August 1997

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


VoiceType Simply Speaking from IBM and Math for the Real World from Davidson

VoiceType Simply Speaking for Windows 95

Have you ever caught yourself talking to your computer while working on an important project at home or in the office? Well, now with IBM's latest software, VoiceType Simply Speaking for Windows 95, you can dictate to your computer and it will not only listen, but translate your voice into a text document. And with claims of 90 percent accuracy in word recognition, you'll be dictating your home or business writings from now on.

This is the home edition of IBM VoiceType 3.0 supplied on CD, and includes a high-quality noise-canceling microphone and headset from Andrea Electronics. VoiceType 3.0 retails for $99, but I've seen it advertised by dealers for $49.99, and that's a bargain since it includes the microphone. You may already have a microphone with your computer, but if the quality is borderline, it won't work well. Even with the best microphone, you'll still be typing a little since the software offers 90 percent voice recognition accuracy but that's good enough to save you lots of typing time. This is an ideal product for anyone, especially those of you who don't type well, or use the two finger tango.

The software must be trained to accept your voice, and there's a learning curve before the accuracy gets to the 90 percent level, but once it's done, you'll be jabbering at your computer while the words are miraculously transformed onto your display. You will have to adjust to pausing slightly between words, and saying the punctuation marks, but once you get the hang of it, you'll wonder why you hadn't discovered this software sooner.

VoiceType Simply Speaking will run on any IBM compatible multimedia computer with a 100 MHz or faster Pentium processor, 16 megabytes of RAM, 30 megabytes of available disk space and Windows 95. For more information call IBM at 1-800-426-7235, extension 5296.

Math for the Real World from Davidson & Associates

Math for the Real World is an educational software CD with a twist on learning. It offers math education with a real world application for kids ages 10 and up. With color graphics, animation, music and sound, your child will manage a six man rock and roll band on a 10-city US tour. The goal is to help them earn enough money to complete a hit music video. Once you sign the contract and select the song for the video, you're on the road to riches, that is if you can answer enough of the math problems correctly to earn money to buy your video scenes. The more scenes you buy and create, the better the band will do on the Top Ten Chart.

This is a fun game that my daughter Sarah enjoys playing, though at her age of six, I have to help her with most of the math. The tour begins with the van riding down the highway and music playing. Just when you start getting into the tune, the screen changes and you're given a math problem to solve. If you enter or select the correct answer (which usually takes lots of thought and calculating), you earn money that goes into a piggy bank. If you're having trouble, there's a helpful hint feature.

All the math problems are related to the tour. Some of them are word problems and others are puzzles. A very neat, but challenging puzzle, that Sarah solved faster them me, is offered when you stop for gas. You've got to build a road to the gas station by connecting colored pieces to traffic signals. Other activities include stopping to eat at Edna's where the food tray must total the amount on the chair, take the City Maze to get gigs and earn dollars, play the drums along with the band and buy scenes at the Video Studio.

Math for the Real World is definitely fun, educational, and is a great way for any child to learn math in a real life situation. The CD will run on any 486/66 MHz or faster IBM compatible multimedia computer with 8 megabytes of RAM and Apple Macintosh with a 68040 processor or faster, multimedia computer with 12 megabytes of RAM. Both computers require double-speed CD-ROM drives.

The software is available at the street price of $29.95. For more information call Davidson & Associates at 1-800-545-7677.

Software Companies Mentioned

Davidson & Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 2961
Torrance, CA 90509
Phone: 1-800-545-7677

International Business Machines Corporation
Old Orchard Road
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone: 1-800-426-7235, extension 5296