|Soup KIDchen v1.1
|- by Doug Hicken
ince OS/2's inception, it has been considered an operating system for the "Power User", not for the average home user. Widdow Works, a small company started in early 1996, is trying to change that perception by introducing a program for children entitled Soup KIDchen v1.1. Soup KIDchen is an educational program for children aged 2 through 6 that helps them learn numbers, colors, shapes, and the alphabet by associating them with images and sounds included on the CD-ROM database. Soup KIDchen encourages parents to take an active role in their child's education and entertainment by allowing them to personalize the database with sounds and pictures of their own.
Upon entering one of the modules, you are presented with the items of the module, jumbled up (hence the name "Jumble Screen" [GIF, 41k]). You can rearrange the items by clicking on the right mouse button, or as I found out, by pressing any key on the keyboard not associated with that screen. When an item is chosen, an entry for the item is displayed that consists of descriptive text, an image, and two .wav files. If sound is enabled, a description sound file is played. If the "Descriptive text" located at the top of the image is clicked on with the mouse, the description is played again. And when you click on the image, the "Effects Sound" is played. When the mouse goes over the "Descriptive text", the text changes colors. It's a great touch.
To cycle through the other images in the module, the user can simply click on the number, letter, color, or shape located on the upper left or right of the image. If you want to return to the jumble screen of a module, you can click on the space on any side of the image. However, I found it easier for my daughters to tell them to click on the Teapot (a "fridge magnet" beside the image).
The main menu can be reached from the image or from the jumble screen by clicking on the teddy bear in the lower left corner. To end the program you simply click on the stop icon in the upper left corner. As a finishing touch, a few soft bells ring on shutdown.
Adding an entry (GIF, 12k) to a database is a simple, straightforward process using an OS/2 style notebook accessed from the Soup KIDchen Configuration object in the Soup KIDchen folder. Filenames can be typed in, selected from a file dialog accessed through a pop-up menu, or, in true Workplace Shell fashion, dragged and dropped! When you open the configuration notebook, a windowed version of Soup KIDchen is automatically opened so you can see the changes you make to the database in Soup KIDchen!
A nice touch that has been added to Soup KIDchen is the use of path substitutions. This allows you to move images and sounds that make up your database if they are all in the same subdirectory. You only change the path variable, not each entry individually. If you were to move your images or sounds to the hard drive and keep them in the same subdirectories, you would only have to change the values for the variables from e:\[dir] to c:\[dir] and Soup KIDchen would know where to find the images for each entry.
Fortunately, technical support is excellent and very knowledgeable about their product. Soup KIDchen executives noted that wepm.exe in MMOS/2 is the best way to record sounds under OS/2 and that local print shops such as Kinko's can scan in family photos and put the images on disks for you, ready to enter into Soup KIDchen. Context sensitive help is also available in the configuration notebook to help you along.
Widdow Works has presented the OS/2 marketplace with an educational program that is sorely needed. You can try Soup KIDchen in shareware form by downloading it from any major OS/2 shareware site. Soup KIDchen v1.1 with the complete CD-ROM database is available at major OS/2 vendors. Version 1.1 retails for US$40.
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Copyright © 1996 - Falcon Networking