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When you're an expectant parent, you spend a great deal of time trying to visualize your baby -- how he's developing, what she can hear and see, what position he's in, and how she spends her time. Montparnasse Multimedia's Nine Months to Birth: From Conception to Birth chronicles each stage of development with photos, videos, and detailed scientific explanations, but the stilted and potentially problematic writing comes through clearer than a sonogram.
Pretty Pictures, Inscrutable Text
As you would expect from a CD-ROM about human development, Nine Months to Birth takes a visual approach to its subject matter, offering dozens of video clips, ultrasound images, and hundreds of still photos broken into trimesters. The ultrasound video is especially interesting, but like the other clips it suffers from being forced into a window hardly bigger than a postage stamp. Some of the video clips don't have sound, and many are just a few seconds long. Worse, the scientific explanations are overwhelmingly technical and seem to be geared more toward pre-med students than parents, throwing out terms such as desquamates, haptonomy, and sophrology without definition. This terminology is more likely to confuse than explain. Letting the user choose the level of information he or she wants is a great approach, but Nine Months to Birth falters in the way it presents technical information, making the experience less enjoyable than it could be.
A Political Situation
Another problem that detracts from the CD-ROM is that it veers into the realm of politics. Such statements as "the French Ethics Committee opposes a project to find a way to determine the sex of a baby -- probably correctly so" pass judgement. The CD-ROM also gives opinionated advice that could be mistaken as professional guidance.
Lost in the Translation
Finally, the CD-ROM is badly translated from French resulting in abundant grammatical errors and laughably old-fashioned and just plain odd phrases. For example, "Beginning with the start of the second trimester . . . the woman who may have been nauseated and indolent during the previous months once again becomes a radiant and serene wife . . . The father-to-be . . . now has completely recognized the reality of events and asks fewer questions about himself."
On a positive note, the interface is well designed, upbeat, and simple -- obviously designed for expectant or potential parents. Navigation is easy once you memorize where the unlabeled icons lead, and the index is complete and well organized.
Macworld's Buying Advice
If you're specifically looking for an ultrasound video, Nine Months to Birth is worth the $30. But anyone wanting to delve deeper than the photos and videos will be disappointed by the formidably technical tone of the scientific explanations. Teachers and students might do better with Life Begins: An Amazing Multimedia Journey, from Quality Multimedia ( www.lifebegins.com ), which is geared toward an educational setting.Watch Me Grow: Nine Months to Birth shows you what your baby looks like at each stage of development.