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Polymer Clay Artists Interactive Guide
Polymer Clay
Artist's Interactive Guide to the Internet

Written by J.E. Marland
Published by RSVP Press
ISBN 0-930865-15-4

This has got to be one of the most difficult reviews that I've ever written. I love to buy Polymer Clay Books, and I love to see Polymer Clay work. I love to encourage and help promote Polymer Clay artists and authors, and as the owner of Polymer Clay Central, I feel I have a moral responsibility to those who read my reviews to be accurate and objective as possible. Because of that, I spent a lot of time researching the reasons for my problems with this CD to make sure it wasn't just the "subjective me" who is disappointed with its presentation.

Featured Artists:

As can be seen on the cover, this CD-ROM advertises "Featured Artists" Jack Johnston, Matilda Colf, and Babrara Reider. While all very talented, each one of the featured artists deserves a much better representation of their work. When you pay twenty dollars for a book, you get good, sharp photos of every piece in the book, but paying twenty dollars for this disc only gives you poor quality photos. The example photos should have been bigger, since there is plenty of room on a CD-ROM, and the quality is fuzzy, pixilated, and distorted. Besides, each artist is limited to only a few pieces, hardly representative of their work.

Interactive CD:

I've decided that it might be easier for me to make a list of the "pros and cons" of the CD and then let the reader make up their own mind about purchasing it. I feel that if I give you the information that I have learned about this CD-ROM, then you can make an informed decision to either buy it or to buy a good book with your money!

PROS CONS
  1. Jack Johnson, Fabulous Doll Artist
  2. Matilda Colf, Accomplished Clay Artist
  3. Barbara Reider, Accomplished Clay Artist
  4. Over 1,000 links to clay related pages. Actually 1345 to be exact, though there are many duplicate listings in these numbers (I said I did my homework!)
  5. Pretty colors
  6. Great reason to move your Polymer Clay Web site to a different place so the CD doesn't work<G>.
  7. Perfect Round shape
  8. A great mini frisbee
  9. Fits in Computer Cup Holder
  10. DRStamping.com can give you some great ideas for Stamping on CD's so it isn't a total waste.
  1. $20.00 for a disc that will not remain current.
  2. All links to PC sites are compiled into the E-book program, are NOT displayed in the program's browser, and cannot be accessed without the CD in your computer.(I did find a secret way to get the links to the URLs - if you print out the page you are viewing, you might be able to get the URL of the site from the printed page, if everything is set up properly! Good Luck!)
  3. The E-book browser is very "barebones" - it contains no search feature, no display of URL addresses, and no window to enter a URL. Right clicks are disabled, there is none of the usual Windows functionality, and only the print feature seems to work!
  4. There is no way to save or bookmark your favorite sites (unless you print them out).
  5. It takes 15 clicks to get to the contents page
  6. Some of the pages that this CD links to contain "Frame Busters". If you hit one of these pages, you have to hit the HOME button on the E-book browser and that sends you all the way back to START, which means you now have 15 clicks to get back to the contents page, and hopefully you'll remember where you were browsing!
  7. Not all lists of links are in an understandable, alphabetical order
  8. The E-book browser always remains on top, and, no matter what you do, you can't see any other program unless you minimize the E-book.
  9. You can't "copy and paste" anything that appears on any of the pages of the CD, nor any of the linked pages. CTRL-C and CTRL-V are disabled through the E-book, and there is no way to copy and paste into any other program.
  10. The links to PC websites are "deep linked", which means it bypasses the Main Pages and all the information about the sites you are visiting.This makes it very hard to find the same page again without the CD. (unless you print out all your favorite pages and your printer puts the URL on the page)
  11. Most of the linked pages can be accessed from your own computer using your own browser and a simple search engine such as Google or Yahoo. This will also allow you to save them in your favorites and go back to them time and time again, without having to make those 15 clicks to access the contents page!
  12. Many of the links are already broken as people move their sites or change around their web pages in order to improve their sites.
  13. Not many of the linked sites gave permission to this publisher to have their pages appear in a "book" that is solely for the profit of the author/publisher. Many of these sites depend on people coming to their main web page in order to support their web site. This author/publisher has "deep linked" past the main page, and this could cut out any support that a main page link would provide.
  14. In the varied Galleries, there are many photos of works by known artists - none of them are credited with the name of the artists. These are works by the founders of the PC movement, and they are being considered "filler" for empty spaces on the pages.
  15. There is no mention of it on the cover, but the CD-ROM does not work with Macs

On a strictly personal note, Polymer Clay Central is staffed by volunteers, and supported by people who contribute to us to help offset the costs of ISPs, web sites expenses, and equipment. Stephen and I assume all the remaining costs of ISP's, websites, and equipment, as well as spending hours and hours of time keeping the site constantly updated, and helping to promote clay artists and writers. Our articles and tutorials are submitted by people willing to share with the Polymer Clay Community through PCC for FREE. In my personal opinion, by linking to SO much of PCC's material, this CD has assumed all our hard work and is selling it as their content for their profit, and this is not advancing the Polymer Clay Community or helping PCC in any way! I know if we had been asked to contribute to this CD, then a different arrangement could have been worked out. But, since this linking was all done without our knowledge or consent, we feel very violated. I do not approve of the way this CD has been produced, where everything is locked away in a proprietary browser so that you must use the CD to get to the information. If it was to truly benefit the PC community, then provisions would have been made to know the URL you were visiting and to save your favorite sites with bookmarks, and to recognize the artists whose work is being used in the Galleries, and it would have the consent and cooperation of the hundreds of PC websites that have been linked.

Leigh Ross
©2001


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