new to computers would buy this catalog, follow the instructions, and like with most software assume that the whole she-bang has downloaded--and then remove the CD. You can't with this program.)
One thing that upsets me is that the CD contains both Windows 95, Windows 3.X, Power Mac, and Macintosh versions -- ALL on the one CD. I wonder if performance would have been enhanced if they had only put ONE version on each CD. I wonder if they could have put additional features into the software had they not had to cram it all onto one CD.
Oh: The cover says this is "volume one." Is there a volume two? I guess so. Will it come to me automatically? No clue. Will I have to buy it separately? No idea. What will be in volume two? No information offered. Well shit.
Anyway, if you look underneath the front cover, you'll find a small photocopied sheet that gives you instructions as to how to use the program. I found them pretty redudant, since the program is largely self-explanatory.
I immediately found a bug in my program. When it opens, I get an error dialogue-box telling me that the program cannot find e:/bijouvid/system.dbf. Big deal. There is no "bijouvid" folder. However, there is a system.dbf file in the BijouPC folder. So if you simply click "ignore" or "cancel" the program loads right anyway.
Another bug in the program -- or lacking feature is more accurate -- is the fact that the program is fixed to a certain size screen. God forbid that you, like I, leave your status bar always on the screen. It will half-obscure the buttons on the bottom all the time. You can't resize the screen in any way, and none of the minimize, maximize, or exit buttons in the upper right corner of the program work.
The catalog uses FoxPro as its program. BLEAH!!! Hasn't anyone heard of Access or a hundred other, more recent, less memory-clogging programs with a hundred more features??? Anyway, you are given 7 non-manipulable dialogue boxes at the top of the screen:
The Video ID box refers to the ID number that Bijou assigns to the video. Unless you are looking at Bijou's catalog on their Web site or ordering directly from Bijou, it is a pretty useless item. Next to it is the Chapter ID and Studio Name. Bijou lists its movies by "chapters," each chapter devoted to a different studio. Again, the ID number is pretty useless unless you already know the chapter IDs (no list comes with the CD, and there is no pull-down menu). The studio name is nice to know, but you cannot perform searches under a studio's name -- ONLY UNDER THE CHAPTER ID. What sort of useless search feature is that??? The director's name, running time, and year released are all pretty self-explanatory. The program lists the price that Bijou is offering for the video. I'm not sure that this is really useful, since most people will probably use the CD only to do searches for actors, titles, etc. and not for ordering from Bijou. I understand that Bijou wants to promote their own studio, but...
To the right of these 7 boxes is a neat feature: A still from the video. It's a great thing to have there. Click on it once, and it enlarges to about a third of your screen. Click on the big picture, and it goes back to a small one. NEAT! Only about half the titles have a still, which just goes to show how closely-held some of these "big secrets" are by studios.
Below these boxes are the most important features you'll need: The "Note" which describes and reviews the film, and to its left the list of performers.
Along the bottom of the page you'll buttons for top, bottom, next, previous, find, add to order, review order, exit. "Top" and "Bottom" only take you to the top and bottom of a chapter (i.e., listing for a studio). They might be useful, but for the time being I have not found any use for them. "Previous" and "Next" are obvious.
"Find" is the option I think most people will use. When you click on the "Find" button, you get a dialogue box with four options: Video ID, Director, Chapter, and Title. Well, for me, two of these functions are completely useless (Video ID and Chapter). Director is a useful search feature, but BE SURE TO TYPE IN THE FIRST AND LAST NAME. If you type in "Steven Scarborough" the feature works fine. But type in "Scarborough" and it looks only for FIRST names beginning with "Scarb..." Which, of course, there aren't. And you end up pulling out your hair (assuming I could get a good grip on my crewcut).
You can also search by title, and that is probably THE most important feature they have. It's great. Works without a problem as far as I can see.
Now, the instructions don't tell you this, BUT: You can also do searches under an actor's name. But it's a clunky way of doing it. Let's say, for example, that you know that Cole Carpenter was in "The Bigger They Come." You go to that title using the "find: title" search feature. Now, click on the word "actor" over the list of actors. This activates that list. (It also causes your screen to drop about a quarter of an inch, JUUUUST enough to effectively hide all the buttons along the bottom. So, just try to edge the screen up a bit by dragging on the top border. I did, and you can get just enough button to appear to be able to use them again.) Click in the box where the actor's name is. (Sometimes, the cursor just sits there. The program thinks you're trying to enter something in the box. Just single-click once more, and it works.)
BANG! -- up comes a GREAT screen which lists the actor's titles (alphabetically), the director, the year, the running time, and the price. COOL! Just click in the box where any title is, and then click OK. You'll be taken to the entry for that move. Click "Cancel" to exit and go back to the screen you began from. COOL!!!!!
NOW THE BIG QUESTION: How complete is the catalog? It's the most complete catalog out there. Period. I can't think of anything available to the public (hey Advanced Direct, didja hear that???????) that is more complete. However, that is not to say that it's perfect. There are some pretty glaring omissions. For example, yesterday I was doing a search on Taz Action. Taz's movies are as follows (the list is as complete as I can make it):---------------------------------------------
Of the 35 films listed here, Bijou only had EIGHT. Missing were films from large studios like Forum (Bijou listed "Men with Tools" and "Thrust Fault" but not "Bartender"), Hot House ("Bottoms Up"), Bacchus Releasing ("Obsessive Desires"), All Worlds (Bijou listed "Hell Knight" but not "Paradise Inn" or "Taxi Tales"), HIS Video ("Santa Monica Place"), and from small studios like Midnight Men ("Gaywatch" and "Wild Bill"), Metro Home Video ("A Cut Above,"), Spectrum Video, ("Hard Ball" and "Hard Labor"), Image Video ("Sex Games"), Surfside Studios ("Summer Money"), and all the BG East Wrestling films.
Taz Action/Billy "Wild Bill" Roberts may have been a minor performer who only lasted two years (1993-1994), but he warranted TWO appearances in the Adam Film World annual directory, along with pictures and extremely favorable reviews both times.
I dunno, it seems like there's a lot missing.
I won't address the ordering features, as others have done so far better than I already. (See Butch Harris' review elsewhere on the Net.)
I will give the catalog some credit. It accesses information very quickly, there appear to be few errors in the data itself, the reviews are lengthy and descriptive and very informative, and the actor filmographies are well-laid out. Yeah, it's a bit of a memory hog. I tried running Eudora (email), Netscape (Web browser), Windows Explorer, and the catalog all at once. There were significant slow-downs in image accessing and URL accessing, and switching from one program to another using the status bar often took 2-3 seconds. But nothing crashed, or even SEEMED to. That's a big relief!
Please take the criticisms above with a grain of salt. Oh heck, make it a salt lick! Bijou has done something NO ONE ELSE HAS. And they've done it for the public, too. Bijou is also the FIRST company to do this on CD-ROM. The studio has gone through some bad patches lately, and this CD is really the result of only one or two staffer's work. Clunky and goofy and a little useless and missing some stuff it may be. BUT: The first ironclad ships were hellholes for sailors. The first train couldn't outrun a horse at a half-gallop. The first steamboats didn't move. And there is a reason why the sarcastic phrase "Don't sell the bike shop, Orville" entered our lexicon. If heaven's streets are paved with asphalt and not gold, most likely we'd complain about the potholes rather than the lack of death, disease, war, and famine. Eh, only human.
I am, after all, a critic. Something Mark Twain called "the most degraded of trades." :)