Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

September General Meeting: Education Month

by Lawrence I. Charters, Vice President, Macintosh

The Invisible Man

This article is a sham: I didn't even attend the September meeting. I spent much of the month as an invalid, alternating between great pain and boredom. The idea for the meeting goes to the Pi's Secretary, Grace Gallagher, who lobbied for the topic last spring and made the initial vendor contacts. Lorin Evans, the Pi President, and an authority in his own right on computers in education, stepped in and ran the meeting. His report, originally posted on the Pi's computer bulletin board system, the TCS, is given below.

September was quite a month: the Pi office, after being closed much of the summer due to the remodeling of the building, was in heavy use for meetings, classes, and general gatherings. The Pi's Explorer Internet service made a public launch, to enthusiastic reviews. Apple computers were, like every September, in short supply, with the usual sinister rumors being spread by competitors. The competition, however, suffered just as badly with a fall in sales of Windows 95 and a rise in negative press concerning the stability, compatibility, and value of Windows 95. Locally, everyone was depressed over the threatened shutdown of the federal government due to budget problems.

A perfect setting for Education Month.

Education Month

[The following narrative was posted by Lorin Evans on the TCS, and has been edited for republishing in the Washington Apple Pi Journal.]

The September meeting was billed as Edutainments. It turned out to be a showcase for new software, new display technology, and a new determination to make both members and non-members aware of the breadth of services and support offered by the Pi.

Our guests were Broderbund and MECC (in the flesh) and Davidson (in boxes of free software). Each is a major player in the home and education market.

For those of you who did not mind attending a presentation of the mediocre-likes of Microsoft Home, but thought the notion of school software a bit much, it was your loss. But, to ease the bump, read on to the end for a special offer we saved for you. There were two WAP special disk offers for those in attendance which you will read about as well.

It was good to see lots of new faces at the meeting. Almost half were people attending their first Saturday session. Many area teachers who do not normally turn up on Saturday mornings came to see the newest productivity and game software that they can use daily.

Tad Brickson (tad_brickson@broder.com; 410-715-6789) did a terrific job of presenting the creative world of Broderbund software. He highlighted two of their new offerings:

Math Shop, which offered seven different exploration areas (calculation through geometry) with six levels of difficulty from addition through estimation. Math Shop would be an excellent candidate for holiday gift giving for the elementary or middle school student on your list.

Dogs, an interactive CD with an encyclopedic quantity of information to help select an appropriate breed as a companion for one's personality and lifestyle, plus all sorts of information for the pet owner. A cat version is also available. Dogs or Cats, at $18.95, is certainly more informative and easier to access than the standard breeder books from the pet store.

For the junior set, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Jr. Detective Edition CD offers the same type of world exploration and problem solving, but with less reading required and much of the program spoken to the player.

Audience questions about the old PC Globe program, which was the best of the atlas programs, elicited a fast demonstration of the new Broderbund CD-based version which enables students to do up to date research on maps and facts from countries around the world. A demonstration of the Bosnia-Herzagovenia area map and facts plus the editing quality imbedded in the program (Bosnia-Hertzagovenia was transformed/renamed as the Kingdom of Lorin Evans on the screen) was impressive and fun.

The addition of the Dr. Seuss ABC's to the CD series of Living Books was in the tradition of quality we've found in earlier titles and the previous Grandma and Me CD from Broderbund.

Broderbund had 15 new titles to demo, but time permitted only several of them. The piece de resistance of the user group order form is the complete Print Shop Deluxe Ensemble CD which includes both the Print Shop Deluxe program and Print Shop Companion for only $40; you will pay $79.00 for it anywhere else! Here again, early holiday shopping is in order!

MECC, which many will remember as the former Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, showed the newest Oregon Trail family member, Africa Trail, the bicycle trip across present day Africa which requires the same types of simulations skills as the earlier Oregon, Yukon, and Amazon Trails. While teaching much geography of the continent, the newest game, available in both disk and CD versions, requires planning for route, supplies, and helpful traveling companions. MECC left copies of their demonstration CD containing their Trails series for those who care to visit the office for a viewing. MECC software is available in most retail shops. A five game CD special at $158.00 is detailed at the end of this message.

For the Apple II set, MECC had five new programs which were running on Apple IIGS computers in the lobby. Larry Luger, the MECC representative (llugar@mecc.com; 1-800-375-4499), announced plans for five more programs next year. The eight-bit market is alive and well!

The presentations were viewed through a new hardware interface, the Focus L.TV Pro, which is an external scan converter that allows any Mac RGB signal to be converted to a standard television monitor input signal. You can use both your Mac monitor and a large screen television or ‹ as we used it ‹ send the signal into the theater projection system at NOVA. The set-up was simple. People reported greater clarity in many locations.

The Focus L.TV Pro is the package Apple will sell you as the Apple Presentation Kit if you order the video kit for your PowerBook. Or, you can purchase it directly at any computer retailer ‹ now that you know not to ask for an Apple product.

At the conclusion, a raffle distributed the many boxes of software to the assembled.

