The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 30, 1999 · Page 35
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 35

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Thursday, September 30, 1999
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f S U n nte' ,ax or e'mail ,avorite Web sites and ques-83 n cf CnV Berlier' Deputy Features Editor. Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 2 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax 768-8330-e-mail nberlierenquirer.com. Welcome: You have HOME PGE online. Post your comments on a bulletin board devoted to talking about the games, videos, CDs, gadgets and Internet sites we cover. Go to enquirer.comhomepage. liU The Cincinnati Enquirer Electronic games, videos, CDs. Internet and ptfpfs Thursday, September 30, 1999 C3 in mm .cow t news TAiBBsfltai change the way sou live Gadgets v Gifted gadgets: A kit to make and decorate whirligigs, a figure-8 train 1 set and a couple of Star Wars com- ; puter games are among more than f a dozen toy recommendations ; from the National Association for Gifted Children. The toys and l; games each cost less than $50. ; The Toy list appears in the Sep-, ! tember issue of the association's ; quarterly magazine, Parenting for : High Potential. For a complete list, I send a self-addressed, stamped, I business-sized envelope to NAGC i Holiday Toy List, 1 707 L St. NW, Suite 550, Washington, D.C. I 20036. , Sitings ', Search engine: Rubylane.com was I named one of the top 20 fastest '. growing sites on the Internet by . ' . Media Metrix. The report last week places Rubylane.com's visitor growth at 38 percent per I' I Buby lane ! week. Rubylane.com (wwwrubylane. ' com) is a search engine devoted to antiques and collectibles. The site-currently hosts 1 60 online shops, with inventory that ranges from collectible autographs to Victorian furniture. Campaign message: Five-minute ; videos of 1 50 Tristate election candidates will be posted on www. icrctv. org Monday. ; The Intercommunity Cable Reg-J ulatory Commission invited local i candidates from the 31 communi-I ties in its coverage area into its stu-1 dio to tape their messages to the ! voters. The videos of the 150 who showed up are broadcast on cable 1 access channels for a month prior ; to the election. This year, the inter-i views are being put online ; "As far as we've been able to tell, . no one has ever done this before," ) says the cable commission's Brad Stapleton. "Especially on this ; scale." The Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission is a non-profit 1 organization that represents 31 . suburban communities. CDDVD Dr. Skip: The SkipDoctor is billed by its manufacturer as the world's first CD and DVD scratch repair . device for con sumers. It removes dust, fingerprints, abrasions, minor scratches and. other surface imperfections from CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs and game discs. The SkipDoctor's suggested retail price is $35, though Camelot Music stores and FYE in the Oviedo Marketplace have it on sale for $30. The SkipDoctor also is sold at selected Babbage's Software stores, Virgin Megastore and directly from the manufacturer by calling (888) 762-7858. For more information, go to www.digital innovations.com. Budding Stars If you haven't seen Taxi Driver for a while, you may have forgotten Robert DeNiro was joined by several actors-who-would-. bestars: Jodi Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Books and Peter Boyle. The DVD extras include a making-of-the-film feature, photo montage, storyboard sequence, filmographies and die text of the screenplay. i Cell Phones l Getting friendly: People who wear ; hearing aids often complain about i cell phones. Although "land-line" ; phones are required to be hearing-aid compatible, cell phones are ! not. This incompatibility makes many cell phones impossible to , I use for those with hearing aids. It also means that just being near a working cell phone can cause a loud, humming noise for a hearing-aid user, i ' The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that eventually all cell phones must be hearing-aid friendly. For more information contact i the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association at (800) 638-' 8255 and ask for a free copy of its monograph, "Cellular Telephones and Hearing Aids." Compiled by Nancy Berlier ' -v-i -, X . . h u - -i- - J i.) 23 r;va7'A; Rnr - , j 1'. r.' ' .,;( i'i's; iuin s k-hv juNhiuon i :tu si kt f hoi 'JfcdlJ AiiT -h ii JsiVf BY ANNE MICIIAUD Enquirer contributor If your grade school science teacher had greeted your correct answers with "Shazam!" or "Humdinger!" there's a possibility you would