November 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.


JumpStart Typing from Knowledge Adventure and Adobe PageMaker 6.5

JumpStart Typing from Knowledge Adventure

If you want your kids on a fast track to typing, then JumpStart Typing is a fun way to get them clicking and clacking those keyboards the right way, and avoid the two fingered typing tango. I've seen too many adults on computers stabbing at the keys with one or two fingers. I'm sure if they were typing trained as kids they'd be much happier and a lot more productive. There are some traditional computerized and non computerized methods that teach typing, but they lack one main feature: the JumpStart Series of CDs kids really love. Recommended for kids ages 7 through 10, this software on CD features movie clips showing correct hand placements, timed typing lessons and arcade-type games (no pun intended) to build typing proficiency.

The software encourages typing training in team competition against intergalactic typists in the Extreme Keyboarding Competition. To succeed, you must take lessons and timed tests to build and maintain the team's strength. While in training, you will receive medals and also help free Coach Qwerty who was accidentally locked in the Trophy Room by Polly.

To begin, you start in the Keyboard Training Center with a brief timed typing test to determine your level and then start the lessons: Key Introduction, Key Practice and Speed Typing. Next, to the games, with Botley the robot narrating your way.

Once you're confident that you can take the competition (and earn enough team strength by training at the Keyboard Training Center) you can go to Sparks Stadium and play the games. In Keyboard Kicks, a soccer-style game, you type the correct key combinations to score goals. In Roller Racing you type your team around the Sparks Stadium track while avoiding obstacles and the Track Tricksters. In Fans Go Wild, a timed activity, you type letter and key combinations as they appear, allowing the fans to flip cards and reveal a hidden message. In Cliff Hanger, you help your Sparks team partner climb to the top of Mount Keys. In What's Going Down at Trail Blazer, you must maneuver the Sparks snowboarding team safely over the jump at the bottom of the trail using quick typing. And finally, when you free Coach Qwerty from the Trophy Room you will attend the Closing Ceremonies for your award.

This is a very thorough typing instructional program that makes learning touch typing fun. There's no other program I know of that lets you play soccer against the computer while you're learning to type. With the incentive to play the games, I spent a good half hour going through the lessons and tests. And then I entered the Stadium and spent another half hour on three of the games. It was definitely fun way to learn to type, even for adults. If I had this software when I was 7 years-old, I would have been typing and loving it. Unfortunately, when I was in elementary school the Eniac Computer, made of tubes and relays, was just invented, and it was not something you could take home in your backpack.

JumpStart Typing sells for $29.95 and will run on any 486/66 MHz or faster multimedia computer with Windows 95, 16 megabytes of RAM, 5 megabytes of hard disk space and a quad-speed CD-ROM drive. It will also run on an Apple Macintosh with a 68040 processor or faster, 16 megabytes of RAM, 8 megabytes of hard disk space and a quad-speed CD-ROM drive. For more information, contact Knowledge Adventure at 1-800-542-4240.

Adobe PageMaker 6.5

If you're using Adobe PageMaker 6.0 and want to leap into the Internet, along with other new features, then Adobe PageMaker 6.5 is the upgrade you should consider. Not only does PageMaker 6.5 give you a very professional desktop publishing environment, now you can take your desktop publishing a step up to HTML Web page design. Other features include an improved page layout control, interface enhancements, more high-end publishing support and enhanced compatibility with other products using plug-ins and filters. Also included are three CDs Adobe calls their ActionPack packed with lots of graphics, plug-ins and interactive documents to help increase your productivity.

PageMaker has been one of the choice professional publishing programs for several years, and this new version is worth the investment, either full version or upgrade. If you're familiar with the layers interface used in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator you'll like the layers feature in PageMaker 6.5. It allows you to design your publications using multiple layers so you can create and edit specific areas without affecting other areas of your document. Layers may also be turned on or off depending on your document requirements.

Other new features include their interactive tabbed palettes similar to those in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe common keyboard shortcuts, new and improved hand tools with three new fame tools, right mouse button support and more support for advanced color printing. The frames feature allows you to create documents with a fixed structure using text and graphics frames. The Web page design feature allows you to create and test a Web page design with hyperlinks.

The full version of Adobe PageMaker for Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 or the Apple Macintosh, on CD-ROM, retails for $895 (street price of $550) and the upgrade retails for $99 (street price of $90). This includes Adobe Acrobat Distiller and Acrobat Reader, Adobe Photoshop Limited Edition, Adobe Table 3.0, program preview, multimedia tutorials and product tips, dictionary for 17 languages, Adobe Type On-Call CD with 220 free fonts and user guides. For more information, contact Adobe Systems at 1-800-422-3623.

Software Companies Mentioned

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
Phone: 1-800-422-3623; 408-536-6000

Knowledge Adventure, Inc.
1311 Grand Central Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone: 1-800-542-4240