November 1999

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.

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Reading Blaster Vocabulary from Knowledge Adventure, Noddy Playtime in Toyland from the BBC and Knowledge Adventure, Madeline 1st and 2nd Grade Math from The Learning Company, Rugrats Mystery Adventures from Mattel Media and SubmitWolf 4.0 Web Submission Software from Trellian Australia

Reading Blaster Vocabulary from Knowledge Adventure

Okay, Blaster Pals it's time for Reading Blaster Vocabulary, another great Blaster educational game from Knowledge Adventure.  Kids ages 9 through 12 (for 4th, 5th and 6th graders).  Unlike Reading Blaster Jr., which has an outer space theme, you and your kids find yourselves in a mysterious (could be haunted) mansion in Bizarroville to help Rave the Detective find out who's causing all the weird happenings.   You'll use your vocabulary skills by solving puzzles and playing word games to collect the evidence that points to the perpetrator, one of seven party guests.  As expected, this game has great graphics, music and sound effects to keep your interest.

The program begins in the main menu, an out of this world background with several options to click on.  Here, you can play the game, enter a the Blaster sticker maker, edit the word list and even get some tips for parents.  Of course you'll want to jump right into the game which means a visit to the mansion to collect clues.  You basically move from room to room interviewing the guests and looking for clues while using your Detective Kit which has a map (to navigate) and a notebook .  In each room you'll find reading games and activities including an anagram game in the dining room, a mouse party in the kitchen (sentences), word definitions in the living room, crossword on the window in the sitting room, horse racing with words and more.

Sarah, who learned phonics from Reading Blaster Jr. at the age of 4, couldn't wait to jump into Reading Blaster Vocabulary.  I think she wouldn't have been reading that early if it wasn't for that one Blaster game.   Sarah, who is now 8-years-old, found Reading Blaster Vocabulary lots of fun.  She said, "I really liked the reading race."

Reading Blaster Vocabulary sells for a street price of  $14.95 and will run on any multimedia PC, 486/66 MHz or faster, 16 MB RAM and a Power Macintosh.  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact Knowledge Adventure at 1-800-545-7677, or visit their Web site at

Noddy Playtime in Toyland from the BBC and Knowledge Adventure

Noddy Playtime in Toyland is a charming educational adventure based on the BBC animated children's show for kids preschool to 1st grade, ages 4 to 6.  This CD offers strikingly realistic digitized animation, memorable music and sound effects for some fun and basic learning with the boy, Noddy, and his lovable animated friends Big-Ears, Master Tubby Bear, Mr. Plod,  Mr. Sparks, Mr. Wobbly Man, Mr. Jumbo, Bumpy Dog.  Kids will learn numbers and counting, letters and spelling, shapes and colors, memory skills and more.

The program's main menu is in Noddy's bedroom with all six activity icons above his bed.  Each activity offers a day with Noddy with impressive 3-D graphics making the characters come alive on the screen.   A story which leads to an activity starts from six areas.   Click on the icon to help celebrate Master Tubby Bear's birthday, help Mr. Plod assess the damage from a stormy day in Toyland, spend some time on a cold day in Toyland, keep cool on a hot day in Toyland, help stop some trouble in Toyland, and finally, visit the Fair.  You can't go to the fair until you have earned at least one quarter by completing an activity.  The quarter will appear in the Piggy Bank.

This is an excellent CD with great graphics and some simple learning activities that Becky, my 5-year-old kindergartner, really loves to play.  She said, "I like to chase the villains (at Trouble in Toyland) and hear them say silly stuff when you spray them with the hose." 

Noddy Playtime in Toyland sells for a street price of $30 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 90 or faster, 16 MB RAM and a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact Knowledge Adventure at 1-800-545-7677, or visit their Web site at

Madeline 1st and 2nd Grade Math from The Leaning Company

Madeline 1st and 2nd Grade Math is here, direct from Paris, France with all twelve little girls in two straight lines.  Based on the wonderfully written and illustrated books by Ludwig Bemlmans it will help you and your kids pass the time during rain or shine.  If you're not familiar with the story line then it's time for you to learn about Madeline, her trusty dog Genevieve, her teacher Miss Clavel and the boy-next-door, Pepito, with this software CD made for kids ages 6 to 9 or more.

This is a two CD set, with lots of fun and educational activities guided by Madeline and friends for an adventure beginning in Paris, France.  You'll find yourself in the Louvre, a famous Paris museum, and continue on your journey to solve some practical math problems.

CD 1 covers 1st grade math with 9 activity areas including addition and subtraction, pattern recognition, problem solving, estimations and mesaurement and geometric shapes.  Help Madeline and Pepito race up the stairs by solving addition and subtraction problems; help Madeline find a hidden surprise in a number pyramid, and more.

