Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York on September 28, 1999 · Page 3E
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Poughkeepsie Journal from Poughkeepsie, New York · Page 3E

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Tuesday, September 28, 1999
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.T " - y V " w - , w - w - - r - r - , ... - . , M Connect with us! E - mail story'tips and feedback to, rpoUackpoughkee gannett.com Pouflhb teepsie 3oumal ACCESS ROSS D. POLLACK, TECHNOLOGY EDITOR (914) 451 - 4507 DEBORAH P0RTERF1ELD i TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1999 3E PLUGGED IN Educational software gets game - like Kids who learned their ABCs with Reader Rabbit, memorized times tables with Math Blaster and explored me wona witn uarmen San - diego won't be wowed by just any computer game. And who can blame them? Too many so - called educational games are nothing more than glorified workbooks with stern, computerized taskmasters. Even the good ones start to look the same after a while. . Software developers have switched to new educational titles that play like fast - paced video games. The best ones encourage kids to solve mysteries, work tricky puzzles and yes, even practice basic skills. But not all the new games measure up. Some are boring, or even worse, frustrating Others require more oomph than many computers can deliver. Mattel and Intel Play's new QX3 Computer Microscope could really spark a child's interest in science. Kids can view anything, leaves, dust, even live bugs, magnified up to 200 times on the monitor. Powerful PCs required But families who haven't bought a state - of - the art computer in the last year are out of luck. The microscope set, due in stores soon, requires a PC with a Universal Serial' Bus port, 32 megabytes of RAM, a 200 MHz Pentium processor and Windows 98. Likewise, Dr. Brain: Action Reaction, new from Knowledge Adventure, and Road Adventures USA, a three - CD set from The Learning Company, demand 32 megabytes when many older computers, only have 16. Parents shouldn't rush to upgrade their PCs. These games aren't worth it. Action Reaction, relying on 3D technology like the popular Unreal computer game, mimics the first - person shoot - !'ng titles'1 that boys like. But ilayers use a gun to flip switches, open doors nd stun enemies in 45 puzzle rooms. And this game, for ages' 10 and up, needs more player tips. It's so frustrating that kids may be tempted to try to blast the talkative Dr.' Brain off the screen. The tedious Road Adventures game is supposed to teach kids, 10 and up, how to read '"maps, manage money and solve problems. But a real road trip would be faster and more educational, too. v Parents still can find good games for 16 megabytes of RAM, such aS Nature Virtual Serengeti frorn Grolier Interactive. Although it takes time to learn to navigate, the footage showing the inside of a crocodile mouth, a vulture cracking an egg with a rock and a lioness fighting a buffalo are worth the hunt. And it's sure to inspire some explorers to visit their local jibrary or the Internet to learn more. Carmen Sandiego, the1 popular detective, reappears in Think Quick Challenge, a fast - paced quiz game that mimics You Don't Know Jack. Up to, four players try to defeat Car - mens smart - talking Know - Bots on missions in .math and geography, Kicb who have grown weary of hearing "Good job," will love the edgy attitude of a challenger who snaps: "Enjoy your litfle victory, Blue. It won't last," Deborah PorterfieUl covers technology and trends for The Journal News in White Plains. Her column appears here every Tuesday. Sega Dreamcast off to strong start Qannett News Service The introduction 6t the Sega Dreamcast game system has caused a commotion in cyberspace, Even before Sega's Sept. 9 launch, avid game players gathered on the Internet to trade notes and comments. Six months ago, there were already more than 90 Web sites devoted to the Dreamcast. That doesn't count the official Sega site and sites created by well - known gaming publications. In addition to its details about the Dreamcast and games, the Sega site now sells the system and has bulletin boards where visitors can post comments. Now that the