have been more excited about the class. Maybe not, but possibly. Mo, an enthusiastic physics teacher narrating a portion of the interactive CD I Ixwe Science, uses such language. The result is fun, upbeat instruction for children ages 7 to 1 1 who find science a tough subject. New from DK Interactive Learning, the "I Love . . ." series also takes on math and spelling. The series is one of dozens of new software products aimed at enhancing learning for grade school students. Each of the I Love . . . CDs costs $19.95 and has funny narrators, good animation, scoring systems and.dozens of practice sessions that will keep kids busy for a long time. Players can choose the level of difficulty. I Love Math is based on a time-travel adventure with a villain named Gretchen who wants to destroy the ancient world so math cannot be invented. Children can travel to Greece to practice measure Other learning software titles for grade school students This learning software for grade school students should be on retailers' shelves this month: From DK Interactive Learning: I Love ... series ($19.95; grades 2-5). Helps with prob- lem subjects such as science, spelling and math. My First Amazing Science Explorer ($29.95; 'grades 1-4). Players use computer information to create real-lifeT6bs. My First Amazing World Explorer ($29.95, grades K-4). Children "visit other countries and learn about world cultures." My First Amazing History Explorer ($19.95, grades K-4). Children take a trip through eight periods in history, from Ancient Egypt to the 1920s. My First Amazing Diary ($29.95; grades K-3). Encourages children to write. My First Incredible, Amazing Dictionary ($19.95, grades K-4). Introduces children to more than 1,000 words and their meanings through spoken words, pictures, sound effects and animation. My Amazing Human Body ($19.95, grades K-4). Children learn about anatomy, health, nutrition and more. review ments, Atlantis to calculate fractions, Aztec country for geometry and Egypt for word problems. I Love Spelling sends students on an intergalactic game-show adventure, hosted by the bad toupee-wearing Marty Wordmaker. Children can visit seven planets and play a different spelling game on each. One game has kids choosing letters to spell a word, like Wlieel of Fortune. In another, players must spell the word they hear , ' I Love Science is the most rewarding for parents and teachers because it has a special section on how to guide children through the lessons. Kids can learn about biology at Rosie's Tree-house, participate in a physics lab at Mo's Work- shop or conduct chemistry experiments in Al's Kitchen. The lessons also come with warnings about dangers, such as playing with electrical outlets. DK Interactive has also published several CDs for children who want to stretch their muscles in subjects they already enjoy. My First Amazing Science Explorer ($29.95), for example, offers 36 lab experiments to answer the tricky questions children ask: Why are bubbles, ound? ! Amazing Animals Activity ! Center ($19.95, grades PreK- 3). Children learn how animals 4 move, feed, grow, use their ; senses and more. ; The Jolly Post Office ; ($19.95; grades PreK-3). ! Based on the Jolly Postman ! books, this product develops early math, critical thinking I and basic geography. ,' The Jolly Postman's Party ($19.95; grades PreK-3). Chil- ; dren plan a party and work on ; basic spelling, math and cre- . ativity. j Smart Steps . . . series ($19.95; grades K-5). Targets ! literacy, familiarity with num- ! bers and broader knowledge ! skills with a chart that keeps track of where children need more review. ; From the Learning Company: ! Carmen Sandiego's ThinkQuick Challenge. ! ($29.95; ages 8-1 2). Tracking ! the elusive thief, children learn ; about geography, science, ; history, math, art, music and more. i Road Adventures USA. ! ($39.95 for a 3-CD set; ages ! 8-1 2). Builds decision-making I skills as children "travel" through the Old West. ; The Oregon Trail 4th Edi Where in the world... Also for fall, the Learning Company has revamped its popular Carmen Sandiego education software for kids 8 to 1 2. The ThinkQuick Challenge allows up to four players to pit their wits against this cunning thief as she eludes capture around the globe. Presented in a quiz-show format, ThinkQuick Challenge aims to expand children's knowledge of science, music, art, geography, history, math and language arts. Carmen also has a new look as she enters her 15th year. Check out the cat suit either on her CD or online at www.carmen sandiego.com. Children who are forever complaining that the . skills they learn in school don't apply to real life may want to try Road Adventures