Saturday, August 12, 2006

Macintosh Educational Software:

In case I hadn't mentioned it yet, It is Macintosh flavored computers that I mostly work on. I have done plenty of contract work with that other operating system too, so no telling me I just dont know a good thing when I see one ;) Since I haven't embraced a new Intel Mac yet the only machine here capable of running windows not in emulation is under a desk, disconnected and loaded with Linux at the moment... Actually, thats not true, there is one other. An Alpha processor machine that could run the Alpha version of WinNT if I could find a copy, I bought it cause I was interested in other processors and loading linux on it. It served as my firewall and NAT server that way for several years before it was relegated to the bottom of the closet. But my point is that I just don't do windows at home and I can't really think of a good reason to do it at work either ;) Hopefully any non-mac user visitors to this site can just skip any posts where I'm talking about the Mac... ;)

Everyone is raving about the switch to Intel chips and how much faster and cooler they are, and thats fantastic! But what hasn't gotten a lot of press is the fact that Classic is gone. It wont run on the Intel machines at all. This would be no problem for me as there is only one App that I still sometimes run that I haven't updated, it's an apple event dictionary resource editor and I can either buy the updated version or use something else when it comes to that, but my 6 year old daughter still uses classic a lot.

It turns out that educational software and children's games don't get updated very often and even software that you can buy off the shelf at the local target is often repackaged ancient stuff that still wants classic. Turns out that most of it runs great on my refurbished G5 iMac in the kitchen, but all of it will be unusable when everyone has an Intel Mac. There is a LOT of really great classic stuff out there that will probably never be updated.

So if you were putting off getting a new machine for the kids, and they aren't going to be interested in 3D games anytime soon, it might be a good idea to keep an eye out on Apple's refurbished sale section for G4 and G5 machines. At this particular moment there doesn't seem to be anything other than refurbished iPods available, but other things popup all the time. I've had very good luck with their refurbished products, but others I hear from have had to send things back, so keep in mind that you're saving lots of money, but it's not without risk, but then, it never is.

Every few months I go through the kids computer game section at Target or other places in town looking for new games that claim to be Mac compatible. There really are quite a few at least in the younger kids section. At this particular moment my daughter is spending most of her computer time switching between "Freddy The Fish" and "Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper." There is a whole servies of GREAT Freddy The Fish whodunit mystery type games with wonderful full screen animation and quite interesting story lines for the kids. I think there are 5 of them, all running in classic and all definitely worth your kids time if they are 5 or 6ish. There are also a bunch of Barbie games that run in OSX proper. They are slightly less awesome, or maybe it's just me reacting to the commercialism of them. They art and animation in the Princess and the Pauper is pretty good, but I think they take a bit of liberty with the story...

She also likes "KidPix" a lot and has also spent a lot of time playing the Finding Nemo game. I can recommend both of those (and they are both updated for OSX I believe) The Living Book series are really great for even younger kids, but they also run only under classic.

One other thing I can recommend investing in as you get your kids a computer is a pair of good headphones! There are times when hearing the same 2 bars of the barbie music over and over for an hour is just too much for a parent to survive, so making your kids plug in their headphones will save you a few brain cells. I have a set from Gear For Kidz but they say that they are "closed for personal reasons" at the moment which is a shame since the headphones were sized properly and comfortable for her to wear and yet were of good quality as they have survived a year now with no broken plastic pieces or shorts in the cords or plugs even after some rather hard use. I'm sure that there are other kinds available that are good. Keep in mind that kids will not use in ear headphones (at least mine dont like anything in their ears and they wont fit in their little ears anyway) and big grownup headphones are either unable to size down small enough or are too tight and they dont like that either.

School starts tomorrow! So I'm off to spend some time with my about to be first grader while her little brother takes a little nap.


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