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Chemical Chaos: the CD-rom review

Ok, I admit that I picked up a box of coco pops for the free Horrible Science CD-ROM 'Chemical Chaos', conveniently positioned in a die-cut out of the front of the box; as Alice mentioned at her Reading seminar, this is some pretty serious brand strategizing!

Now for my amateur review. I should have known better, but I was slightly dismayed that this is a PC only disk, though I managed to open it up, very slowly, on some emulation software.

Having read somewhere around 8 or 9 of this series (no match for Alice, no doubt) I feel quite familiar with the writing and feel of the books, but it hasn't quite come across in much of the CD. It feels mainly like some sort of time warp to 1996 when CD-roms were actually a thing. The interface is fun, especially the sound effects, and there is a lot of information on the disk, though much of the straight text would have been easier to get through in a book.
The quizzes are much better suited to the screen, but the creators neglected to think through the tasks involved from our end, and the result is a very frustrating grind through random selections to find out correct answers!

Interface design is not easy; an interactive environment needs to take into account how users will make their way through a process and build in responses that will be logical, coherent and minimize frustration; but what can you expect from a free disk floating around in a box of cereal.


... I though the CD rom was a bit "retro" too :)

the quiz answers are a bit random in the books too - they are sort of esoteric facts which are fun when you find out what they are, but you are only likely to get the right answer purely by chance, it's not a test of prior knowledge, just guesswork. I think this presents a particular idea of knowledge, especially knowledge you might be rewarded for, there's a whole section of the thesis on it...

I see what you mean, kind of a trivia version of science? the pub quiz version?

regardless of this, it is still annoying that on the CD-Rom the quiz tells you if you got a question right, but not what the right answer is if you got it wrong -- it is an irritation the designers could have avoided -- bad design, tsk tsk

Just tried them myself. I'm lactose intolerant and so don't really do cereal (soy milk and cocoa pops, just odd) but a lovely MSc student donated me three. (this student has just written an essay on this book which she also got free with rice crispies)

Anyway, I compleately agree about the quiz interface - very annoying.

the other odd thing was that it was Copyrighted for 2007! I assumed they were old things from, as you say, 1996 when CD roms were anything.

I would think they're not actually that old ;) just decided to take on that old school format!

(I had them with soy milk -- not too bad!)