USA, also new from the Learning Company, for kids 8 to 1 2. Players must read maps, manage a budget and solve clues about mystery destinations before time, money and luck run out. . Also in this series is the Oregon Trail 4th Edition, which transports travel decision-making back in time. With either product, no two games are ever the same, the manufacturer says. What makes a boat float? Other CDs explore history, geography, words and their meanings, the human body, animals and more. One particularly inviting product is My First Amazing Diary, which encourages children to develop their writing skills. They also keep a record of their tion. ($39.95 for a 3-CD set ages 8-12). Builds decisionmaking skills as children "travel" around the country. From DK Kutoka Interactive: Mia: The Search for Grandma's Remedy (2-CD set $29.95; ages 5 and up). Teaches rhyming, sentence-building, problem-solving as a young mouse collects spark-lies to save her grandmother's life. Cyber Grannies ($19.95). Twenty-six grannies, one for each letter of the alphabet, invite children to explore their professions, such as artist, baker, checkout clerk. Many grannies have hidden activities. For example, the artist offers a painting game. From Knowledge Adventure: Math Blaster and Reading Blaster ($30; grades K-5). One of the longest-lived series of learning software, the Blaster CDs are tailored to each age. . The learning philosophy is master the basics, apply them to problem-solving and give children the best tools for their individual learning styles. Dr. Brain: Action Reaction ($20; ages 10 and up). Fast-paced action game that is non-violent and encourages lives. They can create a family album, for example, clicking to change a character's hair, eyes, mouth, Ikin color and nose until he ' looks like Dad or baby brother. Another screen prompts children to write about their school day and fill their "fantasy lunch box." children to think-their way through the missions. From Edmark: Thinkin' Things: Toony the Loon's Lagoon. ($29.95; ages 4-8). Offers dozens of activities and colorful locations to allow children to exercise .imagination and creativity. Thinkin' Things: All Around FrippleTown ($29.95; ages 4-8). Hundreds of problem-solving puzzles develop thinking skills. Thinkin' Things: Galactic Brain Benders ($29.95; ages 8-12). Builds out-of-this-world thinking skills that teach kids to apply reasoning and make decisions. Thinkin' Things: Sky Island Mysteries ($29.95; ages 8-12). Challenges kids to help Inspector Cluestoe solve 14 crazy capers. Make a Masterpiece ($19.99; ages 5-1 2). Guides ' and inspires children to draw and create with the usual materials as well as some wacky tools: shaving cream, popcorn. 3D Castle Creator ($19.99; ages 7-12). Children can learn about castle life and times, as well as build and explore . thousands of 3D castles. shoppingoiVjt' Online stores sell games at ore and more people .,.. i : !A i IUI Ulllg IU UIC ; Internet to do their 1 shopping. For most, it's a matter of convenience and speed. However, many are finding that price is the best reason to skip the malls and head to the computer. Of all online shopping, entertainment products seem to be experiencing the greatest rush . of shoppers. The low prices on movies, CDs, books and video games are creating credit card company bliss, as the deals are often too good to pass JAMES BOTTORFF VIDEO GAMES up. Here s a sampling of the best sites: . , (WWW. whatshotnow.com) What's Hot Now ig a hip . online store that caters to the under-30 market. Products are separated into different "hot stores," including the Game-boy store, the Dreamcast store and the PlayStation store. Their hook is a never-ending 33 percent off sale on all gaming consoles and games. What this means to you is some amazing bargains, especially on console systems. For example, the third-off sale means you can get the Dreamcast system for under $ 135 shipped to your door. In addition, find the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 systems for $66 each. www.etoys.com The largest toy store online has occasional specials on their video game selection. Namely, you can find last year's top titles for heavily discounted prices. For example, all of last year's EA Sports titles, from Madden 99 to NHL 99, can be had for under $30. If you can sacrifice the limited updates that the new versions offer, mwtechnology V PCs might be phones of the future 3Y RACHEL COPPOLA Albany Times Union There's been rotary and touch tone, cordless and cell and a pair of Spaghetti-O's cans on a string. So what's next? It may sound strange, but the home computer is fast becoming the telephone of the future. Worldwide, users are