system has arrived, gamers seem to be almost as busy discussing the system on line as playing games on it. More than 70 Dreamcast - related clubs have been created on Yahoo! Also very active is the Usenet newsgroup altgames. video sega - dreamcast, which gets hundreds of messages daily. In all, Usenet has more than 18,000 Dreamcast - relatedrelated messages. Back on the Web, some of the more professional - looking unofficial sites are the Dreamcast Lair and Dream - caster. Another fan site, DC - United, takes coverage a step further, offering a clickable course on video game history. Games have long history The history lessons go back to" pre - Pong days, offer - ' ing technological explanations and introducing top game designers uki Naka (Sonic), Yu Suzuki (Virtua Fighter).. and Shigeru .Miyamoto (Mario Bros). At the end, acolytes must answer nine of 10 questions correctly to enter a special Graduate School area. V Beyond the history, DC - United has daily news and ' J MrtM J v4tm ' PtL V9f v S 1 69a Dreamcast J2 H$B tt micontroller and console. tBMMISsSv' i Auto manual on CD - ROM helps car maintenance Images from wwwdchqcom game previews and reviews (the content is even - handed but suf fers from occasional misspellings). The creators have posted a downloadable "digizine." And true fans can apply for a job with the growing site. Oceanside, , Calif. - based Chris Evans said he created the site last summer because he believed "that if people understood the waves and trends of the industry, they would come to realize just why the Sega Dreamcast is in a great position to succeed Also, my hope was to give the casual gamer or anybody else a greater appreciation and respect for the game.industry as a whole." Takeoff signals a boom , A fast launch for Sega's Dreamcast system could signal an action - packed holiday., for video games. Sega sold 410,000 Dream - casts from Sept. 9 - 15, the first week the - $199 system was in U.S. stores. "We're very happy said Sega's Charles Bellfield, adding, "We've got a good 12. - to - 15 - month ,head start" on new systems from Sony and Nintendo., Overall, the Seea system generated just about $111 million in retail sales in the first three days, according to the market tracking firm NPD Group. The NPD Group's Ed Roth thinks game sales could hit $7 billion in 1999, topping 1998's record $6.2 billion. Nintendo and Sony recently dropped the price of their current systems to $99. Despite the reamcast's introduction, those companies 'saw just an 8 percent drop in sales of their Nintendo 64 and PlayStation systems. An estimated 546,000 systems were sold during the week of Sept. 11. Dreamcast games took seven spots ,in the NPD Group's Top 20 list for games, accounting for $31 million in sales. Logging on Sega of America's Web site is topw.sega.com. Find additional information at unmtf.dchq.com, a fan site with lots of information and images, as reproduced above. J J By Noah Matthows Knight Ridder News Service Tired of giving my paycheck to my local mechanic, I invested in a shop manual, a tune - up guide for dummies, some metric tools, a timing light and a spark plug gapping tool. Tuning up the old Toyota would be easier than writing a computer column I spent the better part of a Sunday, from dawn until dusk, following every step in the dummy's manual, and when I cranked the old Toyota up, it sounded like a thrashing machine, circa 1910 the old steam - drivendriven type you could hear coming from Nebraska. Since then, I've written about 500 columns, but I've never, ever gone beyond checking the oil on my cars, and maybe changing the 6dd windshield wiper. Seminar explains it all Too bad I didn't have Automotive Seminar, a two CD - ROM set that comes as close to" demystifying your car as you can get without having a personal mechanic at your call. Volume 1 deals with your car's electrical system, fuel system, the engine, sounds and smell, cooling system, turbo charger, wheel alignment and tools you need to do your own repairs. The first CD shows a picture of an engine. As you pass your mouse over each part, you get a description ' of the component, tips on maintenance and a video .featuring the kind of mechanic we all wish we had. patient, compassionate and intuitive. He