Although there are downsides to children using computers, such as spending too long on them, repetitive strain injury, addiction, obesity, learning the wrong things, web abuse, but there are jolly good things too. Supervised, children from one onwards can avoid all the above and be enriched. They can enjoy learning via colours, sounds, and touch by everlasting patient software. They get used to manipulating technology as if it’s an extension of themselves and develop skills in addition to the conventional learning and playing methods. You didn’t have to persuade me. I wrote colour, shape and sound simulation programs for my children’s infant school way back in the 1980s on the BBC Microcomputer. Both our kids grew up being used to computers and Robert makes his living programming them.
Then thirty years later along came our grandchildren. None of my programs work on the new computers. Actually they would by running BBC BASIC or RM BASIC emulators, but they have a tendency to crash the PCs and show their decrepit age compared to today’s software. I searched the web for kid friendly software and found quite a lot. However, one stood out because it disabled normal functions of the keyboard such that the children couldn’t get out of the program and on into other software even accidentally. Giggles Baby did all that and more. Our grandkids, even those under one, really did giggle and shake with excitement when they made sounds and colours and funny creatures dance on screen with each key press.
Giggles Baby was installed via CD but the programmer, Tim Leverett, saw his future for the business in making the software run online. He calls it Club Toddler. There is a token cost for the full package but you can use the basics for free by registering at http://www.clubtoddler.com/
Now here’s the funny thing. To register, you have to download the ‘engine’ of the suite of programs – fine. Then register with an email address and password. Oops. The software wouldn’t let me enter the @ in my email. I thought maybe it was something I’d done wrong. Tried number lock, caps lock, etc. I rebooted the computer but the problem was stubborn. I tried other keys. Nope. So I emailed Tim Leverett who promptly replied saying only one other person had reported a problem but had been quiet since. He tried fixes. Then Tim mentioned that the @ was above the 2 on his keyboard. It’s above the ‘ on mine with “ above the 2. We knew that continental Europe had Zwerty instead of Qwerty keyboards but didn’t know that US keyboards were subtly different from those in the UK. No problem, he engineered a fix so that UK folk can register Club Toddler. Yeay.
It gets better. Tim is an aspiring writer of science fiction. He’d browsed through my website at http://geoffnelder.com and came up with a mutual benefit plan. Would I give him an assessment of a film treatment he’d written for a science fiction story in exchange for me having premium membership of Club Toddler for life? Yes! I can’t wait to both read through Tim’s oeuvre and show his software to my grandkids.
Free giveaway of ARIA and an ARIA T-shirt in an easy competition draw! Just hop along to the front page of http://bibliophilia.org with its link to the video trailer and buying links.
I learnt that my short story, Accident Waiting to Happen, was not only accepted by eFantasy magazine but published in their February edition. You can grab a copy from their website here. The story is set in the Madrid National library but the idea came from my wife while we were driving along the M56. She saw a badly listing lorry and said, ‘There’s an accident waiting to happen.’ I said, ‘That’s a good title for a story.’ It turns out to be a romance and a mild horror at the same time. I once needed a large book on the Bindweed plant in Widnes library and another large book teeetered on a top shelf… Such are the musings that result in stories being written. (the Bindweed research comes into ARIA: Returning Left Luggage).
Sales of How to Win Short Story Competitions are steady. Get yours here.
Exit, Pursued by a Bee is at http://geoffnelder.com/exitbee.htm Several readers have pointed out recently that a principle notion in that book is being proved true. Ie that the universe might be chaotic but that the Earth is in a kind of bubble of stability. In Exit that stability is shaken when alien artifacts leave. Just shows that fiction might not be so unbelievable after all.
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