booting up their computers and making long distance PC-to-PC calls over the Internet for free. Of course, they have to have a computer and Internet access, which generally means paying monthly fees that can range from about $10 to $50 for Internet access. But most users were doing that already. Beyond that some are attaching Netcams and communicating face-lo-face with faraway friends and relatives. To start making phone calls and bypassing long-distance telephone charges, all you need is a multimedia PC, a connection to the Internet (a 28.8K modem will do, but 56K or cable modems are preferable) and a $10 microphone. For the most natural conversation, it's also best to have a full-duplex sound card in your machine and to wear headphones so the person you're calling doesn't hear his voice echo back through the microphone. Once your hardware is in place, you and a friend simply need to download an Internet telephone program off the Web and register yourselves' Nearly free The good news is that there are many programs that are completely free to choose from, including MediaRing Talk (www.mediaring.com), FreeTel (www.freetel.inter.net) and NetMceting (www. microsoft, comwin-dowsnetmeeting) . This lets you experiment to see which jias the best voice quality and comes with the bells and whistles you desire. - Most sites also feature detailed cyber instructions to help new users instill and operate software. As always, the best piece of discounts youll find these to be solid bargains. www.ubid.com uBid.com is an online auction site offering a wealth of video game sales. The deals are a little harder to find; meaning you'll have to visit the site regularly in the hopes of finding exactly what you want With a little patience, however, you can find some hot deals. Recent auctions i- - -w . included IlaySta-tion with a racing ' game and steering wheel for $49 and Game Boy color with a couple of games for $60. The auctions deal in new and refurbished equipment i ne duierence between uBid and other auction sites is that uBid doesn't deal in private party sales, all products auctioned are from retail stores. www.accompany.com Accompany is a little different than other online retailers. Accompany promotes a commu ruty buying spirit by determining the price of an item by how many people buy the product Here's an example of how it works: You come in and buy Nintendo Game Boy color for $79.95, Accompany tells you that the sale closes in 11 hours, Now, over the next 1 1 hours, for each five people that come in and buy Game Boy, the price; drop $2-$5. If 20 people come in and buy Game Boy before your 1 1 hours are up, you get it for $49. fames Bottotff designs the Enquirer's Website. Look for his game reviews at cincinnati.comgames. Write him at Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax, 564-6391; or e-w7jbottorffenquirer.com advice for optimum results is to make sure your computer meets the product's system requirements before you start to download. Scott Buckley is the product manager of Professional Ser- ; vices at VocalTec, which offers a telephone software called Internet Phone (www. vocaltec.com) . According to Mr. Buckley, telephone software usage is increasing. Some 2 million people have downloaded Internet Phone since ! VocalTec launched it in 195)6, and currently about 450,000 people use it on a weekly basis. Although Internet ITione is not completely free users must purchase the software for $50 after a free two-week trial period Mr. Buckley said he's seen a tremendous growth in callers over just three years, especially among those who want to reach out and kibitz with family in distant places. Changes tolerated As with any software that relies on the Internet, Mr. Buckley said, "Voice quality can vary, depending on the network that you're using." Audio may be clear during one call, but online traffic jams can produce packets of choppy sound that get delayed. However, Mr. Buckley said, most people are willing to tolerate changes in a familiar voice from call to call as long as it means saving a bundle on their phone bill. Behaviorally speaking, it seems impossible that generations will ever be able to unplug the device they have grown up gabbing on, slamming down and noodling around their fingers, but Internet telephony and videoconferencing are pointing us down a new technological road whether we're ready or not. According to Mr. Buckley, at least they indicate the trend of the future: convergence, where everything from phone to data to cable TV will enter the home through the same pipeline and . the quality of voice and video via the Internet will start to improve.

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