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April 2003, Week 4 -- Make Learning a Game

 

 

Game Show Presenter
Game Show Presenter

 

 

   How deadly are training sessions? So deadly that ... (you fill in the blank). "Game Show Presenter" is a great program for changing that.

   You create your own quiz show. You write the questions and the answers. There's an enthusiastic game show host, Al Morale, who presents the questions and the audience cheers the right answers. Background music and audience noises go with the show.

   For trade shows or national distribution you can buy a version where your questions and answers are burned in by the manufacturer and can't be changed by the user. These are used by police departments, corporate trainers, human resource departments, mall kiosks, etc. A medical services trainer said it was the most popular and well received training session she ever conducted.

 

   Game Show Presenter is $79 from www.almorale.com, where you can also download a free trial version.

 

VCR to CD

  Aver DVD

   The new "AverDVD EZMaker" is a low cost plug-in card for Windows that captures standard video and converts it to the digital format that can be burned to a DVD. This is what you need to turn a video tape into a CD or DVD.

   There are several cards of this type on the market and their history is mildly interesting. When we first covered them a few years ago the cost was around $1,000. From there it dropped to $500, then $199 and now this and other cards sell for $50 or less. You can plug in the video and audio feed from a VCR or older video camera and the card captures it in 720-480 pixel resolution. It handles NTSC input, the standard in the U.S. and many other countries, or PAL, the European standard.

 

   The video and sound can be fed out to your DVD or CD writer, in real time; in short, it burns a disk in the same time it takes to feed the video into the computer. The video capture resolution is not the highest but is more than adequate for display on TVs. AverDVD has a $50 list price, from www.aver.com.

 

CD Labeling

  Bravo Disk Publisher

   If you just burn a CD or DVD once in a while, Epson has a neat new printer for labeling. The Epson's Stylus Photo 960 sells for around $260 from discounters and prints either color photos or labels onto CDs or DVDs. A tray slides out to take disks instead of paper. Put a disk in that tray and the printer takes it in and prints your label, with words and pictures, directly onto the CD or DVD. Naturally it can only do this one disk at a time.

   For volume work, the machine to look at is Primera's "Bravo Disk Publisher." It sells for $1995-$2495 list price. It has a CD or DVD burner combined with a labeler that can burn and label 25 disks at a time. Take a look at www.primera.com.

 

Special Effects

  Xenofex 2

   Xenofex 2 from Alien Skin Software produces special graphic effects, like breaking a picture up as a mosaic, adding stains, cutting it into a jigsaw puzzle, etc. It's an add-on for Photoshop, Jasc's Paint Shop Pro or Macromedia Fireworks.

There are 14 special effects in all, most notably the ability to add clouds and lightning to a picture. The effects are single-click easy to add and are most likely to be used by web designers and digital photographers. Price is $69 as an upgrade from www.alienskin.com.

 

Internuts

Wacky Uses

-- www.wackyuses.com  Lots of uses for milk, vinegar and dozens of other products. How to make, and remove, milk paint. Use vinegar to sanitize meat and vegetables, improve azaleas, kill grass, relieve arthritis, etc. Has odd uses for lemon juice, Listerine, Jello, baking soda, corn oil and so on.

-- www.npr.org/programs/asc  The last three letters of the address stands for "all songs considered" and what you get here is fuller versions of the interesting music used on the National Public Radio show "All Things Considered."

-- www.live365.com  Free radio delivery: music, comedy, spoken word, sound tracks, old time radio shows, mysteries, songs from the early 1900s, sci-fi, etc. Huge number of songs and radio shows, plus links to similar sites. This is a listening treasure house.

 

Shopping

 

   The popular Internet search engine "google.com" has spun off a new search engine called "froogle.com." It finds stores and sites that sell what you're looking for. Usually it will come up with many sources for any item and you can browse for your best service or price. Site is www.froogle.com.

Mac OS Hacks

Books

   "Mac OS X Hacks," by Dornfest and Hemenway; $25, O'Reilly Press www.oreilly.com.

   To programmers the term "hacks" simply refers to entering changes that make a program or system work the way you want. Some of the "hacks" described here will make your Macintosh able to network with Windows desktops, Unix servers and other Macs to share files and printers. You can boot from another device and simply use the Mac as a FireWire hard drive.

Games

  

  "Backyard Soccer 2004," $10-$20 for Windows, for ages 7 and up, from Infogrames www.funkidsgames.com. There are no better sports games for kids than the "Backyard" series, which include baseball, football, basketball and hockey. This version of Backyard Soccer simulates what might have been the childhood prowess of kids who later become professional players for U.S. teams. Players include men and women.

  NOTE: Readers can search past columns on our web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com  or bobschwab@aol.com.

 

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