October 2001

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.


Math Blaster: Cross Terrain Challenge from Knowledge Adventure and Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition from Microsoft

Math Blaster: Cross Terrain Challenge from Knowledge Adventure

Kids, are you ready for another great Math Blaster educational game from Knowledge Adventure?  Well, brace yourself for some fun with Math Blaster: Cross Terrain Challenge.  Kids, ages 9-12, will join GC and Max Blaster at the Cross Country Terrain Challenge to win the Indigo Stinger.

After a quick installation from CD, and you sign in, your mission begins.  Your immediate goal is to collect hover boards and earn points.  You have five mission areas to complete, so you'd better hurry and think fast because each mission is timed.  Of course, to complete your goal you'll need to solve math problems and puzzles along the way.  You'll find great graphics and sound effects while you're working your way through each mission and playing arcade-style video games. The activities include moving bamboo grids, crossing bridges before they crumble, moving through a scorpion maze, completing pipe circuits and maneuvering a giant hamster ball while avoiding obstacles.  As a bonus, you'll learn hover board trips you can perform.

Each mission offers various areas of challenge including logic, critical thinking, coordinates and geometric shapes.  For example, to get through the bamboo grids, you need to move in the right direction with the correct number of jumps until you reach a hover board.  And as you advance through each mission, it gets more difficult and challenging promising to keep your kids occupied and learning for hours.

Math Blaster: Cross Terrain Challenge sells for $29.95 and will run on any multimedia PC, 200 MHz Pentium  or faster, 32MB RAM withWindows 95/98/NT 4/2000/Me and a 12x CD-ROM drive.  It will also run on a Macintosh G3 or faster, OS 8.1 or higher, with 64 MB RAM and a 12x CD-ROM drive.

Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition from Microsoft Corporation

Visual Basic 6.0 Professional is Microsoft's latest Basic programming language for creating almost any computer application you need to work in the Windows operating system.  It's a very powerful, and easy to learn, language with program compiler developers can use to build just about any application they need, including for Internet use.   Once you've mastered its menus and windows you'll be programming your Windows applications in no time.  It includes a variety of CD-based documents including and helps files, plus links to Internet support.  Visual Basic 6.0 offers all the features, commands and functions of Microsoft's previous version of Visual Basic (and older Basics) plus much more.  Its great graphical interface makes it relatively easy to develop, test and then take to market your programming applications for home, business or educational uses, plus special support for server-side Internet applications accessible from any browser.

Features include a native code compiler, a dynamic HTML page designer, visual database tools, enhanced drivers for SQL Server and Oracle databases, mobile computing support, custom data source creation, drag-and-drop reporting and drag-and-drop form creation.

After a quick installation from CD, run the program and select the type of document you're opening from the new project box, or select an existing project you plan to continue.  If you're new to Visual Basic 6.0, but ready to start programming, you'll select a standard document format.  The next time you run Visual Basic 6.0 you'll open your existing project by selecting the name you created when you started.  A new form and project window will be displayed.  There, you'll start to create using various tools selected from the tool bar on the left side of the screen.  Once you get used to the Visual Basic programming interface, you'll quickly learn to program and test your applications in this visual environment.  

Your beginning design can include opening text boxes, entering programming code, modifying the display area, adding check boxes, buttons and scroll bars, entering images and adding command buttons.  As you add to your design, you can stop and check your work by compiling and running what you've done so far.  And if you find errors (and I guarantee you will), you can use the Debug function to step through your program and correct the problem.  When your project is done, you can compile it for a stand-alone program that will run in any Microsoft Windows environment.

Printed documentation is lacking, but Microsoft more than makes up for it with help files on their CD and also links that take you to Internet help sites.  You'll find quite a bit of information, including programming examples and samples.  If you need hard copy, just print it out.

Visual Basic 6.0 is light years ahead the first DOS-based Basics introduced in the 1980's like Microsoft QuickBASIC, and much easier to use.  It makes it a relatively easy task to program a graphics-based Windows application for use with any Windows-based personal computer.

Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition sells for a street price of $508.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 486DX/66 MHz or faster, 16MB RAM with Windows 95/98/NT 4/2000/Me and a CD-ROM drive. 

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

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

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: 1-206-882-8080
URL msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/