CD 2 offers a 2nd grade math curriculum covering equations, carrying and borrowing, fractions, number relationships and simple multiplication.  Help Miss Clavel complete equations on her math easel; learn carrying and borrowing by solving equations on a prehistoric cave wall, and more.

This is a fun CD for 1st and 2nd graders who would like to learn math with Madeline and friends.  Although, it's not gender specific, it may be more suitable for those kids (especially girls) who like Madeline.  My girls both like Madeline, and found this CD fun to play.  But, I'm not sure boys would care for this software unless they were fans of the Madeline series of books and videos.

Madeline 1st & 2nd Grade Math sells for $29.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 486/66 MHz or faster processor running Windows 95, Windows 98 or NT and a Macintosh Power PC.  Both computers require 16 megabytes of RAM and double-speed (2x) CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact The Leaning Company at 1-800-716-8506, or visit their Web site at

Rugrats Mystery Adventures from Mattel Media

If you're a fan of the Rugrats, that almost true-to-life kid cartoon on Nickelodeon, then you and your kids (ages 6 and up) should consider the Rugrats Mystery Adventures CD.  It's a 3-D interactive adventure into the wild and wacky, but lovable world of the Rugrats.  Help Detective Tommy Pickles and his baby Rugrat friends play some fun arcade-style activities (six in all) and solve some mysteries.  What  happened to Phil and Lil's buried treasure?  Who stole Angelica's Cynthia doll?  Now, you join the adventure and help.

After you sign-in, click on the play button, and you're taken to the Playpen to begin your adventure and start finding clues in 9 areas inside the house and out.  You must first click on Didi or Stu to begin exploring.

Both Sarah and Becky couldn't wait for me to install this CD because they love anything Rugrats.  In fact, we watch the Rugrats in the morning before I take them to school, and after dinner.  Of course, we'll go to any Rugrat movie they make (we've seen only one so far).  The  CD allows them to interact with their favorite characters and have some fun with the games.

Rugrats Mystery Adventures sells for $29.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 133 MHz or faster processor, 16 megabytes of RAM running Windows 95, Windows 98 or NT and a Macintosh Power PC, 150 MHZ or faster with  9.5 megabytes of RAM.  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.  For more information contact Mattel Media at 1-888-628-8359, or visit their Web site at

SubmitWolf 4.0 Web Submission Software from Trellian Australia

Now that you've opened your Web store, you would expect people to come by and buy.  But you say no one is visiting.  Well, it's time to get some customers, or at least visitors to your site who may become your customers.  And that's where SubmitWolf 4.0, a Web promotion tool, will really help you get noticed.  After a quick installation, you'll be on your way to Internet success, after you submit your Web site to 1500 plus Internet sources including search engines and FFA (free-for-all) Web pages.

SubmitWolf 4.0 is a program you can download free from several shareware Internet software sites, or direct from the manufacturer, Trellian Australia (  I downloaded the file swolf402.exe, a 1.6 megabyte size file, from

The free shareware version (unregistered demo) works, but limits your site submission to only some of the major search engines.  Two versions are available: SubmitWolf PRO (registered) version has no site submission restrictions, with up to 2500 sources available, selling for $95. SubmitWolf - Enterprise is designed for single or third party submission, and includes additional import and export functions plus a batch submission feature selling for $295.

The software includes an excellent, 13-chapter manual displayed in your browser, with step-by-step instructions on all the features.  Speaking of features, SubmitWolf 4.0 will submit your URL to the most appropriate category, it can check the ranking of your site in the major search engines, it generates Meta tags to help the search engines index your site and also has an Engine Editor so you can add new search engines that are not listed.  And last but not least, they offer free monthly upgrades from their server.

It's very easy to setup and use.  Create a new project file, enter your URL and site information (key words, description and URL title.), pick your category, enter your contact information, select the search engines and you're ready to go by clicking the submit button.  It includes an online manual and a very good reporting features. In my submission test, it took about 10 minutes to submit a site to 163 search engines.  But, submission time can vary depending upon the speed of the Internet and your connection.

SubmitWolf 4.0 from Trellian Australia works on any multimedia PC running Windows 95/Windows98 or NT.  It's well designed and easy to use, with great reporting features and good documentation (that's important to me).  The only improvement I could suggest is to add Windows help files instead of using the browser.  But this is purely superficial and doesn't at all affect the performance of this fine utility.   If you need to promote your Web site, you can't go wrong purchasing and using SubmitWolf 4.0.

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

Knowledge Adventure, Inc.
19840 Pioneer Avenue
Torrance, CA 90503
Phone: 1-800-545-7677

Mattel, Inc.
333 Continental Boulevard
El Segundo, CA 90245
Phone: 1-888-628-8359

The Learning Company
6493 Kaiser Drive
Fremont, CA 94555
Phone: 1-800-716-8506

Trellian Australia Pty. Ltd.
71 Cromer Road
Beaumaris, Victoria 3193, Australia
Fax: +613-9583-2562