December 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.


Fisher-Price Ready for School - 1st Grade, POWERFINDER PRO by PhoneDisc and PrintPaks Update

Fisher-Price Ready for School - 1st Grade from Davidson & Associates

If your child is in Kindergarten, or even 1st Grade, you should consider buying Ready for School: 1st Grade as a supplement to his or her education. This is another outstanding software package for kids ages 5 through 7 offering great animation and graphics, catchy musical tunes and many activities that will help kids through a year of 1st grade learning. With 21 activities, they'll learn phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, sentence structure, writing, addition and subtraction, geometry, pattern recognition, counting and money, science, estimating, sequencing, music, map reading and more. The package includes two CDs that will work on either IBM or Macintosh: Ready for School - 1st Grade and Kid Works Deluxe Story Maker.

After a cute song and dance cartoon video and then signing in, it's on to the daily journal where you answer a few questions before entering the woods to begin the fun. The activities include Build Your Own Treehouse, Acorn Arcade, Price and Play, Create a Poster, Treasure Hunt, Making Shapes, Cuckoo Clock Connection, Science Exploratorium, In the Greenhouse and Silly Songs. You'll also find a hard copy duplicate of the Activity Book, which is part of the software.

My two girls, Becky (3-years-old) and Sarah (6-years old) spend hours at a time with these two CDs (they think they're playing but I know they're learning). Since we have more than one computer, they swap the CDs. While Sarah is building her own storybook with Kid Works Deluxe, Becky is going beyond her age range and into the realm of 1st Grade. When she gets stuck, either dad., mom or Sarah will help her. Sarah had no problem with Ready for School 1st Grade, and hardly ever asks for assistance since she's already there, but I can tell that it still challenges her. I can also see that both kids are having a great time.

This software has numerous outstanding educational features, with one, I doubt will be found in any classroom, even through high school, and I was impressed. In the Science Exploratorium, in the greenhouse, you'll find a Venus Fly Trap plant. This is a carnivorous (meat eating) plant native only to the U.S., specifically a small region in North and South Carolina. I've been fascinated with carnivorous plants since I was 12 years old, and this summer I grew some for the kids. I was very surprised to see a Venus Fly Trap in Ready for School - 1st Grade. Sarah was so excited to find it, she called me to the computer to show me how she feeds it a fly.

Fisher-Price Ready for School - 1st Grade is available for $29.95, and that's a great price since it includes Kids Works Deluxe Story Maker on a second CD. They'll run on any 486/66 MHz or faster IBM compatible multimedia computer (Windows 3.1 or Windows 95) 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. For more information call Davidson & Associates at 1-800-545-7677.


Since my review of POWERFINDER PRO in my January 1996 column, this product has been greatly enhanced. Not only does it include 115 million U.S. business and residential listings, but it also gives you access to street-level maps, toll-free numbers, business fax numbers, U.S. census information and more. Plus, you can search by name, address, phone number or business type (SIC code).

The software is supplied on 9 CDs along with an installation sheet and system requirements. You won't find a printed manual in the box, but their on-line help feature is more than enough to get you what you need. The CDs are labeled Mid-Atlantic States, Midwest States, Northwest, Central States, Southeast States, Western States, Census USA, Streets USA and U.S. Businesses.

POWERFINDER PRO is an excellent product even at the suggested retail price of $200. Considering it replaces all the business and residential telephone books in the U.S., including toll-free numbers and fax numbers, and it can be searched by any criteria as well as used to generate business and residential mailing lists, you can't really put a price on its value. Certainly you'll be saving money by bypassing those costly directory assistance calls. This software is a money and time saver, and a must have product for any business.

POWERFINDER PRO is available for $139 and will run any 386 or faster IBM compatible computer (Windows 3.1, Windows NT or Windows 95) with 4 megabytes of RAM and Apple Macintosh, Macintosh Plus/Classic or better computer with 1 megabyte of RAM and System 6.04 or greater. Both computers require double-speed CD-ROM drives. For more information contact PhoneDisc at 1-800-284-8353.

PrintPaks Super Iron-Ons Kit Update

In past columns I've reviewed computer craft kits from PrintPaks, Inc. If you had a chance to try any of their Super Iron-On Kits you may have found a discrepancy in the amount of ironing time and heat it takes to transfer your creations to T-shirts. The instructions suggested ironing the transfer to the shirt for 2 minutes, with your iron on the highest dry setting. After ruining the first shirt and transfer, ironing for the full 2 minutes, using trial and error, I found 15 seconds worked well with my iron. Any where near 2 minutes would meld the paper with the T-shirt. The instructions did not suggest trying different ironing times on a test shirt. After talking with technical support, I'm sure they'll modify those instructions. For more information on any of their craft kits call PrintPaks at 1-800-775-6860.

Software Companies Mentioned

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

5711 South 86th Circle, PO Box 27347
Omaha, NE 68127
Phone: 1-800-284-8353

PrintPaks, Inc.
513 NW 13 Ave., Suite 202
Portland, OR 97209
Phone: 1-800-774-6860