My thanks to Pat Faquet's fridge, Grace Gallagher and Tom Witte for bringing the many pieces together in such a successful manner.

But there was still more to the meeting.

In the world of computer user groups, it is not enough to be inherently good, if others do not know of what we do and how to avail themselves of those services. The Pi needs to reach out to more people to interest them in joining and, when in the group, participating in our activities. We want members to spread the word of our existence, to pass on to others the knowledge that there is a group dedicated to helping them with their Apple or Macintosh.

A special table was set-up outside the auditorium to interest new and existing members in the pleasure of spreading the word of the works we do. Several new Special Interest Groups solicited for new members. Dave Ottalini, Lou Dunham, and Blake Lange each took a facet of this task.

The Pi is in need of instructors to fulfill the many requests we have for classes. Blake Lange, who is one of new tutorial coordinators (Henry Ware is the other), prepared a request form for attendees to complete to help us identify people who are willing to teach and the topic of interest to them.

If you are interested in helping with this work, please leave Blake or Henry a note on the TCS.

The Pi needs to let retail establishments in the greater Washington area know that we exist. We stock stores (where permitted) with flyers concerning membership. Someone needs to do that work; it not onerous or time consuming. Lou Dunham has agreed to find members who live near computer retailers, provide them with flyers and an introduction to the store. All we ask is that you stop by every so often to restock them with the latest flyers, etc. It is an easy return you can make for the Pi.

Several members 'adopted-a-store' at the meeting; more are needed. Leave Lou Dunham a note on the TCS if you live or work near a compute retailer and would be willing to help us with this most important task.

Doing good in a vacuum does not cut it! Dave Ottalini has the pleasure of welcoming new members to the Pi and helping them find their way around the TCS and the Journal. He is in the business of making sure that what we do, before we do it, is known to the general public and that we have people and things to offer to outside groups when a speaker or assistance is requested. If you believe that making certain the first introduction to Washington Apple Pi is a pleasant one, then Dave's work is of interest to you! Talk to Dave.

Now let's see. About the stuff some of you missedŠ

There were two show specials: Tools for Teachers was the first disk. It is classroom management software designed for teachers. It contains, among other things, a grade book program, grade computational software, Quill (a shareware CanOpener) and others. It can be had from the office for $3.00.

The second disk is called BandAid. It was created to assist people, who no longer have a Disk Tools disk, to make one, no matter what operating system they are using. It is also available from the office for $3.00.

Broderbund has a series of special prices for members of the Pi. Go to Conference 4, Board 24 and download the special order form that Blake Lange posted.

MECC is offering Pi members a special 5-pack CD-ROM collection of their adventure games. The offer to schools ends 30 September, but for school members of Washington Apple Pi, the offer will be extended to October 31. Details concerning this offer will be posted on Board 24 as soon as the special order form is received.

Future Events

October 28, 1995 will feature Cyberflix, a high-end multimedia firm specializing in exotic CD-ROM games and simulations. They plan on showing Skull Cracker, which normally wouldn't appeal to me except that they describe it as "not for senators or other weak-willed weenies." Senators? I'm also looking forward to Dust: A Tale of the Wired West, which has such a great title I'll probably buy it even without a demo.

The October meeting will be held at the Double Tree Hotel (Crowne Plaza) in Rockville, a few blocks from the Washington Apple Pi office. Following the meeting will be the Pi's official Open House to show off the remodeled office.

November's General Meeting will be held on the 18th, a week early, to avoid conflicts with Thanksgiving. Walt Disney is scheduled to show a new line of software, but the presentation is being coordinated by User Group Connection, a group that seems unfamiliar with the word "coordinate." This meeting will be back at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale.

The 1995 Washington Apple Pi Winter Computer Show and Sale (formerly known as "the Garage Sale") will be held December 9 at Northern Virginia Community College. In addition to much more comfortable quarters than we're used to having, the show also will feature seminars and the now-famous Computer Check-up table: bring in your computer for a quick physical in return for a donation to the Pi.

For the first meeting of the new year on January 27, 1996, the Pi will host Megahertz, a modem manufacturer which has recently entered the Macintosh market with a PCMCIA modem card for the new PowerPC-based PowerBooks. Another vendor (negotiations are still in progress) will round out the meeting.

Clones will be the topic at the February 24, 1996 meeting as Power Computing comes to the Pi to show off their Power computer line. Renown author Bob LeVitus, who serves as Power Computing's evangelist, will be the main speaker.

Drawing Winners

Broderbund software:
Dr. Seuss's ABCs: Clifton Bailey
New Kid on the Block: Stanley Brockway
Cats: Joanne Acree
Print Shop Deluxe: Ron Ostrow
Dogs: Jim Schroff
Kid Pix Fun Pack: Judy Newhouse

Davidson software:
The Cruncher: Tom Culbert
Personal Trainer for the SAT: Carol Knight
Personal Trainer for the SAT: Don Essick
Spell it 3: John Christensen
FireFighter: Kristen McDuffee

Send meeting comments to: lcharters@tcs.wap.org.

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