explains each part of the component, how to troubleshoot problems, and even how to fix them. Even if you don't aspire, .to be a back - yard mechanic, you will understand how much work it takes to change a fuel filter and you will be able to challenge the ' $400 labor charge the next time one needs to be changed. Two CD - ROMs Volume 2 of the Automotive Seminar CDs gets into the heavy stuff: transmissions, both automatic and manual, emission systems, brakes, steering, suspension, fuel injection, vacuum systems and, finally, diesel engines. The same technique is used as in Volume 1. As you pass your mouse over the wheels, you wi.ll learn how to check your brakes, repack wheel bearings and pheck for alignment problems. There's a section on troubleshooting for strange sounds, smells and maladies. If you suspect that your live mechanic isn't doing his job, you can at least double - check with your CD - ROM mechanic. He may not know all the answers, but he certainly has nothing to lose by telling you that repacking a wheel bearing isn't as complicated as it sounds" nor should it necessarily be done by a total amateur. Sometimes just knowing what your mechanic is talking about can save you a ton of money and a lot of heartache. The Automotive Seminar will run under Windows 3.1, 3.11, 95 and 98., It is available at Software stores', or it can be ordered directly. For a copy of the two CD Automotive Seminar set for Windows, send $25 to Shareware, EO. Box 17356, Long Beach, CA 90807, Credit - card orders: can be phoned to 800 - 395 - 7797, or faxed to 800 - 842 - 7731. , i HHBS9HMMlik,fc!IEw v i j i . : Web tracks retiring Beanie Babies Winston, a bulldog, as seen on Ty's Web site. Knlght - Rldder News Service All 200 of the little stuffed Beanie Babies introduced by Ty, Inc. since 1993 will supposedly be '"retired" by year's end, according to the company, We explored the Web for references to them. eBay On the eBay auction site,, we typed "Beanie, Baby" and got 12,000 items for sale, and then we tried "Beanie Babies" fpr another 8,326 listings. The word "retired" seemed quite popular with those trying to sell, and toys costing $5 at retail drew bids of $7 to $135. Tyf Inc. J Loosy,the Goose was retiring the day we checked the maker's Web site. Loosy, we hardly'knewye! The company asks for tips to help it catch purveyors of knockoffs. Inside a Beanie Baby For the, scientificallyynind - ed, a graphic and unflinching ( site answers the questions on everyone's mind. What do the beans look like? How are the eyes fastened to the head? Beanie Baby rights activists will be appalled to find that a Beanie frog was sacrificed to bring this information to light. NewWebsKes American Century What: AftMuseum.net is the digital extension of the Whitney Museum's "American Century" exhibit. With more than 100 works, this site is what online excellence is all about. Addrest: wwwArtMu seum.net. Puzzle helpor What: For people who have trouble getting that last word in their crossword puzzle, or the first, One Across powers up technology for puzzle enthusiasts. Just type in a clue phrase and a length or pattern. Address: wuno.one across.com. Movie nltplckers What: Focusing on mistakes or anomalies, such as historical inaccuracies, the Nitpickers site was created so people can share their finds. Address: www.nit pickers.com. Melrose place What: Seems the Web isn't immune from old - media cheesiness. The official site of Melrose Place provides grotesque fun. It includes an appropriately tasteless photo gallery and something called a "news" section. Address: www.mel roseplace.com. No respect What: Feel you can't get no respect? Meet Rodney Dangerfield, who's made a career out of being an object of scorn and who now treats us to a joke - ofrtne - day feature. Address: www.rod ney.com. .L..I. W, I Meanies include Bull Clinton, Mike Bison," Mick Jaguar and a gun - toting buck named John Deer. Logging on eBay can be found online atwwwebajcom. Ty, Inc. has a Web site at - www.tycom. To look inside a Beanie Baby , visit httpjlmem bers.aolcomldarex darexSmoochy. Find Meanies at t0u7t0.meanfeba6ies.com. Open downloads Question: When Windows asks me which program to use to open files downloaded from the Internet, I don't know. Answer: