Our work may sound romantic. But testing computer software is mighty humdrum. Most programs nowadays are just like programs we've seen before. You wouldn't believe, for example, how many companies make pop-up address filers with built-in phone dialers.
It makes our day, though, when we find a gem on the stack. This week we found three! We were a bit skeptical when a hometown programmer sent us his creation. We worry about anything that calls itself "perfect." But The Perfect Resume really is a perfect program for anyone job-hunting for the first time, climbing the ladder or changing careers.It's divided into two modules. One, Resume Builder, helps you write a good resume. The other one, Career Builder, is even more useful. It forces you to list in descending priority your ambitions, interests, talents, skills and accomplishments.
To help you approach the task with the right attitude, it calls the work "defining your magnificence." When you fill in all the onscreen blanks, the program rewards you with a list of your three top job targets. You also discover that you've painlessly written several good paragraphs for your resume.
The software automatically transfers the list and the paragraphs into its Resume Builder module. When you move into that module, you discover that most of the writing is already done! Unlike other packages we've tested, this one gives you no excuse for giving up. You needn't wrack your brain to name your 10 top skills. You can select from a long onscreen list suggested by the authors. You can choose your 10 top interests from another lengthy list.
A section on targeting your resume asks for your three most desired job titles. To prod your memory and ease your brain, it windows over 200 job titles at the press of a key.
When your results are transferred to the Resume Builder, it designs and organizes your material. You can choose any or all of the three classic resume formats: chronological, functional or job-targeted. A few simple editing and formatting keys control underlines, bold type, bulleted paragraphs and other stylistic pleasures.
The $50 Personal version can be reused as skills and interests change but is copy-protected to print just one person's name. A $250 Counselor version saves resume raw material for any number of people. Both run on IBM compatibles and are available from local dealers or from Permax Systems of Madison, WI (608-222-8804).
Who says computer toys don't teach? We were never sure what transmogrify meant until we loaded in Broderbund's BannerMania. It means "to change something a great deal and often with humorous or grotesque effects." That's exactly what this clever package can do to any message you type in.
Here, Broderbund does for banner-designing programs what Word and WordPerfect do for word processors. It makes all the others look unimaginative and clumsy. This isn't just a toy, it's a tool.
It can make eye-catching and truly artistic signs, posters and bumper stickers. You can print your creation in reverse (at a keytouch) to use as a transfer pattern or see-through slide. If your word processing or desktop publishing program has a Screen Capture feature such as Mi-crosoft's Word 5.0 does, you can turn the banner into an exciting banner headline.
The program works like a charm. Impatient users can just load it and use it. Nearly every feature and option is available by scrolling through successive menus and hitting the enter key. You'll rarely need to consult the manual, although a thorough reading gets more out of the program.
We assembled our banner design using the program's layout shapes and sizes. We typed our message and selected type fonts from the menus. We added some of the nearly three dozen snazzy special effects. You can tell at a glance that professional artists created them.
We tapped the "transmogrification" key, and the program put our design through a multitude of variations. We selected one and sized it to fit our needs. A clever preview feature let us see how long the banner would be before we printed it. At a keystroke, we changed its size and placement on a page. The program costs $35 for IBM and compatibles. Broderbund: (800) 521-6263.
In educational software, we can usually count on Davidson for quality. When we tested Word Attack four years ago, we recommended it highly. Word Attack Plus is even better. It teaches the meanings of over 700 words, from fourth grade to adult usage levels. It also adds a new game and an easy-to-use test maker for teachers and parents.
The words are divided into lessons of increasing difficulty. They're introduced in word list study sessions which can be repeated as often as needed. Then there are sentence completion activities and several types of matching games.
The jewel of the package is an arcade-type game called Word Attack. It flashes definitions onscreen. As each meaning comes up, the learner must target the word it applies to. You have to be fast - and right - to score.
The computer scores all the games. To keep motivation high, it prints a certificate for each 100 percent score. It also keeps achievement records by player's name.
Gamers can add their own word lists and make flashcards. You can type German, French and Spanish accents, too. Once you add words and their meanings, the software fits them into the games. Ready-made $20-apiece word disks cover SAT preparation, French, Spanish and English Roots & Prefixes.
The program costs $50 for Apple II (including GS) and IBM compati-bles. An upgrade from Word Attack is $20. A network version for schools is $300. Davidson: (800) 556-6141.
Copyright 1989 P/K Associates Inc., 4343 W Beltline Hwy, Madison WI 53711.