Joyride Through Cyberspace By Caroline Wright

Jay Hates Homework, Part II
from the Internet Gazette, October 1997
        
Before we get started, I’d like to share this with you. A loyal reader named Banjer, in Knoxville, Tennessee, e-mailed me to let me know that some of the links in my on-line column were not functional. To avoid errors, I don't even type the URLs into my column; I cut and paste ‘em from the “GO TO” line in my browser. However, URLs sometimes change, and servers sometimes go down. When I catch ‘em, and as I have time, I’ll fix those pesky broken links. Thanks, Banjer!

Also, the format of “Joyride” is changing a bit. All URLs will now appear at the end of each article, instead of being scattered throughout the column. Happy surfing!

Jay Hates Homework, Part II

In last month’s column, patient reader, I introduced you formally to my son Jay, an eleven-year-old, extremely bright sortaslacker whose greatest skill is giving his poor mother chilling fits of anxiety about the sad and lonely future he’ll have if he doesn’t get his @#%$!& math homework done.

I also invited you to visit a half-dozen or so educational websites that were created to help kids like Jayzer finish that evil math homework. Remember? Those sites are bookmarked on my computer, in a file called Jaystuff, which contains nothing but URLs for sites like Dr. Math, Virtual Frog Dissection, and the Library of Congress. Or, as Jay would say, yawn.

At the end of my column, I left you dangling, with the promise of relief in the form of websites that exist for the sole purpose of FUN. And the time has come. Let’s cast those repulsive math books aside, grab some milk and a handful of Chips Ahoy, and take a walk on the wild side according to Jayzer.

(Now, as last month, I send you off to the virtual playground with a gentle warning: don’t leave your kid alone there. Remember what happened to Dave Bowman after HAL got through with him?!?)

Fun Stuffs fo’ da Keiki!

When you see your kids holding elaborate funerals in the backyard for their Tamagotchi, it might be time to check out the Virtual Dog website. “This is the place to feed, walk, train and otherwise enjoy the company of a virtual doggie!” In this detailed, delightful site, Junior can choose his puppy from the pound; picking from a plethora of pics of panting pooches, including dalmatians, dachsunds, and golden retrievers.

Jay wants to be a cartoonist when he grows up, so I’m glad I found the Cartoon Mania website for him. This site has step-by-step instructions that Jay can follow to create animal cartoons. It’s easy to follow and quite user-friendly (“Remember, this is not a test and no one is grading you on your work!)

The Family Games site has great non-violent games that even Tipper Gore might enjoy. You can download lite versions of the games and order them if the kids like them. The Virtual Arcade site is home to about three dozen online versions of old arcade games like Tetris, Centipede, and Asteroids. Need easy instructions for games that don’t require a joystick, a CD, or even a mouse? Check out Games Kids Play, with rules and descriptions for 250 beloved recess favorites like Spud, Marco Polo, and Duck, Duck Goose.

I’m kinda glad that Prince Banph the Medieval Fighting Carpenter Ant exists, so far, only in cyberspace. The webmaster says that they’re hoping to get a book deal, but I wonder if that’s such a good idea. First will come the book, next the merchandising, and then appearances on Letterman and Leno. Next thing we know, the diminunitive Ant Prince will start dating Gwyneth Paltrow and beating up paparazzi, stabbing them in their hairy ankles with his mighty sword as he flees Lutece with his lady love. Anyhow, go look at his website, before the little prince hits the bigtime. You and your child will be thrilled by the wonderful tales of Banph, his friends and foes; look forward to a new chapter each month, and some of the loveliest illustrations ever to take up bandwidth.

Some kids read comic books or turn on “Nickelodeon”. Others listen to silly music. Dan Quayle watches “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. But when Jay needs to laugh, he turns to the The Ugachaka Baby. It’s an AVI, just a tiny little animation which takes about five minutes to load on a 28.8 Kbps connection, but it has never failed to make Jay forget all his troubles, if only for a few brief moments. (It works real well for grumpy grown-ups, too.)

SITES TO SEE

Virtual Dog
www.virtualdog.com

Cartoon Mania
www.worldchat.com/public/jhish/course.html

Family Games
www.familygames.com

Virtual Arcade 1.0
www.thearcade.com/hall/hall1.htm

Games Kids Play
www.corpcomm.net/~gnieboer/gamehome.htm

Banph
www.banph.com/Menu.html

The Ugachaka Baby
www.microserve.net/~boiPnske/thisweek/ugachaka.avi


Caroline Wright, of WRIGHT FOR YOU Word Services, is a freelance writer. A former resident of Hawaii, she now lives in rural South Carolina. Feel free to e-mail your comments to Caroline at cw@wrightforyou.com.