USA version 2.0 is a "phone directory" type database search program of
90 million names, phone numbers and addresses of people living in all 50
It is usable with both Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. With Directory USA you're able to search for any name or address, then print or export the information or save the results of your search in an address book. This bargain-priced program from Parsons Technology is perfect for the school reunion committee to look for missing classmates or to update your Christmas card list or birthday invitation list with the easy- to-learn commands. In other words, it's a no-brainer to use and enjoy.
I wanted to look up some old college buddies that have moved since I last heard from them so I was anxious to use Directory USA2 to help locate them. I did find some old friends and learned a lot about searching a database in the process.
Due to the large size of the database (remember there are 90 million names) the program comes on three CDs with the states divided alphabetically among the three disks. The database itself is not installed on your hard drive but program instructions, context sensitive help and the database search engine are installed and take less than 1.5 MB space on your hard drive. Installation is from disk number one. Once installed, click on Parsons Technology and the main screen appears. Using the program's toolbar is intuitively simple - a good thing because no written instructions come with the program.
Not to worry though because there is plenty of on-line help available should you need it. There are lots of program options, a customizable toolbar and numerous printing options. The print preview is handy to decide how your printed list will look before you waste a sheet of paper to see that you should have chosen landscape rather than the default portrait printout.
The opening screen gives instructions to begin a search. First decide which state you want to search within and insert that state's CD in your CD-ROM drive (state names are printed on each CD). This became the first minor irritant because I didn't know which state several of my old friends had moved to! That meant I would have to search all three disks unless I got lucky and found them on one of the first two disks.
Obviously, the more information you can enter in the blank fields: last name, first name, MI, street address, city, state, zip, area code, phone number, the faster the search. My problem was, a couple of friends had common first and last names: Bob Caron and Jim Callan. I would be facing thousands of "hits" from which to pick the correct Bob or Jim -- or would it be listed as Robert or James?
Human nature being what it is, I decided first to search for my own name. I picked disk #3 (TX), typed in Bird Clarke E San Antonio TX (I skipped street address) in the appropriate boxes and pressed the Begin Search button. A little American flag runs back and forth above the tool bar while the program searches through the disk.
Whoa! I got a screen message that the database was unable to find any matches with the following search criteria (here the message listed what I had typed in above). Furthermore it instructed me to "Please refine your search. Press F1 for help." Well, I know I'm in the San Antonio phone book so what's the problem? I decided to search all the Birds in San Antonio so I just entered last name (Bird) and city (San Antonio) and hit Search.
Well, there are a lot of Birds living in San Antonio. Furthermore, there was Clarke listed alphabetically among all the other Birds. What was going on? I looked closer and "Zap," it hit me. There was no middle initial listed! Out of habit, I had used my middle initial in the initial search and because the search engine couldn't find an exact match to my search entry, I got the "unable to find" message. I learned during the next couple of hours to be less exact in some search instances and very exact in others to success
fully score hits. Obviously, the more information you can enter before hitting the search button, the faster and more accurate the search. But if you know all this information in the first place, what is the use of a search program?
A second search for another friend proved interesting. An old friend moved from St. Louis to Springfield, MO. I hadn't received a Christmas card or moving announcement from him so I did a search for his first and last name in the state of Missouri. I found nine people in Missouri with his name but only one in Springfield. I called the number, got an answering machine, and left a message that if he were the Charles Horton that used to live in St Louis and that owed Clarke Bird $5.00 from an old football bet, to call me. I'll let you know later if I ever got a return call.
A last search was to see if my wife, Marilyn was listed in the database. Our phone book listing shows both our names. Unfortunately, her name was not listed. This brings up the question: what is the source of the database names if not the local phone book?
This program is extremely easy to use and for only $19.00, you have 90 million names to cull looking for people who owe you money. Good luck finding them. Parsons Technology, 1 Parsons Drive, Hiawatha, IA 52233, 800/223-6925 or visit their web site: www.parsonstech.com