Unfortunately, no one program opens all r files you downloaded from ' the Internet. Which to use depends on the typejbf file you're trying to open. If the file is a text file or was created in a word proces - sorbin file formats like TXT, .DOC and .WP," you need a word - processor, such as Microsoft Word or' Corel WordPerfect, pr a text editor, such as ' Notepad or WordPad. An Image file, such as one ? ? ending In .JPG, .GIF or .BMP, may require Paint or Imaging for, Windows. t piles ending In .WK and .XLS must be opened in a spreadsheet program. Celebs online Tonight - At 7:30 on AOL, FAO Schwarz and AOL present a live online chat with Michelle Kwan, America's sweetheart figure skating champion and author of "The Winning Attitude." "Summer , Girls1' sensations LFO join AOCs TEEN PEOPLE Online at 8. Defense Attorney and author Alan Dershowitz discusses his newest book i'Just Revenge" on MSN's Books and Reading Community at 9. Also at 9, .talk with Ice Cube about his role in the new ' Warner Brothers movie "Three Kings," on MSN's Televi - sion Community. Wednesday KjMB At 8 Kwan n m '1, w on TV Guide on AOL, chat with actor "Glenn Quinn who joins the cast of "Angel" this fall as the enigmatic "Doyle." Half - human, half something else, Doyle is Angel's guide to redemption ... although he'd rather be at the racetrack' Find out all about this mysterious new addition to what promises to - be "one of the hottest shows of this season. Thursday , At 7 p.m AOLs TEEN PEOPLE Online presents Scottish nop punk band Bis! Bis talks about how they came to record the theme to the Cartoon Network's "The Powerpuff Girls," what it's like to get discoveredi by the Beastie Boys when you're still in high school and their new album, "Social Dancing." Dreamcast has Sonic The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a huge hit on Sega's Genesjs console when it was released in 1991. Not only did it have incredible speed and amazing graphics for the time, but it was family - oriented and even environmentally conscious. Sequels and spinoffs followed, but none had the original's edge. To usher in its new Dreamcast console, Sega has rein - , carnated Sonic in Sonic Adventure, which earned four and a half stars. The suggest ed retail price is $50; all ages can play, but only one at a itime , , ' Not quite as innovative as its now - ancient predecessor, Sonic Adventure is still fun and does a great job of showcasing Dreamcast, - The game opens with a Jaw - dropping cinematic video clip. Rock music thunders in the background as Sonic rushes toward a city that is quickly being flooded. This powerful introduction sets a high standard that is maintained throughout the game. Players should have little trouble controlling Sonic. The heroic hedgehog can jump and spin in any direction, and the camera can even be rotated for the best viewpoint, The graphics are absolutely breathtaking; the Dreamcast allows for more color and detail than qven the powerful Nintendo 64. Certain inland shots in the first level alone look like photographs. nfortunatelythe sound is not up to the beautiful visuals. The voice - acting is pqor, and there is no option to shut off the pounding rock music, Despite its few flaws, Sonic Adventure is absorbing If you arc a fan of the original or determined to own a Dream; cast, check it out, You won't be disappointed Journal wire services I IV I i s? . OHX TA.. S77 M71 y UuxVmi VJeaxtttrAi ti&ine4& 1060 BestTile v ww Bcsttile cpm s Bank paka. Route 9 South? Wappingers Falls, NY ?97 - 045 J Mon. - rri. 8 - 8; Sat. y - 5: Uosed Sunday ( a Gregorys GCS Computer X Services We can repairupgrade both software and hardware, get you on the internet, even teach you how to use4a computer, W? can do all of this in your home.' Day, evening & weekend appointments. Call or visit us(3 w w w,idsi .rjetjeg3 1 2 914 - 451823 M MakTtHT CoWmdfl h Poughkeepsie Wapplngers FIshkill White Plains & Westchester Medical Center. 6ound Trips Monday thru Friday Discounted Commuter Books Schedule & fare information 565 - 7900 wwwjeprechaunllne8.com MfJui Nj, I , ENJOY ' I i iii ffffukm , Ncwfomi ' I i . tesxmcM mzumsm H25iai fcrh - inrnl WIONY!" Uuxxla y M jOwc v., amiiBiiMtwia "

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