eMedia’s Piano and Keyboard Method & Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro . August 2008 . Vol. 14 No. 8

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles.

June 2008--Rosetta Stone Japanese Level 1, 2 & 3 and My Piano from eMedia
May 2008
--Rosetta Stone Personal Edition Hebrew Level 1, 2 & 3 CD-ROM Set
April 2008--QuickBooks Pro 2008 from Intuit Inc.
March 2008--TurboTax Deluxe for Tax Year 2007 from Intuit Inc.
February 2008--Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended and My Guitar from eMedia

eMedia’s Piano and Keyboard Method V2.0 and Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

By Howard Berenbon

eMedia’s Piano and Keyboard Method V2.0

By Becky Berenbon

I recently tried out eMedia’s Piano and Keyboard Method V2.0.  It is very similar to its junior version, My Piano.

The installation was quick and simple.  When you open up the program, it gives you an introduction with instructions for using the software. 

This time, there was no talking piano, which can be somewhat of an annoyance for mature musicians.  Without the help of the anthropomorphic instrument, it was still very easy to navigate the program.  It gives you the option of skipping to different chapters or lessons: great for those who have some prior knowledge of playing piano.  You’ll find over 300 lessons, developed by a former instructor from the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

The lessons are just like the ones in My Piano.  It slowly introduces each basic part.  First, there is a brief lesson on different types of pianos.  After that, position is taught. Then, the black keys are introduced, and the player uses them for learning rhythm, the next important chunk. White keys are taught later.  Throughout the chapters, you gradually learn the basics of music theory.  Soon enough, you are playing songs with two hands.

The program includes videos (over 70) and comments relating to the lesson.  Sliders let you change the tempo, or speed, of the song, and change the position in the song (kind of like the scroll wheel on an iPod).

From the very beginning, there are many songs, taking the place of boring exercises. Instead of games, there were quizzes to review each chapter.  For example, do you know which note is higher: b or b flat?

A helpful function in the program is the looping feature.  If there’s a tricky part in the music you want to practice over and over again, you can just highlight what you want to practice and you can hear it played as many times as you want. 

The software also provides a metronome.  You can record your music with the microphone (not included) and play it back.  There are a myriad of adjustable settings to help you customize your experience.  If you have a midi keyboard, you can connect it to the computer and get feedback on each song you play.  It’s in very simple language, like “You held this note too long.”

I found that this program is a fun, easy way to learn piano.
eMedia’s Piano and Keyboard Method V2.0 is available for $59.95 for the PC or Mac.  For more information, or to order, visit Amazon.com.

eMedia Music Corporation
664 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105
Phone: 206-329-5657
URL: http: emediamusic.com

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro from Adobe Systems Incorporated

By Howard Berenbon

Last month I did an in-depth review the beta version of Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, the newest PDF file tool from Adobe Systems Inc.  This month I received what Adobe calls their “shrink wrap” version of Acrobat 9 Pro, or their final retail boxed version.  After a quick installation, I didn’t notice any difference between the beta version and the final release and so I stand by my previous comments and continue to recommend Adobe’s Acrobat software.  If you have Acrobat 8, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to the new and improved Acrobat 9.   If you’ve never used Adobe Acrobat (though I would find that hard to believe), you’ll want to because Acrobat is a great tool that allows you to view, print and create files for distribution in the PDF file format, between many different computers and operating systems.

Acrobat 9 offers many new features, but its most important improvement is the ability to combine all your separate files into one PDF file called a Portfolio.  Version 9 allows you to combine documents, e-mail, images, spreadsheets, forms and video and audio into a single editable file.  It also allows you to add Flash movies and videos, in a number of formats, to your PDF file.  You can save a Web page in the  PDF format and edit the contents without having the original file.  With Acrobat 9 you’ll make that perfect presentation, and it’s easy to use.  Acrobat offers more than just presentation abilities.  It’s a business program great for writing proposals, marketing plans, technical documents, legal briefs, government intelligence briefs, digital archives, design reviews, business forms and more you can easily send out over the Internet.  And for security, you can password protect your files.  When you’re ready to distribute your work, just assemble your documents into a single PDF file, with all its elements, and send it over the Internet as an e-mail attachment.

Adobe Acrobat 9 standard sells for $279.99 and will run on any multi-media computer 1.3 GHz or faster processor running Windows XP and Vista with 256 MB RAM, 985 MB of hard disk space, 1,024x768 screen resolution and a CD-ROM drive and the Apple Macintosh.  For more information, visit Amazon.com

Other versions include Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro for $499 and Adobe Acrobat 9 extended for $699.  If you’re an educator or run a business, and publish or distribute materials: books, manuals, instructions sheets, advertising brochures, forms, and more, then Adobe Acrobat 9, either Standard, Pro or Pro Extended is a necessary tool for your trade.  Acrobat 9 is one powerful multimedia publishing program with lots of applications, and I recommend it.

For New Features and What’s in Version 9

Acrobat’s features vary somewhat depending on the version.  Adobe Reader 9, the free version, allows you to view, print and search PDF files the new Portfolios and PDF maps.  The commercial versions allow you print and search PDF files and Portfolios and create documents you can save into a single file.  For more details, including some history, some favored application tools, a complete list of features and a comparison chart click for our July 2008 article.

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Ave
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
URL adobe.com