OVER 2 YOU, 130 (13/05/03)
Can anyone recommend child-friendly
"fun" software to teach my two young children aged 6 and 8 to touch
type? Considering nearly all their work in future (at school,
college and for the rest of their
lives) will be done via keyboards, it dismays me to see them stooped over
their desks, pecking and prodding away. If we don't nip it in the bud
soon, they will develop a very poor technique. I learned to touch-type aged 19, and have found it immensely
helpful ever since. It would be useful if the learning came in the form of a
game of some kind.
Neal Philo, St Annes,
Disney's Adventures in
Typing with Timon And Pumbaa is a fun way to learn to type (http://disney.go.com/disneylearning/index.html). With
lots of games it teaches correct fingering, and has different levels to work
through. I cannot recommend it too highly. Both my husband and daughter
have used it to learn to touch type, and I can't resist having a go
occasionally (having been trained to type years ago) just to show I'm still
faster than them!
I learnt to touch-type aged
about twelve when my mother said she would buy me my very own portable
typewriter if I did it. I did it, and she held true. You don't need
"games" software to make something fun. I was fascinated by Mum's
stories about learning to touch-type, having to wear an apron that attached to
the top of the typewriter, hiding the keys and her hands. You can make
something like that yourself to use at home. If you put "speed typing test" into Google, there are any number of sites that have free
tests, and you can make it into a game. Show off to them first, and then see
them learn how to beat you. If they can't beat you, then co-opt their mother as
someone to be beaten. But don't push so hard that you put them off.
Jim Delaney, Bethnal Green
I can highly recommend the
Mavis Beacon software for teaching kids to touch type. It is an excellent and
easily the best typing tutor available and can be found for free on cover
disks. I used it myself from the age of 6 for only 20 minutes a day and can now
type, at the age of 16 at over 70 words per minute - useful for rattling off my
GCSE coursework! Early versions come with a few games, such as racing cars, but
later versions come with more and more games. It also adjusts what you type to
try and get rid of your flaws, such as common typos and so forth. You can even
choose what you type, if you start feeling bored - the file of jokes that comes
with it is a particular favourite! This email, by the way, was typed up in
virtually no time at all…
Alex Rea, via email
I cannot recommend too
highly the Jump Ahead Typing CD-Rom from Knowledge Adventure, which is
available at £9.99 from www.brainworks.co.uk. This
is for children age 6 to 99 and teaches in a fun and progressive manner using
games and exercises. It certainly is not boring and children seem to love
it. I, too, was dismayed at my daughter's typing ability and purchased this
product when she was 7. She is now 10 and an able
touch-typist. The I.T. teacher at school has been so impressed by my
daughter's progress that the school has now adopted this programme to teach
typing throughout the primary ages.
THE NIMSLO DIMENSION
Recently I bought a Nimslo
3D camera at a local charity shop. I have been unable to find out anything
about it at the library and the sales assistant in a well-known camera shop
said he had never seen one of them before. Does anyone know anything about it?
Can you still get films and have them developed? It doesn’t look very old and
appears to be in good working order and I would dearly like to try it out.
James Ackerman, via email
Jerry Nims and Allen Lo
invented the camera back in the late 70’s. Nims came to London to seek financing
for his company and visited my colleagues and I at the merchant bank for which
I worked at the time. The camera was somewhat
cumbersome with four lenses, which took four photographs simultaneously on 35
mm film (as I recall). The resultant pictures then had to be sent to the
Nimslo laboratories where each 4-frame picture was combined into a single
picture, which appeared to be three-dimensional. The finished picture was
like those trick pictures you sometimes get in cereal packets that change as you
vary the angle at which they are viewed.
While a neat idea it did
not seem likely to succeed in the competitive photographic market so, I am
afraid, Nimslo never got any funding from us but I was aware that he did
produce the Nimslo camera for a while
David Walters, Castle
Information on the Nimslo
camera can be found at: http://www.stereoscopy.com/cameras/nimslo.html
along with some links for even more info.You can indeed get films and have them developed - standard 35mm, and the
camera's auto-exposure functions work with 100 and 400ASA film.
I had the loan of a Nimso
camera in 1983 and remember having to send the film out to Atlanta to get it developed. I think the company went bust a year or two later.
There are several websites under the heading Nimslo, which will give you more
James Calvocoressi, email@example.com
The Nimslo camera had four
in line lenses, which gave four slightly displaced images on a standard 35mm film.
The images were printed on a special paper and built up in behind a transparent
lenticular film and as each was slightly displaced from the others, when
combined in the final print in the correct order it gave a 3D effect. The
result was a passable 3D picture without the need for a special viewer. However
although you could use standard film, the printing process was expensive and I
don't think too many people were keen on printing it. I seem to remember that
the camera was well over £100 when first available but was soon being
"flogged" off for a fraction of this within a very short time as
getting images from it was both difficult and expensive.
Two interesting examples of
this type of photograph being used commercially were the LP covers for the
first printing of the Rolling Stones album "Their Satanic Majesties
Request" (1967), which pictured the group and the Stranglers album
"The Raven" (1979), which showed a striking image of a raven. Both
were pressed in limited numbers, presumably because of the high cost involved.
I believe there are
functions within Microsoft Excel that deal with various mortgage calculations.
Can anyone tell me the correct one to use for calculating how much is left
outstanding after a certain period?
P. Mylam, via email
I've found the Egg mortgage
calculator very useful. Calculates monthly payments and adjust
overpayments as well. To find out how much you still owe after say 15
years, enter in overpayments section first lump sum a high number and then
the year (15). It will then warn you that you only need to pay in X
amount after 15 years. This is the amount you have left. You’ll find it
SEEING THE TREES
I have to undertake a
project, which involves going round a 40-acre site and recording the name, age
and position of all of the trees. What I have in mind is some sort of hand held
GPS system that permits "waypoint" logging with a reference code and
then having recorded all of the trees (about 1500 I think) I then need to
"download" or transfer the data to a suitable piece of software which
will take the data and permit full display, editing and printing.
Can anyone help fill in the details?
Ric Ackland-Snow, via email
There are many methods of collecting the data for the type of tree
survey you are proposing. I do not profess to be an expert in this field,
however we have just completed exactly this operation with our trees at
Sherborne Castle. We now have an accurate map, positioning all of all our
trees, linked to an information database and in some instances photographs of
the tree or other relevant features. This forms an important part of the
management equipment necessary for looking after trees in public access areas.
There are some useful bonuses for land managers using this kind of system:
* accurate measuring of any area.
* the ability to produce maps with new features edited on top.
In order to produce a truly accurate map quickly you will need to
deploy a differential GPS device and data logger both of which can be hired.
You will need an up to date PC and a mapping program. It will take you
approximately two weeks to collect the data of 1000 trees depending on how
detailed the survey is and how quick you are. You can see us in action in our
garden section of our website www.sherbornecastle.com
CAN YOU HELP?
I am interested in
government. When documenting laws, principles, policies and procedures it is very hard to make them clear so that people reading them will understand them and get the same meaning. The result is often a great waste of effort in executing the government's wishes. Is there such a thing as
a program that will take a document and force its revision so it is as clear
and unambiguous as possible? Brian Gilbert, Hampton, Middlesex
I would like to create an
e-book. I have the text and illustrations to hand, and seek software that
will enable me to create a "turning page"
Ronald Reardon, via email
I suffer with AMD or ARMD
which stands for Age related Macular Degeneration and wonder if any of your
readers know of a suitable website where I could get advice? I am prepared to
take part in research and would be grateful for the help.
D Golten, via email