September 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.


Bill Nye the Science Guy Educational Adventure and Snappy Video Snapshot

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock! Educational Adventure

If you're a parent and watch public television with your kids, you'll know about Bill Nye the Science Guy who hosts a wacky show of the same name produced by Disney. Now fans of this eccentric scientist can experience real science scenes in an adventure game from Pacific Interactive with a bundle of experiments and scientific situations to explore plus riddles to solve along the way.

Help Bill Nye and his gang of kid scientists, at Nye Labs, save the Earth from a gigantic meteoroid heading our way. To help you toward your goal, you'll find 17 neat scientific devices to work and manipulate including the Weatherator, the Fault Finder, the Sky Nye Blimp, Sam's Geology Table, the Pressure Chamber, the Rocket Assembler and the Van de Graaf Generator.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock! is a great educational adventure full of videos, graphics and sounds effects, with lots to do and lots to learn for kids ages 9 and up. The CD will run on any 486-33 MHz or faster IBM compatible multimedia computer with 8 megabytes of RAM and Apple Macintosh with a 68040 processor or faster, multimedia computer with 8 megabytes of RAM (16 megabytes Power PC). Both computers require double-speed CD-ROM drives.

You'll find this CD at the street price of $35 to $40. For more information call Pacific Interactive at 1-800-688-1520.

Snappy Video Snapshot Version 2.0 from Play Incorporated

If you're a graphic designer (or anyone interested in computer graphics) then you should know about this phenomenal video capture device that you've got to get your hands on. It's the Snappy from Play Incorporated, an IBM compatible parallel printer port device selling for $199.95 that is better than products two or three times the price. Macintosh users may consider going IBM for this one application since nothing compares in the Macintosh world for the price.

With 24-bit color resolution of up to 1500 x 1125 pixels, you'll be creating great presentations from any video source with ease. It connects directly to the output of your camcorder, video tape recorder or television and will grab color frames with a click of the mouse. The Snappy is easy to use. Just plug it into a parallel printer port, install the software from the CD (which includes Adobe PhotoDeluxe, Gryphon Morph and Kai's Power Goo SE), connect your video source and you're ready to capture anything: live, tape and more.

Once in the Snappy menu you select Preview to see a small black and white image (160 x 120 pixel) of your active video source. If you're playing a tape, the scenes will be moving by. To capture a 640 x 480 pixel image (the default setting), just click on the Snap button and in seconds a frame will be grabbed and displayed in full color. You can save the image in a number of formats including BMP, JPG, PCX and TIF. The 640 x 480 pixel image takes up 900K bytes of RAM as a BMP or 72K bytes in JPG format with a resolution of 96 dpi. The highest resolution will use just over 5 megabytes of RAM without compression. In the Adjust menu you can change the resolution, crop your captured image or make changes to the color, brightness, contrast, picture, tint, sharpness and more.

Here's my very first, untouched, Snappy snapshot, a live picture of me and my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Becky, using my Sony Video 8 camcorder. I was amazed at the clarity of the image, even at the lowest resolution. Click on picture for the 640 x 480 pixel image. Capturing from tape gave me the same quality output.


The software and Snappy hardware requires any 486, Pentium or better multimedia computer with Windows 95, 3.1x or NT, 8 megabytes of RAM, 8 megabytes of hard disk space and a CD-ROM or floppy drive. I was able to install and run the Snappy successfully on a 486-66 MHz machine with good results, but it runs much faster on my Pentium 200 MHz system.

The Snappy Video Snapshot Version 2.0 retails for $199.95 but it's available at the street price of $179. For more information contact Play Incorporated at 1-800-306-7529.

Companies Mentioned

Pacific Interactive
2921 Third Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
Phone: 1-800-688-1520; 206-443-6644

Play Incorporated
2890 Kilgore Road
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Phone: 1-800-306-7529; 916-851-0800